Reviews

Good Missionaries Fire From Heaven LP reissue

Mark Perry broke up ALTERNATIVE TV and formed the GOOD MISSIONARIES soon after out of a conscious desire to distance himself from concepts of “punk” that had grown more and more rigid and predictable over the course of just a few short years, and the experimental art-destruction approach of his new group exemplified the whole “rip it up and start again” ethos perhaps the most literally of any UK outfit from the post-punk era. Fire From Heaven was recorded live while the GOOD MISSIONARIES were touring with the POP GROUP in 1979 (and not long before Perry abandoned this project, too)—both bands shared a common interest in the liberatory sounds of dub, free jazz, and improv, but while the POP GROUP synthesized those influences into a fiery, serrated punk-funk, the GOOD MISSIONARIES’ tended toward abstract and fractured shambolic sprawls (including a number of completely exploded takes on ALTERNATIVE TV songs) that were almost completely outside the orbit of even the most “post”-adjoined punk: a defiant jumble of antagonistic shout-sung vocals, collapsed beats, and kitchen-sink interjections of everything from warbling organ to blasts of sax and clarinet to chimes and melodica. Mark Stewart guests on the mic for an abbreviated and completely skronked-out reimagining of the POP GROUP’s “Thief of Fire,” and it’s only further down the rabbit hole from there; true freak sounds that out-mess most Messthetics acts.