April 16, 2007

GANG OF FOUR - not great men

Combining funk bass lines, angular scratchy guitars and lyrics that sometimes bordered on Socialist and Marxist dogma; the Gang Of Four were among the originators of “Post Punk”.

Forming in the aftermath of the “summer of 1977” UK Punk revolution, Gang Of Four (reportedly the band was NOT named after the Mao era Chinese Political cabal and was instead named after a bunch of philosophers) came to prominence with their first single “Damaged Goods”. Behind Jon King’s disaffected vocals and a great dance beat, "Damaged Goods" became a #1 indie hit and gained the Go4 many U.S. fans. The single also featured a couple of great songs on the flip side, "Armalite Rifle" and "Anthrax". "Anthrax" featured dual vocals… in one channel was the song (comparing love to disease) and the other channel had a spoken word diatribe. The vocals weave in and out, supplemented by Dave Allen’s almost dub-like bassline; creating something dissonant and spectacular. All the while, guitar player Andy Gill meshes feedback to the beat.

Their first album Entertainment is a classic. Featuring songs such as “At Home He Feel’s Like A Tourist”, "I Found That Essence Rare", and "Not Great Men", Gang Of Four became vastly influential tolater Post Punk bands such as Fugazi and The Minutemen.

Their next album Solid Gold (1981) and the live Another Day/Another Dollar (1982) are essential pick-ups as well. “What We All Want”, “Paralysed” and “He’s Send In The Army” are all stand-outs. “Another Day” shows that the Go4 were a solid live unit.

Sara Lee replaced Dave Allen (who left to form Shriekback) on bass for 1982’s Songs Of The Free and 1983’s Hard. Songs Of The Free became a huge hit due to a more blatant dance (even overtly Disco) sound on songs like “I Love A Man In Uniform” and “Call Me Up”.

After that, Gang Of Four essentially disappeared as a band until 1991’s Mall.

After year’s of watching lesser bands get rich and famous on their sound, Gang Of Four reformed in 2005 to release Return The Gift, which inexplicably featured the band rerecording and remixing songs from their first three albums. The cd package actually included money (“Return The Gift” – get it?)

Official Gang Of Four Site

Buy Gang Of Four music


Gang Of Four- Damaged Goods
Gang Of Four - Anthrax (7 inch version)
Gang Of Four - I Found That Essence Rare
Gang Of Four - Not Great Men
Gang Of Four - To Hell With Poverty (live)
Gang Of Four - What We All Want (live)
Gang Of Four - Sweet Jane (live)

No comments: