Wednesday, 22 May 2013

An Introduction to Gang of Four

In the rock community – or really any community other than the Justin Bieber community – you constantly hear people going on rants about all the underappreciated bands that don’t have the recognition they deserve.  For me, the band that describes this to a T is Gang of Four.  They only had one album that was great, so this is perhaps why they don’t have the legacy of other bands.  Regardless, this album was rated #490 on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums List and is one of my favorites of all time.

Gang of Four is a band that I find authentic.  They began in Leeds, England in 1977 and are comprised of lead singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham.  When their debut album, Entertainment!, was released in 1979 it seemed like they would be working their way up to the likes of the Rolling Stones or the Clash in no time.  The reason I call them authentic (although, some might choose to replace that word with stupid) is because when they had the opportunity to perform on a hit BBC music program, they refused.  They did this because BBC deemed their second single, “At Home He’s A Tourist” too risqué and requested the band sing the word “packets” in lieu of the word “rubbers”.  This moment played a huge part in cementing Gang of Four as a cult band.  While their potential success was never achieved, they still produced a stellar album that really defines the post-punk era.

This album is one of the most motivating albums I’ve ever heard, both lyrically and musically.  Regardless of your political options before listening to this album, by the end you will genuinely want to get up, punch the wall, quit your job and start a revolution.  Each song makes you want to get up and do something in a really unique and unsuspecting way.  I think a lot of post-punk bands attempt to give you the same feeling, but end up just sounding like they’re trying to force their own political and social views down your throat.  Gang of Four doesn’t appear to be doing this, and I definitely don’t get that feeling – I get inspired.

In line with their lyrics, it almost seems like guitarist Andy Gill is trying to do the opposite of anything that any producer told him with a jagged (a little sexy?) sound.  Gang of Four’s mix of Gill’s unique sound and Jon King’s voice is truly an iconic post-punk sound.  I think a lot of indie bands now try to accomplish the complex chemistry of Gang of Four – but none thus far have come close.

My Top 5 songs from Entertainment! (in no particular order)

-       I Found That Essence Rare
-       Ether
-       Damaged Goods
-       5-45
-       Return the Gift
-       At Home He’s a Tourist (okay I had to add one more…)

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