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Gang of Four (band)

From Academic Kids

Gang of Four was a British punk rock group from Leeds, England. Original personnel were singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. They were fully active from 1977 to 1984, and then re-emerged twice in the 1990s with King and Gill. Recently plans have been announced for a reunion in 2005.

The group had a single in the British Top 40 with "At Home He's a Tourist" in 1979. They played a stripped-down mix of punk rock, with strong elements of funk music and dub reggae and an emphasis on the social and political ills in society. Their angular, slashing attack and liberal use of dissonance had a significant influence on their post punk contemporaries in the States, including Mission of Burma. Gang of Four's later albums (Songs of the Free and Hard) found them softening some of their more jarring qualities, and drifting towards disco.

Critic Stewart Mason has called "Love like Anthrax" (their first single, later re-recorded as "Anthrax") not only the group's "most notorious song" but also "one of the most unique and interesting songs of its time"[1] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=&sql=33:3d9fs38ea39g); it's also a good example of Gang of Four's social perspective: after a minute-long, droning, feedback-laced guitar intro, the rhythm section sets up a funky, churning beat, and the guitar drops out entirely. In one stereo channel, Gill sings a "post-punk anti-love song", comparing himself to a beetle trapped on its back ("and there's no way for me to get up") and comparing love to "a case of anthrax, and that's some thing I don't want to catch." Meanwhile in the other stereo channel (and slightly less prominent in the mix), King reads a deadpan monograph about public perception of love, the prevalance of love songs in popular music: "Love crops up quite a lot as something to sing about, 'cause most groups make most of their songs about falling in love, or how happy they are to be in love, and you occasionally wonder why these groups do sing about it all the time." The simultaneous vocals are more than a little disorienting, especially when Gill pauses in his examination of love songs to echo a few of King's sung lines.

Allen left after Solid Gold and was replaced briefly by Buster Jones (who never recorded with the group), then by Sara Lee; Allen later co-founded Shriekback, Low Pop Suicide and The Elastic Purejoy.

Gang of Four went on to influence a number of successful funk-tinged alternative rock acts throughout the 80s and 90s, (even, arguably, many rap-rock and nu metal groups who "not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it" [2] (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:lzaxqj6bojta~T1)), although few of their followers were as arty or political). Michael "Flea" Balzary of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated Gang of Four were very influential on his band's early music.

Gang of Four can also be credited as one of the early influences on techno or electronic music; they released dance remixes of several later singles.

Recently the band has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, initially due to emergence of new post-punk influenced bands such as The Rapture and Radio 4 and then the rise of Franz Ferdinand, which led to the renewed patronage of the NME. The original Burnham/Allen/Gill/King lineup reformed in November 2004.

  • Hugo Burnham (Drums/Vocals) (first three albums)
  • Dave Allen (Bass Guitar) (first two albums)
  • Sara Lee (Bass Guitar) (replaced Dave Allen)
  • Andy Gill (Guitar/Vocals)
  • Jon King (Vocals/Melodica)

Discography

This list does not include compliation and greatest hit releases.

  • Entertainment! (1979)
  • Yellow EP (1980)
  • Solid Gold (1981)
  • Another Day/Another Dollar EP (1982)
  • Songs of the Free (1982)
  • Hard (1983)
  • At the Palace (1984)
  • Mall (1991)
  • Shrinkwrapped (1995)

External links

nl:Gang of Four

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