Posts Tagged ‘Gang Of Four’

May be an image of 4 people and people smiling

Before Andy Gill’s death there was a Gang Of Four tribute album in the works. After he passed, it got pushed back a bit, but now “The Problem With Leisure: A Celebration Of Andy Gill And Gang Of Four” is coming out in May. It features a bunch of artists covering Gang Of Four songs, and in January we got to hear Tom Morello and Serj Tankian take on “Natural’s Not In It.” Now we have another new song from the compilation: Warpaint’s rendition of “Paralysed.”

Here’s what Jenny Lee had to say about Warpaint’s cover: “The change will do me good.” (Damaged Goods). Best piece of advice that pretty much changed my life. Not to mention Dave Allen’s bass playing also changed me forever. Made me wanna play bass.

It was cool to get inside of “Paralysed,” and for Gang Of Four to give us freedom to freak out in our way… it was a beautiful opportunity and we’re SOOO excited. It’s an honour actually to be a part of Andy’s tribute.

“Andy loved the way Warpaint created not only songs but atmospheres, without sacrificing drive and danceability,” Gill’s widow Catherine Mayer added. “The marriage of their unique sound with ‘Paralysed,’ on the face of it one of the least likely dance tracks ever, is spectacular.”

“Everybody who grew up with Gang of Four in their lives can remember how mind-blowing and forward-thinking and filled with creative energy it was at the time and guess what? It still is now. It’s art. Art that’s reaching out of this world yet somehow still down to earth. It’s so great be involved with this release and to see and hear a new generation of musicians paying tribute to Andy Gill’s incredible music. My artwork ‘Dog with Bone’, which Andy picked for the cover from a few ideas I had, is from a new series of giant pipe cleaner animals based on little ones made in my studio by kids. I think he wanted this work for the cover because it’s new and unexpected and in your face and hard not to like, they make adults feel like children and Andy always wanted to celebrate that.” – Damien Hirst A new Gang of Four tribute album has been announced. The double album, titled The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, will arrive in May 2021 and feature covers of Gang of Four and Andy Gill songs by a number of artists. The first single will be released on Friday, January 1st, 2021, which would have been Gill’s 65th birthday. It’s a cover of “Natural’s Not in It,” performed by Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. Andy Gill was one of a handful of artists in history who changed the way guitars are played,” Tom Morello said in a statement. “His band Gang of Four were just incendiary and completely groundbreaking with Andy’s confrontational, unnerving and sublime playing at the forefront. His jagged plague-disco raptor-attack industrial-funk deconstructed guitar anti-hero sonics and fierce poetic radical intellect were hugely influential to me.”

“This new version of Natural’s Not In It is the first single from the album The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, set for release in May 2021. It’s a double album of tracks written by Andy Gill and Gang of Four, all newly reinterpreted and recorded by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to Gang of Four. Says Tom Morello: “Andy Gill was one of a handful of artists in history who changed the way guitars are played. His band Gang of Four were just incendiary and completely ground breaking with Andy’s confrontational, unnerving and sublime playing at the forefront. His jagged plague-disco raptor-attack industrial-funk deconstructed guitar anti-hero sonics and fierce poetic radical intellect were hugely influential to me.” Serj Tankian says: “It was a real pleasure to work on this track with Tom and honour the legacy of Andy and Gang of Four at the same time.”

It is with pride, joy, excitement and a measure of sadness that we announce The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, a project Andy worked on right up to his death in February. This double album features tracks written by Andy and Gang of Four, newly reinterpreted and recorded by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to Gang of Four.

The first single has seen Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine) collaborate with Serj Tankian (System Of A Down) to create an incredible cover of Natural’s Not In It. It will be released on Andy’s birthday, January 1st 2021. All the brilliant artists and bands participating in the album chose which track they wished to cover from across Gang of Four’s 40-plus year history. Details of the contributors and the full track listing will be revealed in January.

We can already tell you this: The Problem of Leisure is the dog’s bollocks. And so is the album artwork, created specially by artist Damien Hirst, a long-term Gang of Four aficionado. The album is available to pre-order now in a variety of different formats exclusively from our merchandise store. It will be released on 14th May 2021.

Andy Gill died in February of this year. According to press materials, he’d been planning the release of The Problem of Leisure to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Entertainment! in 2019. “Andy was massively excited about this project,” Catherine Mayer said. “It wasn’t, of course, conceived as a tribute album, but it’s comforting to me that he lived to see artists he hugely admired enthusiastically agreeing to participate, signalling that the admiration was mutual.”

Damien Hirst made the artwork for The Problem of Leisure

No photo description available.

We’re very pleased to announce the new Gang of Four 77-81 Limited Edition Boxset, out on Matador Records on December 11th, available to preorder now here:

The boxset features:- Entertainment! (Remastered) LP- Solid Gold (Remastered) LP- Exclusive Singles 12” LP- Exclusive ‘Live at American Indian Centre 1980’ Double LP- Exclusive Demo Cassette Tape of Outtakes, Rarities and Studio Demos- 2x New Badges- 100 Page full-colour Hardbound Book curated by Allen, Burnham and King.

“I stumbled upon a copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! accidentally and it went on to become one of the most influential records of my life as a producer, lyricist and fan of music in general. Their sparse, unorthodox, riff heavy guitars and nasty, funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section drew me in, but it was their questioning of the world that kept me listening as I grew. I consider them a seminal band, whose influence and effect permeates the music world in a deeper way than many realize. Thank you, Gang of Four, for existing.”

The box set contains “Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’ (both remastered from the original analogue tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released ‘Live at American Indian Center 1980’. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from ‘Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’, and an epic 100-page, full-colour hardbound book.

The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never before seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.

Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favouring tense rhythms, percussive guitars, and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance. This original line-up of the band released two monumental albums, ‘Entertainment!’ (1979) and ‘Solid Gold ‘(1981). A third, ‘Songs of the Free’ (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After ‘Songs Of The Free’, Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released ‘Return The Gift’ (2005).

Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalogue and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.

In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of ‘Entertainment!’, Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.

Music, specifically pop music, is as much of a commodity as pork bellies. It’s bought, packaged, sold, traded and has as little to do with the Platonic triad of beauty, goodness and truth as, well, pork bellies. And it hasn’t just become this way. It’s been this way. From its inception to now, its value is what’s made it significant in the marketplace. But pressed against a wooden stage in New York at Hurrah’s in the late 1970s, what stepped out on stage had nothing to do with any kind of commercial calculus. That I could see.

See, in 1979, after a steady diet of The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Klaus Nomi, fer chrissakes, and on the strength of the name alone, a single, the press and the locale, the Gang of Four was a must see. But wrapped in the earlier vaudevillian aspect of punk rock, new wave, no wave, and a sort of well-meaning but very extant schtick, expectations were in keeping with what had already been seen. But what had been seen would in no way prepare you for what you were about to see.

Four Brits, no leather jackets, no make-up, and outside of an opening song with about two minutes of unremitting feedback, no schtick.

“We all grew up around vaudeville. It was part of the zeitgeist,” said drummer Hugo Burnham, from outside of Boston where he toils in academia and presently makes his home. But Gang of Four? “It was anti-schtick. And it was somewhat deliberate because we were serious about what we were doing but we weren’t dour. We didn’t go as far as the shoegazing thing.”

Which is almost right. Gone was the clever art school quirk of Talking Heads or the mordant rumble of a Joy Division, musicians framing what we were understanding about new music at the time. Replaced instead with something that was equal parts both cool and hot, and when they tore into their set that night it was with a life-changing brio. No “Hello Cleveland!” No foot on the front wedge rock god posturing, just songs and songs played like those that were playing them meant it. It, here, being coruscating takes on very precisely what it was we were doing while we were doing it. Again: not by accident. But very specifically, deliberately.

“We sat in pubs and talked about it,” Burnham said. Right down to things like, “No fucking feet on the monitors.”

What Burnham fails to mention and this is an amusing Rashomonesque feature of chatting with the three members still living – Burnham, singer/lyricist Jon King, and bassist Dave Allen – is that the no-feet-on-the-monitors “chat” didn’t happen in a pub. King, in a call from London, offers an alternate scenario. “It happened backstage after a show in what used to be Yugoslavia,” King laughs. “And it involved a fistfight.” So Gill and Allen settled things the old-fashioned way and while it’s unknown who won, at the Hurrah’s show there were no feet on monitors.

But first a little historical political perspective and a sense of the tableau upon which whatever Gang of Four was, was created. In the late 1970s in the U.K., there was 14 percent inflation, 18 percent in 1980, one in five adult males were out of work, interest rates were 14 percent, and there was massive industrial unrest. “In ’78 and ’79 it was called the Winter of Discontent,” King said of the hellscape that England had been even before Thatcher dug in. “There were piles of garbage four meters high in the street, people weren’t going to be buried because there was a strike of mortuary workers and grave diggers, there were dozens of IRA terror attacks in mainland UK, there were plotters looking to pull a coup d’etat, plus Russian SCUD missiles in eastern Europe and Americans sending Pershing missiles to NATO, so threats of nuclear attack. Songs like ‘In the Ditch’ on Solid Gold? That was the context we were working with.”

And given that context, a steadfast mark of Gang of Four’s genius that they didn’t zig into what was a popular pose at the time (and still really) and try to pull off the working class hero crap that had smart people dumbing down in the name of some sort of shopworn idea of what was authentic. That is, the Gang of Four were driven and obsessed with what middle class art school students should be obsessed with: making great music and art in and of the times they are living, fully realizing that you can’t fake authenticity. “Look, in looking back I have decided I really like this sort of troublesome 21-year-old me who wrote these totally un-commercial songs,” said King. But the charm, at least for the creator, is that “there’s nothing in it that is an attempt to pander to people. And it may sound kind of stupid but I kind of thought of us as like a blues band.”

“So I tried to avoid cliché, but it’s quite difficult trying to not write about things that everyone else was writing about,” King explains.” But there’s a reason hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world now and that’s because it’s got some authenticity about it; it talks about things that are actually happening. The world is a shit show now. To not write about it is a remarkable evasion of responsibility.”

Something that wasn’t missed in 1979 New York either with crime at an all-time high and the city collapsing financially. So mid-set when King dragged a metal crate on stage – “we later switched to a microwave,” Burnham said – and started blasting it with a drum stick it was both the sound of the city and the times all at once.

Adding percussive elements in and from trash, well in advance of Einsturzende Neubaten and even Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo who Burnham initially thought they had lifted it from (“No,” corrects King), this was a perfect sweat-drenched statement of intent: Gang of Four absolutely were not fucking around.

And it was perhaps this quality specifically that drew the heavy. “We were political with a small P,” said bassist Dave Allen who followed a post-Gang of Four career with music tech gigs at both Apple and Intel, which is how he ended up in Portland. “But we were fighting Nazis. The fascists that came to the shows. They would jump onstage when we were playing in London, skinheads, and they had knives.” Allen, in general soft spoken, neither laughs nor smiles in the retelling. “The security guards would all run away. Having a big heavy bass in this instance helped quite a bit.”

But before reforming in 2005, Allen was the first to leave Gang of Four, in 1981, and his leaving was part of that whole not fucking around piece and almost perfectly Gang of Four-ish. “EMI were always pushing us. They wanted us to make ‘hits’. Be on the radio. Top of the Pops,” Allen sighs. “That’s not what we do. We don’t make pop songs. The 2005 reunion only lasted a few years, but Andy Gill continued with replacement musicians and died right in the midst of touring with them. He left giant shoes to fill. But even considering trying to fill them? A straight-up damn the torpedoes move. To which they are well matched. “When you try to audition a guitar player they just can’t do it,” Allen winds up. “They come in blasting thinking it is punk, but we were post-punk. It was us and Wire…”

On December 11th, Matador will release GANG OF FOUR: ’77-81”, a stunning, limited edition box set gathering Gang of Four’s influential early work.


The death of Andy Gill from Gang of Four on 1st Feb 2020 generated headlines around the world, and his production and guitar playing style has influenced countless major artists and fans alike. This is the first new and previously unreleased Gang of Four song to be released since his death and forms part of an EP project with all proceeds to the NHS Trust at St Thomas’ Hospital London, where Andy died. It was written by Andy Gill and Gang of Four lead singer John “Gaoler” Sterry and produced by the band’s bass player Thomas McNeice.

Gang of Four are pleased to be participating in loverecordstores day on 20th June this week. There’ll be a Ltd Ed. Orange Coloured 12″ Vinyl available for pre-order, with all proceeds going to Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. The Vinyl has the ‘Anti Hero EP’ on the A side and the ‘This Heaven Gives Me Migraine EP’ on the B side, featuring the artwork for both records on each side, including Shepard Fairey’s iconic portrait of Andy.

Image may contain: 1 person, playing a musical instrument, on stage, night and guitar

Andy Gill, a founding member and guitarist for the British post-punk band Gang of Four, has died. He was 64.

Formed in Leeds in 1976, Gang Of Four’s career spanned five decades, from their first single Damaged Goods to last year’s studio album Happy Now. In 1979, they made their Top 60 chart debut with At Home He’s A Tourist – despite the song being banned by the BBC for a lyrical reference to condoms.

Their debut album Entertainment!, released in September of the same year, has frequently been cited as an influence or inspiration by aspiring musicians, Combining Marxist politics with punk, dub, funk and disco, the “stiff, jerky aggression of songs such as Damaged Goods and I Found That Essence Rare invented a new style,

Gang Of Four never had a hit single (1982’s I Love A Man In Uniform came close, before it was banned from the airwaves during the Falklands War) but their first three albums are considered indispensable. They split in 1984, but reformed several times over the years, with a variety of line-ups. They released 10 albums in all, with a couple of periods of hiatus during their 40-year history Gill was the only constant throughout their career.

Gill’s death was announced Saturday (February. 1st) on Twitter by his current bandmates Thomas McNeice, John Sterry and Tobias Humble. A cause of death was not given. Gill had developed a “respiratory illness,” after finishing an Asian tour with Gang Of Four last year, they said. “This pain is the price of extraordinary joy, almost three decades with the best man in the world,” wrote his wife, Catherine Mayer, on Twitter.

Gill was a founding member of Gang of Four since the band’s inception in the late 1970s, and served as guitarist and producer of the group’s nine albums, including Happy Now in 2019. The musician’s scratchy, staccato riffs provided the band with their signature sound, and influenced the likes of Nirvana, Fugazi and Franz Ferdinand.

“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote in the statement. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”

The group called Gill “one of the best to ever do it,” adding that his “influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music.” His bandmates ended their post asking fans to “go give ’em a spin for him.” He had just finished a new studio album with Gang Of Four, they added.

As a producer, Gill worked on many high-profile music projects, including Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ 1984 self-titled debut album. He also worked on music by the Stranglers, Michael Hutchence, Killing Joke, Therapy?, the Jesus Lizard and the Futureheads.

In 2018, Gill spoke about his never-ending interest in creating music. “These days I get up early at 6:30, I get a cup of tea and I go straight down the studio and start working … I get a buzz out of it. I’m not in any hurry to stop,” he said.

Gill is survived by his wife, Catherine Mayer; his brother Martin; and “many family and elective family members who will miss him terribly” . His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed.

But to us, he was our friend – and we’ll remember him for his kindness and generosity, his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too.

One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ‘em a spin for him…Love you mate.

John, Thomas and Tobias

Gof hn %281%29

Gang Of Four Release New Video/Single “Change The Locks” From their upcoming Album, the Pioneering post-punk band new single out on 26th March 2019. A standout cut from their forthcoming new album ‘Happy Now’ (19 April), ‘Change The Locks’ is a synth propelled, mutant funk shapeshifter.

Gang Of Four were formed in the punk rock fallout culture of late seventies Leeds – a place where art was a mirror and guitars were machine guns. Gang of Four tore up the template and made sense of the question marks thrown up by year zero.

They redesigned rock in the punk aftermath, taking the incendiary energy of the form and crisscrossing it with funk, stripping away the baggage of rock excess and creating a new stripped-down music that was full of agit energy, heavy grooves, shrapnel guitars and politically charged lyrics matching the fervour of the times. Swerving trad rock rhythms, the beats were invented from scratch and every instrument played a pivotal role in the sound in a non-hierarchical structure. In short, they came up with post punk.

As Gang Of Four prepare for the release of their latest album “Happy Now” this Friday, April 19th, 2019 via Gillmusic Ltd., they are releasing their new single and video “Change The Locks” to ramp up the excitement.

More recently, the band’s influence has become almost universal—now everybody talks about Gang of Four. From Franz Ferdinand to St Vincent, from Sleater Kinny and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem to Nine Inch Nails: today’s creators of angular rock music have GO4’s influence and imprint all over them. The band is reaching an urban audience with Frank Ocean sampling them on his latest album and Pharrell name-checking the band in his interviews.

Inevitably GO4 disbanded in 1984 but reformed later that decade, since then releasing a series of albums that emphatically demonstrate their capacity for invention and twisting energy. The line-up now includes Thomas McNeice—the bass player joined in 2008—and John ‘Gaoler’ Sterry, who has supplied vocals since 2011. The new album is full of subversive blasts of hook-heavy pop-inclined songs.

Gang Of Four

The complete session recorded the Gang of Four on 9th March 1981 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 12th of that month.

1. To Hell With Poverty! (0:07)
2. Paralysed (3:44)
3. History Is Bunk (7:04)

This session by Gang of Four, who many considered to be one of the leading bands in the post-Punk movement. They were together (the first time) from 1977 to 1984 – the second time from 1987 to 1997 and this latest incarnation from 2004 to the present.

There have been several different lineups over the years, with only guitarist Andy Gill as the sole remaining original member. Their debut album, the 1979 Entertainment! has been considered the fifth greatest Punk album of all time. During the 80s though, they drifted away from those roots and wandered in the direction of dance-Punk and Disco. But beyond all the changes and direction shifts, they have maintained strong political and social commitments in their music, and were, even early on, considered a potent force in the pursuit of working-class justice.

Tonight it’s their third session at BBC Radio 1 for John Peel, recorded on March 9, 1981 and broadcast on the March 12th. I remember the band causing a stir with American audiences and were a huge influence with a number of bands, including REM and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and some have gone so far as to say their influence has been felt with a number of rap artists. So they got around.

If you aren’t familiar with Gang Of Four, they are an important link for you to get familiar with. If you are familiar and have been following them for years – I don’t need to tell you anything you don’t already know.

On this day (October. 8th) in 1979: influential Leeds, UK post-punk band Gang Of Four (singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bassist Dave Allen & drummer Hugo Burnham) released their groundbreaking debut album, ‘Entertainment!’, on EMI Records (UK)/Warner Bros. (US); it featured the tight, sparse playing & driving rhythms that made such tracks as “Natural’s Not In It”, “I Found That Essence Rare”, “At Home He’s A Tourist” & previous single “Damaged Goods” live favorites; it reached UK #45 & Australia #39 on the album charts;’Entertainment!’ was an important release and voted the #8th best album of the 1970s; Rolling Stone ranked it #483 on their list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’…


01. Ether (00:00)
02. Natural’s Not In It (03:50)
03. Not Great Men (06:57)
04. Damaged Goods (10:03)
05. Return The Gift (13:30)
06. Guns Before Butter (16:36)
07. I Found That Essence Rare (20:22)
08. Glass (23:37)
09. Contract (26:06)
10. At Home He’s A Tourist (28:47)
11. 5.45 (32:17)
12. Anthrax (36:01)
13. Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time (40:26)
14. He’d Send In The Army (43:42)
15. It’s Her Factory (47:24)
16. Armalite Rifle (50:34)

Here is a clip of the band performing the most well known track LIVE NYC 1980


Gang of Four are considered innovators of the “dance-punk” genre, for adding dance elements and a bit of funk to their brand of punk, or post-punk as it’s sometimes called. Whatever designation best seen fit to try and box Gang of Four in to. Many current well-known musicians consider Gang of Four an influence, including Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their first two albums are excellent all the way through.

Most Popular Songs: “Damaged Goods,” “Ether,” “Natural’s Not In It”

Essential Albums: “Entertainment!” (1979), “Solid Gold” (1981)

This was the first single ever released by Gang on Four back in 1979 on the Fast Product Label. Three tracks appeared which were the now legendary ‘Damaged Goods’ on the A-Side, and ‘Love Like Anthrax’ (in a colder, more robotic version) and ‘Armalite Rifle’. All of these tracks would appear later on the ‘Mutant Pop’ compilation by the same label in 1980. The versions appearing on this EP are unavailable elsewhere.