Gang of Four is one of the most radical, and radically important, rock groups of the last 30 years.
“Their music, starting with 1978’s Damaged Goods EP, offered a danceable solution to the problem of where four-piece guitar bands could go next after punk. They also provided the perfect answer to the question: how to be polemical without being po-faced, ponderous, banal or doctrinaire?”
“More than anything, Gang of Four were about visceral, high energy, maximum impact rock’n’roll. They made you dance and they made you sweat just as they made you think. That exclamation mark at the end of the title of their 1979 debut album Entertainment! – incidentally, one of the greatest debut albums ever made; in fact, one of the greatest long-playing records, period – was no accident or sleight of design. Economic, emotional, political, musical – and yet it remains as true, as resonant, as relevant, as universally applicable three decades on as it was the day it was released.” Q Magazine
Formed in Leeds in 1976, Gang of Four first performed in May 1977. All the big bands that followed, the Chili Peppers, INXS, R.E.M., U2, have spoken of their debt to Gang of Four but in more recent years, the band’s influence had become almost universal with the emergence of post-punk influenced bands such as the Rapture, Radio 4, Futureheads, Nine Inch Nails, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party.
The death on February 1st, 2020, of Gang of Four co-founder Andy Gill highlighted not only how influential the band has remained throughout its different line-ups, but also how much the music continues to resonate and find new audiences. The band arrived in a burst of glory with a trio of albums Entertainment!, Solid Gold and Songs of the Free. After the departure in 1981 of the founding rhythm section Hugo Burnham and Dave Allen, Gill and founding singer Jon King produced four more ground-breaking studio albums, ending with the brilliant Content in 2010, and performed with line-ups including such stellar talents as Sarah Lee and Gail Ann Dorsey. Gill produced much of Gang of Four's output, including the 2006 album Return the Gift, and two brilliant studio albums, What Happens Next (2015) and Happy Now (2019) with line-up that endured until his death: singer and lyricist John “Gaoler” Sterry, bass player Thomas McNeice and drummer Tobias Humble. Gill also produced albums for many other artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Jesus Lizard, the Stranglers, the Futureheads, Michael Hutchence and Bono, Therapy?, Regurgitator, The Young Knives and Killing Joke.
Music released after Gill died found new and enthusiastic audiences with the single Forever Starts Now becoming the fastest streaming Gang of Four track ever. The NME observed of his passing: “Great musicians encapsulate their age; the very best echo endlessly onwards, and Andy Gill...has been reverberating along the baseline of alternative culture for 40 years.”
The story is not over. Watch this space for further announcements.
“Bands occasionally get described as being 'ahead of their time'. Usually it means nothing; mere hack hyperbole employed to describe the latest fledgling bunch of chancers. In Gang of Four’s case, it’s a stone-cold, empirical fact.” The Independent
Mojo's Editor in Chief: 'Sometimes I think the whole world's gone a bit Gang of Four'. Mojo