Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Gang of Four are back with content over product. A share of profits pledged to Amnesty International.
Arriving on the heels of The Mekons and Human League, four men from Leeds promptly introduced an unsettling essence to Bob Last's Edinburgh based Fast Records in 1978. A seething undercurrent of ennui, an agitated dislocation as informed by Hearpen Records as transitory exposure to year zero.
Gang of Four's tenure with Fast was brief.
Co-opted by industry giant, EMI, their "Damaged Goods" EP was famously re-recorded at The Workhouse studio in the Old Kent Road for the album, "Entertainment!"; released in September, 1979. EMI might have held the monopoly on paper, but with artwork designed and executed by King and Gill, Gang of Four continued to infect every facet of their product with an unshakeable DIY ethos.
A single from the album, "At Home He's a Tourist", almost succeeded in assailing the Top 40. A sheduled appearance on Top of the Pops failed to materialize when the collective refused to play ball and doctor their lyrics for prime time consumption. The BBC responded with a blanket ban.
Relations with EMI soured.
A subsequent issue on Warner Bros. - 1982's "I Love a Man In a Uniform" - failed to ignite when Margaret Thatcher led the country into a war with Argentina over the contested sovreignty of the Falkland Islands. Even as dysentry was being introduced into the water supply over a calculated radius, Gang of Four were once again subject to collateral damage. Fast tourists on the run from Mao.
Gang of Four seemed - if not cursed - plagued by coup d'état.
In 2004 the original four reunited, but at this juncture only Jon King and guitarist, Andy Gill remain commmitted; Thomas McNeice and Mark Heaney occupying the elliptic core once deftly maintained by Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham.
King and Gill are unrepentant:
"We’re emerging blinking into the light after many months locked in Andy’s studio, clutching Gang of Four’s new album: Content...
A share of any profits from pledges will go to Amnesty International http://www.amnesty.org.uk/ who campaign for internationally recognised human rights for all, and Plan International http://plan-international.org/ who promote child rights to end child poverty."
I find that essence rare. Well. Certainly far from overcooked.
If you mysteriously resisted "Entertainment!" thirty years ago, their debut album can still be purchased through Rough Trade Shops. New "Content", and exclusive access to a digital bundle of artifacts, can be ordered or downloaded directly from Pledge Music.
▼ GANG OF FOUR: YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE MAD from "Content" CD (Pledge Music) 2010 (UK)
OFFICIAL GANG OF FOUR WEBSITE