Album review -Gang of four


Gang Of Four -‘Content’ (NEU Gronland)

The last time that Gang Of Four released a new studio album, in 1995, Britain was in thrall to Britpop, Tony Blaire seemed like the promised Messiah, and the internet was something that seemed almost like a novelty. ‘Post-punk’ seemed so long ago. And yet, there were bands who had gone on to become amongst the biggest in the world, all of whom were indebted to Gang Of four, and amongst them were Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM and U2.

Fast forward sixteen years. Politically, so much has happened that the final page of Animal Farm resonates ever harder. the internet -mostly for the good – is a powerful force in most people’s lives. And musically? Well, just as at the end of the eighties music critics and journalists started to suggest that Revolver was a better and more important album than Sergeant Pepper, so they have started to argue that post-punk was actually more important than punk; crucially that Metal Box was actually the album that Lydon should have made just two years previously and that Nevermind the Bollocks wasn’t all that important.

And Gang Of Four? Well, Entertainment! sounds ever more like a blueprint for much of what has come under the heading of indie-alterntaive (often morphing into stadium filling) over the last thirty years. It still sounds phenomenal thirty years on. The aforementioned Chilis, REM and U2 have continued to be high profile acts, but along with them, bands like The Rapture, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party and Editors have a clear influence that can be traced back to Gang Of Four.

So Gang Of four have their place in the history books. And it’s great to report that their comeback album looks likely to cement rather than detract from that. It isn’t Entertainment! part 2. However, it is better than the pointless rehash that was the Return the Gift album.

What’s great about it is that it is a great album that sounds like a rejuvenated Gang Of Four. Founder members Jon King and Andy Gill have come back with an excellent album that sounds like Gang of four with innovations. ‘It Was Never Gonna Turn Out Too Good’ uses a vocoder to surprisingly but surprisingly good gothic effect. ‘She Said You made a Thing Of Me’ sets out its’ stall as an album opener with impressive effect and ‘I Party All the Time’ sounds like a loud cough to remind U2 where the blueprint for Achtung Baby came from.

The song titles sound classically Gang Of Four, too. This is not the sound of a band desperate for a comback at any rpice or a last hurrah. Rather a band who are reenergised and rejuvenated adding another album to their already fine cannon of work. At thirty five minutes this may seem a short album to some, but there is not fat here, only lean.


Content is released on January 24 on Neu Gronland.

The return of Gang of Four


Gang of Four will return with an album of new material early next year.

The album is entitled Content and will be their first album of new material since 1995’s Shrinkwrapped. Funded entirely over the Internet, it will be released on January 25.

You can read morehere at their website and here at The Guardian. T’would appear that sweat, tears and actual blood have gone into the making of this album. More than thirty years after the Damaged Goods EP, it would appear they still mean it man. And that’s more than you can say for Lydon these days…

Gang Of Four -‘Pay For The Farm.’ mp3

Does there have to be a reason?



Well, in this case, yes.

Have recently been re-reading Rip It Up And Start Again, and for the first time, Totally Wired, which are the interviews that Simon Reynolds conducted to write the former book.

Utterly awesome and both are well worth it if you have any interest in the music that came from Europe and America after punk between 1978-1984. The years where the music was ‘post-punk’ and then evolved into ‘new pop.’ In fact my only gripe would be that the Cure and Kate Bush aren’t considered important in this period by Reynolds. And Gary Numan doesn’t seem to get much of a look in either. Other than that, great stuff, covering an era that shows Reynolds is right in saying that it vies with the sixties for quality and creativity.

So a few songs from the era concerned…

Propaganda -‘Dr. Mabuse.’ mp3 (This band bridge the gap perfectly between post-punk and ‘new pop.’ )

Human League -‘Being Boiled.’ mp3 (both ‘post-punk’ and ‘new pop.’)

Gary Numan -‘Cars.’ mp3

The Cure -‘A Forest.’ mp3

Kate Bush -‘Wuthering Heights.’ mp3

Gang Of Four -‘Damaged Goods.’ mp3

Delta 5 -‘Mind Your Own Business.’ mp3

Depeche Mode -‘Master and Servant.’ mp3 (in which the subversive ideas of wreckers of civilisation like Throbbing Gristle enter the top ten and Top Of the Pops)

Finally, one of the true pioneers, Green Gartside of Scritti Politti, deserves two entries, one for his none more post-punk and DIY and the second for being one of the best songs ever, bridging the gap between post-punk and new pop:

Scritti Politti -‘Skank Bloc Bologna.’ mp3

Scritti Politti -‘The ‘Sweetest Girl’.’mp3

Is it really thirty years since these tracks?

It’s been a wonderful weekend, I’ve had a great time, and feeling quite ‘up’ for a Sunday evening.

Kinda taken aback to suddenly realise that it is now thirty years since these debut tracks were released. My world’s still shaking from the implications of these…

Is there a rule for debut singles? I kinda think they should be like a manifesto. After all, it may be the only shot you ever get, so sing it loud and sing it proud…

The Fall -‘Bingo Master’s Breakout!’ mp3

Steel Pulse -‘Ku Klux Klan.’ mp3

Scritti Politti -‘Skank Bloc Bologna.’ mp3

Gang Of Four -‘Damaged Goods.’ mp3

Adam and the Ants -‘Young Parisians.’ mp3

Magazine -‘Shot By Both Sides.’ mp3

This is a cheat, but it was the b-side and just as good as the a-side…

The Cure -’10:15 Saturday Night.’mp3

I could also have posted Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kate Bush, P.I.L…

the big question is: will we realise who all the good debut singles of 2008 were by at the end of this year, or in thirty years’ time? Answer below please…

Ten more from John Peel’s Festive Fifty

John Peel with Radio 1 DJ Jo Whiley in 1999.

Yup, kids, just like it says, ten more tracks that made John Peel’s Festive Fifty, and I’ve tried to go for even less predictable stuff this time…

Gang Of Four -‘Damaged Goods.’ mp3 (1979 Festive Fifty no.23, 1980 Festive Fifty no.50)

Bluetones -‘Slight Return.’ mp3 (1995 Festive Fifty no.21)

Detroit Cobras -‘Shout Bama Lama.’ mp3 (2001 Festive Fifty no.21)

Dead Kennedys -‘California Uber Alles.’ mp3 (1979 Festive Fifty no.33 , 1980 Festive Fifty no.31, 1981 Festive Fifty no. 42)

Soup Dragons -‘Whole Wide world.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.25)

Camper Van Beethoven -‘Take The Skinheads Bowling.’ mp3 (1986 Festive Fifty no.47)

PJ Harvey -‘Dress.’mp3 (1991 Festive Fifty no.2)

Melt Banana -‘Stimulus for Revolting Virus.’ mp3 (1998 Festive Fifty no.37)

Helen Love -‘Long Live The UK Music Scene.’ mp3 (1998 Festive Fifty no.10)

Broadcast -‘Come On Let’s Go.’ mp3 (2000 Festive Fifty no.5)

As always, if you want to find out more about John Peel start here and for more music featured in his annual Festive Fifties, an excellent place to start is the Teenage Kicks blogspot, especially for music long since deleted.