Gang of Four to kick off the week. Arguably, one of the most influential and important bands of the Post-Punk movement of the late 70s/early 80s.
Their music brought together an eclectic array of influences, ranging from the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of social criticism to the increasingly clear trans-Atlantic punk consensus. The band was named by a member of the Mekons while driving around with Gill and King when he came upon a newspaper article on the intra-Party coup against China‘s “Gang of Four”.
They became a major influence to a number of successful alternative rock acts throughout the ’80s and ’90s, although few of their followers were as arty or political. R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe cites Gang of Four as one of his band’s chief influences; Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated that Gang of Four were the single most important influence on his band’s early music. Kurt Cobain stated that Nirvana started as “a Gang of Four and Scratch Acid ripoff”. Their debut album Entertainment! was ranked 13th in Kurt Cobain’s list of his 50 favorite albums in his journal. Andy Kellman, writing in AllMusic, has even argued that Gang of Four’s “germs of influence” can be found in many rap metal groups “not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it”.
The band plays a stripped-down mix of punk rock, funk and dub, with an emphasis on the social and political ills of society. Gang of Four are widely considered one of the leading bands of the late 1970s/early 1980s post-punk movement. Their debut album, Entertainment!, was ranked as fifth greatest punk album of all time and at Number 483 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was listed by Pitchfork Media as the 8th best album of the 1970s. Their early 80s albums (Songs of the Free and Hard) found them softening some of their more jarring qualities, and drifting towards dance-punk and disco. David Fricke of Rolling Stone described Gang of Four as “probably the best politically motivated band in rock & roll.”
This concert, recorded at the Indian Summer Festival on September 3, 2006, comes in the middle of their first reunion, which featured the original founding members of the band. In 2006, either before or after this gig, drummer Hugo Burnham left the group and was replaced by Mark Heaney.
No question – this is vintage Gang of Four – so you owe it to yourself to crank this one up.