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Gang of Four

Formed in 1977 by Leeds University students Jon King (vocals), Andy Gill (guitar), Dave Allen (bass), and Hugo Burnham (drums), Gang of Four (along with the Fall, Mekons, and Liliput) produced some of the most exhilarating and lasting music of the early English post-punk era of 1978-1983. Fueled by the fury of punk rock and radical political theory, Gang of Four successfully welded the two in an inspired display of polemics and music that addressed the vagaries of life in the modern world (including love and romance) as matters of political inquiry. Despite the fact that this sounds rife with the potential for being long on rhetoric and short on groove, such was not the case. What made Gang of Four's polemical clang'n'roll so compelling was that it worked as harsh, bracing, and ultimately liberating rock & roll. With Allen and Burnham combining as a formidable and frequently very funky rhythm section, Gill didn't play guitar as much as emit thick wads of semi-tuneful distortion, while King "sang" in a dry, declamatory fashion similar to that of the Fall's Mark E. Smith. The rhythms were stripped down and jagged; at times Gill would dispense with guitar solos entirely and "play" non-solos, which were (surprise!) silence. Song titles sounded like the titles of radical political essays: "At Home He's a Tourist," "Damaged Goods," "It's Her Factory," "Anthrax," "To Hell with Poverty," all of it openly challenging the audience's preconceived notions about rock music, performance, the cult of celebrity, and the nature of politics. And in doing so, GOF conveyed rage, confusion, and loss of identity as well as any band of their time. They have always remained, to the ears of those opened wide by punk rock, an extremely important band. After three consecutive sensational albums, as well as a handful of EPs and singles, Allen left in 1982 to form the more danceable and less overtly political Shriekback, while Burnham departed the following year and formed Illustrated Man. King and Gill, the latter of whom had also established himself as a noted producer for other acts, recorded the misguided "radical soul/R&B" record Hard with veteran producers Ron and Howard Albert. A near total disaster, Hard signaled that the end was nigh. The "Gang of Two" released a so-so live album (At the Palace) and called it quits in 1984. But legends die hard, and Gang of Four experienced a return of sorts in the early '90s with the release of two excellent collections: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century and The Peel Sessions Album). Gill and King put together a new Gang of Four and released the tepid but not disgraceful Mall in 1991. Another reunion, from 1995, yielded Shrinkwrapped. Three years later, a double-disc compilation -- 100 Flowers Bloom -- surfaced on Rhino. Gang of Four's original lineup reconvened in 2004 to tour extensively and release 2005's Return the Gift, featuring re-recordings of their early material. Gill and King continued with a new rhythm section and released 2011's Content with financial support from their fans. King subsequently left, and Gill recruited John Sterry, previously of Gaoler's Daughter, for 2015's What Happens Next. ~ John Dougan
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Stations Featuring
Gang of Four

    New Wave

    New Wave
    2 songs

    '80s Alternative

    '80s Alternative
    1 song

Albums by
Gang of Four

Top Songs by
Gang of Four

  1.   Song
  2.   I Love a Man in Uniform
  3.   I Found That Essence Rare
  4.   Natural's Not in It
  5.   Damaged Goods
  6.   Is It Love
  7.   What We All Want
  8.   Sweet Jane
  9.   To Hell With Poverty
  10.   Not Great Men
  11.   We Live as We Dream, Alone
  12.   At Home He's a Tourist
  13.   Anthrax
  14.   Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time
  15.   It's Her Factory
  16.   He'd Send in the Army
  17.   The Republic
  18.   Paralysed
  19.   Love Like Anthrax
  20.   Cheeseburger
  21.   Arabic
  22.   Woman Town
  23.   Return the Gift
  24.   History's Bunk!
  25.   5.45
  26.   Dead Souls
  27.   First World Citizen
  28.   Graven Image
  29.   Stranded
  30.   Isle of Dogs
  31.   The Dying Rays by Herbert Grönemeyer
  32.   England's In My Bones
  33.   Obey the Ghost
  34.   Broken Talk
  35.   Where the Nightingale Sings
  36.   Do As I Say
  37.   Blood Free
  38.   World Falls Apart
  39.   Hiromi and Stan Talk
  40.   Soul Rebel
  41.   Money Talkes
  42.   Impossible
  43.   Satellite
  44.   Cadillac
  45.   Desire
  46.   F.M. U.S.A.
  47.   Motel
  48.   Everybody Wants to Come
  49.   I Parade Myself
  50.   Colour From the Tube
  51.   Of the Instant
  52.   Muscle for Brains
  53.   Life, It's a Shame
  54.   It Is Not Enough
  55.   Armalite Rifle
  56.   Contract
  57.   Glass
  58.   Capital (It Fails Us Now)
  59.   Call Me Up
  60.   I Will Be a Good Boy
  61.   The History of the World
  62.   Ether
  63.   Guns Before Butter
  64.   I Fled
  65.   Silver Lining
  66.   A Man With A Good Car
  67.   It Don't Matter
  68.   A Piece Of My Heart
  69.   Independence
  70.   If I Could Keep It for Myself
  71.   Why Theory?
  72.   In the Ditch
  73.   A Hole in the Wallet
  74.   Don't Fix What Ain't Broke
  75.   History's Not Made by Great Men
  76.   Hey Yeah
  77.   2nd Life
  78.   Paralyzed

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