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

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