First Look: New Gang of Four Album

Massively influential politi-punk
British outfit returns with
out this week on Yep Roc.


By Mary Leary

Iconic, politically strident post-punk entity Gang of Four
reformed in 2004, then revamped its rhythm section after making waves at All
Tomorrow’s Parties in ‘06. Content,
its first original full-length since this third (in its history) resurfacing, is
raising antennae in many circles (GOF has been cited for influencing a plethora
of musicians including The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Fugazi). It
certainly evidences the courage demanded of the band’s original members (Andy
Gill/guitar; Jon King/vox) when pumping out anything new: Comparisons with the
brilliance of their’79 opus, Entertainment,
are inevitable. Those enamored of the somewhat less angst-riddled but still
ferocious tracks characterized by Songs
of the Free
(’82), may also arrive with expectations.


Gill’s scatter-shot guitar, replete with his signature
echoes and cascading dissolves, is as intuitively employed as ever on Content. Likewise, King’s vocals carry nearly
the urgency of those transmitting GOF’s most effective material. The lyrics handily
weave the rhyming and assonance used in much popular and rock music with the socio-politically
observant turns for which King and Gill are known. For anyone who was “there” (1977-‘83),
listening to the new album could be somewhat disorienting. The startling
originality of feedback peels and kinetic beats that threw the band into the
spotlight feels simultaneously retro and fresh on tracks like “YouDon’t Have to
Be Mad” and “Never Pay for the Farm.” Lovers of seminal GOF like “I Love a Man
in a Uniform” can get a fix with “I Can’t Forget Your Lonely Face,” “I Party
All the Time,” and “You Don’t Have to be Mad.”


Content is a
solid, respectable comeback. As if to make up for not being able to reverse
time/recreate the conditions and environment that fostered battle cries like “Damaged
Goods” and “I Found That Essence Rare,” GOF is including “a vial of ‘Gang of
Four’ blood” with the Deluxe Can edition of the album. What punk – aging or
otherwise – could scream for more?


Gang of Four kick off
a U.S.
tour next week:


February 4        
Phoenix Concert Theatre
            Toronto, ON
February 5         Theatre of Living Arts
Philadelphia, PA
February 7         Paradise
Boston, MA
February 8         Webster Hall
New York, NY
February 9         9:30 Club
Washington, DC
February 11       Metro
Chicago, IL
February 12       First Avenue
Minneapolis, MN
February 15       Venue
Vancouver, BC
February 16       Showbox @ the Market
Seattle, WA
February 17       Wonder Ballroom
Portland, OR
February 19       The Fillmore
San Francisco, CA
February 20       House of Blues
Anaheim, CA
February 21       Music Box
Los Angeles, CA



[Photo Credit: Matej Grgic]




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