G is for Gang of Four

Gang of FourG in this case also stands for one of the Greatest of All-Time, at least in my humble opinion. Back when I was in high school a friend of mine by the name of Josh Lucci lent me an album by the name of Solid Gold. That disc was created by a band by the name of Gang of Four from Leeds in the U.K. When I placed that disc on my turntable it was one of those rare musical moments in my life where I was instantly blown away. The first song on the disc is entitled “Paralysed” and the monotone vocal delivery over the hyper-kinetic work on the guitar hooked me instantly.

Solid Gold is the band’s 1981 sophomore release which meant that unfortunately I was way behind the times in terms of discovering the band. Typical for me back then, I focused more on punk rock than some of the off-springs of that genre. Post-punk was one of them and Gang of Four’s politically charged style neatly fit into that category. Andy Gill’s work on the guitar was some of the most ferocious I had ever heard (still the case to this day), bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham formed in my opinion one of the most potent rhythm sections in music history, incredibly proficient and powerful while singer Jon King possessed an incredibly unique vocal delivery, a perfect fit for the insightful lyrics penned by the band. The Gang not only delivered outstanding music but made you think in the process, an awesome combination.

Gang of Four released just two albums with the original line-up during their initial 1979-1983 run, plus the 2005 reunion album Return the Gift when the band re-recorded songs from the first two albums plus their third Songs of the Free. The band’s 1979 debut Entertainment! is considered by many music critics to be one of rock’s all-time best debut albums. I love that album as well but Solid Gold remains my overwhelming favorite and quite simply in my mind is one of the best albums of all-time. I think Andy Gill took things next level on the guitar and for this listener the pop hooks on every song on the album were absolutely infectious. There may be only one or two tracks maximum on the disc that were not 4 or 5 star caliber and songs such as “He’d Send in the Army”, “Cheeseburger” and the brutal “What We All Want” are special, signature tunes. I miss those days when friends used to lend each other entire albums the way we did back in the day. I’m really grateful Lucci made a point of sharing Solid Gold with me THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO!

This clip is from the movie “Urgh! A Music War”, the original line-up performing “He’d Send in the Army”. Gill is absolutely frightening during this performance.

Cheers! And the best album cover – of ever.

Gang of Four - Solid Gold

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