Gang of Four formed in 1977 in Leeds, UK with Jon King (vocals), Andy Gill (guitar), Dave Allen (bass), and Hugo Burnham (drums). Influenced by the Ramones and Television, Gang of Four played a stripped down version of punk, later referred to as post-punk.
The band released their first single, “Damaged Goods,” in 1978. The single’s success led to two Peel radio sessions and an LP, Entertainment. The band experienced the backlash of controversy at the onset with the BBC banning their single “At Home He’s a Tourist” for “controversial lyrics,” and then later “I Love A Man In Uniform” during the Falklands war in 1982.
Gang of Four released their second LP Solid Gold in 1981. Allen left the group following a US tour to form Shriekback, and was briefly replaced by Busta “Cherry” Jones, then Sara Lee. Lee not only lent her skills as a bassist, she provided vocals, as well, extending the band’s audience and appeal. The band released their third album Songs of the Free which included the aforementioned banned song “I Love a Man In Uniform.”
Burnham left the band, who went on to release Hard in 1983. In 1986, they released The Peel Sessions, but by that time Gang of Four was essentially defunct. Gill and King reunited in 1994, and released a couple of albums together. Then, the entire original line-up reformed in 2004. After numerous retirements and reformations, Gang of Four remains active, announcing it will release yet another album the end of 2010.
Gang of Four’s music has withstood the test of time. Too bad they were not more well-known when they broke onto a scene that was ripe for their style. Never heard of them? Here’s your chance to make up for lost time. Post-punk fans, rejoice.
Purchase Gang of Four music here.
“To Hell With Poverty” via YouTube user Byrd75:
“I Love A Man In Uniform” via YouTube user YCSmusic:
“Damaged Goods” via YouTube user xlsomeonelx:
“Tattoo” via YouTube user clmnt92:
“Damaged Goods” via YouTube user samuraiinCfede:
Solid Gold (1981)
Songs of the Free (1982)
The Peel Sessions (1986)