80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Gang of Four

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:

Early Discography

Entertainment! (1979)
Solid Gold (1981)
Songs of the Free (1982)
Hard (1983)
The Peel Sessions (1986)

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Shriekback

SB_aMy attraction to this band is my unabashed love for the deep, sexy, croon-in-your-ear voice of Barry Andrews. The band’s dark, moody instrumentation accompanied by Andrews’ equally mercurial and pensive singing sets the stage for a mind-bending excursion into the inner reaches of your soul. 

The band originally formed in 1981 and, like many 80’s bands, morphed through several line-up changes, sustaining them up until their most recent release in 2007. The core members were Barry Andrews, Dave Allen (bass guitar) and Carl Marsh. Andrews’ previous musical experience included performing with the bands XTC and League of Gentlemen. Allen’s pedigree included bassist for the group Gang of Four. 

Shriekback enjoyed mild success in the UK, but remained virtually unknown here in the states. Michael ManSB-bn (producer of “Miami Vice,” “Manhunter,” and “Band of the Hand”) took a liking to the ethereal, atmospheric sounds that set Shriekback apart from the crowd, much like his own TV and movie creations. Mann featured several of Shriekback’s songs in his productions, thus gaining some US traction for the group.

My personal favorites are the LPs Care and Oil and Gold. These two collections highlight all that was and is still good about this unique band. I also purchased Cormorant a few years ago and was pleasantly surprised to hear a band that had managed to not compromise their signature talent and sound over the years.

Check out the band bios and more of their music on MySpace. If you are in the mood for music that will pique your intellect while shaking your soul, you won’t be disappointed.

 “Nemesis” via YouTube user universalmusicgroup:

 “Underwaterboys” via YouTube user cloud74buster:

“Hand On my Heart” via YouTube user groovedigger00:

“Accretions” (Monstrous Dance Mix) via YouTube user Ox51D:

Purchase Shriekback music here.

80’s Discography

SB1Tench (EP – 1982)




SB2Care (1983)

SB3Jam Science (1984)

SB4Oil and Gold (1985)

SB5Big Night Music (1986)




SB6Go Bang (1988)