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Music / Gang of Four

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The classic 1979 lineup. Left to right: Jon King, Andy Gill, Hugo Burnham, Dave Allen.

To Hell with poverty!
We'll get drunk on cheap wine!

Gang of Four were a British Post-Punk band and one of the Trope Makers of Dance-Punk. They combined Funk rhythms, jagged guitars and simple bass lines with a heavy emphasis on politics and a sardonic approach to love and sex. While never big in the charts, their mix of Punk Rock, Funk, and Dub Reggae has been influential since their debut in 1979. Bands from R.E.M. through Franz Ferdinand to Red Hot Chili Peppers cite them as an influence.

The classic lineup contained Jon King on vocals, Andy Gill on guitars and backing vocals, Dave Allen on bass, and Hugo Burnham on drums. The band dissolved and reformed multiple times, transitioning their style from Post-Punk Dance-Punk to New Wave Music, Dance Rock, and back to Post-Punk with their revival in the Turn of the Millennium.

Gill passed away at the age of 64 on February 1, 2020; the band announced his death that same day via Twitter. It appeared to be the end of the band-until King and Burnham announced another reunion in October 2021.

Not to be confused with the 1960s Chinese Communist group from whom the band take their name.

Studio Discography:

  • Entertainment! - (1979)
  • Yellow - (1980, EP)
  • Solid Gold - (1981)
  • Another Day/Another Dollar - (1982, EP)
  • Songs of the Free - (1982)
  • Hard - (1983)
  • Mall - (1991)
  • Shrinkwrapped - (1995)
  • Return the Gift - (2005, re-recordings of songs from their first three years)
  • Content - (2011)
  • What Happens Next - (2015)
  • Happy Now - (2019)

Love Will Get You Like a Case of Tropes:

  • Anti-Love Song: "Anthrax"
    "Love will get you like a case of anthrax
    And that's something I don't wanna catch"
  • Cover Album: Return the Gift is a cover album of their material from 1979-1982. They mostly did it to fix the drums, which they likened on the old albums to cardboard.
  • Dance-Punk: Trope Makers with their combination of danceable funk rhythms and jagged Punk guitars.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Referenced in the captions on the Entertainment! cover:
    The Indian smiles, he thinks that the cowboy is his friend. The cowboy smiles, he is glad the Indian is fooled. Now he can exploit him.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: The band took their name from a faction of Chinese Communists from the Cultural Revolution who were charged with treason.
  • Intercourse with You: "Damaged Goods"
    "Your kiss so sweet, your sweat so sour
    Sometimes I'm thinking that I love you
    But I know it's only lust"
  • New Sound Album: While they never entirely abandoned their signature sound, they altered it enough to count as this on these records:
    • Songs of the Free transitioned to a more accessible New Wave Music sound.
    • Hard and Mall were R&B records.
    • Shrinkwrapped brought back the Dance Rock.
    • Return the Gift returned the band to their jagged Post-Punk sound, plus bigger drums.
    • What Happens Next is full-blown industrial.
  • New Wave Music: Transitioned to this with Songs of the Free through Mall.
  • Post-Punk
  • Shout-Out: Men Without Hats gives them one in their song "Living In China".
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: "Anthrax" has Jon singing in the left channel while Andy talks about writing love songs in the right.