Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gang Of Four Make Content Like They Never Left

Gang Of FourThe on again, off again post-punk rockers from Leeds, England, are on again. Content by Gang Of Four offers up an uptempo album with lively vocals solid enough to make you wonder where Jon King (vocals) and Andy Gill (guitar) have been hiding since reviving the band in 2006 with Mark Heaney (drums) and Thomas McNeice (bass).

As an album, Content might not be perfect, but it will clearly convince first-time listeners why the Gang Of Four became one of the most influential bands of the 1970s. They might not be as minimalist as they used to be, but the delivery is better than reliving nostalgia that some aging critics claimed. I wasn't old enough to experience them in 1978. I'm glad I'm old enough now.

Rehashing A Radical Past With The Gang Of Four.

Some people might rightly wonder just how big the Gang Of Four really was in the late 70s and that's okay. They never blew up the music scene with chart toppers or dominated airplay. What they did do was often under the surface. They were influential because they helped shape plenty of bands who came after them.

They've been given heavy nods by R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. For the Gang of Four, it works both ways as they link up nicely with The Ramones.

So what happened? The Gang Of Four was ahead of their time. They didn't bend. They walked off a television show when the BBC told them that they must sing "packets" instead of "rubbers." They were punished for the walk off too. The song was banned. EMI buckled and Duran Duran got a boost instead. It wouldn't be the last time either.

Content Is Seductive In Its Simplicity.

Content has all the right stuff. A choppy guitar. Intense and sometimes strained vocals. Straight bass and drums. The politics is still there, agree or not. It still sounds about right. You'll Never Pay For The Farm is a fine enough introduction.

What's worth yanking is You'll Never Pay For The Farm, She Said, I Can't Find Your Lonely Face, A Fruitfly In The Beehive, and I Can See From Far Away. All five have the right funk and a savageness that revisits old themes as if they've been releasing albums all along.

Chances are that the album will take some time to its legs under it as people realize this isn't a rehash. The new music touches on the times, covering financial fall out, authority, and blindly following the daily grind. Fun enough to drop a caseload of CDs in Egypt.

Content by The Gang Of Four Scores 8.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Take a listen to the whole album. While I picked from the pack of ten for vocal reasons, all the songs are every bit as relative. If you do pick only one, make it She Said. It sticks, without wavering. As I said before, the Gang Of Four doesn't bend. Bank on this album influencing someone in the near future.

Content by The Gang Of Four is on iTunes. You can also pick up Content at Amazon. For a limited time, Gang Of Four is also giving up You’ll Never Pay For The Farm when you join their list.
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