One of my favorite albums ever is Gang of Four’s first album, Entertainment! It holds up as well today as it ever did. Musically, it is hard to beat the driving rhythms of that tight-knit trio. You don’t need anything more than guitar, bass, and drums. And as I’ve discussed, the synthesizer destroyed a lot of music from that period, so in a sense, Gang of Four was lucky.
The other side of Gang of Four was the explicitly Marxist lyrics of Jon King. But more than that, there is an explicit rejection of common pop music tropes, such as the long song. But the main thing about the band was that they really didn’t sound like anything I had ever heard. Since then, of course, there is Red Hot Chili Peppers, which has always sounded to me like a pretty direct ripoff of the band. (Not that they aren’t great.)
Gang of Four is still performing. Kind of. There is only one remaining member — the amazing guitarist, Andy Gill. The music is good (I just listened to their/his latest album). But it isn’t like the old stuff. For one thing, it isn’t political like it used to be. I think if Jon King isn’t in the band, you really can’t call it Gang of Four.
Here is the band at the time performing “To Hell With Poverty” off that first album: