Don’t Return This Gift: New Gang of Four Box
Soon after guitarist Andy Gill’s unexpected early February passing (of a respiratory ailment, following a November tour of China – you do the math) the surviving original members of the Gang of Four set out to reaffirm the post-punk standard bearers’ legacy.
Gill had been performing with other musicians under the Go4 banner since vocalist Jon King departed from the reformed unit in 2012, but the Gang of Four: 77-81 box set (out in the Spring on Matador) focuses solely on the output of the classic lineup: Gill, King, drummer Hugo Burnham and bassist Dave Allen. This means the brilliant albums Entertainment! and Solid Gold, a disc collecting their few but very fine non-LP singles, a cassette(!) of early demos, and a 100-page hardbound book.
Gang of Four were also among the most reliably superb live acts in memory – even when they were touring on less groundbreaking material in later years – and the box captures a particularly blistering set, recorded in 1980 at San Francisco’s American Indian Center tearing through pretty much all of Entertainment!, a couple early singles, and a Mekons cover.
The band added a bevy of 1979-83 live recordings to Spotify earlier this year – they’re well worth checking out, if you haven’t already. The Gang of Four’s lasting impact was hardly in doubt – Run the Jewels recently built an entire track off of “Ether,” fer chrisssakes – but these treasures are far from damaged goods and deserve a higher profile, even if the price point may leave a hole in the wallet.
Photo by Andrew Corrigan.