Gang Of Four
Each year hundreds of albums are released. So it's no small feat to make Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Gang Of Four's '79 debut album "Entertainment!" held the #483 slot on the '12 survey. The magazine's David Fricke described Gang Of Four as "probably the best politically motivated band in Rock & Roll."
Pitchfork Media named "Entertainment!" the 8th best album of the '70s.
The original Gang of Four were Chinese Communists accused of trying to take over the government in the wake of Chairman Mao's death - one of the Gang of Four was Mao's last wife. The Gang of Four were eventually found guilty of treason and sentenced to prison.
That happy story leads to the Gang Of Four from Leeds, England who were widely considered one of the leading bands of the late '70s/early '80s post-Punk movement.
The original line-up had singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham.
Debut single, "Damaged Goods" went to #1 on the U.K. indie chart and became a John Peel radio show favorite. Signed by EMI records, the group's label debut single, "At Home He's A Tourist" earned them an appearance on the BBC music program Top of the Pops. But Gang Of Four walked off when they were told not to sing the word "rubbers" as it was considered too risqué.
In their infinite wisdom, the BBC then decided to ban the single from radio and TV. The upshot was EMI switched their promotional efforts from Gang Of Four to an upcoming act called Duran Duran. The dye was cast.
Before the release of the group's second album, "Solid Gold," Dave Allen (who later co-founded Shriekback) left. He was briefly replaced by Busta "Cherry" Jones, who'd worked with Parliament and Talking Heads. But when the Rolling Stones came calling Jones went. Sara Lee was next to come onboard. She contributed bass and vocals to Gang Of Four's third album "Songs Of The Free."
True to form, the single "I Love A Man In A Uniform" was banned in the U.K. shortly after its release because Britain was at war in the Falkland Islands. The sarcastic lyrics ("the girls they love to see you shoot") and the overall disparaging tone were the obvious reasons.
Shortly after "Songs Of The Free" came out Burnham walked. The Gang Of Four was down to Gill and King for the '83 release "Hard."
"The Peel Sessions," recorded between '79 and '81, arrived in '86. And that was it for five years, until Gill and King reunited for '91's "Mall" and '95's "Shrinkwrapped."
Fast forward to '04 when Gang Of Four's original line-up returned for a series of tours. That was followed by "Return The Gift," with rerecorded versions of songs in the group's catalog plus remixes.
In '06, Burnham left again and this time was replaced by Mark Heaney. Allen's return was also short-lived. Thomas McNeice was installed on bass in '08.
The group's comeback album, "Content," earned positive reviews including one from Andrew Perry, of Britain's Telegraph newspaper, who claimed it was Gang Of Four's "best record since the Seventies."
Following tours in U.S., Australia and Europe, King bailed, leaving Gill as the only original member. Gang Of Four's ninth album, "What Happens Next" dropped in '15.
1981 Solid Gold
1982 Songs Of The Free
2005 Return The Gift
2015 What Happens Next