Gang Of Four What Happens Next Metropolis
In no particular order, the Gang of Four is Jon King, Andy Gill, Hugo Burnham, Dave Allen (with an honorary mention for Sara Lee). The Marxist chanting, John Peel teasing, feedback forcing, war weary mercenaries of the alternative were made up of these crass agitators. Only Andy Gill remains. In 2015, we tolerate Gill, the novel and rudimentary musician who once played with enough attack to depose an army of critics. Almost too similar to the (Black) Flag reformation in 2014, the initial vigour and vitality of the band seems replaced by a swathe of fill-ins and famous fans. The embryonic zeal of Gang of Four has wilted away. What is left is Frankenstein and his monster.
This monster, What Happens Next, trudges over eleven songs spanning over 40 minutes in total. One leads into another with the same air of sad, sorry acerbity. Underneath the sheen and glazing of post-production is Gill’s trademark guitar work. The staccato chording, the dissonant runs, the amp-humping feedback. You can hear nuances of Gill’s talents in Broken Talk and The Dying Rays. Yet the reggae tinted, Pere Ubu nudging, Parliament-worthy funk lines pinpointed in 1979’s Entertainment! are totally void. Where once the narratives of Capitalist intolerance scored the sounds of pre-80s post-punk, this new gang croon with mettle but no anarchic stamina.
There was something so intangible about Gang of Four. They seemed more like an action or disorganised coup d’état. What Happens Next sounds all too physical, too tactile, a little too mortal. Gill clearly sees life in a group that defined and defiled the sensory notions of protest music throughout the 80s. Nowadays, we have The Pop Group governing the dialect of abstract punk philosophy in the 21st century. Gill’s Gang of Four are merely the support act.