NOT GREAT MEN
THE GANG OF FOUR WEB SITE
The early musical adventures of Andy Gill and Jon King can be traced right back to their days at Sevenoaks School, where along with Tom Greenhalgh, Kevin Lycett and Mark White (later of the Mekons) they used to spend a lot of time in the art room (Mark's Dad was one of the art teachers). Towards the end of their time at Sevenoaks they began dabbling in music, including on one occasion playing reggae at the 'School Ball' - "somewhat to the horror of the deputy head". Paul Hubert (who I'm indebted to for this information) remembers them getting reggae played over the PA in their local pub, so it would seem that reggae was a big influence at that time. "Looking back," he says, "the combination of a certain '60s cultural and political openness, the events of the time, and a certain amount of pointless repression made the school experience quite a fertile one for left-leaning and oppositional types at the beginning of the 1970s".
Andy and Jon subsequently went to Leeds University where they met up with drummer Hugo Burnham. They formed Gang Of Four in Leeds in 1977, after recruiting Dave Allen who answered an advert for a 'bass player wanted'. After their first single in 1978, they were snapped up by EMI and released their debut album Entertainment! in 1979.
Their second single, At Home He's A Tourist, actually made the UK Top 40, and Gang Of Four had been due to appear on Top Of The Pops, but were dropped at the last minute when they refused to remove the word 'rubbers' from the lyrics. Having retained their artistic integrity but missed their chance of wider fame, they were destined to remain a cult band, and they never again reached the singles chart.
The second album Solid Gold was released in 1981, but shortly afterwards Dave Allen left to form Shriekback, and was replaced on bass by Sara Lee. A third album, Songs Of The Free followed in 1982, but by this point much of the original hard edge had been lost from the music. Hugo Burnham left after this album, and the fourth album, Hard (1983), featured Andy Gill programming the Linndrum, with Jo Galdo, Ron Albert and Howard Albert also heavily involved. Steve Goulding provided live drums until 1984, when the band broke up. A live album, At The Palace, features one of their last gigs.
For a while, that was it, but in 1990 Gang Of Four was re-formed, on a part-time basis, by Andy Gill and Jon King, with various people filling in on bass and drums. The first single from the reformed band was Money Talks, released by independent record label Scarlett Recordings, and an album Mall followed in 1991, on Polydor. The sound was rather more electronic than Gang Of Four's earlier work, and later they admitted to only being happy with about half of it.
Andy and Jon kept themselves busy with film soundtrack work, and one such film, Delinquent, provided much of the music for the sixth Gang Of Four studio album, Shrinkwrapped. The album was released by When! (part of Castle Communications) in 1995, to widespread acclaim but (presumably) the usual dismal sales. A few rare but triumphant gigs followed, notably in London and America, but Jon King has since left the music business, meaning the end of Gang Of Four.
In 1998 Andy, Hugo and Dave worked together in compiling a 2-CD compilation, 100 Flowers Bloom, which was released in the USA including a number of new remixes and previously unreleased live and demo versions of earlier songs. For the future, a live album and even a live video have been rumoured.
I'm always on the lookout for additions / corrections to the
discography, as well as anything else which may be of interest. My email
address is here.
Thanks for visiting!
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