Initially scheduled for release last year, but delayed due to production issues, we are pleased to announce that GANG OF FOUR: 77-81 will now be out March 12 and available in LP and CD editions.
This stunning limited-edition box set gathers Gang of Four’s influential early work – including Entertainment! and Solid Gold (both remastered from the original analogue tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released Live at American Indian Center 1980. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from Entertainment! and Solid Gold, and an epic 100-page, full-colour hardbound book.
The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never-before-seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.
The CD version of the box will be out April 23rd. It will not include the badges or the C90. The demo recordings will instead be made available through a download code.
Below, you can watch a lyric video for the song “Damaged Goods” and listen to the demo of the unreleased song “Elevator,” which is included on the cassette.
Gang of Four’s Jon King on “Elevator”:
Andy & I both lived in a shitty house in Leeds where we used to sing The Band or Muddy Waters songs, chugging disgusting homebrew beer that I fermented in a dustbin. We started writing songs - mostly homages to Dr. Feelgood or the Velvets - recording them on a crappy cassette player. Inspired by the New York scene and with UK punk rock on a thrilling rampage, Hugo, Gill, and I formed a band.
The first couple of gigs were those early songs and a fast Beatles cover. Dave joining us raised the bar. He was really good, and we quickly came up with new material we all wrote together, built on grooves from Dave & Hugo, over which Andy and I would improvise until we’d got somewhere.
“Elevator” always worked well live. It was a keeper until it wasn’t. By the time we got into the Workhouse studio to record ‘Entertainment', it was in the dumper. I’d forgotten ever writing it until it was dug up for the box set cassette. I like it: the jangly riff, propulsive rhythm, and dopey lyrics take me right back to the day.
Yesterday marks the one-year anniversary of Andy Gill’s passing. A new tribute album, The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, will be released in May via Gill Music and features contributions from Flea and John Frusciante, Warpaint, La Roux, and more.
Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favouring tense rhythms, percussive guitars and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance.
This original lineup of the band released two monumental albums, Entertainment! (1979) and Solid Gold (1981). A third, Songs of the Free (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After Songs Of The Free, Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released Return The Gift (2005).
Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalog and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.
In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield from “post-punk,” including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of Entertainment!, Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.
A2. Natural’s Not In It
A3. Not Great Men
A4. Damaged Goods
A5. Return The Gift
A6. Guns Before Butter
B1. I Found That Essence Rare
B4. At Home He’s A Tourist
B6. Love Like Anthrax
A2. What We All Want
A3. If I Could Keep It For Myself
A4. Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time
A5. Why Theory?
B2. The Republic
B3. In The Ditch
B4. A Hole In The Wallet
B5. He’d Send In The Army
A1. To Hell With Poverty
A2. It’s Her Factory
A3. Armalite Rifle
B1. Capital (It Fails Us Now)
B2. History’s Bunk!
B3. Cheeseburger (Live) *
B4. What We All Want (Live) *
*Live at Hammersmith Palais
LIVE AT AMERICAN INDIAN CENTER 1980
A1. Not Great Men
A3. Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time
A4. Damaged Goods
B1. He’d Send In The Army
B2. Guns Before Butter
C2. It’s Her Factory
C4. Natural’s Not In It
D1. At Home He’s A Tourist
D3. Return The Gift
SIDE A -THE EARLY DEMOS (VARIOUS)
I) REHEARSAL ROOM – LEEDS, 1977-78
The Things You Do
What You Ask For
Love Like Anthrax
Silence Is Not Useful
II) CARGO DEMOS – CARGO STUDIO, ROCHDALE
iii) THE TAPES – POLYDOR STUDIOS, JAN 1978
Return The Gift
Corked Up With The Ether
SIDE B – ABBEY ROAD DEMOS
FROM 5TH JANUARY 1981 - (single track from cassette)