Warner Bros.
Pop/Rock, Post-Punk, New Wave, Alternative/Indie Rock, Dance-Rock, College Rock, Punk/New Wave

Album Review

Gang of Four emerged from the wreckage of punk rock in the early '80s with a sound all their own. Characterized by blatantly political lyrics that were chanted, sung, and yelled over spare, funky drumbeats and Andy Gill's scratch-and-kill guitar, the Gang's particular brand of angular dance punk was as refreshing as ice water in the face, and as this collection shows, still holds up well almost 20 years later. Back when the members of Rage Against the Machine were still in grade school, Gang of Four's explicit politics were something of a curiosity; the desultory feminism of "It's Her Factory" and the pessimistic Marxist economic forecasting of "Capital (It Fails Us Now)" were not exactly common lyrical conceits in the immediate post-disco era. Those who know their Chinese history will recognize the band's name, though whether it was meant ironically or as a genuine tribute to the counterrevolutionist faction led by Lady Mao is unclear. This generous best-of recaps some of the Gang's finest moments, and will serve as a perfectly sufficient precis for all but completist fans. Half of the Gang's first full-length album (cheerfully titled Entertainment! as in "guerrilla war struggle is the new entertainment") is here, and so are some of the better tracks from their EPs. It also brings together some of the brighter moments from the band's protracted decline into synthesized dribble, such as the immortal "I Love a Man in a Uniform." There are occasional disappointments (the studio version of "To Hell With Poverty" was much better than the so-so live version included here), but overall this is an excellent collection.
Rick Anderson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. At Home He's a Tourist
  2. Damaged Goods
  3. Natural's Not in It
  4. Not Great Men
  5. Anthrax
  6. Return the Gift
  7. It's Her Factory
  8. What We All Want [Live]
  9. Paralysed
  10. A Hole in the Wallet
  11. Cheeseburger
  12. To Hell With Poverty!
  13. Capital (It Fails Us Now)
  14. Call Me Up
  15. I Will Be a Good Boy
  16. The History of the World
  17. I Love a Man in Uniform
  18. Is It Love
  19. Woman Town
  20. We Live as We Dream, Alone