Andy Gill's sad passing yesterday has got me thinking about his legacy and how important Gang of Four was in the evolution of modern guitar music. Quite simply, Gang of Four's debut LP, Entertainment, from 1979, is a rock & roll masterpiece. Powerful, raw, funky, innovative, political, poetic, and incredibly compelling. It turned punk-rock into something much richer and textured than just fast and loud, 3-chord guitars, with a message of "chaos and anarchy" Musically it was full of jagged riffs, precision beats, controlled chaos, funky rhythms, and coiled up tension, that would be unleashed with bursts of free form noise and squalls of feedback from Andy's guitar that was both thrilling and cathartic. Lyrically GoF's Marxist, anti-war, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist/corporate message resonates even more today in the age of Trump and Brexit. It was modern protest music brilliantly realized and executed.
It's hard to pick a favorite track on an album full of classics with no filler that works so perfectly as a cohesive whole. But At Home He Feels Like a Tourist has always been a track that resonated with me more than any other from the album, and superbly brings together everything that Gang of Four did best. These lyrics have always stuck in my head, and especially since living in Washington, DC they take on extra significance and meaning:
At home he feels like a tourist He fills his head with culture He gives himself an ulcer
At home she's looking for interest
She said she was ambitious So she accepts the process