Title - A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four [2CD]
Artist - Various
For those not in the know, The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four (released June 4th, 2021 via Gill Music Ltd.) is a brand new compilation album featuring major artists with original artwork by Damien Hirst.
The Problem of Leisure is a double album of tracks written by Andy Gill and Gang of Four, all newly reinterpreted and recorded by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to Gang of Four.
The album features songs from across Gang of Four’s 40-plus year career, each individually chosen by the artists’ who covered them.
After Andy’s death in February 2020, Andy Gill’s widow Catherine Mayer assembled a small team to complete The Problem of Leisure. The record had originally been conceived by Andy himself not as a post-mortem tribute, but to mark the 40th anniversary in 2019 of Gang Of Four’s extraordinary 1979 debut long player Entertainment! an album widely heralded as a classic (“the fifth best punk album of all time”: Rolling Stone magazine).
Andy had already revised that vision in the months before his death, after some artists chose tracks from different albums and periods. Every musician who committed to the project was given the freedom to create new versions of whichever Gang of Four songs they wanted to cover, with Andy overseeing some of the earlier productions but largely leaving artists to create their own interpretations.
When Andy died, obituarists struggled to sum up his profound impact on music. He had co-founded Gang of Four and remained at the time of his death its only original member.
As co-writer or writer of all the band’s songs and through his unmistakable and much emulated guitar style, Andy influenced generation after generation of musicians, and that effect was amplified by his work as a composer and producer.
This album speaks to that impact and influence.
The final 20 track double album features an extraordinary roll call of global talent, with artists from seven different countries and four continents, and demonstrates the breadth and scale of Andy and Gang of Four’s influence.
1. IDLES – Damaged Goods
2. Tom Morello & Serj Tankian – Natural’s Not In It
3. Helmet – In the Ditch
4. 3D x Gang of Four featuring Nova Twins – Where The Nightingale Sings (Redux)
5. Hotei – To Hell With Poverty
6. Gary Numan & Ade Fenton – Love Like Anthrax
7. Gail Ann Dorsey – We Live As We Dream, Alone
8. Herbert Grönemeyer featuring Alex Silva – I Love a Man in Uniform
9. LoneLady – Not Great Men
10. JJ Sterry – 5.45
Opening on the angst-ridden, syncopated bass and guitar lines, all whilst waiting for the drums to kick in debut single Damaged Goods (brilliantly brought forth by IDLES), that is backed by Tom Morello and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian’s melodically elevated Natural’s Not in It and then we get Helmet’s vibrant In the Ditch (and which is actually their very own first new recording in five years!), 3D x Gang of Four featuring Nova Twins on their diligently explored, lyrically re-concepted and beautifully poetic take of Where The Nightingale Sings (Redux), before one of my own personal favorites, Hotei’s rhythmically funked up To Hell With Poverty is showcased.
Next up is the Gary Numan & Ade Fenton, Eastern-imbibed Love Like Anthrax (a track off Gang of Four’s quite stunning, late ’70s debut album, Entertainment!) and the foot-tapping, slap bass and funk lines found within Gail Ann Dorsey’s pop-tastic We Live As We Dream, Alone, which are in turn followed by the slyly subversive and full of the sarcasm I Love a Man in Uniform (by Herbert Grönemeyer featuring Alex Silva).
The first CD then rounds out with a track where Gang of Four analyzes and opposes the Great Man Theory (which claims history is shaped by powerful individuals) Not Great Man (here with the soothing timbre of LoneLady laced throughout), concluding on JJ Sterry’s synth-laden, flashback brilliance of 5.45 (How can I sit and eat my tea / With all that blood flowing from the television / At a quarter to six).
1. La Roux – Damaged Goods
2. Everything Everything – Natural’s Not In It
3. Dado Villa-Lobos – Return The Gift
4. The Dandy Warhols – What We All Want
5. Warpaint – Paralysed
6. Flea & John Frusciante featuring The Silverlake Conservatory Youth Corale – Not Great Men
7. The Sounds – I Love a Man in Uniform
8. Hardcore Raver In Tears – Last Mile
9. Killing Joke x Gang of Four – Forever Starts Now (Killing Joke Dub)
10. Sekar Melati – Not Great Men (live version)
The second disc opens on La Roux’s (aka Elly Jackson) very own synth pop take on Damaged Goods and then Everything Everything’s own take on Natural’s Not In It, before we get the opaque post-punk Return The Gift (by Dado Villa-Lobos, ex-guitarist of post-punk band Legião Urbana), The Dandy Warhols with their quieter alt-rock take of What We All Want, and then comes the lush tones of Warpaint’s Paralysed (where the cover stays true to the original, opening with searing drums and a crunchy bass line from Jenny Lee, who also produced the track).
Along next is the totally pulsating, and RHCP-honed Not Great Men from Flea & John Frusciante featuring The Silverlake Conservatory Youth Corale and the Tron-esque synth work of The Sounds’ take on I Love a Man in Uniform, which is in turn backed by the Wuhan band Hardcore Raver in Tears’ cover of Last Mile, the album rounding out on Killing Joke x Gang of Four on the new song (which also features the late guitarist and producer) Forever Starts Now (Killing Joke Dub), closing on a quite stunning, breathtakingly percussion-hued live version of Not Great Men from Sekar Melati (a gamelan band from Gifu, Japan).
The album’s brilliant artwork was created by Damien Hirst, a long-term Gang of Four aficionado. Andy chose the cover art from a selection of options provided by the artist.
The album is available to order now in a variety of double vinyl, two CD and cassette formats from all usual retail outlets worldwide.
The deluxe vinyl format, “Dogluxe” is only available from the Gang of Four website, gangoffour.uk/store. All formats feature different versions of the artwork from Damien Hirst.
Official Purchase Link
Official Gang Of Four Website
Official The Problem of Leisure Website