Gang Of Four's 77-81 is the sound of deadening alienation you can dance to

Gang Of Four's 77-81 compiles the groundbreaking band's post-punk glory years

Gang Of Four: 77-81 box set
(Image: © Matador)

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They came out of Leeds and student politics, they came out of Wilko Johnson and The Pirates’ Mick Green, they came out of punk and funk. And they were so influential that for a time in the early 2000s their music was pretty much a genre: from Bloc Party to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, bands were riddled with their sound. 

Coming along at a time when everyone was original except mods, Gang Of Four stood out above almost every other band. From their earliest recordings on Fast Product – Armalite Rifle, Love Like Anthrax – to club-friendly final singles like I Love A Man In Uniform, they gave the world politics, social commentary and a general sense of deadening alienation that you could dance to.

This epic new collection contains the band’s first two albums for EMI, Entertainment! and Solid Gold, an “exclusive singles LP” (which to avoid repetition leaves off those single included on the aforesaid albums), a double LP of live material from 1980, and a cassette tape of out-takes, rarities and demos. 

Despite the omission of radio sessions and later work, this is a blistering collection of songs by a band at their peak, and a fan-set by and large without compare (the live set alone being a fantastic time machine into a world where cool bands played Mekons covers and swore a lot). 

Invest, investigate and continue into the depths of their back catalogue. 

David Quantick

David Quantick is an English novelist, comedy writer and critic, who has worked as a journalist and screenwriter. A former staff writer for the music magazine NME, his writing credits have included On the HourBlue JamTV Burp and Veep; for the latter of these he won an Emmy in 2015.