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When Political Rockers Stop Raging Against and Become the Machine

10.07.2005 11:28 | DISPATCHES

The original members of the sophisticated, but stark, quasi-Marxist band, Gang of Four, have reformed according to a Slate article by Simon Reynolds. Their new album is faithful covers of their old songs. Say what?

Turns out, as Reynolds explains, that because their old record company ("E-em-my," as Johnny Rotten used to sing) had reneged on their loyalties, repackaging their old songs would have profited them nothing.

Not that they were hurting for money. Reynolds writes:

"Bassist Dave Allen's long résumé includes stints at, Intel's Consumer Digital Audio Services Operation, and the Overland Entertainment Division. Drummer Hugo Burnham plunged into the corporate heart of the music industry, working for EMI Music Publishing, Warner Bros., and Island before starting his own management company, Huge & Jolly. Until recently, [singer] Andy King was the CEO of World Television, a webcasting/corporate TV/news production/event-management company."

Unable to afford new CDs myself, I haven't heard their new one, Return of the Gift. Thus I'm in no position to gauge the effect of going corporate on their artistry.

Still, they'd have to go a long way to equal the accomplishments of another known art-punk band from that period that have continued playing together since they started--Wire. I knew that if I waited long enough the perfect (to my specifications) rock record would come along. And it did: Wire's Send from a few years ago.


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