Andy Gill

Andy Gill died at the weekend aged 64. His guitar playing with Leeds based band Gang Of Four is worth a book in itself. His style, partly copped from Wilco Johnson but then fed through punk and funk, is a massive influence on loads of people who came after him and once heard cannot be forgotten. At one point, about fifteen years ago, I became obsessed with his playing on At Home He’s A Tourist, a counterpoint to the impossibly funky bass- Gill’s playing is an attack, choppy and grating and slashing, chords you can almost feel through the speakers. In his playing you can hear the violence of the punk scene, pub gigs in Leeds and the Marxist theory he encountered at Leeds University, the Frankfurt School and cultural studies. It all seems part of what made him sound like that. His refusal to play solos is also admirable.

At Home He’s A Tourist

There are other songs by Gang Of Four that had a similar effect on me, that really got under my skin, in particular I Found That Essence Rare and To Hell With Poverty. I Found That Essence Rare, also off debut album Entertainment! is a song that takes in bikinis and the atom bomb tests, the tabloid press and politicians acting in their own interests over a coruscating guitar riff, Gill scrubbing his guitar as much as playing it, stripping the paint off it, feedback in place of a solo. To Hell With Poverty is ultra punk- funk with a line w have all been able to identify with at some point- ‘to hell with poverty, let’s get drunk on cheap wine’. In this clip Gang Of Four play it live on TV in 1981, an incendiary performance by true one- offs.

Alarm Clock

This is the tune I was looking for before getting distracted by West India Company, a 1990 offering from German DJ West Bam (Maximillian Lenz). Offering doesn’t really do this speaker shaking 12″ justice. It’s a slap in the face and a shiver down the spine with a juddering riff (sampled from Gang Of Four apparently and then borrowed from this by Weatherall for his legendary My Bloody Valentine remix) and a Tutonic breakbeat. Wakey wakey!

Alarm Clock

In 2013 West Bam released a new album which had this song on it, She Wants, with vocals by Bernhard Sumner (sic) and a slightly disturbing, NSFW video. If last year’s new New Order album had been more like this, I’d have liked it more.

She’s Dressed For The H-Bomb

Oh so influential and name-dropped left, right and centre a few years ago Leeds agit-post-punkers Gang of Four were dour but funky. This is one of their best songs- I Found That Essence Rare- with it’s wire-scaping-against-wire guitars, propulsive rhythm and lyrics taking in the H Bomb, Bikini (Atoll) and bikini’s, tabloid newspapers, politics, class war and other very 80s concerns. Gang Of Four also sang ‘To hell with poverty, we’ll get drunk on cheap wine’-definitely been there.

01 I Found That Essence Rare.wma