GANG OF FOUR Return The Gift (V2) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
You know you're an Important Band when you can cover your own material. That's what Gang of Four - the British late-70s-formed pioneers of the angular post-punk aesthetic favoured by your Franzes and your Bloc Parties - do here with their best-loved tracks, transformed by Andy Gill (who produced the Futureheads) into luscious, dancey numbers. The record is bright, lyrically and musically stimulating and as sharply produced as anything by their young counterparts.
While the recording and production values of original stuff may not sound as polished, that's part of its appeal. This album (the pre-ordered edition was released with a dollar bill inside) does indeed rock, and the subjects of consumption and perception and society are still germane, but the source catalogue is inherently better because it's just that, the source. Return The Gift sounds like all the hit skinny-tie groups. Why couldn't they just let their music be?
"I think some people out there are horrified at the idea," admits bassist Dave Allen on the phone from Atlanta. "But we put the band back together with the original lineup this March, and we're all far more experienced and better players than we were. We wanted to see what it'd be like to revisit some classic songs, and had no idea how it would sound. It's tricky - but I think we pulled it off very well."