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Not Great Men

For whatever reason, when I got into Gang of Four, I never managed to get into the people behind the band. It took me years after finding Entertainment! to recognize the name Andy Gill, and even then, it came with the context of learning that he had produced the first RHCP record (eh...), which wasn't exactly positive.

Still, he's somehow managed to be an essential (if unspoken) influence on my guitar playing. Shrill, noisy, chaotic and haphazard, but also rhythmic and pointed. The screeching beginning to Anthrax is rivaled only by the the chainsaw squeels that begin Cables, and even there, Albini likely owes Gill his shirt.

Other people have written it better already, (and he's even said it better himself), but Entertainment! was one of the first punk albums that I'd heard with a level of interplay and full-band dynamic whose sum was unpredictable if you only heard the parts. Instead of bass mimicking guitar chords, the bass and drums were the foundation and the house, while the guitar was only the lightning rod.

I had a harder time getting into their later material, but over the years, even Solid Gold has grown on me. Now is a fine time as any to give these all another spin, crank the volume, and yell about broken politics.

Rest in peace, Andy