Monday, January 24, 2005

GANG OF FOUR – Solid Gold CD
I bought this the other day at Dragonfly Discs, since it’s now readily available at the cheap-cheap-cheap price of $15. This is their second album, from 1981, and essentially the last half-decent thing Gang of Four ever did before sailing off into the land of New Romantic dance-pop. You know, there’s always a few curious reasons as to why you decide to buy a certain album. Maybe it’s a part of a “scene” you’re getting into, or just the artist, or perhaps it’s an album name-dropped by someone else you admire. In this case, my reason’s a mixture of the last two, since the Brit post-punk scene is something I flogged to exhaustion point – barring a few exceptions, obviously – years back. I have been playing Entertainment quite a lot lately, but really, what got me curious here was the fact that Solid Gold is considered an essential component to its predecessor, and also the fact that, (groan) Buzz from the Melvins once noted this as being a prime influence on his band.

There’s this interview with him somewhere on the ‘net (really, you’ll have to find it yourself) which I read last year some time, and he listed a curious group of releases as influences on the Melvins’ sound: Black Flag (especially side B of My War), Black Sabbath, early Swans, Meat Puppets ca. II, Public Image Ltd. ca. Flowers of Romance and Gang of Four’s Solid Gold. It sounds, at first glance, like a stupidly disparate set of influences, yet it makes sense: doomy punk/metal riffs wrapped up in percussive, abrupt, stop-start post-punk rhythms. That’s the Melvins in a teacup. So where does that leave Solid Gold?

I’ve heard the entire album probably 10 times now, and that’s enough for a conclusion of at least some weight. It’s this: I think I prefer this to Entertainment. It’s gloomier, in a sense has a “heavier” sound and more interesting guitar textures, as opposed to Entertainment’s Post-Punk 101 guitar scratchings (which, of course, I do also like). More sonically similar to contemporaries like P.i.L., especially with its ambient production, this one takes the “party” atmosphere down a bit with a more depressive air. You’ll be a happier person for having experienced it.

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