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Tuesday 4 February 2020

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.


Charity Chic said...

Coruscatinghas gone on the 2020 words list on the office whiteboard.
Great post - as always

Swanditch said...

One could argue that the opening to Anthrax was a solo. I love that track.

Anonymous said...

The intro to 'Anthrax' sounds like a calling card, saying Andy Gill is here 'i'm going to fuck sound up, come along for the ride'. No corny blues riffs, no tedious solos. T. Morello described his sound as 'jagged plague disco', brilliant! Hat's off to the 'deconstructed guitar anti hero'. RIP

Swiss Adam said...

Yep, its the complete lack of 70s blues rock riffs and solos that is key for me.