Album: Gang Of Four

Return the Gift, V2
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The Independent Culture

With most of today's young rock bands, British and American, drawing on the musical legacy of spiky new-wave combos such as Wire, XTC, Talking Heads and themselves, the Gang of Four could hardly have chosen a better time to regroup. Frankly, it would be hard to find a period of political betrayal more deserving of their brand of lofty, scathing agit-pop. This 2CD pack, however, is more a stop-gap summation than a fresh broadside. One disc is re-recorded highlights from their heyday, the other is those same tracks remixed by a selection of bands and producers, including Paul Epworth, Ladytron, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Dandy Warhols. Once sampled, the latter is destined to remain nestled snugly in its sleeve; it is almost completely, unlistenably wrong-headed. Lost amid dub abstracts of the original riffs, the muttered commentaries on commodity culture leave the GO4 sounding like snobby student politicos. Which isn't the case on the band's own re-created versions, which have an infectious muscularity that overrides the caustic disdain of the lyrics. The rhythm section never sounded this fat, drummer Hugo Burnham and bassist Dave Allan laying tough funk grooves more capable of carrying Andy Gill's distinctive, serrated slashes of guitar.