Cover art by Mark Vallen
Cover art by Mark Vallen
Cover art by Mark Vallen
Cover art by Mark Vallen

Volume Two Number Nine 1979
Cover: Drawing of Sue Tissue by Mark Vallen
Concert review: Gang of Four at the Whisky a Go Go, by Claude Bessy -aka Kickboy
[reprinted by permission of Philomena Bessy]

"Gang of Four couldn't care less about the theatrical impact of their performances. They dress pretty crappy, move around stage like panicked amateurs and generally come on so off beat and strange you first have a hard time focusing on their particular view of the world. Once you do (all it takes are a couple of obvious guitar licks that feel as if they were carved out of your own heart and a few silly notes on a tinny melodica) watch out, it becomes the only music worth talking about, no matter how hopeless the task.

If you're familiar with the singles, you many know how simply admirable their sounds can be. There is so much rawness, so much honesty in every tune they do that you almost forget the great beat throughout. Gang of Four are very serious about their lyrics, and when the skinhead drummer steps up to the mike to sing "It's her factory", you know these guys mean every word they say and have very little use for the more mundane rock n roll clichés you have seen again and again on that very stage.

Throughout the rest of the set their main singer bops around in a very un-star manner, dangling his arms about, running back and forth from mike to mike, wailing away with no dignity while the skinny guitar player occasionally bumps into him while torturing his cheap guitar and the bass guy pretends he's in a funk band. "At home he's a tourist", "Love like anthrax", "Armalite rifle", they do every song off the two singles plus a few more just as intense, just as moving, there are only about sixty people on the floor and it's a bloody Saturday night, the in-crowd must be drinking itself silly in another part of town, some girl in a corner hasn't realized the horrendous Rubber City Rebels have been off for 30 minutes and keeps mumbling requests for more macho songs.

I feel very sad all of a sudden, I just realized that this band shouldn't be here. I just realized that none of us should be here, this desert was never meant for human beings to crawl about clinging to their feelings as if it was their last tin bottle of water, the joke's on us... I want out. Notice: bands with a more than average amount of sensibility should think twice before booking themselves blind into the most depressing "night spots" the western world has yet invented. This may sound overly melodramatic but just wait 'til the facts hit you in the face. Anyway, another difficult summer is over. Some of it was better than we had any right to expect. The rest we probably deserved."

[Notes by Mark Vallen]
I also attended this concert and was shocked that so few people were in attendance. Gang of Four delivered political lyrics wrapped up in discordant funk music with a hard punk edge. Though Gang of Four never became a big name in the US, a million bands followed in their wake -ripping off their sound but ignoring their political stance. However, none possessed the artistic power or range of the original.

www.art-for-a-change.com is owned and operated by Mark Vallen Claude Bessy's editorials used by permission of Philomena Bessy