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July 22, 1982 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1982-07-22

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Page 10-Thursday, July 22, 1982-The Michigan Daily
Gang of Four invades Ann Arbor
By Robert Weisberg

A NN ARBORITES thirsting for some big time
rock and roll will be in for a treat tonight when
England's Gang of Four plays the Michigan Theatre.
Formed five years ago, when drummer Hugo Bur-
nham, guitarist Andy Gill, bassist Dave Allen, and
singer Jon King met in Leeds, the Gang of Four
uniquely fused driving rock'n'roll and social com-
ment, often reflective of their socialist politics. They
have released two EPs and three LPs, toured the
U.S. several times - the tapes of last year's very
successful Second Chance appearance was broadcast
this summer over WCBN - and have seen their
popularity gradually build.
Their latest album, Songs of the Free, a very pop-
sounding record relative to their previous two, offers
female vocals for the first time thanks to new bassist
Sara Lee and vocalist Joy Yates.
"There is very much more of a concentration on
the vocal side of things," explained Burnham the day
after last week's performance in New York.
"Previously Lee'd just got a vocal, we schlepped it
down and ... whereas (this time) we worked very
hard on the arrangements and the way we recorded
them. I think there's more depth to the whole thing;
there's more texture on the record."
Burnham calls Songs of the Free the group's "most
acceptable album yet," but with caution. "People
say it's real commercial. Commercial means selling
-sells alot... But we don't sell."
Or at least they haven't yet. Their earlier records
did establish enough of a following to get the band on
a major label and keep them fed, although Burnham;
says that after expenses they still take in less than
$150 each per week. The relative success of Songs of
the Free, which has sold over 40,000 copies in the:
U.S., may be signalling a change.
After a successful debut EP featuring the oft-
requested "Damaged Goods," the band was signed
by EMI and in 1979 released their first album, En-
tertainment.
"Entertainment has yet to be equaled in its radical'
approach to the music and the ideology within it,"
contends Burnham. "It's a sound that's very difficult.
for people to listen to." He explained that "the
production was deliberately very untreated. They
wanted a sparse, untreated sound and got it.
"Commercially, it didn't do a lot. But I think that
creatively, artistically, and critically it remains to be
equalled as a debut album. Repercussions of things
started in that album you can see in so many bands
now."
Last year's Solid Gold represented an attempt at a
different direction which Burnham admits "didn't
come out altogether successfully."
"That big, black R&B producer from New York
(Jimmy Douglass)," said Burnham, "the idea on
paper was that his experience and his wealth of
knowledge from his area of music combined with
what we were trying to do would create 'the great
Solid Gold' album.
"In fact, he didn't really put his wealth of ex-
perience in. I think we confused him. He said since,

The Gang of Four performs at the Michigan Theatre tonight.

that he probably leanred more from the Gang of Four
than we learned from him." When it comes to recor-
ding, said Burnham, there are no rules. Douglass
"didn't really believe that before" suggested the
drummer.
Earlier this year, Gang of Four released a second
EP entitled Another day/Another Dollar featuring
their first live tracks. Songs of the Free was recorded
in February and the group, according to Burnham,
hopes to record a single late this summer when they
return home, between legs of their U.S. tour.
All of their recordings have featured a healthy dose
of social comment. "Within the framework of being
musicians and playing contemporary music," said
Burnham, "we involve ourselves in things other than
the things rock 'n' roll is mostly concerned with, be it
cars, girls, school, drugs... "
With the current trend towards socially conscious
pop-groups this doesn't sound too original. But Bur-
nham contends that the Gang of Four approach is
somewhat unique.
"We don't wave flags, we don't sloganize," said
Burnham. "We're not like the Clash or Jam, in that
we don't say 'let's do our anti-nuclear song or our
how-rough-it-must-be-living-in-Brixton-and-being-
black song.
"We don't align ourselves with a particular
problem in present day things. It's more a discussion

or an investigation through discussion into particular
modes of behavior, attitudes - alot of things that are
accepted as the status quo." The group aims at "en-
couraging people to think about things in a different
way- particularly with relation to personal politics
rather than governmental and party politics."
To accomplish this the band's lyrics often sound
quite condescending, but Burnham said it's all done
with good intention and never with a desire to say
"this is the way that things must be. We say, 'Well,
look, here's the situation, consider it, and quite
frankly there's a better way'," said Burnham.
Burnham tends to downplay the conflicts between
the band's socialism and the capitalistic industry to
which they're a part. "We live in a capitalistic
society," he said. "Unless you can go and live in a
cave, you must partake in it. But (what's important)
is the attitude with which you do that. Working from
within the heart of the beast is the best way to effect
any change. We're not trying to change the world
beacuse you can't do it." All the Gang of Four wants
to do is open some eyes, he reiterated.
And play some rock 'n' roll. Regardless of politics,
the Gang of Four plays a rousing live set which
should, if past performances are any indication, go a
long way towards quenching Ann Arbor rock 'n' roll
thirsts.

A selection of campus film highli
Oliver Twist
(David Lean, 1948)
An early classic from the director of
Lawrence of Arabia and Dr.
Zhivago. Based on Dicken's popular
story of a small boy who must grow

tghts

Three Stooges Marathon
In a hundred years will anyone un-
derstand the esteem Moe, Larry,
and Curly have attained in the hear-
ts and minds of the devoted? Will
people still laugh at a pie in the face?
Will anyone understand why studen-
ts would flock to, not merely a single
ten-minute film, but an entire
marathon of giddy, inane sight-gags
and slapstick? (Friday, July 23;
Michigan Theatre, continuously
noon to midnight).
The Big Sleep
(Howard Hawks, 1946)
No one has been able to match
Bogart's Philip Marlowe for
downright detective sleaze. Then
again, no one can match Hawk's
direction for perfect style and at-
mosphere. Add Lauren Bacall for

some sex and that magic chemistry
(see below) and you've got the
makings to a memorable tale with
plenty of twists. (Monday, July 26
and Tuesday, July 27; Michigan
Theatre, 3:15, 7:00).
To Have and Have Not
(Howard Hawks, 1944)
Bacall's first picture teams her up
(in more ways than one) with Hum-
phrey Bogart and Hoagy Car-
michael. Though it's mostly a
rehash of Casablanca, Bogart and
Bacall steam up a number of scenes
in a quintessential movie romance.
Trivia question: Whose singing
voice dubbed for Bacall's? Andy
Williams.

Fagin, the crafty leader of a gang of
pickpockets. Though criticized for
his portrayal of Jews, Guinness
manages to shed some light on this
purely Dickensian character. At the
Ann Arbor Public Library. (Friday,
Jily 23, 7:30; Saturday, July 24,
2:30).

luinness
Richard Campbell ... picking pockets

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