Monday, June 11, 2007

More Songs To Learn And Sing #11

For today's choice of a song that everyone should take to their hearts, we turn to Jamila from Fucking Dance:

Gang Of Four - Anthrax

So I have just spent the past few days scrawling through my iTunes and complaining that my collection of music is not obscure enough. To the average radio listener or music fan it is rather ‘out there’, but to the world of bloggers it’s nothing special. Instead of choosing something completely and totally different, I’ve gone for a track by my second favourite band in the world.

One day a few years ago I was bored (surprise surprise), and playing my dad’s vinyl. I stumbled across a bright pink 7" sleeve titled "the sleeve for a Gang Of Four recording of Damaged Goods, Love Like Anthrax and Armalite Rifle". The sleeve was naturally a little worn out, but in pretty fine condition considering it was eleven years my senior.

Often classed under post-punk, Gang Of Four formed at university in Leeds in 1977 through a love of politics and an urge to make pop songs. These songs would go on to influence far and wide, and without Gang Of Four bands like The Rapture, Bloc Party, The Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand wouldn’t exist today. Their sound is completely modern, despite being 30 years old. At the time Gang Of Four were popular, but managed to fade into the background after At Home He’s A Tourist was banned by the BBC (for the word "rubbers" of all things) and their label began to push Duran Duran instead.

Released in 1978, Love Like Anthrax was Gang Of Four’s first single. It was later re-recorded as Anthrax and drenched in the band’s angular and definitive sound. The original recording is my favourite version (just who doesn’t love that crackling sound?) but Anthrax is awkward in all the right places. I’d have absolutely no clue how you would dance to this track sensibly.

It all begins with an introduction of screaming guitars and feedback. Then the infectious and repetitive drumbeat kicks in, joined by the heavy bass line. It’s almost at the halfway point before anyone even begins to think about lyrics. Jon King and Andy Gill spice things up with their distinctive, monotone speeches, talking over the top of one another. "Love will get you like a case of anthrax, and that’s something I don’t wanna catch," echoes the sentiments of heartbroken and bitter people worldwide and is possibly the best and most un-sloppy way of describing love ever. Gang Of Four have always been clever with their quietly politicised lyrics (and then sometimes not so quietly), commenting on society and the way of life. "The things I’m doing aren’t good for my health," describes exactly the type of hedonistic behaviour that comes as a result of falling in and out of love. Probably best to try and avoid love altogether in that case.


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