On the 1st of February 2020 it was announced by the English Post-Punk outfit Gang of Four that their lead guitarist and vocalist, Andy Gill, had tragically passed away. Not only was Andy the vocalist and guitarist, he was also the band’s only remaining co-founder after the departure of Hugo Burnham, Jon King and Dave Allen. A few months after the band had announced Gill’s passing, a spokesman told the New York Times that it was possible his death could have been related to the Covid-19 Pandemic since the band had toured China in the later months of 2019.
Now, nearly a year to the day of Gill’s passing, we have the first single released from a tribute album entitled The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four.
Rock and Metal legends Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Serj Tankian (System of a Down) have teamed up to bring a new take on ‘Natural’s Not In It’, the second track from Gang of Four’s debut LP Entertainment!. Originally released in 1979 , this release has been voted the “the fifth best punk album of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine and is held in very high regards globally. This LP as a whole is timeless on its own without needing to add the unmistakable vocals of Tankian and screaming guitar tone of Morello to the mix covering one of the songs.
The stereo effect of Tom Morello’s guitar is extraordinary in this track with crazy squeals, a mind bending solo, phase and flange effects that will keep you on your toes and your head rocking for the entire 3 minutes. Listening with headphones is highly recommended to ensure you don’t miss any of the weight the guitar brings to the track.
As a big System of a Down fan, it’s always relieving to hear Serj Tankian’s vocals on a new piece of music, even if that piece of music is a cover song. He shows off a vocal range only witnessed a couple of times throughout Serj’s extensive discography, whether it be with SOAD or through his solo career. The only downside I do have to admit is that it doesn’t sound like Serj was having very much fun recording this record. Whether that is true, I can neither confirm nor deny, but that is the general vibe I get from Tankian’s vocals.
The artists had the following to say regarding working on the cover track:
Tom Morello states: “Andy Gill was one of a handful of artists in history who changed the way guitars are played. His band Gang of Four were just incendiary and completely groundbreaking with Andy’s confrontational, unnerving and sublime playing at the forefront. His jagged plague-disco raptor-attack industrial-funk deconstructed guitar anti-hero sonics and fierce poetic radical intellect were hugely influential to me.”
Serj Tankian: “It was a real pleasure to work on this track with Tom and honor the legacy of Andy and Gang of Four at the same time.”
This is truly a fantastic way to honor the legacy of Andy Gill and Gang of Four, and it’s only the beginning. Stay tuned for more announcements coming from the Gang of Four camp, including who else will be featured on the tribute album.
‘Natural’s Not In It’ is available as a digital download from the official Gang of Four webstore, where you can also pre-order the album, which is due for release on 14th May on CD and vinyl with artwork by Damien Hirst.