Gang of Four

Return the Gift (V2)

"Repackage sex/Keep your interest," chanted vocalist Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill on the Gang of Four's slashing 1979 debut, Entertainment! A quarter-century later, the middle-aged pair chant it again on this set of rerecorded classics, all performed without a hint of irony. In England, where the proletariat is more mindful of history and politics, the repackaging is made sexier with an additional disc of remixes by everyone from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to the Dandy Warhols, an acknowledgment of how Gang of Four's cold punk/funk blueprint for avant-garde party-building has been transmuted into today's hottest soundtrack for bohemian partying.

It's not as if Americans couldn't discover that blueprint without this remake -- six of these tracks are available domestically in their original form on the recently reissued Entertainment!, and all 14 are contained in one early form or another on two excellent and thematically complementary anthologies, A Brief History of the 20th Century and 100 Flowers Bloom. Yet compare that historical record to these shorter, messier, brighter versions and this set stands as a closer approximation of the band's unsprung live power, both then and now. In short, these versions don't defile the historical record; they defy history's ravages.

 
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