Gang of Four

To Hell With Poverty

Gang of Four – To Hell With Poverty

Last week, a bit reluctantly, my son and I attended a FAFSA night at the high school. They promoted it by saying there would be people from colleges there to help you fill out the financial aid form. I kind of figured I already knew what to do since this is not our first rodeo, but the prospect of having someone from a college, rather than the clueless high school counselor, on hand to answer questions made me think it might be worth it.

Now I’m not so sure. I kind of think we may have entered something incorrectly but when I tired to go in to verify it, the stupid form kept timing out after we logged in so I gave up on that for tonight. Instead I thought I’d get started on the CSS Profile. Oh happy day! We are broke enough to not have to pay any fees for filing that one!

It still amazes me that people can be so easily misled into believing that their problems are caused by whichever minority group the far-right would like to blame today. I mean, we all know how it has happened, but I can’t imagine being so willfully ignorant, so incapable of following basic logic, so completely incurious about the world, that you would look at the two ghouls pictured in this video and think yeah, I’ll trust them instead of my neighbors. I’m avoiding mentioning any of the current crop of fascists on election eve but Ronnie and Maggie really got that party started. Here we are, 40 years later, and I think they would be thrilled to see the state of things today.

Not Great Men

Gang of Four – Not Great Men

It seems Turtleface is up to his usual pot calling the kettle black shtick. I saw a number of headlines about him today. One was that he refused to bring up a bill to protect Mueller for a floor vote (who is surprised), and the other was he wrote an op-ed calling for bipartisanship, chastising Democrats in advance should they not roll up their sleeves and help the Republicans pass legislation. It was not in The Onion.

HA! HahAHAhahaha! HAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, Mr. My Top Priority Is To Make Obama A One Term President wants us to sing kumbaya now? Good ole I Refuse To Grant A Hearing For Merrick Garland is looking for some cooperation? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Of course, he doesn’t mean it. He is just making the statement so that he can then later claim to have been right, those Democrats, just obstructionists through and through. You are as transparent as a window, Senator Hagfish. Fuck yourself five ways to Friday, asshole.

Fun fact. Did you know that his first wife is a feminist scholar and retired a few years ago from running the women’s history archive at Smith College in Massachusetts? Gloria Steinem spoke at her retirement party. I happened upon this a couple of years ago when I got to wondering if he had any children (yes, three daughters). I mean, we all have our regrets from our younger days but can you imagine?

I Found That Essence Rare

Gang of Four – I Found That Essence Rare

I was looking for a video and stumbled onto a channel with several old concert clips from New York City in 1980 including this one and a bunch more by Gang of Four. I’ll tell you what, if we’re in for dark political times, I really hope we get the kind of post-punk music scene that late 70s/early 80s Britain inspired.


The Method Actors – Hi-Hi-Whooppee

I went up to the storage area to get a tape for the drive this morning. I wouldn’t say I’m running out of tapes but there are fewer mixes and more that have one album on each side. Those seem a little less interesting to write up for Tape Deck Tuesday. Then there’s all the bootlegs that I’ll probably never write up. For today I grabbed one that my best friend taped for me at the tail end of August in 1986 or 87, the year isn’t listed, but I can tell it’s from that vintage.

Side A: Concrete Blonde/ The Method Actors: Little Figures
Your Haunted Head
Dance Along the Edge
Still in Hollywood
Song for Kim (She Said)
Beware of Darkness
Over Your Shoulder
Little Sister
(You’re the Only One) Can Make Me Cry
Cold Part of Town
True (Instrumental)
Hi-Hi Whooppee

Side B: Gang of Four: Songs of the Free
Call Me Up
I Love a Man in a Uniform
We Live as We Dream, Alone
It Is Not Enough
Life! It’s a Shame
I Will Be a Good Boy
The History of the World
Muscle for Brains
Of the Instant

I had a hard time getting the tape out of the box, it was really wedged in there. Once I did, I could see it was because there was a little slip of paper inside the folded over part of the label. I unfolded it to find this:


wpid-wp-1415766967407.jpegThat’s my friend’s rendition of the illustration on the back of the album, which is itself a drawing of the front of the album. Of course I didn’t have the record then (which is why she taped it for me) but I bought it sometime after that and now you can see, she did a pretty good job (click the pictures to enlarge). These things were very important. They’re still important to me. It’s one of the reasons why I still don’t really like downloading albums. I do it, especially when I want something quickly or it’s much cheaper that way and I don’t really want a physical copy, but nine times out of ten, I will still want to at least see the cover and any liner notes, etc. Recently I downloaded an album but then discovered there was a copy at the library so I borrowed the library’s copy just so I could read everything inside and made a copy of the insert to keep. I will never understand why all digital downloads don’t include a copy of the CD insert. It’s a simple file they could easily include if you buy the whole album. Do they just assume, hmph, you’re downloading it, you must not really care.

I popped it into the tape deck without rewinding it, catching the end of the instrumental version of True. This was Concrete Blonde’s self-titled album, their first LP. Then there was some crackling and popping, tell-tale signs of the needle touching down on the record. There must only have been room for two songs by the Method Actors. They were one of those bands we’d heard lots about but they’d already broken up and, let’s be serious, the people we knew at college were decidedly not people who would know anything about them.

After those two songs, the tape reversed itself and started playing Gang of Four. I originally thought about posting I Love a Man in a Uniform, seeing as how it’s Veterans’ Day, then I thought, Life! It’s a Shame was perfect (look up the lyrics and ask yourself how is it they’re still relevant 32 years later!?). I miss music like this. Thought-provoking in both sound and lyrics, and you can even dance to it. People make songs of substance still but, it’s not like this. Tucked in at the end of side B was a live recording of the Everly Brothers doing All I Have to Do is Dream.

On the way home I caught the rest of the Concrete Blonde album and thought, hmm, maybe Still in Hollywood will be the winner for the video today, but in the end, the tape made it all the way to the end of side A again and I decided, it has to be the Method Actors. I mean, come on. And somehow, this video was only uploaded four days ago and I was the first person to watch it. It was meant to be. Hi-Hi-Whooppee!


We Live As We Dream Alone

Gang of Four – We Live As We Dream Alone

I don’t know about you but it feels like the music press has spent the last two years reminding us of what albums are now 20 or 25 years old. Sometimes it seems impossible that so much time could have passed, other times it feels like, yeah, 20 years is probably about right. When I watch old clips on YouTube, it often looks like it was even longer ago (this one is *gulp* 30 years old). Poke around there for a while and if you’re looking for it, you’ll find some extraordinary things.

I bought myself a CD player as a college graduation present but I didn’t have any CDs yet so I also bought a receiver, turntable, and speakers. The CD player bit the dust a number of years ago but the turntable was just given a clean bill of health at a turntable clinic put on by my local record store. I sold off some of my records when I left college but I kept most of them and simply replicated my collection on CD as well. It’s funny because CDs were supposed to be indestructible but many of those now skip and one of them, the data just vanished from it completely. Luckily, I still have the records and they still play. Songs of the Free by Gang of Four is one of those treasured vinyl albums.

I remember reading that they were a big influence on bands I loved and they were in that movie, Urgh! A Music War which we got a copy of somehow. I loved digging around connecting the dots. In the pre-internet days, it took time and dedication and those were two things I had in abundance. The pay-off would probably seem small to most people—getting to see live footage of a band that had broken up—but to me it was like a secret code. Pay attention. It’s all there. Hey! Kids.