The new Gang of Four tribute album The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four has been moved from a May release date to June 4, but today a new track from the covers compilation is out. Alt-metal legends Helmet has shared a cover of Gang of Four’s 1981 Solid Gold track “In The Ditch.”
The song follows covers by Serj Tankian and Tom Morello, Warpaint and Robert del Naja (3-D) of Massive Attack. Frontman Page Hamilton reveals the cover of “In The Ditch” was a bit of a challenge for his band with its at-times seemingly improvisational song structure and the unique intensity that Gang of Four brings to all of their compositions.
“My old pal Henry Rollins reissued Entertainment! and Solid Gold back in the 90’s and asked me to do liner notes for Solid Gold,” said Page Hamilton. “I don’t remember what I wrote but I know it was glowing, corny and fanboy. Their songs, feel, energy, inventiveness made an indelible imprint on my musical soul. All of our peers that formed bands in the late 80’s were influenced by Go4. I chose “In the Ditch” for this tribute cause it’s a great song even though it was challenging (thank you to my band!). It feels improvised and random at times but holds together as a composition. The guitar part feels like spontaneous scratchy funk, the angular bass and drum groove grooves hard but sounds like there’s a spoke missing. The vocal is somehow beautiful but scary, urgent and dangerous. There’s no room for limp dick, mail-it-in, non-musical moments in any of these songs. How the hell did they put this together? We could only try to capture the intensity of the original. This band changed me. Thank you Andy, Dave, Hugo & Jon.”
Andy Gill, the long-time guitarist and songwriter for Gang of Four, died at 64 in February 2020 right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States and Europe. His widow believes that the cause of his death, which was reported as a respiratory illness, was in fact due to complications of an infection from the novel coronavirus. Two weeks after his death, the band announced an EP called This Heaven Gives Me Migraine, which features some of the final recordings from Gill, while another EP Anti Hero was released in July 2020 and features the final songs written and recorded by Gill.