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Sunday, Dec. 19, 2004

LISTENING POST

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Gang of Four


The news that Gang of Four is reuniting has been acknowledged happily by folks who grew up with the lads from Leeds back in 1979. Younger folks who love the band but want them to remain in the history books seem less pleased. Fans of The Futureheads, one of the many new British bands that shamelessly appropriates GOF's choppy rhythms, strained vocals and inventive bass lines, have posted notices on that band's Web site decrying the reunion, which is notable since founding GOF member Andy Gill produced the Futureheads' best-selling debut.

What these malcontents resent is the implied hypocrisy. No group in the history of rock laid into the capitalist mentality with more vigor and style. In that regard, the young English band that comes closest to GOF's modus operandi is Bloc Party, whose odes to consumerist paranoia, metaphors about overeating, and relentless use of the word "money" as a pejorative give them a leg up on other politically minded punk groups, most of whom think Che Guevera originally sang with the Wailers.

If Bloc Party lack GOF's starkly original take on funk, well, there's no use being slavish. The band's sound is more on the pop side, and lead ranter Kele Okereke isn't above processing his vocals. This is a band that is seriously into choruses -- call-and-response, syncopations, long, soaring vocal riffs -- so even if the polemics get lost in the mix, you know they mean what they say. You may not even care what they say, but they definitely care that you dance.

Bloc Party: Dec. 21, 7 p.m., Harajuku Astro Hall, Tokyo, 4,500 yen (Creativeman, [03] 5466-0777); Dec. 22, 6:30 p.m., Club Vijon, Osaka, 3,500 yen (Kyodo Osaka, [06] 6233-8888).


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