GANG OF FOUR Solid Gold & Another Day / Another Dollar (EMI)

As much as it might sound like a retread of their acclaimed 1978 debut “Entertainment!”, Gang Of Four’s second album, originally released in 1981, still seems almost depressingly contemporary. Certainly, having their jerky post-punk funk appropriated by the likes of Franz Ferdinand hasn’t harmed the band’s cause, and titles such as “Outside The Trains Don’t Run On Time”, “A Hole In The Wallet” and “He’d Send In The Army” still seem freshly ripped from the headlines. In fact, the most dated aspect of this reissue, bundled with the 1982 EP “Another Day / Another Dollar”, is Michael Hutchence’s booklet endorsement. Laced with sardonic (in this context, at least) dialogue samples, “Cheeseburger” is the album’s most potent, pointed moment, the American dream debased.

Compared with the main feature, the EP doesn’t exactly sugar the pill, but it has a density that “Solid Gold” (ironically) lacks. The production line grind of “Capital (It Fails Us Now)” (“On the first day of my life I opened my eyes/Guess where! In a super store/Surrounded by luxury goods/I need a freezer I need a hi-fi”) is perhaps more relevant than ever in these credit-crunched times, and the year zero revisionism of “History’s Bunk!” (“In the future we’ll invent more junk…There are no lessons in the past”) looks increasingly like the problem rather than the solution. Better yet are two scorching live tracks, white men in Hammersmith Palais circa March 1981. “Cheeseburger”, introduced as “an angry song about angry things”, drips with vitriol, turning consumer culture against itself. “What We All Want” steamrollers the studio version, its opening cyclical guitar riff surely an influence on The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now”. A whole album of live material from this era would be a formidable prospect.

Yes, it’s a remorseless listen. Nevertheless, the fact that the reformed Gang Of Four’s 2005 album “Return The Gift” consisted entirely of self-covers of their earlier material only reinforces the fact that they were a quarter century ahead of their time.