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Various Artists | The Problem Of Leisure: A Celebration Of Andy Gill & Gang Of Four

Indie-rock VIPs pay their respects to the late post-punk icon's immortal classics.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s finally here. Two years before his passing in February 2020, iconic guitarist, producer and Gang Of Four founder Andy Gill embarked on a project very close to his heart. The result is The Problem Of Leisure, a double album of tracks written by Gill and co., newly reinterpreted and recorded by artists whose own unique contributions to music were enriched by listening to the band. The album features songs from across Gang Of Four’s 40-plus year career, each individually chosen by the artists’ who covered them.

Originally conceived by Andy to mark the 40th anniversary of Gang Of Four’s extraordinary 1979 debut long player Entertainment!, an album widely heralded as a classic, The Problem Of Leisure quickly expanded beyond that remit when several participating artists chose tracks from different albums and periods. Every musician who committed to the project was given the freedom to create new versions of whichever Gang Of Four songs they wanted to cover, with Andy overseeing some of the earlier productions but largely leaving artists to create their own interpretations. The final 20 track double-album features an extraordinary roll call of global talent, with artists from seven different countries and four continents, demonstrating the breadth and scale of Andy and the band’s influence.

“There was never any question in my mind about getting this record finished,” says Gill’s widow Catherine Mayer. “It was far advanced, with many tracks already submitted and a wish-list of artists Andy still intended to approach. He was so passionate about making progress that on the day he was taken into hospital, he delayed the ambulance while I fetched his computer and noise-cancelling headphones. In intensive care he listened to mixes and selected the wonderful, playful cover art by Damien Hirst.

“He took so much pleasure from hearing from artists which track they had chosen and why. He was delighted by the tracks he lived long enough to hear. Even in what turned out to be his final days of life, he asked me to send notes and responses to the contributors on his behalf. He also talked to me about further musicians he hoped to coax to come on board. After he died, I made contact with several of these. All said yes. Andy would be delighted with every aspect of this album, including the critical response to it. His ashes are in the flat we shared, in a wine flagon, and the reviews have been so good that I’ve been reading them out to him.”

Last year, obituarists struggled to sum up Andy’s profound impact on music. He had co-founded Gang Of Four and remained at the time of his death its only original member. As co-writer or writer of all the band’s songs and through his unmistakable and much emulated guitar style, Andy influenced generation after generation of musicians, and that effect was amplified by his work as a composer and producer. This album speaks to that impact and influence.”