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HelmetJacob Blickenstaff

Hear Helmet’s Cover Of Gang Of Four’s “In The Ditch”


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Helmet‘s cover of Gang Of Four‘s “In The Ditch” has newly premiered online. The track is taken from the upcoming tribute to Gang Of Four and their late guitarist/vocalist Andy Gill, “The Problem Of Leisure: A Celebration Of Andy Gill And Gang Of Four“. A June 04th release date is presently scheduled for that compilation.

Helmet frontman/guitarist Page Hamilton commented:

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“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‘. 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.”

Gill‘s widow Catherine Mayer added:

Helmet has recorded a superb version of ‘In the Ditch‘, such a powerful song for these paranoid times. Andy and the other members of the original line-up came of age during an era of Public Information Films issued by the UK Government in case of nuclear attack.

Even then it was clear that the instructions given in these films, such as taking shelter under tables or diving into ditches, were designed not to save lives but to quieten public nerves. It was propaganda, and as such grist to Gang of Four’s preoccupations. How eerily relevant the lyrics seem, recalling Prepper ideologies and also the claustrophobia of our locked-down world.

Of course I also stumble over the lyrics about ‘beyond the cares of the world’ and ‘six feet under’, things that apply to Andy metaphorically if not, in the second case, literally. His ashes are at home with me, high on a shelf where he can observe, with pleasure, preparations for this wonderful album.”

Other participants on the tribute album include a pairing of Red Hot Chili Pepper bandmates Flea and John Frusciante (“Not Great Men“), a duo from System Of A Down frontman Serj Tankian and Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello (“Natural’s Not In It“, which you can stream here) and more. You can pre-order the album at this location.

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