Entertainment!

Entertainment! is the debut album by English post-punk band Gang of Four. It was released in September 1979 through EMI Records internationally and Warner Bros. Records in North America. Stylistically, it draws heavily on punk rock but also incorporates the influence of funk, dance music, reggae and dub. Its lyrics and artwork reflected the band's left-wing political concerns. It would be an influential release in the burgeoning post-punk movement.

Entertainment!
A red background with "Gang of Four" in all capitals and "Entertainment!" in all lowercase written at the top of the image. Three pictures of a cowboy shaking hands with an indigenous American are shown in the right to bottom-right of the image, with the surrounding text saying "The Indian smiles, he thinks that the cowboy is his friend. The cowboy smiles, he is glad the Indian is fooled. Now he can exploit him."
Studio album by
Released25 September 1979
Recorded1979
StudioThe Workhouse (London)
Genre
Length39:53
Label
Producer
Gang of Four chronology
Entertainment!
(1979)
Yellow EP
(1980)

In 2020, Entertainment! was ranked at number 273 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

CompositionEdit

Entertainment! has been recognized as a seminal post-punk album.[1][2] It has also been described musically as dance-punk[3] and art punk.[4] The album was co-produced by King and Gill along with Rob Warr, their band manager at the time. King's lyrics were heavily influenced by Situationism, feminism, and the effect of alienation on personal life; a unifying notion is that "the personal is political". Topics include commodification ("Natural's Not in It", "Return the Gift"), proletarian life ("At Home He's a Tourist"), Great Man theory ("Not Great Men"), Special Category Status prisoners in Northern Ireland ("Ether"), and the impact of media reporting of acts of terrorism and Maoist guerrilla warfare in Latin America ("5.45"). A number of songs apply these themes to challenge traditional concepts of love and love songs ("Anthrax", "Contract") and sex ("Damaged Goods", "I Found That Essence Rare"). In his 2014 monograph on the album, Kevin J. H. Dettmar likens the album to James Joyce's Ulysses, saying; "both are concerned with the importance of narrative, of storytelling, as a mode of experiencing the world... that the stories we tell ourselves about "the way things are"—a body of stories that in another context we might call ideology—profoundly shape our experiences of the world.[5]

ArtworkEdit

The cover, designed by King, shows the influence of the Situationist International, a group which became famous during the Paris '68 student-led revolution in France. It depicts an "Indian" shaking hands with a "cowboy" in three heavily processed versions of the same image, based on a still from one of the Winnetou films starring Lex Barker and Pierre Brice, which had once been popular in communist East Germany as critical narratives of capitalism. The faces are reduced to blobs of red and white — that is, to the stereotypical racial colours. A text that winds around the images reads, "The Indian smiles, he thinks that the cowboy is his friend. The cowboy smiles, he is glad the Indian is fooled. Now he can exploit him." In this way, it approaches themes of exploitation, but taken with the lyrical content of the album, it may also point to simplistic depictions of ethnic, social or political conflict in the media as "cowboys and Indians".

The album's back cover depicts a family whose father says, "I spend most of our money on myself so that I can stay fat", while the mother and children declare, "We're grateful for his leftovers". On the album's inner sleeve, designed by Gill, small photographs depicting scenes shown on television are interlaced with text illustrating what the band suggests are the misleading subtexts of media presentation: "The facts are presented neutrally so that the public can make up its own mind"; "Men act heroically to defend their country"; "People are given what they want".

ReleaseEdit

"At Home He's a Tourist" reached number 58 in the UK Singles Chart, the highest position of any Gang of Four song.[6] The band were originally asked to perform the song on Top of the Pops. However, when the show's producers heard the line "And the rubbers you hide in your top left pocket" they asked the group to change the word rubbers to rubbish for fear of causing offence; the four band members refused and the appearance was cancelled.[7][8]

In 2005, the band performed the album live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series. In 2009, King wrote a track by track commentary on the album for Clash.[9] Hugo Burnham's memories of making the album were published in 2014 on the 35th anniversary of the release of the album.[10]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [11]
Blender     [12]
Christgau's Record GuideA[13]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [14]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[15]
Pitchfork9.5/10[16]
Q     [17]
Record Mirror     [18]
Rolling Stone     [19]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [20]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[21]

Entertainment! was ranked the fifth best album of 1979 by NME.[22] Reviewing the album in Rolling Stone in 1980, David Fricke regarded Entertainment! as "the best debut album by a British band – punk or otherwise – since the original English release of The Clash in 1977".[23] Creem's RJ Smith, looking back on Entertainment! in 1984, found it to be "the most difficult Gang album, because it's so damn hard to find the front door to the thing. The ugly emotions Entertainment! dredges up are almost freakish, and all the more unsettling for the way they poke unexpectedly through the record's detached, architectonic front."[24]

In 2004, Pitchfork listed Entertainment! as the eighth best album of the 1970s.[25] In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked the album at number 490 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, raising the album's rank to number 483 in their 2012 update of the list, saying that its "stiff, jerky aggression... invented a new style that influenced bands from the Minutemen to LCD Soundsystem".[26][27] In their 2020 reboot of the list, Rolling Stone ranked the album number 273. In March 2005, Q placed the track "At Home He's a Tourist" at number 52 on its list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Tracks". As of 2009, Entertainment! has sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK.[28]

The album has also attracted praise from rock musicians. Kurt Cobain listed it as one of his 50 favourite albums of all time.[29] Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers stated that the first time he heard the record, "It completely changed the way I looked at rock music and sent me on my trip as a bass player."[30]

Use in other mediaEdit

"Natural's Not in It" was used during the title sequence of the 2006 film Marie Antoinette. In 2010, Microsoft used the same song in sports-focused advertisements for the Kinect, its motion-based control system for the Xbox 360 video game system.

"Anthrax" was used in the 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate and in the 1986 film Dogs in Space, which featured Michael Hutchence in the lead role. Hutchence cited Gang of Four as a major influence on his band, INXS.

In 2014, Kevin J. H. Dettmar's monograph on the album was published as part of Bloomsbury's 33⅓ series on classic albums.[31]

Track listingEdit

All tracks are written by Dave Allen, Hugo Burnham, Andy Gill, and Jon King.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Ether"3:52
2."Natural's Not in It"3:09
3."Not Great Men"3:08
4."Damaged Goods"3:29
5."Return the Gift"3:08
6."Guns Before Butter"3:49
Side two
No.TitleLength
1."I Found That Essence Rare"3:09
2."Glass"2:32
3."Contract"2:42
4."At Home He's a Tourist"3:33
5."5.45"3:48
6."Anthrax"4:23
Total length:39:53

1995 bonus tracks EMI Records CD issue (mastered by Andy Gill & John King) includes the following singles:

  1. "Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time" – 3:27
  2. "He'd Send in the Army" – 3:40
  3. "It's Her Factory" – 3:08

Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings CD issue includes the Yellow EP:

  1. "Armalite Rifle" – 2:48

2005 bonus tracks In addition to the Yellow EP, the Rhino release adds four previously unissued tracks:

  1. "Guns Before Butter" (alternate version) – 4:25
  2. "Contract" (alternate version) – 2:48
  3. "Blood Free" (live at The Electric Ballroom, London) – 3:17
  4. "Sweet Jane" (live at the American Indian Center) (Lou Reed) – 3:20

PersonnelEdit

Gang of Four

  • Jon King – lead vocals (1, 3, 7–9), co-lead vocals (1, 4–6, 10, 12), backing vocals (2, 11), melodica (1, 11), art design
  • Andy Gill – guitar, lead vocals (2, 11), co-lead vocals (1, 4–6, 10, 12), backing vocals (3, 7–9), art design
  • Dave Allen – bass guitar, backing vocals (3, 5, 7, 12)
  • Hugo Burnham – drums

Technical personnel

  • Edwin Cross – tape operators
  • Davy Phee – tape operators
  • Rik Walton – engineer

ChartsEdit

Album
Chart (1979–80) Peak
position
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[32] 35
UK Albums (OCC)[33] 45
Singles
Year Single Chart Peak
1979 "At Home He's a Tourist" UK Singles Chart[6] 58
1980 "Damaged Goods"/"I Found That Essence Rare" US Billboard Dance Club Songs[34] 39

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Fitzgerald, Colin (10 April 2020). "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 5, Joy Division to Gang of Four". PopMatters. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  2. ^ Ham, Robert; et al. (13 July 2016). "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums". Paste. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  3. ^ Warwick, Kevin (22 June 2016). "All that sass: The albums that define the '00s dance-punk era". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  4. ^ "Book Reviews". SLUG Magazine. 31 August 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  5. ^ "Gang of Four's Entertainment!". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Gang of Four". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  7. ^ Pothier, Mark (3 March 2004). "His Gang days are behind him". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  8. ^ Simpson, Dave (7 January 2005). "Jerky, punky, funky". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  9. ^ Murray, Robin (10 September 2009). "Gang of Four Track By Track". Clash. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  10. ^ Cantrell, Dave; Gleason, Paul (2014). "Entertainment! Turns 35: Gang of Four Drummer Hugo Burnham Remembers". Caught in the Carousel. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  11. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Entertainment! – Gang of Four". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  12. ^ Power, Tony. "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Blender. Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  13. ^ Christgau 1990.
  14. ^ Larkin 2011.
  15. ^ Flaherty, Michael (3 February 1995). "The latest in reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  16. ^ Harvell, Jess (11 May 2005). "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Pitchfork. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  17. ^ "The 100 Best Punk Albums of All Time – Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Q (special ed.). May 2002. p. 138.
  18. ^ "Albums" (PDF). Record Mirror: 18. 6 October 1978. Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  19. ^ Walters, Barry (19 May 2005). "Entertainment!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  20. ^ Considine 2004, p. 321.
  21. ^ Kreilkamp 1995, p. 163.
  22. ^ "1979 Best Albums And Tracks Of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  23. ^ Fricke, David (7 August 1980). "Gang of Four: Entertainment". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  24. ^ Smith, RJ (March 1984). "Gang of Four = Hard Men in Good Cars". Creem. Retrieved 5 September 2019 – via Rock's Backpages.
  25. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. 23 June 2004. p. 10. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  26. ^ "Rolling Stone – the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2003)".
  27. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  28. ^ Gill, Andy (18 September 2009). "Andy Gill meets Andy Gill". The Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  29. ^ Cross, Charles R.; Gaar, Gillian G.; Gendron, Bob; Martens, Todd; Yarm, Mark (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. Voyageur Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4.
  30. ^ Entertainment! (liner notes). Gang of Four (reissue ed.). Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings. 1995. 9 43047-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  31. ^ "The 33 1/3 Author Q&A: Kevin Dettmar". 33⅓ Sound. 11 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  32. ^ "Charts.nz – Gang of Four – Entertainment!". Hung Medien. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  33. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  34. ^ "Gang of Four Chart History: Dance Club Songs". Billboard. 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
Sources