Entertainment!

Entertainment! is the debut album by English post-punk band Gang of Four. It was released in September 1979 through EMI 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)

The album was ranked at No. 5 among the top "Albums of the Year" for 1979 by NME.[1] In 2012, the album was ranked No. 483 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[2] In March 2005, Q magazine placed the track "At Home He's a Tourist" at No. 52 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. As of 2009, Entertainment! has sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK.[3] In 2004, Pitchfork listed Entertainment! as the eighth best album of the 1970s.[4]

CompositionEdit

Entertainment! has been recognized as a seminal post-punk album.[5][6] It has also been described musically as dance-punk[7] and art punk.[8] The album was co-produced by King and Gill along with Rob Warr, their band manager at the time. It was 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.[9]

ArtworkEdit

The album's artwork was designed by band members Jon King and Andy Gill.[10] 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. The cover 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, 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.[11] 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.[12][13]

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.[14] Hugo Burnham's memories of making the album were published in 2014 on the 35th anniversary of the release of the album.[15]

ReceptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [16]
Blender     [17]
Christgau's Record GuideA[18]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [19]
Entertainment WeeklyA+[20]
Pitchfork9.5/10[21]
Q     [22]
Rolling Stone     [23]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [24]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[25]

Creem magazine, looking back on it in 1984, said it's "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."[26]

The album has also attracted praise from rock musicians. Kurt Cobain listed it in his top fifty albums of all time.[27][28] 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."[29]

In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked the album #483 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, saying that its "stiff, jerky aggression...invented a new style that influenced bands from the Minutemen to LCD Soundsystem".[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 Jonathan Demme's 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate and in Richard Lowenstein's 1986 movie 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 released 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

Technical personnel

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

ChartsEdit

Album
Chart (1979) Peak
UK Albums Chart[32] 45
Singles
Year Single Chart Peak
1979 "At Home He's a Tourist" UK Singles Chart[11] 58
1980 "Damaged Goods"/"I Found That Essence Rare" US Billboard Dance Club Songs[33] 39

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  2. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  3. ^ Andy Gill (18 September 2009). "Andy Gill meets Andy Gill". The Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  4. ^ Pitchfork staff (23 June 2004). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Ham, Robert; et al. (13 July 2016). "The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums". Paste. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Book Reviews". SLUG. 31 August 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  9. ^ "Gang of Four's Entertainment!". Bloomsbury Publishing.
  10. ^ Liner notes
  11. ^ a b "Gang of Four: Singles". Officialcharts.com. 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  12. ^ Mark Pothier (3 March 2004). "His Gang days are behind him". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  13. ^ Dave Simpson (7 January 2005). "Jerky, punky, funky". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  14. ^ "Gang of Four Track By Track". Clash. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
  15. ^ Cantrell, Dave; Gleason, Paul (2014). "Entertainment! Turns 35: Gang of Four Drummer Hugo Burnham Remembers". Caughtinthecarousel.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2014.
  16. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Entertainment! – Gang of Four". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  17. ^ Power, Tony. "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Blender. Archived from the original on 23 November 2005. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  18. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  19. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8.
  20. ^ Flaherty, Michael (3 February 1995). "The latest in reissues". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  21. ^ Harvell, Jess (11 May 2005). "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Pitchfork. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  22. ^ "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Q (190): 138. May 2002.
  23. ^ Walters, Barry (19 May 2005). "Entertainment!". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
  24. ^ Considine, J. D. (2004). "Gang of Four". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 321–22. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  25. ^ Weisbard & Marks 1995, p. 163.
  26. ^ Smith, RJ (March 1984). "Gang of Four = Hard Men in Good Cars". Creem. Retrieved 5 September 2019 – via Rock's Backpages.
  27. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  28. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  29. ^ Liner notes to Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings reissue, 1995
  30. ^ Wenner, Jann S., ed. (2012). Rolling Stone – Special Collectors Issue – The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. USA: Wenner Media Specials. ISBN 978-7-09-893419-6
  31. ^ "Gang of Four's Entertainment!". Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  32. ^ "Gang of Four: Albums". Officialcharts.com. 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  33. ^ "Gang of Four Chart History: Dance Club Songs". Billboard.com. 2019. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
Sources
  • Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)