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.
|Studio album by|
|Released||25 September 1979|
|Studio||The Workhouse (London)|
|Gang of Four chronology|
The album was ranked at No. 5 among the top "Albums of the Year" for 1979 by NME. In 2012, the album was ranked No. 483 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. 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. In 2004, Pitchfork listed Entertainment! as the eighth best album of the 1970s.
Entertainment! has been recognized as a seminal post-punk album. It has also been described musically as dance-punk and art punk. 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.
The album's artwork was designed by band members Jon King and Andy Gill. 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".
"At Home He's a Tourist" reached number 58 in the UK Singles Chart, the highest position of any Gang of Four song. 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.
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. Hugo Burnham's memories of making the album were published in 2014 on the 35th anniversary of the release of the album.
|Christgau's Record Guide||A|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|Spin Alternative Record Guide||10/10|
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."
The album has also attracted praise from rock musicians. Kurt Cobain listed it in his top fifty albums of all time. 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."
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".
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.
|2.||"Natural's Not in It"||3:09|
|3.||"Not Great Men"||3:08|
|5.||"Return the Gift"||3:08|
|6.||"Guns Before Butter"||3:49|
|1.||"I Found That Essence Rare"||3:09|
|4.||"At Home He's a Tourist"||3:33|
1995 bonus tracks EMI Records CD issue (mastered by Andy Gill & John King) includes the following singles:
- "Outside the Trains Don't Run on Time" – 3:27
- "He'd Send in the Army" – 3:40
- "It's Her Factory" – 3:08
- "Armalite Rifle" – 2:48
2005 bonus tracks In addition to the Yellow EP, the Rhino release adds four previously unissued tracks:
Gang of Four
- Dave Allen – bass guitar, vocals
- Hugo Burnham – drums, vocals
- Andy Gill – guitar, vocals, art design
- Jon King – vocals, melodica, art design
- Edwin Cross – tape operators
- Davy Phee – tape operators
- Rik Walton – engineer
|UK Albums Chart||45|
|1979||"At Home He's a Tourist"||UK Singles Chart||58|
|1980||"Damaged Goods"/"I Found That Essence Rare"||US Billboard Dance Club Songs||39|
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- Liner notes
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- 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.
- Weisbard & Marks 1995, p. 163.
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- "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
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