Entertainment!

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Entertainment!
Studio album by Gang of Four
Released September 1979
Recorded 1979 at The Workhouse, Old Kent Road, London
Genre Post-punk, experimental rock, dance-punk
Length 39:53
Label EMI, Warner Bros.
Producer Andy Gill, Jon King and Rob Warr
Gang of Four chronology
Entertainment!
(1979)
Solid Gold
(1981)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Robert Christgau A[2]
Pitchfork 9.5/10[3]
Rolling Stone favourable[4]
Smash Hits 7½/10[5]
Spin 10/10 stars[6]

Entertainment! is the debut album by English post-punk band Gang of Four, released in September 1979. This album was released on EMI in the UK and on Warner Bros. in the US.

The music on the first album shows clearly the influence of punk, yet also incorporates funk and less-obvious influences of reggae and dub, similar to other bands at the time such as Public Image Ltd., Pere Ubu, and The Pop Group. As with these other influential post-punk bands, the bass is mixed much more prominently than it typically is in rock or punk.

The album has attracted praise from rock musicians. 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."[7] In 2003, the album was ranked number 490 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2012, the album ranked at No. 483 on a revised list by the magazine. In March 2005, Q magazine placed the track "At Home He's a Tourist" at number 52 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.

Pitchfork Media listed Entertainment! as eighth best album of the 1970s.[8] Kurt Cobain listed it in his top fifty albums of all time.[9][10]

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.

As of 2009, Entertainment! has sold more than 100,000 copies in the UK.[11]

Artwork[edit]

The album's artwork was designed by band members Jon King and Andy Gill,[12] and shows the influence on King 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[disambiguation needed]".

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".

Lyrics[edit]

Jon King was lyricist for of 8 of the 12 tracks - "Natural's not in it" , "Not Great Men", "Return The Gift", "Guns Before Butter", "I Found That Essence Rare", "Glass", "Contract" , and "At Home He's A Tourist" . King authored lyrics for main sections of "Damaged Goods", with Andy Gill writing the middle 8 . King & Gill co-authored lyrics to the call and response narrative of "Ether" , "5:45" and "Anthrax', the latter having a challenging double sets of lyrics which run in paralell. The album - co-produced by King & Gill along with Rob Warr, their then manager - 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 Maoist guerrilla warfare in Central 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 that... "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 [13]

Song information[edit]

"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.[14][15]

In Autumn 2010, Microsoft used the song "Natural's Not in It" in sports-focused advertisements for the Kinect, its motion-based control system for the Xbox 360 video game system. "Natural's Not in It" was also used during the title sequence of the 2006 film, Marie Antoinette. In 2009, King wrote a track by track commentary on the album for Clash.[16] Hugo Burnham's memories of making the album were published in 2014 on the 35th anniversary of the release of the album [17]

"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 INXS.

in 2014, Kevin J.H. Dettmar 's monograph on the album - " Gang of Four's Entertainment!" - was released as part of Bloomsbury's "33 1/3rd" series on classic albums

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one[edit]

  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[edit]

  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

1995 bonus tracks[edit]

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[edit]

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

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Album
Chart (1979) Peak
UK Albums Chart 45[18]
Singles
Year Single Chart Peak
1979 "At Home He's a Tourist"/"It's Her Factory" UK Singles Chart 58[19]
1980 "Damaged Goods"/"I Found That Essence Rare" U. S. Billboard Club Play Singles 39

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kellman, Andy. "Entertainment! – Gang of Four : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  2. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: gang of four". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  3. ^ Harvell, Jess. "Gang of Four: Entertainment!". Pitchfork. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  4. ^ Fricke, David (7 August 1980). "Gang of Four: Entertainment". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 24 February 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2012. 
  5. ^ Starr, Red. "Albums". Smash Hits (October 18–31, 1979): 29. 
  6. ^ Weisbard & Marks 1995, p. 163.
  7. ^ Liner notes to Infinite Zero Archive/American Recordings reissue, 1995
  8. ^ Pitchfork Staff (23 June 2004). "Staff Lists: Top 100 Albums of the 1970s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  9. ^ "Top 50 by Nirvana [MIXTAPE]". Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  10. ^ Cross, Gaar, Gendron, Martens, Yarm (2013). Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7603-4521-4. 
  11. ^ Andy Gill (18 September 2009). "Andy Gill meets Andy Gill". The Independent. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  12. ^ Liner notes
  13. ^ http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/gang-of-fours-entertainment-9781623560652/
  14. ^ Mark Pothier (3 March 2004). "His Gang days are behind him". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  15. ^ Dave Simpson (7 January 2005). "Jerky, punky, funky". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
  16. ^ "Gang of Four Track By Track". Clash. 10 September 2009. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  17. ^ http://caughtinthecarousel.com/entertainment-turns-35-gang-four-drummer-hugo-burnham-remembers/
  18. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Entertainment by Gang of Four Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "The Official Charts Company – At Home He's A Tourist by Gang of Four Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013. 

References[edit]

  • Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.