Gang of Four - Entertainment! (1979)

Entertainment! spits riffs in your face. Guitars are punctuated, grainy and sparse. Sounds are cut short and snappy. The record’s post-punk preoccupation with consumerism is as relevant today as it was in 1979. “Ether” spouts lines repetitively about “Dirt behind the daydream”. “Natural’s Not In It” has enough golden lyrical nuggets to populate generations of epitaphs: “This heaven gives me migraine”, “The body’s good business, sell out maintain the interest” and “Renounce all sin and vice, dream of the perfect life”. Entertainment! candidly sings about society’s ills. The years have not sullied Entertainment!’s boorish economic fixation.

“Return The Gift” is persistently funky, complete with a slutty bassline. It wraps up grimily with improvised, sputtering guitars. Drums tumble along rollickingly on “Guns Before Butter”, while Jon King coughs up more lyrics about how “All this talk of blood and iron. It’s the cause of all my shaking”.

“Glass” encapsulates the youthful generation in the late 70s and in the 80s and in the 90s and in the 00s and in the..., “I’m so restless (I’m bored as a cat)/ Light myself (a cigarette)”. The impulsive guitars on Entertainment! are a source of continual animation, like being with a stranger who spits when he says words beginning with “p”, PPPost PPPunk PPPunctuation. The riffs do not comply with time structures.

“At home he is a tour-ist. He fills his head with cul-ture. He gives him-self an ul-cer.” One of Entertainment!’s supreme qualities is the silence between vocals or riffs or drums. When angular notes disrupt the quiet, they’re lapped up.

The last exclamation mark in this PPPractically PPPerfect aural experience arrives in “Anthrax”. A muddied dirge which laments on widely shared anxieties, “And I feel like a bee-tle on its back. And there’s no way for me to get up. Love’ll get you like a case of an-thrax. And that’s some-thing I don’t want to catch.” It’s a rude way to end a record, but Entertainment! never established itself on being polite.

So uncouth.

(90 - SM)
Combined Rating = 92.5

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