Classic Albums

Gang of Four | Entertainment!

On September 25th, 1979 Gang Of Four released their debut LP Entertainment!, a highly influential post-punk record that incorporates funk, dance music, reggae, and dub, with lyrics that permeates with left-wing ideology critical of capitalism, war, and the their alienating effects on society, while being influenced by the Situationist and feminist movements.

The album’s cover artwork was designed by singer Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill, and shows the influence of the Situationist International, through its reinterpretation of an “Indian” shaking hands with a “cowboy” based on a still from one of the Winnetou films starring Lex Barker and Pierre Brice. The Winnetou films were based on a German interpretation of the Wild West by Karl May (1842–1912), one of the best-selling German writers of all time, which were later repurposed by East Germany communists as critical narratives of capitalism.

The back sleeve to Entertainment! gives further socio-political commentary by depicting a family whose gluttonous patriarch says: “I spend most of our money on myself so that I can stay fat”, while his wife and child respond with: “We’re grateful for his leftovers”.

The commentary continues on the album’s inner sleeve, which features small photos of television screens juxtaposed with misleading platitudes such as: “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”.

The album featured the band’s first two singles “Damaged Goods”, a Marxist critique of the transactional nature of everyday life, including romance and sexuality, illustrated through a breakup.

“Damaged Goods” was originally released as an EP, and the track “Love Like Anthrax” has its title shortened to “Anthrax” for the album, while “Armalite Rifle” is not included, but was later available on the Yellow EP, along with the b-side for “At Home He’s A Tourist”, which was “It’s Her Factory”

The album’s second single, “At Home He’s A Tourist”, is quite possibly a feminist song from both a male and female perspective about the alienation from the pressures of societal expectations and gender roles.

“Entertainment!”, now celebrating 4 decades since its release, it still one of the best, most important, and political post-punk records of all time,

post-punk.com

From the Editor at Post-Punk.com

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