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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 17 May 2011
This was my original review:

"Entertainment!" gained a large following for the Gang Of Four, but maybe it was not the one that should have. Although energetic and laid-back, the album lacks enough thought and effort to impress more than just the band's following.

While a few tracks do impress, this is not an album for introducing people to punk.

I admit I should have put more detail into my reviews, so sorry about that.

What people generally see in this album is that the lyrics evoke a political or social tone about the society of the late 70s. These lyrics are riddled with backing vocals that shout lyrics unrelated to any social point or to the lead vocals themselves. Many lyrics make no sense: "please send me evenings and weekends" repeated over ten times. Little effort is placed in actual tone or harmony, and so the "singer" instead talks or shouts his way through lyrics. While some lines shine through well-spoken, there is always an empty space that needs filling by a proper vocalist.

These empty spaces are all too common, though. When the singer is not speaking lyrics, the rest of the band offer a bland backdrop of uninteresting noise. The drummer shows a Ringo Starr-level of skill, with riffs barely changing throughout most songs. While I admit there are exceptions, the drumming does not shine through enough to help the band. The bassist is always present yet offering nothing either. As the singer appears the main focus point of the band, the empty spaces are filled with occasional notes by the bassist, rather than full-fledged riffs. Therefore there is nothing interesting about the empty spaces, of which there are many, and the input they put in is minimal.

The lack of skill in guitar is also shown, but thankfully not emphasised. The guitarist understands his ability and so does not overdo any tracks, the exception being "Anthrax," a track that would sound much more pleasant without the distorted guitar interrupting the flow of the already pointless track.

All in all, the band had a crude sound, but none of them were able to shine at this point. This is why I believe their EP a year later was their better sound, as while the spaces were still there, the band was more close-knit, giving energetic choruses on songs like "Armalite Rifle."

I do not take popularity or "classic status" into account, and so I believe I have made my point and opinion clear.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2009
Post punk 1978 - around 1984 is one of the great fertile periods for British music and one often overlooked.SeeRip it Up and Start Again: Postpunk, 1978-1984 Many great bands came from that period - Wire, PIL, The Slits, The Scars, The Pop Group, The Human League, Cabaret Voltaire- with many great albums, any great songs . Foremost amongst those is Entertainment the 1979 debut by The Gang of Four.
Named , like so many things where around that time after some political entity -in this case the name for the leaders of China's cultural revolution- the band were not Maoist's but were the product of left wing university culture, not that this stopped them signing to major label to release Entertainment. Conceptualists the band thrived on antagonism and this filtered into their music especially the barbed guitar of Andy Gill. The band were always a stripped back scrubby proposition but when bassist Dave Allen joined the group he helped cement the template of funk/reggae and dub that percolated into the groups sound.
The band also used what singer Jon king called "democratic music" where all the instruments performed on an equal footing meaning the music had an irresistible rhythmic quality . The taut precise percussion of Hugo Burnham was uhhh instrumental in this as well.
As for the album ,well it's considered a post punk masterpiece and it undoubtedly is, but I would go further than that and jettison genre specifics and just call it a masterpiece and one of the great debut albums. The guitars are arid and itchy while the bass is fluid ..oiling the wheel of the songs . It's noticeable how dehydrated the recording sounds. The album was deliberately recorded this way .There was no attempt to capture the bands more intense live sound . Songs about love, matrimony ( not necessarily the same thing at all)capitalism , ennui, voyeurism, consumerism and the subservience of the ordinary man to history all dissected by King's angular voice. Nor do the band spout slogans( though the inner sleeve has some good ones) and wave placards , preferring the listener to make their own minds up about what they are hearing .
Hearing songs like "At Home He's A Tourist ", "Damaged Goods" and "Anthrax" you want to tell all the guitar groups around today ( with the odd exception like The Editors, Interpol or Titus Andronicus) to give up and go home .They cannot touch this .
But their influence is all around us as well. Okay it has given us risible white funksters like The Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Flea cites Entertainment as changing the way he looked at rock music ) but it also influenced great bands like Fugazi and the wonderful Big Black. What to do for pleasure ?" the band ask on "Naturals Not In It.". Easy......listen to this . It is entertainment....maybe not in the cosseted normal sense of the word but this is essential stuff and with three terrific extras tracks as well. Heres one of those inner sleeve slogans-" Help to make a better world." You want truly great music .Thats Entertainment.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 November 2014
I must admit I had not listened to my vinyl version of this stunning 1979 debut album from Leeds band (although band members actually hailed from elsewhere, having only gone to Leeds university) Gang Of Four for well over 20 years (slapped wrist!), until I recently heard Marc Riley playing some of their stuff. Of course, listening again, I am reminded that Messrs. King, Gill, Allen and Burnham produced one of the most intoxicating and (particularly, rhythmically) innovative albums of the period – Gill’s guitar sound borrowing particularly from Wilko Johnson (viz. songs such as Natural’s Not In It, Damaged Goods, I Found That Essence Rare, etc), although I would argue Gill used the basic 'Wilko sound’ to develop a very distinctive personal style (one that influenced a number of modern players – not least Franz Ferdinand’s Nick McCarthy). In addition, then, to sounding like a 'punkified and rhythmically complex Dr Feelgood on acid’, I can also detect elements of the likes of Wire (with whom Gang Of Four shared their loose 'Situationist’ take on life), XTC, (elements of) Joy Division and (in terms of the clarity/sparseness of the instrument sound/production) even Television.

Of course, the band (and lyricists King and Gill, in particular) were noted (in the songs) for their politicisation of ‘everyday life’ (shopping, love/sex, watching TV, etc) and Entertainment! (itself an hilariously ironic title) is shot through with the politics and social commentary of the day (Northern Ireland, guerrilla warfare, duplicitous politicians, social alienation, etc), although, of course, thinking about it, nothing has really changed in the intervening 35 years and 5.45’s tale of media sensationalisation and personalisation of war dead is even more relevant in today’s world of blanket 24-hour news coverage. Regardless, however, of the band’s political convictions, Entertainment! provides an exhilarating set of (essentially) dance numbers (yes, honestly) – although, the album’s crowning glory (and probably the most distinctive mark of the band’s great originality), the likening of love obsession to ‘a case of’ Anthrax, with its mix of feedback and funk, would prove challenging even for the most dedicated dancefloor maestro. If, like me, you have the vinyl album gathering dust in the loft I recommend you unearth it immediately!
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on 26 July 2017
If your looking here I most probably don't have to sell you on just how original, influential, exciting and much more this lp was (& still is ).Just to add that the cd copy I obtained is the EMI pressing from '95 .
It contains all the tracks from the original vinyl disc along with the equally good 7" 'trains don't run on time'/'He'd send in the army' and 'It's her factory' -'B side of 'hit' single 'tourist. In my opinion one of a small number of (U.K.)'post punk essential' LPs, taking its place along with Metal Box, Magazines 'Real Life', Wires' 'chairs missing', the slits' 'cut', the Sound 'jeopardy', Joy Divisions'duo, the Fall(take yr choice) & a few others, the open out sleeve features lyrics and quotes from Flea ,Michael Stipe & Tad(used to be bigger than Nirvana!)Doyle .
A slight disappointment is the non addition of 'Armalite rifle' from their 3 track e.p. from '78 that brought them to many people's attention -versions of the other 2 tracks 'anthrax' & 'damaged goods' are on the disc .
After this debut I think the GO4 only hit these heights again rarely, mostly on the occasional single ('to hell with poverty','call me up').
The cover states it was 'remastered by Andy Gill & John King'(guitars & vocals)& it sounds fine to me-as good the old vinyl copy .So if you don't know about this group or this recording,at the prices available it may be a good time to find out.
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on 15 December 2010
I bought this the week it was originally released. Initially I was disappointed with it. I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong, but it had none of the danger and excitement of the first EP (on Fast Records - check out the fantastic Armalite Rifle), the single At Home He Feels Like A Tourist, not to mention how great they were live at the back end of the 1970's. Even the LP version of Tourist seems pale compared to the 45 version, yet the differences are minor. I guess this is the best we have from this era G of 4, and we have to make the most of it. Listening again after three decades I still feel let down. This is a flat sounding recording. They were an explosive band. But I must not forget that there really was no-one like the Gang Of Four. There were some tremendous debut albums back then - Pere Ubu, This Heat, Wire, Joy Division, The Fall... - and though I would not place Entertainment so highly, what I wouldn't give to hear something that excites so much these days.
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VINE VOICEon 10 February 2004
Whenever anyone asks me what is my favourite record, I have no hesitation in saying Entertainment! by The Gang Of Four, it really is that good.
I am not someone who is living in the past and clinging to it, I still buy all the latest stuff and would love to find something that grabs me by the throat the way this album does. The closest anything has come is Blood, Sugar, Sex, Magik by the Red Hot Chillis, which brings us back to this particular CD, because this is a re-issue which I bought to replace my over-played vinyl original, and inside the sleeve is a note from Flea saying how this album is "what shaped the sound of the rookie Red Hot Chilli Peppers." Michael Stipe also says in the sleeve notes "I Stole a lot from them."
The later Gang of Four albums had their moments, but this one is all highlights from beginning to end. Everything just came together: the bass and drums give a solid and beat-perfect core to the sound and the guitars and vocals can only be described as scary. I saw the Gang play live years after their prime, with a replacement drummer and bassist but Andy Gill and Jon King were still as intense as ever. For me the magic is all about that juxtaposition of absolute, pounding, rhythm and stabbing, almost random at times, guitar and then those intense vocals over the top. And those angry, anti-establishment lyrics which struck such a chord in Thatcher's Britain are still relevent in today's world of anti-globalisation demonstrations.
The three bonus tracks on this re-issue are nearly as good as the main album and the only complaint I could have is that the track Armalite rifle was not included as well.
Even after all these years, Entertainment! still gives me two great pleasures. One is in listening to it (obviously) and the other is in introducing it to someone who has not heard it before and seeing their reaction.
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on 1 April 2000
"Entertainment" was released in 1979, at the dawn of Thatcher's nightmare vision for England, and as the punk era had fizzled out from politicised and angry no-hopers to awful commercialised parodies such as Jilted John.
Fortunately, the Gang of Four were still angry, and ready to let the world know. "Entertainment" features such amazing jagged guitar parts from Andy Gill, passionate vocals from Jon King, as well as basslines which helped to shape alternative music in the 1980s.
The band gelled perfectly - King conveying intelligent Socialist statements through songs such as "I Found That Essence Rare" and the brilliant "5.45". The band also dealt with love, the searing "Damaged Goods" and revolutionary "Anthrax" testament to the group's range of social comment.
Gang of Four went on to release two songs banned from British radio - "I Love a Man in Uniform" and "To Hell With Poverty". Unsurprisingly, the album did not sell in huge numbers, British audiences preferring the safe, unchallenging sounds of the usual chart rubbish. This album is absolutely wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone sick to death of the cancerous state of music during the 1990s and early 21st century.
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on 9 February 2018
This is one of the finest Post Punk albums ever made. It's political and social messages are sharp and concise, and backed up by unique brand of music which counteracts beautifully with the lyrical themes. Gang of four took the punk spirit and moved it forward. This album was real pace setter for the alternative sound of the 80's.
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on 30 January 2018
Soooo good. I wish I'd been onto Gang Of Four 30+ years ago, and now can't stop listening to this in perfect to all my Fugazi and Shellac stuff
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on 19 June 2017
All good
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