Apart from a few tracks, this album was my introduction to the Gang of Four. Immediately, I was mesmerized. Tracks like "Damaged Goods" and "Not Great Men" just seem to march through your brain for days and weeks on end. If you break down the individual lyric parts of "Anthrax", you might think that either part on its own is amazing, but how do they fit together? The answer is brilliantly. The artwork on the outer sleeve and the inner sleeve are very clever subversive. This is definitely thinking person's punk. Musically, it's something you can bop your head along to, but if you sit back and take it all in as a whole, that's when the album becomes really rewarding.
Entertainment! is one of those records where germs of influence can be traced through many genres and countless bands, both favorably and unfavorably. From groups whose awareness of genealogy spreads wide enough to openly acknowledge Gang of Four's influence (Fugazi, Rage Against the Machine), to those not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it (rap-metal, some indie rock) -- all have appropriated elements of their forefathers' trailblazing contribution. Its vaguely funky rhythmic twitch, its pungent, pointillistic guitar stoccados, and its spoken/shouted vocals have all been picked up by many. Lyrically, the album was apart from many of the day, and it still is. The band rants at revisionist history in "Not Great Men" ("No weak men in the books at home"), self-serving media and politicians in "I Found That Essence Rare" ("The last thing they'll ever do?/Act in your interest"), and sexual politics in "Damaged Goods" ("You said you're cheap but you're too much"). Though the brilliance of the record thrives on the faster material -- especially the febrile first side -- a true highlight amongst highlights is the closing "Anthrax," full of barely controlled feedback squalls and moans. It's nearly psychedelic, something post-punk and new wave were never known for. With a slight death rattle and plodding bass rumble, Jon King equates love with disease and admits to feeling "like a beetle on its back." In the background, Andy Gill speaks in monotone of why Gang of Four doesn't do love songs. Subversive records of any ilk don't get any stronger, influential, or exciting than this. [EMI U.K. reissued the album in 1995 with most of the Yellow EP added as a bonus.] ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi