The first time I heard Gang of Four was in high school when I purchased their reunion travesty Mall for 99¢. I listened to it and filed it away, writing the band off as just another overrated hype. But even with “Colour from the Tube” and “Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke” swept into forsaken corners of my memory, something about the band pulled me back to them, and eventually the gravity of fate forced me to blindly shell out for an import copy of Entertainment! And there, in the musty air of the old hotel I called home, it became clear there were hundreds of musical possibilities that had never crossed my mind.
Entertainment! may have been a sarcastic title, but it wasn’t inaccurate. The album is caustic and bursting with disgust for unethical capitalism, opportunist politicians, and consumer society, among other things, but it’s also crafted with amazing pop sensibility—and is, of course, remarkably danceable. Dave Allen’s wild bassline on “Damaged Goods” spills over with hooks; “I Found That Essence Rare” subversively lays lines like, “See the girl on the TV dressed in a bikini/ She doesn’t think so, but she’s dressed for the H-bomb,” into an insanely catchy melody barked by a manic Jon King over Andy Gill’s airless guitar and Hugo Burnham’s frenzied drumming. Like any defining record, Entertainment! seems doomed to be the source of an unceasing stream of copies and copies of copies, but even as the pale imitations pile up, Gang of Four’s debut remains singular, a powerful call to arms and out of apathy. –Joe Tangari / Pitchfork.com