Introduction Keywords Ideology Nature Theory Alienation Consumer Sex Back to the Gutters
A whip-smart study of Gang of Four's debut album: a record that turned punk's anger intelligently toward love, leisure, violence, and consumer culture.
Kevin J. H. Dettmar is W. M. Keck Professor of English at Pomona College. He is the author of Is Rock Dead?, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan, and co-editor of Reading Rock & Roll: Authenticity, Appropriation, Aesthetics.
Kevin Dettmar, having been an American college student in the '70s,
is-in an odd way-the ideal author to write the 33 1/3 series volume
#91 about British post-punk band Gang of Four's album
Entertainment! (1979). In addition to being well-versed to discuss
the cultural and musical implications of such a band steeped in
leftist and "Situationist" political theory, in the book's
introduction, he also proclaims the band to be his "favorite of all
time." This is the kind of mixture of knowledge and fervor that has
made the series a great addition to the literature about pop music.
Dettmar tends to beat us over the head with the Marxism and
Situationism in the British band's lyrics and approach, the way
their lyrics make sharp social commentary in counterpoint to their
equally jagged yet seductive dance rhythms. It's a bit of a
stretch, the case he makes for each of the songs as a "think
piece," but it may help the casual listener to give the band
another spin to listen for what is hidden subversively in their
sound. * SLUG Magazine *
There are not many great Marxist/feminist rock bands, but Gang of Four have a strong claim of being among them. Entertainment was their first album, released in 1979, is innovative both musically and with its lyrics; it was a time of many great albums ... Kevin Dettmar aims to address the power of the Gang of Four in his short book on their album Entertainment ... The text refers to many different figures and ideas, including Emerson, Don Delillo, James Joyce and Engels. Mostly, his approach is plausible and clever, although he is occasionally eccentric ... this book is worthwhile. -- Christian Perring, Dowling College, USA * Metapsychology Online Reviews 19:8 *
Words are at the very heart of Kevin Dettmar's affectionate retrospective of the Leeds quartet's first and best-known album, 1979's Entertainment! - not only because Dettmar is a professor of English but because Gang of Four's debut is a veritable treasure trove of punning, word play and semantic dissonance. -- Houman Barekat * The Quietus *