post-punk gems, v. 68 — Gang of Four

"Entertainment!" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.
“Entertainment!” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

For nearly all of my purchases of vinyl before the age of 25 (and even a fair share of my CDs and tapes), I can recall the moment of acquisition, the ripping open of the cellophane, and the debut rotation on my turntable. On occasion, though, I have only faint traces of that history, and such is the case with my coming to own the absolutely brilliant Entertainment!, by Gang of Four (1979).

In my collection it sits astride GO4’s Another Day/Another Dollar (1982), which was in rotation on San Francisco’s KQAK circa 1983. I so often recorded my vinyl onto Maxell XL II 90s, and on the flipside of this tape (which I still have, although most of the high-end’s gone–or is that my hearing?) is Husker Du’s Candy Apple Grey (1986), so I figure I came to Entertainment! a bit late in the game. It certainly stuck with me, though, and probably was a key factor years later in my attending one of the more left-leaning graduate programs in sociology here in the states.

The Leeds combo first gigged in May 1977, and guitar-wise, Andy Gill modified Wilko Johnson’s angular rhythm-as-lead style. The overall sound–as lovingly noted by Simon Reynolds in Rip It Up and Start Again–started “stark and severe,” and remained defined as much by avoidances (cymbal crashes, guitar fuzz and distortion) and T. Monk-like spacing, as it did by its constitutive elements. Here’s two versions of one of my fave tracks: the John Peel version (with a bit more resonance on the vocals) and the LP version. Enjoy!

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(post-) punk gems, v. 42 — Celia and the Mutations

Happy Sunday, readers. It’s post-punk gem time again, as I gain my bearings here with my Wednesday and Sunday posts.

It’s 37 years ago this week that Celia Collin secured a favor from The Stranglers and ex-Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson to appear on wax as the Mutations for “You Better Believe Me,” the second single of Celia and the Mutations. (“Mony Mony” came out in July.) Caroline Coon of Melody Maker (and eventually The Clash) expected big things for Celia, and Sounds’ Chas de Whalley — in perfectly bad-lad prose — had ideas of his own for Celia. (Dirty Chas.)

The sound, of course, is ’77 thru-and-thru–3 chords of joy at a quick cadence, fun hooks, minimal ornamentation, and just a wee bit of call-and-response. So happy to have discovered this gem, and I hope it’s either new — or new again — to you.

The book is out in the US, spotted in stores from Pittsburg, CA, to Pittsburgh, PA (The Big Idea Bookstore, for those of you in Steeltown, USA). Enjoy!