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Gang of Four – entertainment! (1979)

August 13, 2019

[Album 658/1001]

“Well maybe I don’t use my exclamation points as haphazardly as you do”
– Seinfeld (Elaine’s boyfriend Jake)

The guidelines for exclamation mark usage are shifting.

For example, you send a friend a text, “How are you?”

They reply, as they would in person, “I’m fine.

However, in text-only communication, without the benefit of hearing the voice inflection, their response may be misconstrued.

By putting a period, instead of an exclamation mark, I might think my friend is actually anything but fine!

But if they really are fine, and are neither delighted nor enraged about it, what is the appropriate response?

Even publications like The Atlantic have explored the issue: just how many exclamation marks are required to convey enthusiasm?

Yet another reason Seinfeld remains vital.

Or vital!

.

“Is this really the way it is
Or a contract in our mutual interest”
– Gang of Four, Contract

In a way, an album cover is like a contract between the music makers & the end user.

The cover acts as a silent salesperson, indicating what the buyer can expect from the product.

As a consumer, I appreciate when the sales pitch matches the actual product experience.

And in this case, with their font style choices, I think Gang of Four did an excellent job of setting listener expectations & fulfilling their end of the deal.

a) With the artist name…

They said: GANG OF FOUR (ALL CAPS, no punctuation)

I inferred: A quartet, likely guitar(s)/bass/drums, energetically playing with a bit of an 220px-Entertainment! (1)edge.

And they delivered as promised, with one less guitar than I expected and one more melodica (a mix of keyboard + harmonica) than I anticipated!

b) With the album name…

They said: entertainment! (lower case, angled, 1 exclamation mark)

I inferred: I’m going to like this debut album (and also admire their undersell/use of restraint with their album name capital letters/punctuation).

Toe-tapping tunes like Not Great Men & Return the Gift wouldn’t have been out of place in the early 2000s, alongside the likes of Hot Hot Heat and Franz Ferdinand.

Which are a couple of artists with strong debut albums that I’d put on par with this one.

Not albums that I necessarily listen to all the time, but albums that deliver the goods every time that I do.

With no diminishing returns in their entertainment(!) value.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

That being said, I also appreciate when an artist goes all in with exclamation points.

Ian Dury remains the benchmark for exclamation mark usage, with his debut album (New Boots and Panties!!) racking up an astonishing 25 exclamation marks on the front/back of the LP cover.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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From → 1970s

15 Comments
  1. Definitely influential on early 2000s rock. With the funky bass lines and political lyrics, maybe Rage Against The Machine took some notes too.

    My favourite Seinfeld line is either “the Ukraine is weak” or “you need a medical dictionary!”

    • Choosing a favourite seinfeld line is a bit like picking a favourite child – it’s just not fair!
      But off the top of my head…Costanza’s, “it’s not a lie if you believe it” or Kramer’s “you’ve gotta mulch, you’ve got to” are early contenders!

  2. You never go wrong with more melodica harmonica​!

    • When I looked up what other tunes featured a Melodica, I was delighted to learn REM’s find the river was one of them!

      • Nice and that doesn’t surprise me as REM was always reaching for new heights musically!
        Did u ever see them live?

      • Still can’t believe they actually played here! I’m glad I caught em at least once before they shut it down

  3. Another new one for me. One I might not have listened to until now as I interpreted the lowercase entertainment! as lazy and uninspiring not paying much attention to the exclamation point. Taking your point, it might need to be explored. Plus I like Franz so that is a selling point!!

  4. I see Seinfeld, I hit like!… Now I’ll read your post… Sarcasm is difficult to convey in text form so I use exclamation points and “lols” a hell of a lot. I used to get in a ton of trouble when I didn’t. Never heard of these guys but I do like Franz Ferdinand. I’d give them a spin… I mean, I’d give them a spin!

  5. hey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i! called!!! this!!!!!! album!!!!!! my!!!! fave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! of! 1!!9!!!!!!!!!!79!!!!!!! https://a1000mistakes.wordpress.com/2019/07/30/1001-albums-book-1979/

  6. Love both Gang of Four and Seinfeld (!!!) (.)

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