the Stranglers: Classicinblack or Dudinblack

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I know...two questions in one night, what next?

I don't think the `Glers have received the ILM C or D treatment yet, so what say you? Personally speaking, I heartily applaud the Stranglers' stridently unconventional hijacking of Punk Rock (despite the fact that they were already a much-maligned going concern before Punk really caught fire). Between Dave Greenfeld's thoroughly un-Punk keyboards and ill-advised facial hair through portly drummer Jet Black's unfathomable age, the Stranglers couldn't have been more out of place rubbing shoulders with the Clash & the Damned, were it not for JJ Burnell's distinctive bass battery and Hugh Cornwell's utterly disagreeable nature. Then, of course, there are the `choons: "Peaches," "No More Heroes," "Something Better Change," "Five Minutes," "The Raven,".....oh sure, they made a few odd choices (concept albums about extra-terrestrials anyone?) and their gradual suck-up to the middle of the road only served to tarnish their black-hearted charm, but there've been worse cases of this particular crime. Once Hugh left, it was over for me, and they're crap without him now (and vice versa)...what say you?

alexinblack in nycinblack, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Classic of course. Who could argue with "No more Heroes". Tough hombre stick bit of a laugh and MoR or not: but "Golden Brown" is one the great top-10 hits of all time, seems to catch the drift of heroin so well (erm...so I've heard). Just beautiful.

Omar, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Yes! An object lesson in how while "rebellion" and "anger" are constantly celebrated, when genuine malice (i.e. stripped of youthful angst and idealism) comes along, the culture arbiters can't handle it - perhaps one of the few cases in which the record-buying public (who noticed their way with a tune and a sneer) were RIGHT!
I'd actually go even further than Alex and say that their drift into Ultravox-lite only CEMENTED their nasty-outsider status - if they'd continued the astonishing Seeds-meet-Beefheart grind that was 'Black and White' they would've become as respectable and respected as PiL and the Fall (Stranglers - the Dr Hook of the new wave? I mean that as a compliment.)The only other band I can think of that embodied 'mindless thuggery' as well would be the Happy Mondays.

tarden, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Whoops - PiL's career dribbled into mucus, now I remember. Except "Rise" was Levellers-soundalike crap, while "Always the Sun" was simply fantastic!

tarden, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Tarden is right plaing — wait, the 16-yr-old within is screaming something abt "punk traitor": 16yo means me and 16yo can shut up, cuz I'm king now — yet simultaneously wrong: becos the malice always dribbled away in rubbish rhymes. "Like down the sewer — or EVEN ON THE END OF A SKEWER..." Excuse me, that = pathetic (even if it does ref. The Naked Lunch). Plus there's their Yukio Mishima "tribute": 'Death and Night and Blood' — oh dear. (Why can no one "do" Mishima: P.Schrader is WUSS!!)
ie Malice to no avail if you're a Moron.

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

"plaing" is such a pretty word: i wonder what it means...

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Mark - what about Iron Maiden's "Sun and Steel"?

tarden, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Of course the Stranglers fitted well in the punk scene of 1977, they were one of the key groups that defined what happened in the UK in 76/77.

Despite what 'The Sound and the Fury' might have suggested, Punk was much more than one group and a few fans from the wealthy suburbs of South London swearing on the telly.

The Stranglers were very much in place rubbing shoulders with the Damned (Soft Machine fans) and The Clash (101ers and Stranglers playing often at the pub rock Nashville). I don't think any much worried much about how to define punk rock music at the time it was well understood where they fitted, There was even a Sounds front page from early 77 describing the Stranglers with 'who ever heard of an angry Psychedelic band'? which put their Nuggets derived sound exactly in context of Punk and its antecedents - I recall it because it was that article that made me investigate the Nuggets album.

Perhaps it seems incongruous now that Punk Rock has a much narrower definition than it did at the time, but it was pretty easy to think of Wire, The Slits, Punilux, Metal Urbain, The Rezillos, Ultravox, The Jam and Throbbing Gristle as punk bands in 1977.

Alexander Blair and Family, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

The Filth and the Fury is evil lazy lying garbage, but that still doesn't make the Stranglers punk, Alexander. Not now, not ever. Everyone else on your list makes the cut easy — tho I must say I have not given mind to PUNILUX for 25 years!!!

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

(Shout out to alexinblack, btw, for calling them the 'Glers...)

mark s, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

If you go to the Siren Disc website, then go to the future releases section [which is very useful] you will that there are a number of Stranglers reissues on CD with bonus tracks

The Stranglers

Black & White (+6), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Mean To Me 2.Walk On By 3.Shut Up 4.Sverige 5.Old Codger 6.Tits. Country: UK. Release Date: 20-Aug-01

La Folie (+6), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Cruel Garden 2.Cocktain Nubiles 3.Vietnamerica 4.Love 30 5.You Hold The Key To My Love In Your Hands 6.Strange Little Girl. Country: UK. Release Date: 20-Aug-01

Live (X-Cert) (+6), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Peasant In The Big City 2.In The Shadows 3.Sometimes 4.Mean To Me 5.London Lady 6.Goodbye Toulouse. Country: UK. Release Date: 20-Aug-01

Meninblack (+3), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Top Secret 2.Meninwhite 3.Tomorrow Was Hereafter. Country: UK. Release Date: 20- Aug-01

No More Heroes (+3), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Straighten Out 2.Five Minutes 3.Rok It To The Moon. Country: UK. Release Date: 20- Aug-01

Rattus Norvegicus (+3), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Choosey Susie 2.Go Buddy Go 3.Peasant In The Big Shitty (Live). Country: UK. Release Date: 20-Aug-01

Raven (+4), CD $16.99 New package with extensive sleeve notes and many new, previously unseen photo's plus bonus tracks. Bonus tracks: 1.Bear Cage 2.Fools Rush Out 3.N'Emmenes Pas Harry 4.Yellowcake U.F.O. Country: UK. Release Date: 20-Aug-01

DJ Martian, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Jesus! AGAIN? How many times can one band re-release the same stuff??? I happen to LOVE the Stranglers, but -- with the possible exception of the Smiths -- I cannot think of another band who flagrantly re-foist ancient product on the public as much as the beloved Stranglers. Irrefutably, they are in an elite coterie of bands with more best-of/ singles/greatest hits compilations out than actual albums.

alex in nyc, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Uriah Heep + decent tunes + unpleasant "attitude" = a grudging classic. A big favourite when I was 15/16 , although even then I had major ideological & stupidological difficulties w/ their lyrics. "Were they 'punk'?" - a consideration otiose to my current exciting futuristic 21st-century lifestyle, but if *you* care, yeah, at least as much so as the Music Machine or ? & the Mysterians.

duane, Friday, 6 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

nahh, sorry. The stranglers smelt a little fishy mind you, they Didn't do too bad a cover of "walk on by" and the keyboard player's name always raises a chuckle.

Nick Greenfield, Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Alex, what about the Moody Blues? They have *how* many greatest hits albums? Total overkill.

Kim, Saturday, 7 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

Stranglers: bewilderingly inconsistent so far as I can see. Loved "Peaches", "Walk on By" and then nothing very much until "Nice in Nice" which I ADORED and "Always the Sun" wasn't bad. Those lame cover versions though...they really should have left "All Day and All of the nIght" and "96 Tears" alone.

and secondly:

with the possible exception of the Smiths -- I cannot think of another band who flagrantly re-foist ancient product on the public as much as the beloved Stranglers. says alex and this immediately made me think, "well, of course they didn't, as anyone who has been following news of the latest Smiths compilation cd will tell you. So often it is money-grubbing record companies acting without the bands' consent, much to their chagrin (cf Talk Talk & "history Revisited" remixes).

MarkH, Wednesday, 11 July 2001 00:00 (13 years ago) Permalink

5 months pass...
Classic (Although without Cornwell...what's the point?)! Being an American, they never EVER caught on here in the US. The first track I heard was Golden Brown on MTV back when they played good videos. If anyone dare call Peaches, No More Heroes, Hanging Around, or even their cover of Walk On By duds, may they be imprisoned in a dank cell with Jet Black's ass on their fucking face!

DJ Paddington, Thursday, 13 December 2001 01:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

Black And White is totally underrated - "I can Drive! (DRIVE!)/ my very own Tank/ yes I can" - The 6 bonus tracks you get with the rerelease mentioned upthread are also essential.

Jeff W, Thursday, 13 December 2001 01:00 (12 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
REVIVEINBLACK!


Still buzzing with joy from Killing Joke's THE UNPERVERTED PANTOMIME? release on Alchemy records (formerlly NMC), I picked up a copy of Alchemy's new Stranglers release, APOLLO, a live recording from the Glasgow Apollo in 1981. Now while it's widely established that the world needs another live Stranglers album like it needs the SARS epidemic, I have to say, this one's a cracker! The sound is weighty yet clear.....JJ's bass comes rumbling out of the speakers with suitable sinewy menace. I'm also always happy to hear this era of the band -- Gospel According to the Meninblack -- captured live (as it seems it's usually very early stuff or yawnsome late career stuff that is widely avialable). That said.....some troubling questions/observations:

(a) There's a significant track listing cock-up. The track list states "Just Like Nothing on Earth" as the third selection, but it's actually "Second Coming" (itself listed at the fourth track). The fourth track is actually "The Man they Love to Hate" (incorrectly listed as well...see [b]). "Just Like Nothing on Earth" doesn't appear on the disc until track 8 (mislabelled as "Tank"). The jacket says there are 12 tracks. There are, actually, 17 tracks.

(b) Why are some of the track titles truncated? ("Non-Stop Nun" is shortened to simply "Non-Stop", "The Man they Love to Hate" is shortened simply to "Hate", "Let Me introduce You to the Family" is reduced to simply "Hate"). Were these printed in haste? Have Alchemy no fact-checkers?

(c) The deliciously sinister instumental, "Waltzinblack" appears *TWICE*, yet is not listed either time. This is followed by an inexplicable second appearance (same recording) of the first track, "Non-Stop Nun."

(d) The famed, Disney-ish Stranglers logo appears in the INNER booklet, yet does not adorn the front cover -- giving the proceedings a decidedly "bootlegy" feel. Is this not an authorized release?

(e) Why is there a picture of a contemporary model jaguar (the car) on the cover (when the music contained herein is from `81)?

(f) "Second Coming" also appears twice.

(g) As does "Meninblack"

(h) I was elated to find a live version of "The Raven" as the 17th track, but fans of this song wouldn't know it's on this album given the information on the sleeve (it is not listed).

(i) The liner notes -- written in first person, presumably by Alchemy mainman Carlton Sandercock, though I could be wrong -- feature no signature nor sign-off, leaving the reader wondering who wrote it.

All that said, it's a great collection of vintage Stranglers music. But some reprimands might be in order over at Alchemy for some of these glaring oversights.

Sorry to be Johnny Pedantic, the irritating Fanboy!

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 9 May 2003 19:40 (11 years ago) Permalink

"Let Me introduce You to the Family" is reduced to simply "Hate"

Whoops, I too am in need of a fact-checker. It's reduced to simply "Family."

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Friday, 9 May 2003 19:41 (11 years ago) Permalink

No More Heroes, Balck & White, Rattus Norvegicus, Raven, Stranglers IV - all classic in a big way. After that, merely good.

John Bullabaugh (John Bullabaugh), Saturday, 10 May 2003 14:14 (11 years ago) Permalink

2 months pass...
Alex, you may be happy to know that this summer's Shakespeare in the Park (Henry V) blasts "No More Heroes" during the curtain call.

felicity (felicity), Thursday, 17 July 2003 15:27 (11 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...
I gave "No More Heroes" and "Rattus Norvegicus" a couple of listens this weekend. What a strange and unique band, their music gives off a menacing sleazyness that few artists are able to attain (a good thing in this context). The bassist definitely makes it all work.

Earl Nash (earlnash), Monday, 6 September 2004 22:09 (10 years ago) Permalink

'77 - '81 - Classicinblack
'81 - > - Dudinablackbinliner

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 07:17 (10 years ago) Permalink

Best thing they ever did was Skin Deep. (1984?) That trio of singles from Aural Sculpture SD + Let Me Down Easy + No Mercy is fantastic.

From Duchess they were prog really, weren't they. Maybe even from Black and White (note : this is a GOOD thing).

Dr. C (Dr. C), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 08:56 (10 years ago) Permalink

Black & White is my favourite Stranglers record. Tracks like Curfew and Rise Of The Robots are amazingly ahead of their time, creepily futuristic/robotic and deserve to be heralded as post-punk genius but unfortunately the reputation as dodgy old pub rock geezers will forever taint them, even if they started sounding like Sun-Ra. The new album isn't too shabby either.

mzui, Tuesday, 7 September 2004 09:12 (10 years ago) Permalink

Utter classic up to and including Dreamtime in 1986.
Hugh singing "stick my fingers RIGHT UP YOUR NOSE!" is possibly the best thing ever.

Palomino (Palomino), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:42 (10 years ago) Permalink

Hugh singing "stick my fingers RIGHT UP YOUR NOSE!" is possibly the best thing ever.

It's actually JJ that sings that, by the way.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:43 (10 years ago) Permalink

"Black and White" is my favourite too. It contains some of the funniest lyrics in the history of recorded music (as does "The Raven") - not always intentionally funny but funny nonetheless.

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:45 (10 years ago) Permalink

> It's actually JJ that sings that, by the way.

Something Better Change? Are you certain?

Palomino (Palomino), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:53 (10 years ago) Permalink

That's JJ alright

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

Are you certain?

Positive.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:54 (10 years ago) Permalink

How extraordinary. I never would have guessed. I'm listening to it right now and I think he sounds exactly like Hugh - same timbre, mannerisms, everything.
Fuck me, what a great guitar solo.

Palomino (Palomino), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 17:59 (10 years ago) Permalink

How strange! I think he sounds more like Father Jack than Hugh!

Keith Watson (kmw), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 18:37 (10 years ago) Permalink

JJ also sings: "London Lady", "Go Buddy Go", "Five Minutes", "La Folie", "Choosey Suzie" and, I believe, "Don't Bring Harry".

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 18:38 (10 years ago) Permalink

...and Princess of the Streets, Burning up Time, The Man they Love to Hate, Thrown Away, Eurpoean Female, Nice in Nice, Ugly, Dagenham Dave, some of Curfew, Threatened, Death and Night and Blood amongst others.

Keith Watson (kmw), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 18:52 (10 years ago) Permalink

True'dat. Apparently, JJ doesn't sing anymore. Not only that, but "new guy" Paul now sings his old songs when they play live. Odd, that.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 19:15 (10 years ago) Permalink

Stranglers = UK version of Styx? (Check out "Miss America")

dave q, Tuesday, 7 September 2004 20:24 (10 years ago) Permalink

Interesting. On London Lady, Go Buddy Go, Choosey Suzie and 5 Minutes Burnel sings like Cornwell, and on La Folie, European Female, Nice in Nice and even Princess of the Streets, he sings like... well, himself.
The "Hugh" voice is raucous and self-confident, while the "J.J." voice is softer and far less sure of itself.
When you consider that J.J. hero-worshipped Hugh, at least in the early days of the band, the dichotomy appears to gain striking psychological significance.

Palomino (Palomino), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 20:24 (10 years ago) Permalink

> Stranglers = UK version of Styx?

Christ almighty. Men have been hung for less.

Palomino (Palomino), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 20:26 (10 years ago) Permalink

Stranglers = UK version of Styx? (Check out "Miss America")

Dave, if it had been anyone other that youself who said this.....they'd be dead now.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 7 September 2004 20:40 (10 years ago) Permalink

Who sang on Paradise (from Feline)? It sounds like an old age pensioner, but could it be Greenfield?

Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 06:14 (10 years ago) Permalink

Are you sure it's Burnel singing "Dagenham Dave"? The monologue in the middle is definitely Hugh Cornwell.

Dadaismus (Dada), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 08:37 (10 years ago) Permalink

"Stranglers = UK version of Styx?"

Styx released a series of great albums in the late '70's / early '80's?!?

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 09:26 (10 years ago) Permalink

_Rattus Norvegicus_ and _The Raven_ made several of my days as 17yr old new wave amateur, back in 89 or so.
I know its extremely unhip but i like also some of the goofier moments on the _Meninblack_ album. The esoteric plot is ridicolously sublime.

Marco Damiani (Marco D.), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 09:30 (10 years ago) Permalink

"Meninblack" has some good stuff on it. Even "La Folie" has its moments.

Dadaismus (Dada), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 09:33 (10 years ago) Permalink

The Gospel According to the Meninblack was, I think, one of the first proper LPs of theirs I ever bought (having only heard compilations and singles prior to that) and it was a bit of a mind-blower. On the one hand, it was refreshing to hear a band that were genuinely doing something different, but, like Marco says, there is some unhomogenized goofiness abounding on that record. That said, I think "Just Like Nothing On Earth", "Manna Machine" and the prolonged intro to "Hallow to Our Men" are fucking amazing. The live version of "Just Like Nothing..." on BBC Sessions: Live at the Hammersmith Odeon `81 is a much gruffer, beefier incarnation, with JJ's bass well to the fore. Highly recommended.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 13:42 (10 years ago) Permalink

come sail away porky meat!

dave q, Wednesday, 8 September 2004 13:48 (10 years ago) Permalink

hahahahaha

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 13:59 (10 years ago) Permalink

For all its shortcomings, _Meninblack_ is one of the most amusingly unbalanced albums ever made. Obviously critics and fans didn't know what to with it, except for throwing it in the nearest trash bin. They were wrong: it can be unfocused an sometimes sloppy, but it is wrapped in such an impenetrable aura.
"Just like nothing on Earth" is an absolute highlight in their discography, and I really love the way (in albums like this one and _The Raven_) they were drifting in this dark, obtuse fairyland totally their own.

Marco Damiani (Marco D.), Wednesday, 8 September 2004 14:29 (10 years ago) Permalink

God bless The Stranglers.

Alex in NYC, Sunday, 14 June 2009 02:07 (5 years ago) Permalink

hey, alex, you can download hugh's new album for free if you want. if that's, you know, something you might enjoy. perhaps.

http://www.hughcornwell.com/

scott seward, Monday, 22 June 2009 17:31 (5 years ago) Permalink

Interesting this - someone having reversed Yellowcake UF6, one of the B-sides from what I think is definitely their best period.

Keith, Sunday, 5 July 2009 12:23 (5 years ago) Permalink

Most bizarre.

Alex in NYC, Sunday, 5 July 2009 15:46 (5 years ago) Permalink

their version of Walk on By is still on my playlist after all these years

Dr X O'Skeleton, Sunday, 5 July 2009 20:47 (5 years ago) Permalink

... as well it should be.

Alex in NYC, Monday, 6 July 2009 02:24 (5 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

Just listened to "Black And White" for the first time in eons. So good I had to listen twice, in fact! Damn, those crazy keyboards, JJ's bass, Hugh's odd lyrics... even the lesser tracks are fascinating and the classics are monumental. I will continue on to the rest of Hugh's albums.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 13 November 2010 19:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

2 weeks pass...

"Down in the Sewer" reminds me of both The Fall and Nomeansno. This is a pretty high compliment.

4 out of 5 Fenriz agree. (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Tuesday, 30 November 2010 02:24 (3 years ago) Permalink

Genius song. First time I listened to it, while not understanding a single word, still I could feel the sick breath of a sewer on my face (maybe it was just that horrible rat on the back cover, who knows).

A couple of months ago I went (again) through this obsessive Stranglers phase and devoured again their early album - lots and lots of great songs, also Hugh's Nosferatu remains one of the most peculiar album of the era.

Marco Damiani, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 11:21 (3 years ago) Permalink

It is also very fitting and Strangler-esque that a lot of those EMI budget compilations variously titled Good Times, Soft Rock or Early Sunday Morning Music invariably include a song like Golden Brown.

Marco Damiani, Tuesday, 30 November 2010 11:26 (3 years ago) Permalink

9 months pass...

Classic, as far as I'm concerned. I can divide their career up into several phases...

Phase #1: The initial years (Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes)
Phase #2: The art-prog-pop years (The Raven, The Gospel According To The Meninblack, La Folie, Feline)

Note: third album 'Black And White' marks a transitional point between these two phases

Phase #3: The straightforward pop band years (Aural Sculpture, Dreamtime, 10)
Phase #4: The wilderness years (Stranglers In The Night, About Time, Written In Red, Coup De Grace)
and finally, Phase #5: The resurgence (Norfolk Coast, Suite XVI)

Of all these phases, I think Phase #2 is my favourite. I think when this band branched out from the sound of their first two albums, they started making some really interesting music. The Raven, The Gospel and La Folie are my three favourite albums of theirs - Feline, much much less so.

Of the rest - I don't think I could argue with Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes or Black & White, although none of these albums would be my first choices to listen to (I fear I've heard them all too many times), whenever I'm in the mood for them I enjoy pretty much every second. The last three Hugh albums also have some keepers on them also, but I couldn't call any of them my favourites.

Post-Hugh, I'd say the best album with Paul Roberts on vocals has to be "Norfolk Coast", undoubtedly, but I also have a soft spot for "About Time", which has some good stuff on it... I'm especially fond of 'Face'. The first (and to date, sole) album with Baz Warne on vocals, "Suite XVI" is also a thoroughly solid and listenable album.

However, "Stranglers In The Night", and ESPECIALLY "Written In Red" and "Coup De Grace" should be erased from history never to be spoken of again, IMHO!

Turrican, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 07:03 (3 years ago) Permalink

1 year passes...

I must've missed your post at the time, Turrican. The last time I listened to the phase 2 albums (as you listed them) they really knocked my socks off in a way they hadn't when I first encountered them. I think as we hear more music, it gives us context than can sometimes transform the way we here material that previously lacked it, and therefore enhances the experience. So listening to "The Raven" now that I've heard much more 60s and early 70s underground material means noting The Stranglers fascinating confluence of influences. Roxy, Eno, Cale, garage rock, etc.

I'm not sure I hear the difference in approach between "Feline" and "Aural Sculpture", I think they're both far from straightforward pop. Do you really think they shaved off the odd basslines and guitar bits moving between the two?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 17 December 2012 17:05 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'm not sure I hear the difference in approach between "Feline" and "Aural Sculpture", I think they're both far from straightforward pop. Do you really think they shaved off the odd basslines and guitar bits moving between the two?

― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, December 17, 2012 5:05 PM (1 week ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I don't think that JJ/Hugh/Dave toned down any of their individuality or quirk on their instruments in between Feline and Aural Sculpture, although I do see those albums as very different beasts - in terms of production, songwriting, general feel. Feline strikes me as being a very cold, moody, experimental work with a stark production job, whereas Aural Sculpture strikes me as being more upbeat, more produced, and far more accessible. Sculpture seems to be rooted far more in 'classic songwriting' (for want of a better term) to me than Feline, and I think they continued in that vein on Dreamtime and 10 (probably because by that stage, JJ and Hugh were mostly writing the songs by themselves instead of collaborating like they mostly did on the United Artists-era LPs). In fact, when I think about it, I'd say that Aural Sculpture marked the last BIG change in the Stranglers sound with the addition of the horn section (which they continued to use until Hugh left the band).

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Thursday, 27 December 2012 16:47 (1 year ago) Permalink

to think i wasted all that time listening to The Jam when i was a kid when i could have been listening to The Stranglers. Doh!

scott seward, Thursday, 27 December 2012 17:04 (1 year ago) Permalink

3 months pass...

what with all the chat re the stranglers on the 'walk on by' thread, and 'no more heroes' popping up in my playlist tonight and sounding ace, could it be time to pick up their classic albums ...

surely emi have released a £50 man boxset of the albums (i.e. phase 1 + phase 2 ?

mark e, Thursday, 11 April 2013 19:51 (1 year ago) Permalink

Actually, "The New Testament" boxset is being reissued with a bonus disc. It has every last EMI track.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:20 (1 year ago) Permalink

good timing ..

mark e, Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:39 (1 year ago) Permalink

1 month passes...

They're playing this evening in NYC for the first time in 17 years (albeit with Hugh or, for that matter, Jet.. who doesn't fly anymore). Anyone going?

Alex in NYC, Monday, 3 June 2013 22:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

withOUT Hugh...

Alex in NYC, Monday, 3 June 2013 22:11 (1 year ago) Permalink

I'll be there. I'll be the one wearing all black ... oh wait.

Alex in NYC, Monday, 3 June 2013 22:14 (1 year ago) Permalink

I would love to see them but, alas, nope. I was glad to read that Giants might soon be getting a U.S. release though.

i kant believe it's not buffon (jon /via/ chi 2.0), Monday, 3 June 2013 22:15 (1 year ago) Permalink

let us know how the show was, they're coming to toronto soon and i'm thinking of going but .... no hugh? no jet?.....

m0stlyClean, Monday, 3 June 2013 22:35 (1 year ago) Permalink

My review, for what it's worth:

Okay, gotta say ... in advance of this gig, I was having my doubts. But in the end, I'm quite glad I went.

For a start, the venue: Highline Ballroom is a relative newcomer to NYC, and it feels a bit slick and antiseptic. This is the first time there's ever been a band I've given a fuck about playing at this venue. Most of the time it seems to play host to corporate events, acid jazz parties and cover bands. Also, the floor is ringed by exclusive cushioned booths. Tear those fucking things out and let people move around, I say. Still, I suppose, if you're normally hosting bullshit karaoke events, I suppose that doesn't matter. I will say this: the bars are easy to access.

Opening act: Ersatz honky-tonkster with cloying lap pedal-steel player name Luba Dvorzak. Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I witnessed an opening act who was so poorly matched with the headliner. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but his strenuously earnest Dwight Yoakam-meets-Bruce-Springsteen posturing really grated after a while. Kept hoping someone was going to throw something at him. Astonishingly, no one did.

The crowd: A odd mix, honestly. Lots of portly, "dodgy prostate punks" with silver in their hair (like, er, me), lots of folks who clearly only came to hear "Grip," "No More Heroes" and/or "Always the Sun" (and who stood staring blankly when the band ripped into "Nuclear Device" or "Straighten Out" etc.). Not many young'uns, which is fine with me.

For a while, i was stood behind a woman who insisted on taking pictures with her phone literally every other minute. Conversely, I took three (3) photos of the performance...and even felt that was excessive. Whatever happened to simply enjoying the moment instead of feverishly trying to document the moment?

The show: For all the talk of the band phoning it in in recent years, I can't honestly say. They were certainly in very high spirits on the comparatively cramped stage. Some fresh-faced young man who looked from my vantage point like Conan O'Brien sat in for the understandably absent but still sorely missed Jet "Fucking" Black. Baz on vocals/guitar is actually a funny, charming, chatty motherfucker (taking an audience member jokingly to task for yelling "you suck" and trying out his best "Noo Yawk" accent). JJ doesn't seem to attack the crowd as he once did, but still does the crouched duck walk. Looking less like the leather-clad thug of yore and more like a resigned elder statesman, he did indeed seem to be enjoying himself.

Dave on keyboards looking a bit older, but still a fucking wiz on the organ (and doing silly things like drinking a pint of beer with one hand while playing the solo on "Walk on By" with the other).

Set list was pretty impressive. It really is remarkable how many great, great songs they have in their oeuvre. They opened with "Toiler on the Sea," which I like -- but never thought of it as a momentum-builder. "Goodbye Toulose" followed. Some pleasant surprises (for me) included airings of "Nuclear Device," "Bring on the Nubiles" (I was leaping about for this one, prompting many an agitated glance from people around me), "Who Wants the World?," "Straighten Out" (honestly, can you name a better song?) and fucking "Tank." Indeed, they dusted off the obligatory renditions of "Golden Brown," "Skin Deep," "Duchess," "Always the Sun," and only a few ones from GIANTS (the new one) and maybe one track from SUITE XVI. The only song from the Paul Roberts era was a rousing bash through "Norfolk Coast." Leery renditions of "Five Minutes," "Hanging Around," "Peaches" and "Nice 'N' Sleazy" brought the house down.

Notable omissions from the hits-heavy set: "Something Better Change," "The Raven," Mean to Me," "Go Buddy Go," "Strange Little Girl," "London Lady." They played nothing off of MENINBLACK (I was hoping against hope for "Just Like Nothing on Earth") and only "Skin Deep" off of AURAL SCULPTURE. Still, it was a beefy set that I can't complain about.

Though he's been gone for over twenty years, the specter of Hugh Cornwell still looms over this band, largely due to the fact that a good 80% of the songs they played were either originally written or sang by the man. In what could only be a bit of calculated irony. the room itself was peppered with flyers advertising an upcoming (well, December) gig by Hugh Cornwell. Wonder if the band could see those flyers from the stage. That must have been a bit weird.

That said, I have newfound respect for Baz Warne. He's a more-than-capable performer and is a charismatic frontman, and his enthusiasm was infectious.

There you have it. There are a couple of pics on my Istagram page, if fucks be given: http://instagram.com/alexinnewyorkcity

Alex in NYC, Tuesday, 4 June 2013 14:42 (1 year ago) Permalink

Hugh Cornwell is doing a solo show at the Highline Ballroom later on in the year too, so I've heard!

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 4 June 2013 15:06 (1 year ago) Permalink

In December, yes. The flyers were all over the venue (as I mentioned).

Alex in NYC, Tuesday, 4 June 2013 15:08 (1 year ago) Permalink

Sorry, just seen that you've mentioned that in your post, Alex in NYC :) It's strange that they didn't wheel out 'The Raven' or at least 'Thrown Away', because I know for a fact that they've done both of those tracks live in recent years!

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 4 June 2013 15:10 (1 year ago) Permalink

let us know how the show was, they're coming to toronto soon and i'm thinking of going but .... no hugh? no jet?.....

― m0stlyClean, Monday, June 3, 2013 10:35 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Well, Jet's more than getting on a bit in the age department now... and quite frankly, I'm VERY surprised that he's lasted as long as he has. His health problems are nothing new to long-time fans (I think Robert Williams filled in for Jet due to illness on the Dreamtime tour and I'm sure there was a couple of other occasions during the '90s where they had to get someone else to fill in for live dates), and I remember seeing the band on the Suite XVI and was marvelling at how he was managing to keep up with some of the faster paced numbers. Some sheer determination on that guy. It's gotten a little bit more serious in recent years, though... he was taken to hospital not long into the UK tour for the recent album (Giants), and when he returned they set up with two drum-kits and played half the set with a fill in drummer, and then Jet came on half-way through and finished the set off.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 4 June 2013 15:15 (1 year ago) Permalink

*Suite XVI tour.

The Jupiter 8 (Turrican), Tuesday, 4 June 2013 15:16 (1 year ago) Permalink

alex, thanks for the review... sorry to hear about jet's health issues, i wasn't aware....
"dodgy prostate punks", i think i might know a few....

m0stlyClean, Tuesday, 4 June 2013 16:28 (1 year ago) Permalink

6 months pass...

Just got (Gospel According to) MenInBlack recently and the only other thing I know is "Golden Brown", so I'm having a hard time fitting together the talk of them being blokey thugs with this sometimes incredibly weird music.

Very intrigued by the reputation of Cornwell/Williams - Nosferatu.

I cant find what Hugh went to Jail for.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:01 (9 months ago) Permalink

the first few albums are both blokey/thuggish and sometimes incredibly weird

soref, Thursday, 2 January 2014 19:15 (9 months ago) Permalink

Drugs, Robert.

Alex in NYC, Thursday, 2 January 2014 20:04 (9 months ago) Permalink

I still think that Black & White is some batshit dalek punk classic, also JJ Burnell's 'Euroman Cometh', made at the same time, is great in places and really bloody odd.

MaresNest, Thursday, 2 January 2014 20:47 (9 months ago) Permalink

The Stranglers made some weird music from the outset (check out the 9/4 acid-fried 'Peasant In The Big Shitty' from No More Heroes, for example), but the weirdness in their music had definitely come to the fore by the time they made The Raven, The Gospel, La Folie and Feline. They'd pretty much got the blokey/thuggish element out of their systems after the first three albums, I'd say, and even then they were mostly taking the piss. I mean, it's impossible to listen to 'Bring On The Nubiles' with a straight face.

zip-a-dee-doo-dah, motherfucker! (Turrican), Thursday, 2 January 2014 21:31 (9 months ago) Permalink

http://strangledthebook.blogspot.co.uk/

soref, Thursday, 2 January 2014 21:43 (9 months ago) Permalink

"Bring on the Nubiles" is so deliberately offensive, yes. If you take it seriously, you have taken the bait.

Alex in NYC, Friday, 3 January 2014 17:22 (9 months ago) Permalink

Doesn't it make it any less stupid

Eats like Elvis, shits like De Niro (Tom D.), Saturday, 4 January 2014 16:21 (9 months ago) Permalink

^^^ It is really dumb. Possibly offended any grandparents who somehow heard it, so job well done.

barranca jagger (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 4 January 2014 20:38 (9 months ago) Permalink

Me and a school friend used to impersonate a radio station, ring random people and offer prizes if they could 'name that tune' - then played Bring on the Nubiles. Most slammed the phone down at this point, but one sweet old lady asked "is it The Osmonds?"

Dr X O'Skeleton, Saturday, 4 January 2014 23:41 (9 months ago) Permalink

2 months pass...

Actually, "The New Testament" boxset is being reissued with a bonus disc. It has every last EMI track.

I must correct myself. After spending years plumbing the depths of classic Stranglers, I was listening to the excellent "The UA Singles 77-82" 3CD set and lo and behold there were two b-sides I'd never heard!! "Wired" and "Crabs (live)", the latter appearing in studio form on a JJ solo album. While neither are stormers, I'm amazed that I somehow overlooked them and that they've never been compiled anywhere else before.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 14 March 2014 01:20 (7 months ago) Permalink

Wired is from Hugh Cornwell's solo album 'Nosferatu' which is definitely worth listening to if you don't know it. It's on spotify and most of the tracks are on youtube as well.

soref, Friday, 14 March 2014 01:29 (7 months ago) Permalink

Ah yes, I actually have that! Thanks for the clarification.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 14 March 2014 01:31 (7 months ago) Permalink

These were on the 'Don't Bring Harry' EP, released in November '79, the same month that Nosferatu was released and that Hugh was arrested and charged with drug possession. It was released in time for the Christmas record buyers, with this sleeve:

From Hugh's drug bust up until the release of 'Golden Brown' was a bit of a turbulent time for the band, really. Not creatively, but definitely personally and career-wise.

Toni Braxton-Hicks (Turrican), Friday, 14 March 2014 11:21 (7 months ago) Permalink

So JJ says "Don't bring Harry" and Hugh says "Never a frown with golden brown", pretty different attitudes towards heroin.

I've been listening to all their singles thanks to "The UA Singles 77-82" 3CD set and "Skin Deep: The Collection" 2CD (a terrible name for a great comp of all their 7" A's and B's from their Epic years). Was it just the elimination of drugs that resulted in the dramatic change in their sound or was it a conscious choice to go for a more mainstream approach? I mean, I love both their punk and pop phases but JJ's bass and Jet's drums are just so key to their early sound that when listening the way I've done, it's a dramatic difference between the era's.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 14 March 2014 16:24 (7 months ago) Permalink

I love seeing my old threads revived.

Alex in NYC, Friday, 14 March 2014 16:27 (7 months ago) Permalink

Was it just the elimination of drugs that resulted in the dramatic change in their sound or was it a conscious choice to go for a more mainstream approach? I mean, I love both their punk and pop phases but JJ's bass and Jet's drums are just so key to their early sound that when listening the way I've done, it's a dramatic difference between the era's.

― Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, March 14, 2014 4:24 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I'd say it was a combination of things, really. Feline was the last of the "drug" albums, there's stories of JJ and Hugh sitting around smacked out of their skulls trying to write 'It's A Small World' and 'Ships That Pass In The Night' and taking forever because they kept nodding out... (The Meninblack, La Folie and Feline being the "heroin" albums, the albums before being influenced by a combination of other drugs). JJ came off heroin just after the time of Feline, Hugh stopped taking all drugs by the time of recording Aural Sculpture (the other two weren't into it, apparently, they were more into other drugs... Jet apparently being known as "the hoover" in the band at one point).

Drugs aside, the band started working with producers again around the time of Aural Sculpture: everything from The Raven up until Feline was self-produced with an engineer (Alan Winstanley, Steve Churchyard etc.) taking care of the technical obstacles. They used Laurie Latham on Aural Sculpture which was the first time they'd used a producer since Martin Rushent, who did the first three albums.

Also, after Feline, JJ & Hugh weren't meeting up to write together as often. A lot of the tracks on the last three Hugh-era albums were solely written by either Hugh or JJ alone and brought into the band, whereas before a lot of their songs would start off with an idea from one member or the other and be developed on between the two members (although there were exceptions, most notably 'Golden Brown', the music of which was written by Dave Greenfield and was moulded into a song by Hugh).

I think by the time of Dreamtime, Hugh was starting to form more of a "solo" identity in his songwriting, and I think he was starting to get bored of being in The Stranglers. I guess the attitudes between the members changed too: Hugh became more ambitious and wanted to be more successful, especially in America, whereas JJ wasn't too bothered about cracking America at all. By the time of 10, I think Hugh began to feel that the bands reputation and collective decisions were beginning to affect their chances of becoming successful to the degree that he wanted to be, and after a proposed American tour for 10 fell through, he decided to leave the band. The attitude being "well, I have no control over how people perceive the band, it's no longer the identity I want for myself anymore, so I'm leaving so I'll judged on my own terms".

Toni Braxton-Hicks (Turrican), Friday, 14 March 2014 19:01 (7 months ago) Permalink

Of course, it hasn't quite worked out that way. While Hugh is ploughing onwards, continuing to make (in my opinion) very good records, it would seem that some of the more hardcore Stranglers fans still resent him for leaving the band, and resent him for daring to not keep being Strangler Hugh circa 1978 over and over again, and as a result have sided with the rest of the band. There's still a group of Stranglers fans out there that would love the Stranglers to continue at all costs, even though Jet is seriously in a bad way at the moment (he had to leave a Stranglers tour recently because he ended up in hospital with breathing problems, and even though The Stranglers are on tour now, they play with a stand-in drummer most of the time and Jet only comes on for 3 or 4 songs in the middle of the set, after which he's on oxygen afterwards). JJ is talking about knocking The Stranglers on the head when Jet decides he absolutely can't do anything with The Stranglers anymore, but you'd be very surprised to learn that there's a group of fans there that would be happy for the band to continue in spite of this(!) ... I think the band have been such a huge part of these people's lives for so long that they can't handle the thought of being without the band, even though they've been very fucking fortunate to last this long and retain a fanbase, especially after Hugh left the band. Personally, I think their 40th anniversary (in September) would be the best time to leave it, else it would just become a joke. It's way, way too late for the original line-up to ever reform now. Way too late.

Toni Braxton-Hicks (Turrican), Friday, 14 March 2014 19:12 (7 months ago) Permalink

Nice posts! Are you secretly Hugh himself? (^_-)

I don't think I've heard a full Hugh solo album since "Hi-Fi". Your thoughts on them?

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 14 March 2014 19:32 (7 months ago) Permalink

Of the albums he's released since Hi Fi, I really enjoy Beyond Elysian Fields (produced by Tony Visconti), which is a real singer-songwriter type of album, mostly based around acoustic guitars. It has a couple of misfires (the corny Bob Dylan tribute '24/7' and the story song 'The Story Of Harry Power'), but on the other hand: 'Land of a Thousand Kisses' (which has a Feline-like vibe to it), 'Cadiz', 'Beauty On The Beach' and 'Henry Moore' are up there with some of his best solo tracks for me.

I also really enjoy his most recent one, Totem and Taboo, recorded with Steve Albini, which is a stripped down (as you'd expect) effort completely focused on electric guitar, bass, drums and voice. It's not as polished as Guilty or Hi Fi and thankfully far from the '80s cheese of Wolf (even though I feel there's some decent songs on there, the production for the most part really ruins them), and there's some great tracks on there: the title track, 'A Street Called Carroll', 'Bad Vibrations' to name three off the top of my head. 'Stuck In Daily Mail Land' even sounds like The Jam melodically, if you can imagine The Jam with Billy Bragg on vocals.

Of the rest: Hooverdam is rawer than Totem and Taboo and was recorded by Liam Watson, who did Elephant by The White Stripes, but I find the production on it anaemic and some of the songs not quite up to snuff. I love 'Please Don't Put Me On A Slowboat To Trowbridge', 'Delightful Nightmare' and 'Philip K. Ridiculous', but it also has a couple of dirges such as 'Pleasure Of Your Company' and 'Within You Or Without You' that I could do without. 'Wrong Side Of The Tracks' is eerily close to Hendrix's 'Crosstown Traffic' for comfort, too.

There's also the odds and sodds collection Footprints In The Desert which were demos of songs which were rejected from Guilty: it has the (in my mind) great single 'Everybody', but also has plenty of cheese on it such as 'Sex Bomb' and 'So Sexual'. If you can imagine some of the cheesier moments from Wired but even more cheesier, then that's the album in a nutshell. It's my least favourite Hugh release by miles, and I don't consider it a proper album in anyway.

There's also his Nosferatu-like side project, Sons Of Shiva, which is worth at least one listen. I think Hugh takes more of a behind the scenes role on the album, though.

Toni Braxton-Hicks (Turrican), Friday, 14 March 2014 21:14 (7 months ago) Permalink

In fact, thinking about Hugh has generally used better/"name" producers on his solo stuff than The Stranglers have on their stuff post-Hugh. Their last album was produced by one of their road crew!

Toni Braxton-Hicks (Turrican), Friday, 14 March 2014 21:16 (7 months ago) Permalink


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