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More often than not in magazine articles, books and television documentaries about UK Punk Rock, The Stranglers are ignored or at best written off as `not really Punk'. The reality back in 1977 when `Stranglers IV (Rattus Norvegicus)' was released was that the band were the Punk Rock group of choice for the majority of the original UK punk rock kids (both cognoscenti and latecomers) alongside the Sex Pistols. While the latter bands' musical brilliance was often overwhelmed by the Jubilee year media circus their manager Malcom McLaren exploited, The Stranglers relied on their multicoloured, malevolent music and their own eldritch personas.
For original punks like myself, who could relate to the youthfulness of The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers were not boys but mature men - and all the scarier and more significant for it. The Stranglers summoned up the feeling of walking around British towns at night in the late seventies for young men, full of fear, unrequited lust, misanthropic romanticism, sick of the violence and sex we saw everywhere, the former so close, the latter often frustratingly beyond our youthful reach. Branded as sexist bullies by the music press, the band were merely honest: young men often are aggressive and lustful. Their music is misanthropic, but it has a shadowy existential beauty, heartrending melodic sentiments reminiscent of The Doors often pouring out of a scree of uptempo noise like that of The Velvet Underground, but always uniquely The Stranglers. To lay one myth to rest, their music was never a problem for women either - there were (and still are) plenty of girls at their gigs.Read more ›
I was around fifteen when this album was released and because of the song "peaches" made it a popular album to buy. You heard that song everywhere and still do today. Who couldnt recognise the bass line. Which brings me nicely on to why I bought the album; JJ's bass guitar work. Inspired me to pick up a guitar, not to find great success but to get me through difficult school years. They were dubbed a "punk" band at a time when "punk" was being defined by groups like the Damned and obviously the sex pistols. I never felt they quite carried off the angry yoof thing, perhaps as they were much older than their peers!
Having rediscovered this album I remember what I found odd about their sound compared to other bands emerging at that time. They had melody, obviously! But, the keyboards, which I used to find difficult to deal with compared to the thrashy full on electric sound of other bands, have helped define them. Remember that in the late 70s the yoof was discarding the likes of "ELP", "Deep purple" and "Uriah heep" with their sophisticated keyboards for a raw more basic and energetic style. The stranglers seemed to carry some of keyboards over to their "punk" type sound.
All Stranglers songs some carry a strong message and listening to this album again after over 30 years obviously brings back memories. As a bass player I particularly enjoyed "Goodbye Toulouse".
Just a shame that at fifteen I never realised that high treble, rotosound strings, playing the plectrum near the bridge would help get "that" bass sound. Not forgetting JJ's ability to play classical guitar since he was 12! Some "punk"!!!
A wonderful album, bringing back great memories. Go buy now
This was The Stranglers debut album in 1977, after the band had been going for around 3 years. It was recorded and released at the peak of punk/new wave and inevitably The Stranglers got lumped in with the same crowd as the Pistols, Clash and Damned. The thing is The Stranglers never were a punk band - their music though raw and energetic was far, far more sophisticated and this album owes much more influences such as The Doors than punk. Yes it has a couple of punk-like tracks ('London Lady', 'Ugly') but the rest of the album is much more complex. It begins with 'Sometimes' which has led to the Stranglers being accused of misogyny but to this day is one of the most powerful opening shots in any bands debut album. It also includes the hit of the summer, 'Peaches' along with the beautifully sleazy 'Hangin' Around' and the under-rated first Stranglers single, 'Grip'. Another standout track is the bluesy, bassy 'Princess of the Street'. The re-released CD version also has the bonus of including the flip-side of 'Peaches' - 'Go Buddy Go' which got large amouints of airtime due to radio stations being unwilling to broadcast the uncensored version of 'Peaches'. This is a real classic album which has stood the test of time and I would recommend anyone who hasn't to give it a listen.
No this wasn't The Stranglers fourth album, but their debut. Tagging it IV was their playful way of causing confusion on its release. Sexist, violent, misogynistic? Certainly - but this band delighted in being controversial and getting up the noses of the Press and the Establishment alike; it also ensured this album sold reasonably well and reached a respectable figure in the charts after its release. The Stranglers worked hard for their success, constantly gigging up and down the country in a battered old ice-cream van, before they were eventually signed by United Artists. Rattus Norvegicus contains tracks penned during those early years. Hanging Around, (Get a) Grip (On Yourself), Princess Of The Streets and Ugly are personal favourites. This CD also contains bonus tracks not available on the original vinyl LP; gems such as Choosey Susie and a live version of Peasant In The Big Shitty. If you don't own this classic album from that short period of punk rock, or (heaven forbid!), have never even given it a listen - you don't know what you're missing!
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