9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2009
This is the album which showed The Stranglers to be a different proposition to their more acclaimed punk contemporaries. A dark, brooding, avant-garde masterpiece, recorded across Europe under the influence of a range of legal and illegal substances, it is not their most instantly accessible album. However, repeated listens reveal the depth and beauty of these songs as well as a band at the very top of their game.
There is not a weak song on the album. The juvenile lyrics of some of their earlier albums have been replaced with astute political observations, ranging across subjects as varied as the Iranian Revolution to the science of genetics. Moreover, "The Raven" was musically adventurous, with Dave Greenfield's intricate keyboard work complementing Hugh Cornwell's unique, unorthodox jerky guitar work perfectly. Together with the powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel and the hugely underrated Jet Black driving the songs along, fans of Radiohead could do better than listen to an album twenty-five years ahead of its time. "Dead Loss Angeles" features two growling, duelling basses; "Shah, Shah a go-go" sees mad, robotic keyboard flourishes; even the lead vocal duties are shared between three - Cornwell, Burnel and Greenfield. Today, the album sounds as fresh as ever. Quite simply, a masterpiece. The title track remains arguably the best song they ever recorded.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 19 September 2001
This album is the Stranglers finest hour. Following the fascinating 'Black & White' which highlighted two distinct and developing sides to the Stranglers music - the lighter, faster,melody flooded White side with the darker, slower, spikier more challenging Black, this LP kind of mixed the both into a wonderful collection of intelligent songs that still entrance, intrigue and envelop you 22 years later. Gone are the naive, 'notice me' brutal lyrics of the early songs, seceded by an international theme born of tours beyond bristol, bolton and birmingham. Here each of the four players dance with and around each other in musical games - each offering different parts that somehow complement to add to a gorgeous whole on tracks like Genetix, Baroque Bordello and Ice. Many of the songs feature very strong, very intelligent opening instrumental passages that never over stay their welcome but transform into a seemingly separate song in an instant - 'shah shah a go-go' is a perfect example. The drum patterns are very inventive too and add to the layered, textured feel of a lot of the tracks. And then there is " the Raven' - the title track and 5 minutes and 12 seconds of perfection. The sectional approach to the song, the bleak romanticism of the lyrics, the interplay of keyboard and guitar, the driving bass and the final ethereal, swirling last minute of synthesizer magic evoking the flight of 'the Raven' is just breathtaking at loud volume. This is The Stranglers' masterpiece.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Stranglers made so many fine albums that it's impossible to single one out as being their definitive effort. 'The Raven' is certainly my favourite, though. Their debut is on a similar level, but this album sees the band maturing with some finesse. It is the culmination of the experimentation which begins on the similarly-acclaimed 'Black And White' but boasts a little more polish and greater consistency. The homage of the exhilarating title track is juxtaposed against the more characteristic hatchet jobs which follow. No longer so concerned with misanthropy, The Stranglers continue the international put-downs begun on 'Black And White' with attacks aimed at the USA, Australia and Iran, all of them cutting to the bone.
'Nuclear Device' harks back to the band's earlier recordings as it derides the Australian nation, while the title track and 'Duchess' also provide conventional pop moments. Elsewhere, the music is accessible, yet with an oddball element. The intros to songs tend to be lengthy and catchy, yet give way to unusual arrangements. 'Don't Bring Harry' is striking for its use of piano instead of organ.
They keep the two most chilling tracks for the end, however. The helium-voiced 'Meninblack' is a piece of genius ('Human flesh is porky meat, tee hee') which would be developed across the whole of the next album, while 'Genetix' is a disturbing reminder of science going too far.
Of the bonus tracks, 'Bear Cage' is the stand-out, a minor hit, if I remember correctly. 'The Raven' is a must for anyone who likes this band.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2007
this is a great stranglers album, i would have give it five stars but i dont think all the songs on here are great. but obviously, i had to give it four stars! AT LEAST. because there really are classics on here.
the raven, nuclear device, dont bring harry, longships, to name some really brilliant songs on this album.
if your a fan of the stranglers, (im a HUUUUGE FAN!)then you must get this album, as your collection is not complete without it! the stranglers music was changing at this time, but theres still punk on this album.
the stranglers are a band that were punk but went on to change to a different music style, but the music stayed great as they produced great albums like la folie, aural sculpture, and feline (you should buy all of them to!). buy the raven, ITS GREAT!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The first STRANGLERS album I bought rather than borrowed. But where to start? Right at the beginning, I suppose.
(DEEP BREATH) I first saw them in October 1979 at Leeds University during The Raven tour. Halfway through the set there was a power cut, so when they eventually returned to the stage, the band (like us) were Seriously Pissed Off and what should have been the remaining thirty minutes were thrashed out in less than twenty. I don't even think there was an encore, although that may be down to the don't-give-a-damn punk ethic of the times. But still I loved the gig and still I love the album. And here's why:
Following on from BLACK AND WHITE, 1979's THE RAVEN was like a breath of fresh air to my ears. The sound is more thoughtful and the instruments easier to differentiate and place, with a production designed to emphasise the gaps, so to speak, yet being far from spartan as a whole. And even though the theme of the album (Viking/Nordic symbolism) peters out after only two tracks, there's still a cohesion that insists you play these songs in order.
It's roughly 50/50 in the writing and performance stakes on THE RAVEN and at this point neither HUGH CORNWELL nor JEAN JACQUES BURNEL are significantly dominant or more accomplished than each other as songsmiths. But it doesn't matter anyway, because each song compliments the next and so on. Highlights include the title track, DEAD LOSS ANGELES, DON'T BRING HARRY (with a beautiful guitar solo), MENINBLACK and GENETIX (DAVE GREENFIELD providing his usual ought-to-belong-on-some-kind-of-creepy-register vocals). Even the bonus tracks are a delight, especially BEAR CAGE, a dinky little number with a typically flat (again, of the time) Cornwell delivery. Marvellous stuff.
And another point worth mentioning: after all these years, there's still nothing to compare in sound or texture to THE RAVEN (if you're in any doubt about that, just listen to the extraordinary SHAH SHAH A GO GO). Timeless? Maybe not. But unique? In spades.
So, a few reasons why the album is worth owning. You'll no doubt discover the rest for yourself.
Oh, and finally: In 1979 I was lucky enough to buy one of the first 20,000 copies of THE RAVEN featuring a 3D hologram stuck over the standard LP cover. So, what do I go and do? Needing some cash, I sell it to a schoolfriend for £[...], having played it to death and figuring that I'll buy another copy before too long. Of course, the utter stupidity of that decision only hits home a few weeks later when I'm in the Bradford branch of Boots the Chemist, face as long as a fallpipe, about to pay £[...] for the non-limited edition. Then, as I prepare to hand over the cash, another assistant walks up and asks if I'd I prefer a 3D copy, SHE THINKS THERE'S ONE LEFT IN THE BACK SOMEWHERE(!!!)
Confirmation in my book that there is indeed a God.
VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2001
This is the last album that features JJ Burnel's fabulous grunting, aggressive bass sound in it's full glory. This is an album from a band really hitting a peak with more excellent tracks than you can comfortably shake a stick at. The original sleeve was banned for having a less than flattering picture of an Australian politician on the inside. And that is a good indicator of the content. Political and social comment. Drugs and exuberant dark joy (along with a pointer toward their next release - the decidedly occult Meninback). It contains the fantastic 'Duchess' and one of the most accomplished tracks they ever released - 'Don't Bring Harry'. This new release has additional tracks including the french version of 'Harry' and the fascinating 'Yellowcake UF6'. Originally a B side this track is presented backwards. Only The Stranglers could make that work. An addictive triumph.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2011
Without a doubt the best album created by the original Stranglers blending JJ and Hugh lyrical ability with their best pairings of bass and keyboard . At their most creative and evocative, I've been listening to this albulm for 30 years now and it sounds as good today as ever, incredible piece of diverse musical work, and completely under-rated in the modern Stranglers discography.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2009
THIS AWESOME ALBUM BY THE STRANGLERS ARE A BAND AT THE PEAK OF THERE POWERS ,WHEN IT CAME OUT IN 79 I WAS ALMOST 13 AND STILL A PUNK MAN.AROUND THIS TIME THE STRANGLERS WERE EVERYWHERE SEEING THEM PERFORM DUCHESS AND HARRY ON TOTP WERE MAJOR MOMENTS IN TIME FOR ME ID BOUGHT THE DUCHESS 7INCH WITH THE SUPERB FOOLS RUSH OUT B-SIDE THEN GOT NUCLEAR DEVICE IN A BARGAIN BUCKET IN WOOLWORTHS ITS MY FAVOURITE TRACK ON THE ALBUM AND THE ONE WHICH PERFORMED THE WORST CHARTWISE,ANYWAY WHEN THE ALBUM CAME OUT I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET THE RARE 3D COVER WHICH I STILL HAVE UP IN MY ATTIC, EVERY TRACK IS GREAT SHAH SHAH SHOULD HAVE BEEN A SINGLE BUT ITS THEME STOPPED IT I DIDNT KNOW WHO THE SHAH OF IRAN WAS BUT I DIDNT CARE ...THE REMASTERED CD WITH THE BONUS MAKES IT STILL SOUND FRESH..THEY WERE NEVER AS GOOD AGAIN EVEN THOUGH GOLDEN BROWN AND STRANGE LITTLE GIRL PERFORMED WELL ON THE CHARTS....THIS LP IS THE BIZ..BUY IT SIT BACK AND REMEMBER......NOW WHERE IS THAT LADDER I NEED TO GET TO THE ATTIC THE 3D ORIGINAL COVER IS GOING FOR A FORTUNE ON EBAY.....
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2001
Here we find the Stranglers starting to evolve away from their punk roots and in the process producing their best album by far. Some punkier stuff is still there, such as the singles "Duchess" and "Nuclear Device", but the more interesting moments are the album tracks that make up the guts of the album. Witness the stark and frugal beats and bleak synthesiser driven humour of 'Meninblack' (a song not about the Stranglers themselves, but a race of aliens who farm human beings !) the sinister monotone rumblings of 'Dead Los Angeles' and the wiry and (still) fresh sound of the title track. Best of all though is the driving and pounding big finish to 'Genetix' which closed the original version of the album with style. And here comes my only gripe: the extra tracks on this re-release add nothing and yet they distill the big finish of 'Genetix' as it no longer closes the album on this version. But never mind that, just program your CD player to play 1-11, sit back and lose yourself in the creative adventure that is 'The Raven'. More innovative than 'Rattus Norvegicus' and 'No More Heroes' and more vital and urgent than 'Dreamtime' or '10' this album has style, power and melody - who could ask for more ?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Stranglers were probably the most musical of punk bands and this album typified that. Most of the instrumental sections (and there are quite a lot on here) are just wonderful but the vocal parts are as always something of a mixed bag. The highlight is the title track which is just fantastic from start to finish with the half whispered vocals blending perfectly with the dream like swirling keyboards.