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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Authentic 1977 Uk Punk Masterpiece
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...
Published on 24 Feb 2011 by Stephen E. Andrews

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8 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sewer Rat Symphony
"Rattus Norvegicus" was released in April 1977, a time when punk rock was sweeping away the irrelevant, tired music of groups rehashing the 1960s and Bill Grundy was four months into rueing the day he met The Sex Pistols on live evening television. Yet The Stranglers were misfits, hated by purist punks, and with their glaring debt to The Doors - not even The Jam's...
Published on 8 April 2006 by ascensus


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Authentic 1977 Uk Punk Masterpiece, 24 Feb 2011
By 
Stephen E. Andrews "Writer" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
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.

Containing two hit singles (the corcuscating `Grip', whose tumbling psychedelic organ riffs are counterpointed by the Coltranesque sax motif played by Welsh coalminer session man Eric Clarke and the top ten smash `Peaches', whose killer cod-reggae moog and bass groove provides perfect backing for this unashamed and refreshing admission of male lust for the opposite sex), `Rattus' peaked in the UK at number 2 and helped the band become the top selling band in Britain in 1977 with the exception of Abba and The Eagles: of course, they also sold more records than all the UK Punk groups put together for the first few years of their existence - even now it is uncertain if The Clash & The Pistols have ever outsold them cumulatively.

`Goodbye Toulouse' is a romantic stomper, a kind of Punk `Song For Europe' while the mammoth `Down In The Sewer' is gritty science fiction with a Ray Bradbury `something wicked this way comes' carnival organ, vertiginously melodic guitar and a prog-rock coda that kicked the ass of proficiency somewhat. `Ugly' , one of the most vicious sounding pieces of music in history (including `Sister Ray') references Shelley and Burnel's shouted line in the middle of the song when the music stops still shocks. `Sometimes', `Princess of the Street' and `Hanging Around' remain the definitive portraits of the cold, wet, dark, dreary but horribly exciting British street nightlife of the Punk era.

This album showcases the band at their first peak: recorded live in the studio, with equal weight given to keyboards and bass as the guitar in a production that reveals them as stylists both technically proficient and quirkily unique: J.J. Burnel, whose savage sound confirms the bass as a lead instrument in rock, up there with Eberhardt Weber, Barry Adamson, Mick Karn, John Cale and Chris Hillman. Dave Greenfield, the Hendrix of rock keyboards, whose technical ability would within a year outstrip that of Wakeman, Lord, Banks or Emerson already had a better grasp of melody and structure than any of them, his riffs as complex as solos, his lightning solos out of this world. Hugh Cornwell, whose Robbie Kreiger via VU guitar alternately grated like bells struck with sandpapered hammers before pulling off solos of unparalleled lyrical angst. Finally, I must mention Jet Black, the solid, evocative drummer, whose cymbal crashes on `Princess of the Streets' are a perfect example of affect in simplicity. The vocals, shared between Burnel and Cornwell are full of both ire and longing. The ultimate strength of the Stranglers is that nothing is wasted, no instrument or voice is `lead' or overly foregrounded - this is a band, not a frontman with a guitar backed by bass and keyboards you cannot distinctly hear. Kudos to the brilliant Martin Rushent, better known for producing the Human League, whose finest moment this is rather than those he enjoyed with the Sheffield synthesists.

So that was true Punk Rock in 1977, not the political claptrap you've been told - The Stranglers formed at much the same time as The Sex Pistols and sold more records and never compromised- they even had a keyboard player, a true mark of real Punk Rock authenticity/audacity before the Stalinist formula of Clash-esque politically correct protest (leave it to Bob Dylan, Strummer!) and the uniform punk look drove the artists out of the scene. There are few records as angry, as lysergically colourful and as decadently lyrical as Rattus Norvegicus. Hear it and live the reality of UK Punk Rock 1977 while marvelling at how few bands can play this dynamically now.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a real classic, 11 July 2006
By 
Mike J. Wheeler (Kingswinford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
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.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A peach, 4 Jun 2005
By 
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
The Stranglers first album. The original vinyl had 9 tracks ending, as it should, with Down in The Sewer. What was a so-called punk group doing playing a LONG mainly instrumental song that sounds like an adaptation of a piece for orchestra? This was the time of eschewing the pretentious 20 minute songs of 'Freebird' or Led Zeppelin.

The Stranglers brought not only a refreshing burst of energy (as did the Sex Pisols, Damned and others) and socio-political commentary (like the Clash and later Stiff Little Fingers and Gang of Four), the Stranglers were the first British group of the mid-70s to try to bring some 'intellectual' reflection on the lives we were living, all those years ago. Of course, with a sense of urgency. They were glum times. Something Better CHANGE - as they said on their next album.

Every one of the 9 tracks is excellent. It is rare to find an album on which every track works - and works so well. Four tracks were released as singles - London Lady, Hangin' Around, Peaches and (Get a) Grip (on yourself).

The sound is raw. The bass guitar is like nothing that had come before. In many ways it is the bass which is the 'lead' guitar. The vocals are rasping. The keyboards soar. In places all the instruments seem to be going off in different directions then coming crashing together again. The 'delivery' is superb - raw energy, do something - NOW, there is no time to wait, people are going to push you around, read, find out what is going on, create change.

You will probably like this album if you like rock'n'roll, if you like gigs and music that sounds 'live', you are not easily offended, if you are male, or if you like the Doors, Velvet Underground or Patti Smith. It was an innovation. It is art. Don't buy this if you like music that is all about 'love', says nothing, or which says things which will help you confirm the politically correct beliefs you hold.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranglers IV?, 14 Mar 2006
By 
Phillip (Poole, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short review of Rattus Norvegicus IV, 18 Oct 2010
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
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
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Killer Debut, 7 Feb 2010
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
This is the first and best Stranglers outing by a country mile.
The original LP consisted of 9 tracks ending wwith the magnum opus which is Down in the Sewer.
This is how ths Stranglers are meant to sound. Vicious, mean and aggressive.The growling and rumbling bass is superb as is the sweeping Doors-esque keyboard and Cornwell's harsh vocal delivery.
There are a clutch of magnificent songs here the highlights of which are London Lady,Hanging Around, Peaches and (Get a)Grip(on Yourself).
Although brave stabs at recreating this masterpiece were made(No More Heroes/ Black and White)unfortunately this peak was never again reached and subsequent recordings come under the heading of "Law of Diminishing Returns"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ratty, 2 Oct 2007
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
A great album for taking you back to the days of drainpipes and Doc Martens boots!
Perhaps the best album for raucous bass-lines and 'space' to hear the fantastic keyboard playing of Dave Greenfield.
Having said that, some of the tracks display a crass vindictiveness,(Sometimes, Ugly), that don't sit well alongside some of the more 'melodic' tunes.
A 'must-have' in any Stranglers/ punk collection.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get A Grip, 22 April 2007
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
This is the album that rescued my jaded ears from the morass of mid-seventies mediocrity and lost me a few friends in the process, but then punk and the new wave wasn't for everybody! However, I am glad to report that Rattus Norvegicus still sounds fresh and vital today, even though the both of us are thirty years older.

Of course, the Stranglers weren't really punks at all as their music had none of the brash amateurism of the genre and there was no avoiding the fact that they had more in common with the musical dexterity and overall sound of the Doors, those icons from the previous decade. Hugh Cornwell and Dave Greenfield were the Robbie Krieger and Ray Manzarek of the new generation and their interplay between guitar and keyboards invoked an earlier age of musical invention and creativity despite being pigeonholed with the anti-talent attitude of the punk revolution.

But the Stranglers had something that the Doors did not and it was the grinding melodic bass lines of Jean Jacques Burnel which added an earthiness and an in-your-face immediacy that their distant American cousins lacked. Also, their lyrics were less unashamedly poetic and more streetwise - some would say veering towards misogyny - but the effect is a rougher, less esoteric sound.

Although their career was to last longer than may have first been expected, this album is arguably their best effort, dodgy lyrics aside, and deserves to be rated up amongst the best. It brims with energy and dare I say it, tunes, at a time when all you really needed to produce was an earnest racket.

If you only buy one Stranglers album, make it this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No skipping tracks here, 7 April 2006
By 
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
'Punk' was never really just about snotty, spotty teens/early 20 somethings ineptly thrashing out 3 or 4 basic major chords and spewing anti-establishment lyrics. The anti-establishment bit of course was core to rock n roll right from the word go.Early Elvis was 'punk'. So was Chuck Berry, the Stones, the Kinks and the Doors. What the 'punk' scene of 75 -77 did was to rescue rock from the clutches of pretentious, bombastic and corporatised bands who were seriously up their own fundaments and had nothing to say of any importance. At a wider level it was also about giving the 2 fingered salute to political and social conventions in general. For their relatively advanced years (late 20s+) and musical competance The Stranglers had this off pat every bit as much as the Sex Pistols and were actually more threatening. Let's face it, who'd you reckon you could've taken in a fight, spotty pasty Johnny Rotten or black belt karate dude JJ Burnel? And Hugh Cornwell did bird. Then there were the gigs with the strippers! Nope, The Stranglers were more punk than any of their contemporaries. This album shows it. IMO it was a far more exciting and aggressive - and yet tuneful - album than either 'The Clash' or 'Never mind the b..'. It's a cracker from start to finish with not a single weak track. Highlights though are 'Grip', 'London Lady' and 'Down in the sewer'. Driving the whole set of tunes is JJ's bass, still the dirtiest sound ever in rock n roll. Anyway, for my money not only is this the best album from the original punk scene, it's also one of the few albums i've heard which you can listen to all the way through without skipping a track.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stranglers IV?, 14 Mar 2006
By 
Phillip (Poole, Dorset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rattus Norvegicus (Audio CD)
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 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 eventually being signed by United Artists. Rattus Norvegicus IV contains tracks penned during those early years: Hanging Around, (Get a) Grip (On Yourself), Princess Of The Streets and Ugly are personal favourites. The classic - Peaches - is naturally included on here. However, 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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