Being a bit of a Strangs completist (at least in terms of having to own every recorded song in both vinyl and digital format since mid 77), I was in two minds about buying this. However, I was swayed by the fact that it contains the first UK issue (in the original sleeve design) of the b sides and oddities collection 'Off the Beaten Track' (plus I didn't have card sleeve issues of 'Xcerts' and 'Hope & anchor'). The release date was, however, going to coincide with the 24 bit remaster reissues on Culture Factory of four of the five Epic era albums, which meant a £100 month to help fill the boys' coffers for the 40th anniversary. Having decided to NOT attend the tour this year - I'm sick of hearing sets comprised of virtually nothing but hit singles I've seen the band play dozens of times in concert (come on, guys, play sets of album tracks and b sides, you're playing to the converted 99% of the time after all and most of us go to the toilets when 'Duchess' starts), I thought 'Why break a habit that's lasted for over 35 years?' and ordered the lot.
Unlike some other reviewers here, I didn't have high expectations for £30-£40. After all, you get 11 CDs, so lack of a booklet came as no surprise (plus the new book by Robert Endecott with the unimaginative and pointless title 'Peaches' is due - except that it, like the Culture Factory remasters, is late being issued). So being a hardcore Stranglers nutter, I was happy with a nice little clamshell and some budget card sleeve editions for the archives.
For casual listeners, this is an excellent buy: you get all of the UA albums, which are the truly essential flawless works (my only misgiving here being a few cuts on "La Folie" that have never really impressed me), two live albums, an unusual and interesting b sides album and the last two waxings by the 'new' four piece lineup, which is the best marque of the band since Hugh scarpered in 1990. Despite what many of the faithful will claim, these are patchy albums, but much better than pretty much anything around these days, though for me 'Suite XIV' is the better of the two.
Some reviewers in the music press have praised the collection and the band, reminding casual punters how amazing the band are and how they were commercially and artistically peerless in their first 5 years of recording, but have bemoaned the lack of Epic era material here and mentioned the equal absence of tracks from the Paul Roberts marques. Well, be realistic, there were probably licensing issues and in my opinion, this set does contain the bands' best work.
Regarding unreleased/rare stuff, I think what most of the fanbase would like is the following;
1) A CD issue for 'Social Secs', not some cruddy download.
2) A CD issue of the Owen Morris version of '10'- we all want to hear this.
3) A CD issue of the original UA live recording that would have been the bands' first album (the recording that yielded the live version of 'Peasant') but that was vetoed once the tapes we listened too - even if it was disdappointing, I for one would love to see it issued as 'Dead on Arrival' as originally planned, even if only for historical reasons.
4) A date for the issue of 'Here and There', the epic B sides compilation.
5) 5.1 versions of some (all would be nice, but it ain't gonna happen) of the albums on BRA, DVDA, SACD - or if not really good Blu Spec CD2 or SHMCD issues for those of us who like a bit of hi def.
on 25 March 2014
Well it just arrived and I thought the parcel looks a tad small.....opened it to find a tiny little box....which I opened to find 11 cardboard covers with the CD's in. I was hoping for a little booklet with some pictures maybe even notes on the recording of each CD, but no...just 11 CD's in cardboard covers.
On the plus side....I now have the first 7 Stranglers albums on CD as well as vinyl (Rattus Norvegicus / No MOre Heroes / Blackk N White / Live X-Cert / The Raven / The Gospel According To The Meninblack / La Folie also included are Live At The Hope And Anchor / Off The Beaten Track / Suite XVI & Giants) all in all am happy I have it just a bit disappointed.
I will reccommend for those fans like me that only had a couple of greatest hits CD's and the rest are on vinyl. Time to put mine away now.
on 6 April 2016
This is s fantastic box set of re mastered editions of the stranglers earliest albums. You can't complain at under £3 per disc for the quality you get here. It's difficult to choose the best album as they are all so good! Having recently seen stranglers on tour doing the black and white album, they certainly have still got it, even without hughie. I really recommend this box set to old fans and new. Most of their work is timeless. Buy it!
on 31 March 2014
You know you have time - these are some of the great albums, CBS era and Paul roberts stuff is also available at cheap rate so now you could have the lot for 50 quid. No booklet, sleeves very simple copies of vinyl originals track listing on CDs. It also didn't do that free mp3 cloud thing I like on amazon so looses a star for that. If you for some reason don't have enough stranglers albums what a great place to start just don't answer the door to anyone in a bowler hat....
on 26 September 2015
This is a record of a band coming full circle. To my mind, the debut 'Rattus' still takes a lot of beating. Anything after that was going to be a little disappointing and all the other LPs have their weak points (as well as may highs). I have to admit pretty much to losing interest in anything after and just before Cornwell left (was it REALLY that long ago?); they started sounding like a band marking time. What is great then about this box set, and keeps it from being a wallow in nostalgia is the inclusion of the latest two LPs Suite 16 and Giants. While the former feels like the new line-up is finding its feet, but is full of promise, Giants is a new classic: Baz has the swagger and menace of early Cornwell and the band is on top form. The Men in Black are back for sure.