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Or when the Stranglers lost the hooks and the plot.........,
on 20 June 2011
The pub rockers hit the hit parade pay dirt in the summer of punk due thanks to the tough, catchy, slice-of-life numbers. That was good for a clutch of singles and a brace of albums. By 'Black and White' they still had the toughness but more varied dynamics alongside greater consistency of quality. 'The Raven' really raised the bar but tucked away on Side 2 was the decidedly odd tale of extra-terrestrial visitors 'Meninblack', the sets weakest cut. We assumed that was the end of it but the theme was revived the following year with the admittedly cracking single 'Who wants the world', backed by an instrumental 'Meninblack(waiting for 'em)' and various band interviews featured muddled theorising about heavenly visitors and conspiracies of governments complicity and promises of a concept album revealing all. The Stranglers had turned into Erik Von Daniken with guitars and now we feared the worst. No real suprises then when it finally appeared that the grandiously titled 'The Gospel According to the Meninblack' was barking. What made it worst was that, unlike their previous releases, the production was thin and tinny with the tunes nowhere to be found (having presumably been abducted by aliens). 'Waiting for the meninblack' (the old 'World' flip side but now with words) and 'Thrown Away' were about the only things you could whistle. Elsewhere it was weak songs and filler instrumentals. And it was dull. It would take a lot for the Stranglers to recover from this - and frankly in terms of their old hard hitting, hard sounding, nastiness they never really did. By the time they got back to some sort of form they were sporting hand made accoustic guitars and displaying a sensitivity that their old brawling misogynistic selves would have duffed them up for.