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This review is from: GIANTS (Audio CD)
Firstly let me start this review by saying Hugh Cornwell is gone, he has been gone a long time, the Stranglers have made 7 albums without him, 6 of them being very good and we wont mention Coup De Grace. Many bands change line-ups and some are very successful when "frontmen" go, Iron Maiden & Ultravox clear examples.
Hugh did a great job with the Stranglers but he wasn't the band and judging by his solo output (not great in my opinion) he needed Dave, JJ & Jet an awful lot.
Anyway, onto the new album, for me Giants is a "grower", there are no real stand out tracks on this for me this could be its real strength. The band has moved away from the safer territory of Norfolk Coast & Suite 16, both very good albums in my opinions. This album is varied, considered and clever. I like the production, it has a clean, freshness, the bass lines stand out, the keyboards are captivating, Jets drumming is as solid as ever and Baz's guitar work fits beautifully, very similar to Hugh's.
I will break it down song by song:
Another Camden Afternoon
A superb opening to the album and an instrumental at that, The Stranglers have always been able to produce a good instrumental going right back to Longships, Yellowcake UF6 & Love 30. The song has a wonderfully catchy bass line running through it.
Freedom Is Insane
The longest track on the album, JJ's vocal delivery is ok but what I love about this song is the keyboard solo during it, very reminiscent of Walk On By.
I must admit I wasn't sure about this one at first but it's good, not a classic but good. It reminds me of some of the gentler moments on In The Night.
I like the lyrics to this song.
An amusing track delivered by Baz about an incident while they were on tour.
Another good song, instrumentally sound.
Another one delivered by Baz and carries on the tempo of the album nicely following Lowlands, strong bass and keyboards throughout, very catchy.
My Fickle Resolve
Time to tone things down a bit, a lovely bluesy, jazzy number and its wonderful, maybe the highlight of the album, lyrically strong, a quiet lovely song, definitely has the feel of Cruel Garden.
Time Was Once On My Side
Is this an admission that none of us are getting any younger, especially the Stranglers?
For me, this one is ok but I think the last verse is a bit lame and weakens the song, after the superb previous track this one feels a bit of a let down.
Back to form, I love this song, very quirky, superb vocal delivery from Baz and I love JJ's bass attack to play out, this one is a cracker.
Another superb offering, a very powerful song, delivered beautifully by JJ, this one took me by surprise I must say.
For me, the best Stranglers albums finish with a classic closing song, Rattus with Down In The Sewer, Heroes with School Mam, Raven with Genetix and latterly Suite 16 with the brilliant Relentless. 15 Steps is almost there, a very good song written about the bands time working out of Bath. It's a good, very catchy end to the album and after hearing it makes you want to go back to track 1 and start again.
Is Giants a giant? Only time will tell. It's a unique album and fits well into the catalogue of 17 studio albums. Will it be their last? Again who knows, their 40th anniversary is only 2 years away and with Jet in his seventies and both Dave & JJ in their sixties I cant see many more albums on the horizon.