The Stranglers
Rattus Norvegicus (1977)

Song: "Goodbye Toulouse"
lyrics | sound clip (Falkner version) | sound clip (Stranglers version)


1. Sometimes
2. Goodbye Toulouse
3. London Lady
4. Princess of the Streets
5. Hanging Around
6. Peaches
7. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
8. Ugly
9. Down in the Sewer

Album Review:

Like the Vibrators, the Stranglers were an older band which managed to gain visibility and success through association with Britain's punk movement. Musically, the group is much more polished than some of their rawer brethren such as the Adverts and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The Stranglers' early work is most properly described as stripped-down pop played with a hardcore sensibility; fairly lengthy songs with frequent solo breaks, prominent keyboard usage, and occasional employment of vocal harmony sets them apart from their peers. But snarling lead singing that puts forth macho/critical/distasteful lyrics predominates here, clearly showing the group's punk affinity. Most of the songs on this album fit the description of hardcore pop to a tee, but there are a few deviations from this model. "Princess of the Streets" is a slow-tempo selection with blueslike echoes. The ambitious "Down in the Sewer" crosses the concept of episodic numbers like the Who's "A Quick One" with early-'60s instrumentals. And the energetic "London Lady" is almost a true punk song -- or at least as close as the band gets to one. While not the equal of their best album, No More Heroes, this release is solid and worthwhile, a rewarding listen.

- by David Cleary, All Music Guide
1999 AEC One Stop Group, Inc.

Mini - Bio:

As were their contemporaries the Vibrators, the Stranglers were faux-punks; grimy, slightly arty rockers that found the notoriety surrounding punk bands too irresistible to ignore. So armed with short haircuts and reticent about revealing their true ages (drummer Jet Black was a certifiable old fart when the band formed in 1975), the Stranglers became stars of Brit punk's class of 1976-77, garnering headlines for their sexist posturing, drug use, occasional arrests, and oh yeah, their music too.

Truth be told, the Stranglers became a far less interesting band immediately after they stopped acting like a punk band. At least on the first two albums (IV Rattus Norvegicus and No More Heroes) there were plenty of taut, guitar-driven songs, rife with urban doom, gloom and paranoia. With the nasty vocals and slashing guitar of Hugh Cornwell setting the pace, bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel added his distorted grumbling to a mix that also featured Dave Greenfield's cheesy organ fills. Usually dressed in black, always unsmiling, and rude to their audiences (listen to Cornwell's between-song badinage on the LP Live (X-Cert)) the Stranglers worked very hard at being difficult and unlikable. They also made no bones about the fact that women were good for sex and little else, making their feeling clear on such transparently chauvinistic doggerel as "London Lady" and "Bring on the Nubiles." Rock critics at the time were suspicious of the Stranglers motives: although they ran in "proper" punk circles, and gigged at "proper" punk clubs, they always seemed slightly out-of-place musically with the London-based punk scene dominated by the Sex Pistols, the Damned and Clash. The Stranglers offered no sense of outrage (despite being outrageous) or unpredictability, every moved seemed calculated, as if it were an approximation of a punk aesthetic. Consequently, with each passing record, the Stranglers seemed more and more intent upon distancing themselves from the movement that had provided them their initial career momentum.

After 1978's Black and White failed to generate interest beyond their somewhat rabid fan base (moreso in Europe than in America), A&M dropped them, but unlike many bands of the time that became trivia questions, the Stranglers soldiered on and focused their attention on their devoted Euro-fans, a wise move considering their records were no longer consistently released in America. In 1982, the band signed with Epic and began a lengthy relationship that lasted through the decade and into the '90s. The music, never really compelling in the first place, suffered greatly during this time. Prisoners of their own careerist impulses, the Stranglers turned to covering older rock classics in a desperate attempt to win American ears. Trying twice, first with the Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night" and then ? and the Mysterians "96 Tears," the Stranglers sounded as if flogging a dead horse was the best they could do. Gone also was their characteristic gritty and grimy sound replaced by a pop sheen that smelled of adult, new wave marketability (eventually Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker was brought in to help). There were plenty of mostly lousy solo records by everyone but Jet Black, and some fairly good compilations, but the saga of the Stranglers is one of a band hanging around far too long. The new millennium brought the release of Folie, the band's first for EMI since 1997's Hit Men. The live album 5 Live 01 surfaced in early 2001.

- by John Dougan, All Music Guide
1999 AEC One Stop Group, Inc.

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