Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Stranglers - Hits And Heroes


I'm sure there are quite a few people around the world who went tearing out to buy some Stranglers when Golden Brown was such a hit, only to  discover that's not what they sound like at all.  But I was a fan from back in the day - loving Peaches, (Get A) Grip (On Yourself) and Hanging Around.   In fact, I remember having heated discussions at the time of Golden Brown, wondering why they'd had such a departure of form.

But I have to class the Stranglers as "boy music" in my lexicon, simply because they're a band whose records have been in the collection of most the men I've had relationships with - but they haven't ever made it into my own.  And apart from the big hits, I'm not that thrilled with the rest of the CD. 
VERDICT: TURN IT UP but only for the best bits


Recently, Mine and YourZ (truly) were discussing this album and I made a rather big, rash statement by saying The Stranglers, along with The Clash, were the only two British punk bands I liked.  Thinking about this later, I realised how wrong I was (yes, I can admit my mistakes, now move on, nothing to see!) (Mine says: first time for everything, eh?)

Of course, there are plenty of British punk bands I like.  But it is down to definition of what punk is as there are plenty of bands who are defined as punk but who wouldn't hit that target even if they tried.  Again, it's all about trying to box art with neat little labels, which is virtually impossible and, for me anyway, completely unncessary.  Perhaps I should have said that The Clash and The Stranglers are favourites rather than what I actually said.  This'll teach me for making rash statements. 

Anyway, Hits And Heroes is a Forgotten Gem, of sorts and covers the band's first half dozen albums.  It has been some time since I'd heard this and I enjoyed it so much, I hit repeat and let it play all over again.  There are so many great tracks on this, it's hard to know where to start.  True survivors (albeit with a couple of lineup changes) and still going after 35 or more years, The Meninblack, as they are fondly known (due to their penchant for always wearing black), are another of those bands who not only inspired fans and fellow musicians at the time, but who fearlessly incorporated a broad pallet of styles into their sound, all tied neatly together with their trademark swirling keyboard lines.

While most would be familiar with their huge hit, Golden Brown, it's earlier tracks like Peaches, (Get A) Grip (On Yourself), Hanging Around and Nice 'n' Sleazy that get me rocking.  However, as a compilation, there is not a dud track on Hits And Heroes.  And their cover of Bacharach's Walk On By has to be one of the most faithful yet original interpretations I've ever heard. 

But is it really punk?  As far as I'm concerned, it's as punk as you want it to be.


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  1. 'Rattus Norvegicus' was the album that detonated a nucleur bomb amongst me and my friends around 1977. They'd all assumed that I LIKED the Eagles and The Carpenters. Well, I did, but not that much, and my true colours were revealed. I loved the Stranglers. I loved the album and I loved what they did (along with the rest of the Punk movement) to shake up music in the lethargic 70s.

    I bought all their stuff up to about 'The Raven' and then moved on to other things, but the kick from that first LP is still worth a spin every now and again just to remind me what a fresh and invigorating album it is. And those arguments with mates? I was right and they were wrong - simple as that!

  2. Probably the only pre-Misfits punk band influenced by The Doors. Personally I started with "Raven" in the 80's and saw them live in the 90's. I have a live DVD with Hugh Cornwell's replacement who fit in perfectly. I heard Hugh's recent solo album and it was awful. I heard "Feline" and "Aural Sculpter" during the 80's and didn't care for them much other than the single "Skin Deep".