Friday, May 01, 2015

bus vibes #9 - the stranglers

hello there

today on the bus i listened to a bit more than i intended - there was mental traffic on the way home, so there was a bit of an extension to playing time. in the morning, look you see, i listened to that Mark Ronson bloke, whereas the afternoon was mostly U2. but that, look you see, was today, and this is all of yesterday.

i am all but certain that The Stranglers, and in particular the album Black & White, was what i wanted to listen to on Wednesday, but i forgot and gave a much welcome spin to Split Enz instead.

fabulous facts about the album? well, it's the third one the band released, and bizarrely considered by some critics and fans to be the weakest of the "classic 70s era". i disagree somewhat, this would be my favourite album. so much so, in fact, that i bought the album off of iTunes, despite having the vinyl, the CD and the whole album anyway on the Old Testament box set. i just felt it was good enough to buy again.

whereas i was aware of the band The Stranglers in my earlier days - thanks mostly to the great, mid-80s pop rocker Skin Deep - i am indebted to a very, very, very dear and special friend indeed for my introduction to the band "proper", which is to say their 70s output. she was, and hopefully is, a big fan, and passed me on tapes of all the early albums. whereas this is my favourite one, it is not to say there is a bad one lurking around. the only truly awful - as in sh!t - album they ever did was Ten, the last one with Hugh. and even then, there's a couple of decent tracks.


what makes this album my favourite? there's a very clever and well thought out flow to it, aided by the fact that there is not one bad or dodgy track on it.

highlights? Tank shows off the sense of humour of the band; Outside Tokyo shows off their effortless skill with lyrics that create visions ("fifty million watches with a strap to sell"), Threatened and Curfew show of the deadly, dark edge to the band, then you have Nice N Sleazy and Toiler On The Sea highlighting what accomplished musicians they are.

a special mention, however, for Sweden. there are mixed opinions on what inspired this comic gem. the truth is probably a mix of the popular theories. those theories are that Hugh hated the place after studying there, that the band were living in a state of perpetual boredom when they toured and that a sensational fight broke out between band and audience. the latter is hardly a rare, one off thing with the band - violence seemed to follow the band a bit, and indeed bassist JJ actively pursued it, with legend having it that he was quite happy to stalk journalists that dared to speak ill of the band and treat them to a rather intimate display of his classy kung fu skills.

Sweden is a song that Hugh clearly struggles to sing with a straight face. it's a sensational, devastating put down of a country. choice lyrics would include "only country where the clouds are interesting", "sense of humour has gone astray somewhere" and "too much time to think too little to do". the interesting thing about the song is that the teenagers of Sweden, and quite a few grown ups, wholeheartedly agreed with the band and thanked them for highlighting their plight. such was the love and support for the song that the band went right ahead and recorded it in Swedish, or Sverge or whatever, for them.

a clip from that song? no, too obvious. here, then, is a bit of Threatened, a song which has the bass on it that i love the most this side of Mani.



as usual, i would strongly suggest you go and find a much more high quality copy of the song to listen to, which you could do with ease by simply buying the album.

if you are reading this and you're entirely unfamiliar with The Stranglers, is Black And White the place to start? probably not. a greatest hits thing is in this case wise. i would go with The Collection 77 - 82, and if you like that, you'll love exploring the rest.

other than this album i gave the four track Peel Sessions a spin. man, it must have been something to see them live. the recordings reveal a band perfectly capable of recreating the studio sound on stage, yet bringing a whole new dynamic to the songs. in terms of studio to stage comparison, i would say that they are as strong as The Who.

actually, i might well load up The Old Testament on the ipod.

anyway, hopefully this has been of interest or use to some of you somewhere!



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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