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Albums Of The Week: The Stranglers | Dark Matters

The British vets return after nine years to bid farewell to their late keyboardist.By Darryl Sterdan – 2021-09-10

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Dark Matters is The Stranglers 18th studio album and first full-length release in nearly a decade. Reflecting its title, the album pays honest tribute to their much-missed keyboard player Dave Greenfield, who tragically passed away a year ago from Covid-19, and who features on many of the tracks recorded for the album.

“A year ago, on May 3rd my great friend and colleague of 45 years, Dave Greenfield, passed away, another victim of the pandemic,” says bassist JJ Burnel. “We had already recorded most of the album with him and during the lockdowns our only wish was to complete it as a fitting tribute to his life and work. I consider this to be one of our finest recordings.”

Surviving bandmembers Burnel and Baz Warne completed Dark Matters remotely during lockdowns, making it their first album since 2012. Greenfield himself features on eight of the 11 tracks, which were made over the course of two years at the band’s studios in the rural idylls of Somerset, and in Southern France, produced by long-time collaborator Louie Nicastro. The first single And If You Should See Dave… celebrates the keyboardist with a contemplative but uplifting dose of ’60s sunshine-drenched rock.

A key member of The Stranglers for 45 years, Greenfield was a highly acclaimed keyboardist whose unique approach and instantly identifiable playing style massively contributed to the group’s inimitable sound. His contributions set the band apart from their peers and his skills are imprinted across Dark Matters.

First formed in 1974, The Stranglers’ aggressive attitude was embraced by the punk movement of the late ’70s. But their musicianship and menace transcended the genre, creating a sound unique to themselves. Their first three albums (Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black and White) were released within an astonishing 13 months, scoring hit singles with Peaches, No More Heroes and Walk On By. Further success was to follow with Always The Sun, Strange Little Girl and the mercurial Golden Brown, amongst many others, earning the group 24 Top 40 singles and 18 Top 40 albums in a career that now spans six different decades.”

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The Stranglers – Dark Matters

Death puts the Men in Black in sombre, elegiac mood.

3,5/5

ByNick Hasted10th September 2021

The Stranglers
 Stranglers. Image: Ccolin Hawkins

Even punk didn’t want The Stranglers: the movement for damaged outcasts drew the line at these Surrey brutes, seen as too thuggish, ancient, sexist and straight. Before that, pub-rockers too thought themselves above this glowering crew, with their corduroy-wearing biochemistry graduate singer, 37-year-old jazz drummer with a taste for home-brewing, a brooding bassist ever itching to use his karate skills, and a hippie keyboardist whose unfashionable solos inspired flashbacks of the verboten Doors, though he expressed a preference for Yes. Such faces certainly didn’t fit Malcolm McLaren’s Situationist programme, leaving them as uncomprehending rock press pariahs, blindly lashing out at
their tormentors.

This violence climaxed when bassist and karate master JJ Burnel punched main singer-songwriter Hugh Cornwell through a wall in 1990, hastening his swift exit from the band. Today’s Stranglers are the result of a long and dogged climb back, after Burnel fought through his own gloomy indifference to reassert control over the drifting group, Baz Warne, guitarist since 2000, became bullish co-singer too, and Norfolk Coast (2004), their fifth album since entering the post-Cornwell doldrums, showed intent finally worthy of their past, combining rumbling attack, a ruggedly English sensibility and a measure of introspection.

And yet the blows keep coming. Their once terrifying drummer and founder, Jet Black, retired in 2015 with enough health problems to give Python’s Black Knight pause. Like Don Corleone near The Godfather’s end, he no longer runs things, but still offers wise counsel. So when Dave Greenfield, their jazzy, proggy keyboardist, died from Covid-19 on May 3, 2020, it was Black who told the last original Strangler standing, Burnel, to press on.

The band’s 18th album, Dark Matters, was largely finished before Greenfield died, when lockdown windows allowed Warne to visit Burnel’s French home, and was completed remotely. After the snarling insensitivity that once defined The Stranglers, it’s reflective and poignant. Even if you strip away the late touches acknowledging Greenfield’s loss, the mood is suddenly grave and inevitably valedictory. “We’re a bunch of old guys now,” Burnel agrees, “and I wanted our music to reflect that.”

Greenfield might have generally been the quietest member of the band, but when they started to play, it was him, head bowed at the keyboard, who always set the mood, his fairground swirl energising the others. So it still is on Dark Matters, as the opener Water sees his playing surge and then explode into a mighty Stranglers riff, Warne’s guitar and the keyboard then trading slashing blows. In an album that took nine years to cohere, Burnel’s lyric, with water a metaphor for the Arab Spring’s thirst for democracy, sounds sadly stranded in history.

And If You Should See Dave… is the most notable posthumous addition, with Burnel considering “things that should have been said, eternal regrets”; “This is where your solo would go”, he adds, the lush music arranged around that gaping absence. “Innocence has left this house, to wander among the stars”, begins Burnel’s other new lyric, on If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might As Well Be Love), showing Greenfield’s almost sanctified Strangler status, somehow stood apart from their bruising battles. “Our glory’s far behind us”, Burnel acknowledges, “and I miss ya”.

The Sunderland snap of Warne’s vocal bites down with relish on This Song, a co-write with Mathew Seamarks that imagines burying feelings for a sundered relationship with manic completeness. The Stranglers’ bracing, unapologetic bile rises here. Payday, too, rains contempt on callous leaders with a nod to the history-steeped lyrics of No More Heroes: “Alexander was never the same after he speared his old companion/It led
to Ptolemy and Cleopatra…”

But it’s Burnel’s husky, burnt-out ballad voice that defines Dark MattersThe Lines counts life’s cost in the face in the mirror, Greenfield’s honky-tonk organ shadowing a country strum. Down is a sunken elegy sung to Spanish guitar, ’til hopes rise again like the sun. Breathe is the best and last song here, beginning as a ’60s pop chanson. Greenfield’s synths dance above its final minutes, the keyboardist both in a world of his own and with his bandmates one last time, until the only sound left is a transmission signal, blinking out, leaving the survivors in limbo. If wouldn’t be the worst way for a last Stranglers album to close.

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Feline

Cover art for Feline by The Stranglers
ArtistThe Stranglers
TypeAlbum
ReleasedJanuary 1983
RYM Rating3.42 / 5.0 from 738 ratings
Ranked#492 for 1983
GenresNew WavePop Rock
Synthpop
Descriptorsmale vocals
LanguageEnglish

Track listing

  • A1Midnight Summer Dream6:12
  • A2It’s a Small World4:35
  • A3Ships That Pass in the Night4:06
  • A4The European Female (In Celebration Of)4:02
  • B1Let’s Tango in Paris3:15
  • B2Paradise3:48
  • B3All Roads Lead to Rome3:54
  • B4Blue Sister4:03
  • B5Never Say Goodbye4:15

Total length: 38:10

Credits

corkieSep 20 20214.00 starsSoftening effect in play…Of course I grew up with The Stranglers, and for sure they will remain as one my favourite bands for a life time. Their first five studio albums were just brilliant.

The eighties had an amazing ‘softening’ effect on some of the bands that found fame and glory during the late seventies, and The Stranglers were no exception. ‘La Folie’ the album that preceded this set included the shock ‘hit’ single ‘Golden Brown’ but the remainder of La Folie was a fairly mixed, and a poorly produced effort. So for this album, I believe The Stranglers were looking for a more high gloss production and more consistency, and off Brussels the went. For sure this album has a very polished production, but the consistency just wasn’t realised.

The opening track ‘Midnight Summer Dream’ is epic, The Stranglers at their best. And their other highlights too. But tracks like ‘Let’s Tango in Paris’ and ‘Paradise’ represent The Stranglers at their worst.

As I have read elsewhere, for completists only.

Key Track: Midnight Summer Dream

ParafusoHonestoJan 09 20213.50 starsNot their best, but one of my favorites.
It doesn’t have Burnel’s heavy bass neither Greenfield’s frenetic solos or Cornwell’s punk-ish agressive vocals. Here we have more passionate and inspiring songs, inoffensive lyrics and pretty melodies.
Although it’s not that great, such as some of their previous releases, it still is one very pleasing album to listen to.

GARFIELDACRESMay 09 20203.00 starsThe stranglers go for a more European sound here recording in Brussels with Dave Greenfields lush synths and pianos dominating the sound and Cornwell playing more acoustic (often Spanish influenced) guitar than anything. The bands tough rhythm section are dialled right back too in favour of programmed beats and bass. Freed from their guitar work to a large degree Burnel and Cornwell concentrate on their vocals, opting for a sinister style narration for the lead vocal with some backing harmony… its a bit wayward in execution at times but it works.

Despite the lack of a big hit single the album is actually one of the groups more interesting efforts. I enjoyed their experimentation here.

ColquhounyMar 17 20143.00 starsApparently some folks decided to take heroin for a year as an artistic experiment. Golden Brown is probably one of the most perfect songs ever and it’s quite easy to imagine it being the product of heroin-induced near-death bliss as chemicals bumrush the brain…

It’s also easy to imagine the rest of the album being the product of those harrowing dull semi-conscious hours of nothing afterwards.

Don’t do drugs, kids. Yeah, it’s brilliant for a bit but the rest of the shit that comes with it doesn’t make it worthwhile in the slightest. Let this album be a testament to that.

Babe_N_CoJul 09 20123.50 starsUgliness for Beauty
“Woke up on a good day and the world was wonderful a midnight summer dream had me in its spell I dreamt about an old man sat and watched the rain all night he couldn’t sleep a wink as all the drops fell. He told me of the beauty hidden in our foreheads. He told me of the ugliness we show instead”. While “Midnight Summer Dream” is a promising beginning the rest of Feline is mostly unimpressive and the songs reminded me the cud the ruminants regurgitate and keep chewing. “You might find yourself with me share your glass of vanity we’re away every day not so far for me to say. I could take you there today. Let’s tango in Paris”. Those are all promises but the beauty remains hidden.

Lagarto4Jun 07 20123.00 starsNo es de los discos que más me gustan de la banda. Está excesivamente sintetizado (en cuanto a los propios sintetizadores se refiere), sin duda arrastrado por la moda imperante en el momento. No obstante hay buenas canciones como „Ships That Pass in the Night“ o „The European Female (In Celebration of)“. La labor de J.J. Burnel al bajo sigue siendo impresionante.

the_bearJul 01 20113.50 starsAnother album of theirs that I loved at the time. Still some good songs on here but the 80’s production is awful, especially the syn-drum sound.
They really went all out for a pop sound with this album with all the rough edges smoothed out and there is some good playing here. The problem is that some ideas sound unfinished and some of the playing and singing sounds like a demo recording.
Paradise is a case in point, a good intro and a good melody with the female vocal and the spoken word stuff, but Greenfield’s singing in the verses is awful! „Sense of humour’s gone astray somewhere“??

Also listen to one of the extra tracks on the CD (originally a b-side) for the first in the series of songs about the hapless Vladimir!
Key tracks: Midnight Summer Dream (try and find the 12″ version for one of the few 1980’s 12″ versions that is still listenable today) and Ships That Pass In The Night.

pshowisittoSep 05 20103.50 starsIt was 1983 and I was growing up and the bands I liked were growing up too. XTC was making pastoral countryside music, Elvis Costello was fashioning himself as a Cole Porter type, Joe Jackson was trying forays into jazz and the Stranglers… well what can I say. Anyone who knew the menacing band with the menacing name and the misognystic lyrics, I mean ffs they encited a riot at one of thier concerts. Well that band is long gone here.

Strangley enough even though it borders on cocktail disco I somehow like it. Fair warning though there is a samey sameness to the songs and it is extremely mellow but it is melodic as all get out and Hugh and the boys deliver a strange but catchy record.

troyscholesJul 24 20093.00 starsThe year was 1982 and the Stranglers did the European Female on TOTP, very moody and eager depression littered the performance. The Stranglers had definitely began to experiment with different techno music. Hugh started to play classical Spanish guitar and Jet decided to pre programme his drums. Are the Stranglers technological determinists, in the 1980s there was no escaping new technology and Feline in audio demonstrates this appliance of science. I believe that it was the first recording the band did for the Epic label.

Midnight Summer Dream

Philosophical these lyrics are. What comes through most in this dreamstate is the keyboards from Dave Greenfield the composer and off course the JJ easy bass trademark. The lyrics are simplistic which needs to be so for philosophy like this to be understood. The song reminds me of the space between the tick and the tock in the lyric“ showed me somwhere else between wrong and right“ Hugh sounded spellbound in the opener.

Its A Small World

You can hear the boring synthesized drums a false sound if ever i heard one. JJ comes in with some heartless backing vocals in the chorus. A pretty (philisophical negative) view of the world. I know the world can be small when you meet a friend in Wembley Stadium at an Eric Clapton/Elton John gig circa 1991. However, the world is such a large place too full of things to be discovered. All in all the song does work musically with the classical guitar but the vocal delivery is a bit like someones child singing in a schoolyard. Especially in the verses.

Ship That Pass In The Night

What a cool opener to a song. The bass and keyboards are an amazing compliment when they reach for the sky. With some of Jets pre recorded percussion working ever so well. Then you get a flavour of Hugh’s Spanish guitar. A song about life on the ocean wave, with seasickness a plenty the paranoia of steering a ship safely past whom ever. And the reality kicks in basically the ship just sails right past, Stranglers dreamstate again i feel.

The European Female

This was the first single taken from the album by Epic and was sang by the pretty JJB. Perhaps a return to the mysogeny of the first album but cleverley disguised in the form of a female leapord. On the other hand perhaps the female is what it is a nurturing kind hearted individual with lots of giving and loving. It was the obvious single to be taken in terms of length when it reached top 10 in the UK charts.

Lets Tango In Paris

A lovely tango keyboard and the first track that Hugh sings on. This could not be further from the Dr Feelgood influenced band from the mid 70s. The keyboards and the JJs sympathetic bass hold the song together in the verses. And in the chorus a simple pre programmed single drum beat comes in with simple a classical guitar lick. it all comes together at the end, nicely, with Dave and JJ singing as if they want to be in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool. What a sight that would be to known strangler fan. Dear’ee me.

Paradise

The only song for Dave Greenfields as a vocal, not sure he is the greatest singer in the world but the female vocal is a nice surprize in the chorus. Then JJ at the end of the ditty questions paradise blaming it is based on lies and not the truth. Must have been on a downer when Hugh penned the lyric.

All Roads Lead To Rome

Another sicky 80s drumbeat yet the bass is the most prominent with Hugh delivering a rather sickly vocal. This is the most depressing song but somehow it works. The power of the lyric, “ there eyes they change colour form grey to green and when they are blue they weigh the scene“. Sounds like the ghostly centurion on the march through the corridors of York. Very spooky. But very enjoyable all the same.

Blue Sister

This is undoubtedly the foremost introduction, what the Stranglers do musically is that they give out good openings to songs. Everything is co-ordinated and in sync with each and everyone. Another conceptual attack on womanhood perhaps or just feeling sorry for a long lost sister. The negativity in those words may stem from members of the bands drug use at that time. All the same the song comes across as poppy and could easily have been released as a single by the label in a shortened version.

Never Say Goodbye

Beautiful Spanish guitar flows through this song an unusual sound but what a great ending to the album by them. I must confess never say goodbye is a damned fine statement to make at the end of the album. Was the philosophy behind the album a trick on joe public, to never say goodbye is to say that the band is at one with itself and others. A fantastic tune upbeat melody and nice compliment of incredible strings. Another song where Hugh actually sings the song which is a nice change.

I have to rate this album as mediocre compared to earlier works. Yet the album is diverse and that is an intellectual musical achievement for the band. They certainly never wanted to be pigeon holed, and what the music and lyrics brought to the listener are a fondness to time passed. The album is full of dated technology, brilliant spanish guitar licks, undated keyboard sound, and old techno drum patterns. Hugh never really gave a great vocal performance but that can be offset with great lyrics that give off all kinds of thinking. I do like the album but rarely play it. So for an attempt at originality which is key to these 4 great guys musician ship i will end with Feline as being a good pop album in general terms but it is of course more than that.

wagoJun 09 20093.50 starsDecadent, skeletal and emaciated, „Feline“ is yet a sumptuous, lush pop album. Though I wouldn’t label it as „warm“, it is surely more human than The Raven: let’s say its soggy, velvety synthetizer curtains and the steady pace of the drum machines still let some cold-blooded throbbings empathise with the listener.
The album has an exquisite mid-European mood, not just because of the song titles, but mainly for slight old-fashioned nuances that creep through the music and remind of some late-night Beaudlairian bistrot.
The mood is surely melancholic, on the brink of pure depression, but the songs do show a devious and deviant pop appeal, thank both to the catchniness of the hooks and refrains, and to the aforementioned barbiturate „warmth“ of the atmospheres.

CommuniqueJan 14 20094.00 starsWhat a contrast to the times of … say … No More Heroes this was. The Stranglers had left their Doors-related organ sound for wavy keyboards and synthetic rhythms, but also acoustic guitars.

The best songs were dark, mellow and deeply romantic, especially the singles „Midnight Summer Dream“, „European Female“ and the ever magnificent „Golden Brown“ (on the CD version). Apart from these, have a listen to the wonderful „All Roads Lead to Rome“. „Blue Sister“ is another fine track. I really would have liked the UK hit „Strange Little Girl“ on this record, too.

All in all Feline showed a very European, somehow Parisien feeling.

raspberrymanJul 27 20085.00 starsOnly „The Raven“ can beat this offering from the Stranglers.
Hated it the first few times I heard it because it’s so radically different from every other Stranglers album, but after a while that was precisely the reason I fell in love with it. The harshness of Jet Black’s electronic drums and JJ’s bass mellowed out by Hugh’s acoustic guitar and laid back vocals along with Dave Greenfield’s legendary synthesiser prowess create a unique sound that I haven’t heard successfuly replicated anywhere else.
A case in point for the success of this sound is „Ships That Pass In The Night“, the lyrics aren’t really up to much (the chorus is particularly bad) but the overall sound of the track with JJ’s great bass work and Dave’s great keys combined with their always reliable backing vocals make this track a fantastic highlight of the Stranglers repertiore.
As well as this, all three singles from the album excel. „Midnight Summer Dream“ is an epic with a strong melody that allowed it to become hit even in it’s truncated form. „European Female“ was one the Stranglers biggest hits and really shows of the „Feline“ sound, with some great bass and keys as well as some nice Cornwell guitar parts. Finally „Paradise“ despite having quite a strained JJ vocal has one of the catchiest tunes going and the keys and whispery vocals during the outtro are just great. I’m glad it’s made it on to this years „best of“ compilation (an annual occurence these days…) and hope it’s included in the tour.
Elsewhere on the album is the fantastic „Let’s Tango In Paris“ with a great hugh vocal and JJ/Dave backing, the Kraftwerkian „All Roads Lead to Rome“ and the interesting „It’s A Small World“ and „Never Say Goodbye“ (which Jet Black hated for some reason!?). Only „Blue Sister“ disappoints.
Highly recommended if you have the patience and an open mind.
The Stranglers never experimented as much again…

sanglochonSep 07 20075.00 starsThis album is a peak in Stranglers career. Many RYMers don’t like it and find it boring but unlike them I think it’s one of the most interesting album from the Meninblack because it’s one of the most consistent, songs are equal in quality, there are no fillers or so so songs. In fact, I appreciate the velvety, quiet and sedate facets of that „Feline“ release.

One can prefer, and I do, other albums by the Stranglers, the 6 first ones during the punk and new wave era, but „Feline“ is according to me with „Rattus Norwegicus“ and „The Raven“, their masterpiece, with details that create an original sound. Unlike other Stranglers albums, one have the impression that songs came to musicians without effort, without haste or flourishes just like that. Songs are simple (at the exception of „Midnight Summer Dream“ maybe) and no one of them emphasizes the musicians’abilities. Whereas the first albums contained more ambitious „progressive“ songs with chord or rythm changes, here, one have an impression of economy but it serves that record right. I especially like Hugh Cornwell flamenco acoustic guitar style on „Ships That Pass In The Night“ or „The European Female“, eventful with little notes, just what it takes.

Some fans of the „punk period“ are probably surprised by that step in Stranglers career and find „Feline“ cold and austere. I don’t agree, it’s on the surface and I think that although no song breaks away from another it’s the overall impression that stands out, a distressed album that takes its time to seduce you in an insidious way. A „Feline“ that grows in you little by little sat on a comfortable leather sofa. Underrated album but the last masterpiece from the Stranglers.

„Feline“ isn’t a record that can be easily domesticated but once you are under its soft and sharp charm, you can’t move back.

GrampusJul 15 20073.00 starsWhere have J.J. Burnel’s trademark tooth-loosening bass and Dave Greenfield’s fairground organ disappeared to? Strangely enough, even though the consensus of popular opinion suggests The Stranglers have been rehashing the same formulaic sound for years, they have introduced regular changes since the pumping bass of „Peaches“. The single „The European Female“ saw a pared down approach which resulted, for me, in a fairly inconsequential song, but this new-found restraint paid off with the fabulous „Midnight Summer Dream“, „All Roads Lead To Rome“, „Paradise“ and „Ships That Pass In The Night“.

Lots of people simply dismiss Feline – too often comparing it to earlier aggressive work. While easy to do that’s far too simplistic and lazy. It has to be remembered that The Stranglers were never a punk rock band. They simply used that bandwagon to give themselves a leg up. And I’m not saying this weird pseudo take on mainland European rhythms and dance is them either. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

I do like this album but it has one major flaw. By concentrating more on the underlying music and by toning down the bass and drums, it’s brought forward the deficiencies in the vocals. Cornwell and Burnel both have decent voices but are far more effective when encased in a pounding beat. On tracks like „Ships That Pass In The Night“, „Never Say Goodbye“ and „Blue Sister“ I find myself visibly cringing at some of the bum notes.

But, to finish on a plus. I like the keyboards on this album. Instead of simply weaving in and out in the background Dave Greenfield is allowed to take centre stage and, while a little variation in tone would have been more effective, he does a great job.

So Feline is not a great album but it isn’t the dead loss that most would have you believe.

Oh and, by the way, „Golden Brown“ is not on my version of this album. That track appears on previous album La Folie.

araraFeb 24 20074.00 starsI used to own this record. Now I bought it from the flea-market again.
Wow, what a great record! Apperently I didn’t get it as a young man, because I expected it to be punk or experimental.
Today it sounds quite contemporary and has aged like a fine wine. Smooth with an edge of bitterness. The refrained 80s production just sounds great, apparently the producer had an ear for the sounds to give them the space they needed.
Great witty songwriting too.

XbassmanDec 03 20063.00 starsThe very last Stranglers LP I bought. The begining of bad things to come had started with the ‘La Folie’ LP, and this one is a really weak and boring commercial album compared to what they’d done in the first part of their career. They tried to become a ‘mainstream’ pop-rock band pleasing much more listeners, but not their historic fans. I bet it is the LP they sold most. Still some good songs on it.

tom_tomAug 29 20064.50 starsA great album, melody are nice. The band have forgot is punk roots and turn toward something more pop and commercial but show us their easiness to find songs which affect mind and heart. The keyboard is magnificent and show the strangler’s psychedelic inspiration. I advice this album to keyboard, psychelic, and lyrics songs fan.

Juno_w_setsbrigFeb 02 20063.00 starsLet’s not lie about it: the Stranglers are the Cliff Richards of music, smoothly bending and waving in the wind. But who cares, they brought us some great tunes along the way. Admitted: their manna is mostly concentrated early on, but their travels led to interesting later moments also.

Who would dispute gold for Rattus Norvegicus (IV)? Arguably the best album of the whole punk-era. Silver goes to No More Heroes, a bit more ruthless, equally energetic but slightly less original. And then they ran out of spunk.

The Raven of 79 is pretty good, songs from their goth days, but since I’m a sunny guy the bronze goes to Feline of 82: the gracious outcome of a two-album struggle to find a new direction. As if reborn: the songs are easy and comfortable with themselves. Some more memorable than others but pleasant (meandering) all the way.

MogsFeb 11 20054.50 starsThink The Stranglers Unplugged and you’ll get the feel of this album. It’s very laid back, very accoustic and very good. Not as immediately satisfying as the work that preceeded it but nonetheless it contains several tracks comparable to the bands finest. „Midnight summer dream“ and „European female“ are the choice cuts, but „Ships that pass in the night“, „Paradise“ and „All roads lead to Rome“ are all fantastic. If you want the loud, aggressive Stranglers of the 70s then avoid, this is mellow, tuneful and very pleasing on the ear.

filoAug 16 20045.00 starsWonderfull way of playing smooth and not-so-gentle songs. Listen to danger and music on this record.

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15 May 1995, About Time

Band NameThe Stranglers

Album NameAbout Time

TypeAlbum

Released date1995

Labels Epic Records

Music Style Rock

Tracklist

1. Golden Boy
2. Money
3. Face
4. Sinister
5. Little Blue Lies
6. Still Life
7. Paradise Row
8. She Gave it All
9. Lies and Deception
10. Lucky Finger
11. And the Boat Sails by
Produced by Alan Winstanley & The Stranglers

Lyrics

1. Golden Boy

This is the story
Of a poor man’s son
He pulled himself up
Turned his face to the sun

He burned up the world with a heart on fire
And tempted the stars when they hid their light

Now everyone wants to touch the golden boy
Now everyone wants to touch the golden boy

They made melody
To support his word
He’s the new high priest
Of the scene and herd

They sanctified Sid
Till he puked up his life
A prick for an idol
What a very strange sight

Now children are weeping
In a hundred towns
The spitfire word
Shot the pilot down

They shoved a rag
Down the golden throat
And put up a column
Where the poor dog choked

2. Money

Don’t get too close now but don’t stay too far
See I need you here when inclined to clear the
Head and redefine
Spend a day in my life
You talk about money do you need to advertise
Can you see me laughing
This is no easy ride

And I walk and I talk I’m alive
And I walk and I talk I’m alive am I am I

You get a little closer but won’t stay too long
You can take my bread for a life any place
Anytime
Help me out of my chair
Did you think it was funny talking money money
Those reptile eyes
Can you see me laughing
This is no easy ride

Think of all the money with a lad and a girl
Get yourself a home loch the door get along
Get it up try your fucking luck get a dog
Take a walk what’s your point you’ve played your hand

Money money
Call it anything you want and I won’t care
It’s all you think about it’s money mother

3. Face

Woke up on a Sunday cloud
Never noticed all the rain
Felt the sun behind the shades
Wanted you to take my blood but
Sunk into an empty place
Pulse was gunning through my brain
Felt you underneath my skin
Wanted to bind my hands
But you walk by with all I had
And I lie where it all began

You’re all that’s gonna save me now (x 3)
Broke up under summer’s haze
My pieces falling everywhere
Felt your sun upon my frame
So strong I couldn’t stand the pain
Thought about a Wednesday child
Felt the bullet in my back
Dreamt my hands around your face
Wanted you to waste my life
But you walk by where I still stand
And so I cry ’cause I’m a man

And the face I want to see
Is the face I want to be

4. Sinister

Just like sinister she’s going where the winds blow
Just like sinister she’s going where the weak field glows
That’s right heavenly blue she’ll sing songs of sad day to come

Just like sinister she’ll go where the heartbeat
So sinister moving with streamline grace
That’s right heavenly blue she’ll paint empty beaches black skies

She got you fried to the back teeth
Head hanging down
She got a needle in your eye boy
See all the blood running now

You’re rolling on empty tracks
Not going to rest in peace
Won’t let you fall through the cracks
Get off the ghost train

And you give all your love to her
Then she throws you away

Just like sinister she’s going where the wind blows
So sinister she’ll keep you warm keep you cold
Get your money well spent
Like heavenly blue she’ll paint empty beaches black skies

I don’t care what she says or where she’s been
Such a sad decoy

5. Little Blue Lies

Mr. Big has done his time
He’s out today
And he knows the new deceit
Will come his way
He’s kicking back and crossing palms
To sow the seeds
Some old darling’s nest egg is just what he needs
Murder

Don’t tell me lies

Little blue lies they tell me
When is it going to end
Little blue lies they tell me
They’ll get you in the end
Little blue lies
They’ll get you in the end
They’ll get you in the end

Mr. Big is on the level
He’s no square
His magic number make our trouble disappear
Hip hooray it’s all ok
The sky is blue
Don’t rock the boat
Just swallow what they shout at you
Don’t tell me lies

6. Still Life

While standing naked at the window watching the night
The thunder crashing all the lightening and the rain
I wondered if I could or even if I should
Attempt to see you or be with you ever again

Your smile is painted on a thousand faces

Still lying in my mouth still blowing through my hair
My legs are strong but they won’t carry me away
Keep hiding sheets of lead what’s that the things you said
While eyes are heavy they won’t promise me to sleep

Your smile is painted on a thousand places
What of me now as I fade still life goes by

Cold sweat you haunt my skin
Your fingers echoing your name is written here in blood of life of sin?
Still burning on my bed your light goes out I’m dead
Who says the heads the law has nothing left to break

Your smile is painted on a thousand dreams I can’t forget

What of me now as I fade still life goes by
What of me now here I stay and still life goes by

7. Paradise Row

And the pharaoh raised his hand
Said dig a hole in the promised land
The pointing men are marching in a line
They’re shooting poison arrows in the sky

These are the last days of paradise row

There’s a man knocking on my door
He’s playing games with word of the law
A hammer in his hand to break your soul
But the spirit is a house that will not fall

These are the last days of paradise row
Tell me Moses where will your children go

Now the scorpion will go
Where the forest will not grow
And the pharaoh lies behind a golden mask
His pointing men steal water from our well

I don’t mind telling you
It makes my heart bleed
I don’t mind telling you
It makes my heart bleed

These are the last days of paradise row
Tell me Moses where will your children go?
These are the last days of paradise row
Tell me Moses where will your children go?

8. She Gave it All

One night south of Holborn
Met a cute diversion there
Death in red light heaven
Found a place inside my cards

She gave it all to me
She gave it all to me

Inside up down side out
The search for meaning so profound
I say go she says let’s
Biter twisting to the ground

I said stepping on a moving train without home
I’ll dig a hole meet you where stars surround
Won’t be used again

Day is fear black is light
Watch the hours whisper by
One foot in the alley
One foot in the gutter old friend

Stepping on a moving train without home
I’ll dig a hole and meet you where the stars surround
I’ve had enough of the ball I want it set in stone spirit broke
Give me any name she’ll take the same give us home!

Won’t be used again

Night creeps on the lowlands
Haunts the strangers in the dark
Silent scream has come to speak of
Whispers in the past
City ate their hearts

9. Lies and Deception

The words
Came down the line
Just a few words
At a time
The meaning
It was Clear
There was no sign of fear
The scene
That they described
Were sad
You could have cried
The journey’s
Just too long
To even
Take the ride

It’s always
The same
It’s always
In vain
If the truth
Were only known
If the words
Had only shown

That lies and deception
They move in one direction
And then in the end you lose……..

That lies and deception
They move in one direction
And then in the end you lose……..
You lose

And now
The line is dead
You did everything
You ever said
You brought it down
You turned around
And what was said
Was said
The deed is done
You’ve had your fun
And home again
You’ll run

You know inside
You’ll never hide
And what was done
Was done

It’s always
The same
It’s always
In vain
If the truth
Were only known
If the words
Had only shown

That lies and deception
They move in one direction
And then in the end you lose……..

That lies and deception
They move in one direction
And then in the end you lose……..

10. Lucky Finger

I for a sign in the sky
But I got the evil eye
And the ritual sacrifice
Came back to life
I threw down the bones
But they made no connection
And the hand of Fatima stuck in my throat
Lucky finger point at me
File me in famous and drown me in floodlights
Lucky finger write my name
Set it in universe paint it in letters of flame

Now I’ve done all I can by the sweat of my body
And I’ve prayed my last prayer
And abandoned all hope
I’ll raise my face and give thanks to the heavens
When the spear of destiny scratches my rib

These are the words of the animals
Animals

11. And the Boat Sails by

I have heard the bell
In the tolling of the waves
And I have heard the moon
Making love to the stars
Keep your eyes on
Blue horizons
I’ll be your driver
I’ll find a pearl for you

And the boat sails by
Under crimson skies
Golden children play
As we sail away
Away away away

Put your ear to the shell
Can you hear me call
You cannot hide behind
The curve of the earth

Keep your eyes on
Blue horizons
Cool wind blow me home to you

https://www.spirit-of-rock.com/en/album/About_Time/1642

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Album review: The Stranglers – Dark Matters

October 1, 2021

Responsible for the opening soundtrack of one of this reviewer’s favourite films (Sexy Beast), which coincidentally, is only my second favourite peach-related song (thanks The Presidents of the United States of America), The Stranglers are back with their first studio album since 2012. Will the Guildfordian new-wave, punk rockers still hold up after all this time with new album, Dark Matters?

From the pubs of the South East to riding the charts, The Strangler’s sound has evolved over time with music critic Dave Thompson stating that despite their changes they were ‘never boring’. With chart hits and soundtrack staples such as Golden Brown and No More Heroes – the point stands.

With their unmistakable lo-fi guitar fuzz from their pub rock origins and the keyboard ripped straight from their earlier albums alongside the recognisable backing vocals…of three members, Water opens up the newest album.

Without the snarling, punkish vocals from Hugh Cornwell, the album opens with less presence than you might expect from the veterans, but with no ‘frontman’ the current trio (Burnell, Warne and Macauley) do their level best.

The album also shows some mellowing of the previous energy you can find on other albums in their lengthy discography. Whilst the band haven’t always been fast and furious, there’s always been that dissident fury that underlines so many original punk bands.

However, on tracks like ‘And If You Should See Dave…’ it feels far more balladic, a punk version of a dirge, mourning loss of friends. This may well be due to the loss of their former keyboardist, Dave Greenfield (the Dave the song seems to be alluding to) who is the band’s casualty to COVID from 2020.

The immediate following track If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might As Well Be Love) follows the exact same slow style, even adding brooding organ-like keys. Add a mohawk to Dracula and pop him in a dive bar and you’ve got the image this song seems to be trying to evoke.

This morose mood keeps on plumbing the depths as we hit The Lines. We hear about lines on the singer’s face; from divorce, from loss, from smoking, from drinking – with only a glimmer of hope coming in at the end, at least SOME are from smiling at someone he likes.

As the album progresses, it unfortunately becomes more apparent that the band feels a bit lost. Payday has all the elements that has made The Strangler’s great in previous iterations, but like so many other tracks, it’s missing something almost intangible.

The track where this may not be the case is The Last Men On The Moon. The track has weight, pace and finally grabs you for the full 5:35 run time – it’s just too many tracks too late.

This isn’t to say the album isn’t well-made. The production value strikes a perfect balance between feeling raw and live as punk should, but keeping things clean and separated to allow each aspect to shine.

It has a variety between sadness and energy, even dropping into a shimmering acoustic piece with Down.

There is hope towards the end of the album still with White Stallion and even Breathe, despite its more prog-leaning sound, acting like a punk orchestral lead out. However the album takes far too long to hit its stride.

You could chalk it up to line-up changes, album construction as simple as track ordering or even that the band have aged beyond their ideals. Ultimately it’s a good album – just a bit lacking anything to make it truly special.

Author: Steve, Cardiff store

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THE-STRANGLERS_Dark-Matters musicwaves

RTIST:
THE STRANGLERS (UNITED KINGDOM)
TITLE:
DARK MATTERS (2021)
LABEL:
VERYCORDS
GENRE:
ROCK
TAGS:
80’sAcousticDissonantIntimistLow vocalsMelancholicOld SchoolPunk
„Marked by the death of its iconic keyboardist, the Stranglers’ new album invites us to travel through a dark universe sprinkled with flashes of light.“

ADRIANSTORK (03.09.2021)

4/5

On May 3, 2020, Dave Greenfield the keyboard wizard took his leave. This great architect of the Stranglers‘ sound, who had given his letters of nobility to keyboards in a rock band, was no more. While the four Stranglers were in the middle of recording, his death seemed to sound the death knell of the band. Jean-Jacques Burnel, now the last of the original members still active (Jet Black had retired after a stroke, replaced by Jim Macaulay), could have putan end to this unique band that the media never really respected. But after mourning, the bassist decided to continue his mission, first by completing the recording of the album and then by going to defend it on stage in tribute to Dave.

„Dark Matters“ is an album name that smells of sulfur. The gloomy cover echoes the hanged men of „Giants“ by showing four Moaïs from Easter Island. If it is possible to link this dark atmosphere to Dave’s definitive absence, one should not forget that the Stranglers have always cultivated flowers of darkness – they were not called the men in black for nothing! Dave Greenfield is present on eight of the eleven songs, as if his sparkling keyboard playing is now coming to us from beyond the grave. Among the three other songs is the direct tribute ‘And If You Should See Dave’, also released as a single. A rather quiet track on which Jean-Jacques Burnel lays his warm voice and salutes the memory of the keyboardist. The track is devoid of keyboards but with a complicit spirit, the bassist sings: „That’s where your solo should be“. A clip was even shot, highlighting Dave Greenfield’s passion for cars with some references to the Stranglers (the rats, the Regent Theater in Los Angeles, place of Dave’s last concert, an atmosphere close to the clip of ‘All Roads Lead To Rome’…).

However, it would be wrong to listen to this album only under the unique angle of Dave Greenfield’s death, because this one is present on the quasi-totality of the recording. Nine years after „Giants“, the Stranglers prove paradoxically that the unity of the band is well intact from the first track. On „Water“, each instrument enters the scene after the others to lead to catchy rock chords before letting go. The band finds a balance between elements of the past and modernity. ‘If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might As Well Be Love)’ with its harpsichord, which sketches a waltz before an electronic sound takes over. As in the great hours, ‘Payday’ puts forward the fulminating bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel. ‘No Man’s Land’, with its acidic verses and unifying chorus, suddenly gives way to Dave’s experimental and orgasmic keyboard solo, reminiscent of ‘Nice In Sleazy’, while ‘White Stallion’ is reinforced by a few violins and a singer’s voice for a guaranteed epic effect. The Stranglers can count on their two complementary singers, the vocals being shared between a raging and cold Jean-Jacques Burnel while the voice of Baz Warne, the guitarist, is more aggressive, in short the union of ice and fire. The album has no real hit, each of the tracks working like puzzle pieces and none – except maybe the tribute to Dave – can be isolated.

The band’s propensity to surprise us is still there: two notable curiosities that stand out with the darkness are to be noticed. The first one, ‘The Lines’, an intimate and quite touching song where the bassist gives himself up naked in a reflection on the effects of time on man. The second one, ‘Down’, is a nostalgic ballad almost acoustic on which the magnetic voice of the bass player is comforting. To conclude the album, ‘Breath’ relies on a stormy atmosphere carried by the voice, the acoustic guitar and the keyboards. The themes of the band are always engaged and propose a reflection on our world without falling into ideology, from the failure of the Arab Spring to the problem of the pollution of space by man. 

Despite the death of Dave Greenfield, the Stranglers are still alive, managing to combine the band’s unique sounds without ever sounding like they are copying themselves. „Dark Matters“ is both a superb album in the continuity of the Stranglers‘ aesthetic but also distinguishes itself by proposing through dark compositions flashes of light.

More informations on https://www.facebook.com/thestranglers

SIMILAR BANDS:
SIMPLE MINDSTHE DOORSTHE MUGSHOTSTHE DAMNEDPUBLIC IMAGE LIMITEDULTRAVOX

TRACK LISTING:
01. Water
02. This Song
03. And If You Should See Dave…
04. If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love)
05. No Man’s Land
06. The Lines
07. Payday
08. Down
09. he Last Men on the Moon
10. White Stallion
11. Breathe

LINEUP:
Baz Warne: Chant / Guitares
Dave Greenfield: Claviers
Jean-Jacques Burnel: Basse
Jim Macaulay: Batterie

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The Stranglers: ‘Dark Matters’

21 September 2021 Robert Fairclough

❉ If this is the end, the moment has been prepared for, writes Rob Fairclough.

I remember a 1977 NME review of The Stranglers’ first album Rattus Norvegicus sourly commenting that “It hadn’t been possible to offload this shit until now.” Fast forward nearly fifty years, and social media is alive with excitement over the band’s eighteenth LP Dark Matters. Tellingly, the music press of old is long gone, while The Stranglers are standing taller than ever, just like the weather-beaten Easter Island statues on the record’s cover.

For us grizzled meninblack followers, the arrival of Dark Matters feels like a joint achievement between ourselves and the band. We’ve all loved them for so long, through thick and thin and highs and lows, that it feels like we’ve helped will this genuine creative high into being. Via the band’s official Facebook page over the last few months, it’s been both heart-warming and thrilling to witness the track-by-track tease of Dark Matters’ imminent release.

I met bassist JJ Burnel and late keyboard player Dave Greenfield backstage at the University of East Anglia in 2019. Early versions of Dark Matters songs Water, This Song and The Last Men in the Moon had been in set that night. I told JJ how impressed I was with the new material, and he seemed genuinely interested in my opinion. That The Stranglers have always paid more attention over the years to what the fans think than the critics is, perhaps, part of the reason why they’ve survived so long.

In 2021 Dave is gone, taken by COVID-19, and this is the first album that the band’s founder, drummer Jet Black, hasn’t played on (although ‘new boy’ Jim Macaulay is an admirable inheritor of the sticks.) So, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that among the traditional Stranglers preoccupations – misanthropic reflections on relationships, impending apocalypse, outer space, aliens, etc. – they reveal an endearing emotional side for perhaps the first time.

An acoustic trilogy of songs begins with And If You Should See Dave…, a direct, bitter-sweet tribute by JJ to his fallen bandmate, which I guarantee the audience will deafen the band with by singing it back to them on the next tour. Three songs on is The Lines, a pared-down monologue from singer and guitarist Baz Warne, appropriately haunted by Dave’s Hammond organ, that equates life experience with “the lines on my face” – a beautifully simple idea and a delightfully evocative piece of music. Down, a similarly minimalist meditation on depression, is the only song I don’t like here. lt reminds me of the middle-aged whinge that was Coup De Grace, the 1998 album that is The Stranglers’ least-finest 42 minutes,

Dark Matters is about the same length, but it sounds twice as long (in a good way). Five of the eleven compositions are over four minutes long, giving full reign to the layered, complex arrangements and shifting time signatures that represent The Stranglers’ best work; Water, No Man’s Land and the majestic The Last Men on the Moon allude to, but don’t pastiche, high water marks like the albums Black and White (1978) and The Raven (1979). On Last Men…, you can almost see Dave’s invisible hands rippling across the keyboards. It certainly sounds like he was lost in the moment.

The central opus to what would have been side one is If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love). Two-songs-in-one, it agreeably hints at another LP in The Stranglers back catalogue, Aural Sculpture (1984), built around a poppy keyboard riff enhanced by a trumpet solo (the first brass on a Stranglers album since 1990’s 10). Elsewhere, the roll call of historical figures on Payday puts you in mind of the cast list of the 1977 single No More Heroes, while derailing expectations partway through a traditional Stranglers thrash by introducing two swing interludes. On recent single This Song the band are at their most aggressively undiluted, Baz Warne snarling through the dissolution of a love affair with a tongue-twisting, killer chorus:

“This song will get me over you
Lift me up and take me out of view
This song that says that she’ll hurt you once or twice
But she’ll never be with you the way you want her to
This song will get me over you…” 

As we enter the final strait, The Stranglers have left the best until last. White Stallion – apparently about the fall of America and the rise of China, although the lyrics could be about anything globally ominous – sees them pushing forward sonically with a tune constructed from different movements, the like of which closed out the band’s albums in their early days. Based around an addictive electronic beat, a satanic choir and sampled vocals, White Stallion builds and builds; imagine a collision between the Prodigy, Primal Scream and the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want and you’re getting there. I’d lay odds that this’ll be the track that’ll close the main set on the final tour, and I bet it’ll bring the house down every time. It’s a masterpiece.

Dark Matters’ final track is Breathe and, on my first few hearings, I found it a bit inconsequential, wishing that White Stallion had been the last track and the album’s definitive statement. Repeated listens, however, reveal Breathe as a prowling, sinister, Pink Floydian soundscape, whose lyrics suggest the stalking of an attractive woman (a very old-school Stranglers idea). The defiant chorus “Fight to the end/Fight to the bitter end” seems to be addressing something else entirely, namely the continued, stoic, ‘f**k you’ existence of the band. If The Stranglers do disconnect their amps for the last time here – as the flatlining signal at the end of Breathe implies – after eighteen albums and nearly fifty years, it’d be a more than distinguished way to sign off.

And I’d swear those final synthesizer riffs have angels’ wings on.


❉ ‘Dark Matters’ was released on 10th September 2021 and is available to order through The Stranglers Official Store. Dark Matters is  available on CD, 180gm black vinyl, limited red/black smoke coloured 180gm vinyl & even a limited cassette as well as 25 special signed white label vinyl test pressings. All pre-orders for the album from The Stranglers Official Store, on any format, will receive an exclusive CD entitled ‘Dave Greenfield – A Tribute’.

❉ Robert Fairclough writes on a variety of subjects, including mental health and popular culture (sometimes both at once). He has written six books, contributes to magazines and websites, and writes regular blogs about projects he’s involved in for The Restoration Trust. He can be contacted on robmay1964@outlook.com, and his website can be viewed at www.robfairclough.co.uk

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Apsolutno ničiji heroji

foto: promo

dragan ambrozić

THE STRANGLERS SU JEDNA OD NAJNEOBIČNIJIH POJAVA U PANKU I „NOVOM TALASU“: SPADAJU U NAJZASLUŽNIJE ZA POPULARIZACIJU OVOG ZVUKA, KOJI SU MEĐU PRVIMA PREDSTAVILI SVETU – ALI NIKAD NISU BILI PRIZNATI ZA DEO UNDERGROUND ELITE, KOLIKO GOD FANOVA IMALI. OVAJ ENGLESKI BEND UPRAVO JE OBJAVIO SVOJ OPROŠTAJNI ALBUM DARK MATTERS ZAOKRUŽIVŠI OTPADNIČKU KARIJERU DUGU SKORO 50 GODINA

Ovo su vremena u kojima se ispostavlja da je rokenrol bio glas razuma. Nešto što je u suštini počelo kao jezik mladih bez perspektive, bez šanse da budu to što jesu i čuju se u javnosti, u međuvremenu se odavno pretvorilo u jezik onih koji jedini još uvek imaju savest. Paradoksalno, ali upravo su nekadašnji otpadnici od „kulture“ – poslednja kultura što nam je preostala. I u tome je finalna snaga mita o rokenrolu, koji je nadživeo sam žanr i još uvek uzbuđuje neke mlade što traže svoj put kroz šumu besmisla kojom su okruženi.

Za nas starije, odrasle uz rok muziku, ovo je bar mala satisfakcija i priznanje da smo bar jednom u životu bili u pravu.

PONEKAD BIH TE UDARIO

Bili smo mali i bili smo najmanja od svih manjina kad su se pojavili The Stranglers. Tražili smo da slušamo nešto drugačije od onog što se puštalo.

Nije preterano reći da su njihova prva tri albuma Rattus Norvegicus (1977), No More Heroes (1977) i Black and White (1978) bili nešto kao Biblija za sve koji su ulazili u svet panka i drugačije rok muzike u trenutku dok se ova promena dešavala, krajem sedamdesetih. Mada je njihov debi svakako čisto remek-delo, No More Heroes probio ih je dalje, pa i u Jugoslaviju gde je imao tu čast da bude jedna od prvih licencno objavljenih pank ploča, zajedno sa The Vibrators V2 i The Saints Eternally Yours. U Beogradu smo imali tu sreću da je Sloba Konjović, muzički urednik na radiju Studio B, pristupao svom poslu sa retkom odgovornošću i željom da svake nedelje publici predstavi ono najbolje, najnovije i najavangardnije iz rok i pop muzike, te smo u emisijama Diskomer, Vibracije i Parada albuma praktično istog meseca po objavljivanju slušali sve ono što je bilo bitno u Londonu. Nije mnogo prošlo, a uticaj pravovremeno puštanih The Stranglersa postao je primetan kod naših novih grupa, kakve su bile Električni orgazam (klavijature Ljube Đukića) i Šarlo akrobata (Kojin tretman basa).

Zvuk The Stranglersa sam po sebi delovao je kao revolucija. Ali, nekako poznata revolucija, u kojoj su svi mogli da nađu svoje mesto. Sex Pistolse apsolutno niko nije mogao da „skine“ jer nije postojala osoba u stanju da deluje onako opasno, prezrivo i ludo kao Johnny Rotten. Ni The Jam niko nije mogao sasvim da iskopira jer su bili tako totalno engleski. The Clash su već bili tu negde – ljuti i pogodni za „skidanje“ – čak i za početnike, samo ako umeš da držiš gitaru i naučiš da sviraš rege bas. Međutim, The Stranglers su bili pravi izazov: zvučali su kao klasičan rok bend koji je rešio da podivlja. Njihov tretman instrumenata otkrivao je nov stav prema svemu – prvo bi vas odozdo udario besni bas Jean-Jacques Burnela, još uvek najmoćniji na svetu, ložačko kidanje stomaka kakvo nikad pre nije bilo snimljeno u prvom planu neke pesme, potom bi vas poklopio ogorčeni glas Hugha Cornwella, što je jasno govorio da mu svi smetaju, ali da njega nije briga, onda bi odnekud neočekivano iznikle virtuozne melodijske reke na klavijaturama Davea Greenfielda, da bi Jet Black sve zakucao uvek pouzdanim bubnjanjem. U okviru pitomog redovnog radijskog programa onog doba, The Stranglers su stvarno delovali kao zvuk ulice.


DOLEU SLIVNIKU

Nastali 1974. u Guildfordu, daljem predgrađu Londona, The Stranglers su bili malo stariji i kompletniji muzičari od dece koja su leta 1976. stvorila pank kao ponašanje i pogled na svet, čiji deo je bila i radikalno jednostavna muzika. Zato su vrlo brzo doživeli da ih aktivistički nastrojeni pankeri odbace kao matorce što su im se prikačili, a angažovani deo muzičke štampe je rešio da ih ne podržava – ali publika je baš u njima prepoznala sirovost koju ranije nije imala prilike da čuje i vidi, te autentičnu filozofiju radničke ekipe. Ništa slično nije postojalo i The Stranglers su za mnoge bili prvo iskustvo sa pankom koje su imali.

Čudan je to pank bio, nikako ne po klišeima, ali sloboda da se bude svoj i stav bili su očigledni. Prigovaralo im se da imaju pomalo pojednostavljene, stripovske poglede, a ponekad i mizantropske tekstove, no njihov odgovor je uvek bio da prosto govore uličnim jezikom i opisuju taj pogled na svet, te da tako govore stvarni ljudi – junaci njihovih pesama – čiju priču oni pričaju. Kad su počeli da se menjaju u pravcu još kompleksnije muzike, posle pobunjeničkih novotalasnih vremena, nisu svi bili spremni da ih u tome slede. The Stranglers su, naime, u osamdesetim postali neočekivano nežni: La Folie (1981) i Feline (1983), uz uspeh večnog hita Golden Brown, predstavili su nam bend i dalje beskompromisnog stava, ali koji se sad bavio romatičnim temama velike ljubavi. No, ovakvo širenje osećajne palete donelo im je mnogo novih poštovalaca i više uspeha nego ikad, te su poslednje tri ploče sa originalnim vokalom – Aural Sculpture (1984), Dreamtime (1986) i 10 (1990) – sve redom beležile poneki hit održavajući njihovu poznatost i šireći je globalno.

Iznenadni odlazak iz benda Hugha Cornwella, glavnog autora, pevača i jednog od osnivača, delovao je kao finalna presuda nakon koje se niko ne bi oporavio („The Stranglers su mi odjednom delovali istrošeno“, rekao je), ali nije tako bilo. Kooptirajući jednog, pa i drugog pevača, The Stranglers su nekako nastavili sa koncertnom i studijskom karijerom dok u liku Baza Warnea, starog fana i dugogodišnje klupske pojave sa raznim pank postavama, nisu našli osobu sposobnu da dostojanstveno odigra ulogu frontmena ovog, sad već klasičnog benda. Norfolk Coast (2004) bio je povratak na veliku scenu i u kreativnom smislu pošten nastavak njihove nekadašnje, uvek privlačne nepredvidljivosti. Od tad nisu objavili previše toga, ali su koncertnom aktivnošću držali nivo, uprkos penzionisanju Jeta Blacka, najstarijeg među njima. Nažalost, kad je prošle godine od kovida preminuo Dave Greenfield, više se nije imalo kud i The Stranglers su najavili da im je sledeći projekat – poslednji u karijeri.


KAKO NAĆI ISTINSKU LJUBAV I SREĆU U OVA VREMENA

Dark Matters (Coursegood) prvi je objavljeni studijski album The Stranglersa još od 2012, i u septembru je ušao pravo na mesto broj 4 engleske liste, kao njihov najbolje plasirani još od Feline iz 1983. Ovo se slobodno može nazvati nekom vrstom neočekivano uspelog povratka – ne samo kao bratska posveta Greenfieldu, umrlom usred snimanja, ali ipak ostavljajući svoje sviračke doprinose na 8 od 11 numera – nego i kao poslednje poglavlje vredno opšte pažnje javnosti, u sagi o jednom bendu koji se ponosno ni u šta nije uklapao.

Udarni singl This Song (u originalu „This Song Will Get Me Over You“ sastava The Disciples of Spess) ovde je koautorski dorađen tako da najviše podeća na rane The Stranglers, baš kao i The Last Men on the Moon, energična vožnja koja je mogla da se nađe na svakoj od njihovih ploča sa slavnih početaka. Tekst ove prve govori o prevazilaženju ljubavnog bola, a sličnu temu susrećemo i u dražesno latiniziranoj If Something’s Gonna Kill Me (It Might as Well Be Love), te čulno-čežnjivoj Breathe, kojom se Dark Matters stilizovano zatvara, nalikujući na najuspešniji, popizirani srednji period benda. Ispostavlja se da su vrhunci albuma vezani za snažne emocije, ali nema snažnijih od onih u kompoziciji And If You Should See Dave…, u kojoj se u laganom ritmu odvijaju sećanja na prošlost grupe, sa besmrtno duhovitim stihom kao sećanje na Greenfielda: „A ovde bi trebalo da ide tvoj solo…“.

Baš kao što smo se nadali, ovo je pozitivna fuzija novih i starih snaga: mladi glas Baza Warnea uverljiv je na mestu najupadljivijeg u ovom sastavu, Jim Macaulay, kao bivši regularni bubnjar savremenih dance heroja Rudimental, donosi potreban moderan touch – sa druge strane, JJ Burnel opet vuče glavne pesme svojim monstruoznim bas zvukom, i konačno Dave Greenfiled i ovde briljira puneći zvuk mini-melodijama, kao najveći pop umetnik među autističnim osobama (puna istina o njegovom stanju otkrivena je tek nakon smrti). Uskoro će ovakvo višeslojno muziciranje zvučati mladima kao Bah ili Betoven – nešto što je skoro nemoguće smisliti, a kamoli proizvesti golim rukama. Pa ipak, ljudi su sve to odsvirali.


GUDBAJ TULUZGUDBAJ DEJV

U istoriji rok muzike mora postojati nešto što bismo mogli nazvati: misterija The Stranglersa. Kako je do danas opstala grupa koja je počela kao pank, ali nije bila jednoglasno prihvaćena od strane pankera, pa se potom pretvorila u vrlo neobičan autorski bend, kritikovan zbog te promene, te na kraju u rok grupu sa čudnom pop elegancijom – a da je ipak sve vreme bila voljena i imala sve više vernih fanova širom sveta? Odgovor: tako što je uvek ostala svoja. Redak primer benda jačeg od stilova koje su svirali.

Verovatno je tajna veličine The Stranglersa u tome što su uvek bili esencijalan engleski bend. U njima je čučao onaj grubi deo Engleske koji nikad nismo videli, ali smo mogli da verujemo u njegovo postojanje, pošto su oni vrlo rečito bili pomalo huliganski, bez pardona mangupski, skloni tuči, neobičnim idejama o tome ko vlada svetom, prostodušni, duhoviti i anti-manipulantski – mimo svakog mainstreama, pa i onog alternativnog. Naličje britanskog građanskog života, što su pre njih najbolje opisali The Kinks – bilo je prepoznato kao naličje građanskog života bilo gde, širom planete. The Stranglers su došli iz ulične magme koja je vladala ostrvskim omladinskim duhovima posle glam rocka, a pre punka, u periodu 1974–1976, kad su samo pub rock sastavi tipa Dr Feelgood zvučali vredno pažnje. Taj prepunk feeling im je omogućavao vezu sa klasičnim rokenrolom i pratio ih je uvek kroz presudno prisustvo Davea Greenfielda, koga nažalost više nema, i tu se ova priča završava zauvek. Jer Greenfield ih je činio drugačijim i autentičnim, koliko god JJ i Hugh bili duša The Stranglersa.

Teško mi je da završim ovaj tekst, okrenem se i odem od prvog pank benda koji sam voleo, kao i mnogi kod nas. Ovog časa najglasnije puštam Walk on By, njihovu vrtoglavu obradu Burta Bacharacha, da bih ostao vezan za trenutak kad je uz ovaj bend svako znao jednu jednostavnu istinu – mi smo u pravu. Do kraja pesme ću znati da se ništa nije promenilo.

I dalje smo u pravu.

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La folie

Cover art for La folie by The Stranglers
ArtistThe Stranglers
TypeAlbum
ReleasedNovember 1981
RYM Rating3.53 / 5.0 from 1,190 ratings
Ranked#301 for 1981
GenresNew Wave
Post-Punk
Descriptorsmale vocals, drugs, melodic
LanguagesEnglish, French

Track listing

  • A1Non Stop2:29
  • A2Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead2:42
  • A3Tramp3:05
  • A4Let Me Introduce You to the Family3:08
  • A5Ain’t Nothin’ to It3:58
  • A6The Man They Love to Hate4:26
  • B1Pin Up2:49
  • B2It Only Takes Two to Tango3:41
  • B3Golden Brown3:30
  • B4How to Find True Love and Happiness in the Present Day3:07
  • B5La folie6:08

Total length: 39:03

Credits

trevor_mehchineFeb 02 20093.50 starsAlthough it wasn’t exactly beamed to us from a distant planet, and while it’s nowhere near as difficult as Gospel According to the Meninblack, it’s still hard to describe this album. In some ways its merely highly-evolved new-wave; polished, left-field and occasionally too oblique. But it also contains other discrete parts such as baroque pop (Golden Brown) and strange experiments (La Folie, Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead). With the inclusion of Golden Brown this is definitely The Stranglers’ most accessible LP, but even without it the record probably wouldn’t have offended – or confused – the ears of day-time radio listeners. In one sense they achieved the impossible and pleased everybody.

Indeed, this record was in some ways their most successful – at least in so far as it contains their best-selling single (Golden Brown). And yet – inexplicably – it didn’t out-sell Gospel According to the Meninblack – an awkward, abstract effort with no strong singles. Where La Folie fell short of the top ten (spending 17 weeks in the UK album charts and peaking at #11), its predecessor reached #8 (although it did spend only 5 weeks in the top 75). It must have puzzled the band and fans at the time – why didn’t the huge sales of Golden Brown translate into similar success for La Folie. Why weren’t the housewives and yuppies buying the album in droves? It reached #12 on 13/2/’81, and sank to 17 over the next two weeks. At this time Golden Brown was at number two. The effect of Golden Brown on La Folie’s sales wasn’t really felt until 13/3 and after that its sales fell away fast (3 weeks later it was nowhere). One explanation is that the band had an unshakable reputation as a singles act. Or maybe La Folie’s cool reviews did for it. In any case, there’s a bit more to the LP than this one track – even if it doesn’t get off to a flying start.

It’s not until Tramp – track three – that we get anything of substance from La Folie. Non-stop and Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead are both pants. The former is a throwaway pop song with little to remember it by apart from a playful sort of keyboard solo, the latter is a morose effort that outstays its welcome even at 2:42. Tramp, however, is brilliant and proves the band had striven to find a way forward that didn’t involve abandoning everything that was good and enduring in previous incarnations (high levels of creativity, expressive musicianship, and a great ear for melody e.g.).

If previously they’d confused aggression with passion (especially in accounts of relations with the opposite sex) this song’s relative subtleties suggest the band can be emotional without getting all mean and angry about stuff. A big step! Rather than embracing animosity Cornwell nearly sounds wistful – whilst also somehow keeping an edge on his delivery (it’s interesting to note that the object of the lyric’s affections here is male). He seems envious of those who’ve abandoned materialism and a love of things. The end result, marked by a sense of melancholy, is almost as compelling as the aggression of yore. And although Tramp is lyrically naive (romanticising homelessness as it does – no doubt Cornwell would’ve preferred to think of it as, I don’t know, „wanderlust“ or something), we’re still swept along. Yes I know, the bass guitar is a little too clean-shaven – but it does a great job of creating a song within a song such is the strength of its melodic content. Tramp’s chorus is a real lift too and – as we’ve come to expect – there’s a highly effective keyboard solo (possibly one of the best on the album after How to Find True Love and Happiness). In short, this should have been a single – i.e. the follow-up to smash Golden Brown.

Talking of which, track four is La Folie’s first single. It’s good too. Not excellent but definitely a strong effort. Chart-wise it faltered and died at #42 for three weeks, which was something of an undeserving fate to be fair. I’m not too sure what they were trying to achieve with this cumbersomely titled song though – perhaps a disco number?? Who knows. Regardless, it features a fairly memorable instrumental break and achieved a fresh sound for the time (nor has it dated too badly either – at least not to these ears). Skip the next track (but do feel free to use Google to mug up on Milton Mezzrow) and go straight to The Man They Love to Hate. This is the high point of both the album and Burnel’s song-writing. Like LMIYttF it begins with a very simple drum rhythm, but this time with stabs of delayed bass. This is one of the band’s best songs – a career highpoint. But, tucked away like this on the end of side one it probably rarely gets the recognition it deserves. I also love the words, which are both poignant and poetic:

They woke to grey English morning
And a strange honeymoon
The girl who gave him all her love
And the man who said it still wouldn’t do

His parents always worked hard
Never went to bed late
And though they were God’s own people
They’re still the ones he loves to hate

He never wanted to suffer this fate
All the girls have fallen for
The man they love to hate

The city is an animal
It snores and by day it roars
And though he loved to hate it
He couldn’t live without its flaws

With pastel curtain moaning
At a thousand harsh words then – hush!
The girl she wanted to leave
Because she loved the man too much

His father was a fighter
And he practiced on his son
His mother was just some furniture
Who’d lost the will to run

The girl she wrote him a farewell note
And though he probably didn’t care too much
The girl she finally left him
Because she loved the man too much

The track’s best part is the ending, however – which sees Cornwell and Greenfield trading highly melodic phrases which succeed in accentuating the song’s sadness. If my cheeks are reddening it’s through the embarrassment caused by using words like „sadness“ in a review of a Stranglers album. But this song is evocative. Of course, the mood gets drubbed by Pin Up – this next track is essentially Non-Stop’s sequel. In other words, fluff. Nor does It Only Takes Two do much to recapture the mood of side two’s closer – what with its overtly clumsy rhythm and weak melody lines.

Little more needs to be said about side two’s third offering, Golden Brown – except to note that if it was the LP’s weakest track this would probably be a contender for best pop album of the ’80s. I distinctly remember hearing it for the first time, very shortly after La Folie was released. It was obviously a stand-out song, although I had no idea they’d release it as a single. I thought it was simply too unlike their previous 45s and would alienate their fan-base – i.e. those loyal buyers (who probably still numbered many tens of thousands even at this late juncture) who could be relied upon to purchase a release in the first few weeks of its appearance on the shelves. This tended to guarantee strong early chart placings, thus garnering further radio play and the eventual translation to still higher sales courtesy of a wider non-fan audience. But in this instance the song was simply too immediate. It didn’t need the early attention of the Doc Martin brigade to boost it towards the top forty. What with appearing on Terry Wogan’s play-list and because of its soft-centered sound, undeniably catchy melody and well-mannered production there was no way this could miss the top ten. Indeed, it soon became a question of how long it would take to reach number one. In the event, it didn’t. It was kept off the ‘top spot’ by A Town Called Malice – with Marc Almond coming up behind. As they say.

Moving on swiftly, and before turning to have a gander at La Folie’s third single, we should pause at How to Find True Love and Hapiness in the Present Day. This ain’t half bad. Another one that could pass you by on first listen but which is pretty sweet. And then here we are at the closer and title track – a “song” about Issei Sagawa. Worst track on the LP for my money – don’t think I’ve ever sat all the way through it either. And sorry, what was the idea with following up Golden Brown with this? Commercial suicide, was it? Right, right. Fine – carry on. Pretend I never said anything.

corkieSep 15 20204.00 starsIndividuals…The Stranglers sixth studio album yielded their most famous song ‘Golden Brown’. Now the problem with this being their most famous song, is that Golden Brown appealed to everyone, including the masses who had and have no interest whatsoever in this fine band. ‘Golden Brown’ is a nice track but it probably wouldn’t make it in to my top 40 favourite The Stranglers tracks.

Up until the release of this album, The Stranglers had issued five very strong and very complete albums, and they had managed to evolve in to a very fine band which was both able and willing to evolve their sound away from the fairly basic new wave / rock music available on their first two classic studio albums. La Folie is poorly produced and includes some pretty poor stuff. I also have the sense of a few individuals recording this album rather than a more collective effort by the band.

There is some good and interesting stuff here, but really La Folie is only for completists (like me!).

Key Track: Let Me Introduce You To The Family

GARFIELDACRESMar 23 20173.50 starsAfter the disaster of ‘men in black’ this feels like the band getting back to what they do best. Tony Visconti’s mix takes the sound back to the early albums in spirit and the first half is a splendidly tight mix of bitter lyricism and tough new wave rock. ‘tramp’ ‘introducing the family’ and the powerful ‘the man they love to hate’ highlight this best and are among the groups best material of the era.

The second side goes more pop with ‘golden brown’ (never really planned as a single) being one of the biggest singles of the 80s, but ‘takes two to tango’ and the joy division like title track are all excellent.

WarthurOct 04 20124.00 starsA better than average release from the Stranglers’ New Wave era. This album includes the absolutely glorious Golden Brown plus 10 songs which, I’m sorry to say, don’t quite measure up to the standard set by the big hit. Still, they do make a good effort, and thanks to the prominent role played by keyboards from their inception the translation to a New Wave sound works better than it did for many other bands of their generation and their old punkish energy does erupt from time to time. I wouldn’t call it classic Stranglers but it’s certainly mildly unappreciated Stranglers that deserves another airing after all this time.

LejinkMay 21 20124.00 starsThis album finds the Stranglers bridging the powerhouse new-wave / punk rock of their early success with the metamorphosis to the altogether artier aspirations of their early 80’s material. Both styles seem to meet here, in an album of, for them, rare accessibility, produced by Bolan and Bowie mainman Tony Visconti.
In the former camp sit the storming „Tramp“, the latest in their sequence of single-word rampages („Grip“, „Tank“, „Duchess“), „Non Stop“ and „Pin Up“, while the latter are represented by surprise hit single „Golden Brown“ and the title track which obliquely deals with a contemporary, particularly gruesome and infamous cannibalistic slaughter of a young female in Paris, murder in the Rue Morgue, indeed.
Elsewhere, they engage spiky rhythms and riffs, often with darkly humorous lyrics, so that one way or another, all the songs get to you.
I consider this a misunderstood and under-appreciated album, not that would bother the tragically unhip Stranglers but for me this is one of the best to come out of the whole punk / new wave era.

MottTheWotFeb 19 20123.50 starsAfter the failure of Meninblack the Stranglers had to have a hit, they got one with Golden Brown.
La Folie is the beginning of the safe period in the Stranglers career, although why Tramp was never issued as a single is one of the mysteries of this groups career. Tramp was a top 10 single if ever i heard one.

the_bearMar 20 20113.50 starsThe album that contained Golden Brown which became their most famous song. In true Stranglers style though they followed it up with the non commercial title track instead of Tramp. Something Hugh Cornwell is still very bitter about according to his book!
A good album but not in the class of their best work.

CharlyF1954Mar 17 20113.50 starsA bit of curate’s egg of an album – The title track and Golden Brown are wonderful – some of the other tracks are not. Also as for the additional „bonus“ tracks – „Cocktail Nubiles“ rates as just about the worst track by anyone.

deucebagJul 14 20103.00 starsOther than two fine songs and a smattering of no more than 3 half decent tunes (Let Me Introduce You to the Family, Tramp and It Only Takes Two to Tango), this is below average.

However, the bonus tracks (Love 30, You hold the key to my love in your hands, Strange little girl) on the cd reissue are worth tracking down.

pshowisittoMar 08 20104.00 starsThe Stranglers are not often thought of as one of the premier bands of the new wave age but for some reason I really like them. If you are looking for their best output you should probably start here.

This is one of those releases of a band in the middle of a metamorphic phase that saw them abandoning their punk past (if you can call it that) for a more melodic sound. Although the big hit “Golden Brown” was ultra mellow the Stranglers still pack a punch here on biting tunes that are excellent like “The Man They Love to Hate”, “Tramp” and “Let Me Introduce You to the Family”. There are also some good pop songs (“Non Stop, and “Pin Up”). I am not a fan of the drawn out title cut sung in French but elsewhere there is a lot of good cuts here.

antonbildernJul 11 20094.00 starsJust like any album by The Stranglers, this is uneven and half forgetable. I once had it on vinyl and was a kind of „one-side album“. Side one was a waste of time (and plastic); side two was definitely the most sublime body of work of their entire career (plus the subliminal and creepy track „Waltzinblack“ from the previous album). Without side one this should have been the nicest EP of early eighties. „Non Stop“ and „Tramp“ are passable but the rest is pure garbage, lost in JJ Burnel’s soliloquies that recalls the dullest Lou Reed.

Yet side two is totally the opposite. From „Pin-Up“ to „La Folie“, diversity rules and the duality frantic/pensive hold us back the interest into an album that was a failure. „How to Find True Love and Hapiness in the Present Day“ has a retro cabaret dancehall quality submersed by Pink Floydian organs. „It Only Takes Two to Tango“ is Beach Boys à la 80’s and the harpsichord-driven „Golden Brown“ (another song about heroin? good grieve!) gave them a surprising world hit – dressed in waltz cloths!! Also the amazing title-track, „La Folie“, was an unexpected commercial sucess but here JJ Burnell is truly convincing by joining his french spoken soliloquy. „La Folie“ was to the eighties what „Soon“ by Yes was a decade earlier. And also sucessful. Bonus tracks from the CD edition: some are better than the album tracks, especially „Strange Little Girl“, strangely revoking The Doors.

troyscholesOct 08 20083.50 starsAfter the commercial failure of the ambitious Meninblack project EMI put the Stranglers under pressure to deliver a more commercial album. A commercial album indeed they got in the form of another concept deeply interesting to the band that was the idea of love. So, the likes of engineer Steve Churchyard and Tony Visconti at the mixing desk the band spent 3 weeks recording at the Manor near Oxford and subsequently additional mixing was done at the Good Earth Studios in London.

The La Folie tour in 1981 is one i never went to for i did not want to go on my own. But with glee i remember buying the album and my first impression was that the inside coverwork is similar to the inside cover work of the Raven album. On the other side is a drawing of a heart probably inspired by Hugh’s biology Phd background with all the contributors placed in various chambers, arteries and veins of this most important of human organs. Before i describe the tracks, La Folie is translated to mean the madness meaning that love can be an illusion and one that humanity does not recognize.

Non Stop

The love of God has more to give happiness to a Nun in a Nunnery than to pledge her troth to a mere mortal man. To a nun spiritual affection is better than physical passions of the flesh in her christian faith. This song could have easily been a single with the commercial strength of the music. Maybe the lyrics were too controversial for Liberty records to release it as a single. If God is a delusion it could be the biggest mistake mankind has ever made.

Everybody Loves You When Your Dead

Never a truer word has been uttered. For example, when Bobby Moore died everybody was mourning the great footballing hero erecting a statue at Wembley etc but where were the people when he was alive. Football could have been kinder to him after „Mooro“ retired form the game. Interestingly on the inside sleeve there is Che Guevara and John Lennon wearing their beret’s supplementing visually the idea of love when deceased.

Tramp

Another pop single in the making never understood why Tramp never hit the pop charts. A great chorus; uptempo, perfect hit in my opinion. How does a tramp find love? only in the call of the wild sings Hugh. Apparently JJ did talk other members of the band not to release this as a single how very strange of him. The song is all Hugh’s an autobiographical account of his less than adequate sartorial elegance when joining the band. Hugh the tramp. Good bass licks, keyboard interludes and glockenspiel by Jet.

Let Me Introduce You To The Family

A frenetic drum beat, busy bass and guitar strings brings a full sound to the first single release of La Folie. Media writers related the single to the Mafia with the single picture cover emblazoning the heads of an Italian/American family. The media assumption is true Hugh wanted to identify himself as a sibling in a family. Like the Mafia, the Strangers are an organisation that is true to itself.

Aint Nothing To It

An interesting character Milton Mezzrow was whose lyrics Hugh repeats to the sound of the Stranglers music. Milton was influenced by the Blues and on hearing Jazz he was transfixed and wanted to marry a coloured woman. So the lyrics i think are black slang words made up into sentences. God knows what they mean? Milton was a Jazz Clarinetist and Saxophonist he died in the early 1970s and had a habit of pushing drugs way back when. Again Jet provides good drums on the track.

The Man They Love To Hate

The first track to be spoken by JJ another uptempo number with thunderous tom tom drums. Jet has been credited by those in the know for his performance on La Folie. At the K Roq radio station in L.A this track has been played a lot at the time due to the horrid Programme Controllers ability to pay the stations staff pay cheques that bounced. Again true to life „the girls have fallen for the man they love to hate“ this lyric reminds me of the dominant male monkey conquering the trees from other male monkeys, the female monkeys avoid the dominant male but then after a while the female monkeys warm to the victor.

Pin Up

Another potential single that was’nt a statement of teenage affection with the opposite sex in the form of pictures on the bedroom wall. A famous example being the Marilyn Monroe photograph of her keeping her dress down as the wind blew up her legs. The group in self production showed their ability to make perfect pop songs seem quite effortless.

It Only Takes Two To Tango

This is a lyric sang by both JJ and Hugh simultaneously a typical intuitive keyboard style and vocals altering pitch to falsetto from the normal baritone. They never sang this song much live because of the difficulty of maintaining the high pitch in the vocal. It is a song about political bickering in the coldwar between then a super power the Soviet Union and the good ol USA.

Golden Brown

After many plays of the album i would not have thought that Golden Brown would be the most successful single they ever released. How strange is life. In an interview JJ would not reveal what Golden Brown meant! The common consensus is Golden Brown is another word for heroin. The song is dominated by a harpsichord that waltzes always familiar on hearing the tune. Hugh does not come in with his guitar solo until the bridge and Jet comes in with subtle cymbals in the second verse. On the video JJ is playing a proper double bass. Enough said.

How to Find true Love and Happiness in the Present day

The Stranglers being philisophical with Hugh talking through this song. Could have been inspired by a conversation Hugh had that happiness is given to the person that makes others happy. Like a comedian performing to an audience recieves happiness by making the galleries laugh. Does a man that spends most of his time earning great loads of cash really enjoy his life when he has no time to enjoy spending the money. There is a lot of truth lyrically in this long titled song.

La Folie

To me this was an odd choice for a single but JJ pushed it and got his way. Suffices to say, La Folie did not do as well as Golden Brown in the charts. But the music is beautiful and the French spoken lyrics reminded me of Serge Gainsbourg „ala je tieme“ fame with co-singer Jane Birkin. A famous analogy of the Kings new clothes were two undesirables sold the King an invisible suit.The King stark bollock naked strutting around his courteers saying „how do like my new clothes“, convinced he is wearing them. The moot point is there is no such thing as love thought Jet in the early 1980s anyway.

Im going to rate La Folie 3.5 i would like to give it 3.75 to me it is a better album than Aural Scupture but not as good as No More Heroes.The website does not do give out 3.75s. There is a lot of potential commercial radio friendly singles not noticed such as Non Stop, Pin Up, Tramp which i believe would have charted. Dont forget 1981-82 was arguably the peak of their sales output. Furthermore, La Folie is polished and self produced with the added eye of a famous producer Visconti that was a refreshing listen after MIB with intelligent philisophical propositions of the theory of the concept love. Added with under credited great drumming from Jet Black whose front room lay bare to initial development of these songs. I think Liberty got what they wanted with Golden Brown’s success being the ultimate surprize.

JaimeDoeMay 26 20084.50 starsIn my experience, the most intelligent band of the 80´s pop scene. Everything in this album sounds cult, that Antonioni´s „Blow Up“ type of cult. Mysterious, psychedelic, obscure, strange, danzable, entertaining for the ear…
Franz Ferdinand did a good job of style thievery here.

One of my favorite „running“ albums, along with Triffids „Calenture“.

MackDaddyDec 23 20074.00 starsLa Folie is the Stranglers last good album, being something of a return to the punkier sounds of 1977 mixed in with the band becoming better musicians along the way. Tramp was a live favourite of the time, though Golden Brown was the hit – and remains one of the few waltzes to ever go top 5 – and the highlight for many, the staccato chimes of Let Me Introduce You To The Family and the knowing world-weariness of How To Find True Love and Happiness etc (is this the worlds no 1 Album With Long Song Titles?) remain cherished memories of mine to this day, along with The Man They Love To Hate, the closing bars of which always remind me of the musical equivalent of doing a 400 metre hurdle.

JJ Burnel does the vocals in French to the title track, something about a Japanese bloke who killed his girl and eat her I think, an amusing song which is all the better for the Gallic prose. Only the sappy Milton Mezzrow thing Ain’t Nothing To It lets the proceedings down.

Funny postscript: When I went into the record shop on the Saturday after its release, it was £3.99. „Great, let’s get the paper round money and buy it on Monday“, says me. Bunking off school on Monday, the bastards had put the price up to £4.25, meaning a wait of another five days before purchase could be made. An early introduction into capitalism and the impact of inflation on the free market economy for this then-fifteen year old.

cptmissonAug 17 20075.00 starsThis is a masterpiece. A very special one. Let Me Introduce You to the Family never fails to amaze me and i listen to it since 81.

GrampusJul 15 20073.50 starsAfter the strange interlude that was The Meninblack, The Stranglers returned with an album of no nonsense pop without the trappings of either punk or garage rock. It includes their biggest selling single, „Golden Brown“, itself an irony given it would surely have been slapped with a ban if only the men in suits had realised it extolled the joys of smack!

This is a loosely connected concept album based on the theme of love as a form of madness or La Folie. Love of family, of God, of crime, of money, of drugs. They even find a place for cannibalism – although that fact would have been lost to most as the title track is sung in French. Given its unconventional, to say the least, subject matter it is also one of the tenderest songs the band ever wrote.

La Folie is the album that spans the band’s early forays into pub/punk/garage rock and their later dabbling with Europop rhythms and beats. Given that, it can sometimes sound awkward and forced, as if the band themselves are uncomfortable with the transition – „Ain’t Nothin’ To It“ and „It Only Takes Two To Tango“ being prime examples. But, when they get it right, they get it right.

There has been speculation that „Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead“ was written about John Lennon but I prefer to view it as a generalised comment on the cult of personality and the veneration of the dead. Either way it’s a great track and is matched by „Non Stop“, „Pin Up“ and, especially, „The Man They Love To Hate“. But it’s the title track itself that I always come back to with this album. The strangely seductive French vocal, the surprisingly outspoken bass and the wonderfully trippy guitar and keyboard. If it wasn’t on this album you’d have a hard time identifying it as The Stranglers. And it’s tracks like this that I always point out to people when they’re moaning about how The Stranglers aren’t The Stranglers anymore. They’ve always been different for chrissakes!

So La Folie may not be the first album on people’s lips when asked to name their favourite but it is a milestone in the band’s development and it is a very good example of their work.

bagsmagMay 14 20074.00 starsOk, I just had to mention this.

Whilst „Aint Nothing To It“ is not a great song, it is an early homage to the early rap scene which was just rearing it’s ugly head in NYC round about the time of La Folies release.

I remember at the time, when the band were interviewed, thinking „What the fuck are they on about, rap music bollocks!“. You see, Hugh Cornwell always cracked on about how they were ahead of their time. And in this case they were. Only in a very shit way.

So there you go!

MarkiesCarabApr 14 20073.50 starsI’m not sure about this album, there’s a significant amount of filler on it, but it also has a strange, dark atmosphere which works quite well. The big hit Golden Brown, Let Me Introduce You to the Family, How To Find… (yeah, I’m not gonna type all those long titles), La Folie and especially The Man They Love to Hate are the highlights. The rest is not so good, Ain’t Nothin’ To It is the worst Stranglers-song I heard so far, hopefully I’ll never hear it again.

DohertyClashJan 18 20074.00 starsThe title track (sung in French) is incredibly good. This album is very good, but I prefer „The Raven“. Anyway, incredible.

steinibOct 01 20063.50 starsTheir first „pop“ album. A crossover moment where slick melodies meet leftover punk. Many classic moments, not to mention „Golden Brown“. „La Folie“ is my favourite track. Reminds me of the sinister ballads Nick Cave wrote for „Tender Prey“ (Slowly Goes the Night and Watching Alice). Masterful.

Despite many shining peaks, this album is too unfocused to be enjoyable as a whole. Some may welcome the recklessness of the album but to me the whole of the album sounds too chaotic and messy to rise above the individual tracks.

MogsDec 22 20045.00 starsFantastic album loosely hung on the concept of „Love“, „La Folie“ sees the Meninblack throwing off their punk leanings once and for all and embracing their Euro-Pop sensibilities. Greenfield is the driving force of this album, his melodic passages are fantastic, with „Non Stop“, „How to find true love & happiness“ & of course „Golden Brown“ highlights. Also, „Let me introduce you to the family“ quite simply has the finest middle-eight ever commited to vinyl.

lulleDec 01 20044.00 starsTheir most accessible record since _No More Heroes_. The records theme is supposed to be love, but it’s love from TheMenInBlacks’s angle – „The Man They Love To Hate“, „Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead „, „La Folie“(about a Japanese student who killed and ate his girlfriend), „Golden Brown“(the love of heroin), „Let Me Introduce You To The Family“(about the love in the Mafia family) …
Hugh’s guitar sounds particularly nice on this record – listen to his fills on the title track & the JJ sung masterpiece „The Man They Love To Hate“
If I should say something negative, it should be Dave Greenfields awful ’80s synth. Not on every track, but here & there it sounds crap – especially on the otherwise superb „Tramp“

Harmonica23Nov 02 20035.00 starsFirst off I’m not a fan of The Stranglers by any means, the misses seem to outweigh the hits from my experience, but _La Folie_ is a truly wonderful exception. I actually picked this album up years and years ago in a cut-out tape bin at long since non-existent department store. I managed to loose the tape somehow, either left behind in one of my many moves or sold for gas and provisions money, and over time forgot all about it. The other day I was over at fellow RYMer and music freak extraordinaire bnoring’s house checking out his latest buys and noticed he had one of the later Stranglers albums and that got me thinking about my long lost copy of _La Folie_. Let’s just say I quickly obtained a copy and was instantly reunited, and it felt so good.

_La Folie_ is the kind of album all British „punk“ bands should have made after the demise of the movement. Dark, dirty, poppy, heart felt, and dreary all mixed into a thirty some minute disk you’ll keep in the player for days. This would be the part of the review where I tell you what the standout tracks are but I’m afraid it can’t be done, They’re all top shelf.

I’m sure with the interest of post punk Brit bands being how it is these days, this albums has been reissued with bonus tracks, re-mastering and all that good stuff. Even if your like me and could give a hoot less about The Stranglers, _La Folie_ is one to be had.

https://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the-stranglers/la-folie/

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Hugh Cornwell: ‘˜We’re gonna do The Stranglers till they put the lights up’

HUGH Cornwell caused a stir in 1990 when he left the band he had co-founded, The Stranglers.

By The NewsroomThursday, 15th November 2018

Since then he has forged a successful solo career and released some excellent albums such as Hooverdam.

He has now just released a brand new album, entitled Monster, which he is taking out on the road.

“The album started out with a song about my mother, who passed away a few years ago. She had never had a song written about her and then I thought that there were other people who haven’t had a song written about them,” says Cornwell.

For example?

“Evel Knievel for one, remember him? And there’s a jazz musician called Mose Allison, he was so good they called him ‘the musician’s musician’. And it just went on from there.”

The album has not been out long, is he proud of it?

Cornwell laughs. “No, I hate it. No, you don’t put two years of work into something and not like it. It’s much better than Hooverdam. It’s more complete.”

Many people have said that it’s the best album Cornwell has done in years.

“Well,” he says, “that’s not for me to say, but there’s been quite a few good reviews already.”

But he won’t be playing the whole album on the tour.

“No, I’m not going to play it all, maybe about half of it, mixed in with some songs from my solo career.

“That’s the first half. The show is going to be in two halves – and all electric. I’ve done a lot of acoustic shows in the last few years, but not this tour.”

Cornwell has a new band behind him.

“I’ve got a drummer who has worked with me in the past, and a bassist. Funnily enough, they are both from Guildford (where The Stranglers were formed), who would have thought I’d have a band from Guildford?” he quips.

“These guys sing like angels and we’ve done a few shows opening for Wilko Johnson.”

So we know about the first half of the show, what about the second?

“We’re gonna do The Stranglers till they put the lights up. We’re gonna ram The Stranglers down your throat.”

Cornwell says he’ll be playing all the big hits by the band: No More Heroes, Peaches, Nice And Sleazy and of course Golden Brown.

Cornwell takes up the story.

“Just like the show, the album is also in two parts, as there is a second disc of Stranglers songs done acoustically.

“Some of the songs, like No More Heroes, work really well, but certainly not all – and there’ll be no acoustic songs on this tour.”

And Cornwell is looking forward to getting out on tour again.

“Absolutely,” he enthuses, “it’s gonna be great.”

Hugh Cornwell and his band play at Fibbers, York on Saturday November 17.

http://www.hughcornwell.com

https://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/arts-and-culture/hugh-cornwell-were-gonna-do-stranglers-till-they-put-lights-216118

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