The Stranglers / Here and There: The Epic B-sides compilation

 03 NOV 2014



A new Stranglers collection will be released in the UK later this month that compiles the band’s B-sides from the Epic Years (1983-1991).

The 40-track collection – which was available in some territories earlier this year – spans two CDs and includes the saga of ‘Vladimir’ which featured on a few different singles back in the day.

Interestingly – a bit of inside information for you – I proposed a Stranglers ‘Remixes & Rarities’ for Cherry Red last year that contained much of this plus various single remixes, but it was rejected by the band’s management. Oh well.

Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection will be available on 17 November 2014.

Product description

As part of The Stranglers’ celebration of their Ruby Anniversary, the definitive collection of the B-side recordings they made whilst signed to Epic is released for the first time, via their own label. Appropriately, as befits a band marking forty years together, Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection 1983-1991 gathers 40 tracks across 2CDs and is also released as a 40 track digital package. The Stranglers released no less than 13 singles in the UK during this period, which saw them produce five albums: four studio and one live. The Stranglers signed to Epic Records in 1982 having been with United Artists / Liberty since 1977. The change of label coincided with changes in marketing policy across the UK industry – often dubbed „“the Frankie Goes To Hollywood effect““. Previously, The Stranglers’ had released only one 12″“ single – an extended version of Bear Cage in 1980 – but from 2nd Epic single, Midnight Summer Dream until 1990, each release had a 12″“ version which required extra studio or, increasingly, live tracks to „“add value““ to the package. Other formats such as picture discs (shaped and standard) were also released, followed by CD singles, 7″“ EPs and, occasionally, the much unloved cassette single. Fortunately, this was a fertile period for the band and their creative output was more than able to satisfy the demands of their label’s marketing department. Consequently, there is a rich crop of tracks from which this compilation has been gathered. CD1 comprises 20 studio tracks. It contains a large number of songs which could have graced any of their albums or, indeed, potentially been A-sides themselves. As ever with The Stranglers, the songs from this time feature either Jean-Jacques Burnel or Hugh Cornwell as the lead vocalist and draw from intriguing and typically broad subject matter, such as faltering relationships (Instead of This, In One Door), girls (You, Since You Went Away), vulnerability (Achilles Heel), a post-Golden Brown anti-drugs stance (Head On The Line), the French CRS riot police (Permission), Paris (Hot Club, Place de Victoires), word play (Savage Breast, Poisonality), the then-new scourge of Aids (Dry Day), homosexuality (Norman Normal), photographers (Hit Man), psychedelia (Pawsher) self-mocking (Motorbike), tongue-in-cheek (Aural Sculpture Manifesto) the birth of a child (Something) and Europe, in the track which gives the album it’s sub-title, Here & There – although their lyrics were never quite that straightforward and are often wrapped in double meaning…

CD2 includes eleven top-notch live tracks sequenced in order of their recording between 1985 and 1990, rather than the order in which they were originally released. This clearly demonstrates the progression of the band’s live sound from the acoustic guitar-driven era of the mid-80s on cuts like Midnight Summer Dream/European Female, and Souls, (all recorded in France; always a key market), whilst documenting this as the period when they recorded and toured with a brass section, heard here on songs including Uptown and Peaches and cataloguing landmark headline shows at the 1987 Reading Festival (Strange Little Girl & Who Wants The World) and London’s Alexandra Palace in August, 1990 (Always The Sun, Nuclear Device, All Day & All of The Night, Punch & Judy), where the latter track holds the dubious disctinction of being the last song Hugh Cornwell performed live with the original band line-up. Four of the B-sides from the 13 singles revolved around a fictional character known as Vladimir Andropyournosin, a lecturer in sub-nucleonic particle physics in Moscow, which, at that time, was still deep within communist USSR. Conceived in the style of a cartoon and effectively ‘stories put to music’, The Complete Chronicles of Vladimir are released together here in sequence for the first time. The six-track saga, which takes the listener to Odessa, the Urals, Siberia, Afghanistan, the GDR, Cuba and Mexico is completed by the second installment, Vladimir & Sergei, originally an album track from Dave Greenfield & JJ Burnel’s 1983 side-project, Fire & Water and a final part – for the moment, at least – Vladimir & The Pearl, which is previously unreleased either on CD or digitally.

Whilst the flip sides of many artists’ singles from that period were throw-away and instantly forgettable, Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection 1983-1991 provides a timely opportunity to both re-visit and re-evaluate one of Britain’s most prolific, undervalued and important bands. It may be a surprise to some as to just how strong a body of work this is; possibly helping to give some insight as to why they have been the most unlikely of survivors. As such, there will be something for everyone here. As the band mark their 40th, it is appropriate that Here & There: The Epic B-sides Collection 1983-1991 comes now, as it falls on another anniversary: 20 years after its release was originally „“confirmed““ in the pages of the band’s own in-house magazine, Strangled, (Vol 2, No 40, Nov 1993). „“It will definitely be out in 1994…““ promised the editorial. So to say it is „“eagerly anticipated““ is probably an understatement to anyone who hadn’t given up all hope. The album was re-mastered from the original source tapes in London in early February, 2014.

Track listing

Disc: 1
1. Here and There
2. In One Door
3. Since You Went Away
4. You
5. Instead of This
6. Head On the Line
7. Achilles Heel
8. Permission
9. Norman Normal
10. Dry Day
11. Savage Breast
12. Hit Man
13. Poisonality
14. Something
15. Pawsher
16. Motorbike
17. Hot Club
18. Place de Victoires
19. Burnham Beeches
20. Aural Sculpture Manifesto

Disc: 2
1. Midnight Summers Dream/European Female
2. Shakin’ Like a Leaf
3. Uptown
4. Souls
5. Was It You
6. Strange Little Girl
7. Who Wants the World
8. Peaches
9. Straighten Out
10. Always the Sun
11. Nuclear Device
12. All Day & All of the Night
13. Punch & Judy
14. Hot Club
15. Vladimir & Olga
16. Vladimir & Sergei
17. Vladimir & the Beast (Part III)
18. Vladimir Goes to Havana
19. !Viva Vlad!
20. Vladimir & the Pearl

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