„First attempt transformed for a band that the history of music has long underestimated but which is still present….“
Tied in 1974, The Stranglers released their first album ´´Rattus Norvegicus´´ (the Latin name of the rat, which will be one of their symbols) in 1977, a symbolic date for the punk movement in which they will play a strong part. Nevertheless, the Stranglers distinguished themselves from their punk colleagues: they were much older (the keyboardist had a pretty moustache), some had studied (Hugh Cornwell, the singer prepared a thesis on biochemistry at Lund University) and most knew how to play their instruments correctly (Dave Greenfield, a self-taught musician, had a long career on the road in his early days).
In terms of ideas, the provocative spirit of punk was well anchored in their texts to the point of making them look like a sexist group. Only 27 seconds after the listener had put his vinyl on the turntable, these words resounded: “Someday, I’m gonna smack your face“, a declaration of punk love to a muse you wish to beat until she faints (“Sometimes“). Submissive object (the ´Choosey Suzie´ bonus), even good meat to devour (‘Peaches’,’London Lady’) or even to strangle (‘Ugly’), the woman has the Baudelaireian ambivalence. It can also be Beauty on the sidewalk, a formidable bewitch (‘Princess of the Streets’). Nevertheless, the group is already going beyond this provocation for a pronounced taste for occultism (“Goodbye Toulouse“ which speaks of the destruction of the pink city as Nostradamus had announced), or even philosophical and social songs (‘Ugly’).
The composition of the songs is often based on the same principle: one of the four instruments introduces and is gradually joined by the others who play at full speed. Burnel’s bass rumbles, fulminates, while Cornwell’s guitar has a bluesy hint and Jet Black’s drums seem to be very much influenced by jazz. But it is Dave Greenfield’s keyboards, influenced by Ray Manzarek, that will give this unique sound, inviting the band to some sound explorations beyond punk, like when they break the loop structure of this porn rap loop song“Peaches“.
Because this album is almost progressive: one of the jewels of Down in the Sewer, which counts the sexual misadventures of a Londoner in the sewers dreaming of creating a rat empire, counts more than 7 minutes and is articulated around many soli. The alternation of the choice of singing is also welcome. It is not difficult to imagine Hugh Cornwell singing, his mouth full of morgue and his cold eye Get a grip on yourself, freezing his listener with unjustified hatred. Jean-Jacques Burnel’s voice is more violent and frontal, capable of evolving between hatred (‘London Lady’) and a semblance of blues tenderness (‘Princess of the Streets’) but sometimes has difficulty marrying these words in connivance with the music (the overwritten but jubilant“Ugly’).
First attempt transformed for a band that the history of music has long underestimated but which is still present today…. Without Hugh Cornwell, however.
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02. Goodbye Toulouse
03. London Lady
04. Princess Of The Streets
05. Hanging Around
07. (get A) Grip (on Yourself)
09. Down In The Sewer
10. Choosey Susie (bonus)
11. Go Buddy Go (bonus)
12. Peasant In The Big Shitty (bonus)
Dave Greenfield: Claviers / Chant Sur Peasant In A Big Shitty
Hugh Cornwell: Chant / Guitares
Jean-Jacques Burnel: Chant / Basse
Jet Black: Batterie