Written in Red

Cover art for Written in Red by The Stranglers
ArtistThe Stranglers
Released27 January 1997
RYM Rating2.80 / 5.0 from 108 ratings
Ranked#1,393 for 1997
GenresPop Rock

Track listing

  • 1Valley of the Birds3:15
  • 2In Heaven She Walks3:48
  • 3In a While3:19
  • 4Silver Into Blue3:28
  • 5Blue Sky3:40
  • 6Here4:21
  • 7Joy De Viva3:39
  • 8Miss You3:51
  • 9Daddy’s Riding the Range4:19
  • 10Summer in the City3:26
  • 11Wonderful Land3:39
  • Total length: 40:45
  • All tracks written by The Stranglers, except „Summer in the City“ by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian, and Steve Boone.



Parr Street Studios, The Greenhouse, Gemini Studios, Intimate Studios.
Mixed at September Sound, Matrix Studios, Greenhouse Studios.

Additional musicians

  • Dave Billows – vocals


  • Andy Gill – production, mixing (5, 9)
  • Cenzo Townsend – additional production, engineering assistance, mixing (1, 2, 4–11)
  • Mike ‘Spike’ Drake – mixing (3)
  • Jock Loveband – engineering
  • Peter Schweir – engineering
  • Pete Woodruff – engineering
  • Chris Madden – engineering
  • Mitsou Tate – engineering assistance, additional programming
  • Andrea Wright – engineering assistance
  • Gordon Vicary – mastering
  • Trevor Dawkins – equipment co-ordination
  • Ichiro Kono – photography
  • Joe Wright – design, direction

Matt_KOct 25 2021 Do you like The Smiths? Do you wish they had reformed and recorded a new album in the 90s? Particularly if it didn’t involve financially encouraging Morrisey? Then you might be interested in the Stranglers’ 13th studio album, where they suddenly turn into a tribute act to the Manchester bedsit perennials. Paul Roberts has always had a bit of Mozza to his voice, but on songs such as the fetching, jangly-guitar fest of In Heaven She Walks, it comes off as an intentional impersonation. I don’t mind though because as Smiths karaoke goes it’s pretty good; from the fast-paced, witty Valley Of The Birds to the moody, subtle In A While, the ageing Stranglers are showing a surprisingly with-it grasp of contemporary hipster rock. Not everything works – Blue Sky is obvious and plodding with an ugly mechanized beat, while the cover of Summer In The City is FUCKING AWFUL. Yet on balance the album’s decent, featuring both catchy should-have-been-hits in Silver Into Blue and deeper cuts like the moving, beautifully sung Here. It’s a step down from the more consistent About Time, but Written In Red is still a decent piece of pop-rock that deserved better than being totally ignored.

Turkey_BeardDec 17 20203.00 starsJJ Burnel’s memorable description of this era in Stranglers history is that ‘it wasn’t a band anymore, just John and Paul and a guy with Protools’. Written in Red is undoubtedly the album where the artistic grip of new boys John Ellis and Paul Roberts was at its firmest.

The predominant sound is still new wave-y pop rock, but the album has a spacious, echoey feel with ‘cinematic’ production flourishes putting things on a much more overtly ‘90s’ footing than before. It all sounds and feels as though they were going for an alternative adult contemporary sort of thing, or a little bit like what I know of 90s Duran Duran. The best songs are the opening tracks – ‘Valley of the Birds’ proves all of the Ellis albums could pull off at least one good solid rocker, and ‘In Heaven She Walks’ is an absolutely splendid uplifting pop song that is tied with ‘Face’ from About Time as the crowning gem of the Ellis years. Everything else pretty much blends together, aside from the occasional moody, spikier piece like ‘Here’ or ‘Daddy’s Riding the Range’.

It’s listenable enough as an album, but generally best if you can learn to appreciate it being an expression of Ellis and Roberts as an artistic partnership in its own right rather than getting too hung up on it bearing The Stranglers’ name. This is mood music for some vaguely hip London coffee shop on a wet afternoon during the Britpop era.

JonPunkFeb 05 20192.50 starsImproves with ageThe funny thing here is I hated this for many years , listened to it 3 times at most up to 2012 ……. while it hasn’t grown into a classic , its not that bad really .
There are a few decent tracks mixed with average filler , but it sounds fresh even now , production is actually quite good . What detracted was the 3 original members seemed to have no influence or interest in this album and it shows . It was listening to the very poor “ Giants “ though that actually made me realise that WIR isn’t that bad . Its really an Ellis -Roberts project , but it has aged fairly well and is listenable now nearly 20 years later .

alk0Apr 01 20142.00 starsThis album is so limp and lifeless (apart from „Valley of the Birds“ which I liked) that I wanted to give it a kick in the ass and tell it „Get a grip on yourself!“

GrampusApr 13 20122.50 starsThere must come a time in any walk of life when you know it’s time to pack it all in – much as I love The Stranglers Written In Red suggested that time had come. If they wanted to continue touring and living off the glories of their back catalogue then fine, but to dilute their reputation by releasing inferior products was doing no-one any good. I don’t believe the problem could be wholly attributed to the loss of Hugh Cornwell as his solo output is best described as patchy and In The Night, the band’s first album without him, saw them close to their best. But with About Face and now Written In Red there was a distinct lack of ideas.

What can best be described as an atmosphere of lassitude seems to have settled on the remaining members, as if they were trapped in a cycle of endless recording from which they couldn’t escape, but had no longer the appetite. Greenfield’s keyboards singularly fail to set the spine tingling, Black’s drumming sounds muffled and Brunel’s bass has lost the ability to vibrate the stomach lining. Paul Roberts continues to mellifluously croon while John Ellis (probably better known for his time in The Vibrators) provides solid, rather than histrionic, support on guitar. All of which means Written In Red is an apt title for an album which sounds as though it was forcefully squeezed out.

The opening of the album is certainly misleading. „Valley Of The Birds“, „In Heaven She Walks“ and „In A While“ would never make a greatest hits collection and are missing The Stranglers trademark belligerence but, as pop music goes, they’re engaging enough. Continue in this vein and, while not exactly a Stranglers album, Written In Red might have held the interest. Instead the likes of „Silver Into Blue“, „Here“ and „Miss You“ are typical of the malaise affecting the band. I grew up loving an aggressive, in your face outfit but, over the years, they’ve morphed into the kind of grouchy old men who sit at the bar in your local whinging into their beer without any real purpose. „Joy De Viva“ shows slightly more sign of life, while The Lovin’ Spoonful’s „Summer In The City“ gets a so-so lazy drawl makeover. The real oddity is „Daddy’s Riding The Range“ which to my ears keeps threatening to break into Fleetwood Mac’s „Rhiannon“.

When a band you’ve grown up with and followed over many years begins to unravel it’s akin to losing a friend. Thankfully The Stranglers more recent releases have seen a resurgence of form. If they’d continued in the vein of Written In Red I’d be donning a black tie and buying a wreath.

jyrkiprJan 01 20093.50 starsTwo songs what are reason to heard this album:
valley of the birds and Summer in the city (fantastic cover).

Babe_N_CoMar 17 20032.50 starsJoyless Thrill
I don’t know when exactly The Stranglers turned into a pop band – I think it was happening gradually – but Written in Red is all the way through cheap pop music written in grey. „I always seem to meet you in such unexpected places in scenes that drift together with some strange attraction your style is always painted on a world of faces I’ll always look for you in unexpected places I can’t deny the perfect kind. And we’ll always be bound to be lost. In heaven she walks“. It’s time to come down to earth.


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