Thanks again for all the feedback after the initial part of this series.

The Top 10 of the singles chart in the final week of February 1983 was a very strange mix.  Michael Jackson, Bonnie Tyler, Kajagoogoo and Toto were in the top four places, but underneath all of that, you would find:-

mp3: Eurythmics – Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (#5)
mp3: Tears For Fears – Change (#7)
mp3: Madness – Tomorrow’s Just Another Day (#8)
mp3: Fun Boy Three – Tunnel Of Love (#10)

For the sake of completeness, Musical Youth and The Thomson Twins made up the remainder of the Top 10.   There were also a couple of very interesting singles entering the chart a bit lower down, but they’ll be part of next month’s story.

I didn’t think to look at the album charts last time round, mainly on the basis that I reckoned the month of January would be skewed by the unusual sales activity that occurs every festive period.  As it turned out, I actually missed that Feline, the Stranglers seventh studio album, had been released in the second week in January and had gone into the charts at #4.  The album had been preceded, in late 1992, by this single:-

mp3: The Stranglers – European Female

Nobody realised it at the time, but Feline would be the last of their albums to reach the Top 10 and that European Female would be just about their last original single to reach the Top 20.  Up until now it had been continuous success for The Stranglers going back to 1977, but their commercial and critical peaks had now been scaled.


THE TVV 2022/2023 FESTIVE SERIES (Part 17)


I bought a second-hand CD a long time ago, specifically for the purposes of having a bit of fun on the blog, and I’ve decided to use the normally quiet festive period, when the traffic and number of visitors drops quite dramatically, to go with it.

The CD was issued in 1996.  It is called Beat On The Brass, and it was recorded by The Nutley Brass, the brains of whom belong to New York musician Sam Elwitt.

The concept behind the album is simple. Take one bona-fide punk/post-punk/new wave classic and give it the easy listening treatment.

There are 18 tracks on the CD all told.  Some have to be heard to be believed.

Strap yourselves in.

mp3: The Nutley Brass – No More Heroes

And, just so you can appreciate the magnificence (or otherwise) of the renditions, you’ll also be able to listen to the original versions as we make our way through the CD in random order.

mp3: The Stranglers – No More Heroes

Released as a single in September 1977.

The 18th and final part of the series will be with you next Monday.



The traffic to the blog slows up over the Festive period, and it’s therefore something of an opportunity to take a bit of a breather.

Over a period of 26 days, I’ll be posting a single never previously featured on its own before – it might have sneaked in as part of an ICA or within a piece looking at various tracks – with the idea of an edited cut’n’paste from somewhere (most likely wiki) and then all the songs from either the vinyl or CD.

S is for Something Better Change and Straighten Out, released by The Stranglers as a double-A single in July 1977.

We can argue all day and all night whether The Stranglers should be seen as a bona-fide punk outfit, or whether they were lucky grubby pub rockers who happened to be in the right city at the right time.  I liked a lot of their singles, although I reckon if I’d been a few years older and more politically/culturally/socially aware, I’d have been appalled by some of their lyrics.  As it was, the tunes got inside my head and the shout-along style of the vocals was nigh on perfect for any teenager looking to annoy their parents and teachers!

mp3: The Stranglers – Something Better Change
mp3: The Stranglers – Straighten Out

This made it all the way to #9 in July 1977. Something Better Change was the first single lifted from the album No More Heroes, released two months later. Straighten Out didn’t appear on the album.



I went onto Discogs recently to pick up a decent second-hand copy of this #9 chart single from 1977, specifically to have it included in this weekly series where a piece of vinyl is put onto the now year-old turntable and put through a wee bit of chicanery to come out at a higher rip than is normally offered up.

mp3: The Stranglers – No More Heroes

The least you could do is give it a listen…..(at this point author should insert winking emoji…..)

No More Heroes was further evidence that the positively ancient Stranglers weren’t really a punk or new wave band, no matter how much the PR folk at United Artists would like to have you believe.  Yes, the pace and energy of the song had a fair bit in common with their younger contemporaries, but the extended organ solo, courtesy of Dave Greenfield (RIP), brings more than a hint of prog-rock elements to the proceedings, in much the same way as Dave Formula did with the recent offerings from Magazine.

The thing is, it has somehow managed to age much better than many other singles from the era, testament in part to the way the band wrote the song, but also to the production skills of Martin Rushent, who would go on to weave his magic with many others but none more successfully than The Human League and the multi-million selling, Dare.



I’ve often thought that The Stranglers would be very worthy of an ICA or to be a band on whom there should be a specific series looking at the 45s over the years…well, the period from 1977 to 1983 with maybe the occasional later single also worthy of praise. But I’ve never quite got round to either…..

In lieu of that, I thought it would be worth giving an airing to what I think, with the benefit of hindsight, is their most enduring few minutes of vinyl:-

mp3 : The Stranglers – Duchess

The Stranglers had been prolific in their output since 1977. They had enjoyed a run of Top 20 singles while releasing three albums that had all gone Top 5.

The thing is, The Stranglers were not and never had been a punk outfit. The reliance on keyboards and the bass lines being at the forefront of their sound had always laid bare their pub roots which they wrapped around various punk attitudes such as aggression, violence and confrontation. They were older and more experienced than most and they hadn’t, till this point, really worried about what folk said or wrote about them, but seeing punk’s metamorphosis into new wave, and that many of their peers and contemporaries were getting rich, seemed to bring about a change of attitude.

Duchess was released on 10 August 1979. That’s 39 years ago which is a truly terrifying realisation. This was an era when lead singles were an important precursor to what was to follow on a subsequent album and this 45 had a few folk scratching their head as it is power-pop at its purest, tailor-made for daytime radio with its catchy verses and chorus striding a colossus of a tune which is perfectly produced to allow all four members to demonstrate their playing abilities. And at two-and-a-half minutes in length, with an immediate beginning and no-fade ending, it enabled producers to have their DJs slip it in at any point in a show when there was a need to make up some time from the news, adverts or a bit of idle chat leading to a potential overrun. It should have been massive….and yet it only reached #14.

The general public, clearly, still wasn’t ready to embrace The Stranglers but things weren’t helped by the UK tabloid newspapers taking aim at the band, labelling them as blasphemous thanks to them dressing up as choirboys for the promo video, from which a still was used as the sleeve.

It was all the proverbial water off a duck’s back for the men in black, but it must have been galling for the record label as countless sales were lost with some of the chain stores refusing to put the sleeve on display. It really was a non-story turned into something…..and it shows how easily offended some folk were back in those days.

Worth noting that the American label, keen to avoid a similar controversy, issued the single in a completely different sleeve.

Here’s yer reasonable enough, Stranglers-by-numbers, b-side.

mp3 : The Stranglers – Fools Rush Out



It was Jonny the Friendly Lawyer who took on the tough task of compiling an ICA for The Stranglers. He did an excellent job that incorporated familiar material (hit singles) and some album tracks whose worthiness was articulated eloquently by a true fan.

JTFL is, as we all now know, something of a dab hand as a bassist and so it really is something of a surprise that he left this off his ICA:-

mp3 : The Stranglers – Nice ‘n’ Sleazy

It was the band’s sixth single, released in the UK in April 1978.

This was a period in which they had released three hit albums – Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black and White – in a little over a year, It was also a time, however, when some elements of the music press, and indeed a number of their peers in the punk/new wave movement, were creating something of a backlash with accusations of misogyny and racism being levelled at the band.

It wasn’t easy to dismiss such accusations with evidence such as some live shows being accompanied by strippers doing their act while the band played. But those who championed the band said that such gestures and some of the provocative stuff being said in interviews was satirical rather than serious and that they were actually doing everyone a favour by bringing certain issues to wider attention. It’s not the most convincing of defences and there’s no doubt that if the sort of social media we have today had been around in the late 70s then The Stranglers would most likely have not enjoyed any sort of mainstream success as record labels and promoters would have been terrified of being caught up in any angry backlash.

It didn’t help matters with the image chosen to adorn the sleeve of the new single. It was the picture of what was clearly a female murder victim and although it was impossible to determine the cause of death from the image, the fact that the ‘The Stranglers’ was printed underneath the image and the reverse had the words ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ and ‘Shut Up’ beneath what could accurately be described as ‘drawings of the accused in court’, felt a bit tasteless to say the least.

The three and bit minutes of vinyl on the other hand were extremely tasty. It’s driven along initially by the most hooky of hooky bass lines in which Jean-Jacques Burnel confirmed he was the worthy winner of the title of best four-string player of the punk world; I’ve no doubt that JTFL would have practiced this daily in his bedroom or parent’s garage until his fingers were just about bleeding. I loved it as a teenager and still think of it as one of the most enduring singles of the era.

The b-side was an out-and-out shouty, punk record that is less than 90 seconds in length. It was quite possibly the band’s message to those journalists who were quick to castigate them.

mp3 : The Stranglers – Shut Up



I’m taking up the suggestion made last month by a few readers to devote some time and space to cover versions. By doing so over the next two weeks it sort of gives me a break from having to think too much about what to write at a time when, understandably, visitor numbers are down and there’s a desire not to come up with what proves to be a thought-provoking or well-written piece that gets lost amidst the mistletoe and decorations.

I’m starting things off with an example of a great cover in that the band involved make it sound nothing like the original and instead would have you believe it was genuinely one of their own. I’m sure that just about all of you will be familiar with the song being covered, but just in case not:-

mp3 : The Stranglers – No More Heroes

The song was included on the soundtrack to a 1999 comedy/action movie called Mystery Men but instead of the four punk/pub rockers from London, it was a version recorded by the finest band to ever come from Milwaukee:-

mp3 : Violent Femmes – No More Heroes

And while I’m here.

mp3 :  Violent Femmes – Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?





What to make of The Stranglers? The band came to prominence during the first wave of UK punk, but didn’t exactly fit the ‘young, loud and snotty’ mold. Drummer Jet Black adopted a suitable moniker, but he was nearly 40 when the band started releasing records. Singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell held a university degree in biochemistry and did research in Sweden towards a Ph.D. Bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel was a classically trained guitarist. And what the hell was Dave Greenfield doing onstage behind a fucking Hammond organ? Old, educated, musically adept—plus a Dylan-era keyboard into the mix—no wonder Johnny Rotten sneered them off as “hippies with short hair.”

Live, the band were tremendous, if unfriendly and antagonistic. Burnel was a menacing figure—a muscular black belt lurching around as if he’d jump offstage at a moment’s notice to kick some ass. He had a great sound: a Fender Precision with the tone knob dimed, played with a pick directly over the bridge. This gives the bottom end a nasty growl that typified the ‘Gers early recordings. (Example: ‘Dead Ringer’ from No More Heroes.) Black was an unflashy but perfect time-keeper, comparable to, say, the Bunnymen’s Pete De Freitas. Cornwell did the talking for the band, what little there was. True to punk form he didn’t play extended guitar solos. Untrue to punk form, his songs were filled with tight, well-arranged vocal harmonies. Greenfield’s organ, it must be admitted, provided a signature musicality that distinguished the band from their contemporaries. I always thought he was kind of a prat, though, because in concerts he’d sit a full pint prominently atop his keyboard which he’d ignore until it was time for a complicated organ bit. Then he’d reach for the glass and take a pull to show off that he could play the hard part one-handed. Loser.

The Stranglers got off to a great start: their first five albums all were top 10 UK hits; three went gold and one platinum. They weren’t slowed down by Cornwell’s imprisonment for a drug bust, the whole band’s jailing for inciting a riot in Paris, or repeated accusations of misogyny and violence (Burnel infamously socked Jon Savage during an interview). They began the 80’s as an established post-punk act. Their sound grew more complex, and the group began to experiment with longer tunes with odd time signatures. In fact, their biggest ever single, 1982’s ‘Golden Brown’, is written in waltz time. The song made it all the way to number 2, and was only kept out of the top spot by The Jam’s ‘Town Called Malice’.

The band continued to make great records until…they stopped making great records. I can’t explain it. For no apparent reason, Stranglers music got weaker, sappier, more commercial but less appealing. The energy and aggression dissolved. “European Female”, from the 1983 LP Feline, was the last top 10 single the band wrote. It was also the first song on their new label, Epic. Later songs that did manage to chart couldn’t come close to the quality of the band’s earlier album tracks, or even b-sides. Cornwell hung around for 3 subsequent LPs, then bailed after 1990’s unmemorable 10. Unbelievably, the Stranglers are still a going concern—Wikipedia tells us they’ve released another 7 studio LPs and are actively touring, albeit without Black (now in his late 70’s).

This imaginary compilation focuses on the band’s tenure with United Artists and EMI, from 1977 to 1982. It goes chronologically, taking a song from each of the band’s albums on those labels, with some non-album tracks and a couple of tunes from the later Epic albums for the sake of completion. If I was just picking favorites I might not have made it out of the 70’s. And I’m completely discounting anything the band did after Cornwell left. (The Doors released a couple of albums after Jim Morrison’s death; post-Cornwell Stranglers merit the same level of attention.) So, without further adieu…

1. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

The band’s first single, from 1977’s Rattus Norvegicus. This is the quintessential Stranglers song: if you don’t like this track you can pretty much skip the rest. Melodic, snarled vocals, tight harmonies, punchy drums, driven by the bass and the ever-present swirling Hammond—this is the band’s blueprint.

2. No More Heroes

Title track from the second LP, also released in 1977. The band were considered a pretty scary bunch, but I always thought their stance was a tongue in cheek act, and that there was a sense of humor behind the angry stares. Dunno, a band that rhymes “heroes” with “Shakespearoes” never struck me as one that took itself too seriously.

3. 5 Minutes

A non-album single from 1978. Lead vocals on this one by Burnel, with nasty lyrics about rape, knives and revenge. (Okay, maybe there was something to the violence accusations, but it’s still a great tune.) At this point, the band still had more good songs than could fit onto their albums.

4. Tank

Leadoff track from 1978’s Black and White LP. Also a b-side to a free single given away with the UK version of the album. (The A-side was a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune ‘Walk On By’, a hit for Dionne Warwick in 1964.) Everyone had a song they played before going out for the night, and this was mine. Never mind that it’s about how much fun it would be to drive around in a tank, or the corny artillery explosions—that’s what teenage kicks are all about!

5. The Raven

Another title track, this one from 1979. By now the band is stretching out and flexing their musical muscles; it’s over 5 minutes long and the vocals don’t kick in for a full minute. Atypically for the band, Cornwell gets in a lot of guitar work—some very interesting figures on his battered Telecaster. The song and album loosely implies Norse mythology, and is a precursor of sorts for the group’s subsequent concept LPs.

6. Just Like Nothing On Earth

And the first concept album would be 1981’s The Gospel According to the Meninblack. To be charitable, it was an interesting diversion from their previous work. To be honest, it was half-baked unintelligible sci-fi conspiracy nonsense about some wack-ass alien visitation that influenced Christianity. Okay. No one really got whatever the boys had in mind, but this is a fun song that features all the band’s strengths, with a few weirdo elements (pitched up vocals, mostly) tossed in.

7. Golden Brown

The favorite of many a Stranglers fan. Is it about heroin or a woman? Both, according to Cornwell, who wrote the lyrics. Originally released on 1981’s La Folie, another concept album theoretically about love or, literally, the madness of love. Very few pop songs to compare this one to, by anyone. Still beautiful and unique today.

8. Strange Little Girl

The follow up to ‘Golden Brown’ was actually one of the band’s earliest songs. Stranglers were leaving EMI and owed them a single, so they offered this track, a demo of which EMI had ironically rejected in 1974. Co-written by Hans Warmling, a friend of Cornwell’s from his student days in Sweden and an original member of the band. EMI put it out as a single and as part of a compilation album titled The Collection 1977-1982. Many Strangler’s fans’ own ICAs would likely be drawn from that same collection.

9. Skin Deep

By the time of 1984’s Aural Sculpture, Stranglers’ second LP for Epic, the band could still produce a good single or two, but the rest of the album was filler. It was a toss up between this one and ‘No Mercy’, the other album single. This one has the nicer vocal melody, but either represents which way the band was limping along. (You might have notice I passed right by 1983’s underwhelming Feline without stopping.)

10. Always The Sun

Arguably, this is the last ‘good’ Stranglers tune. Leadoff track and single from the band’s 1986 LP Dreamtime. It’s okay, I guess, but not a patch on tracks from the first 4 LPs that are much better. ‘Goodbye Toulouse’, ‘Nuclear Device’, ‘English Towns’, ‘Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’ all come to mind. Most discouraging (for me anyway) is the once terrifying Burnel playing a muted pump bass throughout, as if the band hired in Adam Clayton for the session. Dreamtime was followed by 1990’s 10, which featured a boring cover version of the 1966 Farfisa number ‘96 Tears’ by ? and the Mysterians as a single, and nothing more of note.

Bonus Tracks

Straighten Out

1977 B-side of the UK-only ‘Something Better Change’ 7”.  Also released as the b-side to the ‘Choosey Susie’ single given away free with Stranglers IV, a compilation LP made for the US market of tracks from The Raven (which didn’t get a US release) and some earlier songs.

Sverige (Jag Är Insnöad På Östfronten)

Swedish release of ‘Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)’ from Black and White.

N’emmenes Pas Harry

French release of ‘Don’t Bring Harry’, another reference to Heroin, from The Raven.

Old Codger

A weirdo track appearing on the ‘Walk On By’ single. Features some geezer called George Melly and harmonica from Lew Lewis, of Eddie & the Hot Rods, who went on to record on Sandanista! tracks ‘Version City’ and ‘Look Here’.

Looking back on what I wrote, I wonder if TVV’s audience realizes just how unnoticed The Stranglers were in the US. Despite their massive UK and European success, only Dreamtime charted in the States, barely making a scratch at number 172. None of their singles charted at all. To this day, I never once heard a Stranglers song on the radio.


mp3 : The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
mp3 : The Stranglers – No More Heroes
mp3 : The Stranglers – 5 Minutes
mp3 : The Stranglers – Tank
mp3 : The Stranglers – The Raven
mp3 : The Stranglers – Just Like Nothing On Earth
mp3 : The Stranglers – Golden Brown
mp3 : The Stranglers – Strange Little Girl
mp3 : The Stranglers – Skin Deep
mp3 : The Stranglers – Always The Sun

mp3 : The Stranglers – Straighten Out
mp3 : The Stranglers – Sverige (Jag Är Insnöad På Östfronten)
mp3 : The Stranglers – N’emmenes Pas Harry
mp3 : The Stranglers – Old Codger




As much as I thoroughly love the debut LP by Elastica, I do sometimes cringe at the fact that so many of their best tunes were total rip-offs:-

mp3 : Elastica – Connection
mp3 : Wire – Three Girl Rhumba

mp3 : Elastica – Waking Up
mp3 : The Stranglers – No More Heroes

They didn’t even begin to disguise their influences, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the self-titled debut LP from 1995 is one of the best and most enduring of the Britpop era. Strangely enough, at a time when all sorts of unforgettable acts had 45s (or more accurately CD singles as vinyl was totally out of fashion) that went high in the charts, none of the four tracks lifted from Elastica went Top 10. The album however, did hit the #1 spot.

By the time the band got over all sorts of personnel problems and released their follow-up LP in 2000, their fan base had moved on to other things and they were more or less ignored. But I reckon they still made great music, stuff that still that owed a debt to so many folk – but at least they acknowledged it this time:-

mp3 : Elastica – How He Wrote Elastica Man
mp3 : The Fall – How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’