The Stranglers : (Get a) Grip ( On Yourself)
On March 7, 1977 The BBC aired the first John Peel session of The Stranglers, a U.K. band considered punk more by association than in actuality. The Stranglers had opened for the The Ramones and Patti Smith on their U.K. tours, but they were a bit too old ( drummer Jet Black was 38), too literate and too musically talented to be real punks.
The radio broadcast occurred during the last of four weeks their first single "(Get a ) Grip (On Yourself)" has been on the charts, where it had peaked at #44. For the BBC sessions, The Stranglers played "Goodbye Toulouse", "Hanging Around", ( both from the upcoming Rattus Norvegicus debut album) the unfortunately named "I Feel Like a Wog", and "Something Better Change", the latter two appearing on the second album No More Heroes.
A fan calling himself 60MancInBlack recalls the time:
I was 17 and had come back from a life changing moment having seen the Stranglers the previous Saturday night at the Electric Circus in Manchester. The Band had talked about the John Peel session after the gig and how things were really moving for them. I’d only ever seen bands up to then who were stars, were out of reach and not accessible. To see the Stranglers play literally in front of me at full tilt as Manchester was dealing with the gutter press punk headlines predicting anarchy and the end of life as we knew it was just was just one of those moments. Then to get to see them, slipping past what security there was, after all they had only released a single at that stage, Grip.
They were just cool blokes full of attitude and front and what a chemistry there was between them, yet they talked for ages to the four of us about life, nothing more, oh yeah and the wave they were rolling on. Can you imagine how they felt at that time to be listened to and watched after two and a half years of nothing. That night they were stunning and the crowd was mental. I have no idea how we made it home in one piece and my Mum’s old Renault car still had all its tyres on.
So we went to school on the Monday and were full of it. The other lads were green with envy. I put up a Pistols poster and an ACDC one of Angus in those shorts on the 6th form common room wall which we got from the venue. They were ripped down by the school and we got it in the ear. Shame because if I still had the Pistols one, it’s worth a bit. But the priceless ones of the Grip gig promo and Coming Your Way are still with me today. Had already sussed they weren’t going to school. And that night it just kept coming our way.
John Peel broadcast the first Stranglers session, the one we’d been talking to the band about only a few nights earlier. Microphone set. Captured for ever on a C60. Played it to death, well the copy anyway. It still comes out every now and then, the digi version. Full low fi with radio noise and fade off Radio 1, 247am.
Just couldn’t blend it any better. But that was how it was with John Peel ad libbing as he went. Was pretty on side with the band in those days. I appreciate a proper version came out, but this was mine; Goodbye Toulouse; Hanging Around; I Feel Like A Wog; Something Better Change……and it did.