Saturday, April 15, 2017

Hustlers Big And Burly

The Stranglers : Hanging Around

On April 15, 1977 The Stranglers released their debut album Rattus Norvegicus, named after the brown rat or wharf rat mistakenly believed to have spread the bubonic plague. The Stranglers were more interested in spreading their keyboard driven form of misogynistic punk rock, updating The Doors sound if Jim Morrison had a juvenile sense of humor. After all, what else could "Get a Grip On Yourself" be about other than masturbation? 

Some of the critics had a hard time embracing the band. While the NME proclaimed "virtually every track is a little masterpiece",  Sound Magazine's  Chas de Whalley said the debut sounded 'like a force nine gail of bad breath'.

But perhaps the critics missed the point. Maybe The Stranglers were making funny of the men who gamboled on the beaches, looking at the curvaceous women, hoping to see one falling out of her Clitares ( supposedly the name of a french bathing suit though it sounds like something else). And in "Hanging Around", they seem to be commenting on the life of a closeted gay man, hanging around at a leather club called The Coleherne Arms public house ?

Yes The Stranglers are uncouth but I love the meaty bass lines from karate expert J.J. Burnel and most of the swirling keyboard lines from Dave Greenfield. Drummer Jet Black, already 39 in 1977, has a great name and Hugh Cornwell is the man with the gonads to sing these songs. It paid off. Rattus Norvegicus peaked at #4 on the UK album charts.

1 comment:

  1. It was, and remains, one the new wave flags still flying today. Everyone bangs on about Never Mind the Bollocks, The Clash and Damned Damned Damned; but this, along with Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts and Generation X's debut platter encapsulate what 1977 was all about.