I used to think there was only one true British New Wave band: The Police. (Well, and Elvis Costello. But Costello is labeled New Wave primarily due to laziness; too punk to be Pub Rock and too classicist to be Punk, people didn’t know what else to call him.) The Police were the only band I was aware of that managed to combine the energy and attitude of punk with music that was definitely not punk. Well, I know this is labeled punk, but it’s hard for me to accept that it is punk.
The Stranglers are too damn weird to be punk. The keyboards are the first clue but most of the songs go well beyond the British Invasion/Garage Rock basis of so much British punk in 1977. Yes, there’s lots and lots of attitude here and there’s an aesthetic that is also very punk, but there is something else arty going on here that is not present in The Clash, The Damned, The Jam and The Pistols. These guys feel like those bands weird, older brother who gets along with others even less well than they do. (For example, I hear a Can influence on at least one song.)
This album is a revelation in many ways but perhaps the most prominent for me would be one of the singers’ eerie resemblance to Mark E. Smith. One is tempted to believe that Mark E. Smith copped his (infamous) singing stye (i.e. speak singing) from this band. I guess you could make a case that this was “post punk” before PiL supposedly invented that genre.
- “I Feel Like a Wog” 3:16
- “Bitching” 4:25
- “Dead Ringer” 2:46
- “Dagenham Dave” 3:18
- “Bring on the Nubiles” 2:15
- “Something Better Change” 3:35
- “No More Heroes” 3:27
- “Peasant in the Big Shitty” 3:25
- “Burning Up Time” 2:25
- “English Towns” 2:13
- “School Mam” 6:52