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Thursday, 20 April 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: IV Rattus Norvegicus - The Stranglers (Debut Album)

IV (Rattus Norvegicus) - The Stranglers
United Artists
Produced by Martin Rushent
Released 15th April 1977
UK Chart #4

Side One 

Lead Vocals
1. Hugh Cornwell
2. Hugh Cornwell
3. Jean-Jacques Burnel 
4. Jean-Jacques Burnel
5. Hugh Cornwell

Side Two
Lead Vocals
1. Hugh Cornwell
2. Hugh Cornwell
3. Jean-Jacques Burnel
4. Hugh Cornwell

Free Limited Edition 7"
 10,000 pressings

Vocal: Dave Greenfield


Vocal: Jean-Jacques Burnel 

Singles on IV (Rattus Norvegicus)

Double A-Side
Released January 1977
UK Chart #44

Double A-Side
Released May 1977
UK Chart #8 

 Peaches was not initially released with a Picture Sleeve in the UK but when reissued in 1979 a Picture Sleeve was added.


I had actually intended to post this on the actual 40th Anniversary of its release but was away from home for a few days in a place with very poor internet access so I hope you will enjoy it a few days later than proposed. There's a few links in this piece where you can hear more music from The Stranglers.

Although they were linked to the Punk/New Wave scene The Stranglers were way superior musically to many of their Punk/New Wave counterparts and the sound of the Debut Album clearly showed that they had already moved passed the revolution of Punk.

From 1976 The Stranglers had become associated with the burgeoning punk rock movement, due in part to their opening for the first British tours of American punks the Ramones and Patti Smith. Notwithstanding this association, some of the movement's champions in the British musical press viewed the band with suspicion on account of their age and musical virtuosity and the intellectual bent of some of their lyrics. However, Burnel was quoted saying, "I thought of myself as part of punk at the time because we were inhabiting the same flora and fauna ... I would like to think The Stranglers were more punk plus and then some."

The band of course had a wealth of musical experience stretching back many years and brought together they crafted a really great sound. The epic 7minutes and 30seconds of Down In The Sewer (a song that contained four sections (Falling/Down In The Sewer/Trying To Get Out Again/Rat's Rally) showed clearly how gifted they were.

I always thought they had a bit of a sound like The Doors thanks to the excellent keyboards of Dave Greenfield. The Bass of Jean-Jacques Burnel at times is like a lead guitar, he takes the lead vocal as well on three tracks, though he brings a more sensitive vocal on the excellent Princess of the Streets compared to the more gruff sounding London Lady and Ugly.

The Hugh Cornwall sung Peaches, which was released as the second single, ended up being banned by the BBC due to the dark sexual overtones of the song and it was Go Buddy Go that got the bulk of the airplay (a clean version of Peaches did exist where the offending words were removed - see link for it above). On Top of the Pops Go Buddy Go was the song that the band performed with Cornwell and Burnel switching instruments!

My friend Ronnie Carnwath did a nice piece earlier this year for the blog regarding the Grip / London Lady single and a whole lot more that's worth checking out if you haven't seen it before.

The Stranglers were then the first of the Punk/New Wave bands to break into the Top Ten on the Album Charts and also on the Singles Chart.

Re-issued versions of the album on CD include the free 7" tracks and also Go Buddy Go on the tracklisting.

What's interesting about the setlist is that despite the fact that Rattus had only been out a couple of days they were already playing songs that would feature on their second album later in the year. Only six songs from the Rattus album are featured. Something Better Change/Straighten Out would be released in July as another Double A-Sided Single.
Of the six songs broadcast by the BBC three were taken from Rattus (Sometimes, Peaches and London Lady), the others would be released later in the year.

By the time of this show their second album No More Heroes had been out a couple of months and had reached #2 in the Album Charts! Not totally sure what night this was from but between 2nd and the 6th of November the band played five consecutive nights at The Roundhouse.

This was the opening night of The Front Row Festival that was recorded for a live double album that featured a number of different bands like 999, X-Ray Spex, XTC, Wilko Johnson Band, Dire Straits, The Tyla Gang, The Pirates, Steve Gibbons Band, Suburban Studs, The Pleasers, The Only Ones, Phil Rambow, Steel Pulse, Roogalator, Burlesque, The Only Ones and The Saints. The Stranglers had two songs on the album Straighten Out and Hanging Around. I'm not sure when the whole show suddenly appeared on Bootleg but I had a copy on Cassette for years that I had picked up somewhere for a couple of pound. I actually like this show a lot because the band are more relaxed playing requests and having a little bit of fun on stage.

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