Saturday, 10 March 2018

"IV - Rattus Norvegicus" by THE STRANGLERS (March 2018 Parlophone 'The Classic Collection' Expanded Edition CD Reissue - Peter Mew Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Look At All Them Peaches..."

Although Amazon doesn't give this March 2018 CD Reissue a secondary title - 'The Classic Collection' Series by THE STRANGLERS encompasses the British Punk and New Wave band’s first seven albums on United Artists and Liberty Records - everything from their debut "IV - Rattus Norvegicus" in April 1977 through to "La Folie" in November 1981 (see full list below).

Each CD contains the same liner notes covering all seven albums in a 32-page booklet, but the booklets also provides original artwork, lyrics, additional period photos and Extras. These are PETER MEW Remasters (probably done at Abbey Road) and as you can see from the list below - each comes with a generous amount of Bonus Tracks. Here are all the lovely Peaches...

UK and EUROPE released Friday, 2 March 2018 (9 March 2018 in the USA) - "IV - Rattus Norvegicus" by THE STRANGLERS on Parlophone 0190295892586 (Barcode 0190295892586) is an Expanded Edition CD Reissue with Six Bonus Tracks. It is the first of seven CD titles in 'The Classic Collection' Series and plays out as follows (64:42 minutes):

1. Sometimes [Side 1]
2. Goodbye Toulouse
3. London Lady
4. Princess Of The Street
5. Hanging Around
6. Peaches [Side 2]
7. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
8. Ugly
9. Down By The Sewer (a) Falling (b) Down In The Sewer (c) Trying To Get Out Again (d) Rats Rally
Tracks 1 to 9 are their debut album "IV - Rattus Norvegicus" – released April 1977 in the UK on United Artists UAG 30045 (see also 10 and 11 below)

10. Choosey Susie
11. Peasant In The Big Shitty (Live)
Tracks 11 and 10 are the A&B-sides of a Free 7" single that came with original copies of the British LP (Catalogue No. FREE 3). "Peasant..." was the A-side
12. Go Buddy Go (Other Side Of 'Peaches')
Track 12 is the B-side of "Peaches" – their second UK 7" single released May 1977 on United Artists UP 36248 – also on the B-side of Track 13
13. Peaches (Airplay Version)
Track 13 is the reissued/censored version of "Peaches" released as a UK 7" single May 1977 on United Artists FREE 4. Track 12 is the B-side
14. Grip '89 (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
Track 14 is the A-side of a January 1989 UK 7" single on Liberty/EMI EM 84
15. Grip '89 (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)  (Grippin' Stuff 12" Mix)
Track 15 is the A-side of a January 1989 UK 12" single on Liberty/EMI 12 EM 84

HUGH CORNWELL – Guitar and Vocals
JET BLACK – Drums and Percussion
Eric Clark – Tenor Sax on "Peaches"

DAVID BUCKLEY – author of the band's official biography "No Mercy" published in 1997 by Hodder – has helmed the extremely detailed liner notes from Page 6 to 21 with the rest of the pages filled in by album artwork, photos, lyrics, rare picture sleeves for their debut 45 "Grip" followed by "Peaches" and the usual original LP/CD reissue credits. It's very nicely done although it's obvious that diehard fans buying all seven CDs will be yawning at the repetition of info. But the Audio is fabulous, the price appears to be pitched at mid-price (less than a tenner) and it's frankly so good to see these underrated gems out there again in digital-land (they haven’t been available as Remasters since November 2001). Let’s get to the rats in the sewers...

The moment the smack-you-in-the-face Bass and Keyboards of "Sometimes" hits your speakers - you're clobbered by two things - the great audio and just how much you've missed this band. It's ancient musical history now of course but The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks, The Damned et all - always got the critical plaudits with The Stranglers settling for mere fan worship (they're as big a cult as Depeche Mode or Kraftwerk). When David Buckley opens his liner notes with a quote from former Stranglers publicist Alan Edwards that angrily blasts "...They were one of the most under-recognized and under-valued British bands, full stop!" - you can understand why. How good is this album! Their cracking debut continues with the musically Punk "Goodbye Toulouse" – walking those French streets in fear – goodbye cafĂ© society – hello "London Lady" and a rather bitter diatribe at a Dingwalls groupie (she won’t be too pleased with this).

A real good looking lady makes out hero sigh in "Princess Of The Streets" although he worries she might stab him in the back with a shinny new pick-axe acquired in Woolworths on Sale (nice audio on that guitar solo). "Hanging Around" is one of the album's best tracks in my books - all those classic Stranglers signatures - huge Bass line - hooky keyboard - snarling vocals and tee'd off lyrics. The obvious and brilliantly provocative single "Peaches" never fails to disturb and thrill - the 'lap me up' girls rubbing in that sun-tan lotion - eliciting an 'oh s**t' lyric from out singer that United Artists edited out for the 'air play' version of the re-released 45 in May 1977 (what a bummer indeed). "...The worst crime I ever did was play in Rock 'n' Roll..." but at least the money's good (or maybe not) were told in "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" - The Stranglers sounding like a cross between an angry Roxy Music (Eric Clark's Saxophone) and The Boomtown Rats having a good old moan. "Ugly" could have been a single too but the 'allergic to sulphuric acid' lyrics might have made some DJs nervous and reach for tubes of Calamine Lotion. It ends on the near eight-minutes of "Down In the Sewer" which feels like some Punk-Prog moment with its instrumental passages intertwined with 'keeping your tootsies warm' in the bowls of London's drainage system (nice). The extras only add to overall wallop - especially the so-good Rock 'n' Roll of "Go Buddy Go" - a track I've always felt should have been on Side 2 of the album.

Great audio - comprehensive (f not a tad repetitive) packaging and a decent price - what's not to love? I'm having the first four for sure with the sap in me probably wanting the other three. Boogie Woogie and Go Buddy Go...Nice ‘n’ Sleazy does it...Amen to that...

UK and Europe released 2 March 2018
'The Classic Collection' CD Reissue Series for THE STRANGLERS 
includes the following albums (all have 32-page booklets)

1. "IV - Rattus Norvegicus" (April 1977) - Parlophone 0190295892586 (Barcode 0190295892586) - 6 Bonus Tracks
2. "No More Heroes" (September 1977) - Parlophone 0190295892548 (Barcode 0190295892548) - 5 Bonus Tracks
3. "Black And White" (May 1978) - Parlophone 0190295892524 (Barcode 0190295892524) - 7 Bonus Tracks
4. "Live X-Cert" (February 1979) - Parlophone 0190295892500 (Barcode 0190295892500) - 8 Bonus Tracks
5. "The Raven" (September 1979) - Parlophone 0190295892487 (Barcode 0190295892487) - 7 Bonus Tracks
6. "The Gospel According To) The Meninblack" (February 1981) - Parlophone 0190295892463 (Barcode 0190295892463) - 7 Bonus Tracks
7. "La Folie" (November 1981) - Parlophone 019029892449 (Barcode 019029892449) - 7 Bonus Tracks

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