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Classic Album Reviews: The Stranglers | Remasters: No More Heroes / Black & White / The Raven / La Folie

Four of the underappreciated ’70s punks albums are better than nothing.

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This came out in 2001 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


The Stranglers are the Rodney Dangerfield of ’70s London punk; they get no respect.

With their blend of propulsively groovy art-school punk and testosterone-fueled aggression, they were tougher than The Clash, nastier than The Sex Pistols, smarter than The Damned and wrote better songs than most of them — but they always get short-shrift when it’s punk nostalgia time. This new remastered slate of early albums is a typical example: You get their second, third, fourth and sixth albums, bypassing both their flawless ’77 debut Rattus Norvegicus and their weirdly unforgettable ’81 UFO-themed, heroin-fuelled concept album Meninblack. And the rarities on the discs are mostly singles (Bear Cage, Straighten Out) and B-sides any fan already has. Still, you can’t gripe about the albums themselves: The fiery 1977 offering No More Heroes is top-loaded with classics like Bitching, Bring on the Nubiles and Burning Up Time; ’78’s darker Black & White has the one-two punch of Tank and Nice N’ Sleazy; 1979’s breakthrough The Raven expands their repertoire with Nuclear Device, Duchess and Baroque Bordello; and the comparatively mellow La Folie (a concept album about romance) features the shockingly pretty Golden Brown, a heroin ode that became their biggest hit. Until somebody puts out the definitive box set, these will have to do. Still, they’ll do nicely.