Old Hairy Misogynists

If…

The Clash=The Beatles

The Sex Pistols=The Who

The Buzzcocks=The Kinks

The Damned=The Count 5

Then…

The Stranglers=The Doors

 

What an odd bunch these Stranglers were. They were too old, too hairy and too proficient with their instruments (including a…GASP!…organ) to be warmly welcomed into the English punk rock scene of the mid ‘70’s. Weirdly enough, though, they became one of the most successful and long-lasting of their kind.

The Raven, the 4th record from these misfits, marked a transition of sorts where the band moved beyond their scatological reputation and started to get serious about their ‘art’.

It may not be their most commercially successful album (in North America that would have to be either Dreamtime or Aural Sculpture), or their weirdest (The Gospel According To The Meninblack), but it is most certainly their best. Most fans would agree with me here, although there is a contingent that firmly believes Rattus Norvegicus deserves the #1 spot.

When I first heard The Raven I was completely dumbfounded. It sounded nothing like Rattus, or No More Heroes. It was experimental, political and even had an whiff of prog about it. The conventional organ sounds of yesteryear were replaced by blippy keyboards and synthesizers and the overall arrangements were much more orchestral and ambitious than what came before. The only constants were the vocals of Hugh Cornwell and the freakishly amazing bass playing of  JJ Burnel.

The Raven is a psychedelic pop record, pure and simple. One listen to the title track, or Duchess, or Baroque Bordello will affirm that. It’s also got loads of balls, as evidenced by the driving Dead Loss Angeles and Nuclear Device. The weirder tracks are: Genetix, Men In Black (like DEVO on valium), Shah Shah A Go Go and the oddly beautiful and disturbing Don’t Bring Harry.

Strange brew, this. But tasty!

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