Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The Stranglers - No More Heroes (1977)

   

Released September 1977

This was more organ-powered, Doors-influenced "punk" material from this group of experienced, gnarled old pub rockers masquerading as punks. That said, they had the image, they wore leather jackets, they insulted hotel receptionists and they went on about rats and sewers. My doubts over their punk credibility aside, they put out good albums and they could play, that was in no doubt. This album was more punky in its sound than its predecessor, their debut, "Rattus Norvegicus", however. There was more edge, verve and attack. It was probably The Stranglers' album that was their closest approximation to punk, it has to be said. Maybe it was "art-punk" or whatever.

TRACK LISTING

1. I Feel Like A Wog
2. Bitching
3. Dead Ringer
4. Dagenham Dave
5. Bring On The Nubiles
6. Something Better Change
7. No More Heroes
8. Peasant in the Big Shitty
9. Burning Up Time
10. English Towns
11. School Mam

"I Feel Like A Wog" is offensive in its title, although it makes its point. Musically, it is frantic, full of swirling, parping organ, dense guitars and what are at times madcap, incomprehensible vocals. Hugh Cornwell's sneering delivery adds to the punk impression. "Bitching" is similarly keyboard-powered and gruff in its vocals. "Why don't you all get screwed ....." growls Cornwell. It all sounds pretty puerile now, however. It is redeemed by some sharp guitar near the end. "Dead Ringer" repeats the bass riff from "Peaches" to an extent and Cornwell's lascivious vocals lend it a sleazy appeal, but otherwise it is pretty average, with an oikish chorus. "Dagenham Dave" has a punky riff and more of that trademark organ but somehow its lacks a bit of real vitality despite its apparent energy. It actually sounds a bit lazy. There are many, of course, who absolutely loved The Stranglers, but, for me, they never quite did it. I have to say, though, there is an inventive bit of quirky keyboard fun near the end of this one.

"Bring On The Nubiles" is mysoginistically puerile and hasn't aged well. Comparative old men like The Stranglers should have known better. Their aficionados will cheerfully tell you that it was all tongue in cheek. No, I don't buy that. That was the way they were. Fair enough. No need for excuses.

Now we get a couple of excellent tracks. Both were hit singles. The insistent, grinding Doors-esque "Something Better Change" and the catchy title track. The latter often makes it on to a punk playlist as a classic example of the genre. That is debatable, but it certainly is so redolent of 1977-78 and takes me back to those times. Both of these cuts are far superior to anything else on the album previously. "Peasant In The Big Shitty" has a strange appeal, it is sort of post punk in its vibe and the vocals are ridiculously camp, oddly. "Burning Up Time" has a punk energy and anger about it. Once again the organ from Dave Greenfield dominates proceedings. "English Towns" is similarly short as the previous track had been. It is rather sad and melodic, despite its lively tempo.

The extended "School Mam" has a post punk style backing and a cynical lyric about education. It is the most innovative track on the album, but becomes somewhat ponderous by its last two minutes. Personally, this is not an album I return to very often. The current remaster is pretty good but it still sounds quite dated. Oh, maybe I'm being a bit harsh, I have quite enjoyed the last half hour. That doesn't mean I still don't think there was something a bit unconvincing about The Stranglers, particularly during this part of their career. They were better on later albums when they were not supposed to be punks.

C+

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