Saturday, 3 August 2019

The Stranglers - 10 (1990)

Too many teardrops....


Released on 30 March 1990

Running time 36.19

This was the last Stranglers album to feature Hugh Cornwell, making it the last of ten adventurous, often ground-breaking albums dating back to that seismic first one way back in 1977. Despite later albums with different personnel, this was the last Stranglers album for many people. It has received a lot of critical opprobrium, but I find it quite appealing. Granted, it is pretty different from most of the previous material, but it is vibrant and lively. It is, like many of their offerings, a challenging piece of work, but so were all their albums. I prefer to think of it as an enjoyable swansong from a group who were never one of my absolute favourites but were one who were always worthy of attention.


1. Sweet Smell Of Success
2. Someone Like You
3. 96 Tears
4. In This Place
5. Let's Celebrate
6. Man Of The Earth
7. Too Many Teardrops
8. Where I Live
9. Out Of My Mind
10. Never To Look Back                               

Sweet Smell Of Success is totally unrecognisable as the Stranglers, being a percussion-driven, funky groover which finds the group sounding like The Style Council. Actually, I like it. It is good to hear them diversifying. It features an excellent jazzy piano and saxophone too. Someone Like You has some sixties-sounding organ an a real Velvet Underground circa 1970 sound, particularly on the Lou Reed-esque vocals. 96 Tears is great - with lots of early Stranglers organ driving the song along and a catchy refrain. Again, it is very late sixties in its sound. Almost psychedelic pop in places. This is not surprising as it is a cover of a ? & The Mysterians song from 1964. Aretha Franklin also covered it, unusually. In This Place is a sonorous number reminiscent of the band's early eighties sombre post punk material. It has a camped-up haughty vocal. the track is, I have to say, a bit of an acquired taste, but lots of their output was.

Let's Celebrate is a big, brassy number almost like Dexy's Midnight Runners meets second album era The Specials. Again, it has a catchy appeal. Man Of The Earth has a post punk/new wave vibe to it with a Brit Pop sounding vocal and melody, a few years too early. Maybe The Stranglers were ahead of their time again. Too Many Teardrops once again has a very madcap, sixties organ sound mixed with some eighties-style vocals. They seemed to be trying to achieve a Stax-influenced soul feel on numbers like this, like Dexy's or Get Happy!! era Elvis Costello.

Where I Live is a quirky number, with Cornwell again sounding like Kevin Rowland and Dave Greenfield's organ swirling all over the place. It is like a piece of sixties electric pop given a punchy late eighties makeover. Out Of My Mind also sounds a lot like Elvis Costello & The Attractions from around the Imperial Bedroom and Blood And Chocolate periods. It has a frantic organ and drum sound, plus lots of feedback guitar, a bit like on Costello's A Man Out Of Time. Never To Look Back is a strangely catchy but sort of electronic meets new romantic track. So, that was The Stranglers. Thirteen years on from those sneering, snarling days of making out they were punks. It ended with a pleasant but unthreatening offering. It had been a long time since those early days, straddling several genres, but, as I said, their albums were always interesting ones.

PS - the latest release comes with several previously unreleased bonus tracks, all of which are good ones and wouldn't have been out of place on the album.