Saturday, February 14, 2009

La Folie, The Stranglers' Love album. Part 1

When it comes to the subject of disco there are none who do it as well as my buddy James Glass. He has the tunes, does the edits and can school your ass at length about this music. It’s pity he doesn’t play out more, but in SF right now twenty years of spinning just isn’t enough hours spent at the craft I suppose, and he shaved his beard a few years ago. I did too, we both thought we were contracting balearia and would end up becoming Norwegian, so we took the only measure that will reverse the affliction, follicular annihilation of the facial area. And it worked, and now our names aren’t Bjorn, Sven or Gunnar even, whew!

The Stranglers thought that another Scandinavian country, Sweden, was the only country where the clouds were interesting, implying that nothing else was. I can’t say, I haven’t been there, but maybe Hugh Cornwell felt differently in regard to his university tenure in that country. James and I will argue at length about disco dancing related matters; he feels that the lush, symphonic and soulful ‘70s gear (get the de-S-er) is the pinnacle of all dance music. Though I think that sound and era is beautiful I always counter that stuff like Todd Terry’s early ‘90s gear, a filtering of disco and house through hip-hop and freestyle is really the zenith, glorious in it’s minimalist approach and tough resonant grooves.

We have to agree to differ on that, but there a few things that we do agree on, first is that you can get completely fatigued by disco and might want some nasty, dirty rock music that displaces a little anger. You see disco is cool but it can drift (as house did) towards bourgeois tastes — not that this could ever happen in edgy, informed and radical San Francisco, yeah. We also agree on the Stranglers, one of my favorite bands of all time, and one of his too. They pissed off journalists, bated conservatives and liberals alike, behaved very badly and sold an ass load of records. What is there not to like about that scenario?

I’ve already gushed about them in my posts Meninblack parts 1 and 2, but I just want to scribble about their La Folie album from 1981. I remember when it dropped and was highly excited to hear it after blazing through Rattus Norvegicus, Black and White, The Raven and The Gospel According To The Meninblack. An old high school buddy picked it up shortly after its release and we delved into it right away. In some ways it is the watershed album for the band, the one that led to them pursuing a more pop approach, and in other ways it is their most perfect album. It’s perfect in that it takes the energy of their early records, fuses it with the diverse subject matter of albums like The Raven and Meninblack (a weird one, but I love it all the same) and then smoothes off the corners just a bit to create a pop masterpiece.


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