Monday, February 16, 2009

La Folie, The Stranglers' Love album. Part 2

The fact that La Folie contains the timeless “Golden Brown,” and absolutely no filler content also lends to the album’s reputation. What I find funny is that in the endless, beardy search for post punk classics The Stranglers invariably get left out. Perhaps this is because they weren’t on a label like Cherry Red or Rough Trade nor did they indulge in the kind of shrill politicizing that defined groups like the Au Pairs or Delta 5. The Stranglers weren’t shrill at all and perhaps that’s the reason why the group isn’t revered by hirsute white boys in bands that sound like they’re fronted by a neutered cat.

However, you can’t deny the power and groove of tunes like “Bear Cage” —a non-album single which proceeded La Folie — “Let Me Introduce You To The Family,” and “Dead Loss Angeles” from The Raven album. And their politics weren’t the then relevant wedge issues of the ’70s and ‘80s, — now becoming irrelevant as we edge towards an economic melt down and the “haves and have nots” event horizon — perhaps they didn’t have politics at all, but during their career they sang about Iran, and nuclear power in France and Australia, and touched on the Mafia (“Let Me Introduce You To The Family”), cannibalism (La Folie’s title track is about Japanese student Issei Sagawa who killed a Dutch teacher named Renée Hartevelt and then ate parts of her) and drugs (“Golden Brown” is about heroin or toast maybe, who knows?).

La Folie, translated from the French as “madness” was The Stranglers album that dealt with love in all its myriad forms, but also love as a kind of madness. Perhaps the reason this records is so damned good is because EMI, the Stranglers’ record, dispatched them to the studio with ace producer Tony Visconti, who had the express orders to treat every track like a hit single, thus all killer, no filler. Eighteen years later it still sounds wicked and is a good guide on how to craft a varied and involving rock album. It’s worth tracking down and giving a damned good listening to, so please do.


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