La Folie – The Stranglers

When Golden Brown, the single from this album that elevated The Stranglers into the big leagues, hit no. 2 in the charts I had to justify my continued love of the band in the face of an obvious commercial sell-out. One particularly vociferous critic of my fandom was David Allinson*. Allinson was a serious metal head who also liked a number of punk bands. A number of years before I attended a school youth club with him, he was trying to get me to listen, and possibly like, AC/DC. He was wearing jeans and a leather jacket, however he had no shirt under his open leather jacket. I always thought Robert Plant could pull off this look rather well, however Allinson’s barrel physique betrayed his love of pies, and a general avoidance of The Sun. This really wasn’t a good look for him, especially when he insisted on dancing to Touch Too Much, from the Highway to Hell album. That was the last time I saw him socially and because of that mental scarring, I can’t listen to Bon Scott era AC/DC.
I haven’t actually listened to all of this album for maybe 20 years. Golden Brown, now seems to be an anomaly and doesn’t fit into the rest of the album. Supposedly a concept album about love it has some fantastic tracks from the poppy Tramp, to the rock-out old style Stranglers of Let me Introduce you to the Family and The Man they Loved to Hate. Anyone who doesn’t rate Jet Black as a drummer needs to listen to The Man They Love to Hate, big beats from the big man and the worlds first and only jazz-punk drummer. It is sad though that this is the last time he played live acoustic drums in the studio.
*The names have been changed to protect the individuals dignity (I just hoped he started wearing shirts in later life)
Micro review; Isn’t all pop music about love?


Don’t Try This at Home – Billy Bragg

Or if you are asking for this in Newcastle -‘Diven’t Try This at Yhem’.
Actually this phrase is usually used as a warning about leaving a chip pan on and falling asleep after eight pints.
Some classic Braggmeister (copyright NME, cica 1988) moments here from, Accident Waiting to Happen to the haunting Moving the Goalposts. The Braggster (copyright NME, circa 1991) also finds his pop song chops with the wonderful You Woke Up my Neighbourhood and Sexuality. The album’s best track, for me, is Everywhere (written by the equally magnificent Sid Griffin), an exploration of the dialectic of nationhood, race, war and nationalism, although to be honest I think Boy George said it better when he said ‘War war is stupid, and people are stupid’.
I think this is the Braggski’s (copyright NME, circa 1993) strongest set of songs, even the fillers are classics (I don’t do fillers son) like Rumours of War and Wish You Were Her.
Best lyrical fragment; I look like Robert De Niro, I drive a Mitsubishi Zero
Hidden gem; Tank Park Salute