Scientists have suggested that the rat is the one species capable of surviving nuclear Armageddon, so it’s fitting that the seemingly indestructible UK punks The Stranglers should choose the same creature for their emblem. After all, while the band came to prominence during the punk era, they were largely shunned by their contemporaries and they’ve needed nerve, guile and resilience – as well as a truckload of fantastic music – to survive ever since. They rarely get the kudos reserved for the likes of Sex Pistols and The Clash, but The Stranglers sold more records and received more gold discs than either, and they retain one of rock’s fiercest fan bases. The self-styled “Meninblack” have now been going for half a century, amassing a formidable catalogue from which we pick the best Stranglers songs.
Listen to the best of The Stranglers here, and check out the best Strangler songs, below.
10: Thrown Away (from ‘The Gospel According To The Meninblack’, 1981)
Even by their hair-raising standards, 1980 really was an annus horribilis for The Stranglers. Following an arrest on drug-possession charges, frontman Hugh Cornwell spent much of the spring in London’s Pentonville Prison, before the entire group briefly ended up behind bars for allegedly inciting a riot at a chaotic gig at Nice University during their subsequent European tour.
Despite the turmoil, the band stuck together and responded with their fifth album, The Gospel According To The Meninblack: a brave and still-futuristic-sounding album informed by psychedelia and German experimental music. Released early in 1981, the record’s main themes (UFOs and conspiracy theories) raised some eyebrows, yet it still peaked at No.8 in the UK and contains several of the best Stranglers songs – not least the gloriously world-weary Thrown Away.