The Stranglers' collection The UA Singles 1977-1982 started life as three box sets of CD singles mirroring their vinyl releases and spanning the band's United Artists heyday. The cash you would have spent on the box sets would buy you ten of these! (How I wish I would have had foresight when I bought them…) Taking you from their debut 45, "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" on to "Nice 'N' Sleazy," a cover of "Walk On By," and all the way up to "Duchess," "Nuclear Device" and finally the French version of "Don't Bring Harry," this 3-CD, 49-song set gives you almost every song on the first two box sets.
My favorite era of the band is the Black & White/No More Heroes timespan, which is basically the year of 1978!, when here in the States it was easy to find their LPs on A&M. I think I had heard "Peaches" on a US compilation and thought it was cool in a kinda creepy sorta way. Next thing you know I bought the albums, played their songs on my college radio show, and generally became a fan. But right after that they went into a darker sound, Themeninblack and Raven albums came out and they lost me. (They picked me up again when they redid "96 Tears"; by that time they were on Epic and had gone into a much more commercial place.) Listening to these dark tunes now, though, I actually like 'em a lot more than my 20-something year old human jukebox was willing to stock.
Hugh Cornwell, the lead singer, is no longer in the group, and Jet Black is still drumming—and he's 71! These early singles are a wellspring of Stranglers nectar and well worth the dose. Sod the box sets, save some money, and buy your sweetie something nice… 'n'… sleazy.
4/5 (EMI UK)