Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"Hanging Around"

There was punk, and there was menace. On the one hand you had a bunch of snotty kids who'd flashed on an attitude, a wardrobe and three chords; and on the other, you had musicians who were already there, already making music with an edge and who really were punk. While the Sex Pistols threw out streams of word-association calculated to outrage (think "Holidays in the Sun"), the Stranglers were already knee-deep in the filth ("Down in the Sewer", "London Lady"), producing tales of real life, delivered without hyperbole or facial tics. Four guys who'd seen it all, thought it all and who really didn't have to make it up.
The gulf between snotty-kid punk and grown-up punk was never wider than when Dave Greenfield cranked up his keyboards and started throwing warp-speed arpeggios in our faces ("Grip"), or when Hugh Cornwell uncurled his lip and showed John Lydon, Joe Strummer et al what a real sneer sounded like.
The intro to this song must be one of the most thrilling ones in rock - a jittery scrape along the strings of a guitar, a nervous, speed-fuelled slash across the face of all the pretenders who were only throwing shapes. The Stranglers were the real street-fighting men.

No comments: