32. The Stranglers – (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

Committed for insanity and crimes against the soul, the worst crime that I ever did was playing rock ‘n’ roll.

After the 23 million YouTube views the Foo Fighters had for the last video, this one has about two thousand.

I was ten years old when I heard this for the first time. It was 1977 and Punk had spread from the clubs and bars onto the radio and TV. We had the Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash. It was a great time to be a kid because all the adults were getting annoyed at this noise masquerading as music.

(Get A) Grip (On Yourself) was the first single off The Stranglers first album, Rattus Norvegicus. The Stranglers had a different sound to other 1977 punk; they featured keyboards and they had a tight rhythm section. Their drummer (“Jet Black”) was an old boy of 39.

A lot of early punk was brash and fun but this song showed that you could create new and interesting music from the principles of punk that was more than just tearing down the old musical order. They created a song with a fluttery keyboard line, killer lyrics and a driving beat that didn’t stop for anything. In an era when guitar was king, the bass and keyboards were louder in the mix than Hugh Cornwell’s guitar. It was the beginning of Post-Punk.

As the band developed they evolved and produced songs further away from their Punk roots, such as Duchess, Strange Little Girl and Golden Brown, but for me the original is their best. Before I wrote this, I’d never seen the video for Grip. It is from the cheap times of 1977, recorded in a dingy bar with some local lads in the audience getting into the music before having a few pints too many and deciding to get into each other with their fists and their Doctor Martens boots.

Jean-Jacques Brunel is a fine bass player. In this video he plays his P-bass with a pick, playing right down at the bridge of the guitar, which gives it a more metallic sound. This isn’t my favorite way of playing but JJ Is damn good at it.


Next: 31. Kate Bush – Sat in your Lap

Previous: 33. Foo Fighters – The Pretender


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