Stranglers on the Shore

There are a number of bands I didn’t immediately sign up to when I first heard them: for example, Dire Straits and The Pet Shop Boys, both of which I now appreciate far more than when they first came on the scene (the fact that Neil Tennant sounds just like Al Stewart didn’t hurt either). I even disliked The Stranglers at the beginning, if you can believe it: I was at the time very wedded to prog-rock and disliked a lot of punk and ‘new wave’ on sight (iyswim.) But it didn’t take me long to come round, and by the time they released the divine Golden Brown where the intro skips a beat like a lovestruck heart, I was sold.

As a child my musical world consisted of church music and oddbits of classical which I learned on the piano. There were also tedious instrumentals played for church socials including the number I later knew as Stranger on the Shore, the very sound of which transports me back to a draughty church hall, the churchwarden and his wife doing a stately foxtrot. Finding Top of the Pops was an epiphany, and instantly I developed a taste for folk-rock (James Taylor, Carole King, Neil Young in his early incarnation) and prog-rock (Yes, Genesis, The Floyd). Like many people I’ve often tried to narrow down my eight choices for Desert Island Discs and found it impossible; I come up with different records every time. But today’s choices are:

Oh Jesus I Have Promised (the original music not the newfangled jolly tune which sadly I can’t find anywhere but I’m sure the BBC could) – this reminds me of the time the organist asked me my favourite hymn and played it on the organ.

Leonard Cohen: Suzanne. This reminds me of the first time I heard Cohen, in a classroom in 1972.

Argent: Hold Your Head Up

Gerry Rafferty: Baker St

Anderson and Vangelis: Somehow I’ll Find My Way Home (very apt, eh?)

Bob Marley: Jammin. I went to see Bob Marley in 1980; he was already ill and shortly to die of cancer, though we didn’t know it at the time.

Carole King: It’s Too Late

Leonard Cohen: If It Be Your Will

And the one I’d save from the waves? The last one, which I also would like played at my funeral. There’s also this version, which I love.

What would your Desert Island Discs be?

Kirk out

One thought on “Stranglers on the Shore

  1. 1) Wagner. -Quintet from Act lll of Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg (castaway’s favourite)

    2) Caesar Franck – Canon from Violin Sonata

    3) Lush Life – Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane & Trio

    4) Mathilde – Jacques Brel

    5) It’s Raining Today – Scott Walker

    6) Bruckner – Adagio from Symphony No.8

    7) Richard Harris – MacArthur Park (despite what people say, this is a work of genius and anyone who wants to slag it off, answers to me!)

    8) Edison Lighthose – Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes (the perfect pop song: everything about it hits the spot, right down to the ‘hey!’on the repeated middle eight).

    I would’ve included Cohen but if I did that, Wagner might walk……. My favourite Cohen songs are (probably) Seems So Long Ago, Nancy, Last Year’s Man and Dress Rehearsal Rag. I think they are also his three bleakest songs – he never performed hte second live and only performed the third live once (for the BBC).

    I also like If It Be Your Will, which comes from a despairing point in the author’s life (his common-law wife had thrown him over, his mother had recently died and he was worried that he might never see his children again). It’s message can be summed up as: “OK, here are the car keys – YOU drive.’

    The Stranglers weren’t really punk at all – they were both too old and too skilled. Hugh Cornwell was also a bit too posh and far too well-educated and he modelled himself on the Doors’ Robbie Krieger. If you listen to Down In The Sewer, ti’s basically ‘prog with attitude’. I love their ‘scary’ version of Walk On By.

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