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CL's Favourite Albums (Featuring The Dark Side of the Moon and Rattus Norvegicus)

I have a confession to make. I haven't as yet listened to Rattus Norvegicus and haven't listened to Dark Side of the Moon in years, so my introductions are courtesy of Rolling Stone and the BBC. I will be listening to both soon. So, here are the last two albums of the final sixteen.

Album Name: The Dark Side of the Moon
Artist: Pink Floyd
Release Year: 1973

Track listing:

1. Speak to Me
2. Breathe
3. On the Run
4. Time
5. The Great Gig in the Sky
6. Money
7. Us and Them
8. Any Colour You Like
9. Brain Damage
10. Eclipse


Lloyd Grossman, May 1973:
One of Britain's most successful and long lived avant-garde rock bands, Pink Floyd emerged relatively unsullied from the mire of mid-Sixties British psychedelic music as early experimenters with outer space concepts. Although that phase of the band's development was of short duration, Pink Floyd have from that time been the pop scene's preeminent techno-rockers: four musicians with a command of electronic instruments who wield an arsenal of sound effects with authority and finesse. While Pink Floyd's albums were hardly hot tickets in the shops, they began to attract an enormous following through their US tours. They have more recently developed a musical style capable of sustaining their dazzling and potentially overwhelming sonic wizardry.

The Dark Side of the Moon is Pink Floyd's ninth album and is a single extended piece rather than, a collection of songs. It seems to deal primarily with the fleetingness and depravity of human life, hardly the commonplace subject matter of rock. "Time" ("The time is gone the song is over"), "Money" ("Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie"). And "Us And Them" ("Forward he cried from the rear") might be viewed as the keys to understanding the meaning (if indeed there is any definite meaning) of The Dark Side of the Moon.

Even though this is a concept album, a number of the cuts can stand on their own. "Time" is a fine country-tinged rocker with a powerful guitar solo by David Gilmour and "Money" is broadly and satirically played with appropriately raunchy sax playing by Dick Parry, who also contributes a wonderfully-stated, breathy solo to "Us And Them." The non-vocal "On The Run" is a standout with footsteps racing from side to side successfully eluding any number of odd malevolent rumbles and explosions only to be killed off by the clock's ticking that leads into "Time." Throughout the album the band lays down a solid framework which they embellish with synthesizers, sound effects and spoken voice tapes. The sound is lush and multi-layered while remaining clear and well-structured.

There are a few weak spots. David Gilmour's vocals are sometimes weak and lackluster and "The Great Gig in the Sky" (which closes the first side) probably could have been shortened or dispensed with, but these are really minor quibbles. The Dark Side of the Moon is a fine album with a textural and conceptual richness that not only invites, but demands involvement. There is a certain grandeur here that exceeds mere musical melodramatics and is rarely attempted in rock. The Dark Side of the Moon has flash-the true flash that comes from the excellence of a superb performance.
Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/6uGYCZLXw3wPFOSYcqLz9F

Album Name: Rattus Norvegicus
Artist: The Stranglers
Release Year: 1977

Track Listing:

1. Sometimes
2. Goodbye Toulouse
3. London Lady
4. Princess of the Streets
5. Hanging Around
6. Peaches
7. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
8. Ugly
9. Down in the Sewer


Chris Jones, 2009:
When it was released, Rattus Norvegicus saw The Stranglers – for the summer of 1977, at least – well ahead of the punk pack. Its distinctive combination of lyrical anger and organ-driven sleaze was both deeply confrontational and musically accomplished. This was an album that found considerable success by crossing barriers: those older music fans who found the minimalism of The Damned or the Ramones a little too off-putting could deal with the snaking arabesques of Hugh Cornwell's guitar solos, Jean Jacques Burnel's growling Fender Precision bass or Dave Greenfield's frankly psychedelic organ arpeggios. Oh, and some great tunes. Like older outfits, such as The Only Ones or The Vibrators, the former Guildford Stranglers not only had the unfashionable ability to play rather well but also to display their 60s roots; not least in the swirling keyboards of Greenfield, who obviously took his inspiration from The Doors' Ray Manzarek. And despite having a drummer who looked like he was wanted in several counties (and old enough to be the average fan's dad), a keyboard player with a preposterous pudding bowl haircut and 'tache, plus a nasty line in lyrical misogyny, these were seasoned pros who knew exactly how to work the publicity machine.
Beginning your album with a line about smacking your girlfriend's face (Sometimes) was never going to sit well with an increasingly feminised media. But of course it was this kind of puerile antagonism that was going to win them column inches and gig receipts, as they undoubtedly knew. Subsequent albums became exponentially sophisticated with some tellingly literate cultural reference points, but this debut, produced by Martin Rushent, goes out of its way to be brutish, reflecting their live appeal.

Besides classic single moments such as Peaches and (Get A) Grip (On Yourself), the album is packed with punchy, if sexist, fare like London Lady or Hanging Around. Yet the band betrays their true nature by concluding with the multi-part 'concept' piece, Down in the Sewer. It also gave the game away with regard to the black humour that lies at the heart of their music. How else do explain a line like, “We'll be called the survivors. Do you know why? (No!) Because we're gonna survive!”
Thirty years on the non-PC aspects seem doubly crass, but the tunes remain paramount examples of the perfect mix of old and new from the first summer of hate.
Listen here: https://open.spotify.com/album/38lyLeszq1p2sck1lB53dq
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Comments

  • Dark Side of the Moon gets my vote.
  • Neither albums that I own or much like.

    Sure DSOTM is meant to be great for testing the quality of your new hi-fi but as I don't like his voice or their music it does nothing for me.

    Was never a big Stranglers fan either but Grip was a good single and on that basis its Rattus for me. Although I suspect it will make no difference to the victory for "the Floyd" given the number of f******* aging hippies on this site : - )
  • edited October 10
    I was 20 or 21 in '77 and was into the punk scene. I worked part time (on days off from work) for Bernie Rhodes, Clash manager, for a couple of years.
    The Stranglers were never really accepted by the punk cognoscenti, as they were considered sexist band wagon jumpers, and they had a (probably false) reputation for violence. Punk was very non sexist.
    I bought Peaches on 7" when it came out and it tuned out the picture sleeve had to be withdrawn so I ended up selling it in Beanos for £250 in the nineties. One of the last small gigs they played was in the Red Cow in Hammersmith, and my mate Arturo Bassick's band Pinpoint was supporting them. I left after the Pinpoint set and could barely escape, such was the crush to get in to see the Stranglers.
    DSOTM I bought at school when it came out. I suppose I really liked it back then, but it doesn't do anything for me now.
    Rattus has a few appalling tracks on it so I couldn't vote for that. Grip, as @Henry Irving is the best tack.
    Grudgingly, for my 16 yr old self, I'll say DSOM.

    PS Haven't seen the full list, but I'm assuming The Clash are represented?
  • I think we are all aging, hippies or not. I vote for the Floyd but don't like either album that much
  • JamesSeed said:

    I was 20 or 21 in '77 and was into the punk scene. I worked part time (on days off from work) for Bernie Rhodes, Clash manager, for a couple of years.
    The Stranglers were never really accepted by the punk cognoscenti, as they were considered sexist band wagon jumpers, and they had a (probably false) reputation for violence.
    I bought Peaches on 7" when it came out and it tuned out the picture sleeve had to be withdrawn so I ended up selling it in Beanos for £250 in the nineties. One of the last small gigs they played was in the Red Cow in Hammersmith, and my mate Arturo Bassick's band Pinpoint was supporting them. I left after the Pinpoint set and could barely escape, such was the crush to get in to see the Stranglers.
    DSOTM I bought at school when it came out. I suppose I really liked it back then, but it doesn't do anything for me now.
    Rattus has a few appalling tracks on it so I couldn't vote for that. Grip, as @Henry Irving is the best tack, but
    Grudgingly, for my 16 yr old self, I'll say DSOM.

    PS Haven't seen the full list, but I'm assuming The Clash are represented?

    I'm afraid not. I think there was a single vote for each the self titled album and London Calling.
  • How can you compare Pink Floyd with the Stranglers !

    DSOTM.
  • I'm not alone then. I've listened to Dark Side of the Moon so many times thinking "Why do I not feel anything when listening to this?" I think it's one of those that I 'just don't get'. I will be listening to it again this week though.
  • Much as the Stranglers are admirable I think this is a bit of a mismatch. Two albums that I think occupy different spheres as it were, and don't particularly suit comparison.
    Dark Side of the Moon is an utter masterpiece that grew out of a particular cultural and musical moment in time, and I suspect that it will remain a masterpiece for all time.
    All I can say on this one is 'wrong question', but DSOTM is the easiest choice out of most that we have already had.
  • Easy one this for me: Rattus.

    Growing up with a Dad who is essentially a die-hard Stranglers fan, made this an obvious decision for me. Given that I have seen them 30+ times and know a few of them on a personal level, it makes it even more blatant.

    From my own personal point of view, it's an album which is underrated in the sense that, firstly - it's their debut album. Secondly, it does not sound dated, even with the keyboards. Thirdly, Sewer - what an ending.

    Peaches and Grip were the two singles off the album and such is it's strength, that Hanging Around probably would have got to number one, had they released that next instead of the No More Heroes album later in the same year!
  • I've never listened to the Stranglers record and therefore DSOTM wins by default.
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  • Both records are IMO two of the best in my lifetime.
    but you cannot pitch them against each other. They are totally different genres.
    Score draw.
  • I'm not alone then. I've listened to Dark Side of the Moon so many times thinking "Why do I not feel anything when listening to this?" I think it's one of those that I 'just don't get'. I will be listening to it again this week though.

    Gently portrays the constant struggle against madness and despair many people experience throughout their lives. Don't look for any other hippy, trippy meanings or cultural significance.

    If life all make perfect sense to you, you probably wouldn't get it!
  • I can't abide Pink Floyd.

    Stranglers win.
  • Missed It said:

    I can't abide Pink Floyd.

    Stranglers win.

    Ditto.
  • DSOTM for me

    As @Stevexreeve said about the album 'Gently portrays the constant struggle against madness and despair many people experience' this just about sums it up for me, never a comfortable listen but a powerful one.


  • Stranglers. No contest.
  • DSOTM
  • Missed It said:

    I can't abide Pink Floyd.

    Stranglers win.

    Ditto.
    That’s just Gossip though.
  • Oh Bloody hell...Sorry I can't choose :neutral:
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  • I've heard it said that when Pink Floyd fired Syd Barrett it enabled them to develop a more sophisticated and adult sound.
    For me, the tragedy of Barrett's descent into mental illness isn't just that it forced the band's hand, but that more significantly we will never know how Syd may have lead the band's development.
    I suppose most Floyd fans will say thank God, as never were 2 factions more polarised.
    As it is, the childlike psychedelic whimsy of Piper at the Gates of Dawn is left alone to define the Barrett era. Brilliant though it is.
    I am sure though that Barrett was too talented a writer though to have stood still
    The 2 Barrett solo albums hint at one or two interesting unexplored avenues, eg Wolfpack, Rats, Feel.
    But despite the sterling efforts of his erstwhile Floyd bandmates they really aren't much more than demo's.

    Anyway, suffice to say I am a Sydophile and the enormously successful later career of the Sydless Floyd leaves me cold I am afraid.
    Dark Side is probably may favourite post-Syd, if that means anything, but the sales figures utterly bemuse me.

    The Stranglers rode in on the back of punk to establish their niche, but they were never a true punk band, there was far too much musical talent on display.
    They were fast, loud and aggressive and that was enough to fool everyone.
    What takes them to another level is Dave Greenfield's keyboards.
    Rattus Norvegicus is a fast driving, take no prisoners rock album, packed with great songs.
    I'd like to think the misogyny is an act- many great songwriters write in character, you are not supposed to take them literally or autobiographically.
    That said, Peaches is the one song I always skip.
    But Grip, Hanging Around and the sublime Down in the Sewer are right up there.

    I loved the emergent prog scene (the one genre without it's own definitive "sound"), early albums by Yes, King Crimson and others are classics (and of course Pink Floyd were lumped into that Prog umbrella), but I always maintain that many of the prog bands eventually over-reached themselves and musically disappeared up their own arse.
    The music scene was ripe for the honesty and simplicity of punk and in the same way Rattus Norvegicus helped to blow some of the bloated bore merchants out of the water.

    I vote Stranglers


  • Very disappointed that the best two albums by a country mile so far have been drawn head to head so early on. Rattus has it all, passion, power and feeling in spades with no little melody as well. Somehow though Dark Side, is on another level altogether. The only album I've bought in four different formats. Floyd win, but there should be space fo best loser in the next round.
  • Missed It said:

    I can't abide Pink Floyd.

    Stranglers win.

    Ditto.
    That’s just Gossip though.
    Very good.

  • Rattus, hanging around and grip are masterful. Pink Floyd were a bit too middle of the road, only decent prog rock group ever were Thotch.
  • Rattus. A more enjoying listen
  • Stranglers not in the same league as Floyd.
    Dark side all the way for me.
  • Dark Side for me is timeless. I do like Rattus but it is not in the same league.
  • Pink Floyd in a completely different league to The Stranglers.
    DSOTM by 1st round K/O.
  • Love DSOTM but Rattus wins for me. The Stranglers shaped me as a human. From 77-90 they were MY band.
  • Stig said:

    Very disappointed that the best two albums by a country mile so far have been drawn head to head so early on. Rattus has it all, passion, power and feeling in spades with no little melody as well. Somehow though Dark Side, is on another level altogether. The only album I've bought in four different formats. Floyd win, but there should be space fo best loser in the next round.

    Tried to avoid losing favourites early on by separating the albums with the most votes. Dark Side of the Moon received 9 votes, which was the second highest, whereas Rattus Norvegicus received 4.
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