100 Greatest Songs of the 1980’s #54 The Stranglers – Golden Brown

Released: 1982

If music is in part of the reflection of the drugs taken by the people who make it, the late 70’s and early 80’s did little to dispel the notion. True, there was cocaine by the bucketload fueling New York’s disco bohemia and weed sustained the last few refugees from hippiedom, but heroin overshadowed both of them, among it’s strung out totems the Ruts DC’s Malcolm Owens and most infamously, the lost boy Sid Vicious.

Punk’s inclusivity helped The Stranglers almost more than any other band, as from the start they were at odds with any standard pretensions to musical incompetency and lack of ambition. This experience gave them the means to see a route through it’s messy implosion in 1977-78 and by La Folie three years later they’d undergone a complete stylistic makeover, taking in psychedelia and sixties pop whilst dialing back the menace.

Even so Golden Brown still heralded a comeback which at the time looked next to impossible. With their new label bosses at EMI having effectively written them off, none of the quartet had much faith in the chances of an ungainly waltz being released at the peak of synth pop. It didn’t help that the lyrics obviously referenced the womb like haze of getting high, but in managing to convince the censors that they were just as applicable to time spent with singer Hugh Cornwell’s Mediterranean girlfriend, their brazen sidestepping laid a platform for one of the decade’s least likely renaissances.

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