There are some old chestnuts trotted out about punk, but The Stranglers (in)famously were punk’s old chestnuts; drummer Ian “Jet Black” Duffy was a prehistoric thirty seven by the time the movement’s year zero arrived and the rest of the quartet were only junior to him by a decade or so.
That being the case there wasn’t much time to waste. Without the benefit of youthful contempt for authority they fell back to something their contemporaries lacked: an ability to play their instruments. This openly against the grain approach weaponised their critics, a resentment which was bolstered by a confrontation outside Dingwalls in 1976 between the band and various members of The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Ramones along with their coterie of journalistic hangers on. The outcome depends on who you speak to.
Musically they also rode different to the pack, Dave Greenfield’s keyboards giving them a melodic quality which dulled some gleefully worn abrasive edges. Those twinkling fingers were the defining quality to No More Heroes, a song which also name checked Lenin, Trotsky and Shakespeare and that featured a nifty Hammond solo which for some only confirmed their suspicions. Those haters certainly hated: writing for Trouser Press at the time Ira Robbins described The Stranglers as “the gloomiest, nastiest band ever.” Some achievement for a bunch of old men.