What an ambitious boxed set that THE OLD TESTAMENT: THE U.A. STUDIO RECORDINGS(1977-1982) is. Comprising five cds in this boxed set, it includes the classic Stranglers’ albums IV RATTUS NORVEGICUS, NO MORE HEROES, BLACK AND WHITE, THE RAVEN, (THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO)THE MENINBLACK and LA FOLIE along with extra singles, Eps and rarity songs. It’s an incredible boxed set honoring the early years of the UKs most successful punk rock act ever. No other punk rock era act sold as many records as The Stranglers or had more top ten singles than this band.
Strangely, the early releases of The Stranglers seemed much like a UK pub version of The Doors, with the growling vocals of Hugh Cornwell or J.J. Burnel, and the heavy keyboard sounds of Dave Greenfield backed up by former ice cream businessman, Jet Black, on drums. Jet Black(real name Brian John Duffy) turned 75 this year, and made good money in the ice cream van and home brewing equipment business, but sold these businesses to embark on a career with The Stranglers which also turned out to be a major success as well.
Hugh Cornwell who shared much of the lead vocals of the act, actually had a degree in biochemistry, but his love of music led him to playing bass with Richard Thompson who later formed Fairport Convention among other musical journeys. With The Stranglers his vocal work sometimes had a slightly Jim Morrisonlike quality along with the heavy keyboard sound of the act. If you like The Doors, chances were you’d love the early years of The Stranglers as well.
The huge five cd box set covers some very fine music and is like a compact library of all of the early years of the band before Hugh Cornwell left the act for a solo career and the band experimented with some other lead singers to replace Cornwell, but with mixed results. Hugh Cornwell had a real quality to his voice and a cult fan appeal where you really liked the guy or not.
Whether you’re a lifelong fan of this band or just a casual listener who wants an introduction to the greatest punk band of all time, you’ll both love and be impressed by this act. This was one of the greatest UK music acts of all time. A great rock act!
****(Four Stars, Excellent. A very fine box set. Own this and love it!). This 2013 rerelease of this boxed set includes that fifth disc of rarities, making this a great new 2013 version of this package deal.