Black and White

Black and White

If you're listening to The Stranglers for the first time in the 21st century, it may be hard to hear exactly what was so weird and groundbreaking about them. That's how well their sound has been absorbed by the groups that came afterward. But in 1978—when Black and White, their third album, was first issued—it was hard to figure out where they belonged. The Stranglers weren't loud, fast punks. They weren't easier-to-digest new wave popsters. Brilliant songs like "Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)" and "Nice N' Sleazy" were subtly pulling the legs of everyone around them (crowds didn't get the satire of hiring strippers to dance along), while the musicianship of "Toiler on the Sea" proved that not all underground rock bands in the late '70s were averse to playing their instruments well. The original album had a "White" side (tracks 1-6) and a "Black" side (7-12), and the U.K. release came with a bonus EP that's included here with other bonus tracks. A cover of the Dionne Warwick hit "Walk on By" takes the song into another dimension.

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