The Stranglers – Always the Sun (1986)

The Stranglers logoThe Stranglers started out in the mid-1970’s as a pub-rock band, evolved into a not-quite-punk band, and then refined their sound until they produced “respectable” pop music. Along the way, they pushed the boundaries of rock music (listen to Outside Tokyo or Threatened off Black and White, The Raven, Dead Loss Angeles  or Ice off The Raven, or just about anything off The Gospel According to the Meninblack.

Singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell left the band in 1990 to embark on a solo career. Like Genesis without Peter Garbriel or Ultravox without John Foxx, this is one of those instances where a band suffers from the departure of a member and never approaches it’s former glory.

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Although The Stranglers were very popular in the UK, Dreamtime was the only album to chart in the U.S., largely due to the song Always the Sun. Even though this song is from the band’s more commercial pop period, if you listen closely, you can hear elements from the experimental period, such as Hugh Cornwell’s use of the guitar.

Cornwell was involved in the making of the video for Always the Sun. Unfortunately, the rest of the band didn’t like the video, and this caused discord in the group.

 Artist Website: www.stranglers.net
• Artist Website: www.hughcornwell.com
• Free MP3 Download of Hugh Cornwell’s latest album,
Hooverdam: www.hooverdamdownload.com

Grant McLennan – Lighting Fires (1994)

www.marcsmusiclist.comGrant McLennan was a founding member of Australian band The Go-Betweens, along with Robert Forster. Grant died of a sudden heart attack in Brisbane in 2006.

This song, Lighting Fires, has everything going for it: an infectious jangly melody, a great guitar sound, and poetic lyrics.

Grant recorded four solo albums—this song appears on two of them: 1994’s Fireboy and Horsebreaker Star, released the following year.

• Artist website (fan site): www.gobetweens.net
Grant McLennan, 1958–2006,
Robert Christgau, The Village Voice

Natalie Merchant – Ophelia (1998)

Natalie Merchant has a voice that possesses sweetness, purity, and power. By sweetness, I mean mellifluous, not the kind of saccharin-sweet that sends you into an insulin coma (like Olivia Newton-John).

Drawing on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia is Natalie’s great masterpiece. The song tells the story of a woman who is insane, perhaps with dissociative identity disorder, who experiences herself as a number of different characters. At the top of this post is the video that Natalie created as a companion to the song.

Natalie cut her teeth in the band 10,000 Maniacs.

Artist’s web site: www.nataliemerchant.com