Before the Internet and being clued up enough to buy many variations of the music press one got their influences from differing sources. Flyers. Bill Posters (he who should not be prosecuted). Word of mouth. Reading the back of peoples leather jackets.
I heard all of the four main U.K. Punk outfits in the very, very early 80’s as a 10 / 11 year old. The Clash, The Damned and the Sex Pistols I all heard through friends who had their singles or albums. Tommy Gun by The Clash sure sounded catchy and even at 10 years of age made one kick oneself for not being just a few years older. My first exposure to the Sex Pistols was via the Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle double album and when hearing the band jam Roadrunner and Johnny B. Goode a world of exciting /edgy music opened up. Nothing seemed more important.
The first time I heard The Stranglers would prove to be through a new release however. As this was current /now it had a different appeal. All of a sudden I wasn’t looking/ listening retrospectively. In December, 1981, The Stranglers released what is certainly their most famous song with the widest appeal. I had seen the bands logo on leather jackets (usually at the bottom, the best place) and, yeah, word of mouth was that they were Punk – so they must be good.
So. There I am watching Swap Shop one Saturday morning, just turned 11 years of age, and the video for the new Stranglers song just comes on. I was like ‘whoaa, this is going to be crazy’, and then…. it wasn’t. It wasn’t crazy at all. I thought is this the Stranglers? There must be some kind of mistake.
Of course Golden Brown is a bona fide classic. A charming song with real subtle hidden depths. The band would never release a song that could appeal to so many people and decades later it has lost none of it’s dark charms. The single peaked at number 2 in the U.K. charts held off the number 1 spot by The Jam. The record sold for a long sustained period and must have contributed to the bands continuation throughout the 80’s and beyond. Can you think of anyone that does not at least like Golden Brown? The first wave of Punk had gone and this single marked the beginning for a decade of music that would change at a faster rate than any decade I can think of. A Golden era if you like…