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The Stranglers: Records that changed my life

BY Becca Inglis

28th Feb 2024 Music

3 min read

The Stranglers: Records that changed my life
As The Stranglers embark on their next UK tour, bass guitarist and co-lead vocalist, JJ Burnell, shares the records that left a lasting impression on him

Isao Tomita—Snowflakes Are Dancing

Snowflakes Are Dancing Tomita
The first record I can remember really liking and influencing me was an album called Snowflakes Are Dancing by a Japanese guy called Isao Tomita.
It was a synthesiser album, and on the inner sleeve you can see the old-fashioned synthesiser—a whole wall of synthesisers and plugs going in—and it was the works of Claude Debussy but electronically.
"On the inner sleeve you can see the old-fashioned synthesiser"
So I was introduced to Claude Debussy, who's one of the greatest impressionist composers, through electronica. Since then, I've become a huge fan of Claude Debussy. It still excites me when I hear La Fille aux cheveux de lin.

Lou Reed—Transformer

Lou Reed Transformer
It would have been when I was a student in Yorkshire, and I was trying to sleep with a girl who would let me sleep in her bed but wouldn't let me touch her.
I remember that distinctly because it was a very frustrating time. I respected her desire but god, I was a young man with a lot of adrenaline. I'd ride over to Leeds University and be sweet and lovely to her.
That was Transformer by Lou Reed, because I think all the songs on that are really memorable. Transformer is the one which has got “Perfect Day” and “Walk On The Wild Side”. So that reflects a moment in time for me.

La Dusseldorf—La Dusseldorf

La Dusseldorf
A bit later, The Stranglers were going then, and I heard an album called La Dusseldorf by a German band called La Dusseldorf and a guy called Klaus Dinger, who had a lot to do with Kraftwerk in the earlier days.
It was the incessant drum rhythm, which I found really captivating. It was more metronomic and had quite long pieces, and I liked that.
"I was looking towards Europe for inspiration"
That influenced me in The Stranglers. A lot of that krautrock did at the time, actually—CAN, Kraftwerk, Neu, stuff like that.
Most of my generation were looking towards America, and for some reason, maybe just my bent or my Frenchness, I was looking towards Europe for inspiration. So that was an album which I listened to a lot. 

The Doors—LA Woman

The Doors LA Woman
Well, Jim Morrison and The Doors, Ray Manzarek. Robby Krieger, John Densmore, that was probably at the end of my student days. I didn't know much about what was happening in music. I just listened to this thing. I listened to it at one point when we were taking acid, and of course an LSD trip lasted about 12 hours.
But as a young student, I listened to it many times, and I liked it so much. It's basically a Blues sound, but with two standout tracks, “LA Woman” and “Riders on the Storm”.
I didn't know that Jim Morrison had died. I only found out later, but I loved the record so much. I bought four or five copies for a friend just to give to them to listen—voila

The Who—Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy

The Who Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy
Another one then was an album called Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, and it's a compilation of The Who singles. When I was a kid The Who did some great songs, their early singles were standout, and it had them all.
"I'd be riding my motorcycle listening to all this stuff"
At the time, when I was a student, we didn't have to wear helmets on motorcycles. I was a biker from day one, so I would go to college on my BSA 650 Thunderbolt single carburettor, with a Willie Willie beanie hat and headphones and a little hippie side bag with a techno cassette player in it.
I'd be riding my motorcycle listening to all this stuff.

The Beach Boys—Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys
Another album, which I think I heard after its initial explosion on the scene, was by the Beach Boys called Pet Sounds, which is considered their masterpiece. It's got “God Only Knows”, “In My Room” and stuff like that.
I didn't hear it in the 1960s, probably because I was listening to a lot of British Blues music at that time. I heard it years later, when people said, “This is their masterpiece,” because of the arrangements, the beauty of the harmonies.
The Stranglers tour venues around the UK throughout March 2024. Visit their website to find out more
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