Rattus Norvegicus (album)

Rattus Norvegicus (alternative title The Stranglers IV) is the debut studio album by the Stranglers, released on 15 April 1977.

Rattus Norvegicus
Studio album by
Released15 April 1977 (1977-04-15)
RecordedJanuary–February 1977[1]
StudioT.W. Studios (Fulham)
Mixed at Olympic Studios, Barnes, London
LabelUnited Artists (UK)
A&M (US)
ProducerMartin Rushent
The Stranglers chronology
Rattus Norvegicus
No More Heroes
Singles from Rattus Norvegicus
  1. "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)"
    Released: 28 January 1977
  2. "Peaches"
    Released: 21 May 1977

It was one of the highest-selling albums of the punk era in Britain, eventually achieving platinum record sales. Two of its tracks, "Peaches" and "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)", were released as 7-inch singles in the UK.

Background edit

The album was originally going to be titled Dead on Arrival but it was changed at the last minute.[4] The Stranglers IV prefix was a deliberate attempt by the band to cause confusion.[5] The released title is the taxonomic name for the common brown rat. The album was produced in one week by Martin Rushent and was a snapshot of the band's live set at the time.

The first 10,000 copies of the original vinyl release included a free 7-inch single, containing "Peasant in the Big Shitty" (live) and "Choosey Susie".[6] The album launch party was held in the Water Rat pub on the King's Road, in the World's End district of Chelsea.[7]

Remastered versions of the album were reissued on CD in 1996, 2001 and 2018, and included additional tracks.

Lyrics edit

According to the book The Stranglers-Song by Song, "Sometimes" describes a violent argument with a girlfriend.[8] The same girlfriend is the subject of "Strange Little Girl" which was written earlier by Cornwell and Hans Wärmling.[9] "Goodbye Toulouse" describes the destruction of Toulouse predicted by Nostradamus.[10]

"London Lady" is loosely based on a contemporary female journalist,[11] and "Hanging Around" describes the characters found in the London pubs where the band performed.[12] In 1981, it was covered by Hazel O'Connor on her third album, Cover Plus, and released by her as a single that same year.

"(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)" is based on the band's life in their Chiddingfold squat. It features Eric Clarke, a Welsh coal miner friend of the band's manager Dai Davies, on saxophone.[13] "Ugly" mentions the poem Ozymandias.[14]

"Down in the Sewer" has four sections: "Falling", "Down in the Sewer", "Trying to Get Out Again", and "Rat's Rally". The 'sewer' refers to London.[15] Lyrically, the song references an episode of the 1975 post-apocalyptic BBC TV drama Survivors titled "Lights of London", where the protagonists leave the safety of a farming community to head for the city, which they find can only be entered through a rat-infested sewer.

Reception and legacy edit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [16]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [17]
The Great Rock Discography8/10[18]
Mojo     [19]
Record Collector     [20]
Record Mirror     [21]
Sounds     [22]
The Village VoiceC[23]

Rattus Norvegicus was ranked at No. 10 among the top albums of the year for 1977 by NME, with "Peaches" ranked at No. 18 among the year's top tracks.[24] NME later ranked it at No. 196 on its 2014 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[25] In 2000, Rattus Norvegicus was voted number 766 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[26] It was also included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[27]

During promotion of The Head on the Door in 1985, Robert Smith of the Cure cited Rattus Norvegicus as one of his five favourite albums.[28]

Track listing edit

All tracks are written by the Stranglers (Hugh Cornwell, Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield, Jet Black)

Side A
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Sometimes"Hugh Cornwell4:56
2."Goodbye Toulouse"Cornwell3:12
3."London Lady"Jean-Jacques Burnel2:25
4."Princess of the Streets"Burnel4:34
5."Hanging Around"Cornwell4:25
Side B
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
7."(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)"Cornwell3:55
9."Down in the Sewer"
  • a. "Falling"
  • b. "Down in the Sewer"
  • c. "Trying to Get Out Again"
  • d. "Rats Rally"
Total length:40:05
Free single
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Peasant in the Big Shitty" (livea)Dave Greenfield3:42
2."Choosey Susie"Burnel3:14
Total length:6:56
1996 CD reissue bonus disc (EMI)
  • Disc one as per original album
Disc two
No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Choosey Susie" 3:14
2."Go Buddy Go" (B-side to "Peaches")Burnel3:58
3."Peasant in the Big Shitty" (live) 3:42
Total length:10:54
2001 CD bonus tracks
10."Choosey Susie"3:14
11."Go Buddy Go"3:58
12."Peasant in the Big Shitty" (live)3:42
Total length:50:59
2018 CD reissue bonus tracks (Parlophone)
(Associated recordings)
10."Choosey Susie"3:13
11."Peasant in the Big Shitty" (live)3:39
12."Go Buddy Go"3:58
13."Peaches" (Airplay version)4:07
14."Grip '89 (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" (1989 single remix)4:01
15."Grip '89" (12" Grippin' Stuff Mix)5:38
Total length:64:42
  • ^a Live at The Nashville pub in West Kensington, 10 Dec 1976[29]

Charts and certifications edit

Weekly charts edit

Chart Peak



(sales thresholds)

UK Albums Chart[30] 4 UK: Platinum[31]
Australian Charts 82

Year-end charts edit

Chart (1977) Position
UK Albums (OCC)[32] 21

Singles edit

Single Chart Peak



(sales thresholds)

"(Get a) Grip (On Yourself)" UK Singles Chart[33] 44
New Zealand Chart 35
"Peaches" UK Singles Chart 8 UK: Silver[34]
Australian Chart 54

Personnel edit

Credits adapted from the album liner notes.[35]

References edit

  1. ^ Twomey 1992, pp. 26–29.
  2. ^ a b Dougan, John. "No More Heroes - The Stranglers | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Rob (6 May 2020). "The Stranglers: a guide to their best albums". Classic Rock. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  4. ^ Buckley 1997, p. 75.
  5. ^ Twomey 1992, p. 30.
  6. ^ Twomey 1992, p. 54.
  7. ^ Carne, Owen (12 February 2011). "Memorabilia-Rattus Norvegicus-Miscellaneous". thestranglers.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  8. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 15.
  9. ^ Cornwell 2004, pp. 98–99.
  10. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 19.
  11. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 22.
  12. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 27.
  13. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 33–34.
  14. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 36–37.
  15. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 38–43.
  16. ^ Cleary, David. "Rattus Norvegicus – The Stranglers". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  17. ^ Larkin 2011.
  18. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2002). The Great Rock Discography (6th ed.). Edinburgh: Canongate Books. p. 1012. ISBN 1-84195-312-1.
  19. ^ Cameron, Keith (November 2016). "Ages of Hugh". Mojo. No. 276. p. 47.
  20. ^ Peacock, Tim (April 2018). "The Stranglers – Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes, Black And White, Live (X Cert), The Raven, The Gospel According To The Meninblack, La Folie". Record Collector. No. 478. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  21. ^ Cain, Barry (23 April 1977). "Gripping Stranglers". Record Mirror. p. 14.
  22. ^ de Whalley, Chas (16 April 1977). "The Stranglers: IV Rattus Norvegicus (United Artists)". Sounds. Retrieved 11 November 2020 – via Rock's Backpages.
  23. ^ Christgau, Robert (5 September 1977). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  24. ^ "1977 Best Albums And Tracks Of The Year". NME. 10 October 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  25. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time: 200–101". NME. 25 October 2013. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 17 October 2020.
  26. ^ Larkin 2000, p. 242.
  27. ^ Dimery 2006.
  28. ^ "The Cure on 4C+" Robert Smith interview. Canal plus. 11 December 1985. Retrieved 7 June 2015 on youtube.
  29. ^ Note: "The Nashville" was later renamed "The Three Kings" and is situated next door to the exit from West Kensington Tube Station
  30. ^ "Rattus Norvegicus". Official Charts. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  31. ^ "Stranglers - Rattus Norvegicus". bpi. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Top Albums 1977" (PDF). Music Week. 24 December 1977. p. 14. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 March 2021. Retrieved 1 December 2021 – via worldradiohistory.com.
  33. ^ "Stranglers". Official Charts. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  34. ^ "Stranglers - Peaches". bpi. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  35. ^ "IV Rattus Norvegicus (Parlophone, 2018)". Discogs. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  36. ^ Carne, Owen (15 December 2011). "Live recording Nashville Rooms December 1976". thestranglers.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  37. ^ a b "Grip '89 (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)". Discogs. Retrieved 15 February 2022.

Bibliography edit

External links edit