Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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“Bear Cage”: Orphaned Art Punk

Non-album single, “Bear Cage” reached the UK Top 40 (#36) for The Stranglers in 1980:

A 12-inch single version – the band’s first – containing extended mixes of both tracks was also released.

Once famously dismissed by John Lydon as “hippies with short hair,” The Stranglers got considerably less ink than the Pistols, Clash (et al.) and yet their first seven albums went Top 10 in the UK, while every one of their albums up through 1995’s About Time reached Top 40 or better.  In fact, up through “Bear Cage” and the 45 that followed, each and every one of the band’s singles hit the UK Top 40 except their debut, “(Get a) Grip (on Yourself)” (#44) and the “Don’t Bring Harry” medley from their 1979 live EP (#41).  Only one of their albums would chart here in the US – 1986’s Dreamtime at #172.

Mojo’s 2006 history of Punk captures the group’s distinctive chemistry:

“The group was strange and singular enough to begin with, satisfying few, if any, of the prerequisites of the punk ethos.  Keyboardist Dave Greenfield, a science-minded occultist, actually had a mustache.  Drummer Jet Black noticeably mature for a pop star, had played in ’50s jazz combos.  Burnel, of French parentage, was a classically-trained guitarist who ran with bikers.  Then there was Cornwell, a songwriter and guitarist of uncommon flair, but with a tendency to follow his demons.

“Whether or not they were really joking is what gave The Stranglers their peculiar edge… On the cover of a June ’78 Melody Maker, Burnel provocatively declared:  ‘Everyone knows Americans have smaller brains.’  Death threats from Ramones fans followed.”

“Taken from the album The Raven” says the promo – alas, not true for “Bear Cage”

Stranglers promo - Bear Cage

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