The Stranglers

5 Live 01

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Transforming from a Jam-inspired punk group to a goth-tinged pop band as the '80s moved forward, the Stranglers always provided a few good songs per album. Luckily, the group is quite aware of the amount of filler they have produced, and 5 Live 01 is an excellent document of their best material performed live. The band avoids performing the music in the order it was created, which makes this album work more to the listener's benefit than their countless other collections (save Greatest Hits 1977-1990, which is an excellent album). And though many have been opposed to the lineup changes brought about in the '90s, singer Paul Roberts does an fine job on material that he never took part in. In fact, certain songs (including their huge hit "Golden Brown") are given a new depth with Roberts' smooth, expressive vocals. The album covers their entire career, showcasing the excellent punk rock songs from the beginning of their career and pulling the gems out of the questionable albums that came later. And the sound quality is superb, at times sounding like a studio recording. Of course, that could be from overdubs, but if that is the case, at least the band avoids the blatant cut-and-paste techniques that many live albums use. Anyone looking for a good collection of the band's music should give this a try, as it is a great live document of a band that never quite got its due outside of England.

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