Giants and Gems: An Album Collection

The Stranglers

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Giants and Gems: An Album Collection Review

by David Jeffries

In 2013, the great five-disc Stranglers box set The Old Testament: The U.A. Studio Recordings (1977-1982) from 1992 was reissued, featuring most of the group's best albums plus a bunch of drool-worthy bonuses (demos, B-sides, remixes, and other whatnot). This bulky 11-disc set was released just one year after -- the excuse being that the band's 40th anniversary must be honored -- but the differences are vast, with this one serving a purpose for the hardcore while Old Testament is the clear winner for the more casual listener. Believe that the band was a sham once lead singer Hugh Cornwell left in 1990 and Giants and Gems is a legacy-harming device, since two albums with Baz Warne on vocals (the OK Suite XVI from 2006 and the excellent Giants from 2012) are included. End-to-end fans who think that Baz is ace might still find this set revisionist history, as the band's middle period as a five-piece with the slinky singer Paul Roberts (who acted as if he were fronting INXS and not the scruffy band that recorded "Peaches") is missing, as are the late Hugh Cornwell albums, since classics like Aural Sculpture are owned by Sony. The Old Testament bonus tracks have also gone missing here, as Giants and Gems presents the albums just as they were issued on vinyl with no extras, but including the rarities compilation Off the Beaten Track in this set is a bonus in itself, as are getting the live albums Live (X-Cert) and Live at the Hope & Anchor. Those looking to go past the hits should buy Aural Sculpture and Feline separately, then consider The Old Testament if you want the complete lean and mean Stranglers, or add this one to the shelves for something more exhaustive and Bazzy.

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