Rattus Norvegicus (album)

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Rattus Norvegicus
Stranglers - Rattus Norvegicus album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released15 April 1977 (1977-04-15)
Recorded20 December 1976 – 28 January 1977
StudioTW Studios, Fulham, Olympic Studios, Barnes, London, England
LabelUnited Artists
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

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

Background and production[edit]

The album was originally to be entitled Dead on Arrival but was changed at the last minute.[2] 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 album peaked at No. 4 in the UK Albums Chart, eventually spending 34 weeks on the chart.[3][4] The first 10,000 copies of the original vinyl release included a free 7" single, containing "Peasant in the Big Shitty (live)" and "Choosey Susie".

Two singles were taken from the album: "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" (released as a double A-side with album track "London Lady"), and "Peaches" (released as a double A-side with the non-album track "Go Buddy Go"), which gave the band their first major hit single, reaching No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart.[5]

A remastered version of the album was reissued on CD in 2001, including these three additional tracks. The album launch party was held in the Water Rat pub on the King's Road, in the World's End district of Chelsea.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[7]
The Village VoiceC[8]

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.[9] NME later ranked it at No. 196 in its 2014 list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time".[10] It was included in Robert Dimery's 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[11]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by the Stranglers.

Side A

  1. "Sometimes" (4:56)
Written by Hugh Cornwell, describes a violent argument with a girlfriend.[12] The same girlfriend is the subject of "Strange Little Girl" which was written earlier by Cornwell and Hans Wärmling.[13]
  1. "Goodbye Toulouse" (3:12)
Music by Cornwell, lyrics by Burnel. Describes the destruction of Toulouse predicted by Nostradamus.[14]
  1. "London Lady" (2:25)
Music by Cornwell, lyrics by Burnel. Loosely based on a contemporary female journalist.[15]
  1. "Princess of the Streets" (4:34)
Written in 6/8 time, music and lyrics by Burnel. Penned 'pre-Stranglers'.[16]
  1. "Hanging Around" (4:25)
Music by Burnel, lyrics by Cornwell. Describes the characters found in the London pubs that the band played live at.[17] Was covered by Hazel O'Connor on her third album, Cover Plus, and released by her as a single that same year (1981).

Side B

  1. "Peaches" (4:03)
Burnel/Cornwell. The Stranglers influenced by reggae.[18]
  1. "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)" (3:55)
Music and lyrics by Cornwell. Based on band life in their Chiddingfold squat; featured Eric Clarke, a Welsh coal miner, on saxophone.[19]
  1. "Ugly" (4:03)
Music and lyrics by Burnel. Described as 'abstract psychedelia' by Cornwell, the poem Ozymandias is featured.[20]
  1. "Down in the Sewer" (7:30)
Has four sections: "Falling"/"Down in the Sewer"/"Trying To Get Out Again"/"Rat's Rally". Music by Burnel, lyrics by Cornwell. The 'sewer' refers to London. [21] Lyrically the song references an episode of the 1975 post-apocalyptic 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.

Bonus 7" (limited first issue)

  1. "Peasant in the Big Shitty" – live
  2. "Choosey Susie"

2001 bonus tracks

  1. "Choosey Susie" (3:14)
Music and lyrics by Burnel, describes the same girl as "Princess of the Streets".[22]
  1. "Go Buddy Go" (3:58)
Music and lyrics by Burnel, middle 8 by Cornwell. Uses verse chord structure of "Hey Joe" by Billy Roberts for the chorus. Written 'pre-Stranglers'.[23]
  1. "Peasant in the Big Shitty (Live at 'The Nashville', 10 Dec 1976)" (3:42)
Music and lyrics by Burnel, written in 9/4 time. Another observation on life in a city. Recorded for Rattus Norvegicus.[24]


The Stranglers

Additional personnel


  1. ^ U.K. Punk's Dark Lord, the Stranglers' Hugh Cornwell, Brings New Aggro Archived 28 July 2017 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Buckley 1997, p. 75
  3. ^ "Stranglers IV (Rattus Norvegicus)". ChartStats.com. Archived from the original on 16 August 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  4. ^ Buckley 1997, p. 291
  5. ^ Buckley 1997, p. 292
  6. ^ Cleary, David. "Rattus Norvegicus – The Stranglers". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ Christgau, Robert (5 September 1977). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Albums and Tracks of the Year". NME. 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Rocklist.net NME: The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time : October 2013". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 9 May 1992. Archived from the original on 4 January 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2015.
  11. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (7 February 2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  12. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 15
  13. ^ Cornwell 2004, pp. 98–99
  14. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 19
  15. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 22
  16. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 23–25
  17. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 27.
  18. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 29–30
  19. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 33–34
  20. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 36–37
  21. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 38–43
  22. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, p. 344
  23. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 44–45
  24. ^ Cornwell & Drury 2001, pp. 69–71


  • Buckley, David (1997). No Mercy-The Authorised and Uncensored Biography of The Stranglers. London: Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-68062-8.
  • Cornwell, Hugh (2004). A Multitude of Sins. London: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-00-719082-4.
  • Cornwell, Hugh; Drury, Jim (2001). The Stranglers-Song by Song. London: Sanctuary Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1-86074-362-5.

External links[edit]