Rattus Norvegicus (album)

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Rattus Norvegicus
Stranglers - Rattus Norvegicus album cover.jpg
Studio album by
Released15 April 1977 (1977-04-15)
RecordedJanuary–February 1977[1]
StudioT.W. Studios, Fulham, England
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

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-inch singles in the UK.


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.


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
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[17]
The Great Rock Discography8/10[18]
Record Collector[20]
Record Mirror[21]
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


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


Credits adapted from the album liner notes.[35]


  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.


External links[edit]