The Gospel According to the Meninblack
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|The Gospel According to The Meninblack|
|Studio album by The Stranglers|
|Released||7 February 1981|
|The Stranglers chronology|
The Gospel According to The Meninblack (or sometimes referred to as just The Meninblack) is the fifth album by The Stranglers, an esoteric concept album released in 1981. The album deals with conspiratorial ideas surrounding alien visitations to Earth, the sinister governmental Men in Black, and the involvement of these elements in well-known biblical narratives. This was not the first time The Stranglers had used this concept; Meninblack on the earlier The Raven album and subsequent 1980 single-release "Who Wants the World?" had also explored it, though not to the same level.
The album is an elaboration of concepts first introduced by the band on the aforementioned track from their preceding LP, The Raven. The Meninblack showcases the ideas and moods of the band stemming from the creative and intellectual freedom gained from the commercial success of previous releases. The music is progressive, macabre and abstract, powered by hypnotic drum and synthesizer loops, while the lyrical content is dark and witty. The original gatefold LP release features as its inside artwork a reproduction of The Last Supper, altered to depict a solemn Maninblack standing watchfully to Jesus's left, in place of Philip.
Hugh Cornwell, former singer-songwriter and guitarist with the group, has stated his belief that the album is the pinnacle of The Stranglers' artistic and creative output, and he cites it as his favourite album by the band. The Stranglers' bassist, Jean Jacques Burnel, regards the album as often techno in essence, though The Meninblack predates the emergence of that genre by some years.
In the UK, the choice of single releases from the album reflected its experimental flavour, and sales were poor. The Stranglers' next album, La Folie, was decidedly more commercial, heralding another radical change in musical direction.
The track "Four Horsemen" was the last song in The Strangler's catalog to feature lead vocals by Dave Greenfield, who sang lead vocals on at least one song on the first five releases, if you count b-sides ("Peasant In the Big Shitty" (Live), "Dead Ringer", "Do You Wanna", "Genetix" and "Four Horsemen").
Despite the band's enthusiasm and drive, the utilization of multiple producers and the most expensive studios in Europe, the album was ultimately only a standard selling product. On its original release, the album only sold around 50,000 copies, extremely disappointing sales considering the band's previous success. However, it still managed to break the top ten, peaking at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart, although it only spent five weeks in the listings.
Parts of the distinctive opening instrumental "Waltzinblack" were later used as the theme music for Keith Floyd's BBC TV series, Floyd on Food. The Stranglers developed a tradition of opening their live performances with recorded excerpts of "Waltzinblack".
All tracks composed and arranged by The Stranglers
- Side One
- "Waltzinblack" 3:38
- "Just Like Nothing On Earth" 3:55
- "Second Coming" 4:22
- "Waiting for the Meninblack" 3:44
- "Turn the Centuries, Turn" 4:35
- Side Two
- "Two Sunspots" 2:32
- "Four Horsemen" 3:40
- "Thrown Away" 3:30
- "Manna Machine" 3:17
- "Hallow to Our Men" 7:26
- CD bonus tracks
- "Top Secret" 3:27 (1988/2001 CD bonus track)
- "Maninwhite" 4:27 (1988/2001 CD bonus track)
- "Tomorrow Was Hereafter" 4:01 (2001 CD bonus track)
- The Stranglers
- Hugh Cornwell ("Hughinblack") - guitar, vocals
- Dave Greenfield ("Daveinblack") - keyboards, vocals
- Jean-Jacques Burnel ("JJinblack")- bass, vocals
- Jet Black ("Jetinblack") - drums, vocals, percussion 
- Alan Winstanley, Aldo Bocca, Laurence Diana, Steve Churchyard - engineer
- John Pasche - art direction, design
- Jim Gibson - calligraphy
- Ogg, Alex. "The Stranglers: The Meninblack" at AllMusic. Retrieved 5 October 2011.
- "The Meninblack". Hugh Cornwell in the Torture Garden. HughCornwell.com. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
- Buckley, David (1997) : "No Mercy" (official biography of the Stranglers). Coronet books.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 535. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.