The Stranglers – on the end of a skewer

The Stranglers (pictured above in real time) were a band on their own. Considerably older than many of our punk girl favourites, they were also men.
In 1978, the ‘political correctness’ vibe was riding high. Women were calling out men’s sexist behaviour following the 1975 Sex Discrimination Act.
Pin-ups, wolf-whistling and occupations employing only men were under attack. And, for a while, it seemed that the UK was beginning to change. The early female punk musicians had their share of stalkers and abusers, but there was definitely a new respect for girls getting up and playing music.
I learned the rights and wrongs of punk, sexism and class war from my best friend Clare. First lesson was that The Stranglers were cool. I listened to ‘No More Heroes’ on a cassette Clare made for me. So, a few months later, when I had some birthday money, I went out and bought the new Stranglers album, ‘Black and White’. Proudly, I announced the fact to Clare, who gave me a death stare and berated me for being such an idiot when The Stranglers were such bastard sexist pigs.
“How do you know that?”, I asked, dumbfounded.
“Because I read the NME, of course,” she replied.
There is a lot about my introduction to punk that stinks of coercive control. However, I never played the album again and struck The Stranglers off my metephorical Christmas card list. I proceeded in a feminist direction believing the world was changing.
Then came the 1990s. The birth of ‘lad culture’. This excused itself because it was an ironic response to political correctness. The theory went that all these boys knew the right way to think and behave but chose to have a bit of fun by re-inventing seaside postcard humour on a wild night out. Not long after, the irony dropped, younger kids reckoned that the shag-crazy, insult-driven, prejudicial fun-time was the way to go and we were soon back to endless songs about men leching after women’s bodies. The rise of MTV saw mainly male singers at an endless narcissist grind-party until we get to now. The era of:
“B*tches ain’t shit”
 “These girls ain’t loyal”
“yeah I toot it and boot it.”
“I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two”.
Time to look again at the sexist lyrics that lost The Stranglers the teen girl vote.
Peaches is about a guy walking on the beach lusting after the women there. The content is typical Playboy Magazine 1978 and there’s some dodgy rhymes that make me think that a good piece of music was wasted on some ill-thought-out words.
Image result for the stranglers 1978
The Stranglers playing in 1978  without any strippers this time
So here are the lyrics to Peaches. They are sexist; they are unacceptable even within their own time; they objectify women and I can only wonder what the Clit-ah- res line is supposed to tell us. I’d happily get them on the end of a skewer, but I do love that bass line.
Strolling along minding my own business
Well there goes a girl and a half
She’s got me going up and down
She’s got me going up and down
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Well I got the notion girl that you got some suntan lotion in that bottle of yours
Spread it all over my peelin’ skin, baby
That feels real good
All this skirt lappin’ up the sun
Lap me up
Why don’t you come on and lap me up?
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Well, there goes another one just lying down on the sand dunes
I’d better go take a swim and see if I can cool down a little bit
‘Cause you and me, woman
We got a lotta things on our minds (you know what I mean)
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Will you just take a look over there (where?) (there)
Is she tryin’ to get outta that Clitares?
Liberation for women
That’s what I preach (preacher man)
Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches
Oh shit!
There goes the charabang
Looks like I’m gonna be stuck here the whole summer
Well, what a bummer
I can think of a lot worse places to be
Like down in the streets
Or down in the sewer
Or even on the end of a skewer
Down on the beaches, just looking at the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at brown bodies
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the shot glasses
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches, just looking at all the peaches
Down on the beaches
Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
Mmm-hmm
Mmm-hmm
Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm
Songwriters: Brian John Duffy / David Greenfield / Hugh Alan Cornwell / Jean Jacques Burnel
Peaches lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

3 thoughts on “The Stranglers – on the end of a skewer

  1. Yuck. That horrid song “about” Caroline Coon, that Sometimes one that basically was about beating up a woman….it’s like the worst 1950’s (and 1970’s) (and every other decade) sexist attitudes set free….in punk form! Absurd! I remember working in a punk shop and taking off a Stranglers album and making some comment. One of the fridge size punk guys came up to me and started in, saying “turn it back on. those are real men and real punks and you’re a real pussy.” It made me sad that this was a part of the punk scene. So I blasted X Ray Spex. And a few years later came riot grrrl and Bikini Kill and it wasn’t a minute too soon.

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  2. One afternoon many years ago, on the drive home from work, local radio station BRMB played “Peaches”. I raised an eyebrow because I thought the song was persona non grata. Just after the ‘oh shit’ line the song abruptly stopped and they ‘went to commercial’. I think the DJ must have thought ‘oh something from the Stranglers will be good…they did the theme for that nice Keith Floyd’.

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  3. ah, Peaches…that old chestnut. i have a few friends who never heard it before, and were really surprised to learn what it was actually about.

    as a side note, i miss Hugh Cornwell. but i know that’s one reunion that will never happen. at least i’ve gotten to see him solo a few times, and he’s not averse to playing his older material.

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