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like nothing on earth

The Gospel According to the Meninblack

The Gospel According to The Meninblack (or sometimes referred to as just The Meninblack) is an esoteric concept album made by The Stranglers and 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. It is important to note though that it is not the first time The Stranglers had used this concept, Meninblack on the earlier 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 before mentioned track from their preceding LP, The Raven. The Meninblack showcases the ideas and moods of the band when they had creative and intellectual freedom gained from the commercial success of their previous releases. The music is progressive, macabre and abstract, powered by hypnotic drum and synthesiser loops — while the lyrical content is dark and witty. Some see it as one of the earliest albums in the birth of goth rock. The original gatefold LP release features as its inside artwork a reproduction of The Last Supper, altered to depict a solemn Maninblack standing watchfully behind Jesus.

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 pre-dates 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. Their next album (La Folie) was decidedly more commercial, heralding another radical change in musical direction.

The single releases from the album were 'Thrown Away' (UK chart position 42) & 'Just Like Nothing On Earth' (UK chart position 81).

On its original release the album only sold around 50,000 copies (extremely dissapointing sales considering the band's previous success). However, it still managed to break the top ten, peaking at no.8 on the UK album chart, although it only spent 5 weeks on 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".

Track listing

  1. "Waltzinblack" 3:38
  2. "Just Like Nothing on Earth" 3:55
  3. "Second Coming" 4:22
  4. "Waiting for the Meninblack" 3:44
  5. "Turn the Centuries, Turn" 4:35
  6. "Two Sunspots" 2:32
  7. "Four Horsemen" 3:40
  8. "Thrown Away" 3:30
  9. "Manna Machine" 3:17
  10. "Hallow to Our Men" 7:26
  11. "Top Secret" 3:27
  12. "Maninwhite" 4:27

The final two tracks appear on the CD SI 998942

References

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