The Stranglers’ Golden Brown – Heroin Controversy and Mariachi Style.
Above Photo: Screenshot of The Stranglers performing Golden Brown on Top of the Pops in 1980.
Released by the Stranglers in 1981, and taken from the bands ‘La Folie’ album, Golden Brown caused controversy at the time, with accusations that it referred to heroin. I never thought it didn’t, so I was surprised when some people thought it referred to something else back then.
Jet Black, the Stranglers drummer once joked that the song was in fact about Marmite, but in later years Hugh Cornwell confirmed it was about heroin and a girl, two things that had given him a lot of pleasure.
So I suppose it is entirely appropriate for Mariachi Mexteca, a Mexican mariachi band, to perform an acoustic version of the song, with Hugh Cornwell on vocals, given recent reports that Mexico has taken over Colombia’s role as the biggest supplier of heroin to the US.
I think this is an excellent version of Golden Brown (see You tube link below).
Only a couple of years earlier, The Stranglers, the first Punk band I ever saw, were one of my favourites but by the time their album, La Folie was released in late 1981, they’d strayed far from their roots, and I thought that album was a disgrace.
But Golden Brown has rightly endured off it, and I still have the band on a pedestal given their role in the development of my music tastes, as detailed in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out! and for their early albums.
Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php
This is the Mariachi Mexteca version, with Hugh Cornwell.
And this is the original version, from a 1981 Top of The Pops band appearance: