For all but the absolutely obsessive, GREATEST HITS 1977-1990 is the definitive Stranglers album, and the only completely necessary purchase. Even in the group's earliest days, The Stranglers owed more to the Doors than they did to the Stooges, and they were really only a punk band by association. Yobbish, borderline-offensive songs like "Peaches," however, soon gave way to an oddly poppy post-punk sound that often made their singles extremely entertaining. For example, the throbbing "Duchess," featuring the most hyperactive bass playing this side of early John Entwistle, is a classic of its era, as is the delicate, waltz-time ode to the joys of heroin, "Golden Brown." However, the group's albums remained incredibly inconsistent--1981's MENINBLACK was a horrid, inscrutable concept album about aliens--and so this singles anthology remains the best way to discover this uneven but often intriguing band. Proceed with caution after this, however.