Stranglers man Cornwell teams with poet John Cooper Clarke

A promotional photograph of Hugh Cornwell and John Cooper Clarke
Hugh Cornwell and John Cooper Clarke
(Image: © Dean Chalkley)

Stranglers founder Hugh Cornwell and punk poet John Cooper Clarke have teamed up on an album called This Time It’s Personal.

The record features cover versions of songs that were important to the two men in their youth and is released on October 14 via Sony Music.

It marks 67-year-old John Cooper Clarke’s debut as a lead vocalist, while Cornwell plays bass and guitar on all tracks. This Time It’s Personal features guest appearances from Phil Andrews, Ian Anderson, Hilary Kops, Ben Waghorn and Lettie Maclean. It’s produced by Cornwall.

Rather than delivering words in his distinctive spoken word, the iconic poet sings on the record.

Cornwell says: “No one knew he could sing. When you tell people they go ‘You’re kidding me.’”

The two met on various occasions on the punk circuit before deciding to work together. Cornwell adds: “I was drunk one night, and I was listening to MacArthur Park by Richard Harris, and I suddenly got this bizarre idea in my head, I suppose because I’d just had dinner with John a couple of weeks before.

“I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be weird, John with his very distinctive voice doing that song?’ So I rang him up and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing it?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?‘”

The album features tracks by Lieber & Stoller, Jimmy Webb, Ricky Nelson, Richie Valens and Conway Twitty, among others.

Cooper Clarke says: “These are great tunes, and we’ve done our very best to respect them, and to bring them back to life.”

The album is available for pre-order on CD and vinyl now, with digital formats also on offer.

This Time It’s Personal album artwork

This Time It’s Personal album artwork

Dr John Cooper Clarke & Hugh Cornwell This Time It’s Personal tracklist

  1. It’s Only Make Believe
  2. Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
  3. Spanish Harlem
  4. Johnny Remember Me
  5. MacArthur Park
  6. She’s A Woman
  7. Donna
  8. Jezebel
  9. Love Potion Number 9
  10. Sweeter Than You

Buyer's Guide: The Stranglers