As bass parts and intros go, Jean-Jacques Burnel's iconic line on The Stranglers' Peaches is right up there. In your face, irredeemably sleazy, instantly recognisable and - handily for beginners - dead easy to play, it sets the band's stall out perfectly.
The 1977 track was their second single, and definitely ruffled feathers - even the radio edit, which replaced "clitoris" with "bikini", swapped out "what a bummer" for "what a summer", and nixed "oh shit" for "oh no" - wasn't deemed suitable for BBC airplay, with the flip of the AA-side Go Buddy Go serving promo duties across the radiowaves and on UK pop TV behemoth Top of the Pops. But that's a different story - we're here for the bass.
There's no doubt the song has a low-slung swagger all of its own, typical of Burnel's best work, but it turns out things could have been very different if the band's high-kicking bassist/writer/karate black belt had got his way, and crafted a full-on reggae cut.
"In the very early days," JJ told songfacts in 2013, "in order to earn a bit of money, we had a little PA, and one day we were signed to a black label called Safari, which was more or less a reggae label. We hadn't released anything. But the owner phoned us up one day and said, "Look, do you want a few pounds to augment your PA to a sound system?" Well, we didn't know what a "sound system" was.
"So we turned up in part of London and we were the only white guys there. We stuck our PA to their sound system, and there was an awful lot of grass going about. We were kind of excluded from the line of grass...
“And lo and behold, I discovered sound systems, which were I suppose an early form of rap. You'd have a toaster: a black guy talking sort of stream of consciousness over mainly a bass and drums backing rhythm.
"Reggae. It was all reggae. What you might know as dub. So you have a delay on the snare or something, there'd be a lot of separation and mainly bass speakers throughout the total.
"So we stayed there for the whole gig. And at the end of it, I was hooked on the idea that the bass should be the most dominant feature."
"I'd never heard bass so dominant", JJ also told Guitar World, "and I thought, ‘I'm going to write a song like that' and the next day I wrote Peaches."
"Bass players in those days were in the background – they didn't dominate the musical or the scenic landscape. It's changed a lot: the bass parts are bloody important now. Those three notes in Peaches: you do those three notes and it's instantly identifiable."
"Of course," JJ told songfacts, "I wanted to make a reggae song out of it". Things didn't pan out that way, of course.
Lead singer Hugh Cornwell says The Stranglers never quite had the nerve to go full-reggae. "With The Stranglers we did sort of ‘pseudo’ reggae, with ‘Peaches’ and ‘Nice and Sleazy’, but we never actually did an out-and-out reggae song," he told Penny Black Music.
"We probably thought we were a bit beneath it and that we couldn't do real reggae. So we just did ‘pseudo’ reggae."
JJ is less sure about why the track panned out as it did: “It didn't turn out as a reggae piece and I couldn't work out why – we didn't put the snare in the right place for a start."
"Some of our stuff was kinda reggae guitar on the offbeat - but we never had the snare on the third beat which a lot of reggae does.”
“But never mind. We Strangle-fied it. We interpreted a reggae theme in The Stranglers way, which became "Peaches."
That JJ Peaches sound
But what about the sound itself, and its intimidating prominence in the band's mix? "Bass players in those days were in the background – they didn't dominate the musical or the scenic landscape. It's changed a lot: the bass parts are bloody important now," Jj told Guitar World. "Those three notes in Peaches: you do those three notes and it's instantly identifiable."
Of course, a massive reason for that is JJ's trademark sound, which he puts down to his trademark Fender P-bass a minimum of sonic fiddling, and a backline that, unbeknownst to the band, was knackered.
"It was just so noisy on stage. Maximum noise. The sound on those first two albums was the result of not fucking about with any of the equalization, just full-on treble on the guitar, flat on the amp and, er, a bust speaker.
"We didn't know! It’d been torn for ages and was flapping about making real distortion. So the first two albums - which were recorded at virtually the same time - had the same fucked, farty speaker."
Once again, Cornwell's recollection basically backs that up. In The Stranglers, The: Song by Song, he says "The reason that it occurred in the first place was that John had a speaker cabinet about the size of a door, with about 16 ten-inch speakers in it, which are a bit small to be taking bass.
"They all blew one after the other. So he ended up with a huge cabinet with blown speakers, and the sound got dirtier and dirtier, and became a feature of the band. That's why it's mixed so high on the record. Martin Rushent [Producer of Rattus Norvegicus, No More Heroes and Black and White, the band's first three albums] said that people liked the sound of the bass."
Nearly 50 years later, we can confirm: he was right.