Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Monday, 20 January 2020

TV Smith's Explorers - TV Strikes Out For Pastures New

TV Smith's Explorers

TV Smith wasted no time in moping over the demise of his former band. At the time of The Adverts break-up there was already an album's worth of material penned (material that would have under different circumstances formed the basis of The Adverts' (no doubt difficult) third album). But fate interceded and new plans were hatched.

TV Smith's Explorers played their first gig on familiar turf at the Marquee Club in London on 13th March 1980. Initially, John Towe, drummer with The Adverts and Tim Cross, keyboard player from 'The Cast of Thousands' era backed Tim up.

Effectively, the band started once again from the so called Square One, building up a reputation and following through London club gigs. Studio time was snatched as and when it was available and some excellent material started to take shape, not least in the form of 'Tomahawk Cruise', an urgent piece of vinyl that earned then 'Single of the Week' status in Sounds (a feat not repeated for another decade, until Andy Peart writing for the same weekly paper got his mits on TV Smith's Cheap's 'Third Term' single!). For sure, 'Tomahawk Cruise' was an independent success but by virtue of the unsavory and controversial subject matter, the single was pretty much shunned by radio. That is not to say that the more progressive, mature forces within BBC radio ignored the band. Far from it, as was the case with The Adverts before them, the band were offered radio sessions for both John Peel and Richard Skinner. BBC endorsement of the band went even further when the band appeared on the landmark 'Old Grey Whistle Test' program....... stuff for the serious muso...... clearly the Explorer's had learned a second chord and more.

'Have Fun'/'The Perfect Life'
TV Smith's Explorers Old Grey Whistle Test 1981

Subsequent releases did not hit the critical heights that 'Tomahawk Cruise' enjoyed and the subsequent album 'Last Words of the Great Explorer' received mixed reviews on its release.

An ill-planned mini-German tour proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back and The Explorers were lost. Their final gig was played in Dortmund on 16th September 1981, just 18 months since their first.

When I listen to TV Smith's Explorers I hear a great post-punk band that suited the early 1980's perfectly so it is something of a mystery to me why they struggled to the extent that they did.

Nevertheless, and in this I am sure that Tim would agree' that he wasn't to see the last of bad luck when it came to being in bands. After an initial solo period, he took the plunge once again with the band format, forming TV Smith's Cheap. Once again, a brilliant band with brilliant material both musically and of course lyrically...... but Cheap died on their arse. More information about Cheap can be found here.

It seems that only now is Tim enjoying the spoils of his 40 years in the business and his music (across each of the bands... and his solo stuff) is being rightly appreciated here in the UK and across continental Europe.

Television's Over - A Last Word on the Adverts

Less than a calendar month after his band, The Adverts, threw in a sweat-stained, gob-flecked towel, the irrepressible Mr Smith was discussing the circumstances of the break-up and imminent plans for a new musical project (from TV's homepage (

Sounds 17th November 1979.

TV closes down

CHEERFUL CHAP, TV Smith. Here we are convened together for the first time in a professional capacity, officially as some sort of obituarising process for his just disbanded Adverts and chuckles are most definitely the order of the day. Bemused Tim Smith, lapping up the ultimate irony. He hands me a type written sheet: 'Welcome girls to this Chelsea Girl store it's the kinda store that tries to give you more of the sorta clothes that make the girls go wow!"

This, it transpires, is the main source of his amusement, a booking the next day as a session singer on a jingle for the Chelsea Girl chain of boutiques. "It's amazing: you go in for a couple of hours, sing it, and you earn a couple of hundred quid It's incredible It's more than I earn in a year. "Also on the jingleurs' pay-roll (of course Tim didn't write it himself) are latter day Adverts keyboardist Tim Cross and one Stoner, former bass man with Doctors Of Madness. These two, plus a 'name' guitarist and drummer (employed elsewhere at present, so therefore subject to at least temporary secrecy) will form the basis of the next TV Smith ensemble. There will be single on RCA, Tim's last commitment to that label under his Adverts deal.

The humour temporarily abated, Tim Smith takes time out to hit back at almost everyone who reviewed the Adverts parting shot, the 'Cast Of Thousands' LP. not least our own Garry Bushell ("He must have a lot of personal problems" and "It must be that double chin" being the few printable comments).

The 'critics' over-reactions aside, though, even a lot of Adverts (or more precisely Tim Smith) supporters weren't exactly heart broken by the group 's final demise, for my part, I'm quite willing to admit to Tim's face that the group's continued existence over the last year or so seems to have been more down to his own loyalty to the people he started out with than anything else. "You bet, " comes the reply. "That's the most important part. I mean, I do it for me mainly, but . . ."

There are advantages in going out with a whimper, Tim opines, "when everyone looks upon you as being really shit. If I'm really successful in the next six months it won't mess me 'up. You form an opinion about all the people that say you're really bad. . . "

Understandable really, this appetite for revenge. But, even granted that the Ads had graduated to every hack's favourite whipping boys in their last few months of existence, he must confess that there were times when they were really bad. "Bad gigs are great!" Smith chuckles. "They're really important!"

On reflection, he adds that he may never do another 'bad gig' again Then, "It must be terrible to be perfect every time. "

A pity, say I, that the band did seem to splutter nut in the end, just a handful of little
gigs and gone. "I'd love to have gone out with a really big farewell tour, " says TV Smith. "It's a pity that RCA really buried the Adverts before they were dead."

You mean they didn't put up any money for tour support? "They never put up any money. Ever. They never liked The Adverts. The guy that signed us was fired about a month later so there was nobody there we could talk to, who knew what we were on about They just figured how could they back a band that may or may not play a good gig or make a record. But that's what it's all about. "
My opinion that the group's pairing with producer Tom Newman was to say the least dodgy is met with another grin'n'chuckle. "I think it's fantastic getting in Mike Oldfield's producer and piano player. It was hilarious. . . "

But maybe not in your best interests? "It depends what my best interests are, " says Tim. with no hint of back pedalling on what's already been said. "If I look back on the last couple of years with The Adverts now I can see it as a two or three year thing. The Adverts were continually standing on the outside and seeing what they could do. Now it's all finished I've got to look at it in a different way, which isn't right. 'Cause while it was still going on everything was perfect as far as I was concerned. It'd be so boring if you just had stages One to Ten and just worked your way through. "

TV's quick to defend his former associates, too. "People were really insulting about Gaye's playing. But on the second album and on the last tour she was playing really well. I mean, to compare it with Jack Bruce would be pointless, but she was right for The Adverts, for what we were doing. " It's unlikely that Gaye herself will be playing again immediately, says Tim. "People were incredibly offensive to her personally Some guy from the NME said she was gross, it's hardly encouraging. "

For his part, Tim Smith says he's going to be a good boy now. "A determined amateur anyway, surrounded by brilliant musicians So probably the next step will be for everyone to say what a shit I am and then I'll leave and the group'll get someone else and everyone'll go 'Cor. what a good band.'
"I just want to write the best possible songs and get them played in the best possible way, " he says seriously He already has more than an albums' worth of new material and is, as they say, itching to go. "I couldn't stop and sit around doing nothing. I don't know what'd happen; I'd go nuts. "

There will never be another Adverts; no reunions promises TV Smith "I could never do that. I'd never reform The Adverts 'cause I'm not like that. It was a first stage, once I'm finished with something, that's it. "

Expect a new TV Smith waxing come January. Obit ends.

Interview by Giovanni Dadomo.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Poole Arts Centre 20th February 1990

Here's one that I went to back in 1990 on the '10' Tour.



01. Shah Shah A Go Go
02. I Feel Like A Wog
03. Tank
04. Straighten Out
05. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
06. 96 Tears
07. Someone Like You
08. Sweet Smell Of Success
09. Always The Sun
10. Spain
11. Where I Live
12. School Mam
13. Ships That Pass In The Night

01. Let’s Celebrate
02. Uptown
03. Was It You?
04. Down In The Sewer
05. Walk On By
06. No More Heroes
07. Nuclear Device
08. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Hug Cornwell The Haymarket Basingstoke 26th November 2019

Here's both set from Hugh's winter leg of the 'Monster' tour, from Basingstoke. Many thanks for the share of this gig to the site.... it's much appreciated as always!



First Set:
01. Pure Evel
02. La Grande Dame
03. I Want One Of Those
04. Beat Of My Heart
05. Monster
06. Land of a Thousand Kisses
07. Under Her Spell
08. Irate Caterpillar
09. The Most Beautiful Girl In Hollywood
10. Bilko
11. Bad Vibrations
12. Attack of the Major Sevens
13. Duce Coochie Man

Second Set:
01. Strange Little Girl
02. Nice 'n' Sleazy
03. Duchess
04. Sweden (All Quiet on the Eastern Front)
05. Always the Sun
06. I Feel Like a Wog
07. Goodbye Toulouse
08. No Mercy
09. Bring On The Nubiles
10. Hanging Around
11. Straighten Out
12. Skin Deep

Band Line Up:
Hugh Cornwell - Vocals, Guitar
Pat Hughes - Vocals, Bass Guitar
Windsor McGilvray - Vocals, Drums

Sunday, 12 January 2020

JJ Gets a Good Frisking Japan January 1979

The Adverts Are No More!

The band called it a day, splitting after a final gig at Slough College on Saturday 27th October. To the best of my knowledge, Gaye's plans to release an anti-vivisection single came to nothing, whilst TV headed towards frontiers new with his new band The Explorers.

For those site visitors who have diligently ploughed through this string of posts it will be abundantly clear that The Adverts were never really beloved of the established music press. It always seemed to me that their (i.e. The Adverts) rather negative outlook (just look at the prevalence on terms suggesting that they 'didn't care') kind of back fired..... and moreover was very much at odds with a band who were passionate about what they did.

No doubt a gap of 18 months or so between their two studio albums was something of a disaster when operating in a particular corner of the music industry that was moving at a million miles an hour.

And yet..... and yet, looking back on their material now it is clear that Tim and Co. really did have something to say. 'Crossing The Red Sea' is now viewed as a classic album of the punk era, and rightly so.

I first saw Tim with his then band Cheap at the Angler's Retreat in West Drayton in 1989. As I recall the 'Red Sea' album had received it's first reissue on Link Records. I did not have the original album but was reluctant to by this version as I was unsure about the politics of some of the bands on the Link label. Cornering, Tim in the Gents, I explained my predicament to him and asked if he would record the album for me. He harrumphed a bit..... complaining that to do so would mean that he would have to listen to it again, but to give his dues he did record it for me (along with a recent Cheap Peel Session!). So what a long way he has come with this material.... it is brilliant that the now 63 year old performer is now reconciled with the songs that he penned in his 20's.

It still holds up Tim! And we mean it maaan!