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 adrianandrews1@sky.com.


Monday, 25 January 2021

'My Daddy Was A Bank Robber' Joe Strummer 1980

 


Another lockdown distraction.

Joe Strummer in 1980
Linocut print in black ink on cream art card, overprinted on a Mayfair, Newcastle gig poster (June 1980).

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 20th January 2015

 


So here is what is in my opinion the third of a trio of Kraftwerk albums that defined electronic music, what it was and indeed what it could become. I am not into the Dance music scene. I am 52 in March and so come from an age group that just did not dance in public unless it was to something like Madness or generally jumping around at a gig but I recognise that the dance scene is huge and very influential now in its own right, but what a debt of gratitude that all of the scene's producers, DJs and acts owe to this geeky quartet from the Ruhr!

It's not that everything that they released after 'Computer World' in 1981 was substandard, their re-imagining of a selection of tracks from their back catalogue for 1991's 'The Mix' (given a gig in its own right in this Paradiso residency) offered something fresh even when dealing with songs that were of a 20 to 25 year vintage... but like a fine wine, if the quality is there from the offing then there is always the potential to improve with age. Likewise, 'Tour De France Soundtrack' of 2004 featured some excellent material. I think that the problem that Kraftwerk faced was that by the early 1980's an army of synth obsessives had caught up with their inspiration....Kraftwerk and with off the shelf equipment (as opposed to the home made electronics that Kraftwerk developed) shiny electronic music could be made in half the time for a fraction of the effort. Did Depeche Mode ever lose studio time due to a blown fuse?

When 'Computer World' came out I was 12 years old and home computing was becoming all the rage. My Dad was an engineer with the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) in the UK and had an involvement with the development of air traffic control hardware and software. His interest in computing meant that I got a Sinclair ZX81 one Christmas which was great..... I wish I still had it. The BBC then into battle with Clive Sinclair with their Acorn developed BBC Micro computer in an effort to win the rapidly expanding UK home computing market. Here the BBC had an advantage and they started broadcast of a series by the name of 'The Computer Programme' in 1982, aimed at bringing the British public up to speed on the possibilities that these infant machines could offer. This series used 'Computer World' as its opening title which this 12 year old found hugely exiting. 

Here, Kraftwerk were once again ahead of the curve..... titles such as 'Home Computer' and 'It's More Fun To Compute' gave the listener an insight on what home computing could be and did become. 

'I programme my home computer and beam myself into the future'. 

That of course is exactly what we do but instead of having to learn a variety of computer languages, the software that we use does it all in the background.

Whether home computing has revolutionised the way we live today is a hotly debated topic that even Kraftwerk may struggle to answer!

Whilst listening to the album again this evening I stumbled on a BBC radio documentary on the impact of the 'Computer World' album:



01. [intro]
02. Numbers
03. Computer World
04. Home Computer
05. Computer Love
06. Pocket Calculator
07. Dentaku
08. Autobahn
09. Airwaves
10. Intermission
11. News
12. Geiger Counter
13. Radioactivity
14. Spacelab
15. he Model
16. The Man-Machine
17. Tour De France 1983
18. Prologue
19. Tour De France Étape 1
20. Chrono
21. Tour De France Étape 2
22. Electric Cafe
23. Trans-Europe Express
24. Abzug
25. Metal On Metal
26. [encore break]
27. The Robots
28. [encore break]
29. Elektro Kardiogramm
30. Boing Boom Tschak
31. Techno Pop
32. Musique Non Stop



JJ on BBC's 'The One Show' 3rd February 2012 - LINK RESTORED

 


I have updated a very old Rapidshare link to this short piece that JJ and the BB 'One Show' team did on 'No More Heroes' in early 2012. It can be accessed once again here.

Alhambra Dunfermline 2nd March 2012

 

So here we have the band on the 'Giants' tour in the wonderful Alhambra venue in Dunfermline.





Town and Country Club London 20th March 1991

 


Early days with the Mark II line up and with the low key club dates behind them the band felt confident enough for Paul Roberts to step onto the big stage for the London finale of the 'Heaven & Hell' tour. The set featured quite a few songs that would be included on 'In The Night' that would see the light of day the following year.



01. No More Heroes
02. Threatened
03. Something Better Change
04. Sometimes
05. Never To Look Back
06. Someone Like You
07. Laughing At The Rain
08. Heaven Or Hell
09. Always The Sun
10. 96 Tears
11. Brainbox

01. I Feel Like A Wog
02. Uptown
03. Wet Afternoon
04. Mr Big
05. Hanging Around
06. Toiler On The Sea
07. Down In The Sewer
08. London Lady
09. All Day & All Of The Night
10. Tank
11. Duchess

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 19th January 2015

 


So here we have the second of the albums that to my mind form Kraftwerk's Holy Trinity of albums. The aptly named 'Man Machine' the concept with which these four curious men from Dusseldorf really did blur the lines that distinguish man from machine, human from automaton. For me, and this may not make a lot of sense, 'The Man Machine' is both cold and warm at the same time. Cold in the sense that this is the world of robots casting a blank eye in the direction of A.I. and yet warm in terms of the richness of the melodies and the sounds that they coaxed from their machines within fortress of the Kling Klang studios. Take 'Neon Lights' for example, stark and cold by nature, but as Ralf describes his impressions of them as they shine down on him from tall Dusseldorf buildings in his gentle tones they too carry a warmth that is completely at odds with reality.

'Spacelab' is truly other worldly, this was 1978 and whilst the Western world was grappling with 'Star Wars' (1977 I know!), Kraftwerk presented the other sober side of space explorations...... no light sabres for the Kraftwerk boys, oh no, rather the serious task of gathering extra-terrestrial rock samples for some meaningful elemental analysis! May the Force be with you Herr Schneider! 

Oh and 'The Model' is just sublime! 'Sie trinkt in Nachtklubs immer Sekt.... korrekt!'

For those with an interest in the band but don't have the albums or maybe have the albums in their English release versions, I would urge you to get the German language versions.... they are on Spotify. Admirable though it is that Kraftwerk recorded in English too, we are big enough and ugly enough to enjoy the material in German, even if we are collectively crap at languages.... and it sounds much better! Trust me.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-cwM1Q5cHPn

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-G5mJRIghm4

01. [intro]
02. he Man-Machine
03. Spacelab
04. The Model
05. Neon Lights
06. Metropolis
07. Autobahn
08. Airwaves
09. Intermission
10. News
11. Geiger Counter
12. Radioactivity
13. Numbers
14. Computer World
15. Home Computer
16. Computer Love
17. Tour De France 1983
18. Prologue
19. Tour De France Étape 1
20. Chrono
21. Tour De France Étape 2
22. Trans-Europe Express
23. Abzug
24. Metal On Metal
25. [encore break]
26. The Robots
27. [encore break]
28. Electric Cafe
29. Boing Boom Tschak
30. Techno Pop
31. Musique Non Stop




Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 18th January 2015

 


So with this gig we have the start of something special. If 'Autobahn' and 'Radioactivity' laid the foundations for what was possible with electronic music, Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express' was the cornerstone of the palace that Kraftwerk were soon to construct. I am listening to 'Europe Endless' as I write this and it still, many years after I first heard it, sends shivers down my spine. The essence of Europe and part of how I feel. 

Not deliberately invoking politics here, but that's the way it takes me. My small immediate family is British, German and Latvian, I work within the mechanisms of the European Union, that is my job, the roof over my head. I love London, almost each and everyone of our English Towns, even cricket on the village green (even though a cricket scoreboard is and probably will always unfathomable to me!). But, the cities of Europe take me the same way, different but wonderful!

I remember one of the family's frequent visits to Germany, the maternal side of my wife's family come from Dusseldorf/Leverkusen and on this occasion Gunta and I were standing next to each other on one of the multitude of Cologne Stations platforms. Directly up ahead was the iconic neon ad, built into the stations fabric, for 4711 kölnisch wasser, whilst on one side loom the blackened twin spires of the Dom. On a platform departure board the Moscow and and Vienna trains were announced (sure beats Victoria's announcements of trains to East Croydon, Burgess Hill and Brighton!). Then, oh Lordy! I spy the Trans Europe Express that sits waiting on a platform on the other side of the station. I have very little interest in trains, but some trains and lines hold a certain sense of romance and adventure, the TEE being one of them for certain.

'From station to station
Back to Düsseldorf City
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie
Trans-Europe Express'

Ha, after this hellish COVID blighted year, what would I give to be standing on the same spot this weekend, or even better in a nearby bar with the first of many Kölsch beers in front of me.

Until such times I raise a glass (make that a can) of Kronenburg 1664 (not having any of the German stuff in the house at the moment) to the late, great Florian Schneider, whose death was announced in the same week that we lost Dave.




01. [intro]
02. Trans-Europe Express
03. Abzug
04. Metal On Metal
05. Franz Schubert
06. Europe Endless
07. The Hall Of Mirrors
08. Showroom Dummies
09. Autobahn
10. Airwaves
11. Intermission
12. News
13. Geiger Counter
14. Radioactivity
15. Spacelab
16. Das Model
17. The Man-Machine
18. Numbers
19. Computer World
20. Home Computer
21. Computer Love
22. Tour De France 1983
23. Prologue
24. Tour De France Étape 1
25. Chrono
26. Tour De France Étape 2
27. [encore break]
28. The Robots
29. [encore break]
30. Aéro Dynamik
31. Boing Boom Tschak
32. Techno Pop
33. Musique Non Stop