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

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Under the Covers - The Monica Coghlan Single Sleeve

As previously mentioned in the introduction to the Reading Festival link, the band had produced a cover of the Kinks' 1964 classic 'All Day & All of the Night'. Unlike their earlier released cover of Bacharach and David's 'Walk On By' in which they took hold of the arrangement and truely made it their own, with 'ADAAOTN', whilst a very competent cover, I don't think that it added much to the song, being so faithful to the original. Nevertheless, it did provide them with their penultimate hit (96 Tears being the last).

Sounds 6th February 1988

If the single itself was unremarkable, the sleeve caused something of a stir. In the year prior to the record's release there had been a political scandal of the highest order involving a senior Tory politician, a prostitute, bribery and later perjury. All good stuff!

Here's a summary of the scandal, borrowed from the pages of Wikipedia:

One of Coghlan's clients, in September 1986, was Jeffrey Archer, then the Conservative Party's Deputy Chairman, whom she met in Shepherd Market, Mayfair. Aziz Kurtha, an Indian businessman, sold the story of Archer seeing a prostitute to a tabloid newspaper. On 24 October 1986, the News of the World filmed and audiotaped Michael Stacpoole, a representative of Jeffrey Archer, giving Coghlan £2,000 in £50 notes on Platform 3 of London's Victoria station to leave the country to avoid reporters. Coghlan earned £6,000 from the newspapers for taking part in the sting operation. Archer admitted to giving Coghlan travel funds, but sued the bolder Daily Star for printing that he and Coghlan had had sex for money.

During the trial, Coghlan broke down in tears repeatedly on cross-examination, but continued to assert the truth of the newspaper's story, dramatically calling Archer a liar in court. In other testimony she stated that she enjoyed her job as a prostitute, and defended her work with married clients, saying that "Half the time it keeps marriages together." She regretted that she couldn't go back to work after the trial. "Jeffrey Archer took everything away from me," she would later say. "I lost my home, my dignity, my self-respect, and any hope of a future."

The amount allegedly given by Archer to Coghlan, £2,000, is now known in English slang as "an Archer".

Sadly Ms Coghlan died of the injuries that she sustained in a car accident in 2001. In the meantime our Jeff served time in 2001, having been convicted of perjury committed  in at the time of the 1987 trial. He then had the audacity to foist upon the public another shite book on his time inside! My sympathies in this case lie firmly with Monica Coghlan. As for Jeff, now Lord Archer, he should be only be considered in the terms of what he has proven to be, a ruthlessly ambitious liar. Anyway, I digress.

On the back of the trial, the single sleeve was printed up.

Done in the style of one of the red top tabloid front pages (which as you can imagine devoted many column inches to the story!), it featured a portrait of Monica Coghlan with the catalogue number 'Vice 1'. The reference to 'See back for details' is a reference to a part of the trial in which Jeffrey Archer' spotty back was discussed!

Unfortunately the sleeve was withdrawn on the advice of lawyers, as reported in Strangled magazine and the tabloids themselves.

A small quantity of the withdrawn sleeve was made available to subscribers of the Stranglers Information Service (SIS).

At around the same time, SIS also produced a Monica Coghlan T-shirt featuring a different enhanced portrait along with the song title.

Although the Monica sleeve was withdrawn and the single release pushed back as a consequence, the controversy continued. The alternative sleeve featured an advent calendar style image in keeping with the Christmas time planned new release date. On show were the delights on offer in a brothel displayed in each of the buildings windows. I have to say that it all looked pretty tame to me at the time, but once again it brought the single to the attention of the national press. Well they do say that there is no such thing as bad publicity!

In the words of JJ Burnel in a Record Mirror interview at the time:
'The new sleeve is like an adult's advent calendar but instead of having a pixie and a fairy it's got a tit and a cock sucker - we had to take a few of those out'.

In the end the single was well received and reached number 7 in the UK charts in January/February 1988.

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