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, 22 August 2011

The Purple Helmets (and the SIS Party at the Marquee)

I don't mind a good side project. True, any such extracurricular activity fuels the fires of speculation as to the impending demise of the parent band, but JJ and Hugh had branched out away from The Stranglers on numerous occasions, even in the early years of the band's career. The Purple Helmets therefore did not give too much cause for concern.

The emergence on the live circuit of The Purple Helmets (active between 1986 and 1989 from memory) was perfectly well timed, filling as they did a gap in The Stranglers related music scene when the band were having one of their quiet periods.

Drawing their material from the work of the sixties R&B bands that JJ was influenced by, the Helmets offered great tunes and a chance to see two members (no pun intended) play in intimate venues at that time not accessible to The Stranglers.

The band line up was as follows:

J.J. Burnel: bass, vocals
Manny Elias: drums
John Ellis: lead guitar, vocals
Alex Gifford: lead vocals, saxophone, guitar
Dave Greenfield: keyboards, guitar, vocals

Here's what their press release had to say about them.

SIS Press Release

The Helmets released only two albums, 'Ride Again'

Released in 1988

Wooly Bully
Over Under Sideways Down
Don't Bring Me Down
We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Baby Please Don't Go
Can't Explain
Whatcha Gonna Do About It

Keep on Running
All Day and All of the Night
Louie Louie
Tobacco Road
I Wanna Be your Man
Hip-Hug Her
Not Fade Away
I'm a Man

Released in 1989

Brand New Cadillac
I'm Crying
She's Not There
First I Look At The Purse
Get Yourself Home
Oh Pretty Woman
Don't You Like What I Do
Under The Sun
Baby Let Me Take You Home
Sha La Lee
Everything's Alright

The Purple Helmets have a great significance for me since it was at an SIS party at the Wardour Street Marquee that I first met the girl that is now my wife. This was back in the summer of 1988.

That night as the ticket above indicates, The band played alongside long time MIB associates Polyphonic Size from Belgium.

The night was seering hot, the famous club being rather small. As a consequence unfit blokes like me had to rest on stage occasionally!

Adrian's nose courtesy of Owen Carne

The band were great that night and many the evening was a gathering of friends, many of whom are doing exactly the same kind of thing more than 20 years later. The appeal of The Stranglers is nothing if not enduring!

JJ Burnel with The Purple Helmets
24th June 1988
(courtesy of Owen Carne)

In the late 80's the British music press still had a fleeting interst in what members of the band were upto. This photo, taken by a photographer from Melody Maker, again showcases my nose to full effect!

As mentioned earlier in this post, my wife Gunta and I met on this evening....

Adrian & Gunta Marquee Club
24th June 1988

Others enjoyed the event!

Jim Rand - where the hell are you? Get in touch!

More to follow on the Helmets but for now I'll call it a day as I have a 6am flight to Berlin tomorrow.

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