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

Friday, 30 September 2011

The Purple Helmets at the Hippodrome 27th November 1988

As an accompanying peice to an earlier Purple Helmets thread, here's some information I posted some years ago on the Burning Up Time Forums.

'A recent soiree in London with Paul in London and The Man They Love to Hate (Paul and Owen from this point onwards) led me to dig out some old stuff from the late ‘80’s when the three of us first became acquainted.

Amongst this fading material were a number of items connected to a benefit gig that the Purple Helmets were involved in. Back in Movember 1988, a group of comedians and musicians gathered at The Hippodrome in London’s Leicester Square to mark the 32nd birthday of John McCarthy. In a nut shell, John was a journalist kidnapped in The Lebannon in 1986. More detail can be found here:

Now 1988 was turning out to be one of the quieter years for The Stranglers, so the Purple Helmets went a long way to fill the gap. To be honest, I don’t think many of the people in attendance that night relished the prospect of an evening spent in the Hippodrome, them (and perhaps still) a tacky yet expensive night club in the centre of the West End of London. This was in a London that was where the yuppie still held sway… in a word, Hippodrome people were not my people! Nevertheless, as I said, beggars cannot be choosers and it really was a quiet year.

Perhaps we met up in Oxford Steet and had a few beers in The Tottenham on the junction of Oxford Street and Charing Cross Road, that is what was becoming a habit at the time. To be honest, I cannot fully recollect who was there on the night. I know that Raj was there (and Paul I think). We were gathered at the stage door as some of the nights ‘attractions’ started to arrive. Ranking Roger was a perfect gentlemen and chatted to us for 30 minutes or so. He was intereste in our interest in the Stranglers (he was himself a huge fan of The Clash). Steve Nieve of the Attractions was also pleasant as I recall (although I have to admit at the time, I didn’t know him from Adam!).

The compares of the evening were Steve Frost and Mark Arden, at that time part of a double act called the Oblivion Boys, early participants in the alternative comedy scene and at the time regulars on the essential post pub viewing, Saturday Live (a programme which also played host to The Stranglers in 1987).

The TV cameras were there that night as this was as the Friends of John McCarthy were as you would expect pretty media savvy and this was a very high profile campaign to get John released. There was a cage that you could try set uo in the foyer in order to experience the kind of confinement that he and his fellow captive Brian Keenan were experiencing. I remember speaking very briefly to Jill Morell (his fiancee at the time of his capture). I thought she was gorgeous… remember I was 19 at the time and she struck me as being very sophisticated!

Musically speaking, I thought the night was a great success. As previously mentioned, Rankin Roger was there and I certainly remember Mirror in the Bathroom being played. The aforementioned Steve Nieve was playing keyboards in what was the house band. Tempted was played, which was great, but I can’t for the life of me remember whether it was Chris Difford or Glen Tilbrook who was in attendance on the night.

Sets were short, as is always the case in such events, but the Helmets were on. Despite all of this waffle I don’t remember any specifics of their set, other than knowing what they played!

The stage was only about a foot high and we wanted to make our presence known.

Adrian Onstage with JJ Burnel
27th November 1988

The band on the night were as I recall, in good spirits and were on hand to chat and to sign stuff.

The evening done, I headed back to Ealing with Gunta from where I made my way back to Uxbridge.

I would be intrigued to here of other people’s recolledtions of this night. The Helmets only played a handful of gigs in their short lifetime, and this was one of the more obscure ones.'

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