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

Saturday, 12 November 2011

There May Be Trouble Ahead - Give Us A Gig! (1977-1979)

I'm not entirely sure when the bans really started, one of the earliest I suppose was the banning of punk from the London's prestige jazz venue, the 100 Club, after a glass throwing incident that resulted in a young female fan losing an eye (down to Sid according to most accounts). This was as early as September 1976, before a knowledge of punk was known outside the boundaries of the yet to be built M25. Other venues may well have become cautious about booking so called punk bands after the Punk Rock Festival.

But, the turning point would undoubtedly have been the Bill Grundy interview. Stepping as a late substitute for Queen, the Pistols appeared on this, a nationwide, early evening magazine show on the eve of the Anarchy Tour. Goaded and provoked by a drunk Grundy, the Pistols (especially Steve Jones) uttered a series of expletives that at that time were still very rarely heard on British TV, even post watershed.

The Pistols Bill Grundy Interview 1st December 1976

This appearance lit the touch paper and what a short fuse it was! The new phenomenon of punk rock and any one linked to its creation or proliferation was overnight elevated into the position of Public Ememy No. 1. With the popular media on the case, the bans soon ensued.

First casualty was the Anarchy Tour itself. The tour was decimated. Don't quote me on figures, but a rough count, of the 19 original advertised gigs only 3 or so were played. Incidentally, it was on this tour that some of the famed rivalries and feuds were born. The Damned were thrown off the tour for agreeing to play in front of city councillors (Derby) prior to a decision to allow the gig to go ahead.

The shock waves created by the Grundy interview passed through every venue in every provincial town in Britain. Then, as now, venues were operated by entertainment chains. The 1977 equivalents of O2 were Fortes and Top Rank (Mecca) organisations. Within these companies, boardroom decisions were being made that instantly punched massive holes into the touring plans of any band associated with punk ronk and the new wave.

The Stranglers were inevitably caught up in this wave of corporate mass hysteria.

Sounds 11th June 1977

UK Music Press June 1977

Record Mirror 13th August 1977

UK Music Press October 1977
Local authorities in many cases used pretty weak justifications for imposing the bans. Hugh Cornwell's decision to sport a barstardised version of the 'Ford' logo resulted in the plug being pulled at the band's support gig at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park on 30th January 1977 on the orders of the Tory lead Greater London Council (GLC).

The Show-stopping Shirt

In London, from the outset of 1977 the band ran into regular problems with the GLC, which by 1978 culminated in a blanket ban on the band performing anywhere in the capital. The rug was pulled under the band's feet in their home town.

Melody Maker 15th April 1978

UK Music Press 20th May 1978

As a consequence of this ban, the band and their following in London were deprived of live performances from, at that time, one of the biggest bands in the country. Secret gigs became a necessity if the band wanted any opportunity to play in London, but these were difficult affairs and in some ways added to the frustration of fans who had no chance to get in. Further information on the handful of secret pub gigs the band played in this period is available in an excellent article on the official site.

Here's a contemporary piece on these gigs (thanks to Deadeye63 for the scan).

Sounds 9th September 1978

Efforts to get the band a suitable London date continued without sucess until September 1978, when the band eventually played an open air gig in Battersea Park. This gig was surely a pinnacle gig in the band's early career, effectively bringing the 'punk chapter' to a close.

UK Music Press 2nd September 1978

It was at Battersea that the band pulled off a very punk coup. The appearance of strippers on stage during 'Nice 'n' Sleazy' left the GLC themselves facing prosecution for allowing such a public spectacle if a case were to be made. A stroke of genius!!

Post Battersea, the band's problems in the capital were by no means at an end. Paranoia still abounded and securing Stranglers and solo gigs continued to be problematic in 1979. This, over 2 years since Grundy.
Poor old JJ seemed to be singled out for attention, seen as the most belligerant of the four band members, his name alone was sufficient for bookings to be cancelled! Attempts to promote his solo 'Euroman Cometh' ran into big problems in London.

Melody Maker April 1979

NME April 1979

UK Music Press 14th April 1979

NME April 1979
As the 1980's dawned, attitudes shifted and long standing bans were lifted and normal service was resumed.

No comments:

Post a Comment