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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, 28 January 2012
Just received this in a trade. A bit of background research into this brief gem would indicate that this has been available on other blogs for an age, but I had somehow missed it and that being the case so may you have. But this is too good to miss. Also considering that earlier links may now be redundant I think I have sufficient excuse to post it again.
From what I can gather, this very early Ruts DC set was recorded when they opened for The Skids at the Hammersmith Odeon on 21st October 1980. The quality is so good, I would say that it is a radio broadcast (perhaps part of a Skids 'In Concert' set?) and it unsurprisingly featues a majority of Ruts tracks, with the single 'Different View' being the only new song (this was only 3 months after Malcolm's death).
I'm sure you'll agree with me that this is top notch stuff. The question that I have is whether this is the full set or a radio edit?
In order to bulk this up to a respectable CD length, I have added the band's only Peel session from February of the following year.
Hammersmith Odeon 21st October 1980
01 Love In Vein
02 Different View
03 West One (Shine On Me)
05 Babylon's Burning
John Peel Session 16th February 1981
06 Mirror Smashed
09 Different View
Artwork will follow.
Sunday, 22 January 2012
More 'La Folie' nostalgia has now been posted on the official site. In a tour diary from the second leg of the tour, Phil Coxon is ably assisted in dragging out the memories of a cold winter, long, long ago by Mark Senior. Thanks chaps! Read it here.
Saturday, 21 January 2012
Last for the night now and to round of the look at 'La Folie' here's a 30 minute TV gig of The Stranglers Utrecht Festival appearance.
1. Second Coming
2. Non Stop
3. Who Wants The World
4. Baroque Bordello
5. Golden Brown
6. The Raven
7. Nuclear Device
Here'a reasonable sounding boot from the second leg of the 'La Folie' tour, recorded on this very night 30 years ago!
1. Down In The Sewer
2. Just Like Nothing On Earth
3. Second Coming
4. Non Stop
5. The Man They Love To Hate
6. Who Wants The World
7. Baroque Bordello
8. Golden Brown
9. How To Find True Love And Happiness In The Present Day
10. Thrown Away
12. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
14. The Raven
15. Nuclear Device
Here's the full artwork:
Don't dwell too much on the title, to do so is rather depressing, can it really have been that long ago!? Yes, I'm afraid it was and it goes back to my earliest interest in the band.
This was the second 'concept' album in succession from the Stranglers, although the subjects were worlds apart (no alien references intended there).Gone were the dark extra-terrestrial/government conspiracy themes of the substance driven 'The Gospel According to the Meninblack'. However, the thread that ran through 'La Folie' was as equally mysterious as a hanger full of UFOs..... that most dangerous of human emotions.... LOVE! However, gnarly old punks could sleep easy in their gutters, for this was not to be a collection of boy meets girl slush, rather eleven tracks each concerned with different, darker, aspects of love.
Not a complete list, but here's an indiction of the different facets of love represented across the tracks of 'La Folie':
- Devotion to God ('Non-Stop')
- Glamour/pornographic imagery as a substitute for love ('Pin-up')
- Family ties and loyalties/the Mafia ('Let Me Introduce You To The Family')
- Hypercritical, new found devotion in the wake of John Lennon's murder ('Everybody Loves You When You're Dead')
- Addiction to toast ('Golden Brown')
- A distortion of love leading to cannabalistic acts ('La Folie')
As was the case for their earlier albums, some of the characters that resided within these songs were rather obscur and some research was required in order to get the most out of the lyrics. There was Jive-talking, New York musician Milton Mezzrow and girl gourmet Issei Sagawa that stand out. In fact, knowing the subject can be very important! Prior to researching the background to the track 'La Folie' (see link), in all innocence, I sent the lyrics to a female French penfriend in the hope that she would help with the translation. What must she made of it (and me!). To give her credit, she did continue to write for a while, but the correspondence faltered within a few months.
That The Stranglers themselves were satisfied with how the album turned out is, I think, evidenced by the strong presence of tracks from the album that featured in the live set (upto 6 of the original 11).The album was toured either side of Christmas, commencing on 11th November 1981, two days after the albums release, and winding up on 8th February 1982. Incidentally, it was in this period that the band achieved their greatest chart success with the single 'Golden Brown' reaching Number 2, in the then still credible UK singles chart.
The tour looked stunning, with the band as usual, challenging their audience with the stage visuals (at one point, with the assistance of the support band, 'Folie' was spelt out in sheet-wrapped human form!).
Once again if I may, I will point you in the direction of Phil Coxon's tour diary.
Here then is an example of a show from this period, albeit post UK tour, when the band played the 'No Nukes Festival in Utrecht, Holland on 9th April 1982.
NEW LINK: https://we.tl/lUJpfuieJU
2. Down In The Sewer,
3. Just Like Nothing On Earth
4. Second Coming
5. Non Stop
6. The Man They Love To Hate
7. Who Wants The World
8. Baroque Bordello
9. Golden Brown
10. How To Find True Love And Happiness In The Present Day
12. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
14. The Raven
15. Nuclear Device
17. La Folie
Full artwork here (pdfs included in downlaod file):
It's not the end of the world and alternatives will be found, but surely there must have been a better way of doing this! The owners of the site claim that they rigorously dealt with complaints of possible piracy of copyright material, so where was the investigation into Megaupload's processes of policing site content. To take the site down just like that leaves a bad taste in my mouth (not to mention a hole in my wallet!).
I am heatened to see that the opposition to the proposed anti-piracy legislation seems to be strong across the US political spectrum and I hope that they effectively succeed in binning these bills.
Support the artists, buy the albums, go to the gigs, buy the Tshirt... share the bootlegs between like minded people. I am quite capable of policing my own site thank you very much.
Like thosands of other people who enjoy sharing music on blogs and forums, I am now looking for a suitable alternative. Whoever I choose, I just hope that they don't have a Bon Jovi album lurking somewhere on their servers!!
As none of the links now function, should anyone have a specific request for a gig no-longer available, please email me and I will repost.
IT APPEARS THAT THE STOP ON-LINE PIRACY ACT (SOPA) BILL HAS BEEN WITHDRAWN (FRIDAY) IN THE FACE OF LAST WEEK'S ONLINE BLACKOUT CAMPAIGN!
Sunday, 15 January 2012
On my musical journey through my teenage years Gary Numan preceded The Stranglers. Bedroom wall superiority was only achieved by The Stranglers some time around '85 I'd say. Up to that point, it was all Touring Principle and Teletour era posters and telecon stripes painted on the wall (illuminated by red spotlights if I remember correctly). Also painted on one wall was the Tubeway Army logo, identical to the road sign indicating that normal speed restrictions apply (only rotated so that the black bar runs across the horizontal).
To many, Gary Numan may have seemed to fall from outer space into peoples living rooms in the autumn of 1979 with the quirky, but brilliant 'Are Friends Electric?'. However, whilst Tubeway Army were catapulted to fame with unusual rapidity, the band had served something of the time honoured rock 'n' roll apprenticeship in the two years leading up to chart dominance.
It was Tubeway Army that released the aforementioned 'Are Friends Electric?', but the band at that point were a far cry from the Tubeway Army that had existed up until the previous year, in terms of personnel, but more noticeably sound.
Formed in 1977, the band consisted of Gary Webb and Paul Gardiner, who came together briefly in the ranks of another London punk band, The Lasers. Recognising a kindred spirit in each other, the two abandoned The Lasers with a view to forming their own band.
Much boot leather was lost on the streets of London until they reached the door of Beggars Banquet in Fulham. Beggars was a fledgling record label established in a similar vein to the other groundbreaking independent labels of the punk era, most notably Stiff and Chiswick Records.
Two singles were released on the label in 1978, 'That's Too Bad' in Febuary 1978 and 'Bombers' the following July. These 7" offerings took the 3-chord approach that such small labels required, but the songs left the 'No Future' message behind. Many of Numan's lyrics and themes predated punk by several years. Something of a loner, he wrote science fiction stories inspired by the likes of Philip K. Dick and William Burroughs. This material dominated the entire span of Tubeway Army. The thing was that to yet to be christened Gary Numan, what he saw as the simplicity of punk was nothing more than a means to an end. Gary aspired to the kind of fame then enjoyed by rock's elite (a far cry from the punk ethic.... at least that's what the musicians of the scene were telling the NME!). Numan made no secret of his admiration for David Bowie and he wanted some of that fame, fame, fame.
But before that was possible there was gigging to be done. At this point, Gary's uncle Jess Lidyard handed back the drumsticks for the time being.
Unfortunately, Tubeway Army were not what you could call prolific on the live circuit. Numan himself puts this down to a fear of an often unpredictable, occasionally violent audience at such close quarters. However, I on the very limited evidence available (see later), live they were tight and entertaining. Many of the bands live shows were at the Roxy towards the end of the venues short existence in London's Covent Garden. In fact, the venue played host to all of the key bands with a stake in Tubeway Army's early career (Mean Street (Gary Numan), The Lasers (Gary Numan and Paul Gardiner) and Open Sore (Sean Burke and Bary Benn)).
Tubeway Army appeared at the Roxy on several occasions between July and October 1977, supporting X-Ray Spex (then mistakenly billed as Two Way Army) and Penetration as well as headlining in their own right. But whilst The Roxy continued to put on punk bands until its closure in April 1978, the doors were closed to further gigs by Tubeway Army.
The ban was as a consequence of a management change in the latter days of the club's existence. The new manager, Kevin St John, was by all accounts a rather dubious character with his own interests at heart rather than those of the venue. By all accounts, predatory by nature, it seems that the somewhat androgynous lead singer if Tubeway Army was in his sights!
In Paul Marko's excellent and massively comprehensive account of this legendary club, Gary declined to contribute, but emailed the following to the author:
' Thanks for the email, about the Roxy Club. Unfortunately my memories of the place are all unpleasant and I don't want to go over any of it. I was only involved late in the day and wasn't there when it was a cool place to be. Sorry.'
The only currently known live recording of the 'punk' Tubeway Army comes from February 1978. A bootleg of the show attributes the recording to The Roxy 1977, but that cannot be the case since the recording is more accurately dated by Gary's reference to the scheduled release of the first single. Besides that, people better placed than myself believe that the recording originates from a gig at The Rock Garden, Covent Garden on 21st February 1978.
Putting exact date and venue to one side, Gary's personal issues with the Roxy and its proprietor were clearly evident in the thinly veiled song 'Kill St Joy'.
With the Roxy club history, the band continued to gig, but by all accounts this was becoming an increasingly less enjoyable experience to Gary.
One of the last gigs Tubeway Army played was support slot to Dunfirmline's The Skids at the White Hart pub in Acton on 28th January 1978, which as history has it descended into something of a blood bath. This event further focused the band (or Gary at least) to break from the then waining punk scene to seek something new.
Thanks to Gary Numan and Beggars, these related releases more than doubled the available recorded output of Tubeway Army.
Finally, a 20th anniversary reissue of the Tubeway Army album featured a cleaned up, remastered version of the 'Live at the Roxy' bootleg, retitled as Living Ornaments '78, in keeping with a series of official live tour recordings released from '79 to '81.
That then was the lesser known story of Tubeway Army, a band that continued to operate under that name for the time being, but in a very different form. The founding members (Gary and Paul) remained at the heart of the band and other musicians were recruited who were to remain with Gary Numan up to the point to his Wembley '81 'retirement' shows (some of these players returned for tours later in the '80's as well).
The turning point came with a live appearance on the the hugely influential 'Old Grey Whistle Test' from which it is abundantly clear that Gary Numan was offering something rather unusual with this new material (which would feature on Tubeway Army's second album, 'Replicas')
Saturday, 14 January 2012
NEW LINK: https://rapidshare.com/files/3085949239/JJ.zip
As en example of some more of JJ and Baz's little acoustic sideline (referred to in the France 2007 post), here's a feature that appeared on Ireland's RTE Radio back in 2010. The short extract featuring a rather belligerent Burnel is from 'Willesee at Seven', a prime time early evening magazine show in Australia. Recorded during the band's ill-fated 1979 Australian tour, this interview was to the Stranglers what Grundy was to the Pistols.... all good sweary fun.
NEW LINK: https://rapidshare.com/files/2808232775/RTE_Interview.zip
2. Extract From 1976 Interview
4. Strange Little Girl
6. Fading Dutch Moon
I have to admit, I don't know a great deal about this band (although I do own their only album and one of their singles). Nevertheless, some of you reading this will have seen them in their Rainbow support slot of 7th March 1981 (assuming of course that you weren't propping up a bar until the headliners appeared!) and other UK dates that made up 'The Meninblack Tour'.
For those familiar with this short lived Liverpool band, I though that you might like to hear some radio sessions that appeared recently on Dime (thanks here do to the original uploader, dclubok). Giving these tracks a listen, the material is very much of it's time and very in keeping with the scene that was at that time emerging from Liverpool.
More information on the band can be found on their site, here. Moreover, Modern Eon feature in Phil Coxon's excellent account of following the band on this tour, as posted on the official site.
2. The Grass Still Grows
4. Real Hymn
Recorded 10th September 1981
2. Garland Leaves
3. After the Party
4. From the Window
FM broadcast 1981-02-21 This is incomplete.
Watching The Dancers -- missing
01 Waiting for the cavalry
05 Real Hymn
I was surprised to learn earlier this week that the band's London date at Camden's Roundhouse has sold out many weeks in advance of the gig. I do not recall this happening in a long time. On the one hand, fair play I say. On the other hand though, I say 'Oh Bugger!' since I was caught on the hop and didn't get my act together in time. Therefore, should any kind reader happen to fall into possession of two spare standing tickets, please bear this faithful author in mind!
Sunday, 8 January 2012
A quick musical diversion from The Stranglers now.
This gig meant a lot to me, it was my second London gig (for those interested, the first, a few weeks before this one was Peter & The Test Tube Babies and The Long Tall Texans at the 100 Club). All gigs prior to this had been in the Brighton area, with an occasional trip to Guildford.
PiL had at this point released 'Album' and were riding high on the commercial success of the classic 'Rise' single. The gig promised to be a good one, besides which as a young punk, I was slightly in awe of John Lydon. The gig was great and certainly not without incident. Then as now Lydon had (an entirely reasonable) aversion to spitting and even as late as 1986 some in the audience had failed to move with the times and persisted in hawking up material to share with the band and with 'Ole man Rotten in particular! He got increasingly frustrated throughout the gig as his attempts to stem the gloopy flow by persuasion failed.
At one point he vowed never to play London again (thankfully he didn't mean it maaaan) and Public Image was cut short as he left the stage. At other times in the gig, I recall someone getting onto the stage to attack him, whilst on the right hand side of the stage someone scaled the rather large PA before dropping his trousers at the top.
In short, a great night, and certainly a far cry from the 'We are not worthy' relationship that we have seen with London audiences at more recent PiL/Pistols gigs.
Album was great and 1987's Happy? had its moments but unfortunately what followed in 9 and That What Is Not had little of the creativity that characterised earlier PiL material. Now, as they are recording a new album with the core of the band as was in 1986, I wait with baited breath hoping for something really memorable.
Thanks to the original uploader, bigboxoftapes.
NEW LINK: http://rapidshare.com/files/1307066980/PiL%20Brixton%2027.5.1986.zip
03 Low Life
05 Pop Tones
06 Pretty Vacant
07 Banging the Door
08 The Flowers of Romance
12 Public Image
Saturday, 7 January 2012
More recently, judging from his excellent blog 'Leigh's Mad World of Guitars' he's not letting up on the gigging. Whilst I wasn't so aware of some of the bands that he is currently involved with, I was certainly aware of his involvement with both TV Smith and with Ruts DC, two big hitters in my book. Please take a look at Leigh's blog. Whilst I have posted on the Paul Fox benefit gig (not a review, rather a moan that I missed it), Leigh gives the background on the rehearsals with The Ruts and Rollins, filling in when Paul was too ill to play. Leigh's exitement about playing with these people is infectious and his Ruts related posts certainly made me smile!
In the coming Spring my son is scheduled to take a school trip in preparation for his history GCSE to two of the principal sectors of British engagement on the Western Front, namely the Somme and the Ypres salient. To say I am jealous is an understatement, but my proposal to accompany the party as a helper was met with a look of abject horror!
On school trips to France in the early '80's (the nearness of Newhaven harbour made this an easy option), we used to pass through some of the battlefields of the Great War, but it wasn't until 2003 that I travelled to the Somme region specifically to tour the battlefields and memorials that dominate the landscape. Subsequently I have also made a couple of trips to Ypres and the surrounding areas, fields and low lying hills that devoured British and Empire soldiers (not to forget German troops as well) throughout the entire span of the conflict.
In preparation of boring my son senseless on the subject of the Western Front (along with The Stranglers something of an obsession of mine) I thought some people may be interested in one particular site on The Somme, The Lochnagar Crater, known locally as La Grande Mine.
Located near to La Boiselle, a tiny village on the infamous Albert to Bapaume road, the site is easy to miss. I recall a single sign post indicating the turn of for 'La Grande Mine'.
The Lochnagar crater was created on 1st July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme. The result of the detonation of 24 tons of ammonal (a mixture of ammonium nitrate, TNT and aluminium powder) at 7.28 am, which along with the explosion of other mines (a total of 16, including Hawthorn Ridge and Y Sap mine) marked the opening of that terrible and disasterous Allied offensive which aimed to bring the war to an end.
The area beneath what was to become the crater was mined by the 179th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers. The target was the so called Schwaben Höhe, a German stronghold.
I chose this particular site to post on as to my mind it is so poignant, perfectly and silently illustrating the futility of war and the flaws in the minds of men that can conceive such means of destroying life on such a grand scale.
To those that have not made the short trip to the battlefields of The Great War, I would urge you to go. To Rudi, be warned I may stow myself away in the hold of the coach yet!
In April 2007, I was very much getting back into this Stranglers thing. With the UK 'Suite XVI' dates done and dusted, Europe called. The last, and only time, I saw the Stranglers abroad was in Dusseldorf in June 1988. Back then it was less convenient to see a band play abroad. Budget airlines and the Eurostar have since done much to change that, to the extent that the cost difference in travelling to a gig in the UK and seeing a gig in Northern Europe is not that great. Cheap travel, hotel deals and cheaper gig tickets make a big difference. And, given that on this occasion, my travelling companion was Paul 'The Fixer' Cooklin, costs were further reduced to the extent that financially three consecutive gigs were in the frame, Lille, Cannes and Paris.
Paul and I met up at Waterloo early morning (this was prior to the opening of St Pancras International) to board the Eurostar to Lille. This was my first trip on the Eurostar and I was very impressed. My level of comfort was enhanced by the little bottles of red wine that Paul kept procuring throughout the journey! Pinot Grigiot obviously had not at this point been established as the official touring tipple of our small group!
The day was beautiful and our afternoon in Lille was passed in the main town square in the company of Michelle, Neil the Walker and our genial hosts Eric and Fred (who planned to get us to the venue that evening). I have to say that whenever I have travelled anywhere to see this band, local fans have always been most hospitable and generous. This trip was no exception and this aspect is one of the reasons why such trips further afield are so enjoyable.
The evening took us back into the centre of Lille for a very late evening meal and the usual post-gig analysis.
Here's a recording of the show:
2. Five Minutes
4. Spectre Of Love
5. Nice N Sleazy
6. Death And Night And Blood
9. Always The Sun
10. Golden Brown
11. I Hate You
12. Lost Control/ Summat Outanowt
13. Walk On By
2. All Day And All Of The Night
4. London Lady
5. Nuclear Device
6. Dagenham Dave
7. Hanging Around
8. No More Heroes
1. Five Minutes
3. Spectre Of Love
4. Nice 'N' Sleazy
5. Death And Night And Blood
8. Always The Sun
9. Golden Brown
10. I Hate You
11. Lost Control
1. Summat Outanowt
2. Walk On By
4. Burning Up Time
5. All Day And All Of The Night
7. London Lady
8. Nuclear Device
9. Dagenham Dave
10. Hanging Around
11. No More Heroes
FNAC, Nice 30th March 2007
12. Strange Little Girl
13. Dutch Moon
14. I Hate You