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 adrianandrews1@sky.com.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Strange Little Girl - In Praise of a 30 Year Old Classic

'Strange Little Girl'
Sleeve for the single (featuring Jet's daughter)

OK, so I'm a bit premature with this one, but is the sun is shining, albeit briefly in this dismal June that we are experiencing, and I am reminded of this song for some reason.

Released on 24th July 1982, 'Strange Little Girl' was issued in order to satisfy the remaining obligation of the band's contract with Liberty/EMI before the band moved over to Epic. Anything but a new song, 'Strange Little Girl' was in fact one of the earliest Stranglers originals written and recorded (and ironically one of the songs with which the band were first rejected by EMI in the early days). Several cuts of the track were recorded back in 1974 in TW Studios in Fulham. One of these versions surfaced on the rarities album 'The Early Years 74-75-76'.

'Strange Little Girl'
Demo TW Studios Fulham 1974

In contrast to the re-recorded version of 1982, the original was much more in keeping with the melodic rock style favoured by the band at the time and, perhaps more importantly, tolerated by the disinterested drinkers that formed the majority of the bands audience in the '74 to '75 period. It was to be some time before they roughened up their sound and their accents and embraced as an integral part of the London-centered Pub Rock circuit.


However, when re-recorded, rather than being a quick rehash of an old song merely for the purposes of fulfilling a contractual requirement, the revamped version was sublime!

On the surface, the song is an adult friendly ballad (even my Dad liked it!!), but the subject matter is dark and gloomy. Originally a Cornwell writing collaboration with departed founder member Hans Warmling, the subject was a girlfriend of Hugh's, in fact the very same girl that was at the receiving end of the events that were described in the forthcoming 'Sometimes'.

The lyrics (changed somewhat in the '82 version) leave the listener wondering exactly what experiences and hardships this country innocent had endured upon swapping her country life with the grim realities of the city.

As had become the norm at the time of the release, the single was accompanied by a promotional video. Set in central London, the film saw the band performing the song in the midst of a parade of London punk extras (mainly female). Details are unclear, but from what I can ascertain, the extras were recruited at gigs in the capital around that time, with the promise of 15 minutes of fame, a tenner and a buffet lunch in the course of the shoot (take a look here).

'Strange Little Girl' Promo 1982

The principal character was a very attractive if elusive girl known as 'Spanish Lisa', who apparently attracted the 'leading actress' fee of £100 on the condition that her head was shaved at the conclusion of the video.

'Spanish Lisa' 1982

Some fan photos of the shoot have appeared previously on The Burning Up Time Forum (nicked with thanks!).




Photographs from the 'Strange Little Girl' Video Shoot 1982

The single peaked at Number 8 in the UK singles chart (a highly respectable placing at a time when a Top 20 hit was only achieved with very significant singles sales).

The single was also supported in its rise with promo TV appearances, most notably on UK TV's Top of The Pops (the programme was as The Rezillos put it 'A stock market for your hi-fi').

'Strange Little Girl'
Top Of The Pops (UK TV) 1982

Years later when Gunta and I got married, realising that there was little chance to circumvent wedding tradition, a song had to be chosen for that dreaded first dance, and 'Strange Little Girl' was the best fit. And so it was that we very self-consciously took the floor, dis-ably assisted by a malfunctioning smoke machine (intended to conceal the uncoordinated movements of our feet). Rather than create a steady low level cloud of dry ice as intended, the infernal machine spewed out a dense jet of dry ice directly into the corner occupied by my asthmatic, wheel-chair bound Grandfather .... we nearly lost him that day!

Now 30 years on I am happy to report that this grand dame of a tune still features in their set which is surely testament to the enduring quality of the song.

'Strange Little Girl'
Liverpool 02 Academy 5th March 2012

I would say though, that whilst no Baz detractor, it is on this song that I perhaps miss Hugh's vocal the most.


Music Press Ad 1982

2 comments:

  1. Great piece about this great song!! Did it not chart at number 7 though? Always wondered who that girl was on the picture sleeve!! Never realised Jet had a daughter either. I knew the photo had been taken just outside Bath though.

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  2. Adore Tori Amos' cover of it too.

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