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

Tuesday 19 February 2013

20 From '79 (16) A Phoenix From The Ashes - The Damned Back For More Anarchy, Chaos And Destruction in 1979

Whilst often overlooked as a result of their less than serious stage antics (apolitical unlike The Clash and not as angry as Johnny and his cohorts) The Damned were nonetheless a band for firsts. First to release a single, first to take British punk rock to the US and first to split.

With the departure of Brian James, the remaining misfits of the former Damned in turn followed separate projects before coming back firstly as The Doomed, then once more under the banner of The Damned.

The band's initial uncertainty about their future lay in the fact that Brian James was the principal song writer of the material that made up their two 1977 albums 'Damned Damned Damned' and 'Music For Pleasure'. If they were to continue someone would have to step up to fill those boots. In '76 and '77 the bands sound reflected the biggest influences on Brian James.... The Stooges and MC5 etc.... that could be described as a lo-fi, high octane thrash.

In 1978 however, with the reconfigured Damned (Captain Sensible having swapped bass for guitar) their music took on a dramatic change. On the material that eventually became the 'Machine Gun Ettiquette' album, the songwriting took on a much more English flavour (with the obvious exception of their cover of MC5's 'Looking At You'). I suspect that this was a direct consequence of the remaining influences within the band, perhaps most notably those of the Captain himself who held a great appreciation of English prog rock (although the admission was not to be forthcoming for a few years yet at this point!). A huge fan of early Floyd and Syd Barrett (the band would sometimes include the wonderful 'Arnold Layne' in their set at this time), the Pink Floyd influence on the music of The Damned can still be clearly heard in the material they have recorded in the last few years.

With the introduction of keyboards, the songs took on elements of English psychedelia and Music Hall! For me, 'Machine Gun Ettiquette' remains as their finest moment (true they followed this up with two further classic albums in 'The Black Album' and 'Strawberries'). Whilst 'DDD' gave us the timeless singles 'New Rose' and 'Neat Neat Neat', 'Machine Gun Ettiquette' can equally boast 'Love Song', 'I Just Can't Be Happy Today' and 'Smash It Up'.

In 1979, The Damned proved to all that they were a band capable of great songwriting and impressive musical ability.

Now, I know that I have already posted The Damned in this particular thread (here), but the real reason for this additional post is related to a trio of professionally taken photographs of the band that I received some weeks ago from Dave Sez, who attended one of two 'secret' gigs that the band played as 'The School Bullies' at the Brigehouse pub in London's Canning Town.

Details of the two gigs that they played at the venue are as follows:

Info from the Whiterabbitskgs web site (

Monday 12 March - The Bridge House, Canning Town, London

Set: unknown.
Comments: Appeared as The School Bullies. Support from The Tickets.

Here are those photos that I mentioned from this gig (thanks again DS!)


Here's one of two comments from Dave who witnessed one of these two gigs:

'In thanks for so much good music, I've gone digging in the attic to give you a taste of the times. I was at the secret gig played by the Damned under the name The School Bullies on 12th March 1979* at the Bridgehouse, Canning Town, one of my earliest gigs (if it wasn't the Undertones at the Marquee). The atmosphere was intimidating - the gig started with twenty minutes of Sieg Heiling from what seemed to be everyone in the audience except me and my mate - but the tension was relieved by being mates with the Captain: I remember getting chased around his garden with him manically waving a whining model airplane engine nailed on a board that he used to cut chunks out of his mum's plants when we were too quick. The gig was great. Below are three gig photos and two MGE promo pics - wish I'd now coughed up for a fourth gig pic of Algy though. Good times, and here ya go, cheers Dave Sez'.

* See correction comment uder Friday 7th September listing.

Friday 7 September - Bridge House, London

Set: Love Song, Teenage Dream, Stretcher Case, Ballroom Blitz, Machine Gun Etiquette, Born To Kill, Looking At You, New Rose, Noise Noise Noise, Problem Child, Neat Neat Neat-Summer Nights medley, Jet Boy Jet Girl, Pretty Vacant.
Comments: Appeared as The School Bullies. Supported by the Cockney Rejects and (probably) The 4-Skins.

'A minor correction - dodgy memory after more than thirty years! There were in fact two gigs as the School Bullies in the Bridgehouse in 1979: the Monday 12th March gig in the photos I upped above (look behind the Captain's head for confirmation of the Monday) and again on Friday 7th September with the Cockney Rejects as support (which explains the Sieg Heiling). I remember being dissuaded from going to a Chinese takeaway after the gig by two LARGE skins standing picket outside the door asking "if you're English, mate, cos if you are ... " I was at the second gig, not the first, as I realized today when I found two photos on the web that I remember buying from a gig photographer by post after the gig. Dave Sez'.

And from an Damned Forum interview with Algy Ward (appearing on a Tank website, the band he was to join after The Damned).

Unfortunately, I do not have a recording of either of these gig, although I am sure that I have seen one of them appear on somebodies list in the past.... if anyone can assist in filling a gap?

Moreover, an additional account of the March 12th date can found on the venues forum page:

Here though is a good soundin recording of a gig played at the Fulham Greyhound on 14th January 1979.



01. Jet Boy Jet Girl
02. Teenage Dream
03. Stretcher Case
04. Ballroom Blitz
05. Problem Child
06. Love Song
07. Looking At You
08. Born To Kill
09. Second Time Around
10. Melody Lee
11. Help
12. Stab Your Back
13. So Messed Up
14. Neat Neat Neat
15. New Rose
16. Pretty Vacant
17. Burglar
18. Black Night
19. I Feel Alright


  1. a recording of september 7th 1979 Bridge House London does exist.

  2. Nice one, Adrian, looking forward to hearing the Greyhound and enjoyed reading the insightful text. If anyone could provide the Bridgehouse recording, that would be great. Cheers, Dave Sez.

  3. The Bridgehouse recording has now been upped here; thanks to Stevie D. for the recording. Damned fans will want to check out the Dave Vanian and Phantom Chords unreleased album here: Cheers, Dave Sez.