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.
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
Here's another oldie, this time from the US leg of 'The Meninblack' tour.
03. The Raven
04. Toiler On The Sea
05. Just Like Nothing On Earth
06. Thrown Away
07. Who Wants The World
08. Baroque Bordello
09. Second Coming
12. Shah Shah A Go Go
13. Hallow To Our Men
14. Nuclear Device
16. Down In The Sewer
Monday, 26 December 2016
I've been a bit cheeky here and in the absence of a full recording of the band on their recent dates, here's an audio rip of Andy's youtube footage of the last five songs that The Vapors played in London on 4th November 2016 (cheers Andy!).
01. TURNING JAPANESE
04. WAITING FOR THE WEEKEND
05. HERE COMES THE JUDGE
Here's a Dutch radio broadcast of Buzzcocks at the legendary Paradiso in Amsterdam on 2nd March 1979. From the look of the captured songs this would appear to be the end of a longer set.
01. Ever Fallen In Love With Someone You Shouldn't Fall In Love With?
02. Everybody's Happy Nowadays
03. What Do I Get?
05. Oh Shit!
06. Orgasm Addict
Saturday, 24 December 2016
Well its been quite a year for those Ruts DC boys, a new rock album a good run of gigs and much high praise. The award of album of the year for 'Music Must Destroy' by UK alternative music magazine 'Vive Le Rock' was the icing on the cake.
There's no indication that 2017 is going to be any less busy for the band, with dates in Ireland preceding a national tour with some band called The Stranglers.
Here's a set that the band played at the 'Breaking Barriers' festival marking 40 years of punk in Belgium. Many thanks to the taper for sharing!
02. Vox Teardrop
05. Mighty Soldier
06. It Was Cold
07. Kill The Pain
08. West One (Shine On Me)
09. Music Must Destroy
10. Love In Vein
11. Jah War
12. Psychic Attack
13. Staring At The Rude Boys
14. Babylon’s Burning
15. In A Rut
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Here's a short continental set from the Newtown Neurotics back in the day. 'Repercussions' is just around the corner and the band are on fire.Thanks to the sharer!
MP3 (as received): https://we.tl/nOrF6Aqp62
01. The Mess
02. Does Anyone Know Where The March Is?
03. Mt Death
04. No Respect
05. The Mind Of Valerie
07. Newtown People
08. Fighting Times
10. This Fragile Life
11. Creatures From Another World
Thursday, 15 December 2016
In my view Public Image Limited were at a second career peak at the time of this album and tour. The music was challenging and inventive, but the real difference came with his new band (essentially the band he has reformed PiL with now, less John McGeogh). Unlike the lackluster collection of session musicians that Lydon pulled together for the 1983 dates, the PiL of 1986 were cohesive and vibrant.
On the one hand Lydon was happy to deliver 'Pretty Vacant' to those that wanted it, whilst on the other he baffled the audience with inclusion of Kashmir by none other than...... Led Zepplin!
Here is an edited version of the Barrowlands gig (originally broadcast on Radio Clyde I believe).
Thanks to the sharer.
MP3 (as received): https://we.tl/Bsfxmch1co
06. Pretty Vacant
08. Banging The Door
09. Flowers Of Romance
11. Tie Me To The Length Of That
OK, another one for this evening. This time a support slot for Simple Minds once again in Scotland. Enjoy and thanks to the original taper for sharing.
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
04. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
06. Golden Brown
07. Always The Sun
09. Time Was Once On My Side
10. Norfolk Coast
11. 5 Minutes
13. No More Heroes
Here's a great one from The Ruby Tour (Cheers Chatts!) from one of our now traditional ventures over the border.
01. Intro-London Lady
02. No More Heroes
03. Coup De Grace
04. Was It You
06. Summat Outanowt
07. Peasant In The Big Shitty
09. Still Life
10. Midnight Summer Dream
11. Thrown Away
12. Never To Look Back
14. Skin Deep
15. Time To Die
17. Valley Of The Birds
20. Freedom Is Insane
21. Hanging Around
22. 5 Minutes
23. Norfolk Coast
24. Encore Break-Baroque Bordello
25. Golden Brown
26. Strange Little Girl
27. Always The Sun
29. Encore Break-Tank
Monday, 12 December 2016
It's a couple of weeks ago that Gunta and I saw Dr John Cooper Clarke and Hugh Cornwell on the first night of their 'This Time It's Personal' Tour in the relatively intimate setting of The Junction in Cambridge. I would be lying if a said I wasn't doubtful about this gig. I did buy the album and as I mentioned in a previous post, the songs are known to me from my mother's marathon ironing sessions that would be soundtracked by some of these '50's originals. Well crafted songs they may be, but they aren't really up my alley.
'Johnny Remember Me'
The Junction Cambridge
'Walk On By' was preceded by 'Stuck In Daily Mail Land' a song of reasonable sentiment yes, but not one of Hugh's best solo efforts. Re-enter the good Doctor, now refueled with caffeine and nicotine to run through a couple of his own numbers before a finale of 'No More Heroes' and 'Grip' which were great to see, although I daresay the execution may have improved as the tour progressed and John became better acquainted with the lyrics of said songs! I caught the last couple on film happily.
'No More Heroes'
'(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)'
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Today, 35 years ago, the first leg of the 'La Folie Tour' concluded at the Rainbow in London. Here's a south-coast set from The Gaumont in Southampton.
02. Non Stop
04. Just Like Nothing On Earth
05. Second Coming
07. Who Wants The World
08. Baroque Bordello
09. Golden Brown
11. Thrown Away
13. I Feel Like A Wog
14. The Man They Love To Hate
15. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
16. Nuclear Device
18. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
19. Bring On The Nubiles
21. The Raven
Saturday, 3 December 2016
Saturday, 26 November 2016
They are available on Etsy and can be accessed via the Etsy panel on the right hand side of this site. Take a look if you have the inclination (can you tell I work in a Scientific Department and not in a Sales Department!)
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Saturday, 12 November 2016
Here's one from the Forty Two Forty tour of 2008.
01. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
02. Five Minutes
04. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
05. Spectre Of Love
06. Skin Deep
07. No Mercy
08. Always The Sun
09. Strange Little Girl
10. Golden Brown
11. The Raven
12. Thrown Away
01. Walk On By
02. Hanging Around
03. Straighten Out
04. Big Thing Coming
05. All Day And All Of The Night
08. Nuclear Device
09. Something Better Change
10. No More Heroes
Sunday, 30 October 2016
Last week my daughter Ramona was able to cross another thing of her 'bucket list'. This is a bucket list that she wrote at the age of 12, figuring I suppose that the earlier you think about these things the longer you have to realise them! Anyway seeing The Cure featured on the list.
During last week's half term holiday we travelled to Munich to see Bob and the boys play at the enormous Olympiahalle in the city and to spend some time visiting the Dachau concentration camp memorial site. I know how to show a girl a good time!
In the event, both activities were very rewarding for very different reasons.
Mo at Dachau
24th October 2016
Artwork: included in the download file.
01. Seventeen seconds
04. 10.15 Saturday night
05. Play for today
06. In your house
07. Fire in Cairo
08. A forest
09. Three imaginary boys
10. Another journey by train
11. Jumping someone else's train
12. Killing an Arab
13. Subway song
14. Grinding halt
15. Boys don't cry
16. A forest
Saturday, 22 October 2016
One of the most unlikely parings since Nick Cave and Kylie, Hugh Cornwell and Dr John Cooper Clarke have joined forces to release an album of songs that inspired them as kids/teens. The revelation here is that JCC has a really good singing voice, a world apart from that Mancunian drawl that we know and love.
The songs aren't really my up of tea. They are very much of my patents era, some of them pre-dating the birth of rock 'n' roll even. Some of these songs, particularly 'Donna' and 'Jezebel' take me back to my Sundays in the mid '70's that saw my mum ironing with accompaniment from the originals of these songs. These Sundays marked the end of the weekend with bathtime, Poldark, The Onedin Line and a host of other things that I did not much care for. To this day, the only redeeming feature of a Sunday is that it means that I am not at work!
Anyway, enough of that, today is Saturday and I am upbeat!
Here is the session by 'the thinking woman's Mick 'n' Keef' (as Mark Radcliffe billed them (or as someone else, who will remain nameless, described them, Peters and Lee)) did for BBC 6 Music earlier this month.
02. Intro to Spanish Harlem
03. Spanish Harlem
04. Intro to Donna
06. Outro to Donna
07. Intro to Love Potion No.9
08. Love Potion No.9
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Ruts DC at The Underworld Camden
16th September 2016
Photo: Andy Miller
In the studio, punk luminaries and collaborators past and present (Captain Sensible, Jake Burns, Kirk Brandon as well as self-confessed super fan, Henry Rollins) contributed to make a great multi-layered album, more diverse in its musical content than any other album that they have produced. In stark contrast to the wonderful 2013 album 'Rhythm Collision Volume 2', a follow up to 1982's 'Rhythm Collision, wait for it.... Volume 1', 'Music Must Destroy' sets aside the dub to return to a rock sound, making it a natural follow up to the dark brilliance of 1981's 'Animal Now' album.
Since coming back together in 2011, Ruts DC have been nothing if not prolific with two studio albums and a live album under their belts already, with a clutch of singles and an in depth biography to boot. In this wealth of new material both Segs and Ruffy have been resolute in the requirement that everything that they do must add to the legacy of The Ruts whilst moving the band ever forwards.
On our second meeting at The Fleece in Bristol several years ago Segs was genuinely put out that his pass made reference to The Ruts rather than Ruts DC, to the extent that he borrowed a marker pen in order to correct his pass. Such was his determination that the band should never be viewed as a punk nostalgia act! In those early gigs they made sure that they could never be pigeon holed as such by kicking off the set with tracks such as 'Whatever We Do' and 'Weak Heart' as well as a generous serving of material from 'Animal Now' thereby challenging a fair proportion of the audience there to see 'Babylon's Burning' and 'Staring At The Rude Boys' (which they got in the fullness of time).
The band's work since 2011 shouts out that they are back, still a bit miffed by what they see around them (to put it mildly) and more than ready to carry a banner for those that cannot voice dissent about the various failings of compassion, justice and humanity that afflict them.
It is not my intention to review the album here. For those that are interested, a couple of review pieces are featured on the bands official website (http://www.theruts.co.uk).
Late last month, Ruts DC were confirmed as support for The Stranglers UK ‘Classic Collection’ tour so for those that have yet to see Ruts DC, an original slice of the late ‘70’s punk scene, I would urge you to forgo that last pre-gig pint in the pub over the road in order to see the band.
Instead of reviewing the album I asked Ruffy if he and Segs would be happy to answer a few questions about The Ruts/Ruts DC then and now as well as the new album. They were very happy to do this, so over a pint I pulled together some questions for their consideration and sent them over to Ruts DC H.Q. A few days later the answers furnished by this here rhythm section entered my inbox.
So here we have an exclusive interview with Segs and Ruffy of Ruts DC for your edification.
Photo: Andy Miller
'Break Down The Walls In The Government Halls Shouldn't We?'
Aural Sculptors: ‘Music Must Destroy’ is the third studio album from Ruts DC, but as a rock album it is a natural successor to 1981’s ‘Animal Now’. Clearly produced under very different circumstances, how did the writing and recording processes differ between these two albums?
Ruffy: Well, a lot of the songs on “Animal Now” began before Malcolm died, Segsy, Paul Fox and I were writing while Malcolm was going AWOL with his addictions. He was becoming extremely unreliable and was not turning up for rehearsals, and so we carried on writing without him, of course we all hoped that he would sort himself out and return to the fold so to speak. In fact the weekend before he died we all met up in Clapham and discussed working again.
Sadly he died on the following Monday and so the rest of the process of writing and recording were tainted by grief; not generally the best recipe for making our sort of music.
With this new album “Music Must Destroy” Segs and I have had 35 years of life and experience since recording “Animal Now”. As you know, this incarnation of Ruts DC started playing gigs together in 2011 and since then we have been honing and sharpening up our live show.
We have not been in a rush to record a new rock album; we have waited until we had the right material. We are totally aware of our heritage as well as the legacy of both Malcolm and Paul Fox. This time though there is no grieving.
It’s been a lot of hard work but ultimately worth it.
Segs: The prospect of writing a new Ruts DC “rock” album was a daunting one. I really never thought we would ever do it. After Rhythm Collision 2 we started gigging again, It was more reggae based obviously, so that we could play those tracks.
As we rehearsed, certain songs from Animal Now started to creep into the set. The natural progression was that as we jammed a few rocky type tunes –songs just developed –lyrics just came out. It was kind of how it was back in the old Ruts days at the squat where a lot of the tunes came from jams.
The time is always now.
Aural Sculptors: Your early career with The Ruts has featured prominently in the media in the last 12 months or so, with the success of the ‘Rock Against Racism’ book and exhibition and the recently published ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’. Nearly 30 years on, how do you view your involvement with RAR and what do you think it achieved?
Ruffy: I think it made a difference to some individuals, I know this because I meet them and their grown up children at our shows. At this time I think that “People Unite” matters more now than ever before.
Segs: It’s been interesting doing interviews about the RAR days; people like to re-write the story to suit their agenda. It wasn’t all skinheads and fights, there was a lot of unity amongst those involved, we made some lifelong friends and that’s how we prefer to remember those days. It’s also about now. Certain issues have improved but others have been created. The fight continues.
Aural Sculptors: As musicians who in former times have been at the sharp end of record company machinations, how important is the concept of crowd funding to bands such as Ruts DC?
Ruffy: It’s been amazing; it has given us an opportunity to make the record we wanted to.
We are quite hard on ourselves and our quality control is high. And top quality doesn’t come cheap!
The way we make records now is totally different, we have no A&R people telling us to go this way or that and the whole process now is like making art rather than product.
The individuals that pledge money drive me on to do the best work I possibly can, they have believed in us and laid their money down, It’s very humbling, so we do our very best for our people.
Segs: Imagine saying to 500 people –can you lend us £15 upwards and we’ll make an album –honestly!
I have been taken aback really by the amount of faith and patience –there have been a few sticky moments but it’s a great feeling to have delivered an album that most people are enjoying (apart from a few) ha!
'I've got something to show you, can you handle it?
When love comes as violence, you get used to it'
Aural Sculptors: Since coming back to us Ruts DC continue to rail against inequality and injustice, but the themes are now much broader than was the case in the band’s earlier material, ‘Mighty Soldier’ (on child soldiers) and ‘Second-Hand Child’ (focuses on the plight of children in abusive environments). Is this the result of broader horizons, as you have got older?
Segs: Older? Yes –wiser? I hope so. We’ve lived a lot more life for sure. Second Hand Child is about violent abuse and its about breaking the chain of that ongoing cycle .My friend has a “poignant” beer mat that says “Enjoy your pint –nobody knows you’re a wife beater.”
'Soft city lights, shining so bright come rescue me tonight'
Aural Sculptors: The song ‘Soft City Lights’ sounds to me like a response to ‘West One’ (I may be way off the mark I know!). Can you explain the origins of the song, and just who is the Executioner?
Ruffy: That’s interesting! It’s my wife’s favourite song and not “typical” of us at all, Leigh came in with the 12 string riff and we have been kicking the song about for more than a year. We decided that we would play the music we wanted on this record rather than just do one thing, for me it’s quite American sounding its quite poppy and a bit like the Byrds meet Tom Petty.
I’ll let Mr Segs answer the lyrical question.
Segs: It is like an unintentional continuation of West One as I’ve always related to Malcolm’s perspective in that song. I, for one am plagued by self-doubt although onstage and at gigs it may not come across like that.
When we started going out with Ruts DC again it was like the “compliments raining down“ after the shows. The downside of that is that you can get that “confidence draining “ feeling. It’s a high /low thing. I think many people experience that but it’s a positive song about negativity.
The “Executioner “ is your own self doubt and or indeed the doubt of other people, your parents, your teachers, even your class, and just saying life’s too short to succumb to that.
Aural Sculptors: Your long-standing collaborator, Henry Rollins, guests on the title track ‘Music Must Destroy’. How did this come about?
Ruffy: We asked him and he said yes!
Segs: As some may know, we did the show in 2007 with him and became friends. We’ve been to see his one man show on a few occasions now, It gets better and better. Henry did his vocals in L.A, then I went up to Edinburgh festival for the day so that we could film him for the Music Must Destroy video. He was kind enough to slot us in to his insanely busy schedule –and then went of to do his 2.5 hour show!
Aural Sculptors: Having now toured with the current line up as far afield as Australia and New Zealand, do you see any opportunities for the band to have another crack at the States, perhaps with Henry’s patronage?
Ruffy: I really hope so, we really want to but we don’t want to go as a nostalgic act. We are a proper group not a punk vaudeville act, yes, we are older but so what? There is only one alternative to getting older! I think I’m a better musician now and I have managed to keep cynicism at bay, anyway what about Iggy? Mr Pop’s “Post Punk Depression” is one of his best albums. With regard to the U.S though, I guess we are hoping for a vital U.S band to invite us to go on tour with them. You know who you are!
Segs: I’d love to --- You know where we are !
'You've got me under psychic attack, making me feel I've got a knife in my back, I feel it twisting between my blades,
And it's taking me down, yes I'm down, yes I'm down'
Aural Sculptors: The first single from the album, ‘Psychic Attack’ has an intensity that harks back to the early days of The Ruts and takes the listener right into the head of the central character. Mental well-being is set to become one of society’s biggest health concerns of the 21st century. What’s the story behind this one?
Segs: It’s a song about pressure. Once you allow it in, it can start to spiral down and take you with it.
Down, down, down. With me, luckily it’s a temporary condition. One morning I just started singing the lyrics with a Damned /Iggy Pop type of band in my head.
At the same time one of my close friends was going through a hard time, basically, she was getting daily grief from somebody who thought he had the right to mentally torture her. The song just came together from there. Most people are quite fragile creatures you know.
Aural Sculptors: Of great excitement to me is the fact that Ruts DC are now the confirmed tour support for The Stranglers’ UK dates in March. Have the paths of the two bands crossed much since 1977?
Ruffy: I know them a little as I co-produced their “Norfolk Coast” album in 2004 which was good fun and I went to see them a couple of times in the last couple of years. Their show is really good and I’m looking forward to the tour.
Segs: Me too, I like doing supports short sharp and good fun. There’s still a lot of people out there that are unaware that we are out there in any form. Of course the Stranglers embrace many styles but are still loosely labelled as “Punk “ I think we should fit in there rather nicely.
Aural Sculptors: Donald or Hilary?
Segs: Lethal business controls America.
My sincere thanks to Segs and Ruffy for taking the time to do this interview. See you soon!
My sincere thanks to Segs and Ruffy for taking the time to do this interview. See you soon!
Sunday, 9 October 2016
Last Friday Roger featured on Sara Cox's 'Sounds of the 80's' show on BBC Radio 2. The show was featuring the band's debut album 'I Just Can't Stop It' released in May 1980. Here Roger talks of the punk scene in his native Birmingham and how this came together into what became the 2 Tone movement. He also talks of the band's position outside of 2 Tone and touring with The Clash and The Police, REM and US.
Ranking Roger interview here.
Whilst the focus here is on 'I Just Can't Stop It', The Beat are not standing still. Just released is their new album 'Bounce', their first studio album in, what, 34 years! I have heard a few tracks so far and it sounds great to me, so rest assured it will be getting another plug in the near future.
Ten years today this one. A four piece once more, The Stranglers woke up sleepy Bournemouth on the 'Suite XVI Tour'.
01. 5 Minutes
02. (Get A) Grip (on Yourself)
03. Spectre Of Love
04. Nice n Sleazy
05. Death & Night & Blood
08. Always The Sun
09. Golden Brown
10. I Hate You
11. Lost Control
12. Summat Outanowt
13. Walk On By
16. Burning Up Time
17. All Day & All Of The Night
18. Thrown Away
20. London Lady
21. Nuclear Device
22. No More Heroes
Monday, 3 October 2016
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Here's one from the 20th Anniversary Tour.
MP3 as received: https://we.tl/Ip8j0FrPxw
03. Golden Boy
04. Bring on The Nubiles
06. Nice 'n' Sleazy
08. Golden Brown
09. Paradise Row
10. Laughing At The Rain
11. Straighten Out
12. Still Life
13. Lies And Deception
14. Goodbye Toulouse
16. 5 Minutes
17. Something Better Change
19. Nuclear Device
20. Go Buddy Go
21. All Day And All Of The Night
22. English Towns
23. Thrown Away
24. Hanging Around
Sunday, 11 September 2016
I noted the other day that on one of the many Stranglers related Facebook pages, someone had opened up, or at least attempted to open up, the Paul/Baz 'who's better, who's best?' debate. Surprisingly people still bite at these discussions, but no new opinions or insights are offered... because there are none.
Anyway, here is an early foray into exploring the band's back catalogue in an acoustic setting.
MP3 (As received): https://we.tl/shruLUyBCU
01. Walk On By
02. Let Me Down Easy
03. Strange Little Girl
04. Instead Of This
05. English Towns
06. European Female
07. Southern Mountains
09. Cruel Garden
10. Always The Sun
11. Sanfte Kiss
13. In The End
14. Still Life
15. Princess Of The Streets
16. Golden Brown
17. Old Codger
18. No More Heroes
Admittedly a tad tardy with the posting of this one for people's attention, but here's a great little interview with Segs and Ruffy. Here, they talk about the origins of The Ruts, Malcolm and Foxy (of course), their longevity in this ruthless industry and more importantly of the imminence of the much anticipated new album 'Music Must Destroy' which will be launched at next Friday's gig at the Underworld in Camden Town and finally of a major UK tour scheduled for March of next year.
Little would I have thought back in 2011, when Ruts DC started out again with some short support sets for Alabama 3, that five years later they would two studio albums, a live album, a handful of singles and a brilliant biography under their belts. Not to mention gigs, gigs, gigs all over the place.
Quality endures. Here's to the next five years!
Available here: http://www.plastichead.com/item.asp?ex=fitem&target=WW0063CDD
The Interview: https://we.tl/UKbWFLN1Qk