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 18 March 2017

The Monochrome Set - A 2 Tone Weekend

With many of you traversing the land in the wake of The Stranglers's tour bus I reckon that for a week or two it is safe to veer away from them until some material from the current tour is in hand. Prompted by some recent files that were sent through to me of a Nutty nature, I thought that I would do something on 2 Tone, another musical movement that has been very dear to me over the years.

Every bit as important as the punk scene that inspired it 2 Tone and its mastermind Jerry Dammers knew just how grim every day life had become in Britain for hundreds of thousands of young people. 'Thatcherism' was biting down on our manufacturing industry, nowhere more so than in The Specials' home city of Coventry, and unemployment figures were on the rise. 2 Tone aimed to offer some respite from this reality. The bands on the label played upbeat ska music with the attitude of punks. It decried much of the pretentiousness of the late '70's post punk bands..... as Madness so succinctly put it.... 'Fuck Art...Let's Dance!'.

However, no matter how upbeat and positive the music and the message were, those were dark times and the far right National Front were on the verge of becoming political heavyweights. The National Front and British Movement targeted gigs as a means of recruiting disaffected youths to their cause. In equal measure the anti-racist stance of these bands who had both black and white musicians on the stage was a flash point for the right wing factions in the audience, meaning that many of the gigs that the bands played could be violent and frightening events. Even the genteel city of Cambridge was reduced to a battleground when The Specials played there. Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers were arrested after the gig and appeared in court in the city, the charge, incitement to riot. They were fined £400.

'Court in session!'
Terry and Jerry, Cambridge Court 1980

It was not all peace, love and unity within the bands either, The Specials intra-band relationships being particularly fragile. However, it was precisely that internal tension that made the band what they were. In their defence, for the members of The Specials, as 'leaders' of the 2 Tone movement, the pressures were immense as was the intensity of constant touring between 1979 and 1981. The original scene crashed and burned by 1981 as young people were directed by the music moguls towards a safer, lightweight and some would say moronic pop diet in the early '80's. However, the quality of the music and the strength of the message is incredibly enduring to the extent that as I write this in 2017, The Specials, The Beat, Madness, The Selecter and Bad Manners are still all gigging on a regular basis and still filling dance halls around the country.

1 comment:

  1. damned i'll need to relocate to the UK to hear them. But it seems worth it, brexit out, 2 tones in.