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.


Saturday, 31 August 2019

Lost Recordings - The Stranglers 1977 to 1990

First of all I'd like to say a big thank you to those of you who have so kindly offered to assist with replacements for data lost in my recent PC meltdown. I now have a new computer and have spent the last few evenings figuring out what has been lost. I have only covered the Hugh period so far, but its a good start.

If anyone can help out with lossless versions of the following I would be very grateful.

Email address for transfers is: adrianandrews1@sky.com

All the best,

Adrian.

Hope & Anchor, London 1977 (Eric's Remaster)
Club 4, Oslo, Norway 5/5/78
Orebo, Stockholm, Sweden 7/5/78
Nagoya 16/2/79 (20 tracks)
Tokyo 18/2/79
Rainbow, London 8/7/80
Hammersmith Palais 17/11/81
The Stone SF 9/5/81
Bonds New York 12/6/81
City Hall, Newcastle 24/11/81
Rock City, Nottingham 20/11/81
Portsmouth 6/2/82
Chippenham Golddiggers 28/1/83
Hofter 100 Antwerp 19/02/83
Masonic Hall, Toronto 3/5/83
Exocet 7 Rouen 2/10/83
Palais Des Sports, Montpellier 5/10/83
Theatre de Verdure, Nice 12/10/83
Bournemouth 3rd March 1985
Sydney 10/5/85
Preston 14/2/85
Aberdeen 16/2/85
Copenhagen 20/3/85
Hanover 22/3/85
Lille 28/3/85
Bourges Festival 31/3/85
Ludwigshafen 1/4/85
Rome 11/5/85
Berlin 9/11/86
Zurich 11/11/86
Warwick 16/3/87
New York 16/4/87
Amnesty Festival of Youth 18/6/88
Livingston Forum 10/6/88 (Full set)
Leicester 15/3/90 (Full set)
Dusseldorf 28/5/90
Vienna 18/5/90
Vienna 19/5/90

Monday, 26 August 2019

The Gospel According to the Meninblack - Detailed Feature in Mojo Magazine October 2019


Jailbirds-in-waiting (nearly)
Inside the Nice Courthouse June 1980

This month's Mojo features a piece on 'The Gospel According to the Meninblack' album. To be honest for the well-versed fan there is not much that is new information in the content, but it is great that the band's most misunderstood and maligned album is getting some serious, critical recognition. 

What is also nice to see is that all of the key players in its creation i.e. Hugh, JJ, Jet and Dave, each contribute to the article. Even better is the unanimous consensus that they independently reach that it was the most accomplished album that the four of them put together. A commercial disaster yes, but an artistic and conceptual triumph no doubt.

I know that this album is very close to JJ's heart, despite, or maybe because of the psychological turmoil that surrounded its inception and recording.

What was new for me was the above photo take within the Nice courthouse.

Assuming that the band endure through to 2021 a live tour of this album would make a great swansong, not to everyone's taste and guaranteed to send the Britannia Music Club set to the nearest exit. It would however be totally in keeping with my band, a band that refused to conform to industry/label expectations. Leave a 2021 audience as bamboozled at the end of the gig as you did in 1976!

Thanks to The Stranglers Bootleg Community



Many thanks to those who have offered assistance in restoring the collection and ensuring that this site continues. It is a slow process for sure as I am evaluating what has been lost and what remains. It may not be as bad as I originally thought as I did a major back up in 2017 (yeah yeah, a long time ago and I have learnt my lesson!).

I will be in touch through the site and again thank you for all your help.

Normal service will be resumed within the coming days.

Cheers,

Adrian.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Armagideon Time!! - Data Lost


Well folks it seems that I have suffered a huge data loss in the last couple of weeks. The PC failed and the recovery attempts on most of the Stranglers data (audio/images/video) is unrecoverable. I can recover some of it obviously via downloads from the site but there was a lot of other stuff on my drive. As you will no doubt appreciate this is the worst scenario for a audio collectors, so any assistance to regain material in FLAC format would be highly appreciated!

Sunday, 11 August 2019

A Tribute to A Soldier of the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment 75 Years On

John and Jan Clews at his Father's grave in the Bayeux Militery Cemery
29th June 2019.

Last month it was my privilege to participate with members of the 59th (Staffordshire) Division Association in their annual pilgrimage to the town of Thury Harcourt and its environs. The 59th Division landed on Normandy in late June 1944 as a follow up Division. Highly trained in the UK, their time as an active fighting unit in France was short. Such was the intensity of the fighting in which they were engaged in Operation Charnwood (a frontal assault on the Northern perimeter of Caen) and Operation Pomegranate (engagements to the south west of the city intended to force a crossing over the River Orne) that the Division was formally disbanded on towards the end of August 1944 and its soldiers were transferred to other reinforcement hungry English, Scottish and Welsh Regiments.

The relationship between the 59th (Staffordshire) Division and the townsfolk is very strong by virtue of the fact that on 13th August 1944 the actions of the 59th finally resulted in the liberation of Thury Harcourt.

My Grandfather served with ‘A’ Company of the 5th South Staffordshire Regiment, a unit within 177 Brigade of the 59th Division. My Grandfather came home from the war, injured but otherwise intact, the same cannot be said for many of his Divisional comrades. One such fellow soldier of ‘C’ Company of the 5th Staffs was 4923121 Private Percy Clews who was killed in action on 10th August 1944, 75 years ago yesterday. One of our travelling party that visited the grave within the Bayeux Military Cemetery was John Clews, son of Percy, who was just two years of age when his father fell. With John was his wife Jan. The couple reside in Lichfield which then as now is the home of the Staffordshire Regiment.

At the time of his death, the 5th South Staffs were engaged with the enemy on a series of ridges that approached the River Orne and overlooked the town of Thury Harcourt. In that second week of August the 5th from their high ground vantage point were able to direct vital artillery fire into the dense forest of Grimbosq, that faced the fragile bridgehead that had formed across the Orne, in which Panzer Battle Groups were forming up for counter attacks intended to smash the bridgehead.

At his Father’s plot, John delivered a speech about the fate of his Dad that was largely based upon a letter sent to his mother by ‘C’ Company Commander, Major Pearson which is reproduced below.

‘Copy of a letter sent to Mrs Percy Clews from Major B. Pearson, The South Staffordshire Regiment

Major B. Pearson
The South Staffordshire Regt
Maindiff Court
Abergevenny
Mon. Wales.
August 29th. 1944

My Dear Mrs Clews,

You have no doubt been wondering why I have taken so long to write, and offer not only my sympathy, but those of the whole Company at the loss of your Husband, my Batman.

I was hit by the same mine, and I have only just heard officially that Percy was killed, as I had feared. 

It isn’t an easy story to tell , Mrs Clews, and I am sure you don’t want to know all the full details.

I found it necessary to lead a patrol with stretcher bearers to recover one of my boys who had been wounded sometime before, and who was in need of treatment. Percy would not think of leaving me behind. We found the man but the Germans had surrounded him with shrapnel mines, I presume they realised that they would try to recover him. A stretcher bearer, after giving aid, trod on a mine which exploded, causing the death of your husband and wounding two of us. 

I had the lives of the others to consider so I ordered them back whilst I tried to give Percy some help, but poor lad, he had gone – without pain and without knowing what had happened. He looked very peaceful, his job well done. I had him recovered the same day and he was given a Military funeral, although I regret that I was not present, being on my way to hospital.

Between and Officer and his Batman there develops a spirit of comradeship far above expression by words – we thought such a lot of each other, and I have grieved for him very much indeed. He was killed giving help to his comrades and myself, and all of the Company have missed him so much.

His determination to make sure that I was not left unprotected at any time caused him to be killed.

He volunteered to join me that morning and was somewhat grieved, his words were “You are not going anywhere without me, are you Sir?” He always said, that to remain behind and wonder what was happening to me, was worse than accompanying me on the various excursions.

Above all my personal feelings, he was so very popular with his comrades. I am told that the whole Company were unbelievably depressed after the news had spread around, and each letter that I have had so far mentions how much they all miss Percy. They cannot miss him anymore than I do. His courage, devotion to duty, his cheerfulness, and his great personality endeared him to all our hearts, a sad loss.

Please forgive me for not writing before – I did hope that in the excitement of the battle that my diagnosis of his death might have been false and in fact he might be alive, I hoped so hard but to no avail.

I do hope that your loss has not proved to be unbearable. My wounds are confined to my left leg and I am managing to get around on crutches.

When I come to Lichfield I will endeavour to call and see you, if I may.

With best wishes for the future, and rest assured that your Husband will not be forgotten by

Yours sincerely,

B. Pearson. Major.'

To read these touching words from a man that I had previously written about in a book about my Grandfather’s service was something else and it was an absolute honour to be with John and Jan Clews as he paid tribute to the Father he never had the opportunity to know.

After the speech John laid the Association wreath at the Cross of sacrifice.

Wreath laying at the Bayeux Military Cemetery Cross of Sacrifice.

59th (Staffordshire) Division Association memorial wreath.

Later we paid a visit to the small but highly poignant Museum to the men of the 59th (Staffordshire) Division in Thury. Here there can be found a photograph of Percy Clews.

Private Percy Clews (Killed in action 10th August 1944)
'C' Company 5th South Staffordshire Regiment.

The incription on his headstone reads:

“MY DARLING HUSBAND PERCY. LOVE STILL LIVES IN TREASURED MEMORIES. WIFE MEG AND SON”

Memorial to Percy Clews in the 59th (Staffordshire) Division Museum
Thury Harcourt.



Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life The Winter Gardens Blackpool 1st August 2019


Crass..... a marmite band for sure, you either loved them or absolutely hated them. Two Crass memories spring to mind. In 1983 I was in the fourth year at school and bizarrely we had two music lessons a week (one actually singing and one 'music appreciation'!).... it was an odd school make no mistake. It must have been close to the end of a term and an alternative lesson was arranged whereby Mendelssohn, Holst and Brahms were ditched for 40 minutes in favour of our own choices. AC/DC, Depeche Mode and UB40...... my choice was 'Sheep Farming in the Falklands' by Crass. The teacher, a Mrs Edwards endured the Antipodean growl of Bon Scott whilst he described the 'Highway to Hell', along with the Essex pop sensibilities of a then squeaky clean Depeche Mode. What she wasn't prepared for was ...... Crass!

The record was placed on the dansette record player at the front of the classroom, the stylus placed on the disc..... teh band's Steve Ignorant intoned...

'Sheep farming in the Falklands, re-arming in the fucklands
Fucking sheep in the homelands, her majesty's forces are coming'
..........

Well that's as far as that one got and I earned a detention, but it was worth it!

In 1984 Crass called it a day, this was always their game plan......

Fast forward three years, now just 17 my mate and I had delved deeper into the Anarcho punk scene, which was always well represented in Brighton (we lived in Burgess Hill, not so far away). AYS (Admit You're Shit), Dirt, The Subhumans all played there. Sadly I missed some of these bands but did finally get to see Conflict at the point that their 'Ungovernable Force' was released. Antisect were a sight to see too. But Crass eluded us.In April of '87 the aforementioned Conflict announced a special gig, the so called 'Gathering of the 5,000' at the Brixton Academy that was to feature Steve Ignorant on vocals (along with Conflict's Colin Jerwood). This was intended to be a celebration of Crass and all that the scene stood for. I will post on this particular gig separately as I still have much of the stuff that Mortarhate Records sent out ahead of the gig as well as the reportage of the aftermath when things, perhaps predictably considering Conflict's then relationship with the Metropolitan Police, went somewhat awry.

My mate Matt and I were unbelievably exited to see Steve Ignorant and to hear Crass songs live (neither of us having had the opportunity to see the band in their own right). The gig was a classic, but the Met were lying in wait at the end of the gig and things turned nasty. Matt and I did not hang around to witness the semi riot, I was just 18 and he was still 17.... we came from Mid-Sussex..... and to be honest we had little appetite for a proper Brixton riot!

Now back on the time machine to August 2019 and there is that man again in Blackpool, with his 'Slice of Life'. I admit, I was ill prepared, a lovely looking lady on keyboards and two seated, I mean seated! dapper musicians on guitar and bass (as you can gather I hadn't heard the band before). Come showtime, an equally dapper Steve Ignorant joined his band on stage and began to play a set that initially confused me.... I honestly did not know what to make of the first three songs. After the gig, I described the band to everyone I knew and to Steve himself as 'Jazz Crass'. The band are extremely competent playing a backing that is not jazz but nothing that you would associate with that enfant terrible, Steve Ignorant. Steve's impassioned lyrics, generally more subtle than those of his first band, although not always, were delivered in that familiar Crass intonation. It was also a very visual performance from which I took away the theatrics of Jello Biafra with hints of Ian Dury and perhaps a little bit of Max Wall (sorry Steve), but we were in Blackpool!

Songs like 'Love & a Lampost', 'Eleven Chimneys' and 'Slaughterhouse' are tracks that I recall. Really different stuff and well worth a listen..... it's all on Spotify.

I recorded one song, 'Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life'.


'Steve Ignorant's Slice of Life'
Rebellion Festival, Blackpool
1st August 2019.


Post gig I met Steve and should have mentioned the teacher's outrage etc but the poor chap was desperate for a cigarette so I spared him my teenage reminisces!


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Rebellion Festival Blackpool 1st to 4th August 2019

Well, it has been an age since I have done this kind of thing. I am certainly not against festivals, I guess its just the investment of time that has been the problem. For this and other reasons, the last time I participated in a Darren Russel event (with the exception of a couple of associated London all-dayers) was Holidays in The Sun way back in 1998. Back then it was hosted in Morecambe.


Just look at he ticket price! Since the Morecambe events, the rechristened annual Rebellion event has relocated to the larger resort of Blackpool and evolved into the largest punk festival in the world. Our daughter Mo picked her moment (i.e when Mum and Dad had consumed a quantity of wine) to persuade us to go to Rebellion in 2019..... she has a habit of doing this that had resulted in all manner of purchases that in circumstances of sobriety we would have been spared!

Anyway tickets were purchased and out good friends Owen and Jacquie found some very convenient accommodation for the long weekend.

To describe all  that happened over the four days would be to much, but I will over the next few days share some thoughts on what were for me highlights of a brilliant gathering.