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 5 December 2020

The Damned Alexandra Park Manchester 8th August 1981


Here are The Damned at 'The Northern Carnival Against Missiles' a rather drab and unfulfilling event is the words of the reviewer are to be believed. May thanks to the 'Second Time Around' website for the files.

MP3 (as received):


01. Banter
02. Wait For The Blackout
03. Lively Arts
04. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
05. Plan 9 Channel 7
06. Banter
07. Dr Jeckyll & Me Hyde
08. Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2
09. Drinking About My Baby
10. Melody Lee
11. Hit Or Miss
12. Noise Noise Noise
13. Banter
14. Love Song
15. Neat Neat Neat
16. Banter
17. Ballroom Blitz
18. Looking At You

A Carnival of Empty Gestures

NME 15th August 1981

Dave Vanian turns his back on the important issues...

Northern Carnival Against The Missiles

Protest And Survive?

IN AUGUST, 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing over 200,000 people immediately, whilst in the years that followed inestimable thousands more suffered slow, agonizing deaths from leukaemia, cancer and other radiation-induced diseases - some horrendous heritage.

Thirty-five years later, in 1980, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament organised a London rally where 60,000 of their supporters demonstrated against the barbarity of the bomb. This year's northern festival- billed as the biggest nuclear arms protest ever to be held outside of the capital, and set against the background of a Government who've committed themselves to spending £500 million on Trident and have agreed to site 160 'first strike' American Cruise Missiles in Britain by 1983 – was expected to be an even greater success for CND.

But this 1981 Northern Carnival Against The Missiles was a failure. More like the Carnival Of Empty Gestures

On the march with the renowned "beat" persons The Police

Along The Primrose
Path To Nowhere

AT 11am last Saturday, an approximate 10,000 people (a fraction of the anticipated turn out) assembled outside Strangeways Prison for the start of a march that was to take them through the city centre and on to Alexandra Park, in riot-torn Moss Side, where the Carnival was to be staged.

But unlike Scotland CND's recent procession focusing on Faslane, where Cruise Missiles are to be sited, this was a walk to and from nowhere of any relevant significance. What mark could a march-possibly make on the Government when it only temporarily inconvenienced weekend shoppers and for three-quarters of its route was exclusively witnessed by the inhabitants of the poorest, most socially deprived and dilapidated areas of inner-city Manchester?

Worse than this was how the campaign against missiles was pushed into the background by the prevalence of activists intent on other aims. At any opportunity, the soap-box oracles of every persuasion and cause rose to give megaphone-amplified speeches hoping to divert attention to their pet issues - racism, Communism, trade unions, Iran, Tony Benn's struggle for the leadership of the Labour Party, etc, etc.

I ask Tim Haig, contributing writer of Socialist Organiser, what place his speech about "the British army fighting a guerilla campaign against the IRA" had at a CND rally?

''I'll take every chance I can to speak out about Northern Ireland," he argued. "But it's all part of the same jigsaw, part of the overall picture of things to be fought for."

Of course, he was only too well aware of the number of people in England likely to turn out for a pro-IRA march. Similarly, it was interesting to hear a young woman selling The Next Step (The Review of the Revolutionary Communist Party) call out for "organized class violence" and the RCP's placid little Smash The Prevention Of Terrorism Act Campaign.
And all this at the Carnival of Peace.

Bedtime Stories

OF THE 'official' CND speeches delivered from the main stage, none were outstanding and all were poorly received by a rain-soaked crowd who waited all day in vain for a charismatic EP Thompson-type messiah to save them from the endless stream of CSE-level soporific sloganeers.

Frank Allaun, Labour MP for Salford, won the biggest cheer of the afternoon with his promise to make his speech the shortest of the day, though Kerry Wade's discourse on behalf of CND Youth went one step better, being brief and interesting.

But even she failed to captivate one intrepid reporter on the trail of political subversives, Fascists especially. Claiming he'd seen a couple of Nazis near the backstage area, this imaginative hack confronted local co-promoter Ginger Jones, and tried to make him confess that CND supported " the gassing of a million Jews."

Ginger wasn't too surprised to learn that the enquiring journalist's investigation was being conducted for the benefit of the News of The World.

Charity Begins At Home

MOST FREE festivals are normally preceded by a series of local benefit gigs where small-time bands offer their services free in order to raise money for the staging of the forthcoming main event ostensibly to pay for publicity, PA and generator hire, etc. But a large 'percentage of the cash they earn invariably goes straight into the pockets of the stars who demand a sizeable sum before they'll attach their names to a cause.

So local bands Terrorist Guitars and The Freshies were kind enough to earn the money that contributed
towards the day's wage billThe Damned, £600, and John Cooper Clarke £250. Local hero JCC's 'expenses' probably just covered his 10 minute drive from Salford and the transportation of his poetry book.

Onstage with renowned beat group The Freshies

Other bands with equally commendable social consciences included Hawkwind who pulled out, according to promoter Phil Jones, "When their £500 didn't arrive at their agency in time," and The Thompson Twins, who cancelled their engagement because of "recording commitments". Though The TT's now claim they informed CND they'd be missing a whole two days(!) before the Carnival, Phil
Jones was still confidently expecting them to turn out at 3.30 pm on Saturday, half an hour before they were due on stage.

But What About The Music?

WHA T ABOUT the music. The bands that appeared – The Freshies, Beat Roots, Harlem Spirit, John Cooper Clarke and The Damned - didn't play this gig because they knew it would be covered extensively by the national media, but because they were so obviously motivated by a genuine desire to support CND. So you wouldn't want me to go and spoil it all and give them a gratuitous promotional boost by writing about their music, would you? Course not.

...while JCC confronts them squarely in the face

Apocalypse Now!

TOWARDS THE end of the Carnival of Empty Gestures, with The Damned close on finishing their set, a dozen or so punks tried to break through the wire perimeter fence that separated the audience from the stage.

On the fence with renowned beaten-ups The People

As the official security men tried to persuade them to retreat, a gang of self-appointed bouncers acted as the reinforcements nobody needed and began spitting and throwing cans at the advancing audience. A full scale feud soon developed and this was only quelled when an uncharacteristically responsible Rat Scabies dragged a bleeding and battered punk on stage to show the crowd his wounds and point out the futility of this whole occurrence.

But the Carnival for Nuclear Disarmament had ironically ended in an exchange of missiles - the bottles, cans and stones thrown by aggressors at their impromptu enemies, all of whom had come here in the name of peace.

Mick Duffy

1 comment:

  1. I attended the Northern Carnival Against Missiles aged 15. And it was pretty good. Could have been better but I loved it as did my mates. It was not drab by any stretch of the imagination. Just the presence of the crowd alone made it special. Punks (me) , skins and rastas etc altogether. Maybe it was because I was young but to me it was brilliant. A good memory in this bizarre age we live now.

    Mikey T.