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, 19 March 2022

Captain Sensible On Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up 18th June 1983


Now I realise that I may get shot down in flames here but I am a fan of Captain Sensible's solo material! Unfortunately, and perhaps on more justifiable grounds the good Captain was never gonna have an easy time of it when ever he put something out on his own. If The Damned suffered under the 'Clowns of Punk (not to be taken seriously)' label, Sensible had it in a double measure. To this end he did not help himself. As the man has said himself, 'Happy Talk' is a millstone around his neck, albeit I suspect quite a lucrative millstone even all these years later. There are other abominations in the back catalogue too, 'The Hockey Cokey' anyone?! 

But amidst a stack of dross there are some pearls. 'This Is Your Captain Speaking', Cap's first solo offering saw the unlikely paring of Sensible and Crass's Penny Rimbaud. Released on Crass Records in November 1981 the three track EP saw a new political side to Sensible's song writing such as 'The Russians Are Coming' which addressed the nuclear threat at the then height of The Cold War. A great song pinned down by Penny's militaristic drumming. Lightening the mood somewhat but consistent with the Crass and the new Sensible ideology is 'Our Souls To You'.... almost like 'Reality Asylum' with humour. The week that he spent with members of Crass in their Dial House retreat inspired him to take the anti-war message further. He contributed 'Hey Jo' to the great anti-war punk compilation 'Wargasm'.

In 1982 he wanted to produce a pop album which he did with the production assistance of Tony Mansfield. The result was the 'Women and Captains First'. When released in September 1982, the album only reached number 64 in the UK album chart, being totally eclipsed by the runaway success of the 'Happy Talk', the first of three singles lifted from the album, which enjoyed two weeks at number one, much to the annoyance of many. That success meant that Captain Sensible was not exclusive property of punks anymore.... the berk on Top Of The Pops in shorts with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder belonged to everyone aged 5 and upwards!

Captain Sensible Performing 'Happy Talk' on Top of the Pops (June 1982)

However, aside from the throw away singles 'Happy Talk' and 'Wot!' the album has some great tracks such as 'Yanks With Guns' and 'Croydon' (Sensible's own 'Penny Lane'!). The biggest departure is his recording of the 1924 jazz standard 'Nobody's Sweetheart' with the help of the Beale Street Jazz Band. Usually one to run a mile from the music of finger-popping daddies and their music, I think that this version is great. Along with 'Happy Talk' it features on this two track download, an audio of his appearance on Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up in June 1983. 

'Nobody's Sweetheart' Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up (June 1983)

1983's 'The Power of Love', 1983's mirrored the fortunes of  'Women and Captains First'. The album failed to chart but the single 'Glad It's All Over', another anti-war song aimed at the recent conflict over the Falklands reached Number 6 in the UK singles chart.

Later solo album's shunned the pop somewhat and drew on Sensible's love of prog and psychedelia of the Syd Barrett variety. A handful of albums are worth tracking down from the period prior to 1996 when he fell back in with Dave Vanian  and The Damned.

01. Nobody's Sweetheart
02. Happy Talk


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