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

Sunday 23 October 2022

Reviews of Trade Test Transmissions by Buzzcocks


Whilst reading around information about 'Trade Test Transmissions' Buzzcocks' 4th (and comeback) studio album for an earlier post, I as rather surprised that the reviews that I found on line for a reissue of the album were consistently (at least in a pool of two!) lukewarm. Not best satisfied with this state of affairs I did some rumaging through some old press cuttings and found three reviews that were contemporary with the original 1993 release and I was pleased to see that they were much more encouraging and favourable.

Not sure now where they came from, one would be Sounds, which I was buying at the time and one is probably Q Magazine.

Trade Test Transmissions
(Essential/All formats)

THE BUZZCOCKS, if you don't know, were the doomed urchin lovers of the New Wave. Never quite macho enough for punk, they showered the late '70s with teen bursts of lovebites and angst, and unwittingly fathered C86 and fraggle in the process. In 'What Do I Get' and 'Ever Fallen In Love' they had songs to fall in lust to, an entry into a world of dirty sheets and soiled thoughts only ever briefly rivalled by The Only Ones. As David Quantick pointed out in his review of 'Product' in November '89 (Research? You got it!), "No-one ever made music like this that was better".

So is 'Trade Test Transmissions' any good? Well, maybe. There are great things here. Steve Diggle's 'Isolation' is as thrillingly neurotic as 'Harmony In My Head', 'Palm Of Your Hand' is as crushingly camp as 'Why Can't I Touch It' right down to the way Pete casually slips a phrase-drop of 'Ever fallen In Love' into one of the verses, the devil. 'Unthinkable', too, is prime-time

Buzzcocks bluster, principally because Steve Diggle abandons his singing voice and re-adopts the gravel-throated bark of yore.

Fundamentally 'Trade Test Transmissions' sounds like a real Buzzcocks album, a grimy follow up to 'A Different Kind Of Tension' stuffed full of Diggle's frustrations but always counterbalanced by Pete's edgy, lovelorn yelp. It's not great, but then none of the Buzzcocks albums ever were. They were just these long 12-inch interludes between the singles.

Time to spurn our natural emotions, then. A spunky (6).

Paul Moody

(Castle Communications)

THE trouble with all these "legendary" bands reforming is that, while the gigs may well bring a tear to the eye and a tremor to the heart, the subsequent new recordings are invariably shite. Quelle surprise, then, that the Buzzcocks have managed to confound the cynics and return with such a magnificent record. In recent times, only (the 'Cocks-inspired) Lemonheads' "It's A Shame About Ray" has managed to convey purest pop perfection with such effortless panache.

The secret is that, while the Buzzcocks may have emerged during the inferno of punk, they were always primarily a classic pop group. As such, they can simply carry on where they left off. But while "Trade Test Transmissions" could easily be the sequel to 1979's "A Different Kind Of Tension", it also fits snugly in a contemporary pop landscape featuring the likes of MCF and Blur. Except it pisses on the lot of 'em!

Their supernatural sense of melody and their impossibly romantic lyrics remain. There are no less than 15 pristine lovelorn pop peaches in here, not one of them over four minutes long, and almost all of them worthy of a place on "Singles Going Steady". Highlights? How long have you got?! Try the incorrigible swoon of "Innocent" (sheer buzzsaw heaven), the vibrant, regretful "Isolation" or the impossibly youthful "Smile". To which I might add that the confused, yearning harmonies and faberoonie Telecaster solos are still intact, they're still as awesome as ever, and that "Trade Test Transmissions" has spent as much time on my turntable recently as New Order's "Republic". I can think of no higher compliment.

Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have?



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