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.


Sunday, 25 October 2020

Hersham Boys – Laced Up Boots and Corduroys!

 


I have long had a soft spot for Sham 69. They were a great singles band and as a result clocked up more Top of the Pops appearances than most of their punk and new wave contemporaries. Their songs, whilst rabble rousing, spanned a variety of themes from social commentary (‘Angels With Dirty Faces’), jack the lad humour (‘Hurry Up Harry’ and ‘Hersham Boys’), almost through to self help! (‘Questions and Answers’ and ‘If The Kids Are United’). Put ‘Hersham Boys’ on the turntable and you could be listening to a rough around the edges Madness (another troupe of lovable rouges, especially in their early years).

Originally championed by Mark P of Sniffin’ Glue/Alternative TV, Sham were sold as the band taking punk back to its grass roots, the punk band for young working class kids who couldn’t afford the look and style of the Kings Road from ‘Seditionaries’ or ‘Acme Clothing’ and instead made do with a torn school shirt and customised blazer. Sham 69’s songs spelled out a message of unity and the need to question and challenge authority, delivered through the lyrics and on-stage rants of front man Jimmy Pursey. Jimmy was something of a paradox. Did he and his band bring young people together or rather inadvertently open the door to elements of the far right and in doing so give the National Front and British Movement easy access to large numbers of disaffected working class youth looking for a purpose, at a time when their prospects for extremely limited by the economic and political climate that then existed in the UK?

The band tried to address the unwanted reputation they gained by virtue of the right wing skinhead elements of their audience, but often with limited success. Sham gave their support to the Rock Against Racism (RAR) cause, with Jimmy most notably performing ‘White Riot’ with The Clash in Hackney’s Victoria Park on 30th April 1978. Announcements of the band’s intention to play RAR promoted gigs were sometimes followed up with more announcements that they had pulled out gigs due to concerns over threats of violence that would ensue were they to play.

New Musical Express (23rd September 1978)

Pursey performing 'White Riot' with The Clash
Victoria Park, Hackney 20th April 1978

In 1979, some of the most exiting bands that the UK had to offer were on the rise, the likes of Adam and the Ants, The Angelic Upstarts, The Ruts, Sham 69, The Specials and The Beat. As great as the music was many of these bands gigs were regularly marred by politically motivated violence, with the 2 Tone bands being particularly easy targets. And for Sham that trouble seemed to follow in their wake.

Jimmy Pursey explains himself
London Weekend Show 11th February 1979

Prominance of the far right in the Top Ranks and Odeons of the land was reflected in the polling stations. Such was the new found confidence of the National Front in the 1979 General Election that they fielded candidates in nearly half of all British constituencies, polling 191,719 votes. This represented only 0.6% of the total vote and all deposits were lost but doubtless, their performance would have been stronger had the ultimately successful Conservative Party not played to the fears of would be NF voters to increase their vote.

Whiling away another sunny afternoon in Hersham Park!

As mentioned earlier, the band’s music did not warrant such a dubious reputation. When I listen to an early Sham 69 album, I cannot but smile. Think of ‘That’s Life’ punk’s own vinyl kitchen sink drama, a concept album no less documenting the drab 9 to 5 existence of a central character who lives for the horses and a fumble in the darkness of a nightclub on a Saturday night….. ‘Me brother thinks he’s John Travolta and me sister thinks she’s Olivia Nooooton Jo-o-ohn!’ (‘Grease’ was the runaway box office hit of 1978, songs from the soundtrack of which infected the UK charts for weeks on end!). ‘Everybody’s Right, Everybody’s Wrong’ sees our Jim in a reflective mood when he delivers the following lyrics, which are often quoted in our house:

‘I'm a jumper on the wrong way
With the label sticking out
I've been hung up to dry
But the dirt just won't come out

Everybody's wrong everybody's right
Someone must be wrong when someone else is right
Everybody's wrong everybody's right
You tell me that I'm wrong
Then you tell me that I'm right’

Just great, Keats could top that!!

The classic line up of Sham 69 disbanded in 1980 after the release of their fourth album ‘The Game’. Jimmy Pursey persued other artistic avenues including new fangled video and performance dance, remember the footage of Jimmy cavorting to ‘Meninblack’? No….

Jimmy suffering for his art!
(Riverside)

I first Sham 69 at The Marquee in 1992…. with keyboards! It was a tame affair. The only skinheads in evidence were very young and at one point Pursey leant over the stage and patted one of them on the head and told him to grow his hair. Given the fact that he was wearing a modern Skrewdriver T-shirt I would have favoured the more robust Mensi approach in the same circumstances!

In 2006, after a fall out, Sham 69 mainstays, Jimmy Pursey and Dave Parsons, parted company with the guitarist continuing with the band with Tim V on vocals. In more recent years three quarters of the classic line up of Pursey, Parsons and Treganna reformed and they still cut it although the former motor mouth stage proclamations have disappeared and that’s a shame.

New Musical Express
11th March 1978



The Stone San Francisco 9th May 1981

 


Thanks once again to Dom P for the replacement and upgrade of this classic bootleg. Great sound with Hugh on top form. One of the favourites in the collection.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-NxajMFThmu


01. Threatened
02. The Raven
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Just Like Nothing On Earth
05. Thrown Away
06. Who Wants The World?
07. Baroque Bordello
08. Second Coming
09. Meninblack
10. Shah Shah A Go Go / Hallow To Our Men
11. Tank
12. Nuclear Device / Genetix
13. Duchess
14. Hanging Around

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Damned Barrowlands Glasgow 30th June 1989

 


'This could be the last time, baby, I don't know'

In light of today's announcement here's one they did earlier.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-lfNnINdm5X

01. See Her Tonite
02. Fish
03. Born To Kill
04. Fan Club
05. Help
06. Neat Neat Neat
07. I Fall
08. New Rose
09. I Feel Alright
10. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
11. Wait For The Blackout
12. Noise Noise Noise
13. Melody Lee
14. Love Song
15. Smash It Up
16. Day Tripper
17. Looking At You
18. The Last Time

Original Damned Line Up for 2021

 


Well, I can honestly say that today was the day that my Facebook feed was properly Damned. I struggled through the Roundhouse press conference that was dogged with IT issues, rather an inevitability for a stream with 1000+ keen listeners. However, I do not share the disbelief of many that were tapping out in messages of surprise prior to the 1pm gathering.

I said as soon as Pinch departed that Rat would be back on the drum stool not long after it was cold. OK, Captain and Rat have had some kind of spat over the past few years but by the same token, in the same period Rat has been in a band with Brian, Rat has been in a band with Paul, Paul has been in a band with Captain and Captain and Paul have been in a band with Dave.... it's not as if they have really been keeping out of each others way in any meaningful way!

All members of the band are in their sixties, the end is nigh-ish (retirement I mean, not death). Some of them have a liking for the big one off shows (RAH, Night of a 1000 Vampires), Dave in particular I believe, so this makes sense. A last hurrah with these original agents of chaos!


Good luck to 'em. For my part, as much as I love this band, £75 for a London ticket is a bit steep and I did see this line up play a few times in the late '80's and again in '91 (?) in a double headliner with the Ramones.

No offence to Brian but whilst 'Damned Damned Damned' is an undoubted classic of the punk genre, even in latter gigs without Brian, the band have thrashed the arse out of that album. Don't get me wrong, it had some great tracks, but the Stooges angle on much of the album never really floated my boat. Strangely enough, overall I think that 'Music For Pleasure' has more tracks that interest me than 'DDD' but Sensible is never gonna go near that one again.

Hopefully, provided that old animosities can be held in check amidst these feisty pensioners, Rat may stick around and do some dates with Paul in the band... that would be my Manna from Heaven.

But as I say.... all the best to the cantankerous old bastards!


 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Thanks!

 


A hearty COVID-19 secure elbow bump goes to all of you that responded to my begging post once again. Many thanks to the donors, be it from a financial or material contribution perspective (and for many both apply).

I am still enjoying the sharing and occasional opportunity to share my thoughts or sound off even. I hope you do too.

Cheers,

Adrian x.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

The Grand Studio RTL 21 Feb 2012 Audio and Video

 



Back in 2012, the band went to quite a lot of trouble to promote the then new album 'Giants' on the Continent. This is one of a handful of promotional visits that The Stranglers (as here) or JJ and Baz paid to various radio stations in France and Belgium to plug the album.

Here for the first time is a set that I put together of the band's gig at The Grand Studio RTL station in France. Part of the set was also streamed.






20 From '82 (18) The Dickies 9.30 Club Washington DC 5th February 1982

 


Here's another from '82 from Los Angeles' Dickies. Now in the process of winding up with the planned release of a final album, I am looking forward to seeing the band back in the UK for some farewell shows. Singer, Leonard Graves Phillips, is writing a book which promises to be good. It would be great to get another perspective on those early support tours.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-cd4WGhXnvy

01. Fan Mail
02. Bach Piano Solo
03. She’s A Hunchback
04. Jim Bowie
05. Shadow Man
06. (Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota
07. Curb Job
08. Manny, Moe And Jack
09. Gigantor
10. Paranoid