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

Friday, 13 May 2022

20 From '81 (4) St. George's Hall Bradford 27th November 1981


From the first leg of the 'La Folie' UK tour here's a reasonable sounding recording from Bradford. Listen out for Matt Holland's dedication!

MP3 (as received):

01. Non-Stop
02. Threatened
03. Just Like Nothing On Earth
04. Second Coming
05. The Man They Love To Hate
06. Meninblack
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Baroque Bordello
09. Tramp
10. Thrown Away
11. How To Find True Love And Happiness In The Present Day
12. Tank
13. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
14. Nuclear Device
15. Genetix
16. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
17. Bring On The Nubiles

Saturday, 7 May 2022

20 From '81 (3) Bauhaus 3rd September 1981


Ah, the undead of Northampton. Not everybody's cup of tea but I love them. Stuck in a twilight zone occupied by David Bowie and The Damned, Bauhaus carved a niche in the market for sure. Forget the Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus were the ultimate band of the goth genre. The band were something of an enigma. On the face of it they took themselves very seriously indeed. They had a penchant for pretention.... a great example of this can be found on the sleeve notes to their 1981 album 'Mask'. Not their own words, but those of avant garde poet Brilburn Logue (a.k.a. Alan Moore, comic book writer, poet and fellow resident of Northampton):

'This is for when the radio is broken and crackles like uranium orchids
This is for when the fohn-wind rattles the telegraph wires like a handful of bones
This is for when dream ambulances skitter through the streets at midnight
This is for when you get caught in a sleep-riot and the sky is out of order
This is for when your sex is full of voodoo
This is for when your clothes are imaginary
This is for when your flesh creeps and never comes back.'

What's that all about then?

On the other hand there are the occasional glimpses of humour. The sinister sounding 'Spy in the Cab' is allegedly a song about tachographs that record the activity of long-distance lorry drivers. 

'Hidden in the dashboard
The unseen mechanized eye
Under surveillance
The road is full of cats eyes
It's sick function to pry
The spy in the cab.'

I caught the tail end of the band, the singles 'Ziggy Stardust' and 'She's in Parties' were both big in my world. In fact at the time I used to boldly told friends that the Bauhaus version of 'Ziggy' was superior to the original.... a view that I have had the sense to abandon in the years that followed!

I saw then just the once in 1998 at Brixton Academy. In doing so I caused a long weekend holiday with friends to be cancelled, such was my desire to see Mr Murphy and the boys!

And they are back.... having played an extortionately expensive gig at Alexander Palace some months ago, some new material 'Drink The New Wine' and another Brixton gig is in the offing.

That's the now, here's the then. From Edinburgh in September 1981...

Pete Murphy (Bauhaus)
The Nite Club, Edinburgh
3rd September 1981

01. Intro / Passion Of Lovers
02. In The Flat Field
03. Terror Couple Kill Colonel
04. Dancing
05. Spy In The Cab
06. Kick In The Eye
07. Satori
08. Of Lillies And Remains
09. Hair Of The Dog
10. Hollow Hills
11. Stigmata Martyr
12. Dark Entries
13. Bela Lugosi's Dead

Ruts DC Music Hall Aberdeen 27th January 2022


Following on from the main act, here's the set from Ruts DC who surely must be right up there as one of the best and most consistent bands to open for The Stranglers. The only problem with a Ruts DC support set is that they are too bloody short. At the risk of uttering contentious statements I think that perhaps it would have been an idea to cut The Stranglers stage time down by 20 minutes to allow Ruts DC to get three or four extra songs in. After all it's not often that such a strong line up comes along.

Music Hall, Aberdeen
27th January 2022

Ruts DC are nothing if not prolific, they refuse to stand still and rely on past glories, and so it was fitting that this set featured a new song 'Born Innocent' which soundwise reminds me of 'Animal Now' era material. Thanks to the original taper and uploader.

Get out to see the band on their own tour in October.


Artwork Sleeve:

01. Intro
02. Something That I Said
03. S.U.S.
04. You're Just A...
05. It Was Cold
06. Kill The Pain
07. West One (Shine On Me)
08. Born Innocent
09. Jah War
10. Staring At The Rude Boys
11. In A Rut
12. Babylon's Burning
13. Psychic Attack

Music Hall Aberdeen 27th January 2022

The second night of the UK leg of the 'Dark Matters' tour and my first time seeing the band without Dave (having been scuppered in my attempts to see the band in France due to ever changing travel rules).

Music Hall, Aberdeen
27th January 2022

This was to be a baptism of fire for young Toby. In my experience UK crowds are a tougher prospect than the French audiences that he had faced to date. He needn't have worried. As I have said before, the strategy of front loading the set with songs that drip Dave Greenfield for the new boy to showcase his plentiful skills before uttering a word of the change worked wonders. The crowd were won over by that point.

Another nice twist in the set was the acoustic segment where the band delivered the contemplative 'Lines' and then 'And If You Should See Dave...', the latter of which saw JJ visibly choked. For the audience too it was an opportunity to reflect on the loss of a character who had been a player in our lives for decades. 

Necessary as this melancholic interlude was, the band know full well that this is not the way to end a Stranglers' gig and so the volume and pace was ratcheted up once more for a trip back to '77 with 'Grip' and 'Heroes' closing the evening's entertainment.

Many thanks to the original taper and uploader.

Artwork sleeve:

01. Intro
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. The Raven
04. Sometimes
05. Water
06. I’ve Been Wild
07. This Song
08. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
09. Don’t Bring Harry
10. Strange Little Girl
11. Always The Sun
12. Peaches
13. Golden Brown
14. Baroque Bordello
15. White Stallion
16. Curfew
17. Relentless
18. Nuclear Device
19. Walk On By
20. Straighten Out
21. Duchess
22. Hanging Around
23. Last Men On The Moon
24. Lines
25. And If You Should See Dave…
26. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
27. No More Heroes

Sunday, 17 April 2022

20 From '81 (2) The Clash Jaap Edenhal Amsterdam 10th May 1981


Well I mentioned The Clash so I may as well add them into this theme. This is an excellent remastering of a radio show that was rebroadcast in 2008. Many thanks to the original Dime uploader and to the person responsible for the remaster (see file notes for details). 'Sandinista!' had been released at the end of 1980 and The Clash took it on tour the following year. This is one of those shows. Say what you will of 'Sandinista!' and many do, but there is something brave about a 'punk' band going so against the grain and releasing a triple album. The Clash should be applauded for experimenting with the presentation of their music even if conceding that the album probably runs to two sides too many. The album does have some amazing tracks... 'Somebody Got Murdered' and 'Rebel Waltz' are two of my favourite songs by the band.

Anyway, it is what it is.... make your own mind up.


Artwork (Sleeve and CD format):

01. London Calling
02. The Leader
03. Somebody Got Murdered
04. White Man in Hammersmith Palais
05. The Guns of Brixton
06. Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice)
07. Ivan Meets G.I. Joe
08. This Is Radio Clash
09. Charlie Don't Surf
10. The Magnificent Seven
11. Bankrobber
12. Train in Vain
13. Career Opportunities
14. Clampdown
15. One More Time
16. I Fought the Law

Saturday, 16 April 2022

20 From '81 (1) The Jam The Ritz New York 26th May 1981


Kicking proceedings of then in a revisit to 1981 are The Jam with a full set radio broadcast of their gig at the Ritz in New York on 26th May 1981. At this time Weller & Co were at the top of their game being one of the biggest bands in the UK, perhaps The Police could have pipped them to that particular accolade but not by far. In the UK music press Paul Weller was viewed as musician/politician rolled into one.... A Minister of Yoof you could say. Sting never acquired that status. The Police on the other hand conquered the world which was something The Jam never achieved. Weller alludes to the problem in this recording in the introduction to 'Strange Town'..... 'Right, this is our bid for US success... this one's called 'Strange Zipcode'. Perhaps it was the accent, perhaps the fact that Selsey Bill or Bracklesham Bay were just too far removed from Time's Square or Sunset Strip. It seems that to break America you have to play by their rules and the music has to be palatable to US taste. The Police and certainly The Clash understood this, but Paul Weller refused to join in with that game. It's not that The Jam avoided American culture, they were very adept an making great American soul tunes their own but a gritty Britishness pervaded all of their albums and they were a better band for that.

So, with all that in mind, take a listen to this 'Sound Affects' period recording.


Artwork: In download file.

01. But I'm Different Now
02. Boy About Town 
03. To Be Someone 
04. Monday 
05. Man In The Corner Shop 
06. Funeral Pyre 
07. Pretty Green 
08. Private Hell 
09. The Butterfly Collector 
10. Set The House Ablaze 
11. David Watts 
12. Scrape Away 
13. Start 
14. Dreams Of Children (cut at end) 
15. When You're Young (cut at start) 
16. Little Boy Soldiers 
17. The Modern World 
18. Strange Town 
19. Heatwave 
20. Eton Rifles 
21. 'A' Bomb In Wardour Street 

Government leaving the youth on the shelf...... 1981

 In March 1981 I turned 12. This of course meant that when it comes to the band's that I have loved for 40 years now, my initial appreciation came from afar, or at least not from the front of the stage. Exposure was limited to Top of The Pops, Smash Hits and of course much discussion/argument in the classroom.

I have mentioned before that musical appreciation in the early '80's was a tribal affair. Even in the small school that I attended that tribalism was was fully reflected. 1981 saw the tail end of the 2 Tone scene, although the finest moment of The Specials did not occur until July of that year. Punk still had a relevance..... The Jam, The Clash, The Damned and of course The Stranglers were still going concerns, in addition to that a new wave of punk in the form of UK '82 was emerging, for naughty schoolboys one local band going by the name of the Anti-Nowhere League was to become essential, if not secretive listening. Those not scanning the pages of the aforementioned 'Smash Hits' (the weekly music press did not feature in my life for a couple of years yet) were absorbing information gleaned from the pages of 'Kerrang'.  UK '82 had a hairy counterpart in the form of NWOBHM or the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that gave the world the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon and the Tygers of Pan Tan. 

Away from the clashing guitars, the electronic bands were enjoying their first flush of success, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, OMD and the like. Then there was Gary Numan... the first path that I went down. All things considered, my education in popular music was something of a melting pot. By way of example I can recall borrowing and taping (we didn't pay any heed to the 'Home taping is killing music' message! There was too much music and too little cash for us to worry about that) 'Dare' by the Human League, AC/DC's 'For Those About To Rock', the Pistols' 'Anarchy in the UK' 12", 'My Generation' by The Who and 'Dirk Wears White Sox' by the Ants... all within a week's period.

That musical mix was also the soundtrack to a very turbulent and dark year. Peter Sutcliffe's reign of terror was ended with his arrest in January. In the Spring, grey foreboding 'H block' prisons featured on our televisions nightly as Bobby Sands MP and IRA member died whilst on hunger strike triggering riots in many nationalist areas of Northern Ireland.

HM Prison Maze in Belfast showing the 'H Blocks'

Trouble followed trouble as policing methods in black communities resulted in explosive riots in London, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester. As mentioned earlier 'Ghost Town' by The Specials, a mournful response to the urban decay of Britain's former centres of industry, resided at number 1 in the UK singles chart as inner city areas of Liverpool and Manchester burned. Joe Strummer could only have dreamed of such a scenario.

Brixton, London April 1981

Away from the troubled streets, the 'Royal Wedding of the Century' saw Charles, the 32 year old heir to the throne, marry Diana Spencer, an aristocratic girl just weeks out of her teens when they married in July. That didn't end well either.

So, yes it was a miserable year but the music was great. 

What will follow in the coming weeks in another in the '20 From' series which will put a spot light on... yeah you guessed it, 1981!