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, 17 September 2022

More Punk And New Wave Compiled By Annie Nightingale


This compilation DVD needs no further introduction other than to say that it is a perfect reminder of how great and diverse music was at that time.

DVD disc image:


Punk And New Wave With Annie Nightingale


This is the first of two BBC 4 produced compilations featuring long standing Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale. In the first she showcases her favourite and most memorable moments from The Old Grey Whistle Test program. She took over as anchor of the long running music show in 1978. A mainstay of BBC televisions music programming throughout the decade, the show was essential viewing for the serious student of rock! With 'Whispering' Bob Harris at the helm, the OGWT took itself very seriously indeed and it earned its reputation of being pompous and staid at the same time. 

Whatever the reason for the shake up, Annie Nightingale's arrival spelled great change for the Test. She was determined that under her stewardship the show would be a more realistic reflection of what was now occurring on the musical front in the UK and in 1978 that meant punk and new wave!

The program was turned on its head although initially it was not known whether the new bands would consent to appear on a show so closely associated with the dinosaur bands that punk looked to make extinct. Nevertheless, appear they did, the result being for the next five years or so the Old Grey Whistle Test gave us some of the finest and most memorable footage of many of 'our' bands in their prime.

DVD disc image:


Monday, 12 September 2022

Up All Night With The Stranglers - New Musical Express 27th October 1979

Whilst scanning some old copies of NME I was interested to read the piece reproduced below. On one hand this is all about the forthcoming release of the Christmas E.P. but perhaps more interesting is the parallel announcement of plans for the band hosting a Stranglers' related all-nighter to be hosted in London over the Christmas period. Rumoured support was Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh had recently collaborated with Hugh and Robert Williams on the 'Nosferatu' album).

Clearly, the event did not materialise but does anyone on here have anymore information about these plans and their fate?

Sunday, 11 September 2022

'Blood, Sweat, Leather And Tears' Adam and the Antz 1977-1980 Part 1 by Johna Johnson and Salisbury Technical College September 1978


Another post on a recently read book, once again music related so not a complete indulgence.

As pointed out in the preface by the author, the story of Adam and the Ants is really the story of two bands. Like me, the author expresses frustration at the fact that to state that you were a fan of Adam and the Ants would instantly invite 'Dandy Highwaymen' and 'Prince Charming' taunts, but it wasn't always like that, far from it! The Ants of Matthew Ashman, Dave Barbe, Andy Warren and Adam, along with various other early ants that served, were a different proposition altogether from the chart friendly pop act that rubbed shoulders with royalty. The Ants of 1977 to 1979 were a cult band who drew around them a hardcore band of young fans who followed the band to whichever run down clubs and colleges they played at. 

The bands focus on sadomasochism, bondage and the like ('Whip In My Valise', 'Rubber Room', 'Beat My Guest', 'Bathroom Function' etc etc) coupled with songs touching on fascist themes, albeit in a tongue in cheek manner ('Nietzsche Baby', 'Deutscher Girls', 'Il Duce'....) did little to endear the band to the all important British music press. So in this most interesting period of the band's existence they did not get the media attention that made many of their contemporaries.

What is notable about the early Ants is just how prolific they were. Whilst official releases were slow in coming (first single 'Young Parisians' was released in October 1978 whist their first studio album, 'Dirk Wears White Sox', only saw the light of day in November 1979) the band produced a veritable treasure trove of material in demo form, songs that made up their live sets in 1977 and 1978.

Now I love 'Dirk Wears White Sox'. It is quirky, highly original and very stylish and yet much of the demo material was even better. As I have mentioned on this site before, Adam recorded some of these early songs with Marco and they became B-sides to many of the big hits that came a little later. But how I would live to hear proper, fully fledged versions of these songs as recorded by the original band!

Many years ago and for a period of a few months I used to cross paths with Tony Barber (then of Buzzcocks) in Camden. He recorded yet another permutation of the demos for me and we discussed the Ants. He said that any outing to see the band, especially outside of London, always had the potential for violence. This observation is borne out in Johna's book. Written in the style of a novel, it focusses on the early Ants as viewed through the eyes of the small yet devoted fanbase. The euphoria, danger and overall sense of belonging to a tribe inextricably linked to one band jumps off the page and into the imagination of the reader.

Individual gigs are described in detail. The author clearly also has access to the 45 year old recordings of these gigs as the set lists are accurately described in the narrative.

Sadly, whilst this era of the band is quite well represented in bootleg form, not all of the gigs described in the book have survived in audio form, if ever they were recorded in the first place (probably not). I can however, correlate some of them. One of those is an eventful evening spent in Salisbury Technical College on 21st September 1978. As was usual fans of the band converged on the Wiltshire city for the gig, but tonight in fewer numbers that usual it seems. Unfortunately for this travelling contingent, the Ants appearance coincided with a biker's rally. The potential for trouble, high at the best of times, looked like an inevitability on this evening... and so it was. Bikers and local anti-punk thugs gained access to to the hall and started picking off the outnumbered fans. 

Listening back to the gig today, I was wondering whether any reference  to the situation would be made from the stage, but it seems not. The recoding sounds ok when you consider i) its age and ii) the circumstances under which it was recorded.

Trouble continued after the band left the stage. What followed sounds like a mini Dunkirk operation. As drunken bikers patrolled the area around the college looking for hapless punks to beat, fans were piled into the band's transit and the van carrying the PA and a getaway for many was pulled off . Other gaggles of fans ran the gauntlet upon leaving the venue including Johna and his mates who faced a 30 minute wait for an AA man to rescue their broken down hire car from the car park ahead of a long tow back to Bradford.

So here is the gig. The artwork states the 22nd of September but what the hell! A memorable gig for all the wrong reasons. Johna states that this is the only time that the band played 'Song for Ruth Ellis' live.

01. Plastic Surgery
02. Bathroom Function
03. Il Duce
04. Physical (You’re So)
05. Weekend Swingers
06. Song For Ruth Ellis
07. Cleopatra
08. B-Side Baby
09. Friends
10. Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)
11. Catholic Day
12. Deutscher Girls
13. Lady
14. Puerto Rican
15. Fall In

The Lemon Tree Aberdeen 20th September 2006


With the release of the deluxe edition of Suite XVI almost upon us now seems to be as good a time as any to offer up a recording from that tour back in 2006.

For me personally, this was a great time for the band. Unshackled from the internal wranglings that seemingly dogged the band in the latter days of the Paul Roberts' era the revamped four-piece approached the gigs on this tour like they were their last. To anyone in the audience the pleasure that the renewed four piece dynamic gave JJ, Jet, Dave and Baz was palpable. JJ's willingness to jump back on the mike after several years of abstinence was an undoubled highlight. Opening a set with the primal roar of '5 Minutes' is always gonna be a winner! It was clear that the good times were back. The new material from Suite XVI slotted very well into the set, which with the exceptions of 'Norfolk Coast', 'Lost Control' and material from the new album had been purged such that there was not a trace of the recently departed singer. Of the new songs most notable were 'Spectre Of Love', the eyebrow-raising 'Unbroken' and the majestic tale of survival against the odds, 'Relentless', a song surely up there with the best of the Mk I material.



01. Intro
02. 5 Minutes
03. Norfolk Coast
04. Spectre Of Love
05. Nice N’ Sleazy
06. Unbroken
07. Death & Night & Blood
08. Peaches
09. Always The Sun
10. Golden Brown
11. I Hate You
12. Summat Outanowt
13. Walk On By
14. Relentless
15. Threatened
16. Never To Look Back
17. All Day & All Of The Night
18. Lost Control
19. Thrown Away
20. Duchess
21. London Lady

01. Burning Up Time
02. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
03. Encore Break
04. No More Heroes

Hugh Cornwell Watermans Arts Centre Brentford 26th January 1996


Many thanks to yesican for this mixing desk recording of this relatively early solo gig. It's a significant upgrade from the version that I have.

MP3 (as received):


01. Everybody
02. Not Hungry Enough
03. Five Miles High
04. Strange Little Girl
05. Snapper
06. Venus In Furs
07. I Can't Handle It
08. Story Of He And She
09. Touch Touch
10. Jesus Will Weep
11. Spanish Castle Magic
12. Lady In Mind
13. Endless Days Endless Nights
14. Golden Brown
15. Cold Turkey
16. Long Dead Train

999 Empress Ballroom Blackpool 6th August 2022


Whilst on an RAR theme, another stalwart supporter of the cause was 999. I was rather surprised when watching the 'White Riot' documentary about the history of the movement that 999 featured more prominently than other bands more readily associated with RAR activities, The Ruts being a good example. That however does not detract from 999's involvement.

Nick Cash, was then as now (I believe) is a resident of Brixton in South London, an area in which racial tensions have run high for decades, most notably in the '70's and '80's. Those tensions came to ahead in April 1981 when rioting broke out in Brixton. The government of the day's response was to order an enquiry as to the causes of the disorder. When the Scarman Report was published in November of the same year, it was highly critical of policing methods, especially of the application of the SUS law ('SUS' coming from 'Suspected person') which conferred upon the police the powers to stop and search individuals if suspected of being in breach of Section 4 of the Vagrancy Act of 1824. Figures show that individuals subjected to such searches were hugely disproportionate with a high number of young, black males being stopped with a regularity that effectively equated to harassment. This contentious piece of legislation was immortalised in the classic 'SUS' by The Ruts.

Anyway that's the SUS law in a nutshell, here's 999! Thanks Peter for the recording!

Empress Ballroom, Blackpool
6th August 2022



01. Intro
02. Arturo's Announcement
03. Inside Out
04. Shoot
05. Hit Me
06. Feelin' Alright With The Crew
07. My Dad Trashed My Submarine
08. Boys In The Gang
09. Biggest Prize In Sport
10. Don't Wanna Know
11. Let's Face It
12. Emergency
13. Nasty Nasty
14. Homicide
15. I'm Alive