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

Thursday 17 November 2011

Manchester Apollo 28th September 1978

On the eve of The Stranglers Convention, where an undoubted highlight will be the band running through 1978's Black and White album..... Here's the blueprint.

The Black & White tour was not huge and featured no conventional London date (Battersea excluded) for the reasons posted earlier and is not well documented. The best on offer (and again thanks to Dom P for his excellent clean up) is this from Manchester Apollo.

Featuring no fewer than seven songs from the new album, this must be the standard for how they should sound live.

Give this one a listen!

To my ear, B & W transitioned the band from the punk rock sensibilities of the first two albums to the dark, sophisticated arrangements of The Raven. This September 1978 recording is a late punk roar from the band (before Hugh dropped the Ray Winstone tone between songs!!).

To those going to the Convention, enjoy the set. Will Baz attempt Sverige!?


1. Ugly
2. I Feel Like A Wog
3. Burning Up Time
4. Bring On The Nubiles
5. Hanging Around
6. Princess Of The Streets
7. London Lady
8. No More Heroes
9. Curfew
10. Do You Wanna
11. Death And Night And Blood
12. Nice 'N' Sleazy
13. Threatened
14. Sweden
15. Tank
16. Five Minutes
17. Toiler On The Sea

Full artwork here:

Sunday 13 November 2011

It's A Black and White Thing - The Art of John Sims a.k.a. Teflon

A couple of weeks ago on a very, very wet Thursday afternoon, I found myself in the prestigious company of a few Specials and a few hundred skinheads. The occasion? A pre-gig party marking the the last night of The Specials' UK tour at Ally Pally.

Now this was the thing. Members of the Specials forum could gain access to this pre-gig event which allowed fans and band to interact in a brilliant way. Photos taken, tickets signed, job done.

Amongst the 2 tone dignitaries in attendance was one John Sims, otherwise known as Teflon. Whilst you may not know his name, his work will be instantly recognisable to anyone over the age of 40 who ever bought a 7" single in Woolworths! I had met John previously at an earlier Specials gig in Margate. On that occasion, John had set up an exhibition of his 2 tone related design work in a local gallery, which warranted a visit on the morning after the gig.

John Sims a.k.a. Teflon and Me
Alexandra Palace 3rd November 2011

Teflon, in conjunction with Jerry (The General) Dammers was largely responsible for the look of 2 tone, a monochrome rash that infected half of the teenage population of Britain between 1979 and 1981.

Close associations between artists, bands and labels are nothing new, but with the exception of Jamie Reid's work with he Pistols, Teflon's artwork produced for The Specials and the 2 tone label have over the years become truly iconic.

Enter Walt Jabsco, label logo and undoubtedly the coolest guy in town!

Peter Tosh Inspired Walt Jabsco

From Walt their followed a series of stunning, yet simple black and white images that adorned record sleeves, billboards and the pages of the weekly music papers.

Bang up to date as they were, many of the pieces gave a nod to earlier times, thereby perhaps forging a link back to the '60's back to the time of those Blue Beat records, that when fused with punk, produced that unmistakable 2 tone sound.

From the pop art of the Rat Race single

To the tour promo posters based upon the ads for the package tours so popular in the '60's.

The graphic designs produced by Telflon and his associates has to my mind has transcended it's original function and now become part of social history. To see these images is to be thrown back in time to a period of mass unemployment, racial tension, urban decay and let's not forget some bloody good tunes!

Of all his work, perhaps none is more evocative of those times than the cover of Ghost Town, a song that was to become the soundtrack to some of the worst inner city riots ever seen in the UK.

Promo for Ghost Town 20th June 1981

It's re-release ten years later to the day drew on the unforgettable promo video, that saw the band driving a Vauxhall Cresta through a sinister, decaying urban landscape

Ghost Town (Revisited) 20th June 1991

Take a look at a BBC article written to mark the 30th anniversary of Ghost Town's original release, here.

John periodically displays his work and here is the real treat as the exhibition includes some of the original mock-ups that resulted in those familiar images. Remember, these works were produced at a time when the tools of the trade included a knife, inks and masking tape rather than an Apple Mac and Photoshop and it is this aspect of these works in-progress that to my untrained eye make them every bit as appealing as the finished, printed work.

30 years on and Walt is still going strong, even on the home furnishing front!!!

More information can be found on Telflon and the art of 2 tone on John's site.

Cheers John, maybe we'll see some more of this stuff on a new album. Fingers crossed!

Saturday 12 November 2011

The Damned 35th Anniversary Tour, The Middle East Club Boston 20th October 2011

I, like many other Stranglers fans have long carried a torch for The Damned. Both bands were viewed as outsiders of the London punk scene of '76/'77, this despite the Damned consistently racking up all of the punk firsts (first signed, first single release, first to tour America etc.). With influences more aligned to the demon progressive rock (admittedly hidden rather well by the Damned for a few years) than the front line reggae favoured by the Clash and the Pistols, it seemed that neither the Damned or the Stranglers really meant it maaan!!

As a frequent wearer of the tutu, even more frequently naked by the end of a gig and always an agent of the unpredictable at early Damned gigs, the good Captain was certainly one reason why the serious music journos of the day did not or would not take the Damned seriously. However, once the band rose above the Stooges/MC5 inspired thrash of the first album, it became clear that Sensible was a musician of considerable talent.

For many fans, the albums Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album and Strawberries represent the holy trinity in The Damned's body of work. For this reason, it is in some ways disappointing that on this tour they have chosen to couple complete run throughs of Damned Damned Damned (done before) and the Black Album. Maybe Strawberries is in the diary for 2012!!

This weekend sees the band play The Roundhouse in our own Camden Town. It promises to be a great night. 'Sensible's a Wanker!' parhaps, but he's also a great guitarist to boot.

From the American leg, I have uploaded this from Dime in the original lossy format (flac) at the request of the original uploader.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Damned......


Damned, Damned, Damned

1-Pa Music/Intro
2-Neat, Neat, Neat
3-Fan Club
4-I Fall
5-Born To Kill
6-Feel The Pain
7-New Rose
9-See Her Tonight
10-1 Of The 2
11-So Messed Up
12-I Feel Alright (Stooges)

The Black Album

13-Intro Music
14-Wait For The Blackout >
15-Lively Arts >
16-Silly Kids Games
17-Drinking About My Baby
18-Sensible's A Wanker
19-Twisted Nerve
20-Hit Or Miss
21-Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde
22-Sick Of This And That
23-History Of The World (Pt 1)
24-13th Floor Vendetta
26-Curtain Call
27-Encore Break-


30-Anti Pope
31-Chatter "Happy Talk Or Smash It Up"
32-Smash It Up (Pts 1 & 2)

There May Be Trouble Ahead - Give Us A Gig! (1977-1979)

I'm not entirely sure when the bans really started, one of the earliest I suppose was the banning of punk from the London's prestige jazz venue, the 100 Club, after a glass throwing incident that resulted in a young female fan losing an eye (down to Sid according to most accounts). This was as early as September 1976, before a knowledge of punk was known outside the boundaries of the yet to be built M25. Other venues may well have become cautious about booking so called punk bands after the Punk Rock Festival.

But, the turning point would undoubtedly have been the Bill Grundy interview. Stepping as a late substitute for Queen, the Pistols appeared on this, a nationwide, early evening magazine show on the eve of the Anarchy Tour. Goaded and provoked by a drunk Grundy, the Pistols (especially Steve Jones) uttered a series of expletives that at that time were still very rarely heard on British TV, even post watershed.

The Pistols Bill Grundy Interview 1st December 1976

This appearance lit the touch paper and what a short fuse it was! The new phenomenon of punk rock and any one linked to its creation or proliferation was overnight elevated into the position of Public Ememy No. 1. With the popular media on the case, the bans soon ensued.

First casualty was the Anarchy Tour itself. The tour was decimated. Don't quote me on figures, but a rough count, of the 19 original advertised gigs only 3 or so were played. Incidentally, it was on this tour that some of the famed rivalries and feuds were born. The Damned were thrown off the tour for agreeing to play in front of city councillors (Derby) prior to a decision to allow the gig to go ahead.

The shock waves created by the Grundy interview passed through every venue in every provincial town in Britain. Then, as now, venues were operated by entertainment chains. The 1977 equivalents of O2 were Fortes and Top Rank (Mecca) organisations. Within these companies, boardroom decisions were being made that instantly punched massive holes into the touring plans of any band associated with punk ronk and the new wave.

The Stranglers were inevitably caught up in this wave of corporate mass hysteria.

Sounds 11th June 1977

UK Music Press June 1977

Record Mirror 13th August 1977

UK Music Press October 1977
Local authorities in many cases used pretty weak justifications for imposing the bans. Hugh Cornwell's decision to sport a barstardised version of the 'Ford' logo resulted in the plug being pulled at the band's support gig at The Rainbow in Finsbury Park on 30th January 1977 on the orders of the Tory lead Greater London Council (GLC).

The Show-stopping Shirt

In London, from the outset of 1977 the band ran into regular problems with the GLC, which by 1978 culminated in a blanket ban on the band performing anywhere in the capital. The rug was pulled under the band's feet in their home town.

Melody Maker 15th April 1978

UK Music Press 20th May 1978

As a consequence of this ban, the band and their following in London were deprived of live performances from, at that time, one of the biggest bands in the country. Secret gigs became a necessity if the band wanted any opportunity to play in London, but these were difficult affairs and in some ways added to the frustration of fans who had no chance to get in. Further information on the handful of secret pub gigs the band played in this period is available in an excellent article on the official site.

Here's a contemporary piece on these gigs (thanks to Deadeye63 for the scan).

Sounds 9th September 1978

Efforts to get the band a suitable London date continued without sucess until September 1978, when the band eventually played an open air gig in Battersea Park. This gig was surely a pinnacle gig in the band's early career, effectively bringing the 'punk chapter' to a close.

UK Music Press 2nd September 1978

It was at Battersea that the band pulled off a very punk coup. The appearance of strippers on stage during 'Nice 'n' Sleazy' left the GLC themselves facing prosecution for allowing such a public spectacle if a case were to be made. A stroke of genius!!

Post Battersea, the band's problems in the capital were by no means at an end. Paranoia still abounded and securing Stranglers and solo gigs continued to be problematic in 1979. This, over 2 years since Grundy.
Poor old JJ seemed to be singled out for attention, seen as the most belligerant of the four band members, his name alone was sufficient for bookings to be cancelled! Attempts to promote his solo 'Euroman Cometh' ran into big problems in London.

Melody Maker April 1979

NME April 1979

UK Music Press 14th April 1979

NME April 1979
As the 1980's dawned, attitudes shifted and long standing bans were lifted and normal service was resumed.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Ruts DC Marquee, London 27th February 1981

Here's a great sounding recording of Ruts DC at the Marquee Club in Wardour Street, London. Now sadly without Malcolm Owen, Segs does a stirling job handling the vocals (couldn't have been an easy task as Malcolm's were big DM's to step into!). The set is a mix of new material from the excellent 'Animal Now' album and Ruts songs. Whilst the instrumentation on those Ruts songs was impecable (why wouldn't it be), it must have been so hard performing them only a matter of a few months after Malcolm's demise.

Is anyone is able to share any more Ruts DC live shows, I'd love to hear from you.



  1. Demolition Dancing
  2. Mirror Smashed
  3. It Was Cold
  4. Love In Vein
  5. Parasites
  6. Staring At The Rude Boys
  7. Dangerous Minds
  8. Fools
  9. Despondency
  10. Formula Eyes
  11. Different View
  12. Society
  13. Telstar
  14. Shakin’ All Over

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Laurel Aitken (& The Ruts) BBC John Peel Session 28th April 1980

As promised here's some old Ruts material, albeit, the Ruts incognito. Backing the Godfather of Ska, the Ruts here are palying out and out ska beats (with the accasional shout from Malcolm!).

Pick of the crop for me here (perhaps with more than a little bias*) is 'Rudi Got Married' which, should my son get married, will make the reception play list for sure.
* his name is Rudi


1. Jesse James 4:15
2. Rock Me Baby / Caledonia 2:59
3. Rudi Got Married 3:11
4. Big Fat Man 3:06

Laurel Aitken : Organ, Vocals
Paul Fox : Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gary Barnacle : Saxophone, Organ
Segs : Bass
Dave Ruffy : Drums, Backing Vocals
Malcolm Owen : Backing Vocals

Producer : Tony Wilson
Engineer : Dave Dade

Sunday 6 November 2011

The Academy, Manchester 26th March 2011

Thanks to Replicant and LaidBlack

Please be directed to the Two Sunspots site for this 2011 gig from the Black & Blue tour.

Attention, the band are listening! More set changes and some welcome surprises, not to mention a new track.

  1. Waltzinblack
  2. I Feel Like A Wog
  3. Was It You?
  4. Peaches
  5. Grip
  6. Freedom Is Insane
  7. Always The Sun
  8. Golden Brown
  9. Nice 'N' Sleazy
  10. Baroque Bordello
  11. Tramp
  12. 5 Minutes
  13. Never To Look Back
  14. Two Sunspots
  15. Dead Loss Angeles
  16. Threatened
  17. Something Better Change
  18. Sweden
  19. Relentless
  20. Nuclear Device
  21. Hanging Around
  22. Duchess
  23. All Day And All Of The Night
  24. No More Heroes
Only criticism, the absence of The Man They Love to Hate, rehearsed but dropped it appears. Next time.... NAIL IT!

P.S. I would welcome a recording of the Glasgow gig on this tour. I was in the area, but only heard it from afar!

Mallory Park 18th September 2010

Here's a slightly shortened festival set coming off the back of the Decades Apart tour. The Stranglers teamed up with Triumph for this celebration of our bass player's favourite mode and make of transport. Full sets  from the Spring tour will be uploaded before too long, but even here it is notable that this tour saw a much needed rethink of the band's set. On this recording, Go Buddy Go, Curfew, Genetix and Down in the Sewer make a welcome return, whilst a new song in the shape of Retro Rockets appeared.



1. Intro
2. Hanging Around
3. Go Buddy Go
4. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
5. Curfew
6. Always The Sun
7. Strange Little Girl
8. Golden Brown
9. Walk On By
10. Retro Rockets
11. Genetix
12. Nice N Sleazy
13. Peaches
14. The Spectre Of Love
15. Lost Control
16. Nuclear Device
17. Duchess
18. Down In The Sewer
19. Encore Break
20. All Day and All Of The Night
21. No More Heroes

Full artwork here:
(pdfs are also included in the downlaod file)

L'Olympia Paris 5th February 2009

This was the first night of the first rerun of the '80s style coach excursion to the continent. For reasons well known to most, this became known as The Wonky Bus Tour, two nights of (mostly) men behaving badly.

The venue booked for the showcase Paris gig was a grand step up from 2007's Parisienne date at La Cigale. For obvious reasons, France has always been a big draw for the Stranglers and French fans have always received them well. Nevertheless, L'Olympia was an ambitious venue for them at this point in their career.

Something of the history of one of Paris's most glamourous venues can be found here. Apparently, JJ was very exited to be treading the same boards as once trodden by the great Edith Piaf.

When the yet to be Wonky Bus spewed out it's human cargo, the British contingent of the night's audience was swelled considerably. Many had already travelled out independently for this gig. We walked into one of the plushest venues I have ever seen any band in. This gig was a presetige date and the band rose to the occasion admirably.This was one of the best post Hugh gigs that I have seen them play.

I hope that you enjoy this cracking boot of that night's performance.

'Take My Hand Disco Man Are You Just A One Night Stand?'

1. Intro
2. Grip/5 Minutes
3. Peaches
4. Nice 'N' Sleazy
5. Spectre Of Love
6. Skin Deep
7. No Mercy
8. Always The Sun
9. Strange Little Girl
10. Golden Brown
11. Raven
12. Thrown Away
13. Walk On By
14. Hanging Around
15. Straighten Out
16. Big Thing Coming
17. All Day And All Of The Night
18. Duchess
19. Tank

1. Talk/Intros (By JJ In French)
2. Nuclear Device
3. Something Better Change
4. Crowd
5. No More Heroes

Shepherds Bush Empire, London 14th November 2008

On paper another 'Greatest Hits' tour, that created much debate in fan circles along the lines of please , please vary the set. Nevertheless, the 'FortyTwoForty' tour was excellent. Here's the penultimate night of the tour from London.



1. Intro
2. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
3. Five Minutes
4. Peaches
5. Nice N Sleazy
6. Spectre Of Love
7. Skin Deep
8. No Mercy
9. Always The Sun
10. Strange Little Girl
11. Golden Brown
12. The Raven
13. Thrown Away

1. Walk On By
2. Hanging Around
3. Straighten Out
4. Big Thing Coming
5. All Day And All Of The Night
6. Duchess
7. Tank
8. Nuclear Device
9. Something Better Change
10. Who Wants The World
11. No More Heroes

ABC Glasgow 1st November 2007

2007 wound up with something rather special on planet Strangler. To mark the 30th anniversary of a 5 night residency at Camden's Roundhouse (2nd-6th November 1977), the Stranglers took the same set back to the stage with a series of three dates (Glasgow, Manchester with the culmination at the now pristine Roundhouse itself).

Of the three I only made it to the London date (famously beset by technical problems, as seen in the Rattus at the Rounhouse DVD of the event). I am reliably informed though that of the three, it was in Glasgow that the band turned in their best performance.

Judge for yourself.



  1. No More Heroes
  2. Ugly
  3. Bring On The Nubiles
  4. Dead Ringer
  5. Sometimes
  6. Dagenham Dave
  7. Goodbye Toulouse
  8. Hanging Around
  9. Five Minutes
  10. Bitching
  11. Burning Up Time
  12. I Feel Like A Wog
  13. Straighten Out
  14. Something Better Change
  15. London Lady
  16. Peaches
  17. Grip
  18. Go Buddy Go
  19. Spectre Of Love
  20. Unbroken
  21. I Hate You
  22. Relentless

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Ruts DC Launch A New Site

Exiting news this.I was recently informed that in anticipation of new material and dates from the wonderful Ruts DC, a new web site concerning all things Ruts has been launched:

What's more Ruffy and Segs have been kind enough to provide a link to this site. Now to the best of my knowledge, there is not an overwhelming amount of suitable material from the Ruts and Ruts DC to post, but what I have I will make available soon.

In the meantime, all that remains is to wish the lads all the best with Rhythm Collision Volume 2 and the December dates. Please make all efforts to get out to see them, you won't regret it.

More Stranglers to Come

Hi Folks,

Apologies for the poor activity on the Stranglers front. Thus far, the coming weekend appears to be engagement free, so there will be more to come then.