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, 22 December 2011

Steel Workers Benefit Gig - Corby 23rd Jult 1980

The Stranglers
Steel Workers Benefit Corby 23rd July 1980

This week I had an email requesting the abovementioned gig from a guy called Droo.

'I was talking with friends earlier tonight about our 'first ever gigs' and was happy to have trumped the lot of them with my 35p entry to The Stranglers' Steel Workers Benefit Gig in Corby, back in 1980. Full of nostalgia, I've just been searching for any mention of the gig, and am delighted to have found your site. Please, please tell me that you have a copy or can point me in the right direction to where I might find it; it would be fantastic to have the chance to hear it again after all these years.'

Here's a link to a recording of the night, not from my collection. This version has been much cleaned up and again I want to thank Dom P for his work on this one.

Here's the full artwork:

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Dot Dash - Washington DC Post Punk & Opener for Hugh

During the week, I received an email from an outfit going by the name of Dot Dash (another Wire influence?). They opened for Hugh recently on one of his US dates.

Review and pictures are here.

They have asked if I would put up a couple of links to tracks from their new album. After hearing them I can confirm that they are sound very '80-'81 (and that's no bad thing in my book!).

If this bio had one of those “RIYL/Recommended If You Like” sections, it might drop names like THE JAM, JOY DIVISION, or THE BYRDS… or perhaps it would bring up an apparent appreciation by Dot Dash for the ancient sounds of the POSTCARD, WHAAM and early CREATION labels…

But those kinds of judgments can really only be made by you, the listener.

As is often the case, Dot Dash has a whole “they are ex-members of” thing going on:

Guitarist/singer Terry Banks and bassist Hunter Bennett were in punky power poppers JULIE OCEAN.

Before that, Terry was in a bunch of jangly guitar bands, including THE SATURDAY PEOPLE, TREE FORT ANGST, GLO-WORM and ST. CHRISTOPHER.

Guitarist Bill Crandall was in the mod/pop band MODEST PROPOSAL.

Drummer Danny Ingram began musical life in Dischord-label punks YOUTH BRIGADE before moving on to STRANGE BOUTIQUE and, later, U.K. guitar-wranglers SWERVEDRIVER.

Dot Dash plays shows, mostly around D.C., but occasionally out of town, whenever they can. In the recent past they’ve opened for Urge Overkill, The Godfathers, The Trash Can Sinatras, The Chameleons, Hugh Cornwell and The Capstan Shafts.

"There And Back Again Lane" (audio)
"There And Back Again Lane" (video)

"Tragedy/Destiny" (audio)
"Tragedy/Destiny" (video)

More details can be found on their facebook page.

Happy to help and good luck!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Elastica Roskilde Festival 3rd July 1994

Go back to the early '90's and there was something of a buzz going on in the smaller venues of London Town and numerous other cities of the UK. A number of bands were emerging onto the scene that rejected the squeaky clean, polished pop of the late '80's. These were bands that were getting back to basics once more, bands with guitars and I'd say mod sensibilities (with a dash of new wave thrown in). The music press caught on and ever keen to label bands, 'Brit Pop' came into our consciousness.

I was 25 at the time and sad to say not very open to new music. Of course there was Blur and Oasis and a raft of there lesser bands whose flames burned brightly for the 12 months or so whilst the music press maintained their interest (Sleeper, Echobelly........ Menswear!). Some of the bands were great, others seemed to be bandwagoning (much the same as with the punk scene some 17/18 years before I suppose). One band however stood head and shoulders above the others for me and they were Elastica. For a while, they were the hottest property in the UK music scene. They offered something that had been lacking in music since punk i.e. a predominantly female band with more than enough attitude to send the boys running for cover.

Elastica also offered something else. In bass player Annie Holland they had someone who was once again bringing the bass back as a lead instrument. It was this dirty bass sound (very reminiscent of JJ's bass style that I and many other Stranglers fans found so appealing, other still were taken by the black leggings and Doctor Martens combination... you know who you are!). Then of course there were the songs. Now, it is fair comment that Elastica's musical influences were pretty accurately reflected in their own material. This led to out of court settlements with bands for plagarism (perhaps most notably Wire, although The Stranglers were themselves involved due to a more than passing resemblance between their 'Waking Up' and 'No More Heroes'). But all that stuff was best left to the lawyers. What Elastica gave us in this period was one classic album and a clutch of brilliant singles, some of which feature in this good quality festival set.

Unfortunately, Elastica did not follow up on the early success of their debut album and a full 5 years elapsed before the follow up was released. By that time, the momentum had all but peetered out to a crawl and the band split followed shortly after.

It was shortly after a gig in 1995 at the Shepherds Bush Empire that I bumped into Paul Roberts in Picadilly tube station on his way to meet John Ellis and SIS France for an interview. I was wearing an Elastica shirt and with the 'Waking Up' legal issue still a very recent memory, Paul made some comment on the shirt (he did say that he really liked them it is worth pointing out). He was rather taken aback that I knew who he was, at which point he asked for my opinion on the then recently released 'About Time' album. Sadly, I gave him my constructive but not exactly positive view on the album. He took it well, but the conversation ended shortly afterwards!

OK over to you to spot the song influences!

01. In The City
02. Never Here
03. Ba Ba Ba
04. S.O.F.T.
05. Stutter
06. Waking Up
07. Brighton Rock
08. 2:1 (Instrumental Version)
09. See That Animal
10. Hold Me Now
11. Blue
12. Vaseline
13. Presenter Outro

Annie Holland (Elastica)

The Purple Helmets 1989 Radio Session

JJ Burnel (Purple Helmets)
Dingwalls 27th April 1988

I have bought myself a new computer. My current desktop is six years old and has started to make noises that could pass for a UFO take-off. Whilst trying to clear the memory, I found this radio session from The Purple Helmets. I do not have any further information concerning date or source, but looking at the tracks it can be deduced that it is from 1989.



1. Baby Let Me Take You Home
2. Under the Sun
3. Don't You Like What I Do?
4. Brand New Cadillac

Friday, 16 December 2011

Article: The Stranglers at The Nashville West Kensington 10th December 1976

Just wanted to draw the attention of everyone to an excellent article on the Official Stranglers site which marks the 35th anniversary of the first professional live recording of the band. It can be found here.

With luck, one day someone will have the foresight to liberate this landmark recording from the E.M.I. vaults and release it for everyones enjoyment.

Ruts DC The Forum Kentish Town 2nd December 2011

It is with great regret that I cannot spice this post up with a recording of this extraordinary night, but please read on.

I was dead exited about this one. A few years ago, when Paul Fox was sadly diagnosed with cancer his contemporaries rallied around and participated in a punk star-studded event to raise money for Foxy's ongoing treatment. The highlight of this night was a set of Rut's material played by Paul, Segs and Ruffy along with the formidable form of Henry Rollins stepping up to the mike for the occasion in place of Malcolm. The gig was blistering and for some inexplicable reason, I was not there!!

A few short weeks later Paul succumbed to his illness. What followed was a film premiere of the excellent DVD of the event (the only film premiere I have been to I might add!). On that occasion, prior to the screening there was more music. A few songs were played, I recall Captain and Henry doing 'It Was Cold' and Beki Bondage doing the sublime 'West One'. That night whilst Segs and Ruffy did appear on stage to introduce the film (resplendant in trilbies and looking every bit like The Untouchables of Uxbridge) they did not play.

So, a mini tour supporting Alabama 3 was going to be my first opportunity to see these two musicians whose music has meant so much to me over so many, many years. But here I have to make a confession. The tour was promoted as Ruts DC in Dub, marking the release of Rhythm Collision Volume 2 and whilst I can claim to know a bit about punk and ska, dub reggae is a little bit out of my comfort zone. That's not to say that I don't like it, but I'm a bit green, so on the night I didn't really know what to expect.

Of the material played, I knew 'Whatever We Do' and 'Fools' which were great, but what sent me into aural orbit was the treatments they gave to some Ruts classics, namely 'Babylon's Burning', 'Jah War', a bit of 'SUS' and 'In a Rut'. See for yourself.

'In A Rut' The Forum
2nd December 2011

New material from the Volume 2 album included 'Mighty Soldier' and 'One Step'. A sampler of the new album is availble for purchase through the official site, here.

It may have been my exitement, the beer or the effect of dub reggae bass frequencies on the brain or indeed a combination of all three, but I thought that Ruts DC were magnificent!

We need more of this stuff. What I want to see now is a full headlining set from the boys. I am up for being educated in dub reggae Ruts DC style, but I would also relish the chance to see more of the 'Animal Now' album live, not to mention more Ruts, 'West One', 'Love in Vein'.......

Live photos by Abbie Jenkinson.

Buzzcocks 'Back to Front' in Manchester and London

For Buzzcocks fans something extraordinary is happening in May next year. Dubbed 'Back to Front', the concept is quite self explanatory. The current line-up will kick off the evening's proceedings , followed by a set that will see the 'classic' line up of Messrs Maher and Garvey join Steve and Pete on stage for the first time since the early reunion days. The night is scheduled to draw to a close with the appearance of Howard Devoto for a run through of the seminal Times Up single. Boredom? I don't think so! Whether such a gig herald's the final dissolution of the band who can say, but whatever happens the night is sure to be memorable.

I first heard of plans of this event straight from the horse's mouth (make that Mr Shelley). In Prague for a 3 day work meeting I bumped into Pete at the toaster one breakfast time in the hotel. It turned out that he was on holiday for the same period as well. A few days later, I was with colleagues at Prague airport awaiting the evening BA flight into Heathrow. It soon became apparent that delays to this flight were anticipated. Overtime as the passenger numbers remaining in the terminal thinned out as other flights departed on schedule. On one of my frequent visits to the departure board to check the status of the flight, I looked down to see Pete standing next to me. 'Hello again' said he, 'the planes delayed until 12.15.' 'Oh Shit' said I, before inwardly cringing at the though that he would be thinking that I was quoting song titles to him! We went our separate ways to bars at opposite ends of the terminal. Our paths crossed again later in the evening as the now massively delayed Heathrow bound passengers wandered aimlessly trying to kill time. Poor Pete, there was no escaping me now, so he engaged me in conversation for want of something better to do!

Once it became apparent that I knew my stuff with regards to Buzzcocks and Pete's post Buzzcocks work, conversation flowed quite easily. We talked of Heaven and the Sea, his short lived band Zip and even the Stranglers (the following day (or rather later the same day at this point) I was due to set out for Belgium and Holland for a trio of acoustic gigs). It was as a parting shot that Pete mentioned these two planned gigs that were then pencilled in for October of this year. He was very exited by the prospect I must say and rightly so. Like The Stranglers and The Damned, who amongst them would have contemplated the idea of such a gig 36 years on. Amazing stuff.

B'dum B'dum

Hammersmith Odeon 31st March 1987

Before talking of the gig, I must say this. As a direct consequence of this gig, as an impressionable 18 year old I was lead down a fasion cul-de-sac by Mr Cornwell. On the basis that I thought that anything that the Stranglers chose to wear was by default cool, I swapped 10 hole docs for black deck shoes throughout the spring and summer of 1987. My feet as a consequence stank for 6 months before said footwear were consigned to the bin and the docs were reinstated! Fortunately, this slavish obsession with what the band were wearing subsided before 1990, so it is with joy that I never went for the jogging bottom look. Thanks Hugh!

Anyway, diversion aside, this was one of a great trio of gigs. I was there on the night of the 30th and unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no recording of the 30th exists (but I would be more than happy to be proved wrong on that point!). The shows on either side however were captured for posterity.

I don't know why, but on the night I was on the balcony, front row. In a break from tradition, the Waltz In Black intro tape was dropped and instead the band came on to 'Mars' (from the wonderful 'Planets Suite'). It was a good choice, but no substitute for The Waltz!

Having always favoured standing, I was on my feet from the point at which the band took the stage. This was the reason for my first warning from the bouncers. I think that the firm used by the Odeon at the time was Show Sec. Back then, London venues had a dreadful reputation concerning the conduct of bouncers at gigs and clubs. Few rules and constraints were placed on security staff that controlled the execution of their responsibilities. In the late '80's, in London, there were cases of gig-goes dying as a result of maltreatment in the hands of venue security personnel. These tragic events resulted in the introduction of stringent regulation of show security personnel and as a consequence, the relationship between audience and bouncer is nowadays much improved.

A second warning around the Sleazy point of the gig came when a nice chap told me 'If you don't sit down I'll break your fuckin' neck!'.... I sat down for a bit. But it was imposible to stay seated for the encore, Nuclear Device, Duchess, London Lady and Jesus Christ.... 5 MINUTES (for me the most raucous song that they did and forever a great favourite). The bouncers conceded defeat and resigned themselves to a fight on the way home instead.

That was my third Stranglers gig (money constraints meant that touring with bands was not an option and gigs to this point had been on a one gig per tour basis). The problem was that after the dates in early '87, future dates were to prove to be few and far between until the 10 tour of 1990. Such is life I suppose.


  1. Intro
  2. No More Heroes
  3. Was It You?
  4. Down In The Sewer
  5. Nice In Nice
  6. Punch And Judy
  7. Souls
  8. Always The Sun
  9. Strange Little Girl
  10. Golden Brown
  11. Northwinds
  12. Big In America

  1. Nice "N" Sleazy
  2. Who Wants The World
  3. Bring On The Nubiles
  4. Shakin' Like A Leaf
  5. Uptown
  6. Grip
  7. Tank
  8. Toiler On The Sea
  9. Spain
  10. Nuclear Device
  11. Five Minutes
  12. Duchess
  13. London Lady

St Austell Coliseum 20th October 1986

Back in the day, bands used to play in Cornwall! St Austell on the county's south coast played host to the Stranglers on several occasions over the years. Here's a show from the first leg of the Dreamtime tour, when bowler hats and headless basses were briefly in vogue.

At this stage in their career the enfants terrible of the consistently hostile weekly music press had become terrible old men in the eyes of the hacks. It is true to an extent, by the time that Dreamtime was released, much of what made The Stranglers such a potent live force on stage had dissipated . On record, they along with many other bands with a past suffered at the hands of no doubt well meaning producers who aspired to that punchy and polished mid-'80's sound. In that respect the bands corner wasn't strengthened by JJ's temporary ditching of the Fender Precision in favour of his new toy, the headless Steinberger bass.

On stage they were tight and professional..... and perhaps a little predictable.... to the extent that to many they appeared to be going through the motions. Nevertheless, to my 17 year old ears they sounded great and besides La Folie was in the set, which was and remains to be a favourite of mine.

If some of the shows from the first leg of the Dreamtime tour were a little pedestrian, for the second leg in March, I think the tempo was upped and culminated in the UK at least with three consecutive nights at the Hammersmith Odeon before the band took the tour Stateside.



1. No More Heroes
2. Was It You?
3. Down In The Sewer
4. Nice In Nice
5. Punch And Judy
6. Souls
7. Always The Sun
8. La Folie
9. Strange Little Girl
10. Nice N Sleazy
11. Who Wants The World
12. Big In America
13. Bring On The Nubiles
14. Shakin Like A Leaf
15. Uptown
16. Toiler On The Sea
17. Spain
18. Peaches
19. Tank

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Hammersmith Palais, The Bolshoi Ballet Jump Back In The Alley And Nanny Goats.... 17th November 1981

Back in the UK now and the first leg of the La Folie tour. I'll stick my neck out here and say that I would consider La Folie to be the last truely great Stranglers album and the five new tracks played at the Palais represent the best that that album has to offer. Golden Brown is in there, but to fresh ears at the time I suspect that it would have sounded strange and exotic.... I love the song, but these days as the perennial set staple it's harder to view the song with any objectivity.

The Man They Love to Hate, Let Me Introduce you to the Family, Non-Stop and Tramp... wonderful! If you download this gig (one of the best in terms of audio quality for an audience recording) listen to it whilst reading an excellent fan's account of this tour, here. Phil Coxon documented his round Britain trip in a tour diary (nice to meet you at the Convention by the way Phil!).

An interesting point to note was that this gig was filmed by a French TV crew. Will it ever see the light of day I wonder, we can live in hope.


  1. Waltzinblack
  2. Non Stop
  3. Threatened
  4. Just Like Nothing On Earth
  5. Second Coming
  6. Meninblack
  7. Who Wants The World
  8. Baroque Bordello
  9. Golden Brown
  10. Tramp
  11. Thrown Away
  12. Tank
  13. I Feel Like A Wog
  14. The Man They Love To Hate
  15. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
  16. Nuclear Device
  17. Genetix
  18. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)/Bring On The Nubiles
  19. Duchess
  20. The Raven
Alternatively, whilst looking for a bit more background I note that Dom P has uploaded a version of this gig (and this is likely to be an upgrade), here. Thanks as always Dom.

Full artwork here (pdfs also in the download file):

U.E.A. Norwich
14th November 1981
Opening Night of the La Folie Tour

Bonds Casino New York 20th June 1981

Yeah yeah we know, The Clash played Bonds Casino 350 times in the summer of 1981, but the venue played host to other British bands at that time, not least The Stranglers. This brief incomplete set is from 20th June, in fact one week after the 17 show residency by Mr Strummer's boys.

The Stranglers in New York 1981

This is a little muffled but quite listenable.

MP3 (as received):

Artwork (pdfs also in download file):

  1. Waltz In Black
  2. Down In The Sewer
  3. Five Minutes
  4. I Feel Like A Wog
  5. Threatened
  6. The Raven
  7. Just Like Nothing On Earth