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 30 June 2012

The Adverts Marquee Club, London 27th July 1978

Here's a second gig from the same date as the last post but two years earlier.

This is my favourite Adverts recording. I have posted this elsewhere, but it is certainly worth a repost here (at least in my humble opinion).

The bottom line is that I think that TV Smith is one of the most talented writers to have emerged from the '77 UK punk scene. Gems are to be found at each and every stage of his diverse career, from The Adverts to the Explorers to the solo years via Cheap of course. With lyrics that are consistently intellegent, passionate and thought provoking the quality of TV's work has been nothing but consistent.

Since the brief spell in the limelight that The Adverts enjoyed, commercial success has I think it is fair to say eluded Tim, but I don't think that that is such a problem for him.... and there is something enduringly romantic in the sight of a troubadour musician arriving at a gig with guitar and a handful of CDs as sole possessions! The man is a legend, but I digress.

Yeah, The Adverts.... punk commentators (whatever they may be) when considering the contribution of The Adverts seldom venture beyond the incediary 'Crossing The Red Sea' album. Whilst this album is undoubtedly a genre defining album, in my eyes it is less interesting than the follow up 'Cast of Thousands' album.

From the opening title track, with unexpected piano and vocal harmonies, this album was so different that any idea that The Adverts were in fact no more than 'One Chord Wonders' was just blown out of the water!

And so we have this Marquee gig, which unlike the majority of available live recordings of the band, features early live versions of tracks that were to appear on the 'Cast of Thousands' album. Unfortunately, The Adverts split the following year and in doing so never faced the challenge of that 'difficult third album'.... it would have been a corker, of that I am sure.

This is also a good excuse to include some photos and footage of one of the most visually striking bands of the day (and I'm not just talking about Gaye here!)

But here's one....

The Adverts
'Television's Over' in Germany



01. Fate Of Criminals
02. Gary Gilmore's Eyes
03. Drowning Men
04. Bombsite Boys
05. Television's Over
06. Male Assault
07. New Church
08. We Who Wait
09. New Boys
10. On Wheels
11. I Surrender
12. Back From The Dead
13. Love Songs
14. Safety In Numbers
15. Bored Teenagers
16. No Time To Be 21
17. One Chord Wonders
18. The Great British Mistake

Lyceum, London 27th July 1980 - UPGRADE

A summer gig in the capital, from a very famous old theatre which played host to some great punk gigs at the time. This is an upgrade from the Who Wants The World? tour.

JJ & Hugh
Lyceum Theatre, London
27th July 1980

Lyceum Theatre, London
27th July 1980

Thanks as ever to Dom P for his continued efforts in bringing out the best from this old archive recordings!

NEW LINK:!download|932p7|2115457802||153378|0|0

And here's the artwork to download.

1. Waltzinblack
2. Shah Shah A Go Go / Ice
3. Four Horsemen
4. Toiler On The Sea
5. Duchess
6. Thrown Away
7. Hanging Around
8. Hallow To Our Men
9. Waiting For The Meninblack
10. Down In The Sewer
11. Who Wants The World
12. Princess Of The Street
13. Just Like Nothing on Earth
14. Tank
15. Nuclear Device / Genetix
16. Baroque Bordello
17. The Raven

Saturday 23 June 2012

Paleo Festival Nyon Switzerland 24th July 1988

With festival season upon us and with The Stranglers perhaps better represented this year in the waterlogged fields of Northern Europe than in previous summers I wanted to share this earlier gig from 1988.

The Paleo Festival from Nyon in Switzerland. A radio broadcast, the quality is excellent and the performance is marred only by the job jockey who, like so many of his ilk, loves the sound of his own voice. Perhaps a visitor of this blog from Europe could offer an explanation as to why Continental broadcasts of live gigs are treated like football matches with commentaries along the same lines!?

So, If you can blank the Swiss jock, this is a very enjoyable show featuring rare outings for 'Vietnamerica' and 'Peasant In The Big Shitty'  and JJ does his level best to wind up the audience.

... all good stuff!

Thanks to Dom P who provided me with a new version (mine having gone south).

Artwork is included in the download folder (this is worthy of a note, at the point that the AW was prepared the date was taken from the Forum as occurring on 19th, whereas the poster and the ticket would indicate that the gig took place on 24th. If in your pedantry you cannot cope with this error, let me know and I will correct it).



CD 1
1. Intro
2. Always The Sun
3. Spain
4. Uptown
5. Souls
6. Toiler On The Sea
7. North Winds
8. Vietnamerica
9. Strange Little Girl
10. The Raven
11. Peasant In The Big Shitty
12. All Day & All Of The Night

CD 2
1. Shakin' Like A Leaf
2. Big In America
3. Who Wants The World
4. Tank
5. Was It You?
6. Down In The Sewer
7. Nuclear Device
8. Punch & Judy
9. No More Heroes

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Strange Little Girl - In Praise of a 30 Year Old Classic

'Strange Little Girl'
Sleeve for the single (featuring Jet's daughter)

OK, so I'm a bit premature with this one, but is the sun is shining, albeit briefly in this dismal June that we are experiencing, and I am reminded of this song for some reason.

Released on 24th July 1982, 'Strange Little Girl' was issued in order to satisfy the remaining obligation of the band's contract with Liberty/EMI before the band moved over to Epic. Anything but a new song, 'Strange Little Girl' was in fact one of the earliest Stranglers originals written and recorded (and ironically one of the songs with which the band were first rejected by EMI in the early days). Several cuts of the track were recorded back in 1974 in TW Studios in Fulham. One of these versions surfaced on the rarities album 'The Early Years 74-75-76'.

'Strange Little Girl'
Demo TW Studios Fulham 1974

In contrast to the re-recorded version of 1982, the original was much more in keeping with the melodic rock style favoured by the band at the time and, perhaps more importantly, tolerated by the disinterested drinkers that formed the majority of the bands audience in the '74 to '75 period. It was to be some time before they roughened up their sound and their accents and embraced as an integral part of the London-centered Pub Rock circuit.

However, when re-recorded, rather than being a quick rehash of an old song merely for the purposes of fulfilling a contractual requirement, the revamped version was sublime!

On the surface, the song is an adult friendly ballad (even my Dad liked it!!), but the subject matter is dark and gloomy. Originally a Cornwell writing collaboration with departed founder member Hans Warmling, the subject was a girlfriend of Hugh's, in fact the very same girl that was at the receiving end of the events that were described in the forthcoming 'Sometimes'.

The lyrics (changed somewhat in the '82 version) leave the listener wondering exactly what experiences and hardships this country innocent had endured upon swapping her country life with the grim realities of the city.

As had become the norm at the time of the release, the single was accompanied by a promotional video. Set in central London, the film saw the band performing the song in the midst of a parade of London punk extras (mainly female). Details are unclear, but from what I can ascertain, the extras were recruited at gigs in the capital around that time, with the promise of 15 minutes of fame, a tenner and a buffet lunch in the course of the shoot (take a look here).

'Strange Little Girl' Promo 1982

The principal character was a very attractive if elusive girl known as 'Spanish Lisa', who apparently attracted the 'leading actress' fee of £100 on the condition that her head was shaved at the conclusion of the video.

'Spanish Lisa' 1982

Some fan photos of the shoot have appeared previously on The Burning Up Time Forum (nicked with thanks!).

Photographs from the 'Strange Little Girl' Video Shoot 1982

The single peaked at Number 8 in the UK singles chart (a highly respectable placing at a time when a Top 20 hit was only achieved with very significant singles sales).

The single was also supported in its rise with promo TV appearances, most notably on UK TV's Top of The Pops (the programme was as The Rezillos put it 'A stock market for your hi-fi').

'Strange Little Girl'
Top Of The Pops (UK TV) 1982

Years later when Gunta and I got married, realising that there was little chance to circumvent wedding tradition, a song had to be chosen for that dreaded first dance, and 'Strange Little Girl' was the best fit. And so it was that we very self-consciously took the floor, dis-ably assisted by a malfunctioning smoke machine (intended to conceal the uncoordinated movements of our feet). Rather than create a steady low level cloud of dry ice as intended, the infernal machine spewed out a dense jet of dry ice directly into the corner occupied by my asthmatic, wheel-chair bound Grandfather .... we nearly lost him that day!

Now 30 years on I am happy to report that this grand dame of a tune still features in their set which is surely testament to the enduring quality of the song.

'Strange Little Girl'
Liverpool 02 Academy 5th March 2012

I would say though, that whilst no Baz detractor, it is on this song that I perhaps miss Hugh's vocal the most.

Music Press Ad 1982

Devo @ The Dome Brighton 18th June 2007

Here's a great quality audience recording from those puveyor's of quirky art punk and sometime Cornwell collaborators, Devo.

Devo are truely unique in punk. To quote them from back in 1978 when interviewed for Granada TV, 'We are the fluid in the punk enema bag'....... nothing remains to be said really.

1. That's Good
2. Going Under
3. Peek-A-Boo!
4. Girl U Want
5. Whip It
6. Secret Agent Man
7. Satisfaction
8. Uncontrollable Urge
9. Mongoloid
10. Blockhead
11. Jocko Homo
12. Smart Patrol / Mr DNA
13. Gates Of Steel
14. Freedom Of Choice
15. Wiggly World
16. Gut Feeling / Slap Your Mammy
17. Beautiful World

PDF artwork is included in the downlaod folder.

Exeter Summer Festival 23rd June 2007

Leap forward 19 years to a festival gig in the West Country. Good sounding audience recording.


1. Waltzinblack
2. Five Minutes
3. Grip
4. Spectre Of Love
5. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
6. Strange Little Girl
7. Unbroken
8. Peaches
9. Always The Sun
10. Golden Brown
11. I Hate You
12. Lost Control
13. Thrown Away
14. Walk On By
15. Relentless
16. Burning Up Time
17. All Day And All Of The Night
18. Duchess
19. London Lady
20. Nuclear Device
21. No More Heroes

Philippshalle Dusseldorf 13th June 1988

1. Intro
2. Always The Sun
3. Spain
4. Uptown
5. Souls
6. Toiler on the Sea
7. North Winds
8. Vietnamerica
9. Strange Little Girl
10. The Raven
11. Peasant in the Big Shitty
12. All Day And All Of The Night
13. Shakin' Like A Leaf
14. Shakin' Like A Leaf (Continued)
15. Big in America
16. Who Wants the World
17. Tank
18. Was it You?
19. Down In The Sewer

This would have been an anniversary gig, but I guess I just didn't get my act together in time. A good quality recording albeit from a different source to Dom Ps.

Then as now, this was in the middle of the European Championships which in '88 was hosted in Germany. At this time and largely as a result of serious crowd trouble, most notably at Heysel Stadium, the reputation of English football fans was in tatters and so it was that we travelled to Dusseldorf to an uncertain reception.

This was one of the last organised tours. Two coaches made the journey, one a skipper and one with an overnight stop. I was on the latter as a night out in a then new city to me was quite appealing.

We gathered in Regent's Park to start the journey. A flag had been prepared for the occasion which adorned the rear windscreen of our coach.

l to r: Steve Tyas, Jim Rand and Raj Lamba
Regent's Park June 1988

For the crossing, the bar was occupied but for financial reasons from a kitty cases of Stella Artois were purchased from Duty Free and good headway was made through them even in this short crossing.

Gunta was also on this trip on the other bus...

Look at that hat, I know it was the '80's but still!!

As I said earlier, the stop over coach did present us with the opportunity to see a bit of the town (bars at least) and we headed in the direction of the Altstadt where the best establishments are located. Now, the reaction of the locals in the bars that we visited was wholly understandable. In the main we were English (and quite loud no doubt) dressed as you would expect, so clearly the owners of the bars we entered were on their guard. Their concern was heightened by the fact that England were due to play The Netherlands in the city two days later.

And so it was that about a dozen of us descended on one particular bar/night club. Entry was gained by successfully explaining that we were not here for the football but for The Stranglers. Our reason for being in the city established, the reception was warm to the extent that the DJ agreed to put on a tape of the band at Reading the previous summer (for which some of the locals joined us as best they could on the small dance floor) and the landlord stood us a round (perhaps as an additional insurance policy against damage to his venue.... not that we would have).

One notable incident occurred later in the evening when seeking a late drink. We gathered outside a bar when an elderly, drunken gentleman was propelled through the door with little ceremony on to the street. Thinking that this was harsh treatment for a man who must have been well advanced into his seventies, we engaged the old boy in conversation as best as our limited school German would allow. When we described where we came from, one of our party (Jim Rand) stated that he was from Staines at which point that man declared that he knew Staines well having been a P.O.W. near to the town. On seeing Staines stated in Jim's passport something clicked in the old man's mind. The man became abusive and as we left him with some abuse of our own, he was last seen standing on the street corner with his right arm raised in salute 'Sieg Heil' -ling for all he was worth. For the time it seems that in his alcohol addled brain he was back in 1938! Thankfully, I am sure that he and most of his compatriots who continued to 'Keep the Faith' have long marched off to the great rally in the sky!

The day of the gig was hot and since we arrived at the venue early, some participated in a game of football nearby, there being very little else to do. I recall that the drivers had taken advantage of the very relaxed German laws on pornography and were viewing their purchases on the coaches video system (rather inconsiderate given that there were quite a few girls on these coaches!). Wanky Bus I !!

I remember The Ramones sweeping into the venue for their soundcheck but I do not recall The Stranglers arrival. As the area around the venue started to fill up with local punters, we were highly amused to be asked for autographs by some young German females who genuinely thought that we were The Stranglers. I know that they do not have their biggest European fanbase in Germany, but was their profile so low that noone had ever seen them!?. That said of course we obliged and duly signed!

With the exception of the Ramones, the remainder of the bill was all English. First up were a kind of psychedelic band, The Seers (from Bristol I think), followed by The Godfathers, who were having some success at around that time. They finished their set with 'Anarchy in The UK'..... described as a 'little English folk song'.

Next up were The Ramones, who to my surprise weren't the headline act (and this was I think one of the problems of the evening). Da Bruddah's did what they did in what must have been one of Dee Dee's last gigs with the band and then they were gone..... as indeed were much of the audience for whom The Ramones were clearly the draw of the night!

And so it was that The Stranglers came on to a much thinned out audience. This lack of interest from the German part of the audience was reflected by the band themselves... but listen to the recording and decide. At any rate, the gig was a short one with the band either refusing of denied an encore. I suspect the former as at the end one of the brass section returned to the stage alone to deliver a rendition of 'The Last Post'.... which has all of the hallmarks of a Stranglers' wind-up.

And that was it.

In the course of the evening's entertainment, a tear gas canister was opened in the crowd which did nothing to improve the atmosphere. With the show clearly over, a few Scottish fans who clearly considered that they had been short-changed by the absence of an encore took it upon themselves to start dismantling the crash-barrier in order to hurl scaffolding parts towards the stage. A good time to return to the coach I thought.

A Cross-channel ferry
June 1988

Perhaps it was a localised weather phenomenon over Dusseldorf that night, but it seemed that an atmosphere of violence hung over the city. Next morning, upon arriving back in London, I bought a paper only to be confronted with front pages showing some of the bars in the Aldstadt on fire after receiving the attentions of England 'fans' as they rampaged through the centre. All this was occurring whist we were south east of the centre at the gig. Given the genuine reception that we had received in the same area 24 hours earlier I felt the shame even more acutely than usual.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Gary Numan The Dome Brighton 3rd June 2012

This was something of an anniversary gig for me. The last time I saw Gary Numan in Brighton was in 1984 at the same venue on the 'Berserker' tour. On that night, as tonight, he opened the set with the same 'Berserker' and just for a moment I am left standing, thinking what on earth happened to the intervening 28 years!! One difference is standing to my left in the form of my son Rudi, who at 14 is just one year younger than when I was here in '84.

The Dome is slightly different nowadays. In 1984 it was mostly seated, as well as I remember after taking a backward tumble during the opening song as the cinema style seat closed up on me!

Tonight I was here mainly to see some old friends and for Rudi's sake. He is now into the industrial music scene and this is the general direction that Numan has moved in over the last 10 years or so.

High points of the evening for me were 'That's Too Bad' and 'Bombers' (regular visitors to this blog will appreciate that early Tubeway Army mean a lot to me).

'That's Too Bad'
The Dome Brighton 3rd June 2012

A very poignant moment came with a rendition of 'Love Needs No Disguise' (a Dramatis track for which Numan guested on vocals) which was dedicated to Ced Sharpley, Gary's long standing drummer, who suffered a fatal heart attack recently. For this tribute, another couple of early Numan stalwarts, namely Rrussell Bell and Chris Payne, were invited onto the stage.... yet more echoes of 1984. They were later to return to the stage for 'Are Friends Electric?' and thus the evening drew to a close.

'Love Needs No Disguise'
The Dome Brighton 3rd June 2012

Once again, since the mid-90's (when Numan massively reassessed his career  and managed to get it back on track) I left the gig reminded of what a pioneering musician he was both musically and visually.

The Dome Brighton 3rd June 2012

Thursday 7 June 2012

National Stadium Dublin 7th June 1989

Thanks to Dom, here's a great anniversary gig from the 1989 mini-tour, that saw the band play Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England over what was a wonderful long weekend!


1. All Day And All Of the Night / Bring on the Nubiles
2. Uptown
3. Peaches
4. Someone Like You
5. Spain
6. Always the Sun
7. Nice 'n' Sleazy
8. Where I Live
9. Ships That Pass in the Night
10. Shakin' Like a Leaf
11. The Raven
12. Who Wants the World?
13. Grip
14. Was It You? / Down in the Sewer
15. Golden Brown
16. Hanging Around
17. Punch and Judy

Full artwork here:

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Brick Lane E1 and The Art Car Boot Fair

I have newly rediscovered a part of London that I have not been to for 20 years or more. A couple of weeks ago, on a Sunday, the family arranged to meet friends in Brick Lane Market. The last time I was in Brick Lane was in the late '80's as part of a Jack The Ripper walking tour.

I was hugely impressed with the place, it is quite clearly aiming to give Camden a run for it's money as the London Sunday place to be. On this occasion, our friend's youngest was with us which necessitated avoidance of spicy food for lunch, but next time curry will be on the menu for certain.

The following week, I was back in the grounds of the Truman's brewery for the 2012 Art Car Boot Fair, where some pretty well known British artists gather to sell their wares... not least Sir Peter Blake, who sporting a Blockheads hat (a gift from Ian as the artist informed me) signed my 'Brand New Boots and Panties' CD.

A great day, in blistering heat.

Sir Peter Blake, Brick Lane 27th May 2012

Tonight Matthew I'll Be Frank Sinatra....!!

Poor old PR. Spotted in Brighton on Saturday.... a double act with Jessica Rabbit no less.