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.
This one's for Dave Sez who I had the great pleasure of sharing a few pints with last night in Bishops Stortford. The reason being this was his first Stranglers gig... and that should always be marked!
1. 5 Minutes
2. Shah Shah A Go Go
4. Down In The Sewer
5. Hanging Around
6. The Raven
7. Dead Loss Angeles
11. Burning Up Time
12. Bring On The Nubiles
13. Nuclear Device
15. I Feel Like A Wog
17. Toiler On The Sea
A proportion of the links on this site do not work - a hangover from the fall of Megaupload. I am in the process of adding new links (I have most of the files backed up). Be patient, it's a time consuming process, but I will get there.
If there are any specific posts that folk are after, please email me or leave a comment and I will prioritise those files.
Here's a list of recently repaired links:
Nashville Rooms, London 10/10/76 Top Rank, Sheffield, England 19/10/77 Rock Goes to College, Guildford University, England 19/10/78 Stone Club, San Francisco, USA 9/5/81 Ipswich Gaumont, England 5/2/82 John Cooper Clarke John Peel Session 3rd October 1978 Philipshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany 21/12/84 Aural Fantasy LP (Aural Sculpture & Dreamtime Demos) Conference Centre, Brighton 4/3/85 Amnesty International Festival, Milton Keynes, England 18/6/88 The Damned Amnesty International Festival, Milton Keynes, England 19/6/88
Ok, this is an anniversary recording (two days in advance for the pedantics ones among you). Actually, I was intending to post the first night of the tour that saw the band play Goldiggers in Chippenham (or plain 'Nam as my friend who lived down that way called it) on this day in 1983, but that recording has suffered like many of my others thanks to dodgy labels. Nevertheless, that recording can be found here:
For my part I give you this recording from Poole Arts Centre from 30th. Many years ago a portion of this gig was released as 'The Taming Of The Hugh' bootleg.
This however, is the full set and the quality is excellent. In fact, until such time when the record company venture into the vaults and dust off the tapes of some of the 'Feline' dates recorded on the Continent, this Poole recording is the definative live document from that tour.
1. Aural Sculpture Manifesto
2. Nuclear Device
3. Toiler On The Sea
4. It's A Small World
5. Ships That Pass In The Night
6. Just Like Nothing on Earth
7. No More Heroes
8. Who Wants The World
9. Never Say Goodbye
10. Baroque Bordello
1. Golden Brown
2. Princess Of The Streets
3. Midnight Summer Dream
4. European Female
6. The Raven
8. London Lady
As heralded on the official site (carrying a great piece on the album, here), this month marks the 30th anniversary of the 'Feline' album (or 210 years old in cat years if you prefer). Therefore prepare yourselves for a tranche (good word that!) of Feline related material.
This album, or perhaps more accurately The Collection of 1982 which preceded it, is where my earnest interest in the band started, with 'Feline' following on soon after. Annoyingly, I also remember all too well, a group of mates changing out of school uniform into punk gear before sneaking out of the school back gates in order to make the journey from Lewes to Brighton to see The Stranglers play. This would have been on 17th February 1983. Don't ask me why I did not go, I had been going to gigs for about 14 months by this point and already had a few under my belt. Perhaps I had an exam or something (I was always a conscientious pupil!), but what ever the reason, next day my mates had ringing ears and great stories and I had a ticket stub, a copy of Strangled and a Feline and Rattus badge from the gig..... oh well.
A donated ticket stub.... the full extent of my live Feline experience!
As someone for whom 'Feline' was a starting point (from which I subsequently quickly worked backwards through the back catalogue), the dramatic change in pace and aggression that the album represented didn't provoke in me the kind of reaction that was reflected in the pages of Strangled in the issues that came after its release. In fairness, I think that had I had more experience with the band, 'Feline' may indeed have been an abomination to my ears as well!
I can honestly say that I love 'Feline'. For me it is the last Stranglers album that retains a real menace. That menace, or perhaps it's something more of a brooding (?) drips from the record, even when the material is so melodic. I find that feeling hard to explain, but someone may get it. Anyway, the other things that I like about 'Feline' is that it is brass-free (all of my latter experiences with Mark I featured that brass section, which may have augmented a couple of songs, but did very little for entire sets.... for me at least) and it does not suffer from the horrible overblown production techniques that ruined many an album made in the mid to late '80s.
As an album, it achieves exactly what JJ and the others intended it to. It is so European, even ignoring the lyrical content, to listen to 'Feline' is to be transported to a French village square on a summer evening .... if you really concentrate you can taste the Pastis!
As an album 'Feline' is a triumph, it has aged very well in my opinion (like a fine wine?) and to that I'll raise a glass of Pinot and declare 'Bon anniversaire !', 'Feliz Cumpleaños!' and 'Buon compleanno!'
A while ago I posted a Ruts gig from Acton Town Hall which featured the rarity 'Fanatical Fascists'. Well, as I promised, there is a better version of the song to be found amongst these often shared rehearsal and demo tracks.
Here's a great little interview broadcast yesterday on BBC Radio 4's arts programme 'Front Row'. In it, Wilko talks of how the simplicity of the Dr Feelgood sound was achieved and of course his recent diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer. Very poignant stuff indeed!
1. 5 Minutes
2. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
3. Something Better Change
5. Golden Brown
6. Always The Sun
7. Skin Deep
8. Freedom Is Insane
10. London Lady
11. Walk on By
12. Hanging Around
15. All Day And All Of The Night
16. No More Heroes
A couple of weeks ago I posted a grumpy old man piece concerning my dissatisfaction with the likely fate of English Heritage's blue plaque scheme. In doing so I was reminded of a very specific example of how such a scheme has been put to such good effect for the benefit of the local area.
I am referring to the 2 Tone Trail through Coventry. Some years ago, local aficionados had an inspired idea of how to give the musical revolution that was 2 tone the prominence that it deserves in the city of its inception. Thus was born the '2 Tone Trail' put together by Pete Chambers. The book traces a path through Coventry city centre and some of it's outlying areas, highlighting many of the places of special relevance to the 2 tone story. With the help of local commercial sponsors and the musicians themselves, these key locations were gradually marked with the ska equivalent of the blue plaque (which by my reckoning are far more stylish than the English Heritage versions!).
I purchased both editions of the book (the later edition is pictured which was updated and expanded when the thing that many dared not even consider happened - The Specials reunion) and took a copy with me on a planned trip to Coventry with the kids in tow.
On this occasion we did not do the trail, the purpose of this visit being to trace a more personal Coventry trail relevant to my wife, Gunta, who was born in the city and lived there before decamping to London in the mid-80's. This trail then took us to Bishops Ullathorne School, Colina Close an the Marina Fish Bar in Willenhall. There were nevertheless, occasions when the personal and published tours crossed paths, notably in the Dog & Trumpet and the Butts Technical College.
I just wanted to mention that I was interested to see a part of Coventry that I had never seen during many visits in the late '80's, the Canal Basin. So, Gunta led the way over the inner Ring Road to one of the most unlikely of places to have stamped its mark on British popular culture.
Adrian at The Canal Basin Entrance
Historically, the Basin goes back to the 18th century when noted canal engineer James Brindley (commemorated in bronze and overlooking his site plans for the foreseeable future) was commissioned to build at the head of Coventry canal. This stretch of water linked with other waterways in the Midlands that together formed the transport infrastructure to make our Industrial Revolution possible. Most of the buildings from the industrial age are long gone, but the area is still industrious. Now the coal sheds have been replaced by newer business concerns as artisans have now taken up residence in the Basin.
Mr Brindley Meets Miss Ramona Andrews
Back in 1979, the area was run down and neglected and for that reason perhaps, a perfect setting to photograph a band who were all about documenting the industrial decline that was a feature of so many cities in Britain in the mid to late '70's. It was a decline that was to accelerate as Margaret Thatcher's new politics got the upper hand from '79 into the first years of the 1980's.
It was in Canal Basin that the iconic shots that graced the covers of both 'Specials' and 'More Specials' were taken. The shot that formed the front of the first album was edited in order to achieve the desired sixties look to the sleeve artwork. However on the rear of the second album, the Canal Basin clearly forms the backdrop to the group shot..... real 'Boys From The Blackstuff' scenery!
The site is one of several where 2 tone fans, canal boat enthusiasts, ramblers and joggers alike are reminded subtly of the area's musical significance by the presence of one of the aforementioned stylish plaques.
Roddy and Horace at the Canal Basin Unveiling
So this is my point..... in a small way, the existence of these plaques have (with the undoubted very concerted efforts of those who pressed so hard to make them happen) generated a very specific interest in Coventry and a real sense if visible pride in what was achieved over 30 years ago now. Google the 2 Tone Trail and see how much media interest there has been in the project. Brilliant! And at what cost..... peanuts I am sure in comparison with the lasting benefit they will bring to the city.
To end up I also wanted to also mention the 2 Tone Central Cafe, which houses a museum dedicated to the scene. This was closed when we arrived, but the staff very kindly opened it up for our benefit. Look it up should you pass through Coventry any time soon.
With a gestation period worthy of a herd of elephants, I am pleased to say that the wait is almost over. Next month sees the full release of Ruts DC's 'Rhythm Collision Volume 2' and on the basis of the sampler and the additional material I have heard live, I am willing to stick my neck out and predict that this will be one of, if not the album of 2013 in the Andrews' household.
The flyer above is for the launch party.
.... with luck the party will reach London sometime soon (ish).
John Foxx (Ultravox) discusses Moog specifications with Gary Numan in 1979
No apologies for another diversion from the punk rock dual carriageway with this, another example of how diverse the UK music scene had become in the aftermath of punk.
It is to be noted that Ultravox pre-dated punk by a couple of years, progressed through punk and came out the other side with a new sound that combined the guitar, drum and bass requirements of punk with synthesisers. In doing so, they lead the UK charge that took teenagers off on one of (there were many at this stage) the next musical directions.... electronica or futurism (remember the kids at school who called themselves 'Futurists'?..... I may have applied that label to myself at some point in time!). This electronica itself mutated and gave way to a much lighter-weight style of music that became 'new romantic'.... of which arguably a latter incarnation of Ultravox (in which singer John Foxx was replaced by musical chameleon, Midge Ure) formed a part.
So here are Ultravox, a great band with possibly the most pretentious lyrics in modern pop (it's a close run thing with Bauhaus!)
OK, we've known each other for some time now and I feel that I can be on the level with you good people. I first acquired this recording (the DVD) some 7 or 8 years ago i.e. many years after the event. I played it and quite frankly thought it was awful. Sadly, it reaffirmed my my belief that to walk away when I did in '93 was for me the right decision.
Happily, this was a low point and to look now at footage of the band playing to huge festival crowds... well it is testament to the resilience and perhaps sheer bloody mindedness that is so deeply ingrained in the band that has seen them through so many significant anniversaries.
I am not going to denigrate the Paul Roberts years (I didn't in 1993 and don't intend to now). If the band had not endured these years in the wilderness, I don't suppose they would be the band that they are now and I would not be enjoying great gigs in the company of old mates in 2013!
As I have said previously I want to cover all 35+ years on this site, regardless of whether or not it floats my boat, hence requests to fill the 1991 to 2005 sized hole in the collection.
02. Golden Boy
03. Straighten Out
04. In Heaven She Walks
05. Always The Sun
07. Golden Brown
09. Silver Into Blue
10. Hanging Around
11. No More Heroes
12. Summer In The City
13. Valley Of The Birds
Some changes in Rapidshare policy, effective from 16th January 2013, may have resulted in user attempts to download files from this site being presented with the message:
'Download permission denied by the uploader'
as far as I can gather in an effort to control downloads, all file folder access rights were changed to default to private from public. I have now rearranged my Rapidshare file structure in such a way that downloads should again be possible.
For the next few days, if you do download anything please can you either post a comment or email me to say as much. By the same token please do the same if you continue to encounter problems. I just want to be sure that everything gets back to working order as soon as possible.... otherwise everyone's wasting their time!
Here's something I received via email last month. It's a review of one of Hugh's, sadly, poorly attended US gigs from earlier in the year. The author intended it to be published on a site elsewhere which in the meantime went to the wall. I am more that happy to put it out there for people to read on auralsculptors.
So, my belated thanks and apologies for the delay to the author Almostred, somewhere in Minnesota, for the piece.
As it is quite long I've put it on a separate page and it can be found here.
Just wanted to try something a little different to encourage a little more site participation/interaction. So I'm starting off with a simple caption competition. I can't offer a 'Peaches' blackmail sleeve or 'Girl From The Snow Country', but I can offer a free choice of three DVDs from the list included on this site. Given that DVD file sizes are rather prohibitive for upload, this is a chance to get hold of something over and above the audio recordings. I will post worldwide at my expense.
The Pennie Smith photo below, from the Corn Exchange in Cambridge on the 'No More Heroes' tour in the autumn of '77, has long intrigued me. What passed between these two men at the point that Ms Smith directed her lens in their direction? I don't know, but you might.
Please email your suggestions to me..... they don't have to be polite, I am broad minded! If I receive any entries, the judging process will be conducted along strictly non-democratic lines by a discerning panel of one (you guessed it, that's me).
I will let this run until the end of January when I will announce the winner.
I have posted on this point before, but I thought I'd ask again. It was always my intention to ensure that this site is fully representative of all stages of the band’s extraordinary career. In doing so, the hope is to cater for as broader cross-section of the fan base as possible. I can do this quite nicely over about two thirds of the career span but hit a bit of a drought in the middle.
Is anyone able to assist with the gaps in the fossil record in the MkII-III period. Please feel free to drop me an email.
Here's a shortish set from a gig the Ruts played in West London. Unfortunately, the quality is not so hot on this one, but it is notable for the inclusion in the set of an early rarity in the form of 'Fanatical Fascists'. I have a clearer demo of this song which I will post in the near future.
'Oi Segs...... NF skins 2 miles east up the Uxbridge Road!'
This gig took place two days before a massive Rock Against Racism and Anti-Nazi League festival at Ally Pally in which The Ruts participated along with other like minded bands including SLF and the Tom Robinson Band (TRB). I'd be interested to hear from anyone with first hand experience of any of the big RAR events.
01. Savage Circle 02. I Ain't Sophisticated 03. H-Eyes 04. Stepping Bondage 05. S.U.S. 06. Criminal Mind 07. Dope For Guns 08. Something That I Said 09. It Was Cold 10. Fanatical Fascists 11. Give Youth A Chance 12. In A Rut 13. Out Of Order 14. Babylon's Burning
Here's an early set from OMD when they opened for Talking Heads at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.
The material played is taken from the eponymous debut album. At this point in their career, OMD were very much part of the up and coming electronic/experimental clique, that also included the likes of The Human League and Cabaret Voltaire, which in turn came under the broader 'post-punk' umbrella. Their big break had come a few months earlier when they were tour support for Gary Numan on his first nationwide tour (The Touring Principle) in the autumn of 1979. Incidentally, with their respective career fortunes reversed in the early 90's, OMD returned the compliment and had Numan as an opening act in 1993.
All that was someway off yet and Andy McCluskey's uniquely energetic and expressive dance technique (reminiscent of the Jobson School of Dance) had yet to by admired by the public at large!
I saw OMD play in early '83 on their 'Dazzle Ships' tour and I still have a soft spot for their early albums.
Andy McCluskey has seen video playback after bustin' some moves
The Ramones, one of the catalysts and one of the most influential bands in punk. Here's a great quality set from the US in 1979. The Ramones personified the 'All American Band', sadly for them however, America were somewhat ambivalent towards them throughout their long career. Happily for Da Brudders, this was not the case in other parts of the world (most notably South America and Europe) where their uniqueness was recognised as soon as the seminal 'Ramones' LP was released in 1976.
Unfortunately, in stark contrast to the band's good time bubble gum brand of punk (as it became), the individuals that made up the band were genuinely at odds with the world and even more so with each other. 'We're A Happy Family' my arse! It may be the case that were it not for the 'stability' that the band environment offered, however fractious that environment was, the individuals would in all probability have left this world even more prematurely than they did.
02 Blitzkrieg Bop
03 Teenage Lobotomy
04 Rockaway Beach
05 I Don't Want You
06 Go Mental
07 Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment
08 Rock 'N Roll High School
09 I Wanna be Sedated
10 Just Want To Have Something To You
11 She's The One
12 I'm Against It
13 Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
14 Havana Affair
16 Needles & Pins
17 I'm Affected
18 I Want You Around
19 Surfin' Bird
20 Cretin Hop
21 All The Way
22 California Sun
23 I Don't Want To Walk Around With You
24 Today your Love,Tomorrow The World
26 Do You Wanna Dance
27 Suzy Is A Headbanger
28 Let's Dance
29 Chinese Rocks
30 Judy Is A Punk
31 We're A Happy Family
For anyone who has an interest in the band who has not sat through 'The End Of The Century' film, it comes highly recommended from me but with a health warning. The film is not an upbeat celebration of the band. All the band's cards are on the table, face up and it is painful to see and hear.
In a similar, but rather more positive vein, I have just finished reading Mickey Leigh's memoirs of his life with his brother and the Ramones. As a read it is sad, shocking and touching in equal measure.
The Police are one of those bands that very much divide opinion and really that is something that they have been doing so since they first stepped on the stage as The Police. But.... but, in 1979 and certainly into 1980 they were one of the biggest bands in the UK and if you consider their popularity in a wider geographical context, they were arguably the biggest contemporary British band in the world at this time (remember homegrown big hitters like the Jam didn't break the States).
In 1977 the punks didn't like them, they were not after all a punk band (the lead singer had a jazz background and the guitarist was in Zoot Money's band back in the mid-60's). They did (like many bands use the opportunities this fad called punk presented in terms of regular gigs around which there was a definite buzz.
Sting backing Cherry Vanilla
The Roxy, London 1977
I think that their first album 'Outlandos D'Amour' is great, if you can accept that in 1978 there were white bands playing reggae influenced music much better than they were. But whilst the British music press, for right or wrong the arbiters of what was cool sneered down their pencils at Sting and his men, the wider public went in for them in a big way.
The Police also played a good hand. They embraced the US on their first tour Stateside, unlike their contemporaries, most notably The Damned and The Stranglers, went all out to terrorise America!
The Police was very nearly my first ever gig. The date would have been 18th December 1981 when they played at The Brighton Centre on their 'Ghost In The Machine' tour. In the event Adam and the Ants became gig number one at the same venue 10 days later.
All told, The Police released some good records, but became something of a Britannia Music Club band. Live too they could be a bit much, I have always disliked long extensions of tracks in a live setting and The Police were guilty of this..... who needs an 8 minute jam of 'Roxanne'! Or for that matter a 7 minute 12 second version of 'So Lonely' as appears on this short radio session. It may be that there is not much uptake on this one, but I have included it as they were massive at the time and very much in the New Wave bracket.