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 27 April 2013

Ruts DC The Brook Southampton 25th April 2013

Well this one was unplanned, but when Andy P suggested the trip, I didn't need too much persuading. This was to be another first, a gig in Southampton. In fact I have only ever been to the city once before at the age of about 14 when I accompanied my next door neighbour to The Dell where he was having trials.

Having worked all day, this was a bit of a rush as from checking in at the hotel to gig time was relatively short. Nevertheless, we again had a chance to chat to Segs and Ruffy for 30 minutes or so whilst the support did their set. There always seem to be interesting faces cropping up their gigs and this time around it was Chris Bolton (one time Misty In Roots manager and founder of People Unite, the label responsible for putting out the band's debut single 'In A Rut', prior to them signing to V*?!n).

The rhythm section were particularly exited to receive news of Clarence Baker (another former Misty manager and the man on the receiving end of an SPG baton as related in 'Jah War') to whom Chris Bolton had been speaking the day before from Clarence's home in Grenada. On a personal note, it transpired that Chris and I had lived in the same road, Park Avenue in Southall.

The Brook is a great little venue, albeit with an inexplicably high stage and I reckon that come the time for Ruts DC to come on the audience numbered about 130. Whilst the audience were quite low in number, they were receptive and responsive to all of the songs the band played, both new and old. There is always a danger when they play that sections of the audience who have paid their money to hear 'Staring At The Rude Boys' and 'Babylon's Burning' are left bemused by the reggae/dub material that came after 1979.

I took the opportunity to take advantage of the high stage to get some heads clear footage and I filmed a total of eight songs. The banter on the evening was great and a highlight for me was the introduction into the set of 'Something That I Said', not least because it was dedicated to Andy and Adrian! On that one, I have to say all credit to Leigh, who pulled off the guitar part with great aplomb. Surely Foxy must have been 'speeding like a jet' when he put that together!

I also had the opportunity to get my hands on the full version of Rhythm Collision Volume 2 (a couple of weeks ahead of its official launch). I will write more on the album when I have had a proper chance to listen to it.

So here's some footage. If you like what you see, get yourselves down to The Underworld in Camden on 10th May for a home town gig that promises to be something special indeed.

'Fools' & 'Back Biter'

'Smiling Culture/SUS'

'Love In Vain', 'Mighty Soldier' & 'Jah War'

'West One (Shine On Me)' & 'Babylon's Burning'
Oh, and just seen this one!
'Something That I Said'

Nashville Review - 21st November 1976?

Whilst rifling through some of the many Stranglers cuttings that I have, I stumbled across a review of an early gig at the Nashville Rooms. It appeared in the short lived music paper National Rock Star. In it the journalist, one John Shearlaw, makes specific mention of the unreliability of the band's equipment, a persistent problem that they themselves have often referred to with regard to the early days. John it would appear was in fact on The Stranglers side in late 1976, a rare example of press support. In the same paper of 4th December he was again responsible for interviewing the band whilst avowing that they were indeed the next big thing.

Interestingly enough this gig mentions the support for the night as Chelsea, a gig which I believe occurred on 21st November 1976. Mention is also made of a stage invasion during the encore, which makes me think that the photograph below is also from this gig. The Finchleys are on the stage, exactly a week after their first encounter with the band at the Torrington pub on 14th.

The Nashville Rooms - 21st November 1976
This photo by Ray Stevenson is credited to have been taken in 1977, but from an admittedly incomplete gig chronology, in early '77 the band were travelling further afield from their London base introducing themselves in the English towns. The London dates (prior to the bans) were generally in the larger established music venues such as the Rainbow and Roundhouse by this time. Effectively with the record deal and the release of 'Rattus' in April their pub residency days were behind them.
Here's the follow up piece from December.

Monday 22 April 2013

Into The Valley - Luxor 1996

Whilst rummaging at the back of a deep cupboard in search of a map of The Western Front (in preparation for a trip to Lessines and the opportunity to take in some more World War I sites), I came across this picture taken in November 1996. The group was our party on a 9 day tour of Egypt and we had just ridden into the Valley Of The Kings on donkeys. Can you spot me?

'Good Vibrations', Terry Hooley and the Extraordinary Belfast Punk Scene

This one is for the benefit of one Mully, official Belfast punk correspondent. I just caught this minor 5 minute article on that cornerstone of British art and culture 'The One Show'(!?).

Unfortunately, I don't think that this film will come anywhere near Bishops Stortford (it not being based upon a super hero or staring Tom Cruise!) so I'll have to settle for the DVD.

This clip features very short interviews with Terry Hooley himself, Billy Doherty of The Undertones and Brian Young of the rather splendidly named Rudi.

Northwick Theatre Worcester 7th November 1994

Here's a gig (thanks to Paul N for the original tape!) from the short tour that went by the name of 'Body Search', a reference to the security arrangements that the band experienced prior to a prison gig that they played around this time.

I have to admit that on the live front, by the time that this gig came around I had thrown in the towel, although I did go on to buy 'About Time' a few months later, from which a couple of live early outings can be heard in this set.

In fairness to Paul, it was not just the vocals that I struggled with, in equal measure it was the handling of the guitar parts as well. Listen to 'English Towns' (always a favourite of mine.... filler my arse!) and contrast it with the treatment of the song on the early dates of the recent tour. Anyway, rest assured that it is not my intention to lay into any incarnation of the band and I hope that you enjoy this one.



01. Introduction
02. Five Minutes
03. Sometimes
04. Gain Entry To Your Soul
05. Money
06. Paradise Row
07. Nice ’N’ Sleazy
08. The Raven
09. Still Life
10. Face
11. Golden Brown

01. Sinister
02. She Gave It All
03. Duchess
04. English Towns
05. Brainbox
06. All Day And All Of The Night
07. Straighten Out
08. Tank
09. No More Heroes
10. Time To Die
11. Hanging Around
12. Someone Like You
13. London Lady

Saturday 20 April 2013

20 From '83 (4) The Fun Boy Three Palace Theatre Paris 1983

My appreciation of The Specials is well documented on these pages. That band went west in 1981 for a good few years, but all of the members had more to give, none more so than Terry, Neville and Lynval who formed the leftfield Fun Boy Three.

The quality of FB3's music is seriously underrated I think. OK, the collaborations with Bananarama (surely the only reference that they will ever have on this site!) may have been a bit lightweight in the wake of the show-stopping 'Ghost Town', but listen to 'The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum' and is is clear that this trio were capable of delivering another potent slice of political commentary on the state of the nation that was then being shaped by a recently interred ex-PM. Listen to the chilling 'Well Fancy That!' and dare to describe that as lightweight! Other themes were carried over by FB3 from their time in The Specials.... 'Tunnel of Love' is a perfect sequel to 'Stupid Marriage'.

Performance on the TV show "Switch" 1983
with tracks being "Well Fancy That" ,"Our Lips Are Sealed" and "Farmyard Connection".


01. The More I See (The Less I Believe)
02. Going Home
03. The Thing We Do
04. The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum
05. Well Fancy That!
06. Our Lips Are Sealed
07. The Tunnel Of Love
08. Gangsters

Monday 15 April 2013

Written In Red Promotional Store Appearance HMV Birmingham 27th January 1997

Here I have to admit I'm not too well informed. The 'Written In Red' album is one of two studio albums that I do not own (the other being 'Coup De Grace' should you care to know), I kind of know the songs but am certainly not over familiar with them. Nevertheless, as I have stated before, I want the site to be representative of the whole span of their long career (hence previous calls for PR era assistance).

My thanks for this one again goes to Paul Nesbitt. This is a short promotional appearance in Birmingham's HMV on the release day.

If someone wants to add some artwork, please feel free.


Artwork (Thanks MeAnIe):

01. Introduction
02. Reap What You Sow
03. In Heaven She Walks
04. Leave It To The Dogs
05. Valley Of The Birds
06. Strange Little Girl
07. Daddy's Riding The Range

Sunday 14 April 2013

20 From '83 (3) Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart Pandora's Music Box Festival Rotterdam 3rd September 1983

Britain has produced some of the finest, most inventive bass players in popular music, JJ Burnel (of course), The Ox, Norman Watt-Roy and the man who goes by the name of Jah Wobble. By 1983 his PiL days were behind him and he was playing as the Invaders of the Heart.

Here's a great quality recording provided by Dave Sez (many thanks) that showcases Wobble's unique playing style. Outside of PiL I have to plead ignorance to a large degree of his work, but I'm sure Dave can elaborate. Also included as part of the original recording are some tracks from an earlier gig at Vera, Groningen, again in the Netherlands on 21st November 1982.


Line up: Jah Wobble – vocals & bass; Dave (Animal) Maltby – guitar; Annie Whitehead – trombone, Ollie Marland – keyboards, Cliff Venner – drums, Neville Murray – percussion

01 Introduction (1982) [0:12]
02 Hollywood 1 (1982) [7:00]
03 Jam 2 (1982) [7:41]
04 Jam 3 (1982) [8:24]
05 Jam 4 (1982) [6:17]
06 Fading (1982) [4:03]
07 Hollywood 2 (1982) [9:08]

Line up: Jah Wobble – vocals & bass; Dave (Animal) Maltby – guitar; Annie Whitehead – trombone, Ollie Marland – keyboards, Lee Partis – drums, Neville Murray – percussion

08 Invaders (1983) [5:15]
09 Hollywood 2 (1983) [5:49]
10 Snake Charmer (1983) [4:40]
11 Brazil (1983) [4:51]
12 How Much Are They (1992) [8:10]

Ghost Town - The People's Songs BBC Radio 2 3rd April 2013

In this week when Margaret Thatcher is buried, there has been much debate about respect. Take a look at the piece here from the BBC website. Now, I don't intend to get into the debate here. It doesn't take an intellect of genius proportion to work out where I am in the political spectrum from what is posted on this site. Instead I will leave it with this recent broadcast on UK radio which in itself speaks volumes about the political era that now goes by the name of 'Thatcherism'.

Throughout 2013, BBC Radio 2 have been broadcasting this great series called 'The People's Songs' in which the 20th century history of Britain is being traced though songs. Each week a song is selected that encapsulated the social history of the period in question. All key socio-political issues are being covered from the sexual revolution of the '60s to gay liberation of the '80s to the demise of British heavy industry in the '70s.

A couple of weeks ago, the program homed in on what I consider to be one of the most important British songs ever written.... The Specials' 'Ghost Town'. Now this may border on heresy on these pages, but forget the classic couplings of Grip/London Lady, Something Better Change/Straighten Out and even, dare I say it, 5 Minutes/Rok It To The Moon, all of them must drop down onto one knee in the presence of the holy trinity (that is heresy I believe, or blasphemy at the least!) of 'Ghost Town, 'Why?' and 'Friday Night, Saturday Morning'. Three songs that on one piece of vinyl addressed three separate experiences in a country on the slide. Themes that feature prominently in this radio documentary. Please do give it a listening.... it's a good one for the ironing!


Saturday 13 April 2013

The Roundhouse London 6th November 1977

OK, sorry about the recent absence of uploads. My evenings last week were taken up with redecorating my son's room and constructing new furniture whilst he was away on a EU sponsored music exchange in Spain. Just like Changing Rooms with swearing!

This one I am posting at the request of Fraser Burchill.

Very little by way of explanation is necessary for this recording. In simple terms it is one of the most important recordings of the band in existence. This version was remastered some time ago by Dom P (thanks to him as always!)




01. No More Heroes
02. Ugly
03. Bring On The Nubiles
04. Dead Ringer
05. Sometimes
06. Dagenham Dave
07. In The Shadows
08. Hanging Around
09. 5 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. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
18. Go Buddy Go

Thursday 4 April 2013

So Ladies and Gentlemen..... Did We 'Feel It Live'? Fairfield Halls and Out.

'Straighten Out'
Fairfield Halls, Croydon
31st March 2013

It's Easter Sunday and whilst not wet, as is traditional for an Easter Bank Holiday weekend, the weather is unseasonal...... it's bloody cold as I take the train down to deepest, darkest Surrey.

It's a strange venue is the Fairfield Halls (once famed for the toilet cleaning abilities of Messers Sensible and Scabies before they discovered other ways of skiving in The Damned). Prince Charles would perhaps describe the building as a carbuncle. Nevertheless, for all its architectural shortcomings, it is the chosen venue for the closing date of the 'Feel It Live' tour (sorry Manchester!).

Tonight my gigging companions are Owen Carne, Jacquie Maidman, some time Stranglers diarist, Phil Coxon and his wife Jane. Also in tow are Owen and Jacquie's kids, one of whom at least has sights more firmly set on the upcoming One Direction show at the O2 Arena than on tonight's headliners!

After being fed and watered admirably at chez Carne, he ferried us to the venue via a local pub. As the price of a pint in this first inn were high enough even to draw a sharp intake of breath from this southerner, we decamped to a nearby Weatherspoons pub, where it seemed that the main contingent for this evening's gig had congregated.

Once again, beer and conversation proved to be more of a draw than the support band (in truth The Godfathers never really floated my boat from when I first saw them in Dusseldorf in '88 when fulfilling the same function as on this evening).

Once in the venue, ticket unchecked, my fears of being confined to my allocated seat proved to be unfounded as I simply wandered to the front from where I had a wonderful HD view of the band throughout.

On this occasion, the lights were gone (presumably returned after completion of the original tour schedule) and the more familiar backdrop was back (it does me just fine). The set itself, now familiar, was very polished and quite a contrast if I am honest to the hesitant and somewhat disjointed performance I saw on the opening night in Glasgow. JJ's playing was very self-assured and Jet's playing, throughout the tour, held up to a remarkable degree. Dave too seems to be playing than on the previous couple of tours. The touch of Dave's keys as an advertising hording made me smile, 'Mine's a Stella', 'Dave Says Drink Responsibly etc. Tonight's offering read 'Next Stop Detroit'..... not strictly true as Lessines seems to be overlooked, but the point is well taken.

Fairfield Halls
31st March 2013 (Photo: MancInBlack)

Over and above it all, the band enjoyed tonight's gig (as they evidently did on the other 4 dates that I have seem on this tour). And so it was, with the last thundering drum beat of 'Tank' 'Feel It Live' reached it's conclusion.

30 minutes after the gig and with the flash of a laminate we were back in the venue, dressing room bound. But alas, as we took our time getting there, only the bass player remained in the building. He cordially greeted Phil, and kissed the hand of Mrs Coxon (smooth operator that he is!). A hi to Owen and a brief handshake with me and he was heading back down the corridor and out into the night. In the dressing room, only a handful of Finchley boys (Denis Marks and the Hilliers included) and half a bottle of wine remained. The wine was plucked from under my gleaming eye even as I separated a trio of plastic pint glasses in readiness..... I was never a great ligger! Must do better next time!).

And so that was indeed our lot for another tour. Thanks to all those that had a hand in making this yet another huge success, friends, the band and crew. It was a blast!

Next stop New York (as Dave would say).