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 25 May 2013

Hugh In Dead Loss Angeles 1977 Interview

An interesting interview conducted with Hugh in Los Angeles on a promotional visit ahead of the first US tour of the following year (rescheduled from November '77 it seems). Hugh's disdain for L.A. was evident even on his first visit.

To me this recording sounds like the raw interview tape prior to editing for radio. A good quality early insight into the band's stormy relationship with the US.

The Pistols and The Clash get discussed along with the state of Bitish politics.... Hugh describes the Callagham government of 1977 as being very right wing...... what did he make of New Labour I wonder!

Please note that the speed increases a little beyond 20 minutes, but it's still highly listenable despite Hugh morphing into one of the meninblack!.



Jet Black Interview - Newsweek FM (US Radio) 1983

A short interview with Jet from Newsweek FM (US radio) from 1983 (presumably conducted in May on the American leg of the Feline tour) in which our drummer expounds on the band's philosophy and the futility of love songs!



'Hello Cleveland!' Agora Ballrooms 3rd April 1978

To complement the recent interview with JJ (here) discussing the upcoming and previous tours of the US, here's a remastering of one of the best recordings of the band from this period. I seem to recall reading an interview with The Police in an old music paper, when they were on their first tour of the US, also in 1978 and they were complaining that the attitude that The Stranglers had brought with the in April and May had made life very difficult for UK new wave bands following in their wake..... poor old Sting!

Previously uploaded onto the excellent 'Rat Zone', a French Stranglers forum, it is again uploaded here with permission (thanks Eric) for your easy listening pleasure.

So here it is then, the Stranglers at their brutal and belligerent best in America.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

You Know I Hate To Ask.... But Are 'Friends' Electric? - The People's Songs BBC Radio 2 14th May 2013

Here's another slice of British social history served up by the BBC in the form of popular music.

'Are 'Friends' Electric?'

This particular song and the album that it appeared on is perhaps the most evocative musical memory of my pre- and very early teenage years. In certain circumstances I only have to hear this song and any of the other tracks that made up Tubeway Army's 'Replicas' and I am instantly transported back in time to 1980 (when I first got this album).

I am sure that I have dedicated quite a few column inches on this site to the profound affect that Gary Numan and Tubeway Army had on me, but I must say it again that 'Are 'Friends' Electric' was at the time a million miles away from anything else... anywhere that I had ever heard. Cold and impersonal and running to an immense 5 minutes 23 seconds this was not standard fayre for a chart single, let alone a debut No. 1 single. It struck a chord with many looking for the next big thing.

However, Numan and his music had few people, critics and punters alike, sitting on the fence. For the music press, still in lust with Strummer and Jones, Numan was the ultimate opportunist turncoat, casting off as he did the punk shackles of the first incarnation of Tubeway Army (a great punk outfit in themselves) in favour of a return to big venues and elaborate stage settings.... the very raison d'etre of punk! This honesty of Gary Numan's ambitions set him at odds with the press and it has only been since the late '90's that he has received any positive media attention for what he achieved in the 1979-1980 period.

Looking at my own musical education, I would consider myself to have been very fortunate to have collided with the music of Gary Numan at this time. Bollocks to the NME, 'Replicas', 'The Pleasure Principle' and 'Telekon' sound pretty damn good to me 30 years down the line.

Here's the radio broadcast about exactly what 'Are 'Friends' Electric?' meant to British youth back then.


Sunday 19 May 2013

20 From '83 (5) A Flock Of Seagulls Top Rank Suite Brighton 1983

Mike Score
A Flock Of Seagulls
Right, so the connection is obvious and pretty well known within these circles and I am sure that some visitors to these pages will loath this particular post. For my part, I quite liked this band back in the day. Another scouse band (it seems that they all were in the late '70's, early '80's i the aftermath of punk), A Flock Of Seagulls stood out on account of front man, Mike Score's rather elaborate and let's not pull punches, ridiculous barnet! Having said that the music (at least their eponymous first album) was OK. See what you make of it.
01. The Fall
02. Space Age Love Song
03. DNA
04. Electrics
05. Messages
06. Standing In The Doorway
07. The Traveller
08. Committed
09. Man Made
10. You Can Run
11. Wishing
12. I Ran

Town And Country Club London 18th February 1993

Here's another tape conversion (tape courtesy of Paul N, once again a big thanks).

This was the almost the last time I saw the Mk II line up (there was the Tower Records 'About Time' launch appearance in 1995 and one gig in 1998). As I recall, this was the gig that metaphorically broke the camel's back. It wasn't the set..... 'Burning Up Time', 'English Towns', 'Ugly', ..... can't really beef about that, no, it was the treatment that they received that I couldn't handle so I walked away for a while.

Still, this is quite a reasonable sounding recording of one of two nights the band played here and irrespective of my feelings the capacity crowd seemed to enjoy it so fair play to them!



01. Time To Die
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. Something Better Change
04. Five Minutes
05. Someone Like You
06. Never See
07. Southern Mountains
08. Northwinds
09. Thrown Away
10. Threatened
11. 96 Tears
12. Mr Big

01. Burning Up Time
02. English Towns
03. Ugly
04. Brainbox
05. London Lady
06. All Day And All Of The Night
07. Sugar Bullets
08. Tank
09. Always The Sun
10. Hanging Around
11. Duchess
12. Golden Brown
13. Uptown
14. No More Heroes

By the way, does anyone have a scan available of a ticket from the previous night's gig at the T & C?

Saturday 18 May 2013

Elysee Montmartre Paris 16th November 1992

Ok, sorry for the short intermission, work travel interrupted things a little. Here's one from the European leg of the 'In The Night' tour. Many thanks to Paul N for this one. Enjoy!



1.  Time To Die
2.  Toiler On The Sea
3.  Sometimes
4.  I Feel Like A Wog
5.  Golden Brown
6.  Strange Little Girl
7.  96 Tears
8.  Someone Like You
9.  Always The Sun
10. Heaven Or Hell
11. Laughing At The Rain
12. Never See
13. Hanging Around
14. Brainbox
15. London Lady
16. All Day And All Of The Night
17. Sugar Bullets
18. Tank
19. Duchess
20. No More Heroes
21. Go Buddy Go

Sunday 12 May 2013

6 Music Prom 12th August 2013

Tickets purchased for the family, £40.70 for four tickets (gig promotors take note). Looking forward to this one. Now where's that old DJ of mine?

Ruts DC The Underworld Camden 10th May 2013

The Underworld 10th May 2013

A fortuitous outbreak of the Ranavirus meant that amphibians in the UK were laid low meaning that the anticipated eleventh hour plague of frogs didn't happen.... Ruts DC were in the building and to all intents and purposes it looked as though this, the first London date of 2013, would actually go ahead!!

Six o'clock saw Gunta and I sitting in the World's End pub, enduring an onslaught of grindcore (or whatever genre of metal it is) whilst awaiting the arrival of the Uxbridge Contingent. Eventually all were gathered inside the venue in time to see the second support, the excellent Dirty Revolution.

Dirty Revolution - 'I Love Reggae'
Rebellion Festival 2011
Great band and a very good fit with Ruts DC.
And then they were on, starting the evening's proceedings with DC material testing out the audience. No worries here though, I don't think many of the audience were unfamiliar with Segs and Ruffy's post Ruts songs so no bewildered faces tonight. In fact the structure of the set is spot on, meaning that everyone gets what they want at the right time.
And then there's the bang up to date stuff from the new album 'Rhythm Collision Volume 2'. Segs and Ruffy had been suggesting throughout the tour that for the London date they were hoping to get some of the other musicians that played on RCII up on stage with them and so it was that Alabama 3's Rob Love did the vocal honours on 'Smiling Culture', whilst Tenor Fly took my personal favourite from the album 'Mighty Soldier' to another dimension!
There was one further treat in store in the form of the mystery track, as billed on the set list, that was none other than 'Generations', a track penned jointly by Segs and a bloke called Strummer or something.
I didn't film much of this gig, in fact one track only, which I hadn't got from any of the other gigs. Take a look at 'Mirror Smashed'. It can be found in the bar on the right (since for some reason, youtube is running me a merry dance and I cannot add it in the normal way!)


Thursday 9 May 2013

Ruts DC... Tomorrow Night at The Underworld Camden!!

If you're not already in possession of a ticket, get yourselves down to Camden's Underworld tomorrow evening to what promises to be something special from Ruts DC as they play a rare home gig. I believe that it's an early-ish start with an 8.30 stage time.

You'd be Fools not too!!

Saturday 4 May 2013

Acoustic At The Roots And Roses Festival Lessen Lessines, Belgium 1st May 2013

This trip served two purposes for me, one was obviously to see The Stranglers, the other was to show my travelling companion some World War I sites to be found in The Somme region. But more of that later.

I have seen the band in Lessines before, again playing acoustically and it seems that the band have quite an affinity with the place. The event today was the Roots & Roses Festival on this, a May Day public holiday, in Belgium. Two things struck me on arrival, firstly that the rockabilly scene is alive and well in Belgium (the hoardings around the site advertised two or three additional events with similar line ups and secondly, why on earth were the band playing this gig acoustically when the other bands were playing electric sets (Baz cleared this little mystery when he informed us that they had specifically been asked to do the acoustic set).

It seems that we had not taken on board the lessons learnt on our last visit to Lessen Lessines and we arrived some six hours before the band were due to take the stage. There really isn't a great deal to do in Lessines..... but at least it wasn't raining.

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.
Owen Carne in Lessines 1st May 2013
(with apologies to Rupert Brooke)

Having exhausted the opportunities of I-spy to kill time we decided to wander into the centre (where real money could be used to purchase beer - what is this Belgian thing with tokens at venues?!). As we were passing the back stage area, I noticed some familiar figures ambling towards us (well most were ambling but one was hobbling a bit with the aid of a crutch - JJ has recently undergone surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament). A quick chat followed as to what brought us to this remote field and they were off back to their nearby hotel.

The majority of the bands came on and went off without lighting my fire. One band struck as something of a poor man's Cramps.... in keeping with the event but well.... just not very good. The Godfathers did their thing which only left The Jim Jones Review ahead of The Stranglers. I know The Jim Jones Review are making some waves in the UK, but again I didn't really get it.... there were strong elements of Bad News in the mix. Still each to their own.

Owen and I wandered into the backstage area where it was clear that some of the rockabilly set were rather the worse for wear! The talk of the backstage area was of two girls who were getting it together whilst a bloke (presumably the boyfriend of one), who earned the nickname of Dead Elvis, tried to intervene. And that I am sad to reveal was the extent of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll backstage.... a plastic beaker of lager, two would be lesbians getting it on in a portaloo with Belgium's answer to Seasick Steve providing the soundtrack. Hardly excess of Zepplin proportions I'm sure you'll agree.

So to showtime as The Stranglers install themselves on stage and I have to say that their comments about being rather under rehearsed were not borne out in what I heard. I think that it is no mystery that the acoustic set offers less opportunity for the band to vary the set too much, the songs kind of pick themselves as not all translate well into this format. However, I was pleased to see that Midnight Summer Dream had been carried over from the recent UK tour. Jim did a worthy job filling in for Jet, bearing in mind that he was none too familiar with much of this set. I am very happy to report that 'Don't Bring Harry' was in the set (should be brought into the main set I reckon) along with 'English Towns'. What was unfortunate was that a strictly applied curfew cut the set by two tracks ('Sanfte Kuss' and 'Old Codger' if I remember the set list correctly).

Midnight Summer Dream
In The End/English Towns
Don't Bring Harry

With our privileged luminous green wristbands (the proles had yellow) we went back and had a few minutes with the band after the gig in the temporary dressing rooms (which on a normal working day double up as a primary school..... sweet artwork and really diddy toilets!)

Mission accomplished, we headed off into the night through now driving rain in the direction of Lille airport and our hotel for the night.

Thanks as ever to the band, Gary and Louis for their time and generosity.