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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday 30 August 2013
Here is something special, presented here in the original lossless format and supplemented with some artwork. I will leave the description to Dom P who has remastered this gem from Dime, also are included the original downloader notes.
Many thanks to Minnesota Mike and Dom P.
Artwork corrected for remastered version: https://we.tl/t-Fi9GbPPezL
This fantastic bootleg just popped up on Dimeadozen, and it's a stonker...
I have mastered it to boost some of the higher frequencies, ensure bass welly, and to fill in a gap to make it one long continuous orgy of Stranglers heaven.
This is the best boot to emerge on that site since the Paris 1980, or the Bordeaux 79... this is brill.. Some of the original notes below from the Dime trader called Regtrademark, many thanks to him. I have preserved the loss-less format so I hope you all have fast broadband! ... enjoy.
November 21, 1980
2 Shure SM57 mics>Sony TC-D5 stereo recorder>Maxell UDXLII cassette>Yamaha KX330 tape deck>EAC WAV>FLAC
Taper: Minnesota Mike
"Minnesota Mike made audience recordings of shows in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area between 1978 to 1985. He used a stereo Sony TC-D5 cassette tape recorder and two Shure SM57 mics, top-of-the-line equipment in their day. He recorded shows just for himself and never made copies. I met him years later and he allowed me to trade copies his tapes. At first I traded cassettes and then when the technology became available, on CDR. So some of the copies that are out there are second generation or more, and some are digital copies of the master. I wasn't a very active trader and, in fact, some of Mike's tapes have never circulated. On the other hand, some of them have circulated widely and caused a sensation among collectors, such as U2: Uncle Sam's 4/9/81, and Husker Du: Longhorn 5/7/80. Mike's work is also the origin of some tapes uploaded by others here at Dime: "Iggy Pop - Minneapolis 20 Nov 79", "Richard Hell & the Voidoids - Longhorn Minneapolis - 31 July 1979". His tapes are often mistaken for Soundboard or FM sources -- but they are not, they are audience recordings."
1. Shah Shah A-Go-Go
2. Toiler On The Sea
4. Hanging Around
5. Baroque Bordello
6. Down In The Sewer
7. Who Wants The World?
9. Just Like Nothing On Earth
10. Bring On The Nubiles
12. Nuclear Device
14. I Feel Like a Wog
15. The Raven
Saturday 17 August 2013
Monkey of The Adicts
'A very messy boy!'
O2 Academy 2 Islington London 5th August 2013
For fans of punk bands, for those within easy reach of London, early August has for the last 20 years or so been a bit of boon as incoming US based bands en route to the Holidays in The Sun/Wasted/Rebellion Festivals in the far North West of England have played in the capital in order to make the expense worthwhile.
And so it was for The Adicts arriving in London a week in advance of Rebellion for a couple of gigs including London and their home town of Ipswich. A rare spectacle indeed.
I have only seen The Adicts on one previous occasion that turned out to be memorable for all of the wrong reasons. It was 21 years ago at the now demolished Astoria Theatre. It was a rare appearance of the ex-pat Adicts, but an even rarer outing for Oi Godfathers, Cock Sparrer. And it was the fact that the latter band were on the bill that accounted for the presence of multitudes of very short haired geezers. The gig from the outset had an atmosphere but everything passed off peacefully, helped long by Cock Sparrer's rendition of 'Sunday Stripper' with the assistance of a couple of strippers. All was well for most of The Adicts set as well (the Clockwork Orange theme was in keeping with the mood for the evening I suppose!). But it was the appearance of Monkey as a naked Christ-like figure complete with cross that proved to be the straw that broke the skinheads back. In short, all hell broke loose!
The account I have came several years later when by chance, the then landlord of my local pub, James Partridge revealed his acquaintance with The Adicts after I appeared in the bar in a home made Adicts shirt. I told him of this one occasion that I had seen the band and it transpired that he had been filling in on bass duties for that evening.
On the night, the band fled the stage and barricaded themselves in their dressing room to escape the wrath of the close-cropped horde. James, didn't make it so awaited his fate cowered beneath a backstage table with an iron bar in his grasp for company. In the event he avoided a beating, possibly because on the way to get to The Adicts several skins encountered Chelsea's Gene October who took a punch. Gene, perhaps rather foolishly challenged his opponents thus, 'You only punched me because I'm gay!'. This further enraged the boneheads for they were not only confronted by the sight of a naked man.... but now they were face to face with bona fide poof. Gene took a further beating for his candidness!
Thankfully, in 2013 such a confrontation was unlikely and it was a school night to boot! The bill featured The Adicts with support coming from Vice Squad. The last time I saw Vice Squad they were supporting Penetration and as much as I like their early stuff by this point they were well advanced down a metal avenue. Our plan was to see some of their set (as Gunta's first punk gig was Vice Squad in Coventry in 1981), but in the event we did not leave the pub in time so missed their set. Beki was still present though at the point that we arrived in the venue however.
Vice Squad's Beki Bondage
5th August 2013
The gig had been relocated to the smaller upstairs venue of the O2 Academy 2.... all good stuff .... the smaller the venue the happier I am. Come showtime, the lights were lowered an Walter Carlos's chilling Title Music to A Clockwork Orange heralded the band on stage. Then in a veritable explosion of multi-coloured streamers and confetti the band ploughed (well they are from Ipswich) into 'Joker In The Pack'. From then in, I had one of those gig experiences were I am left grinning like a Cheshire at, or perhaps The Joker would be a better description, at the sheer fun of it all.
Bang, bang, bang... all the songs were present and correct. 'Steamroller' got the crowd going the most in what was a blitzkrieg set from start to finish. At one point in the proceedings Monkey returned to the stage decked like an overloaded Christmas tree to the extent that he even sported a multicoloured, flashing gum shield. After an hour or so we had the anthem 'Vive Le Revolution' as an encore before a large number of inflatable Adicts beach balls appeared for the final 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. The Kop never had this much fun I can tell you!
An early trio of 'Straight Jacket', 'Easy Way Out' and 'Numbers'
The Adicts at the O2 Academy 2 Islington
5th August 2013
An Ode to Joy...... it surely was!!
Following on from the 'Shot At Dawn' post, it seems fitting to post this recording of the band when they played Ypres in 2004 on the European leg of the 'Norfolk Coast' tour.
On this occasion pre-gig the band made time to attend the nightly 'Last Post Ceremony' that takes place at 8 pm every evening (as has been the case since 11th November 1929). The Last Post is sounded by the buglers of the local volunteer Fire Service.
MP3 (only available format): https://we.tl/t-MXUWmxlClD
01. Norfolk Coast
02. Skin Deep
03. Big Thing Coming
05. I Don’t Agree
06. All Day And All Of The Night
07. Always The Sun
08. Long Black Veil
09. Golden Brown
10. Tuckers Grave
12. Lost Control
13. Who Wants The World
14. I’ve Been Wild
16. Something Better Change
18. Walk On By
19. Five Minutes
20. Mine All Mine
21. No More Heroes
The Shot At Dawn Memorial
3rd August 2013
A long standing commitment saw the family driving from Coventry to Tamworth last Saturday and this presented me with the possibility of seeing a recent World War One memorial, one with a difference.
The Shot At Dawn memorial set in the beautiful grounds of the National Memorial Arboretum in rural South Staffordshire was inaugurated in June 2001 in the presence of a few relatives of some of the men (and sadly boys) remembered here.
In the course of the war, 306 British and Commonwealth soldiers were court martialled on charges of cowardice and desertion. Their fate has echoed down the decades since the end of The Great War and now as we as a nation prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the start of the hostilities the words 'Shot At Dawn' have lost none of their impact in the minds of the British public.
Those individuals found guilty by their superiors were sentenced to be executed by a 6 man firing squad. The men that made up these execution squads were issued with ammunition (1 bullet per man) comprising five live rounds and one blank, the theory being that on firing none of the soldiers would know with certainty that their shot was responsible for the death of a comrade. However, I have read that for soldiers well experienced with firing their rifles, this attempt at easing the conscience was futile since the recoil felt upon firing differed between live and blank rounds.
Back then to the arboretum, in front of the simple stakes (one for each of the 306 men commemorated at this spot) stands a statue, sculpted by Andy De Comyn, in the likeness of Private Herbert Burden (see below).
On 7th November 2006, the Government acted and decreed a blanket posthumous pardon to the 306.
The story that culminated in Private Herbert Burden's death at dawn on 21st July 1915 is particularly poignant. Like many young people in 1914 Herbert was swept along on the crest of a wave of patriotism and the promise of adventure to the local recruiting office. Here, he shaved two years off his true age of 16 and was able to convince a staff sergeant that he was of legal age to join the army (not that recruiting officer's took a great deal of convincing). And thus it was that as a Northumberland Fusilier he was drafted to France just shy of his 17th birthday. Herbert's battalion went into action at Bellwarde Ridge (in the infamous Ypres Salient) during which this soldier's young mind cracked and he ran away. Captured and tried undefended (such were the losses within his battalion that no-one could be found to provide a character reference for the boy) on 2nd July.
And so having lied in order to 'do his duty to King and Country' Private Herbert Burden faced death at the hands of the British Army, an army that at 17 he was still officially too young to be a part of.
Quite clearly, the well documented circumstances that befell Private Burden represent a heartbreaking tragedy against the backdrop of a tragic conflict. However, I am not so naive on this issue as not to acknowledge the danger of us transplanting our modern values upon the British Army commanders facing a national crisis. The impact on the minds of soldiers facing the horrors of the first fully mechanised war could not be imagined since there was no precedent. The affliction of Shellshock (now better understood as Post traumatic Stress Disorder) baffled the commanders. Men suffering from the mental and nervous symptoms associated with Shellshock and removed from the trenches lost pensions and were not entitled to wear the 'wound stripe'. However, as the battles intensified the numbers of cases multiplied and it became clear that Shellshock was not brought about by a lack of moral fibre or fighting spirit. The condition was indiscriminate, affecting officers and ordinary ranks alike (although it is interesting to note that the symptoms presented differed between the officer class and lower ranks!). The Army and medics struggled to find explanations and treatments in order to get affected soldiers back into the front line.
Quite what an army can do in situations of desertion (intentional or accidental) in order to maintain military discipline in such combat situations is not for me to say and the British Army were not alone in meting out such harsh punishment. The French are thought to have killed about 600. The Germans, whose troops outnumbered the British by two to one, shot 48 of their own men, and the Belgians 13. Conversely, the neither the Australian Army or the US Army resorted to execution.
Doubtless among the 306 soldiers that faced the firing squad a proportion would have genuinely deserted or shown cowardice in the face of the enemy and so there will always be some controversy linked to the 'Shot At Dawn' memorial. Interestingly, on this point is is worth noting that under the enabling act that paved the way for the 2006 pardon (the Army Forces Act 2006), section 359(4)(a) states that the pardon does not 'affect any conviction of sentence'.
Controversy aside, the memorial is profoundly moving and well worth a visit (as of course is the rest of the site!).
'Shot At Dawn'
The National Memorial Arboretum
Thursday 15 August 2013
And so the long awaited date was upon us at last. Along with getting back out to the East Coast of America in June this must rank as one of the peaks for the band in a successful year. I read somewhere that The Strangers were the first band to be invited to play this highly traditional annual festival of classical and orchestral music since Soft Machine in 1971.
That fact aside, I think that it is still incredible that the BBC felt that they could invite The Stranglers who it is fair to say have never courted the favour of the Corporation. So was their appearance at Monday's late night prom, under the banner of BBC 6 Music, finally a sign that The BBC has made its peace wit The Meninblack? Could more invitations come off the back of this? That I suppose remains to be seen.
Once the family reached SW7 we made our way into High Street Kensington where we were fortunate to meet others in a pub that was comfortable to allow children into the bar (at a relatively late time). We did think that this was a great excuse to bring the kids into London for a portion of culture..... it was The Proms after all.
For the performance, we were in the Gods right at the back, so the view of the band was none too good, but I didn't mind because it was the spectacle of it all that counted for me tonight.
Although I have edited the radio broadcast down, I haven't really had the opportunity to listen again to the songs, so my comments are from memory.
'Heroes' sounded good, although I didn't think that the sound was that great, but then again by all accounts the acoustics of the RAH aren't considered to be particularly good for classical music, let alone rock. After a 3 minute fix rest of the bill got under way.
In summary, the orchestral pieces (and I'm not talking about The Stranglers arrangements here) were rather interesting..... especially the piece for 13 percussion instruments.... the first music that Frank Zappa bought apparently that went by the name of 'Neural Necropathy'.... I am sure that it did indeed have the capability of killing off certain nerves! It did however amuse the kids greatly and I gallantly suppressed my laughter whilst tears streamed down my face. call me a Philistine if you wish!
Cerys Matthews did a notable piece from the court of Henry V which I though sounded great and was a brave thing to do. In contrast I found flavour of the month, Laura Marling tobe dreadfully dull..... although she does have a great voice I admit.
Approaching the end of the evening and The Stranglers ambled back on stage for the finale. 'Duchess' and 'Always The Sun' were played alone whilst the orchestra looked on. It was when it came to the last song, the inevitable 'Golden Brown' that the London Sinfonieta kicked in, this was to be the example of the world of classical and rock music coming together in harmony. Oh, were it so! Despite the best efforts of both the band and the orchestra the two world's kind of collided. Both elements were seemingly in time, but not necessarily together. Take a listen for yourself. It was nevertheless, an experiment in sound that I am glad to have witnessed and the evening was without doubt highly enjoyable.
Also, for the band, this was really something special and for that as well I am glad to have been there with them. Baz seemed rather stunned by it all in particular.
With artwork kindly provided by MeAnIe (thanks as always!). Enjoy!
Saturday 10 August 2013
As the band approach another first in their career, namely Monday's appearance at the BBC 6 Music Proms, the promotional cycle is in full swing. Amongst a variety of interviews conducted in advance is this one conducted by the comedian Alexei Sayle on the BBC Radio 2 Arts Show and broadcast last night.
Last night I found myself in the Three Kings pub in North End Road, West Kensington. In a former life, this typical London pub went by the name of The Nashville Rooms and throughout the '70's was a key venue for bands on the up who were just on the cusp of breaking through to the big time and name bands passing on the way down.
On this evening I was in the company of a handful of people whose collective association with the band made my years of interest seem like an afterthought! And so all the talk of ice-cream vans, equipment failures and fisticuffs in English Towns put me in mind of something suitably early.
This gem cropped up out of the blue a few years ago and is one of the best quality early shows around.
This is Dom's definative remastering of this very special bootleg.
01. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
04. School Mam
05. Peasant In The Big Shitty
06. Straighten Out
07. Hanging Around
09. London Lady
10. Down In The Sewer
11. Something Better Change
13. Go Buddy Go (Power Failure)
14. Go Buddy Go
By the way, two of the landmark gigs that the band played at The Nashville can be found here: