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

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hugh Cornwell The Liquid Room Edinburgh 29th November 2014

To the best of my knowledge this is the first recording to surface from the Hugh and Hazel dates from November and December. A big thanks is due to yesican for sharing his recording. Great sounding boot.......



01. Intro
02. Totem And Taboo
03. Skin Deep
04. Stuck In Daily Mail Land
05. Dagenham Dave
06. I Want One Of Those
07. Duchess
08. Beat Of My Heart
09. Strange Little Girl
10. God Is A Woman
11. Peaches
12. Gods, Guns And Gays
13. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
14. A Street Called Carroll
15. Straighten Out
16. In The Dead Of Night
17. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
18. Tank
19. No More Heroes
20. Hanging Around

The Liquid Room, Edinburgh
29th November 2014

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Setting Sons - The Album Of A Decade?

This Christmas I received a copy of the Setting Sons Super Deluxe box set. Thankfully it was half price (full price would be somewhat excessive, regardless of the quality of the package, for an album I already own in CD and vinyl).

The package consists of the album and associated singles/b-sides, a CD of demo material, a previously unreleased live recording from the 'Setting Sons' tour (Brighton Centre 15th December 1979, soon to be released in its own right I understand) and a DVD of relevant videos.

But just to consider the album itself......

Originally conceived as a concept album only a handful of the songs that made the final cut are related ('Thick As Thieves', 'Little Boy Soldiers', Burning Sky' and 'Wasteland' which describe how the solid friendships of the teenage years can fall apart in adulthood as personalities and aspirations change with the passing of time - 'Some bonds severed and others made').

The Jam were at a precarious point in their career at the time of 'Setting Sons'. The mod revival was in full swing in 1979, thanks in no small part to The Jam themselves, but bands who become aligned with faddish musical movements often fall down with them as soon as the mood changes and the music press decide on the next big thing. The Jam were too good and too important a band to suffer such a fate. 'Setting Sons' has plenty of mod reference points across its two sides however, The quality of the social observation in the song writing can be compared very favourably with that of Ray Davies. 'Saturday's Kids' is both a celebration and a scathing critique of the lives of working class kids (of whom Weller himself was one) who gravitated towards the revived mod scene of '79/'80. There's also a cover of Matha Reeves and the Vandellas Motown classic 'Heatwave' on there (..... and perhaps it shouldn't be in the sense that it is an uncomfortable fit with the rest of the material).

The gulf between the unemployed working class and the privileged young elite of the British public school system in the austere climate in the UK in the late 1970's is described in 'The Eton Rifles'. Young unemployed marchers on a Right to Work demonstration in 1978 clashed with members of the Eton College Cadet Corps who abused the marchers in nearby Slough. Hilariously, when PM David Cameron, an old Etonian (and member of the Cadet Corps) stated 'The Eton Rifles' to be one of his favourite songs, Weller responded thus  "Which part of it didn't he get? It wasn't intended as a jolly drinking song for the cadet corps."

My highlight on the album is undoubtedly 'Little Boy Soldiers', a complex piece of several distinct parts, much like that other favourite 'Down In The Sewer'. It describes a disillusioned young soldiers disdain of the establishment figures who sent him off to fight for Queen and Country.

"These days I find that I can't be bothered,
These days I find that its all too much,
To pick up a gun and shoot a stranger,
But I've got no choice so here I come - war games."

The song closes with the devastating lines:

"These days I find that I can't be bothered,
To argue with them well what's the point,
Better to take your shots and drop down dead,
then they send you home in a pine overcoat

With a letter to your mum

Saying find enclosed one son - one medal and a note -
to say he won."

Followed by a thunderous piano chord that unashamedly nods to the Beatles 'A Day In The Life'.

There's not a duff track on 'Setting Sons', with the possible exception of the aforementioned 'Heatwave'.... not a bad track but misplaced on the album. The intensity and claustrophobia of 'Private Hell' and the cynicism contained in 'Burning Sky' belie that fact that the principal songwriter was only 21 years old!

Few recordings exist from the 'Setting Sons' tour. The Rainbow and now the Brighton Centre gigs in December 1979 are both official releases. This recording from Park West, Chicago in March of the following year features a 'Setting Sons' heavy set. It is an upgrade from the show previously uploaded here (with a dead link), but ''A' Bomb in Wardour Street' is missing.


01. Saturday’s Kids
02. Burning Sky
03. Thick As Thieves
04. It’s Too Bad
05. Going Underground
06. Mr Clean
07. Butterfly Collector
08. Private Hell
09. Little Boy Soldiers
10. Smithers-Jones
11.The Dreams Of Children
12. To Be Someone
13. The Eton Rifles
14. Strange Town
15. When You’re Young
16. Down In A Tube Station At Midnight
17. Girl On The ‘Phone
18. All Mod Cons
19. David Watts (fades out)

'The St John's Ambulance Bearers' by Benjamin Clemens (1919)
Imperial War Museum

Manic Street Preachers The Roundhouse London 17th December 2014

This one is brought to you courtesy of Chatts99 (cheers!). The band don't do it so much for me, but I know that there is a fair cross-over interest in the Manics. I have never seen them, the closest I came to doing so was when a mate's band supported them at the Bull & Gate pub in Kentish Town. That would have been around the time of the release of 'Motown Junk'. For some reason I didn't go which looking back is a shame!

Anyway two weeks ago their 'Holy Bible' mini-tour concluded in London town and Chatts captured it well.



The Holy Bible

01 Yes
02 Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart
03 Of Walking Abortion
04 She Is Suffering
05 Archives Of Pain
06 Revol
07 4st 7lb
08 Mausoleum
09 Faster
10 This Is Yesterday
11 Die In The Summertime
12 The Intense Humming Of Evil
13 P.C.P.

Hits And Others

14 Show Me The Wonder (Accoustic)
15 Motorcycle Emptiness
16 Dreaming A City (Hughesovka)
17 You Stole The Sun From My Heart
18 Postcards From A Young Man
19 Europa Geht Durch Mich
20 If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next
21 Donkeys
22 Walk Me To The Bridge
23 Divine Youth
24 You Love Us

25 A Design For Life

'Motorcycle Emptiness'
The Roundhouse, London
16th December 2014

Saturday, 20 December 2014

The Brain of Farley Grange and Other Poems: A Collection of Humorous Verse for Children by Henry Lardings - A Shameless Book Plug

Apologies for this shameless plug of a book that has recently been brought to my attention. I was well acquainted with the author many years ago when he went by a different name. In fact we studied together in London as we tried to fathom the hidden secrets of blood spot distribution, scene of crime investigation techniques and semen detection. So keen we we in fact to harness this forensic knowledge that our studies were extended each evening, continuing in The Lyceum, The Anchor or The George (depending upon which side of the Thames we found our self on). With our studies successfully completed, thanks in a large part to the long hours extra 'study', we each took up careers that had sod all to do with the scientific detection of crime!

Now more than 20 years on he has produced a book of Children's verse which is really rather good. 'The Brain of Farley Grange and Other Poems: A Collection of Humorous Verse for Children' contains a couple of stories in verse and a handful of shorter poems. The title poem is subtitled 'A Cautionary Tale of Capitalism for Kids' and warns of the perils of greedy aspirations in a style reminiscent of Roald Dahl's 'Dirty Beasts'.

The book is available as a kindle ebook for the princely sum of 77 pence (of which a third of the profit will go to Médecins Sans Frontières) here:

The Brain of Farley Grange and Other Poems: A Collection of Humorous Verse for Children

Now, the demographic of people who visit this site tends towards the older end of the scale (aging punks basically) and have children or in some cases grandchildren, who I believe would very much appreciate the whimsical witterings of Henry Larding.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

10 From '87 (6) Public Image Limited The Astoria London, 28th September 1987

I had completely forgotten about this show and the fact that I was there! (it's my ticket stub on the artwork). Looking back I always had it in my head that I saw 'early' PiL, as in pre-reformation, three times but it would appear to be four times. Three of those gigs were very memorable (Brixton Academy 1986, Kilburn National 1987 and a car crash of a gig at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1989). Maybe it was the venue, I never liked The Astoria, in contrast to the Academy and The National, and I wasn't particularly saddened when it was demolished to make way for the new cross-rail construction. Take a look at the set though and I would say that it should have been a good gig. Promoting the 'Happy?' album at the time, the set admittedly doesn't lay much emphasis on the late '70's and early '80's PiL, but nevertheless it features the best of 'Album' with a few surprises in there as well including Lydon's influential collaboration with Afrika Bambata 'World Destruction' and 'Holidays in the Sun' (who would have thought back in 1987 that the actual Pistols would play again!).

The sound quality on this one is quite good as well.



1. Save Me
2. Rise
3. Seattle
4. Allah
5. FFF
6. Open & Revolving
7. Low Life
8. Home
9. Rules & Regulations (cut)
10. (continued)
11. Hard Times
12. Fat Chance Hotel
13. World Destruction
14. Angry
15. The Body
16. Round
17. Public Image
18. Holidays In The Sun
19. This Is Not A Love Song (cut)
20. (continued)
21. Religion

Baz Warne At The Stroud Inn East Kilbride 21st Novembwe 2014

Here's a recent solo outing from Baz in which the expected Stranglers material is mixed up with some interesting covers of which Johnny Cash's tremendous 'The Man Comes Around' (a powerhouse description of Armageddon recorded towards the end of the great man's life) and John Hiatt's 'Perfectly Good Guitar' ("It breaks my heart to see those stars, smashing a perfectly good guitar") stand out for me.

The sound quality is not the greatest and the audience are quite noisy throughout (it would have tipped Hugh over the edge!), but it is an interesting gig for all that. Many thanks to yesican for the recording.



01. Intro
02. The Man Comes Around
03. Perfectly Good Guitar
04. Barbara (Shangri-La)
05. One Of Us
06. Long Black Veil
07. My Fickle Resolve (Abandoned)
08. Only Women Bleed
09. Relentless
10. Walk On By
11. Nice 'N' Sleazy
12. Goodbye Toulouse
13. Bless You (Jock The Box - Abandoned)
14. Bless You
15. Spectre Of Love
16. Strange Little Girl
17. Golden Brown
18. Who Wants The World?
19. Always The Sun
20. Rockin' In The Free World

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Rat's Lair Podcasts - October 2006

Some time ago, I downloaded a quartet of of podcasts from the Rat's Lair archive. Looking today, with the demise of mamstore, the links appear to be dead, so here they are again for those that are interested. Recorded at the time of Suite XVI, this makes an interesting 30 minute or so snapshot of where the band were at in the immediate aftermath of Paul's departure.


NEW LINK - Hamburg Markthalle 27th November 1979

Resurrected link to a classic Raven gig!


Hugh Cornwell Interview On Susy Radio 103.4

A big thanks goes to MeAnIe for this one. Using my finely honed powers of deduction I figure that Susy (as in the name of the radio station) is derived from Sussex and Surrey, the station covering the Gatwick and Reigate area, some 20 minutes from my parents place. It is rather strange then that this recording reached me via Australia!

Here Hugh talks briefly about the co-headlining tour with Hazel O'Connor, ahead of last week's gig in Brighton.


Hugh and Hazel perform 'Hanging Around'
Robin 2 Bilston 25th November 2014

The Slits Talking Heads, Southampton, 15th October 2009

Still on the subject of The Slits, here's a later incarnation of the band recorded in 2009 in Southampton (many thanks to the original uploader).



01. Shoplifting
02. FM
03. New Town
04. Reject
05. Fadeaway
06. Crew War
07. Love und Romance
08. Man Next Door
09. World Of Grownups
10. Cry Baby
11. Typical Girls
12. Vindictive
13. Heard It Through the Grapevine
14. Animal Space
15. Partner From Hell

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys - Viv Albertine

I never really knew a great deal about The Slits other than they were a band equivalent of a hand grenade that exploded in the first wave of punk and that they were a band that people were genuinely scared of!. I must be one of the few people with an interest in the '77 punk scene who does not own a copy of 'Cut'. But in terms of guitarist Viv Albertine's book that doesn't matter, What 'Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys' offers is a very open and candid view into the inner circle of the London punk scene. Key personalities within punk are seen from a perspective that is very different from their stage personas (especially Mick Jones and Sid Vicious). The ever present threat of violence faced by 'punks' on the streets is vividly described as are the internal pressures of being in a band such as The Slits.

The Slits for the first time played music in an all female band that did not attempt to copy how men played in a band and for that any woman playing in a band is indebted to this band.

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys