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

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Damned The Square Harlow 8th February 1996

A recent post on Facebook outed me as a fan of The Damned! I hadn't seen this particular photograph before and it prompted me to post this low key gig.

I'd seen The Damned with Captain Sensible on their two reunion tours in '88 and '89 but those who went will recall that with Brian James on stage, the set was very much orientated in favour of the 'Damned Damned Damned' album before the then current line up back filled the set with more recent material.

At The Square in Harlow in February 1996, Captain Sensible was once again a permanent fixture to the right of Dave Vanian in this, a warm-up gig for the 'Smash It Up' punk all-dayer in Birmingham. In this line up, Sensible had guitar duties and none other than Paul Gray handled bass. The significance of this line up was that with the exception of the 1977 singles 'Neat Neat Neat' and 'New Rose' the set centred around the 'Machine Gun Etiquette', 'The Black Album' and 'Strawberries'  albums... The Damned's Unholy Trinity! Add to this the fact that The Square has a 250 capacity and you can understand that this gig was Manna from heaven to me. And all for a fiver!

I recall that Dave Vanian was uncharacteristically under dressed, if indeed anyone can be considered to be under dressed in shiny leather trousers. For this occasion he was sporting a red sweatshirt from The Damned's 'Final Gig' at the Rainbow 1978.... worth a few quid?

Dave Vanian dressed down at The Square
8th February 1996

Sensible in full flow

The one and only Paul Gray

Garrie Dreadful makes an escape attempt

The gig was a great success, unlike the main event in Birmingham a few days later when, if memory serves, The Damned's set was prematurely ended when some moron launched a missile that took out Paul Gray.



01. Intro
02. Love Song
03. Dozen Girls
04. Ignite
05. Plan 9 Channel 7
06. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
07. Disco Man
08. Life Goes On

01. Neat Neat Neat
02. Curtain Call
03. Melody Lee
04. Looking At You
05. Noise Noise Noise
06. Smash It Up
07. New Rose
08. Dozen Girls

Elastica 'Brighton Rocks' at The Zap Club 6th September 1995

I never need too much of an excuse to post an Elastica gig no matter how brief. This is from the same celebration of Brit Pop that the Echobelly set came from, namely the BBC Radio 1 hosted 'Brighton Rocks' Festival.


01. Spastica
02. Connection
03. Line Up
04. 2:1
05. See That Animal
06. S.O.F.T.
07. Car Song
08. Rockunroll
09. Never Here
10. Stutter

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Echobelly The Zap Club Brighton 5th September 1995

Here's a short but sweet set from the time when Brit Pop ruled the word for a few months. Recorded as part of the 'Brighton Rocks' Festival hosted by BBC Radio 1 in September 1995, other bands from the scene also played, notably Elastica and Menswear.

The Zap Club was a great little venue tucked into the arches under the promenade of Brighton sea front.

This one is especially for Nick and Graham who earlier this week, upon discovering that they were both going to see the band in October, manhugged with such gusto that it nearly brought a tear to the eye!



01. Intro (Steve Lamacq)
02. Today Tomorrow Sometime Never
03. Close .... But
04. Insomniac
05. I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me
06. Cold Feet Warm Heart

'Triumph Over Adversity' - 'New' Album by The Newtown Neurotics Live At Brunel University 4th April 1987

Finally getting a proper release (this was made available online a good few years ago), Steve Drewett has put out the band's gig at Brunel University from April 1987.

It would have been shortly after this gig that I visited the Brunel campus in Uxbridge on an open day and I remember the poster for the gig well, hanging on one of those round display pillars (can't think of the proper term). This prompted me to think 'This place might be alright then'. I eventually arrived at Brunel in late September 1988, but sadly the Neurotics didn't come back. The nearest to an Uxbridge Neurotic event was an appearance by Steve at Uxbridge Labour Club. This was in October '88, but sadly I, amongst a handful of students with limited common sense and zero knowledge of the area, failed to find the venue..... 'Does Anyone Know Where The Gig Is?'. Actually it was only a few minutes walk away from the campus!

Brunel did get me into London in time to see a couple of the last gigs that the band did, a benefit at the Electric Ballroom (for Cable Street Beat if I recall correctly) and the last gig at the Fulham Greyhound on 29th October 1988.

Anyway, here's Steve Drewett's words on the album, which ends with a link to where you can get hold of it should you feel so inclined.

Hi ya,

Here at last, the legendary Triumph Over Adversity. The Newtown Neurotics live at Brunel University 04.04.1997 album.

'Triumph Over Adversity' is a terrific live album, how can it be anything else when the band were declared to be ‘One of Britain’s greatest power trio’s by Q magazine in May 2009 along with The Jam, Doves, Stereophonics, Motorhead, Muse, Cream, The Police, ELP and Manic Street Preachers”.

The band has long wanted this recording to be released as they feel it lives up to the Q magazine accolade perfectly.
The set was also close to being explosive as is explained by the story contained within the sleeve.
This release was in the middle of production when Colin Dredd aka Colin Masters died on the 19th March this year. This is not a cash-in, the artwork had not been completed when Colin passed away, so we updated and dedicated it to his memory.

The album showcases Colin in full flight, tight and fluid bass playing embracing and entwining with the rhythms of the drums, and singing his heart out until he was hoarse.

The cover version of Stand By Me included on this album was played as the last piece of music in this funeral 'set list' service to highlight the bond Simon and Steve had with their old friend and to celebrate his musical exclusivity with the group. Punk rock fact: The Newtown Neurotics was the only band he ever played in.

There is a free 'Triumph Over Adversity badge' given away with each purchase until the badges run out. Buy the album, wear the badge and listen to why he was proud to have only played with one band in his lifetime!
Follow the link on the image or the text to buy.

Here is the link to the album on sale on Amazon any purchases of which are then directed to the Drewett fulfillment Centre, i.e me.

The Request Show 1977 - 1982

Here a digitised version of an old vinyl bootleg that originated in Germany in the early 1980's. It was one of the first bootlegs that I acquired of the band, albeit on a TDK cassette.

I must thank Eric2Vini for permission to post his excellent work on this site from time to time.



Sunday, 12 July 2015

CCW Ronnie Scotts London 12th April 1992

Here is a pretty rare recording of CCW, Hugh's first post-Stranglers project. The recording starts a little muffled but then the quality picks up to make a nice sounding bootleg. My thanks go to Simonr for sending this one on.


01. More Or Less
02. She’s Gone
03. Sweet Sister
04. Invisible
05. You Make Me Unlonely
06. Dance Me To The Edge Of The World
07. Double The Dose
08. Love In Your Eyes
09. Psycho
10. Ee Oh Eleven
11. Heaven And Hell
12. Holes
13. Wasted Tears
14. Do Nothin’

The Members and The Newtown Neurotics at The Square, Harlow 4th July 2015

And so it was a case of hot footing it (literally the case on such a sweltering day) from the 'About The Young Idea' exhibition in Central London to Harlow to continue the day's celebration of all things punk rock.

The Newtown Neurotics were to play The Square in Harlow for the last time as the venue is due to move from its present location. Over its 30 year history the venue and the band have had an association as close as Morecambe and Wise, this stage being almost a spiritual home for the band.

On this auspicious evening, The Neurotics were to be supported by non other than The Members whose 'Solitary Confinement' was given something of a political makeover to become 'Living With Unemployment' a staple of the Neurotics' set for ever. This was a chance to hear both renditions on the same night!

Now I love The Members and I am familiar with more than just 'Sound of the Suburbs' but it was with some trepidation that I watched their opening songs, as friends who had seen them post Nicky Tesco had come away disappointed. However, I needn't have worried as they were actually very good. In between songs frontman J.C. Carroll vied with The Neurotics as to which of the two bands suffered most at the hands of suburban living. He described the band's home town of Bagshot in Surrey as a place 'that made Harlow seem like Paris!'

Nigel Bennett and J.C. Carroll of The Members
The Square Harlow 4th July 2015

Playing as a three-piece their versions of Members' classics sounded pretty faithful to me.

'Offshore Banking Business'

'At A Chelsea Nightclub'

So The Members finished up and passed the baton onto one Steve Lamacq who in his 30 minute guest DJ slot could have been delving into my own record collection! Then, the Neurotics took to the stage under the watchful eye of the recently departed Colin Dredd.

Colin on the backdrop

Here's the set list and I'm sure that those with knowledge of the band will agree that its a corker and fully representative of the band's 10 year career. Really good so see songs in there from the 'Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?' album.

The upshot of the night was that a planned one hour set mutated into a two hour celebration of the band and the venue. I sang myself hoarse, funny how these lyrics have never left me, bounded around arm in arm with Mr Lamacq and Mr Stockbroker to 'Living With Unemployment, before ending up on stage at the invitation of the band. What a great night!

'Wake Up' and 'The Mess' by The Newtown Neurotics

Steve Drewett and Attila The Stockbroker