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 March 2017

Ruts DC Interview Back To The Phuture (Soho Radio) 1st March 2017

Here's an in depth 2 hour (with music) interview that Mark Jones conducted with Segs and Ruffy at the beginning of this month.


Sunday 19 March 2017

Review of The Specials at Tiffany's, Coventry - Melody Maker 8th December 1979

In December 1979,the now legendary 2 Tone Tour rolled into Coventry. It was a triumphant return to base when The Specials, The Selecter and Dexy's Midnight Runners (honorary 2 Toners) played a sold out gig and the venue in Coventry's city centre, Tiffany's, on 29th November. The gig was recorded, part of which, the so called 'Skinhead Symphony' (a trinity of ska covers, 'Longshot Kick De Bucket', 'Liquidator' and 'Skinhead Moonstomp', all of which had been roughed up Specials style) was to appear on the band's third single 'Too Much Too Young'.

The glowing review above appeared in the 8th December issue of Melody Maker, one of the UK music weeklies.

The iconic sleeve of 'Too Much Too Young' was put together by 2 Tone's resident graphic designer, John Sims a.k.a. 'Telflon'. A thoroughly nice chap and now based in Kent, I had the opportunity to discuss this sleeve with the man the day after a Specials gig in Margate where he had set up his Art of 2 Tone pop up exhibition. The exhibition featured the original cut and paste drafts of many off the pieces that he put together with Jerry Dammers. In my opinion, these works in progress are as beautiful as the final output! With regards to the 'TMTY' sleeve, there is an obvious addition, that has been cleverly, but noticeably, inserted. A grinning skin, who was not in the original shot. This individual was an early follower of the band and was added to the image as a thank you at the specific request of Jerry.

More examples of Teflon's 2 Tone related work can be seen on his website:

Can you see the join?
'Too Much Too Young'
January 1980

The Beat Toronto Concert Hall 16th October 1982

The very existence of 2 Tone as a musical movement was a political statement, however of the associated bands, two were more overtly political than the others, The Specials and Birmingham's The Beat. Songs such as 'Stand Down Margaret' and 'Get A Job' expressed their disgust with the Tory policies of the day.

When the original incarnation of the band broke up, bassist David Steele and guitarist Andy Cox went on to find huge success with The Fine Young Cannibals which they formed with 2 Tone associate Roland Gift. Rankin' Roger and Dave Wakeling formed General Public and realised some more moderate success. Now Wakeling fronts a US based version of the band who play under The English Beat banner whilst Roger and his son, Rankin' Junior perform as The Beat.



01. Twist And Crawl
02. Doors Of Your Heart
03. Big Shot
04. Rough Rider
05. Hit It
06. Walk Away
07. Tears Of A Clown
08. Drowning
09. A Dream Home In New Zealand
10. Psychedelic Rockers
11. Two Swords
12. Best Friend
13. I Am Your Flag
14. Ranking Full Stop
15. Jackpot
16. Mirror In The Bathroom

Roger's The Beat released a brilliant album in 2016 which is well worth checking out!

Saturday 18 March 2017

The Specials Paradiso Amsterdam 21st January 1980

Here is a great sounding set from The Specials, kicking off the new decade in fine style in Amsterdam's famous Paradiso venue.



01. Dawning Of A New Era
02. Do The Dog
03. It's Up To You
04. Monkey Man
05. Rat Race
06. Blank Expression
07. Rude Boys Outta Jail
08. Concrete Jungle
09. Too Hot
10. Doesn't Make It Alright
11. Stupid Marriage
12. Too Much Too Young
13. Guns Of Navarone
14. Little Bitch
15. A Message To You Rudy
16. Nite Club
17. Gangsters
18. Long Shot Kick De Bucket
19. Liquidator
20. Skinhead Moonstomp
21. Madness
22. You're Wondering Now

The Selecter Birmingham Polytechnic 1980

Here's a great quality radio set from The Selecter in Birmingham. Whilst the exact date is unknown, it does come from late in the year, featuring as it does quite a few numbers that went on to appear on the band's second album 'Celebrate The Bullet' which was released in February 1981.


01. Intro
02. Cool Blue Lady
03. Selling Out Your Future
04. Out On The Streets
05. Danger
06. Missing Words
07. On My Radio
08. Red Reflections
09. Washed Up And Left For Dead
10. Tell Me Whats Wrong
11. Outro
12. Street Feeling

The Monochrome Set - A 2 Tone Weekend

With many of you traversing the land in the wake of The Stranglers's tour bus I reckon that for a week or two it is safe to veer away from them until some material from the current tour is in hand. Prompted by some recent files that were sent through to me of a Nutty nature, I thought that I would do something on 2 Tone, another musical movement that has been very dear to me over the years.

Every bit as important as the punk scene that inspired it 2 Tone and its mastermind Jerry Dammers knew just how grim every day life had become in Britain for hundreds of thousands of young people. 'Thatcherism' was biting down on our manufacturing industry, nowhere more so than in The Specials' home city of Coventry, and unemployment figures were on the rise. 2 Tone aimed to offer some respite from this reality. The bands on the label played upbeat ska music with the attitude of punks. It decried much of the pretentiousness of the late '70's post punk bands..... as Madness so succinctly put it.... 'Fuck Art...Let's Dance!'.

However, no matter how upbeat and positive the music and the message were, those were dark times and the far right National Front were on the verge of becoming political heavyweights. The National Front and British Movement targeted gigs as a means of recruiting disaffected youths to their cause. In equal measure the anti-racist stance of these bands who had both black and white musicians on the stage was a flash point for the right wing factions in the audience, meaning that many of the gigs that the bands played could be violent and frightening events. Even the genteel city of Cambridge was reduced to a battleground when The Specials played there. Terry Hall and Jerry Dammers were arrested after the gig and appeared in court in the city, the charge, incitement to riot. They were fined £400.

'Court in session!'
Terry and Jerry, Cambridge Court 1980

It was not all peace, love and unity within the bands either, The Specials intra-band relationships being particularly fragile. However, it was precisely that internal tension that made the band what they were. In their defence, for the members of The Specials, as 'leaders' of the 2 Tone movement, the pressures were immense as was the intensity of constant touring between 1979 and 1981. The original scene crashed and burned by 1981 as young people were directed by the music moguls towards a safer, lightweight and some would say moronic pop diet in the early '80's. However, the quality of the music and the strength of the message is incredibly enduring to the extent that as I write this in 2017, The Specials, The Beat, Madness, The Selecter and Bad Manners are still all gigging on a regular basis and still filling dance halls around the country.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Contact From The Aural Sculptor - John King

Last week I received an email from one John King who most of you will know as the artist responsible for the creation of the rather large ear that graced the front cover of the 'Aural Sculpture' album. Some of his work was also featured in the 'Catalogue' of that 1985 tour. Sadly, as reported on these pages, the full scale sculpture, neglected and exposed to the elements in a Kingston garden, crumbled in the late 1980's.

John does however have some related original artwork drafts related to the album and he contacted me to see whether any visitor to this site would be interested in a purchase. If you are, please drop me an email (email address can be found on the site header) and I will put you and John in contact.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Stiff Little Fingers Highline Ballroom NYC 11th November 2007

Here are Jake Burns & Co, doing their thing at the Highline Ballroom in New York back in 2007.



01. Roots, Radical, Rockers And Reggae
02. Nobody's Hero
03. At The Edge
04. Strummerville
05. Fly The Flag
06. Liar's Club
07. Silver Lining
08. Suspect Device
09. State Of Emergency
10. Here We Are Nowhere
11. Wasted Life
12. No More Of That

01. Barbed Wire Love
02. White Noise
03. Breakout
04. Law And Order
05. Rough Trade
06. Johnny Was
07. Alternative Ulster
08. Doesn't Make It Alright
09. Just Fade Away
10. Tin Soldiers

We're Going to Belfast.... So We Are!

Stiff Little Fingers are one of the lastest popular beat combo's to hit that oh so unexpected anniversary of 40 years as a band and where better to mark it than in Belfast. And what a supporting cast we have. In these times of austerity a bit of forethought has brought together a bill that is worth £30 of anyone's money.

Like so many bands, SLF are another of those that I missed first time around but I was ready for them by the time they reformed for their 'Go For It Again' tour, where I saw them in December 1987 at the National in Kilburn, a gig captured for posterity on the 'No Sleep 'Til Belfact' album. For many years this was the best gig that I had ever seen (only topped in 2009 when I first saw 6/7ths of The Specials at Brixton). For many years my musical world revolved around the trinity of The Stranglers, The Damned and SLF.

I know that Fingers have many detractors, Mully (for reasons that I understand) and Pigeon for example (for reasons I don't understand!) but they have been every bit as vital in recent years as The Stranglers. Perhaps they had their own doldrum period towards the end of Bruce Foxton's time on bass duties, but with the return of Ali, a new impetus came to the band.

This then is my near perfect line up for a gig.... if only The Damned would turn up and play a few numbers.

Also, the latest word on the street is that the surviving members of The Clash are booked to be in Belfast on the same day for a photoshoot!

See you up there!