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 23 April 2017

20 From '84(4) Killing Joke Hammersmith Palais 1st January 1984

As early in '84 as it is possible to go, here are the irrepressible Killing Joke doing what they do in the Hammersmith Palais. Thanks for the share!


01. Song and Dance
02. Empire Song
03. We Have Joy
04. Pssyche
05. Complications
06. Lust Almighty
07. Sun Goes Down
08. Requiem
09. Change
10. Eighties
11. The Pandys Are Coming
12. Wardance
13. Frenzy
14. The Fall of Because
15. Dominator
16. Tension
17. The Gathering

Monday 17 April 2017

20 From '84(3) The March Violets BBC Radio 1 Saturday Live Session 18th December 1984

Cleo of The March Violets

Back in '84 Goth was at its peak and Andrew Eldritch and his happy go lucky troupe The Sisters of Mercy were the Royal Family of the movement. The Sisters never really gripped me, although I do intend to upload one of their gigs as a part of this thread.

Loosely associated with that scene but eminently less preposterous than their laugh a minute Leeds pals, The Sisters, were The March Violets. With both bands coming from Leeds, The Sisters of Mercy's own label, Merciful Release, oversaw the release of the early March Violets singles. Unfortunately, I never saw them, but mates of mine did. They played some great songs, but I am sure that part of the appeal of the band for us 15 year old boys was the fact that they were fronted by a rather striking lady called Cleo.

So here is a short blast in the form of a session recorded for Radio 1's Richard Skinner at the end of the year.

01. Snake Dance
02. Face Of The Dragonfly
03. Deep

Women of Punk BBC Radio 4 Reunion Programme 16th April 2017

Presenter Sue MacGregor interviews Gina Birch (The Raincoats), Toyah Willcox (Toyah), Gaye Black (The Adverts), Tessa Pollitt (The Slits) and Vivien Goldman (The Flying Lizards) about their lives in punk and the impact they had as leading female lights within a changing music industy.


Sunday 16 April 2017

Lincoln Engine Shed 7th March 2017

Right, Ruts DC are off and slaking their thirst with a beer, which means that The Stranglers are to take to the stage.

The tour was billed as 'The Classic Collection' and whilst this may not be the punchiest of tour hooks even the briefest scans of the set clearly shows why that particular label can be applied. This year the set highlight for me had to be the coupling of a powerhouse 'Bear Cage' and 'Who Wants The World', representing one of the most creative periods in the band's career. The run out wasn't so shoddy either, especially for those whose Stranglers' palate favours a '77 vintage!

Thanks to Chatts99 and MeAnIe for the share!!



Ruts DC Lincoln Engine Shed 7th March 2017

So, we're done for another year, UK tourwise at least. As restated some weeks ago, I don't think that it is on to post gigs from the current tour when the wheels of the tour bus are still turning but as it is all done and dusted, some can be shared.

It will come as no surprise to frequent visitors to this site that the most exiting part of the tour was the presence of Ruts DC as support. The Stranglers and Ruts DC on the same bill night after night! Two of my bestest bands sharing the stage. In fairness, recent years have seen a couple of excellent packages, notably Wilko Johnson and The Rezillos as openers. However, with the greatest respect to them, I have not seen a Stranglers tour support go down as consistently well as Ruts DC.

With a 40 minute set available to them, it was never going to be easy to shape the set but they managed it with a perfect showcase of their diverse material. Both Segs and Ruffy have always been at great pains to keep their shows current, so whilst acknowledging the importance of their back catalogue new material is the key to the set. It would be pointless otherwise. Ruts DC are no man's tribute act for sure!

Take a look at this set from the tour opener. The Ruts classics are all present and correct, but they sit side by side with new material from 2016's 'Music Must Destroy' (which incidentally was 'Vive Le Rock' magazine's album of the year). The dub reggae side of the bands set was limited to the brilliant 'Mighty Soldier', but you can't squeeze everything into 40 minutes can you.

As a big fan of all that The Ruts and Ruts DC recorded, it does seem a little sad that songs such as 'No Time To Kill', 'Whatever We Do' and 'Mirror Smashed' may be back in storage (only to reappear in longer headline sets hopefully) but this is the price a fan has to pay when a band continues to produce new material of such quality that it demands to be listened to!

As the tour progressed (but after this gig), for me the master stroke in the band's set construction was the fact that after playing 'Babylon's Burning', the obvious finale, they continued with the new 'Psychic Attack'. A crystal clear message that said 'This is what we were.... this is what we are!'.

Many thanks as always to Chatts99!!



Friday 14 April 2017

The Men They Love to Hate Ipswich Gaumont Theatre 5th February 1982

Here is another in the brilliant series put together by Eric. This was one of the first bootlegs I got many moons ago and it remains a favourite, great set, great interaction between Hugh and the crowd. A classic. Thanks as always Eric!


Full Artwork:

Partners in Crime....... Hugh and JJ in '77

20 From '84(2) What are we going to be doing now it's 1984? Conflict Worthing 23rd March 1984

In stark contrast to the insipid and lightweight pop pap that was being served up in 1984, there was a angry roar coming from a musical tribe that were a million miles away from Wham! Throughout the early '80s the anarcho-punk scene was pretty much fronted by Crass, but in this year they fulfilled their declared intention to split and south east London mates Conflict stepped up to fill the void.

In 1984 it is fair to say that world politics were in a mess and the UK was very much affected. In Berkshire, RAF Greenham Common had become a permanent home for thousands of women for whom the staging of Cruise missiles at the base was an affront. In terms of temperature, the relationship between the US and USSR was still below freezing as the Cold War saw it's fifth decade..... Perestroika was some way off yet.

In London's St. James's Square, WPC Yvonne Fletcher fell to a terrorist's bullet fired from the Libyan Embassy, an act that would destroy the relationship between the UK and Libya for many years and play a role in the UK endorsed bombing of Tripoli and the downing of Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie.

In the month that saw Conflict play this gig in sleepy Worthing, an announcement by the National Coal Board that Cortonwood Colliery was to close prompted a walk out that triggered the year long Miner's Strike, the bitterest industrial dispute in living memory and the start of my interest in politics.


01. Intro
02. Increase The Pressure
03. Law & Order
04. Berkshire Cunt
05. The Guilt And The Glory
06. Great What?
07. The Serenade Is Dead
08. One Nation Under The Bomb
09. Vietnam Serenade
10. Meat Means Murder
11. No Island Of Dreams
12. Exploitation
13. Punk Inn’it
14. Technical Problem
15. Whichever Way You Want It
16. Cruise
17. The Positive Junk
18. The System Maintains
19. Conflict

Top Secret Volume 15 January 1989

And the next issue, here.

John Peel's Musings on The Stranglers in Spring 1977

The late, great John Peel was a God send to punks, both bands and fans. Not least among the indebted are The Stranglers since JP supported their music throughout the early years both through his own Peel sessions and by heavily plugging each new release.

MeAnIe kindly sent through this compilation of John's radio comments and links from the time of the Rattus release. Cheers!


Saturday 8 April 2017

20 From '84 (1) The Toy Dolls Studio 1 TV Gig 1984

Now admittedly, there is a possibility that this could in fact be from 1985! Not the best start I know but what the hell. Being a first generation TV recording the quality is excellent and it does represent relatively early Toy Dolls material from a post Bonnie Baz line up.

My mate Adam loved this band back in the day. Personally I could take them or leave them but recognised that what they did they did well. They did get me into a fight once though (a very rare thing for me indeed!) at the Beacon Centre Youth Club in Hassocks. A couple of Spandau Ballet soul boys in cheap shiny suits took exception to Adam and I's dancing to 'Nellie The Elephant' and things went on from there.

I did read the history of the band in 'From Fulwell to Fukuoka' (99p in the Kindle Store) and would recommend it - here.

So here they are, Olga and the boys.


01. Glenda And The Test Tube Baby
02. Spiders In The Dressing Room
03. 007 James Bond
04. Nellie The Elephant
05. Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear
06. Medley
07. Have Some Fun Tonight
08. When The Saints Go Marching In
09. She Goes To Fino’s

'It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen' - 20 From 1984

Here's something I haven't revisited for a while, although drinking in a Bishops Stortford pub recently with a regular visitor to the site it was commented on that perhaps this should be revived. Ever eager to please, I thought I'd give it a go, but this time with a challenging year for my collection....... 1984, not the best year in musical terms in my opinion.

For the majority of 1984 I was 15 years old and my musical taste was in some sort of transition. That year I saw Ultravox and Gary Numan in Brighton, but the music that my mates were playing was starting to get through to me. The previous year, our 'local' band Peter and the Test Tube Babies (they were Brighton based and we were 10 miles away in Burgess Hill) had released 'The Mating Sounds of South American Frogs' and this was a staple element in the musical diet in '83/'84. Likewise, I spent quite a lot of time around a mate's house listening to the Dead Kennedys' fine offering of 'Plastic Surgery Disasters' whilst trying to beat him at Trivial Pursuit (a relatively new things too at the time).

Adrian c. 1984
Adrian is wearing trainers (!), a bondage jacket sporting Crass and The Damned and a Stoke City scarf - high fashion indeed in Mid Sussex!

Those very same mates of mine all had significantly older siblings which meant that they enjoyed greater freedoms than I did as an only child. These freedoms included going to see bands in Brighton (The Subhumans, D.O.A. and The Test Tubes of course at the Richmond (Hotel)) and London (The Adicts and Toy Dolls at the 100 Club, Conflict at Woolwich Poly and The March Violets at Chelsea College). For a while yet I had to content myself with buying the records from Virgin Records, then on Queen's Road. The wonderful thing about many of the records I was amassing at the time was the 'Pay no more than....' label which allowed my limited budget to go quite far.

So here goes then with 1984.

Saturday 1 April 2017

The Special Beat The Channel Boston 19th December 1990

In the UK at least, the phenomenon that was 2 Tone imploded as The Specials bowed out with Ghost Town at the top of the UK singles chart (at a time when such thinks mattered) in the weeks that many of Britain's inner cities exploded with rational tension..... a validation of all that The Specials stood for and said. The big guns of the 2 Tone artillery evolved into different acts that followed a more pop friendly direction. Where the original message still existed it was conveyed in a more subtle manner than before.

Thus for those who were not old enough to enjoy the 2 Tone live experience, the emergence in the very early '90's of the Special Beat, a collective of original members of The Specials and The Beat was quite simply manna from heaven. As I recall there was a gig scheduled for Kentish Town's Town & Country Club that was pulled at the last minute, so the first opportunity that I got to see them was at the Garage in Highbury and Islington (then the T & C 2). Gunta and I met at the tube station, Gunta was nervous as she had been off that day with a bad cold and as her boss lived in the immediate area she was worried tat she would be spotted!

The gig was like nothing that I had witnessed before, the energy emanating from the stage was more infectious than Gunta's cold. The venue boiled as Neville Staple and Ranking Roger ripped their way through their band's back catalogues. The songs had not aged and sadly the messages they conveyed were still relevant over a decade since they were penned. Yes, Margaret Thatcher had resigned six month's earlier, replaced by the more palatable backroom boy, John Major but in 1991 and 1992 Britain was officially back in a recession, so things remained tough for so many.

Sadly, I do not have a recording of this gig (althogh I believe that the Special Beat Live alum was from this tour which caught the band at the Tic-Tok Club in Coventry).

However, here are the band in Boston in December 1990 (ignore file title in the download, this was my error).


01. Intro
02. Enjoy Yourself
03. Monkey Man
04. Rat Race
05. Rough Rider
06. Concrete Jungle
07. Get A Job
08. Too Much Too Young
09. Too Nice To Talk To
10. Noise In This World
11. Too Hot
12. It Doesn't Make It AlRight
13. Jackpot
14. Niteklub
15. Gangsters
16. Ranking Full Stop
17. Mirror In The Bathroom
18. A Message T You Rudy
19. Stand Down Margret
20. Longshot Kick The Bucket
21. Liquidator
22. Your Wondering Now

The Specials Liberty Bell Park Philadelphia PA 22nd August 1981

In what must have been one of the last ever gigs that the first incarnation of the band played they put together one of their most interesting sets. This was probably a necessity for the sanity of the collective band members (and remember, by this time there wan't much of that left in store!). Having been on the road almost continuously for the past three years they had to mix it up a bit. Hence, in the set there appears Rico's 'Chiang Kai Shek' and the desperately harrowing 'The Boiler' featuring Bobysnatcher's vocalist Rhoda Dakar. Thanks to the original uploader.


01. Concrete Jungle
02. Sock It To 'Em J.B.
03. Rat Race
04. Why?
05. The Boiler
06. Friday Night, Saturday Morning
07. Chiang Kai Shek
08. Stereotypes
09. Do Nothing
10. International Jet Set
11. Man At C & A
12. Nite Klub
13. Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)
14. Ghost Town