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, 25 November 2018

Remembering Edgar John Rayner Queen's Westminster Rifles (16th London Regiment)

Press report on the fate of Rifleman E. J. Rayner.

A couple of weeks ago I was handed a thin sheaf of papers by a friend who knows of my interest in Great War stories. In the recent past I have researched and posted information on soldiers who have either been buried or are commemorated in a family plot within the Old Cemetery in Bishops Stortford (Hertfordshire). I love the idea of trying to reclaim a name from a weathered headstone or memorial in order to place some context around how they came to be commemorated.

The information passed on to me concerned two brothers, Edgar and Frank Rayner, sons of John and Elisabeth Rayner. The family resided in 1, Bartholomew Road, not two minutes from my front door. As I write this I am sitting in the Castle pub to be found at the bottom of Bartholomew Road, and 30 seconds from the Rayner family home during the Great War! It is an old pub and I cannot escape from the thought that it is a near certainty that at one time Frank and Edgar, being young lads in their early twenties, would have enjoyed a pint of ale within the walls of The Castle and as such we are occupying the same space albeit at a distance of a century.

The Rayner brothers as they appear on the Roll of Honour within Holy Trinity Church, Bishops Stortford.

I will deal with both brothers, but allow me to start with Edgar John Rayner. Edgar enlisted in 1914 with the 1/16th London Regiment, otherwise known as the Queen’s Westminster Rifles. At the outbreak of the war, the Regiment formed part of the 2nd London Division, but on the 10th February 1916 the battalion transferred to 169th (3rd London) Brigade within 56th (London) Division. It was as part of 169 Brigade that the Queen’s Westminsters and Edgar saw action in The Battle of The Somme.

By early September, the Battle of The Somme had been raging for over two months as the British Army fought desperately to drive the German front line back. In the first week of September, the 56th Division were located to the east of the Albert-Bapaume Road. Officially, the action in which Edgar lost his life is designated as a part of the Battle of Ginchy. The villages of Guillemont and Ginchy were critical to the Germans. The possession of these villages afforded the Germans observation of the British and French positions to the south. This area formed a salient occupied by the Allies into which the Germans poured artillery fire disrupting Anglo-French efforts to mount a coordinated assault later in the month.

Battalions of 169 Brigade, the 2nd London Rifles, the London Rifle Brigade (LRB) , the Queen Victoria Rifles (QVR) and Edgar’ own Queen’s Westminster’s Rifles (QWR) moved up into the line on 6th September 1916. The following night the QWRs took over the trenches occupied by the London Rifle Brigade in a position approximately 500 yards to the north east of Faviere Wood. At this point the Battalion took casualties (7 other ranks killed and 1 officer and 7 other ranks wounded). In the day preceding the planned attack on Leuze Wood more casualties were suffered with 3 other ranks killed and a further 10 wounded.

It was on the afternoon of the 9th September that the battalion were launched into the Brigade assault to the north and east of Leuze Wood (known to the soldiers as ‘Lousy Wood’). The QVR attacked to the north into Bouleaux Wood (perhaps unsurprisingly referred to at the time as ‘Bollocks Wood’!). The LRB launched themselves on the sunken road and the German trench on the south east side of Leuze Wood. Whilst the QVR had some success, the LRB assault faltered. With the Germans reported to remain in Leuze Wood, Edgar’s Battalion (QWR) were ordered to drive them out.

The order came at 7.30 on the evening of the 9th and the battalion were reported to have entered the wood at 11pm after having passed through a heavy barrage. Once in the wood they connected with the remains of the QVR Regiment who were in great need of assistance.

Edgar with ‘D’ Company entered the wood along its eastern edge (with ‘A’ Company reinforcing the QVR on the northern edge of the wood and ‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies in reserve).

At 1 am on the morning of 10th September orders were received from Brigade HQ that an enemy trench located on the south east side of the wood had to be taken by dawn. The situation for the Battalion was known to be difficult, the area was under incessant shelling, the night was extremely dark and the available trench maps were known to be inaccurate. To make matters worse telephone communication with HQ was down leaving runners as the only means of passing information (and this entailed a perilous journey for a hapless soldier of at least an hour for each leg of the journey!). This being the case, 7 am was given as the earliest opportunity for an attack.

In the morning’s attack, ‘D’ Company’s leading platoon was to swing to its left to attack the sunken trench on the north side of the Leuze-Combles Road with support from HQ bombers.

During the night preceding the attack the casualty tally amongst ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies of the QWR were heavy as the men waited for the zero hour of 7 am. A message from Brigade HQ reached the front line at 6.50 am that that the usual artillery barrage was arranged. The heavy mist that had descended across the line, reducing visibility to 80 yards, was favourable and yet the anticipated barrage never materialised due to a breakdown of communication between Brigade HQ and the artillery positions.

On cue, at 7 am the infantry left their trenches and advanced towards their objective almost to the point of completion when machine guns opened up on them from the objective trench as well as from nests on the sunken road to their north. The trench was held in strength such that the Company Commanders Captain Green and Captain Grizelle ordered the withdrawal of the remnants of their respective QWR Companies, now not more than 25 strong in each Company.

A Brigadier appeared at 12.30 on the afternoon of the 10th and ordered one last effort to take the German held trench. For this attempt ‘A’ Company of the 2nd London Rifles were temporarily placed under QWR command along with two Stokes Mortar sections. Bombing commenced at 3pm in the afternoon. The 2nd London Rifles with artillery support made their objective with the assault to be followed on by QWR HQ Bombers, ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies. The assault however failed in the face of unsubdued enemy rifle fire from the objective and the soldiers of 169 Brigade were forced to retire.

The fighting over the night of 9th and 10th September resulted in a heavy casualty toll on the 1/16th London Regiment; officers, 4 killed, 5 wounded; other ranks, 52 killed, 166 wounded and 80 missing. Edgar Rayner was one of those ‘other ranks’.

The action which cost 24 year old Edgar John Rayner of 1 Bartholomew Road, Bishops Stortford his life, was like was so often the case in the tragedy of the Western Front, beset with problems that ruled out success from the offing.

The men involved in the fighting undoubtedly fought with great courage but at great cost . The QWRs bagged three military medals for Gallant Conduct in the battle. However, in closing I would like to quote the Commanding Officer’s concluding words on the fighting as recorded in the Battalions official War Diary. They are telling and in many ways tally with our current perceptions on the conduct of the war.

‘From start to finish we had, as it turned out, no chance.

Ordered to attack from a wood we had never been in before on a black, dark night and on to a position we were unable to properly locate, and then owing to the breakdown in communication, launched in the morning to attack without the military barrage. And again after some 14 hours exceedingly heavy shelling being sent to it again to bomb up a trench, which as a trench, hardly existed, with hardly any trained bombers to lead the attack, it is no wonder that both the attacks failed, especially as we know, as we learnt later the strength of the sunken road trench from which the enemy were able to bring so heavy a cross machine gun fire on both our attacks’.

Edgar is commemorated in France on the Thiepval memorial to ‘The Missing of the Somme’ (Pier and Face 13.C). He is also remembered (along with his brother Frank) on the memorial in front of Holy Trinity Church on South Street, Bishops Stortford. His name also appears on the Roll of Honour held within the Church (See above).

The memorial in front of Holy Trinity Church, Bishops Stortford.


Many thanks to Glyn Warwick for the photograph of Edgar!

Magazine 100 Club London 24th January 1978

Here's a short, but early Magazine set from the band's first tour at London's 100 Club. Thanks to the sharer for the boot!

MP3 (as received):

01. Shot By Both Sides
02. Touch And Go
03. Burst
04. Real Life
05. The Light Pours Out Of Me
06. Goldfinger
07. Motorcade
08. My Mind Ain’t So Open

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Camden Centre London 20th November 2011 - The Remainder

FLAC files
JJ and Baz:
Electric Set:

Remembered for a variety of reasons!

A huge argument when Gunta was barred entry to the quiz (my team came second I think... could be wrong) and had to wander around Kings Cross in the early hours for a couple of hours. What a wise bouncer on the night!

Next day I was hung over and we talked and reconciled.... and then started drinking all over again. The upshot was that we missed the JJ and Baz set completely but made it for the evening set.

Memory of the weekend? Mully charging down Euston Road in search of Big Al H, who just happened to have fallen asleep in McDonalds!

Monday, 12 November 2018

At the Going Down of the Sun.....

At 11 am yesterday morning cannon and fireworks  sounded to start the annual Remembrance Sunday two minute silence. This year was the same as always, but at the same time a little different, for it will see the culmination of the centennial commemorations of 'The War to End All Wars'.

It was several years ago that the last veterans of that conflict shuffled of the parade ground and so this is now the last big one, or perhaps  the big one oh oh commemoration.

Personally I have been fascinated by the Great War since I was at school, as I was lucky enough to do the 20th Century O Level syllabus that focused on conflict, That set me up for a lifelong interest in history. This is in contrast with Gunta's experience. She had to study The Factory Act and the terms of Gladstone and Disraeli. These subjects ultimately disraelied her interest in history (poor pun I know!).

Meeting up with an old school friend a few months ago we discussed another old mutual friend who had expressed surprise about my posts on social media relating to my involvement in WW2 remembrance activities, Association meetings, wreath laying and the like. This surprise stems from the fact that' as a vocal individual at school at times when our armed forces were engaged, I questioned the whys and the wherefores. I had nothing but disdain for conflict and war. In that respect nothing has really changed, but perhaps the passing of 35 years has left me a little more rounded (physically more rounded without doubt!) with my views.

I have never been really interested in military strategy, battle plans and the big picture generally.  However, the testimony of soldiers describing their personal experiences of war totally absorb me. The thoughts and opinions of ordinary men, plucked from farms and factories, committed to paper is what it is all about for me. The books of Lynn McDonald that featured hundreds of interviews with veterans that described the WW1 experience just gripped me.

For me, as for many others, there is no glory in war, that is a concept long dismissed. Lutyen's Cenotaph in Whitehall remembers 'The Glorious Dead'.... Since it's unveiling in 1920 attitudes towards the Great War have shifted. Post World War 2, many veterans opened up on the realities of the 1914-1918 calamity that has lead to a huge change in our understanding of that war and the concept of glory.

As I write this on 12th November 2018, 100 years and one day after the Armistice I am considering what remembrance means. In the last three weeks I have travelled through  Sussex, Essex and Hertfordshire and I have been thrilled to see the remarkable efforts that towns and villages have made to remember the sacrifices that were made at a local level. Tommy silhouettes, wire Tommies, and a perfusion of poppies... painted, stitched, crocheted, fired, forged..... you name it, it is breathtaking!!

So where is this all leading to.... well to return to the idea of what is Remembrance, to me it means trying to reclaim names from weathered memorials and place some context as to how they came to be commemorated in stone. Watch this space.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Devo Moore Theatre Seattle 8th November 2009

Inspired by a drawing done my Mo this afternnon a perused my Devo recordings and decided to post this one from Seattle. The following night's performance in which the band performed the 'Freedom of Choice' album can be found here.



Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo)
Ramona Andrews

Monday, 5 November 2018

Head On The Lino

This weekend I put idle hands to work and created some additional lino prints on different card to the usual cream art card that I generally use. Some prints have been done on grey/green and gun metal (grey) card which I think looks quite effective, even if I say so myself.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Manchester Academy 3rd November 2007

Meant to post this yesterday as an anniversary gig, but what'd 24 hours here and there! With an ear currently for '76/'77 era material here is Rattus and The Academy for you.



01. Audience
02. No More Heroes
03. Ugly
04. Bring On The Nubile
05. Dead Ringer
06. Sometimes
07. Dagenham Dave
08. Goodbye Toulouse
09. Hanging Around
10. 5 Minutes
11. Bitching
12. Burning Up Time
13. I Feel Like A Wog
14. Straighten Out
15. Something Better Change
16. London Lady
17. Peaches
18. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
19. Go Buddy Go

01. Audience
02. Spectre Of Love
03. Unbroken
04. I Hate You
05. Relentless
06. Duchess

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Nashville Room London 10th December 1976

Every so often when it comes to live recordings of The Stranglers I get taken by surprise. I thought that I had a fairly good understanding of what was out there, especially in terms of the early live stuff, but it seems that this partial set from a very significant gig in the band's history has been in fans collection for some time. This version I am told surfaced on a French web site.

At the close of 1976, with the ink still wet on their newly signed United Artists contract (concluded four days before this gig) the band played the Nashville in West Kensington, a venue pivotal in the development of the punk scene as well as the pub rock scene that preceded it. On the night the services of Vic Maile and the Island mobile studio were secured as the band hoped to emulate the success of Dr Feelgood's 'Stupidity' album (a surprise No. 1 live album for the Canvey four-piece). In the event, the band were not happy with the results and did not believe that it was a good enough reflection of their live sound, so with the exception of one track 'Peasant in the Big Shitty' which featured in the free single given away with initial copies of 'Rattus' the performance of that night had yet to see the light of day.

The recording is listed on EMI's vault database, so one day it is hoped it will get the release that it deserves since whether the four musicians loved it at the time or not, the fact that such a professionally recorded gig exists from a time prior to any releases is hugely exiting!

It has always been strange to me that unlike The Pistols and The Clash, where early gigs are relatively abundant it is not really the case for The Stranglers for whom good quality material from the '76/'77 period is quite rare.

Thanks to the original uploader!



01. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
02. Goodbye Toulouse
03. Ugly
04. London Lady
05. Down in the Sewer
06. Something Better Change
07. Go Buddy Go