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 email@example.com.
Tuesday 24 December 2019
Here's a great one for Christmas. The first night of the band back in Tokyo no less. A great sounding gig... with very interesting keyboards! Thanks to the taper for sharing, it's much appreciated.
Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year to one and all!
01. Intro/Toiler On The Sea
02. I’ve Been Wild
03. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
04. Time To Die
05. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
06. Norfolk Coast
07. 5 Minutes
09. Golden Brown
10. Always The Sun
11. Skin Deep
02. Outside Tokyo
03. Freedom Is Insane
04. Walk On By
05. Something Better Change
07. Hanging Around
10. No More Heroes
Sunday 22 December 2019
On Joe's day, here are The Clash in Holland back in 1977.
Artwork: Included in download file.
02. London's Burning
04. I'm So Bored With The U.S.A
05. 48 Hours
08. Hate And War
09. Capital Radio
10. Police And Thieves
12. Career Opportunities
13. Janie Jones
15. White Riot
Saturday 21 December 2019
This is a recording of one of the last gigs in the UK that the band were to play, only Keithly and Huddersfield on the 'Never Mind The Bans' tour. Rotten who was apparently suffering from a bad cold on the night wound the audience up and courted their support in equal measure. The famous Gooner's comment 'I see the Arsenal won!' was a reference to the fact that Coventry City had lost 2-1 at home that afternoon. 'We played to a load of ponces dahn South last night.... nice to be back' referred to the band's gig at Brunel University in Uxbridge.
The sound is pretty good taking into consideration it's age and the packed club environment in which the recording was made. It is pretty chaotic but when they do get to playing the songs they are played well... mmm maybe not the bass!
The gig was a sell out and 500 or so punters were cranked up to fever pitch such that the band had to remain backstage for two hours after the gig whilst the audience dispersed. Eventually, the band were lead out via a back entrance to the venue and taken to the nearby Leofric Hotel where Sid observed the age old rock 'n' roll tradition of smashing up his hotel room.
(Leofric Hotel, Coventry 18th December 1977)
02. New York
05. Belsen Was A Gas
06. Holidays In The Sun
07. Anarchy In The UK
08. Pretty Vacant
Friday 20 December 2019
Another from The Damned on the 2007 Christmas tour, this day 12 years gone.
02. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
03. Dozen Girls
04. Neat Neat Neat
08. Disco Man
10. New Rose
11. Dr Jeckyl & Mr Hyde
01. History Of The World (Part 1)
02. The Shadow Of Love
04. Ignite (Part 2)
05. Love Song
06. Second Time Around
07. There Ain’t No Sanity Clause
08. Little Miss Disaster
09. Smash It Up
Tuesday 17 December 2019
I surprised myself when I put together my nerdy 2019 gig list.... this was the third time that I had seen the Rejects this year! As the flyer above suggests this 40th anniversary gig was set to be something a bit different as the band were to play the brilliantly named 'Greatest Hits Vol. 1' and 'Greatest Hits Vol. 2' back to back.
Arriving early (so that Mo could get onto the barrier which is where she has decided she needs to be at gigs!) it looked fairly quiet right up to the point when the band were due to take the stage. Fill out though it did with a large number of mostly portly gents wearing claret and blue shirts topped off with Peaky Blinders caps..... sorry lads, but I just don't get those hats!
The gig was very well presented as each album set was preceded by 5 minute or so video projected onto a screen at the back of the stage in which each member said something about the songs and the making of each album and what was happening around the band at the time that each was recorded.
The Rejects made the decision to start the gig with 'Greatest Hits Vol. 2' as this was less familiar material to them with quite a few of the tracks having never been played live before. Certainly the standard Cockney Rejects set is mainly focused on the first album. By their own admission including 14 tracks on the album was over doing it a bit (albeit most run to around 2 minutes!) but this was due to pressure applied by E.M.I. to get more product out there whilst the band were riding high.
The set opened with an explosive 'War On The Terraces', a genuinely terrifying declaration of war for a Saturday afternoon back in the day when football violence was a feature in and around grounds in each of the UK's major cities. 'Urban Guerrilla' was played for the first time with Jeff 'Stinky' Turner at pains to point out the the song was recorded in the same studio as Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.... which wasn't as good.
'The Rocker' was a foretaste of the direction that the Rejects were to take later in the 1980's. Jeff admitted that the band were partial to a bit of metal of the right type, AC/DC's Bon Scott and Angus Young, early Ozzy and Lemmy were certainly musicians in bands that your average punk could admit to liking..... world's apart from the dreadful spandex clad, hair metal merchants that some like. 'The Rocker' was inspired by Lemmy.
How well I remember seeing the Rejects on their 'Top of The Pops' appearance performing/mining to 'The Greatest Cockney Rip Off'. I recall my Dad, never a fan of modern music briefly looking up at the TV, uttering 'Good God' and rolling his eyes!. Looking back on a YouTube clip of the show it features all of the best and worst that was Top of The Pops. As Sad Cafe's latest hit faded out the camera panned in on a 'trendy' Steve Wright who affected a piss poor cockerneee accent to introduce the Rejects who left the tank-topped gaggle of teenagers forced by the production team to stand in front of the stage and look interested. They didn't looked interested.... they looked confused and scared!
'Oi Oi Oi'
Islington O2 Academy 14th December 2019
'Greatest Hits Vol. 2' drew to a close with the last notes of their cover of 'Blockbuster' and I think that all four members breathed an exhilarated sigh of relief that they had pulled the job off.
A 15 minute beer and piss break and a change into a dry gymnasium vest and the band were back on stage on more familiar territory that is 'Greatest Hits Vol. 1'. All the while I am straining my neck to make sure that Mo is still holding up.... fair play to her she is still on the barrier despite the onslaught of a now largely shirtless, sweating mass of males surging backwards and forwards in football/punk reverie! Where was I you may ask? Having had an operation on my right knee only on the Monday I figured that some distance between said knee and the front of the stage made good sense!
You've gotta love Volume 1! The Oi! that Garry Bushell championed in '79/'80 was neither musically sophisticated or ideologically sound (unless you are ICF or a Headhunter or a member of another such 'firm'). For my part I can't fight for shit and the idea of fighting in the street doesn't do it for me.... but crucial to me, as made very clear in the excellent documentary 'East End Babylon' the Rejects stood up against the elements of their audience that were British Movement and the Front! Respect! So long as you were happy to twat a willing rival in the South Bank it did not matter whether you were white, black or green. I can live with that I guess.
Middle of the set but the last one for me to mention is 'Bad Man', in my opinion the Rejects' finest moment (shared by Jeff I think). What a powerhouse of a song.
Islington O2 Academy 14th December 2019
This was my last gig of the year and a great one to end on. My daughter ranks them in her top 10 of bands..... well, I am old and tend to change my mind from day to day, but I will say of them as would Stinky.... they really do give 110% when they play..... they love their audience and their audience love them..... all as it should be.
Happy 40th birthday to the Cockney Rejects...... 'You Ruddy 'Ooligans' as Warden Hodges may have said.
'Dad, will you take me to see Ed Sheeran?........ only joking!'
Monday 16 December 2019
Here's the full show from a few years back when Theatre of Hate and Ruts DC appeared on the bill at Camden's Roundhouse.
Theatre of Hate FLAC: https://we.tl/t-JJsg6im4EB
Ruts DC FLAC: https://we.tl/t-PhM5wGeMEa
The Damned FLAC: https://we.tl/t-U8Ar66LhQk
Thanks to Eric for sharing this great sounding recording from Lille on the European leg of the 'Back On The Tracks' tour. Hope you enjoy it!
02. The Raven
03. I’ve Been Wild
04. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
05. Midnight Summer Dream
06. Time To Die
07. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
08. Norfolk Coast
09. 5 Minutes
11. Golden Brown
12. Always The Sun
01. Nuclear Device
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Freedom Is Insane
05. Walk On By
06. Something Better Change
08. Hanging Around
10. Go Buddy Go
11. No More Heroes
Sunday 15 December 2019
Regular visitors to the site will be familiar with this almost annual post. It is one that I always hate putting together but I feel is necessary to ensure the on-going functionality of the site.
Aural Sculptors has been active and regularly maintained for eight years now. In that time, the majority of music related blog sites offering fan to fan sharing of live recordings on a non-profit basis from which I drew the initial inspiration have thrown in the towel.
For the last few years WeTransfer has provided an excellent, stable and reliable host for these files. In the years that I have been using this provider the subscriptions have remained stable at £210 per year whilst the storage capacity that they are offering continues to increase! The situation now is that based based upon the maintenance of two accounts the Aural Sculptors site has a maximum capacity of 2 TB, which is is pretty phenomenal. This allows me to continue to post lossless recordings (rather than compressed MP3 versions) which is often a stipulation that other tapers have in order for their recordings to be shared to a wider audience. The current arrangements are such that with everything on the site I am using 10% of the available storage space which means that capacity will not be a problem for at least another couple of years.
Content-wise I do my level best to make the site relevant and interesting and all importantly loaded with recordings that fans of The Stranglers and related bands will be interested in. Thankfully I have a network of people who are bought into the process and will offer up recordings of interest to share on the site. To these people as always I offer my great gratitude.
If this site offers anything (and I hope that it does) I would be most happy if it goes some way towards preventing people from profiteering on sites such as eBay when attempting to sell, often successfully and very high prices, recordings that are made available by fans for fans for nothing. In this respect I understand that the profiteers have moved on somewhat to other forms of fakery to sell to the less informed but the prevalence of artwork that I have prepared for the site that appears on commercial sites is still a source of dismay.
For those wishing to make a contribution to the running of the site there is a PayPal button located on the right hand side panel.
I thank the contributors and supporters of the site for their continued interest and wish all a great Christmas and an active gigging 2020!
Last gig of the year
The Fuzz Club Athens 13th December 2019
With the exception of 1976, 2019 must have been one of the busiest yet for The Stranglers. The dates just kept going up on line relentlessly. A UK tour, loads of summer festivals, Japan.... all topped off by a punishing European tour to mark the end of the year. This was gigging on a 'Feline' scale!
The year started with a real treat that saw the band reunited with Jet Black for an unveiling of a plaque in honour of the band and the contribution that The Star Inn in Guildford has made to popular music over a staggering 80 years. Lucky punters could not believe their good fortune to have been there, to see JJ and Baz play on the very same stage that first showed off The Stranglers to a small world. And what's more there was good food and...... a free bar! There was no better way on a cold Thursday to sweep away, albeit briefly, the January blues.
The Star, Guildford
31st January 2019
The unveiling actually served two purposes, as already mentioned, it was an honour to be conferred on a band who are so very much connected to the Guildford area, for good and bad! However, and more importantly, it was a move engineered to highlight the plight of the venue which was at that time under threat of closure on the grounds of noise. Happily later in the year it was widely reported that the 'Save Our Star' campaign had been successful and the pub continues to operate as a music venue supporting local talent.
More information can be found here.
The 'gig' can be found here.
The tour was next, a railway themed 'Back On The Tracks' was the offering for March. With its dystopian stage set the gigs were rather unusual in that across the dates of the tour there appeared no less than four new songs, all of them unreleased, 'Payday', 'Last Man On The Moon', 'This Song Will Get Me Over You' and 'Water' (OK, newish). As to which of them appear on an official release we will just have to wait and see.
For those interested so far, three of the March dates have been posted on the site:
As the end of the tour approached the band diverted back to London for another special celebratory appearance. This time it was to be at the O2 Academy in Islington where they were to be presented with 'Vive Le Rocks' prestigious 'Band of the Year' award. To mark this the band rounded off the awards event with a short seven song set..... but nevertheless it was great to see the band again in a small, intimate venue, the kind you only generally get to see when the band play overseas.
As well as a great celebration of punk rock and alternative music the event was also highly poignant as some four months earlier, one of punk's finest wordsmiths Pete Shelley, had succumbed to a heart attack and two weeks prior to the Awards, Ranking Roger of The Beat lost his fight against cancer. Both men were remembered in moving tributes by their musical peers, Steve Diggle, Pauline Murray, Neville Staple and Pauline Black. To heap yet more meaning on to the event, a 'Lifetime Achievement' award was conferred upon the tireless Eddie and the Hotrods frontman, Barrie Masters, who sadly left us too later in the year after playing a farewell 'Done Everything We Wanna Do' show in the company of Hotrods past and present!
An earlier post on the evening can be located here.
As Spring changed into Summer outdoor gigs became the order of the day (some more bizarre than others! 'Pass me my mallet, there's a good chap!'). I went to another 'special' gig in Wales. Caerphilly castle was the venue no less..... Ruts DC and The Stranglers..... two slices of genuine London punk rock belted out in a bona fide 13th Century castle...... which was always intended to keep the English out!
David surveys the defences from behind his keyboard stronghold
Ruts DC performed a fantastic 'The Crack' set on the evening before taking to the ramparts to the left of the stage to watch The Stranglers.
'Jah War' by Ruts DC
Caerphilly Castle 7th July 2019
Such a special venue for a gig!
The announcement of a series of gigs in Japan was the only provocation that many of the fans needed to fulfill lifelong ambitions to see the band in a country that has long been a particular interest to some, if not all of the band.
The gigs I hear were a blast in intimate venues..... a once in a life time for some of the Familyinblack for sure.
Finally, a little closer to home but at the same time a world away from the O2 Academy hangers of the UK, Wonky Bus 7 happened. Now expanded to three gigs over a four day excursion, this trip would see 75 or so intrepid and mostly inebriated travelers cross the east to west length of France to see the band in Brittany and Normandy.
As mentioned previously, with the exception of gigs in Paris, the European dates are great in that they offer a chance to see the band in both unusual locations and in much smaller capacity venues. As such the presence of a large number of lubricated Brits is always very obvious, and I am glad to report, especially in these days, most welcomed by the local audience contingents.
In keeping with all previous trips, a special tour shirt was commissioned to mark the 40th anniversary of JJ's groundbreaking eletronic/punk crossover album 'Euroman Cometh'. Any possible associations with anything else occurring at the time were entirely coincidental.
The first gig of the Wonky Bus 7 trio can be found here.
Having lost all connection with space and time on this first date, for the second in Penmarch I tried to keep something more of a clearer head.... which was Gunta's chance to go off the rails!
'Wish You Were Here, With Love From Ruth and Gunta xxx'
Cap Caval, Penmarch 23rd November 2019
The second gig of the trio was located off the beaten track and the venue was heaving. What is more the bar was behind the auditorium where the only space was available..... it only made sense to make it our own!
For the final day, the bus transported a wearying gaggle of gig-goers into the Herouville St. Clair district of Caen for the final evening of reverie.
No trip to Caen would be rightfully completed without a trip to one of the D-Day landing beaches and in this respect, our brilliant drivers diverted via Arromanches (an Allied landing location on Gold Beach) for a brief stop. This was for many of the travelers their first opportunity to see where in some cases their relatives had landed. It made for a poignant and serious interlude into the weekends events in this the 75th anniversary of the landings.
Beyond France the band, linked up once again with Ruts DC for more gigs, as the assault on Europe drew to a close.
All told, a hectic year for the band and fans!
2020 is looking as though it may set a similar pace with an Australian tour already booked along with other prestige European dates. Here's to next year.
Gunta and Adrian (and two old comedians off the telly!)
Rebelion Festival August 2019
This is not an exercise I have done before but having been at a couple of festivals this year, for once curiosity got the better of me when it came to how many bands I have seen in 2019. As I thought it at 71 bands (not gigs) this has been my busiest music year since my first proper gig in 1981.
Highlights include Billy Bragg (early material only set), The Stranglers at the Guildford unveiling, Ruts DC and The Stranglers in the extraordinary setting of Caephilly Castle, The Adicts and The Rich Kids.
Lowlight would have to be The Stranglers in Brighton, when I was informed half way through the gig of the passing of Ranking Roger..... nothing against The Stranglers but I was staggered for the rest of the gig.
Here then is the list:
Cockney Rejects (x3)
Ed Tudor Pole
Gary Numan Career Q & A
Gold Toothed Reptiles (local band)
Knock Off (x2)
Pete Bentham and The Dinner Ladies
Peter & The Test Tube Babies
Ruts DC (x4)
Sham 69 (x2)
Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life
The Adicts (x2)
The Skids (x2)
The Smash (local band)
The Stranglers (x12)
The Subhumans (x 2)
The Undertones (x2)
Tom Robinson Band
TV Smith (x2)
OK, first off I'd like to say a big thank you to the taper for providing me with this recording to share on the Aural Sculptors site. Cheers. So here we have a solid 'Back on the Tracks' gig with three new songs in the set, if you still consider 'Water' to be new.
I haven't been able to find good photos of the gig (only Drew's which is never a good starting point!) so there is no artwork associated with this recording at present.
03. I’ve Been Wild
04. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
06. Baroque Bordello
07. Bring On The Nubile
11. Last Man On The Moon
15. Princess Of The Streets
16. Ice Queen
17. Golden Brown
18. Always The Sun
19. Death & Night & Blood
20. This Song Will Get Me Over You
21. Something Better Change
22. 5 Minutes
23. Hey! (Rise Of The Robots)
24. Down In The Sewer
25. Hanging Around
26. No More Heroes
Saturday 14 December 2019
The first of a trio of Wonky Bus gigs in France last month. This is a nice one for me to have as I must admit I have no recollection of this gig whatsoever! Thanks to the taper and photographer!
Sunday 8 December 2019
Here's a birthday gig from the 2013 tour that saw Ruts DC sharing the stage with their old mates The Damned once again. I have to say that the omission of 'The Limit Club' from The Damned's set on this tour was something of a disappointment.
01. Mighty Soldier
03. It Was Cold
05. Smiling Culture
07. One Step
09. No Time To Kill
11. Love in Vain
12. Staring At The Rude Boys
13. Jah War
14. West One (Shine On Me)
15. Babylon's Burning
17. In A Rut
Saturday 7 December 2019
Just a day late but here are Blondie in 2012 doing what they do. The Stranglers support set can be found here).
02. Hanging On The Telephone
03. Union City Blue
04. Love Doesn't Frighten Me
06. Call Me
07. What I Heard
08. Wipe Off My Sweat
09. The Tide Is High
02. One Way Or Another
03. One Way Or Another (Continued)
04. Encore Break
05. Relax (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)
06. Heart Of Glass
Wednesday 4 December 2019
The Apex, Bury St Edmunds
28th November 2019
Hugh’s solo material post 1990 has for me at least been something of a hit and miss affair. Each album has one or two tracks of interest, but voice aside most of it is rather far removed from my musical focus. Hugh’s latest offering ‘Monster’ does however buck this trend. With very distinct and varied themes across its ten tracks it is a very accomplished album, one in which Hugh can rightly be very proud. Historical figures abound in this work, people worthy of respect and people instilling revulsion in the mind of the listener.
I am of an age where I have familiarity if most of the characters (except for Hugh’s mum!). Mussolini, Sergeant Bilko, Ray Harryhausen , Evel Knievel….. However, anyone under 40 may struggle with some of the names and may need to resort to the internet to figure out their stories. In much the same way I looked up characters and events that cropped up on Stranglers albums years ago (only the library was the internet of the day!).
Last Thursday in deepest, darkest Suffolk, Hugh played The Apex in Bury St Edmunds. A new venue for me and very impressive. With practiced precision we arrived minutes before Hugh’s stage time.
The set focus was understandably ‘Monster’ but he did visit ‘Beyond Elysian Fields’, ‘Hoover Dam’ and ‘Totem and Taboo’ material too. Highlight of the night for me was an instrumental version of ‘Irate Caterpillar’.
The first set was drawn to a close by the brilliant ‘Duce Coochie Man’, the best track from the new album and in many ways reminiscent of the ‘Nosferatu’ style.
'The Mighty Sevens' & 'Duce Choochie Man'
Of course, the second set was wonderful, vocals are so evocative and with no disrespect to the vocalists who have filled his shoes since 1991, it is Hugh’s vocal chords that own many of The Stranglers’ songs and for that reason alone those songs are a joy to hear from him.
However, Hugh seemed to have a problem throughout the gig which saw him on several occasions cross the stage to consult with a young lad. Was it the sound coming back through the monitors? There seemed to be no indication of instrument problems either. It was not before the last two songs of the night that the reason for Hugh’s dissatisfaction became apparent, it was the aggressive air conditioning above the stage.
As a result, a chilled Hugh finished the set only to appear a few minutes later at the merch stand shrouded like a Benedictine monk for signings and the odd selfie!
A rather bizarre conclusion to the night and one highly enjoyed in some fantastic company.
Tuesday 3 December 2019
Here's one by request from a punter who was there. From way out west on the second night of the Feline tour!
01. Nuclear Device
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. Ships That Pass In The Night
04. It’s A Small World
05. Just Like Nothing On Earth
06. No More Heroes
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Never Say Goodbye
09. Baroque Bordello
10. Golden Brown
11. Princess Of The Streets
12. Midnight Summer Dream
13. European Female
15. The Raven
17. London Lady
18. Down In The Sewer
Monday 2 December 2019
Here's an anniversary gig from our mates The Damned. Billed as 'An Evening of Punk Rock, Pretty Girls and Priceless Performers'.... that's what we got. a 9 year old Rudi could not believe his eyes as the supporting Burlesque troupe did that thing with the nipple tassels! 'Don't breath a word of this at school tomorrow!' said I.
03. Street Of Dreams
04. Neat Neat Neat
06. New Rose
07. Wait For The Blackout
08. 13th Floor Vendetta
10. Disco Man
12. Shadow Of Love
13. History Of The World
14. Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde
16. Band Off
17. Band Back Without Dave Vanian
18. Jet Boy Jet Girl
19. Love Song
Tuesday 26 November 2019
Ticket booked! A culmination of 35 years of listening to this great band...... it's just sad to see that the inequalities of the mid-80's were never resolved...... if anything the gulf is wider than before.
This band, the Miners Strike and Spitting Image, in that order, served as my early political education.
We have a momentous political event on the immediate horizon. I don't care which way you vote (he bravely lied :)).... just don't waste the opportunity!
As I sit and write these posts a fabric version of Pennie Smith's pensionable piece stares down at me from our stairwell. Some years ago, early doors in her experimentation with various stitching techniques she has ago at London Calling.
The frame before the fame
Pennie Smith September 1979
Ok folks, here's one to debate..... and just for the record I don't really know the answer. Two great supporters of this site have passed on to me recordings of the two nights that The Clash played in late September 1979 at The Palladium in New York.
One purports to be the rarer recording of the 20th September date.
At the conclusion of 'White Riot' the clang of an instrument possibly hitting the floor two or three times is heard.
Wikipedia backs up the fact that the shot was taken on 20th September.
The other recording is from the following night, 21st September which is claimed from several sources to be the night that Paul Simenon did such a disservice to his Fender Precision bass. If I listen to this version there is a noise again at the end of 'White Riot', but I can hear less violence being done (which may also be due to tape fade).
Several other sources indicate that it was on 21st that Pauly had his tantrum.
Having listened to both recordings my money is on 20th September as being the night of his meltdown (in line with one donors claim and that of Wikipedia). My reasoning being that having seen the bass a couple of weeks ago and being familiar with the robustness of the Precision that level of damage was not achieved in one blow.
And so I leave it to you, the jury to decide.