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 June 2019

Brighton Dome 26th March 2019

Always a pleasure to return to the stables, I mean Brighton's fantastic Dome for The Stranglers. Here is the fist gig from the 'Back on the Tracks' tour to raise its head above the parapet. You may have to crank the volume up a little, but it is worth it. I mean when was the last time you can remember the band playing three brand new songs that had not yet seen a release! Many thanks to the sharer!



01. Tank
02. I’ve Been Wild
03. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
04. Baroque Bordello
05. Bring On The Nubile
06. Uptown/Relentless
07. Peaches
08. Time To Die
09. Last Man On The Moon
10. Duchess
11. Unbroken
12. Payday
13. Princess Of The Streets
14. Ice Queen
15. Golden Brown
16. Always The Sun
17. The Raven
18. This Song Will Get Me Over You
19. Something Better Change
20. 5 Minutes
21. Hey! (The Rise Of The Robots)
22. Down In The Sewer
23. Hanging Around
24. No More Heroes

Gull and Penguin Falklands 19th March 1999

Thanks to Dom P for this rarity!

In March 1999 The Stranglers flew straight with perfection back to the Falkland Islands to play for a second  time to play for the troops garrisoned on the Islands. Well if it's a choice between The Stranglers and Jim Davidson......

Great sounding recording of an out of the ordinary gig.


P.S. The artwork features images of the band on the Falkland in 1997.



01. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
02. Skin Deep
03. Money
04. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
05. Thrown Away
06. Strange Little Girl
07. Toiler On The Sea
08. Always The Sun
09. Valley Of The Birds
10. 96 Tears
11. Coup De Grace
12. All Day And All Of The Night
13. Duchess
14. Tank
15. Golden Brown
16. Something Better Change
17. Hanging Around
18. No More Heroes
19. In The End (Forces Network Radio)

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Violence in Sweden - Sounds Report 1st October 1977

News of the bands run in with Sweden's Raggare in the Autumn of '77. One Swedish gig was played then the remainder cancelled. The band return to the UK and embarked on the 'No More Heroes' tour a few days later.

Back on the Tracks Gigs

I have had quite a few emails over the recent weeks enquiring as to whether I intend to put up any gigs from the recent tour. Well, the simple truth is that I don't at present have any. I am not a taper myself (these days I wouldn't have sufficient bladder control to stay motionless for 90 minutes anyway!) and have relied to others within the Stranglers bootleg collecting community who have been very generous over the years that this site has existed (8 years now) and allowed me to share their recordings. Strangely nothing has appeared on Dime either and with such a full gig diary this year I find that very surprising. It's a shame since the Back on the Tracks set was interesting not least down to the appearance of several new songs.

La Courneuve Paris 15th June 1980

Here's an anniversary gig (meant to post this yesterday) although there is some uncertainty as to when the band actually played this festival (14th or 15th June), but don't let that worry you too much as the sound is good and the set is fantastic. According to the Burning Up Time Forum the festival was organised by the Parti Socialiste Unifié.


Saturday, 15 June 2019

The Jam Michael Sobell Sports Centre Islington 12th December 1981

So, in this post I include the sound recording of the gig reviewed in the previous post. Please note that the file states the date to be 13th December but this is incorrect. They did play at the same venue on Sunday 13th but with different supports.

My thoughts for what they are worth.... Well, having seen pictures of the interior of the Michael Sobell Sports Centre it is clear that the venue is horrendous (anyone remember when The Stranglers played Crawley Leisure Centre on the '10 Tour', just horrible!). This will and indeed does play havoc with the sound, Early in the set, you can almost feel the cold as the Jam echo away in that cavenous space. But as the temperature rises things improve and as the reviewer says The Jam are very good indeed.

I would take issue with his comments of the adoration by the fans of the band as icons. The fact that soft drinks were sold across the bar is mentioned makes it clear that this was promoted as a gig without the usual 18 plus entry requirement. Hearing 'We Are The Mods!' again puts me in mind of the fact that much of the audience were probably 16 year olds and let's face it at that age who didn't have their chosen band on an unassailable pedestal! 'And I should know, I've followed a few!' as they say in 'The Life of Brian'. He's also rather tough on Weller with an assertion that he is in danger of following his heroes' paths in taking the band down the road to stadium rock. What the reviewer didn't know was far from that being the case, The Jam were now in their last 12 months of existence and rather than take what was undoubtedly the biggest properly functioning band (thereby excluding The Stones and The Who) in the UK to even greater heights, Weller pulled the plug. In changing direction in the way that he did with The Style Council I don't doubt that many of the young mods in attendance on that night flogged their parkas and went in search of a new identity.

But take a look at the set, it's very brave. With the exception of three songs lifted from 'All Mod Cons' the band ignore anything prior to 1979 and there is very much a focus on a new brass infused future sound. 'A Town Called Malice' gets an early airing.... the following month would see it become The Jam's third number 1 single, back in a time when that meant the sale of serious units! More than half of the material from 'The Gift' features, an album that would not see the light of day  for another  three months yet. Only a band extremely confident in the quality of work would do that I think.

I never saw The Jam, it's not as if the opportunity was not there..... they played Brighton (closest to me at the time) not less that four times in 1982! Would I have gone to this gig, despite the shortcomings of the venue? Yes, of course I would!


Gig Review - The Jam/Department S/Bananarama/The Questions Michael Sobell Sports Centre London Sounds 19th December 1981

Sounds reported on a big gig that took place at the Michael Sobell Centre in North London's Islington. The venue remains, but it's time as a large concert host was short lived.

"The Jam/Department S/Bananarama/The Questions Michael Sobell Sports Centre

The Questions are a very early opening turn. They're promising but the vast gaping spaces of Desperate Dan's tennis court sap their energies.

The tiresome M/C is Gary Crowley, for once not merely acting the idiot. He tells an unfunny joke about skinheads and generally displays how to fail an audition for the Sooty Show.

Bananarama are introduced and the three belles line up to sing their song. This of course id 'Ai A Mwana' done with a tapped backing. They astound the world by performing a second tune. Both are overlong and weak. Those who applaud the trio of turkeys have clearly never experienced The Marine Girls. If only they were here.

Department S have some amusing lyrics, worth hearing but only once. All the words are driven by an identical rhythm, a heavy rumble approaching the hinterland of Metal-vile but not quite kickin' ass. An insane plastic surgeon and a mad tailor got together in the nut-house and planned revenge on the world. They called it Vaughn Toulouse.

The hall filled gradually  as the audience filed in from the surrounding snow. Inside it is still cool enough to necessitate the continued wearing of the parka and to shiver, both from cold and the thought of The Exploited playing a few hundred yards up the road.

The Jam hit the stage and the drabness gives way to a wild celebration. The temperature soars in degrees per  second as the vast mass of humanity jumps for joy at a glimpse of their heroes. People cheer and scream song titles with a religious zeal.

In their euphoria perhaps they don't notice the shaky or uncertain timings or the atrocious sound. Foxton's bass only reaches the ear after a boom increasing bounce off each of the brick walls. It virtually occludes the guitar and a good proportion of Weller's voice. The bass riff laden 'Start' is virtually obliterated.

Scenes of blind devotion worry me. Pop musicians as idols, The Jam as worshiped icons. I've every respect for Weller and his commitment to just causes and concerns (compare with those once contemporaries in social commentary, The Clash, and their tragic infatuation with, and ridiculous adoption of, distant and obscure political causes) but the adulation of the 'star' does not alter.

The Sobell Centre is staging a rock and roll show, with soft drinks, outside mobile toilets, ugly crushes at the exits and surely a pocketful of pretty green for someone. No, I don't know the alternative either but it's not hard to see Weller going the way of his heroes from the past, Pete Townsend, Ray Davies or (shudder) John Lennon. All well lauded figures doing their level best but in harsh real terms able to change nothing. The constant, inescapable acclaim slowly but surely sucks away the idealistic venom. But then I'm just old and cynical and I hope Paul can prove me wrong.

These inconsistencies aside, tonight was a Christmas present to the fans and despite the early hesitancy the group powered to heady highs and were, simply, excellent. 'Set The House Alight' (sic) and 'When You're Young' were just two  that sent shivers dancing up my vertibrae and melted away the initial doubts.

The true highlights are the brand new songs of the Mach planned LP. There iis 'A Town Called Murder' (sic), 'Happy Together', not The Turtles hit but laced with an equally memorable melody and announced as a 'tender love song to touch you're soul'. Also, 'Precious' with an auto-wahing, sub-Shaft fast guitar meeting with the drums and bass head-on in a rhythmic and almost funky (shock, horror) concoction. A two-man (Keith and Steve) brass section are featured strongly bringing a great new delicious dimension to Jam-sound.

'That's Entertainment' finds Paul and Bruce ('he's pissed, he always is' observes one long-standing fan) doning acoustic guitars, a mournful tale of Eighties realism grafted onto a Sixties (Everley Brothers!) music.

Paul asks the audience to take a CND leaflet prior to 'Going Underground'. After two sets of encores the density of populace heading doorwards makes this impossible. Many wouldn't have bothered anyway. They bound cheerfully over the snow to a warm house, cup of cocoa and bed. Until the apocalypse, the Jam keep 'em happy"

Paul Weller goes for the Ralph McTell look
(Michael Sobell Centre, Islington 12th December 1981)


New Thread Idea - Gig Reviews.... you decide

Ok, wracking my brains what to do as something a little different. I will post some contemporary gig reviews from the British music weeklies and then post a recording of the gig under review. You the listener can then decide who's on the mark, hack or punter.

This may not be esy to do but I'm sure that I can find a few.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The Request Show 1977 - 1982

One of the first bootlegs by the band that I got. Thanks again to Eric and The Rat Zone.