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

Thursday 31 December 2020

A Happy New Year 2021 From Aural Sculptors


Apologies for the image, I appreciate what a hard year this year has been for everyone. Unprecedented for all. The loss of Dave is still something that I am struggling to get my head around but equally we must consider those that are very much alive and struggling to get by when livelihoods have just been closed down overnight. Especially for those involved in the hospitality and entertainment sectors, the very same people responsible for pretty much my entire social life, I wish you better prospects for at least half of next year. I lost my opportunity to go to the pub or eat out with family or go to gigs this year but I did not lose my job and income and the security that comes with it. For that I am very thankful.

Let us hope that as soon as it is safe to do so, as best we can, we wholeheartedly support those to hammered sectors within our economy.

Raise a glass to Dave tonight and whilst you are at it raise another to the bands, road crews, studio staff, independent venue staff etc etc and hope for better next year.

All the Best!

Adrian x 

The Damned Foxes At The Sundown 18th August 1977


So, continuing a 'Music For Pleasure' theme, here is a set from The Damned that predates the release of the album but features a good mix of material that would appear on it. As ever, it is always a bonus to be able to tie in an audio recording with a contemporary review of the gig and here we have not one but two reviews of the gig that brought together The Damned, The Adverts and The Fruit Eating Bears.

The NME review is more sympathetic than the opinions of the Record Mirror reviewer. However, both writers are in agreement that the venue was too full and not yet in a suitable state to put on gigs..... the raised dance floor, upon all those Disco Men and Disco Women had displayed in a former life of the club, was a major obstacle in terms of seeing the band. Nonetheless, even with an impaired view of the stage action, the gig itself sounds pretty exiting and I would have given an arm and a leg to even hear the coupling of The Damned and The Adverts at this time! 

Sunday nights after the opening night looked good too!

Given the overcrowding of the venue, the sound on this recording has come out pretty well!

The Reviews

New Musical Express 27th August 1977

Let them eat fruit 
Before the Adverts come on. 

The Damned,
The Adverts,
The Fruit Eating Bears


This was the Sundown’s opening night as a punk venue. The management wanted the evening to run smoothly and wasted much breath begging the audience to keep of the stage and stop surging against the barriers and other obstacles.

It was certainly too full for comfort. Something about the height of the stage meant that only the people at the front could see the whole show. When anything happened on stage the frustrated crowds bounded forwards, the lucky spectators at the front got piled up and spilled onto the stage and no-one could see anything except from a distant, peep-hole balcony above. That’s where I spent most of the evening, and it’s out of touch to say the least.

The Fruit Eating Bears have changed beyond recognition. Last time I saw them they were a fast-playing underrated ‘60s revivalist band. Now they’ve jumped the bandwagon with short, fast, predictable songs with better titles than content (“Egyptian P.T.”?)

Not unexpectedly, the wildest reception of the night was given not to a band but to a record. “Anarchy In The U.K.” had the whole massed, packed audience singing , bouncing, tumbling onto the stage, like a swarm of new wave lemmings. It took some time to clear things after the dust had settled, but there didn’t seem to be too much strong-arm from security. Which is unusual and welcome.

It was the first time I’d seen the Adverts and they were even better than expected, one of the few new wave bands who manage to create songs that sound genuinely new and different, rather than trotting out the Ramones songbook or straight heavy metal. The Adverts’ music came over as sharp and clear on stage as on record. 

They started (and encored) with “One Chord Wonders” and if they were second rate musicians, as I’d been told far too often, the material was so strong it just didn’t matter. “Bombsite Boys”, “On the Roof” and a new two-minute epic “No Time to be Twenty-One”, all qualify as great pop songs: the thing that all the best new wave bands from The Ramones to The Clash have got in common is the ability to write instant impact rock with obsessive choruses. “Looking Through Gary Gilmour’s Eyes” could be one of the most memorable chants of the year, ranking with ‘Gaba’ and ‘God Save the Queen’.

“Bored Teenagers” is almost as catchy with T.V. Smith, pencil-thin, flickering across the stage like a berserk puppet, trailing his broken strings behind him, hanging over the audience like a demented son of Pinocchio. And he has to keep moving, otherwise Gaye Advert, in precarious black jacket and glowing trousers, smouldering motionless beside her amp at the back of the stage, would be the focus of attention.

Smith keeps folding over at the waist, spitting the words out, a quivering, menacing hunchback without Rotten’s magic but with commitment to spare. If I wanted to be escoteric I’d say Smith was playing Dwight Frye to Vanian’s Lugosi, but perhaps I’d better not bother. The Adverts sounded and looked good, approaching the same league as the Clash, the Buzzcocks and, of course the Damned.

But before the doomed quintet themselves, there’s something happening above the stage. Everyone’s breaking their necks to catch what’s going on. It’s a film show, no sound, but new wave fashion parades, mobile mug-shots of Mark P and McClaren, film of the no-longer Hot Roddies and, getting roars of approval from the sweating, staring audience, instant replays of Vanian’s lunatic combo at some other venue.

With the stage cleared again, and without much warning, it’s the Damned. Captain Sensible’s wearing shades so thick that he tries to walk off the edge of the stage. I think I can see Brian James in some sort of orange waist-coat. Rat’s at the back, testing the drums’ resistance to pain. Somewhere in the corner, the mysterious Lu is prowling unobtrusively, looking as mean and wasted as a drug-crazed vulture.

Dave Vanian started off in full Dracula gear but quickly shed slimy black accoutrements as the heat increased. His face looked whiter, his hair darker than ever before, and where T.V. Smith had stood above the audience, taunting them, Vanian seems to fling himself at them, weathering a storm of beer, spit and plastic glasses. He began the set by waving his hand at the audience in a gesture of contempt, but halfway in he’s diving into the crowd, allowing them to heave him back onto the stage.

They play the old favourites from the album, some of them sounding better than ever with Lu’s rhythm guitar allowing James not only room for fret-board manoeuvre but a chance to share more of the vocals than previously. The new songs don’t sound nearly as strong, unfortunately. “Stretcher Case” is probably the best, but “Problem Child”, the next single, doesn’t have the punch of “New Rose” or “N-N-Neat”.

“Politics”, dedicated to the Nazi Party, is a new slice of elementary anarchy, and I thought, in the confusion of the moment, I heard the Captain dedicate “Sick of Being Sick” to Presley. In case that’s in bad taste I’ll assume I’m wrong. “Take My Money” sounds promising.

With Vanian twinning himself around the drum-kit like a mesmerized serpent, I was thinking that this was about the best performance I’d seen from him, then things started to go wrong. The audience inevitably burst onto the stage and from then on the vocals were buried, Vanian was buried and Rat seemed to be trying to push the rest of the band much faster than they could go in those conditions. The second half of the set went from the blurred to the obscure, there’s something about the venue that even two good bands had to struggle against. They say the place is going to be adapted and re-decorated for the new wave. It’s going to be “…. one big party.” Perhaps they just shouldn’t invite so many people.

Kim Davis.

Record Mirror 27th August 1977

Sundown NOT for punk

Sundown, London

With local shopkeepers trying to get the Roxy closed, it’s a good thing other venues are opening for punk rock. But the Charing Cross Road Sundown isn’t the answer. It’s rumoured that the place is going to be redecorated soon, but really alterations should have been made before it opened. There’s a raised dance floor in the middle of the hall, a remnant from the disco days, and once that’s covered with bodies no one else can see. A line of beefy bouncers along the front of the stage obscured the band from view, making problems even worse. So what’s the use of going there to see a band – especially ones who rely on visual excitement as well as the music – when you have to pogo 15 feet in the air to catch sight of just an arm?

This grand opening featured The Damned and The Adverts . The Adverts look as though they’ve got a hit with the excellent ‘Gary Gilmour’s Eyes’. That was one of only three which stood out in their set. I felt most of their material sounded too much alike, the ideas are there but they’re not being properly thought out. And singer TV Smith could do with more support to give the songs more variation. Bass player Gaye is improving all the time but the whole band was better at the Roxy. Other songs that stood out were ‘New Church’ and ‘Bored Teenager’, both of which have the same kind of hard speediness that works up a frenzy. I don’t think it’ll take them too long to get there other songs up to the same level.

The Damned weren’t at their best either, although they weren’t actually bad. I think they suffered most from the heavies standing at the front – they had to go off at one point while the audience was told to move back. The crowd control was a bit menacing from the guys at the door to the bouncers inside. Perhaps they were expecting trouble…

The Damned opened with ‘You Take My Money’ and performed a predictable but competent set. They haven’t managed to get a lot of new material released and I was a bit disappointed with the song that’s going to be their next single – ‘Problem Child’. It didn’t have the bite I’ve come to expect of The Damned’s songs. Maybe it grows on you; I hope so. If you’ve seen The Damned you’ll know most of  the set – ‘New Rose’ (still great), ‘Stretcher Case Baby’, ‘Neat Neat Neat’, ‘Fan Club’ and ‘Stab Your Back’ are the standards. And they did one for Elvis; ‘Born to Kill’. I’m not sure if that’s meant to be sick or not. And I think new guitarist Lu is a waste of time – I couldn’t hear him at all.

I watched the crowd as it was impossible to see anything other than the occasional glimpse of Dave Vanian’s naked torso or the top of Captain Sensible’s newly shorn head (I expect for trying to play his bass behind his head – the old superstar – before bouncing it off the floor). There was a short but illuminating sideshow which featured a young man wearing nothing but a pair of underpants and a pair of plimsoles, committing strange practices on what I imagine must have been a very close friend (male). I don’t think the evening was a success.

Rosalind Russell

The Gig

MP3 (as received):


01. You Take My Money
02. Neat Neat Neat
03. Problem Child
04. Fan Club
05. Politics
06. Sick Of Being Sick
07. Don’t Cry Wolf
08. Stretcher Case Baby
09. Help
10. Stab Yor Back
11. So Messed Up
12. New Rose
13. Born To Kill
14. Fish

One final word on this one..... The Fruit Eating Bears...... I remember watching 'A Song For Europe', a platform by which the UK's 1978 entry to the dread Eurovision Song Contest and they appeared playing a song called 'Door in my Face'.... it was awful but I have never forgotten it! As is often the way, the single commands quite a high price if you have a copy. Why was I watching this spectacle..... I was but nine years old Your Honour.

'Door in my Face' by The Fruit Eating Bears (1978)

Wednesday 30 December 2020

The Damned's 'Music For Pleasure' - Is It Really So Unpleasurable?


Despite the approval of another easier to handle vaccine today, the COVID-19 related news (is there any news that isn't COVID related these days?) has been very grim indeed. With a daily death toll of nearly 1000 people and 50,000 plus confirmed positive cases of infection it is quite clear that that pesky spikey ball of death still has the upper hand for some months to come. The inevitable consequence for us, the music fan, is that we are now increasingly in receipt of emails informing us that the tours that were rescheduled for the spring and summer of 2021 will not take place. This surely must be the case for the Damned reformation gigs planned for July.

This situation got me thinking. I did not buy tickets for these shows..... it wasn't the cost of the ticket, rather two other considerations. My prime reason for keeping my credit card in my wallet was the fact that I saw the original line up a few times when they came back in '88 but another reason was the fact that in my opinion, they have previously done 'Damned Damned Damned' to death. It always puzzled me that they partnered  'Damned Damned Damned' and 'The Black Album' on a tour when they have yet to showcase the full 'Strawberries' album. Now don't get me wrong I am fully appreciative of the fact that  'Damned Damned Damned' is a key album in the 1977 punk canon of work and moreover, the involvement of Brian James when playing those songs takes the occasion to another level, but 'my Damned' revolves around 'Machine Gun Etiquette', 'The Black Album' and 'Strawberries'. 

Another frustration that I have with 1977 vintage Damned is their apparent shared contempt of their second album, 'Music For Pleasure'. Sure, it was a commendable attempt by the band to steer their sound in a different direction from the raw, breakneck tempo of the debut. One of the tensions felt within this fractious quartet of musicians was that  'Damned Damned Damned' was Brian's album since he was the one who penned the vast majority of it. That is one of the striking differences with 'MFP', the writing credits are significantly more varied. Some of the songs aren't that great but in my opinion others do work well, making the album a worthy follow up to  'Damned Damned Damned'.

I guess that some of the frustrations stemmed from bagging Pink Floyd's Nick Mason in to produce the album when it was Syd Barrett that they really wanted in the chair. The Pink Floyd drummers modus operandi in the studio was about as far removed from that of The Damned as could be. Like The Jam and The Stranglers, The Damned were following the industry standards for '60's bands who were expected to produce not one but two albums per year. For all three bands the pressure on them to produce that second album and one that would be as successful of their respective debuts was enormous. That pressure was compounded by weeks spent on the road during that whirlwind year. The Stranglers were saved by the fact that half of the material for a follow up was already written and well established in the band's live set. The Jam suffered as principal songwriter Weller succumbed to a period of writer's block. The Damned as I said made a valiant attempt to produce something different, an endeavor that in my opinion was largely successful. 

Before stylus touched the vinyl, it was evident that The Damned were striving for something different. From the abstract Barney Bubbles cover art to the mysterious fifth member and second guitarist Lu on the reverse 'Music For Pleasure' was not to be a rehash of  'Damned Damned Damned', despite what the record company or fans wanted.

Released on 18th November 1977, the album failed to chart which was a blow to one of the premier league bands of punk. Contrast that with the performance of the competition's second albums of '77, 'This Is The Modern World' (also released on 18th November which peaked at #22) and 'No More Heroes' (which peaking at #2 even out performed 'Rattus'!). With these chart positions in mind, compare and contrast the critical reception of 'Music For Pleasure' and 'No More Heroes (reviews can be found here). 

New Musical Express 5th November 1977

'No More Heroes' was pretty much slated by one and all, and by the same music journalists that has pored lavish praise upon 'Rattus' only six months previously. 'Music For Pleasure' got four star ratings in both Sounds (**** 'Good album, hear it if you can') and Record Mirror (**** 'Buy it'). Only the po-faced Melody Maker condemned it, but then again being Folk and Jazz orientated their critical view of punk was to be expected. 

So what follows are three of the four main UK music weeklies opinions on the second album by The Damned (anyone got the NME review for completeness?). Click on the images to enlarge.

Sounds 26th November 1977

Record Mirror 26th November 1977

Melody Maker 26th November 1977

The pressures of being in The Damned and the strains in producing this album resulted in Rat walking prior to the release of the album with London's Jon Moss taking the drum stool for the tour. However, the writing was on the wall and the departure of Brian James in early 1978 spelled the end of The Damned...... didn't it?

Monday 28 December 2020

Motorhead Hammersmith Odeon 10th October 1987


I saw Motorhead a handful of times and this was the first, on the 'Rock 'n' Roll' tour in 1987. I was 18 and pretty intimidated by the Hell's Angels who were providing security, official or otherwise, for the evening. Sadly, I never saw the 'classic' line up since Fast Eddie Clarke had left the band five years previously, but for this tour Philthy 'Animal' Taylor was back behind the kit.

01. Tuning
02. Doctor Rock
03. Stay Clean
04. Traitor
05. Metropolis
06. Dogs
07. Ace Of Spades
08. Stone Deaf In The USA
09. Eat The Rich
10. Built For Speed
11. Rock & Roll
12. Deaf Forever
13. Band Introductions
14. Just Cos You've Got The Power
15. Banter
16. No Class
17. Orgasmatron
18. Motorhead
19. Encore Break
20. Killed By Death
21. Encore Break
22. Overkill

Remembering Lemmy!

De Montford Hall Leicester 15th March 1990


Here is a pretty decent recording (a local radio broadcast perhaps) of an abridged set from Leicester. This gig was the rescheduled date after the February gig was called off at the eleventh hour due to an IRA bomb threat that had been received on the night. More information on that can be found here.



01. Intro
02. Shah Shah A Go Go
03. I Feel Like A Wog
04. Straighten Out
05. 96 Tears
06. Someone Like You
07. Always the Sun
08. Spain
09. Peaches
10. Where I Live
11. Uptown
12. Tank
13. Nuclear Device
14. Duchess
15. 5 Minutes
16. No More Heroes
17. All Day & All Of The Night

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Bizarre Festival Butzweilerhof Cologne 21st August 1999


Meant to post this yesterday on the 18th anniversary of Joe's untimely death. A good quality festival set with  the Mescaleros.



01. Intro
02. Straight To Hell
03. Tony Adams
01. London Calling
05. X-Ray Style
06. Rock The Casbah
07. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
08. Yalla Yalla
09. Brand New Cadillac
10. I Fought The Law
11. Tommy Gun
12. Bankrobber

Sunday 20 December 2020

Ruts DC Electracoustic Volume One Available Now


Times are hard.... the pubs are shut, but my problems pale into insignificance when you consider the thousands of bands that have been unable to play in 2020. I cannot imagine the frustration right now for those musicians that we have grown up with that have long since lost the backing of record companies and are out there own their own.

I don't mean this to sound like a passage from Oliver Twist but Ruts DC are just one of the many bands in this predicament and yet they have managed to produce an acoustic album of the songs that we know and love. 

A bit late for Christmas I know, but nevertheless treat yourself... after all, if you are south of the Watford Gap you're not leaving the house any time soon anyway so what have you got to lose!

Killing Joke Lyceum London 30th November 1980

Now to one of the biggest hitters in punk, Killing Joke, and more specifically their eponymous first album, one of the most important, ground breaking albums in punk and certainly top dog in the post punk field.

I laugh now to think that this album was the grinding in the background for most of my mock 'O' Level revision back in 1984. I still wonder how anyone could possible revise and take stuff in with this in both ears. Somehow it worked and I did OK!

It is without doubt one of the most explosive debut albums that has ever been released, a manifesto setting out the Killing Joke's sonic intentions. Nothing at the time sounded remotely like this. If anything the bands that can be loosely labelled with a post punk tag were veering more towards jazz and the avant garde than this full on assault of grinding guitars, gut punching bass and horror film synths!

The artwork is of interest, it being a doctored image of The Troubles in Derry's Bogside.

Here too is a contemporary review of the album from Melody Maker.

Melody Maker 18th October 1980

So, here's a great sounding recording from the Lyceum in London on that first album tour.

01. Pssyche
02. Bloodsport
03. S.O.36
04. Tomorrow's World
05. Requiem
06. Change
07. Wardance
08. Primitive
09. The Wait
10. Tension
11. Complications

Aural Sculpture Demos 17 Track Version


Here's a collection of demos posted on request. This is essentially a fuller version of the Rat Zone demo CD that can be found here. This version has a number of second takes of songs. I keep saying it but some of the best songs from the Aural Sculpture sessions were wrongly consigned to B-sides when they should have been on the album proper.... all a bit late now.



01. Skin Deep (1)
02. Punch And Judy (1)
03. Hitman
04. North Winds (1)
05. Skin Deep (2)
06. In One Door (1)
07. Souls
08. Achilles Heel
09. Punch & Judy (2)
10. Hot Club
11. The Beast
12. Here & There
13. Vladimir And The Beast
14. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
15. Head On The Line
16. In One Door (2)
17. North Winds (2)

Sunday 13 December 2020

West Orange Creations Club 7th April 1981


I haven't listened to this one an age and it's easy to forget how good some of the US bootlegs from the tours that the band did over there in 1980 and 1981. Small sweaty clubs, noisy punters and sarcy comments emanating from the stage. The Stranglers never broke the States.... victims of their own Englishness perhaps. By this time, the belligerence towards our American cousins had abated somewhat, but it wasn't enough.

01. Intro
02. Threatened
03. The Raven
04. Toiler On The Sea
05. Just Like Nothing On Earth
06. Thrown Away
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Baroque Bordello
09.  Second Coming
10. Hallow To Our Men
11. Tank
12. Nuclear Device
13. Genetix

Friday 11 December 2020

Hatfield Forum 11th December 2011


From 9 years ago today here' Gary in Hatfield on the 'Dead Son Rising' tour. Now Numan for me means Tubeway Army and the first two solo albums, although I have seen him many times throughout his career, but the 'Dead Son Rising' was for me the best thing that he had done since 'Sacrifice' which in itself was a real comeback album from several years in the serious doldrums!

MP3 (as received):


01. Intro
02. Down In The Park
03. The Fall
04. Haunted
05. When The Sky Bleeds, He Will Come
06. Films
07. Big Noise Transmission
08. Pure
09. Dead Sun Rising
10. Every Day I Die
11. We Are The Lost

01. Absolution
02. For The Rest Of My Life
03. Noise Noise
04. Everything Comes Down To This
05. Jagged
06. I Die:You Die
07. Cars
08. My Shadow In Vain
09. Are "Friends" Electric?

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Hugh Cornwell Sheffield City Hall 9th December 2005


15 years ago Hugh took to the stage at City Hall, Sheffield as support to Blondie. 


01. Duchess
02. Beauty On The Beach
03. Nice 'N' Sleazy
04. Picked Up By The Wind
05. Hanging Around
06. Cadiz
07. Always the Sun
08. Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit
09. Sweden
10. Under Her Spell
11. No More Heroes

Saturday 5 December 2020

Roundhouse London 9th March 2012


Meanwhile in North London on the 'Giants' tour...



01. Intro
02. Burning Up Time
03. Sometimes
04. The Raven
05. Lowlands
06. Hey! (Rise Of The Robots)
07. Hanging Around
08. Unbroken
09. Time Was Once On My Side
10. Golden Brown
11. Strange Little Girl
12. Walk On By
13. Giants
14. Peaches

01. Mercury Rising
02. Lost Control
03. Shut Up
04. No More Heroes
05. Relentless
06. Something Better Change
07. Time To Die
08. Duchess
09. 5 Minutes
10. All Day & All Of The Night
11. Tank

The Damned Alexandra Park Manchester 8th August 1981


Here are The Damned at 'The Northern Carnival Against Missiles' a rather drab and unfulfilling event is the words of the reviewer are to be believed. May thanks to the 'Second Time Around' website for the files.

MP3 (as received):


01. Banter
02. Wait For The Blackout
03. Lively Arts
04. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
05. Plan 9 Channel 7
06. Banter
07. Dr Jeckyll & Me Hyde
08. Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2
09. Drinking About My Baby
10. Melody Lee
11. Hit Or Miss
12. Noise Noise Noise
13. Banter
14. Love Song
15. Neat Neat Neat
16. Banter
17. Ballroom Blitz
18. Looking At You

A Carnival of Empty Gestures

NME 15th August 1981

Dave Vanian turns his back on the important issues...

Northern Carnival Against The Missiles

Protest And Survive?

IN AUGUST, 1945, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing over 200,000 people immediately, whilst in the years that followed inestimable thousands more suffered slow, agonizing deaths from leukaemia, cancer and other radiation-induced diseases - some horrendous heritage.

Thirty-five years later, in 1980, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament organised a London rally where 60,000 of their supporters demonstrated against the barbarity of the bomb. This year's northern festival- billed as the biggest nuclear arms protest ever to be held outside of the capital, and set against the background of a Government who've committed themselves to spending £500 million on Trident and have agreed to site 160 'first strike' American Cruise Missiles in Britain by 1983 – was expected to be an even greater success for CND.

But this 1981 Northern Carnival Against The Missiles was a failure. More like the Carnival Of Empty Gestures

On the march with the renowned "beat" persons The Police

Along The Primrose
Path To Nowhere

AT 11am last Saturday, an approximate 10,000 people (a fraction of the anticipated turn out) assembled outside Strangeways Prison for the start of a march that was to take them through the city centre and on to Alexandra Park, in riot-torn Moss Side, where the Carnival was to be staged.

But unlike Scotland CND's recent procession focusing on Faslane, where Cruise Missiles are to be sited, this was a walk to and from nowhere of any relevant significance. What mark could a march-possibly make on the Government when it only temporarily inconvenienced weekend shoppers and for three-quarters of its route was exclusively witnessed by the inhabitants of the poorest, most socially deprived and dilapidated areas of inner-city Manchester?

Worse than this was how the campaign against missiles was pushed into the background by the prevalence of activists intent on other aims. At any opportunity, the soap-box oracles of every persuasion and cause rose to give megaphone-amplified speeches hoping to divert attention to their pet issues - racism, Communism, trade unions, Iran, Tony Benn's struggle for the leadership of the Labour Party, etc, etc.

I ask Tim Haig, contributing writer of Socialist Organiser, what place his speech about "the British army fighting a guerilla campaign against the IRA" had at a CND rally?

''I'll take every chance I can to speak out about Northern Ireland," he argued. "But it's all part of the same jigsaw, part of the overall picture of things to be fought for."

Of course, he was only too well aware of the number of people in England likely to turn out for a pro-IRA march. Similarly, it was interesting to hear a young woman selling The Next Step (The Review of the Revolutionary Communist Party) call out for "organized class violence" and the RCP's placid little Smash The Prevention Of Terrorism Act Campaign.
And all this at the Carnival of Peace.

Bedtime Stories

OF THE 'official' CND speeches delivered from the main stage, none were outstanding and all were poorly received by a rain-soaked crowd who waited all day in vain for a charismatic EP Thompson-type messiah to save them from the endless stream of CSE-level soporific sloganeers.

Frank Allaun, Labour MP for Salford, won the biggest cheer of the afternoon with his promise to make his speech the shortest of the day, though Kerry Wade's discourse on behalf of CND Youth went one step better, being brief and interesting.

But even she failed to captivate one intrepid reporter on the trail of political subversives, Fascists especially. Claiming he'd seen a couple of Nazis near the backstage area, this imaginative hack confronted local co-promoter Ginger Jones, and tried to make him confess that CND supported " the gassing of a million Jews."

Ginger wasn't too surprised to learn that the enquiring journalist's investigation was being conducted for the benefit of the News of The World.

Charity Begins At Home

MOST FREE festivals are normally preceded by a series of local benefit gigs where small-time bands offer their services free in order to raise money for the staging of the forthcoming main event ostensibly to pay for publicity, PA and generator hire, etc. But a large 'percentage of the cash they earn invariably goes straight into the pockets of the stars who demand a sizeable sum before they'll attach their names to a cause.

So local bands Terrorist Guitars and The Freshies were kind enough to earn the money that contributed
towards the day's wage billThe Damned, £600, and John Cooper Clarke £250. Local hero JCC's 'expenses' probably just covered his 10 minute drive from Salford and the transportation of his poetry book.

Onstage with renowned beat group The Freshies

Other bands with equally commendable social consciences included Hawkwind who pulled out, according to promoter Phil Jones, "When their £500 didn't arrive at their agency in time," and The Thompson Twins, who cancelled their engagement because of "recording commitments". Though The TT's now claim they informed CND they'd be missing a whole two days(!) before the Carnival, Phil
Jones was still confidently expecting them to turn out at 3.30 pm on Saturday, half an hour before they were due on stage.

But What About The Music?

WHA T ABOUT the music. The bands that appeared – The Freshies, Beat Roots, Harlem Spirit, John Cooper Clarke and The Damned - didn't play this gig because they knew it would be covered extensively by the national media, but because they were so obviously motivated by a genuine desire to support CND. So you wouldn't want me to go and spoil it all and give them a gratuitous promotional boost by writing about their music, would you? Course not.

...while JCC confronts them squarely in the face

Apocalypse Now!

TOWARDS THE end of the Carnival of Empty Gestures, with The Damned close on finishing their set, a dozen or so punks tried to break through the wire perimeter fence that separated the audience from the stage.

On the fence with renowned beaten-ups The People

As the official security men tried to persuade them to retreat, a gang of self-appointed bouncers acted as the reinforcements nobody needed and began spitting and throwing cans at the advancing audience. A full scale feud soon developed and this was only quelled when an uncharacteristically responsible Rat Scabies dragged a bleeding and battered punk on stage to show the crowd his wounds and point out the futility of this whole occurrence.

But the Carnival for Nuclear Disarmament had ironically ended in an exchange of missiles - the bottles, cans and stones thrown by aggressors at their impromptu enemies, all of whom had come here in the name of peace.

Mick Duffy

Thursday 3 December 2020

The Zones John Peel Session 13th September 1978


Again relying upon Peel to sort me out as we reach the end of the alphabet and another lockdown endurance challenge. It seems The Zones and associated bands were the Scottish equivalent of London SS in that the family tree that includes The Zones involved members of Slik, The Rich Kids, The Skids and Simple Minds. To describe the analogy in more detail, proto-punk band London SS had members passing through its ranks that gave rise to a significant faction of the early London punk scene (The Damned, The Clash, Generation X and Chelsea no less).

The Zones went down that power pop road, much like the Rich Kids and The Skids.

Here they are in 1978 doing the second of their two Sessions that they did for John Peel in that year.


01. Anything Goes
02. Deadly Dolls
03. The End
04. It's Only Fashion

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Young Marble Giants John Peel Session 18th August 1980


Well, I am not known for being particularly adventurous on this site, but the search for the more alphabetically obscure bands has lead me to Young Marble Giants. I had heard of them by name but never before had listened to any of their material. Harking from Wales, they recorded one Peel session in the summer of 1980 that showcased their stripped down, minimalist instrumentation that was really all that was needed by way of accompaniment to Alison Statton's striking vocals. I rather like it, as John Peel himself was wont to say!

Post punk was perhaps punk's greatest achievement. The brash, untrained and unharnessed boldness of it swept away all previous rock 'n' roll conventions and in doing so created a blank canvas for so many bands inspired by punk but full of new ideas, new instruments and a whole new perspective on what sounded good. It is for this reason that much as I love the bands of '77, it was the material that was released in '79/'80 that represents a pinnacle of the British music scene not seen since the mid '60's. Those original punk bands who has survived the maelstrom of 1977 had evolved (not least through being more at ease with their chosen musical instruments!) to produce some fantastic music... Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Stranglers and The Damned. In turn, like just slightly older uncles they looked down on the new bands that were coming through that sounded completely different, but with clear influences.

Anyway, enough of this, give them a listen.



01. Searching For Mr Right
02. Brand New Life
03. Final Days
04. Posed By Models
05. N.I.T.A

Sunday 29 November 2020

XTC John Peel Session 20th June 1977


XTC became throughout the '80's a quintessential British band, in much the same way that Squeeze did in a similar period. There is something about the style and quality of the writing that sets the two bands apart. However, it was not always thus for XTC. When I hear their '77 material I am more minded of Devo than anything home grown. This is the first session that they recorded for the late, great John Peel.

01. She's So Square
02. Crosswires
03. Radios In Motion
04. Science Friction

Saturday 28 November 2020

Wreckless Eric Lower Sproul Plaza Berkeley California 16th November 1979


Eric.... an English eccentric in the great musical tradition. With Stiff Records he found a natural home. I saw Wreckless once about 20 years ago in the tiny (and now gone) 12 Bar Club in London's famed Denmark Street. I always thought that Eric's madcap reputation did him a great diservice in the long run since he was and still is a songwriter of great talent.

See what you think of this recording from Berkeley back in 1979.

01. Let's Go To The Pictures
02. Walking On The Surface Of The Moon
03. Semaphore Signal
04. Veronica
05. I Wish It Would Rain
06. It'll Soon Be The Weekend
07. Reconnez Cherie
08. Hit And Miss Judy
09. Whole Wide World
10. Roll Over Rockola
11. I Need A Situation

Friday 27 November 2020

The Vibrators John Peel Session 13th June 1977


A favourite band of our bass player!

01. Petrol
02. Keep It Clean
03. Baby baby
04. London Girls
05. She's Bringing You Down

Thursday 26 November 2020

Urban Dogs Cambridge Junction 22nd November 2016


Well, I think I was premature in my hopes of making a break for my local on 2nd December, so like the Subs, being close to the end of the alphabet I'll have to think up something else to mark the days. 

This particular gig was a welcome surprise. The Damned headlined, but as I recall, no support was announced so it was a real surprise to see Charlie and Alvin on stage (Knox wasn't present).

The band, a long -standing UK Subs spin-off really brought Alvin and Charlie together with Knox from The Vibrators... well Charlie had to have something to do on the one weekend of the year when the UK Subs were not on tour!

Essentially a bit more rootsy rock 'n' roll, the Urban Dogs gave the Harp an excuse to wield his harp! So here they were this week four years ago promoting a new album 'Attack'.

I am guessing the artwork is from Charlie's hand
(a brief excursion from cats!)

01. Wanna World
02. Dancing On The Head Of Snakes
03. I Cant Stand It
04. War Baby
05. Limo Life
06. Sidewalk Baby
07. Pawn Shop Special
08. New Barbarians
09. Warhead
10. Brand New Cadillac
11. Cocaine
12. Rock-N-Roll Nurse Going To My Head
13. I Wanna Be Your Dog

'Pawn Shop Special' by Urban Dogs
Cambridge Junction 22nd November 2016

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Toyah Sheffield City Hall 18th May 1981


I loved it at the time. 'Anthem' was Toyah's 1981 album with two of the biggest hits of the year, 'It's A Mystery' and 'I Want To Be Free'. As mentioned elsewhere on this site I saw the band in 1982. Before 'Anthem' I had 'Sheep farming in Barnet' which is a far more interesting proposition, and for those that still do appreciate a bit of Toyah, an album just about to be released as a 40th anniversary deluxe reissue.... and it does look lavish.

Hey, in '81 I was 12... much as I would have loved to have seen The Stranglers then, my horizons were limited by entry restrictions to under 18s.... that limited the options to The Brighton Centre and Toyah and Adam and the Ants as first gigs. Oh well.



01. War Boys Victims Of The Riddle
02. Race Through Space
03. Obsolete
04. Insects
05. Jungles Of Jupiter
06. We Are
07. Waiting
08. It’s A Mystery Intro
09. It’s A Mystery
10. Ieya
11. Danced
12. I Wanna Be Free
13. Indecision 

Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Jam Gaumont Theatre Southampton 24th November 1979


More of this particular band in the coming days, but I just wanted to get his up on the site today of all days. Just look at the set. Marvellous!



01. Girl on the Phone
02. To Be Someone (Didn't We Have a Nice Time)
03. It's Too Bad
04. Burning Sky
05. Away From the Numbers
06. Smithers-Jones
07. Little Boy Soldiers
08. Mr. Clean
09. The Butterfly Collector
10. Private Hell
11. Thick as Thieves
12. When You're Young
13. Strange Town
14. The Eton Rifles
15. Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
16. Saturday's Kids
17. All Mod Cons
18. David Watts
19. Billy Hunt
20. "A" Bomb in Wardour Street

The Sisters of Mercy The Black October Tour (Top Rank Brighton 22nd October 1984 and Manchester University 13th October 1984)

 Black, Black, It's All Gone Black!

There are elements of The Sisters of Mercy I quite like. Certainly, 'First And Last And Always' is a great album, as is 'Gift' by The Sisterhood (an Andrew Eldritch spin-off featuring songs originally intended for the second Sisters of Mercy album). 'Floodland' again was a really strong album that saw the band having mainstream success with Eldritch joined by ex-Gun Club member and Mrs Vanian, Patricia Morrison. Nevertheless, I always struggled with taking them seriously, for sure no one could take them as seriously as them did themselves! Even Bauhaus occasionally revealed a glimmer of humour!

I never saw them, but I recall that mates were at the Brighton gig included here.

This posts includes two sets from 1984's 'Black October' tour, the main set from Brighton's Top Rank (minus the encore) and the encore only from Manchester University recorded a week or so before.



Top Rank Brighton 22nd October 1984

01. Intro
02. Burn
03. Heartland
04. Marian
05. Walk Away
06. Body And Soul
07. No Time To Cry
8.  Anaconda
09. Emma
10. A Rock And A Hard Place
11. Train
12. Floorshow
13. Alice
14. Body Electric
15. Gimme Shelter

Manchester University 13th October 1984

01. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
02. Hey Joe
03. Knockin' On Heaven's Door
04. Purple Haze
05. Stairway To Heaven (Instrumental)
06. Ghostrider
07. Louie Louie