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

Saturday 25 July 2020

Live Review - The Police and The Specials Oakville Toronto Canada (Record Mirror 5th September 1981)

A review of one of my favourite Specials gigs. Whilst the angry energy of the bands early sets is undeniable, 'More Specials' gave the band an extra dimension that stood them apart from some of the other 2 Tone and 2 Tone associated acts. If I am honest, as someone who did not witness and Specials gigs first time around I would say that an '81 end of the road gig would have been more appealing set wise than a pure first album set.

It was news to me that Killing Joke also played on this day!

The Specials set can be found here.

Absolut Live TV Performance DVD Bremen 18th February 1997

Ok, some time ago I posted the audio rip of this Mk II German TV performance (here). As I recall, I was not very complimentary  about this performance then. Love the fact that some people really got and appreciated the Paul Roberts/John Ellis incarnation of the band. It just wasn't for me. 

The only additional comment that I will make on this recording relates to 'Summer In The City'...... a great Summer of Love track by The Loving Spoonful without a doubt, but how distracted were The Stranglers they when this was proposed in a band meeting!

Of the covers that have been done.

'Mony Mony' - a good cover, sultry vocals from Celia, hooligan backing vocals from the bass player..... happy days, different and refreshing (oh and by the way, miles better than Billy Idols effort!)

'Walk on By' - whilst I am sorry to say that these days a rendition of WOB at a gig turns me off, there is no mistaking that this is a masterpiece. In making it there own, The Stranglers produced a version that is as vital and as valid as the original. Not many covers can do that.

'All Day and All of the Night' - once again, a brilliant song by a brilliant band. The sound suited The Stranglers completely. The only problem was that it was so faithful to the Kinks' original that it offered nothing and for that reason was a rather pointless exercise.

'Summer in the City' - completely unsuited to The Stranglers. A toe curling mistake.

Here endeth Adrian's opinions on cover versions.

To Tour or Not To Tour - That Is The Question

Wednesday’s announcement of a tour delay cannot come as much of a surprise to anyone. At the rate that this lockdown is easing coupled with the rising rates of infection following a lifting of certain restrictions in other European nations means that UK gigs in major venues in the second half of 2020 are a pipedream.

So now that a good few respectful weeks since the sad loss of our unique keyboard player have passed, I feel that I can express my own thoughts on the matter of the tour and the future of the band on this site.

The obvious question is whether they should or shouldn’t have continued with the plans for their final major British tour. On this topic I am sure that there are as many opinions as there are fans to express them! There certainly is no right or wrong in this situation. In this I can for sure see both sides of the argument and as such my position on this is mine and mine alone, I fully respect contrary opinions and expect no recriminations!

I would rather that the death of either active, touring member of the band, i.e. JJ or Dave, trigger the drawing of a long black veil over the band’s long and illustrious career with no further live appearances in the name of The Stranglers.

On the night of the 3rd May, I stayed up late, listening to the band and in particular those songs that Dave really made his own (more from a musical rather than a vocal standpoint). This went beyond Golden Brown of course! In this respect I was the only family member, in a family heavily invested in The Stranglers, who felt able to do so on the day. The numbing effect of alcohol may have been a contributory factor in this respect as I attempted to digest this most unwelcomed of news.

From discussions earlier in the evening with Mo and Gunta, the three of us arrived at the conclusion that the element that underpinned that unique ‘Stranglers’ sound’ was not the grumbling bass of JJ (potent as it is), it was Dave’s handling of the keys that made all the difference. Think about it, over the years, Hugh, the undoubted voice of The Stranglers, was successfully replaced, Jet Black, the powerhouse drummer relinquished his drum stool for a younger man and was likewise replaced. Shoot me down, but I reckon that, at a very  good push someone could do a fair interpretation of JJ’s bass sound if they were heavy handed enough and sufficiently disrespectful of their instrument. So, that just leaves Dave. Can he be replaced in a manner that would retain that crucial ‘Stranglers’ sound’? This is where I have my doubts.

The tour as it was set up was intended to be a final major celebration of the band as a live performing band. It promised to be a party for the faithful, only marginally tinged with sadness. After all things come to an end and after well over 40 years in the business there are no debts outstanding! It would have been an opportunity for the ‘Familyinblack’ to socialize hard as always, pre and post gig, for one last time. Graeme Mullen once said ‘Sometimes the gig just gets in the way’ Never a truer word was said Mully!

The new 2021 tour will be a different proposition altogether. I have tickets for 6 gigs, having been out done by the daughter who currently had 9 but is seeking more! My problem is that I cannot foresee a situation where I will enjoy any of them. It will just be too hard on me and those that have invested half a lifetime in following this exceptional band.

On the other hand I appreciated that the statement from the band that ‘this is what Dave would have wished for’ and as an outsider I cannot say anything to the contrary. I appreciate to that there are other factors that may or may not come into play here. What are the financial implications for the band of a cancellation? How do the insurers that underwrite these big tours view such situations in terms of death of a band member and additionally in the event a global pandemic? What power do venues have (some of which will be at risk of permanent closure) over cancellations?

Please feel free to share your own thoughts.

Rock In Athens '85 Panathinaikos Stadium Athens 26th July 1985

Here's a pro-DVD that is just 24 hours shy of its 35th birthday. Aural Sculture comes to Athens, where they do know a bit about sculpture it must be said. 

01. Souls
02. Interview
03. Let Me Down Easy
04. Midnight Summer Dream
05. European Female
06. Interview
07. Skin Deep
08. Golden Brown

Sunday 19 July 2020

20 From '82(12) Stiff Little Fingers Reading University 26th October 1982

I don't think that many recordings from SLF's last tour from their first life were made. Here is what I assume to be a full set from Reading University. Happily, material from the new album, 'Now Then', is well represented in this set.

01. Love Of The Common People
02. Silver Lining
03. Falling Down
04. Two Guitars Clash
05. Is That What You Fought The War For?
06. Wait And See
07. The Only One
08. Gate 49
09. The Price Of Admission
10. Johnny Was
11. Bits Of Kids
12. Touch And Go
13. Listen
14. Roots, Rockers, Radicals And Reggae
15. Just Fade Away
16. Fly The Flag

20 From '82(11) Killing Joke Clutch Cargo's Detroit Michigan 7th August 1982

Here we have Killing Joke on the East coast of the US with a soundboard recording from the 'Revelations' era. I bet it was warm in that venue!

01. The Hum
02. Fall of Because
03. Pssyche
04. Chop Chop
05. The Pandy's Are Coming
06. Take Take Take
07. Sun Goes Down
08. We Have Joy
09. Empire Song
10. Change
11. Bloodsport
12. Compications
13. War Dance

Hugh Cornwell 'Songbook' (Sky Arts TV) 2008

Here's a DVD, part of the Sky Arts Channel 'Songbook' series which sees Hugh talking about career and playing a handful of acoustic tracks.

01. Interview
02. Strange Little Girl
03. Never Say Goodbye
04. Lay Back On Me Pal
05. Hola Cadiz

Sunday 12 July 2020

The Dickies Live oat MORC Studios 12th July 2020

Thanks to the Dickies! A great live set with a full band.... the first for me since January!

Festival Musilac Aix Les Bains 12th July 2018

A birthday festival set to round of the weekend!

01. 5 Minutes
02. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
03. Relentless
04. Nice 'N' Sleazy
05. Water
06. Golden Brown
07. Always The Sun
08. Peaches
09. 15 Steps
10. Walk On By
11. Hanging Around
12. All Day And All Of The Night
13. Tank
14. No More Heroes

Sunday 5 July 2020

Vice Squad The Lyceum London 5th July 1981

Openers for The Damned on this day in 1981 (see earlier post) here are Bristol's Vice Squad... still playing and Standing Strong and Proud!

5 Years of Anarchy Chaos and Destruction The Damned The Lyceum London 5th July 1981

Thanks to the Second Time Around fansite for this anniversary gig. 39 years ago tonight and The Damned were marking the remarkable feat of being a band for five years. Strictly speaking this wasn't actually the case given the bands turbulent early years but you get the point. No members of the were anticipating such longevity given that the 'flash in the pan' punk fad was expected to last six months at best (and some say it did!). The fact that at a Damned gig today, you may well see T-shirts bearing the legend '40 years of Anarchy Chaos and Destruction' straining across the guts of aging punks is altogether another story!

Sound on this one is a little rough.... in keeping with the band, but it remains a classic gig from an irrepressible quartet!

Here's a review of the gig that appeared in the 25th July 1981 issue of Record Mirror. A favourable review although poor old Segs gets it in the neck again about his vocal abilities (always unfair I though even given the power of Malcolm's delivery).

MP3 (as received):

01. Intro
02. I Fall
03. Wait For The Blackout
04. Lively Arts
05. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
06. Plan 9 Channel 7
07. Smash It Up Parts 1 & 2
08. Shut Up You Tossers
09. Dr Jeckyl And Mr Hyde
10. Drinking About My Baby
11. Melody Lee
12. D’Ya Want Yer Money Back
13. Love Song
14. Neat Neat Neat
15. New Rose
16. Ballroom Blitz
17. I’m A Wanker
18. In A Rut
19. Love Song

Saturday 4 July 2020

Zion Train & Ruts DC John Peel Session 5th March 1996

This one was a new one on me. A mid-90's Peel session no less from Zion Train backed by Segs, Paul Fox and Ruffy from Ruts DC. Bear in mind that this is 15 years before Ruts DC would tentatively tread the boards again, this tine with Molara, formerly of said Zion Train on vocal duties.

The second surprise for me with this is the cover of The Mob's 'Waiting For The Witch Hunt'. A brilliant song by anybody's reckoning methinks.

No More Heroes/(Get A) Grip (On Yourself) 'Hit Kwiss' German TV 1977/1978

'No More Heroes'
Hit Kwiss 3rd December 1977
German TV

Now this could be a nice find, Initial 'research' suggests that a version of 'Heroes' from this broadcast has previously been posted on YouTube as much lower quality from an unknown German TV source. I can clear that up by stating that this version of 'No More Heroes' was broadcast by the 'Hit Kwiss', (by the looks of it a German equivalent of TOTP/Cheggers Plays Pop), on 3rd December 1977. 

Hit Kwiss was a short lived music program that broadcast from its broadcast from a studio in Stuttgart between '76 and '78. In this time The Stranglers appeared twice on 3rd December 1977 and 11th March 1978 - although both mimed performances were filmed at a same (earlier) date.

The quality if the 'Heroes' is great, far in excess of what I have seen online. The 'Grip' footage is a little more washed out colourwise but is possibly rarer.

'(Get A) Grip (On Your Self)'
Hit Kwiss 11th March 1978
German TV

Your opinions please!

I have shared the footage below in MPEG format

(Get A) Grip (On Yourself):

and as a burnable, edited DVD with both tracks: