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 adrianandrews1@sky.com.


Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Parc De Exposition Lille France 30th September 1983

 


Happy birthday to this black limbed beast of a gig. Cheers as ever to my partner in crime, Dom P, for these FLAC files.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-h6MWfW10Me

01. Aural Sculpture
02. Down In The Sewer
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Ships That Pass In The Night
05. It’s A Small World
06. No More Heroes
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Never Say Goodbye
09. Golden Brown
10. Midnight Summer Dream
11. European Female
12. The Raven
13. Thrown Away
14. Tank
15. London Lady
16. Hugh
17. Hanging Around
18. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
19. Bring On The Nubiles



Hastings Pavilion 29th October 1977


 Ok so here's one, again from the south east, from the tail end of the tour.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-4Q5YeS2ShZ

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-3iBPwOVnpS

01. Sometimes
02. Dagenham Dave
03. Dead Ringer
04. Hanging Around
05. 5 Minures
06. Burning Up Time
07. I Feel Like A Wog
08. Straighten Out
09. Something Better Change
10. London Lady







Monday, 28 September 2020

Another Tedious Subscription Appeal

 

'If you do it well, a pound, my dear. One pound,’ said Fagin.

It has come around rapidly again. The site maintains two WeTransfer accounts to put material up on this site (total cost is €240 per annum and one of them has just renewed). The site has been active since mid 2011, not a bad run for a site centered around one band. I guess WeTransfer is a relatively expensive file hosting site but that said I have been very happy with them over many years now. The service is excellent, I have plenty of scope to post whatever I wish to (including more recently DVD material).

As always, I will continue to run this site regardless, for the next couple of years at least I think. Any donation is entirely voluntary.... not extracted with menace. Those who know me will appreciate that I am not particularly menacing to start with..... although if I don't get to a gig within the next 12 months.....

My thanks as always goes to those people who have selflessly shared their own recordings, those that have responded to a half pissed, late night text/email for assistance with a particular recording when I have an idea for a themed post. As old Mr Grace would say 'You've all done very well'. 

Should you feel so inclined there is a donation PayPal link on the right hand panel of the site. Donations should be marked as gift rather than goods as I recall.

Thank you for your continued support of the site and the band that mean so much to each and every one of us. The coming months will be hard indeed for many reasons, not least to likely demise of the band, but there is no reason why the sharing of recordings, articles, reviews etc should not continue.

Stay safe and wear a black mask!

Adrian.

'It wasn't me what done the job officer, I swear, it was that Nick Cash from 999!'


Sunday, 27 September 2020

Brunel University 29th September 1977

 


43 years ago The Stranglers played Brunel University, sadly 11 years prior to my arrival when I chose to while away four years of my life amidst some of the most brutal of Brutalist architecture to be found in Britain. The band had played the Student Union in May of that year, but this time the runaway success of 'Rattus' had propelled them into the premier division of the new wave such that they could fill out the much larger Sports Centre.

Leigh Heggarty, guitarist of Uxbridge band The Price and now guitarist with Ruts DC was there. When asked for his recollections of the gig Leigh gave me the following:

"No More Heroes? Oh I don’t know - I was 16 years old, and (I now realise) a very young 16 years old at that. 

Wire supported - I know I should be saying how brilliant they were (probably while using words like ‘stark’ and ‘minimal’) but I can’t remember too much about them, other than a school mate (not much of a mate really) of mine didn’t like them. Mind you, he was a pillock then, and is no doubt a pillock now. 

The Stranglers had looked pretty scary on Top Of The Pops, but that didn’t prepare me for four gangland henchmen banging on about ice picks, barley fever (whatever that was) and crimes against the soul while looking as though they’d all just been in a riot. There was a fight (obviously) so the bass player offered them all out (obviously) and the whole thing was both utterly terrifying and absolutely brilliant - which, if you think about it, is what rock ‘n’ roll is all about. Well, what it should be all about anyway." 

The closest I got to this particular gig was to locate the back copy of the student newspaper 'Le Nurb' (Brunel backwards.... zany students eh?), that advertised the gig.

Gig ad in 'Le Nurb' September 1977


Canterbury Odeon 25th September 1977 Upgrade - ARTWORK CORRECTED

 


Ah Damn! Just missed this ones birthday, but never mind. Here is an upgrade to the FLAC version that has previously been posted on this site in that this version completes the set with 'London Lady',  'No More Heroes' and a brilliant 'Down in the Sewer'. This gig was only the third date on the 'No More Heroes' tour from way back when bands used to play places like Canterbury!

Many thanks Dom P!

MP3: https://we.tl/t-aeG34KKlnE

24 bit: https://we.tl/t-pGRRvrg9s2

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-QxKxQU5ZEJ

01. Ugly 
02. Straighten Out
03. Bring On The Nubiles
04. Sometimes
05. Dagenham Dave
06. Dead Ringer
07. Hanging Around
08. Something Better Change
09. Bitching
10. I Feel Like A Wog
11. Five Minutes
12. Burning Up Time
13. London Lady
14. No More Heroes
15. Encore Break
16. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
17. Down In The Sewer


Saturday, 26 September 2020

'No More Heroes' - Strangulation The Tour

 


As far as UK tours go, this one was ambitious! A 35 date tour no less taking in the whole of the UK and Ireland. Principle support was to come from New York's Dictators with regional variations that would see The Only Ones, Steel Pulse, Wire, Penetration and The Rezillos stepping in across the country.



This was a tour, that took the band forever out of the clubs. If anything it saw the band transition from a punk band of the London scene to a traditional rock band, albeit one rather rough around the edges. Of course as the music industry picked up on the commercial potential of these snotty bands who personified the new wave and the scene changed very rapidly such that bands that were playing to 400 punks in a night club were entertaining 2000 in the Top Rank Suites up and down the country.

The Stranglers never looked back.










Friday, 25 September 2020

‘No More Heroes’ The Reception

I have reviews of the album from three of the four major music weeklies that enjoyed wide circulation back in 1977. Well, I have at least two and a half reviews, one being a little incomplete (but good enough to understand the critic’s opinion on the matter).

Reproduced below are the reviews from ‘New Musical Express’ (Angie Errigo), ‘Record Mirror’ (Tim Lott) and ‘Sounds’ (Jon Savage). The reviewers from the two former publications somehow manage to temper disappointment and/or dislike with some enthusiasm for what the band were and were trying to achieve. The latter was a straight forward panning of the album. Jon Savage’s opinions earned him a thumping from the gallic one in an incident that effectively served to write out The Stranglers’ from the history of UK punk, at least in subsequent documentaries, articles and books (not least his own ‘England’s Dreaming’ account of the events of ‘76/’77).  

Make what you will of the opinions expressed by the overseers of musical taste of the day. In some respects I have a certain sympathy with the critics. ‘Heroes’ does lack the brilliantly produced grime streaked psychedelia of ‘Rattus’ and it is less polished. All of the critics, even the soon to be bruised Jon Savage loved what came before, but somehow ‘No More Heroes’ stuck a bad chord with the critics. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the album! It is 1977 Stranglers, but I was never able to view it from a 1977 perspective, as the follow up to what is and always will be my favourite album of all time, ‘Rattus Norvegicus’. 

It is telling in JJ and Hugh’s own track by track breakdown of the album that they close with the prediction that the incorporation of more synthesizer was to be the way forward for the band and this was indeed borne out with the following year’s ‘Black and White’ and ‘79’s ‘The Raven'. In that respect perhaps Savage (and to a less direct extent Errigo and Lott) did them a favour and accelerated the rate of change and variety in the band’s sound?

Opinions are most welcome!


THE STRANGLERS
‘No More Heroes’ (UAG 30200).

THE STRANGLERS' appeal for me always lay in their dirt. Dirt on their faces, dirt in their attitudes, dirt in their music, dirt in their words.

Of course Hugh don't flob any more now and the rat on the inner sleeve of ‘No More Heroes' is nice and clean. They throw in, natch, a 'controversial' song, 'Bring On The Nubiles,' but the rest varies from too-polished pop to fake dirt. There's a couple of tracks that are good enough to have fitted onto ‘Rattus Norvegicus' – ‘Peasant In The Big Shitty' and maybe 'No More Heroes' despite its strict bass jingle -jangle keyboard formula.

The rest is either average Stranglers which is still quite good, or crappy Stranglers which is crappy whichever way you look at it. 

To stick to the positive side 'Peasant In The Big Shitty' represents some sort of 'progression' that could bode well - the psychedelics of the staggered vocals and slightly less cliched keyboard approach. Unfortunately, most rat worshippers have got it already - the live version was given away with the first album.

'No More Heroes' is lyrically a bit stupid because heroes are as rife as ever in 1977 hidden in the guise of the anti-hero - the Stranglers themselves. But Hugh Cornwell's vocals display a streak of reasonable convincing anger and Jean Jacques Burnel's on form enough to dredge up a bit of grubby magic. 

As for the rest it's not utterly disappointing, just a bit flat. Really it's a second album that might have been their first, the pitfalls are so frequent.

The bitter, gutsy choruses of 'Peaches' and 'London Lady' are re- placed with the pop harmonies of 'Bitching', 'Something Better Change' and 'Dagenham Dave'.

There's even a recycled 'Peaches' riff on Dead Ringer' and only thinly disguised. The inspiration, where it can be found, is at half-cock and new ideas are few and far between.

The more I listen to it the more depressing it gets. 'English Towns', apparently about de-based love, has zero to commend it except… except nothing. It stinks.

It's a crummy self-parody. It's a crying shame. I'm still a Stranglers' fan. I'll go and see them whenever I can get in, and their first album remains a 1977 peak.

But 'No More Heroes', is a trough, a half-hearted attempt at nothing unless some sort of compromise to a 'pop' approach. Either way I don't particularly want to hear it again. Take it away.

 +++ TIM LOTT




THE STRANGLERS
No More Heroes (United Artists)

Depending on your reactions to the Stranglers in the first place, “No More Heroes” is either verification that they are the most capable and intense of the current exponents of dirty driven, mesmerizing urban English rock ‘n’ roll, or that they are full of shit.

I lean towards the former. If you found “Rattus Norvegicus” objectionable and loathsome, then you’ll find this even more so – its unarguably more sophisticated in subject matter than the first album.

At least two- criticisms or comments that invariably arise when the Stranglers are discussed get a miss from me this time out. First, although a considerable portion of this material was recorded at the same time as "Rattus Norvegicus", both the newer numbers and the total hard energy treatment complete their metamorphosis into a group with its own unmistakable sound and character.

The Doors analogies have become redundant; only Dave Greenfield's consistently appetising, rolling keyboard style recalls that perfectly legitimate influence. Second, "No More Heroes" is no more sexist than most rock. While I am all for fingering grossly offensive contributions to kids' kultural influences (why d'ya think they got a girl to review this, hmmm?), and while I was very glad to read Phil McNeill making a stand against what I agree was extremely nasty on "Rattus", it’s not fair to say that the Stranglers have subsequently borne out the charges of male chauvinist piggery leveled at them.

"Bring on the Nubiles" is the jeans creamer here, with lyrics like "I've got to lick your little puss / And nail ya to the floor / I go crazy for ya, crazy for ya / Lemme lemme fokkya fokkya / Lemme lemme fokkya fokkya" which, while scarcely rivalling Johnny Donne or Hideous Bill Shakespeare for inspired literary eroticism, are more conciliatory than anything else. I like it. 

The two outstanding tracks are by now familiar: the last hit single, "Something Better Change", and the new climber, "No More Heroes".

"Something Better Change" is conclusive evidence that they have consistent pop suss - it's timely in its impatient frustration as well as damned catchy. 

The title track is frantically appealing for its verbal ironies and a dizzying instrumental climax centred, as usual, on keyboards and spun out by Hugh Cornwell's and Jean Jacques Burnel's blistering guitar-bass interplay. 

"I Feel Like a Wog" and "Dagenham Dave" are also well known as two of their stage faves. "Wog" is pumped out at full throttle with Cornwell’s rapid-fire vocals convincingly aggrieved: " Golly gee, Golly gosh / Don't call me your gollywog".

"Dave" comes on with a verse hook like that of "Gloria", infectious and rather heady despite its sympathetic treatment of the sobering experience of a fan's suicide. 

Of the remaining six tracks, "Bitching" is a splenetic mid-tempo workout distinguished by its assured guitar break and amusingly Turtles-like vocal harmonies. "Dead Ringer" sounds an awful lot like a leaden "Peaches" and "Burning Up Time" is no more than a speedy filler. 

The dramatic "Peasant in the Big Shitty" has Cornwell in scary and menacing mood via his stinging vocal swoops out of a feverish instrumental spiral.

"English Towns", written after some of the aggro encountered on their last tour, is bitter and incisive to a strong melody and muscular playing: “There is no love inside of me / I gave it to a thousand girl / We build towers of sand and ivory / In our English towns”.

"School Mam", the longest track, is the most adventurous and vaguely reminiscent in conception  to "Down in the Sewer".  It's a real bile bomb, furious , brutal, dominated by Burnel’s relentless bass and Jet Black's violent percussion – a bit hard to take unless you're on downers in which case it's dangerously depressive.

The major flaw of "No More Heroes" is that the group's obvious progression presented here resembles the implosion of a neutron star as it becomes ever stronger with an ever greater pull as it becomes smaller, denser and darker.

The imagination and scope of "Rattus" - even if it was derivative - have narrowed musically. The comparative lack of light, shade and colour makes "No More Heroes" heavy, seldom relieved and
tense listening.

I can't listen to the whole album in one anymore without triggering a headache, and my guess is that it’s unlikely to elicit that wide response of the quarter-million selling debut. But as I said at the outset, this is a consolidation that the strangled will get off on and it will be verrry interesting to hear what develops from this.



The Stranglers
'No More Heroes'
(United Artists UAG 30200)

AHH….But these are testing times … now the very real euphoria has subsided, the scales have fallen from my eyes, not recantation, but re-evaluation. Timely sift and sort. Now I’m blinded I can really see…

Oh, the Stranglers, such nice boys. But they need to be nasty, no squalid. And they do it so well. Look at Hugh Cornwell, standing onstage, posture saying ‘C’mon man, c’man get me, g’wan…. I dare ya…’. They want to get up your nose. They want to shock. They want to confront you with the seamy white underbelly…

OK, OK, OK. So why did ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ sell so well, then? Because they’re bright and talented enough to translate their aggression and studied venom into direct musical terms, an instantly recognisable sound (which’ll be hard to break away from) that scrapes under your skin and lodges there, even better as an irritant. You can’t escape it. And of course they’re heavy metal macho cross-over…. Perfect for the times when there wasn’t much punk product and most were unconverted but… curious. And it was brilliantly produced, and their constant playing payed dividends and it was right in there with the then zeitgeist… all that stuff about rats and angry, suitably ‘change’ orientated lyrics…

Well here we are with new product, all tarted up in a hideous – successful indeed as kitsch – chintzy chocolate box style sleeve. Inside on cue a rat arrives – very reassuring. The themes of utter negativity, seediness, sleaze inputs continue, only, by the great law of Alice Cooper, a little more hysterical, more strident, just nastier. Oh look, more titles for ‘liberals’ to get fussed about; ‘I Feel Like A Wog’, ‘Bring On The Nubiles’ and some creepy-crawlies; ‘Peasant In The Big Shitty’, ‘School Mam’. Sort of like ‘Plague Of The Zombies’.

Oh, you guessed, I don’t like the album. I’ve tried very hard (really, for all the right reasons) but I still think it sucks. No, this isn’t a critics Set-‘Em-Up-And-Shoot-‘Em-Down exercise, nor a virulent manifestation of putative – new album elitism – the Stranglers convinced me that they had something when I heard ‘Grip’ thundering out over the Portobello Road and couldn’t rest until I found out who it was.

I got no axe to grind – but what I hear now turns me right off.

It’ll sell. Half the album is full of very strong material, songs which are ridiculously catchy and well-constructed, and, oh yeah, they stay in the head… ‘No More Heroes’, ‘Dagenham Dave’, ‘Bitching’ and the best, ‘Burning Up Time’. The rhythm section is simply very tight, relentless, whilst the organ that fleshes the sound out (and does bring to mind Seeds/Doors at 45 comparisons) holds some kind of magical power with its hypnotic swell, sinister undertone. Oh yes, they can do it…

But it sounds so assembled somehow. And the material isn’t as consistent as last time around; some of the songs, ‘Dead Ringer’, ‘School Mam’, ‘Peasant In The Big Shitty’ are plain awkward, embarrassing in parts…. A problem is Cornwell’s lyrics/stance, and the band’s intrinsic and deep coldness. No amount of ‘intellectual’ rationalisation can get around the fact that too many lyrics are dumb. Dumb – and Cornwell patently isn’t. Like at the end of ‘Burning Up Time’ , he goes into this ‘Hello little girl, want a sweetie… routine, and blows it. ‘Bitching’, with its ‘Why don’t you all get screwed’ refrain. Or the platitudes of ‘Something Better Change’. Or the end of ‘School Mam’… The rest of the band meshes so closely that his voice is given more prominence, under close scrutiny, it seems forced, trying to be tough, macho, too hard.

And the subject matter. ‘Wog’, ‘Nubiles’, ‘Bitching’; point taken. Holding up a mirror, confrontation etc. (although ‘Nubiles’ comes over most as being adolescent) – but who needs them as moralisers? Agreed that having your face rubbed in a cess-pit can, on certain occasions be salutary (shock/emetic). Beyond a point, reached on this album, it seems more redundant, self-indulgent. I mean I knew already that England’s ‘going down the toilet’, we’ve been told often enough. What to do about it? Because the Stranglers offer nothing positive, not even in their music. Look, the Pistols tell you we’re being flushed too, but their music has a kick, a bounce, a tension that gives you energy, makes you want to do something. Some sort of life out of decay…

The Stranglers rumble along relentlessly, rombold, with sledgehammer blows driving their message home… they move, but they can be so wooden. Like a skimming coffin lid.

I suppose they got up my nose, didn’t they? So they win in the end. Some pyrrhic victory, though. The music’s powerful enough to get some reaction (always better than none) but what comes off this album, with its deliberate , unrelenting wallowing is the chill of death. No life force, nothing vital. Not so that it’s frightening, just dull and irritating, ultimately. And it doesn’t make it as a statement, even though it’s all taken so seriously.

Oh well – you can take it or leave it. They need this review like a hole in the head, so do you – no doubt you’ll all but it anyway. I know it isn’t aimed at me, but it sounds as though everyone’s intelligence is being insulted, yours, mine, and that of this record’s creators… - JON SAVAGE.






Thursday, 24 September 2020

'No More Heroes' Track By Track With Hugh and JJ (Record Mirror 17th September 1977)

 

HEROES AND VILLANS

WHATEVER HAPPENED to our heroes . . They made a new album, that's what.

Sheila Prophet joined in the hunt this week, and finally trapped its quarry in the backstreets of Amsterdam. You'll be able to track down 'No More Heroes' for yourself at the end of next week, when it slinks into your local record shop. But now to bait your appetite, we have a special sneak preview of the album, straight from the rodents' mouths - Stranglers in chief Hugh Cornwell and Jean Jacques Burnel.



'I FEEL LIKE A WOG’.


Hugh “We met this guy in Hamburg called Pimpo, and he was a pimp. He thought we were a big band at that time, which we weren’t and we kidded him that we were this other band so that he would sell us some women. In the end he was getting really worried because he couldn’t work out who we were, and he was annoyed because this other band hadn’t turned out. He had all these women lined up and he wouldn’t give them to us because we had no money.

“So I tried to tell him some jokes to cheer him up and he didn’t understand them. He just kept asking questions about things that had happened earlier in the joke.

He looked at me like I was really strange, like I was a foreigner, and I felt really alien, like a wog, you know. The word wog was introduced to distinguish certain people from other people, and I started thinking about how people are made to feel the same way. Alienation.

Jean Jacques: “I’ve been a wog all my life. My parents are French. At school I was treated like a wog, because my mother used to kiss me at the school gates and I had shorts as well – really short. It used to freak me out, because I wanted to be more English than the English.

“Then I realized, this is crazy, you know, I might as well be who I am. It wasn’t too bad for me because I am white, and it was only people who knew we were French, it was only at school. It still hassled me though – so God knows how black people feel sometimes.

‘BITCHIN’’

Hugh: “You should really talk to the lyrical writer of the songs, and the lyrics of ‘Bitchin’’ are Jean’s. The song is just about grousing about the tin gods we met when we were struggling to get gigs.

Jean Jacques: “We came in on the tail end, the very tail end of the pub scene, and we started gigging around. It was difficult for us to get jobs on that scene, because we had short hair and didn’t play the sort of music that was accepted.

We didn’t know anyone, we didn’t get introduced to anyone. We weren’t part of it, we were by ourselves.

“I also found that the promoters just didn’t know what they were talking about, and they treated us like dirt. The audiences were pretty bad sometimes – they were so narrow minded in their attitudes. They couldn’t understand us.

“So ‘Bitchin’ is all about the shitheads we met.”

'DEAD RINGER'

Hugh: "A dead ringer is someone who looks I exactly like someone else, so it's about a few experiences we've had where we've asked people about things they've been quoted as saying and they go 'No It wasn't me mate' Or you say, ‘Didn't I see you doing that' and they say no and the answer is they must be the spitting image of someone who did.”

Jean Jacques: "Dead Ringer’s about certain bands or certain people who say what they're about when they're not. Like people who say, 'Was it you who’s proud of being poor’ and they make big deal of it, because they know there’s market for it.

"Like the old wave bands have done it - I mean the old wave new wave. There's five main bands - the Pistols, the Clash, the Damned, the Jam and ourselves, and everyone's taking their examples from us, opinion and attitude wise.

"I'm very suspicious of motives. Now there’s a lot of bands adopting stances that others have come to more naturally. Attitudes that they’ve adopted overnight.

“’Dead Ringers’s’ about hypocrisy.

‘DAGENHAM DAVE’


Hugh: "Dagenham Dave was this spade guy from Manchester who put an end to himself one night because - well, I don't know his motives, but I know he was very depressed with life. The only thing that pleased him was the fact that we were getting more popular.

"He came to all our gigs when we were first getting started last year. He was a scaffolder who'd done so many things. He'd been to a lot of places, lived through a lot of existences. He was 30, and he just felt he'd had enough experiences for one life.

"In the end they dragged him out of the Thames after three weeks, just a bag of mush. He jumped off Tower Bridge. "

Jean Jacques: "He was an amazing bloke. He lived in this hotel room for £25 a week with his old lady Brenda, and he was a maniac. He was such a genuine guy and he was so intelligent, but he'd just go bananas. He had this amazing collection of records which he never played - they were all in mint condition.

"He was a real rock 'n' roll hero. He used to earn a hundred quid week, and one night he blew hundred and twenty quid just on having a good time. He was broke the next week, but he didn't care - he didn't give damn.

"He was on 'Go Buddy Go'. The single was really poxy compared to other recordings of it that we've done since, but he just turned up that night and freaked out the whole studio, and we forgot about recording and just had a good time with Dagenham Dave.

"It just freaks me out to think that a guy I was so into killed himself. It's like an insult you know, because it's like he didn't believe we were there."

‘BRING ON THE NUBILES’

Hugh' "A nubile is a girl who personifies the innocence and charm of a flowering girl. They can be any age, but they have it, somehow. It’s a song in praise of that.

A lot of women become very jaded when they reach a certain age, so nubility is definitely not a thing that lasts. It’s a transient thing.

“Men are like red wine – they get better with age. Girls are like white wine – they only taste good when drunk young.

“Maybe that’s the quandary that girls always have and always will be in… what happens when they lose that quality. Maybe that’s their sad fate.”

Jean Jacques: "The Stranglers are the band to call sexist, aren't they? Spare Rib really put us down you know - I'm sure they're a load of dikes over there. That's a really cliched attitude, but they're often the truest.

"Boots and W H Smiths were going to ban the album because of the lyrics on this track. "

‘SOMETHING BETTER CHANGE’

Hugh: "Yeah, that ones on it too. It's just about attitudes.”

Jean Jacques "It speaks for itself."





‘NO MORE HEROES’

Hugh: "You should be your own hero. If you become a hero, people don't see you for what you are, they look at you In a different light. You cease to become human to them and that's wrong.

"There are two bad ways to treat a human being - you can either treat them like dirt or you can treat them so good that you're not treating them as human beings either. Human beings aren't Gods.

"Having heroes is like a cop out. It's seeing something in someone else. But people should be striving to get that in themselves.”

Jean Jacques: "It's a slogan as well as a title. We try to live without the star system, and we succeed quite well. I think.

‘BURNING UP TIME’

Hugh: "It's about people wanting to utilise their time in the best possible way, because it’s running out fast! Every minute counts. There was a guy who was in the army who took the most boring job, which was peeling potatoes because it made each moment last so long and he really enjoyed living. “

Jean Jacques: “ It's about not living safely, about doing everything as it comes to you. It's a speed song. You burn yourself up if you don't play safe.

"If you hear the other side of the single 'No More Heroes' you'll see what I mean. It's called 'In The Shadows' and It's going to freak everyone out because it's totally unexpected.

"It's got to change, because it's getting like a parody of itself in Britain, and things mustn't get stale."

‘ENGLISH TOWNS’


Hugh: "It's like a very sad feeling you sometimes get when you're very used up, and when you haven't had a good sexual feeling for a while. You find the feelings, but they're not the ones you really want 'No love In a thousand girls' is one of the lines in it, and 'The dogs try to posses us’ The dogs are the London ladies."

Jean Jacques: "It's about love - love being debased or that there’s no such thing. The word is thrown round much too easily. If there's too much love in the world, where is it? If there was more love about, people would stop ripping each other off and nations would be much more sensitive to other nations.”

‘PEASANT IN THE BIG SHITTY’

Hugh: ' "It’s about being peasant, and it has very psychedelic lyrical patterns, where reality's doubted, and you don't know what's real any more. People sometimes aren't real .

"The city is London, because that was our big shitty."

Jean Jacques: "It's specifically about us being poor, and having just come to London. And besides that, being on acid."

'SCHOOL MAM'

Hugh: "That's a piece of dialogue about situation in a school where the teacher calls one of the kids to stay behind and help after class and they start getting it on. The mistress who's in charge of the school has video screens in all the classrooms, and she sees what they're doing. And instead of calling the police, she starts watching it getting off on it, and she ends up having an orgasm, which she's never had before in her life. She's about 80, and she dies in front of the screen with a smile on her face.

“That's the best way to go, to die having an orgasm. It must be. I’ve never done it must be the way to go.”

Jean Jacques: "You know Hugh was kicked out of school for perverting the kids? He was kicked out of this tutorial collage for being a bad influence on kids, for being an undesirable."

Hugh: 'The album is an advancement. We’ve used synthesiser on four or five tracks, we’re using it onstage now as well. It’s given dimension and some ideas too - about structure of the songs."

“On the B side of the single - well, it's a double A side, but it's the one that won't get played very much, I'm sure, is 'In The Shadows', a very rhythmic, experimental piece of music with lot of synthesizer

"The synthesiser's sparked us into a new field. We still write songs but that's because we want people to tell us whether we've still got a song there. We've changed a lot of basic things about the song, the structure, the fitting of lyrics to music, the timing and things like that.

"And if it's a success we'll develop that more on the next album. We want to explore new territory, instead of writing pretty little songs for the next 10 years. We could do that quite easily, but we want to explore, we want to learn too.

"Synthesisers up till now have been associated with psychedelic, heady music that has no direction.

"We want to give it direction.”


Well there is no doubt about it what appeared in Record Mirror a week in advance of the album release was pulled no punches. The band's outlook at that time, even if you take into account the norm's that existed in 1977, make for some uncomfortable reading. The band had the reputation for being misogynists and whilst 'Peaches' could be dismissed as a Bamforth & Co saucy postcard set to music, the comments on the meaning behind 'Nubiles' are rather unpleasant. The band's genuine affection for Dagenham Dave shines through, but Hugh's 'Dagenham Dave was this spade guy from Manchester'.... it's all a bit 'Love Thy Neighbour'! But then again it was their stated intention on the album to stick their fingers right up your nose!

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

No More Heroes Week on Aural Sculptors!

 


'No More Heroes'
23rd September 1977

So, the 43rd anniversary of the band's iconic second album is upon us and as a consequence I have decided that posts throughout this week will be dedicated to all things Heroic! Reviews, both of the album and the tour, promo material and the like. 

Having in preparation skimmed through some of the material to be posted, it is clear to see that music press attitudes hardened towards the band pretty quickly throughout 1977. The positive reception that the band received for 'Rattus' was not reflected in the critical reviews of the band in he autumn of that year when the album was released and toured. 

I invite you to read the reviews for yourselves and comment accordingly, but for me, the overall perception of album number two suggested that The Stranglers were merely capitalising on a tried, tested and commercially lucrative formula. Of course, the reality was somewhat different in that with the exception of a couple of later written songs, 'No More Heroes' could have been presented as a double album (were such an idea not to be something to be gobbed upon in the punk and new wave New World Order!). The fact was that 'Rattus' and 'No More Heroes' were contemporaneous, their releases separated by a mere 5 months (an record company expectation of the time). The vast majority of the material across these two albums represented the band's live set throughout late 1976/early 1977, thereby invalidating any music mag hack's claim that the band were recycling the successful formula.

In a brilliant marketing move the release of 'No More Heroes' preceded the release of David Bowie's 'Heroes' album by three weeks. Whilst David Bowie was not perceived by the punk fraternity as a rock dinosaur (if anything he was an inspiration) to pull a stunt like that on Mr Jones and his RCA major label was a coup worthy of Stiff Records!

 

With 'Rattus Norvegicus' reaching Number 4 in the UK album charts and 'No More Heroes' topping that with a highest placing of Number 2, The Stranglers were without doubt the most commercially successful band of the New Wave. The standing of the band at this time was reflected in a five night stint at The Roundhouse in London's Chalk Farm in early November, close to the close of the massive promotional tour that took saw the band criss-cross the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia and northern Europe.



'I'm going real slow
But if the light ain't real
Then there can't be a hole
Not even some red'



Monday, 7 September 2020

Young Hot Loud and Stiff - The World 'Welcomes The Damned' (New Musical Express 13th November 1976)

 


This Stiff Records produced ad appeared on the same page as the recently posted Stranglers 7th November 1976 Marquee review. Stiff Records were something else when it came down to promotion!

Lynval Golding Attacked in Coventry January 1982

 

Report of the attack that appeared in Record Mirror 16th January 1982.

I have recently acquired quite a lot of copies of old Record Mirror's and I am more than happy to while away a few hours perusing the singles and album reviews from way back when. But on a much darker note this piece reminded me of what happened to Lynval, guitarist of The Specials and Fun Boy Three man in early 1982. The guy was attacked and his injuries were such that he was lucky to survive. It happened in his home town of Coventry, a multi-cultural city that he and his six fellow Specials had given some meaning to in those dark days of the late '70's/ early '80's.

That band and in particular that man did so much, and indeed continues to do so, to promote the bloody obvious sense of racial harmony. Through his music and his very being he stands up to racist morons. I had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions and I have never met someone so positive, lively and enthusiastic about his music and what it means. He is a lovely, genuine bloke.

Black Lives Matter (yeah and All Lives Matter and so on and so forth....) everywhere but in particular in the US, where Lynval now resides, things are out of hand.... we shall see what happens in November, but it seems right now that the US is reliving the late '60's. It's all very disconcerting.


20 From '82 (14) The Damned Marquee Club London 15th December 1982

 


And just to force the message home that rather than being anti-change, Wardour Street's Marquee Club played host to all of the punk 'luminaries', many of whom returned to its small stage long after they had outgrown the club circuit. The Damned were one such example. Here they are playing one of three Christmas gigs at the end of 1982. Great set and lots of the usual abuse from and at the man Sensible. Many thanks to the 'Second Time Around' site for sharing the file.

MP3 (as received): https://we.tl/t-jPcrECb8Mm

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-Rfn4HFBpXN

01. Ignite
02. Disco Man
03. Generals
04. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
05. Stranger On The Town
06. Wait For The Blackout
07. Bad Time For Bonzo
08. Lively Arts
09. Melody Lee
10. Love Song
11. New Rose
12. Smash It Up (Part 1 & 2)
13. Noise Noise Noise
14. Hippy Hippy Shake
15. Pretty Vacant
16. Ballroom Blitz
17. Happy Talk

Sunday, 6 September 2020

The Stranglers at the Marquee 7th November 1976 (Review in New Musical Express 13th November 1976)

Unlike the last two posts I do not have a recording of the gig as an accompaniment to the review that follows, which must have been one of the bands earliest. That would be nice indeed!

This review of a gig that they played at the famed Wardour Street venue on 7th November 1976 abounds with references to the similarities of the band's sound to The Doors (and the Velvet Underground). Aside from the reviewer's skepticism of Hugh's proclamations about the worth of The Marquee, all made from the stage of the said venue, it is a very positive piece of music journalism, with an early prediction of the band's rapid rise to success that was just a few months away. He also predicted that 'Go Buddy Go' would be a hit for the as yet unsigned group.

As for Hugh's disparaging tirade against the Marquee, I am a little perplexed. Far from being a dinosaur rock venue, it was always my impression that the management/bookers for the Marquee were pretty savvy when it came to identifying the 'next big thing' in music. As mentioned in the review, The Stranglers were by no means the first in the crop of punk/new wave bands to play there. The 'Live at the Marquee EP' by Eddie and the Hot Rods was one of their best known releases and put them on the map. Most of the London based proto-punk Pub Rock bands also took to the Marquee stage on a regular basis.Throughout 1977 the venue was synonymous with punk.... The Adverts, Buzzcocks, X Ray Spex, The Damned, Chelsea....all Marquee Club regulars.

I guess at the time that The Stranglers found punk in the middle of 1976, the fact that not twelve months previously the band's regular gigs featured a string of 1960's covers played to apathetic audiences in sparsely filled pubs would not have made good press in that steamy summer of hate!





The Stranglers

MARQUEE

“We’d like to mourn the death of the Marquee. The place is dead. The regulars have grown into the wallpaper, the Marquee don’t know what’s going on today. Wait till we’ve finished then smash the place up.”

Hugh Cornwall (sic), guitar player with the Stranglers, looks old even by my standards, yet whenever he opens his mouth he spews forth kindergarten nihilist polemics, the sort of immature garbage you can smile at when lisped by babes like Rat Scabies or Barrie Masters…. But from a grown up recycling Doors licks, well, it’s just sad.

And when he’s doing it he’s on stage at the Marquee, striving desperately to join the Pistols in getting banned from there – when it’s the Marquee that launched unquestionably the most successful of all punk affiliated bands (that’s still what the Hot Rods are) – it’s plain stupid.

Despite their verbal idiocy, which seems also to run through their songs, the Stranglers are pretty certain to be huge. The fact is they are a terrific band.

Every member is a strong player: Jet Black (strangely enough the central motif of one of their best songs, “Down in the Sewer”, reminds me of Jet Harris/Tony Meehan kitsch instrumental cinemascope) is good and energetic, but he can hit that Mo Tucker metronome when required; Jean Jacques Burnel may be a lousy singer – but some of his bass work – particularly on a rather childish anti-education tirade embellished with discipline fantasies called “School Man” (sic) – is authorative enough to act as lead.

Dave Greenfield enacts his Ray Manzarek duties with aplomb, his astute use of piano and organ both as colour, as lead and as play-off against the guitar is a joy to hear, and he throws in an okay Dracula type vocal on “You’re Not Real”, while Cornwell is fine as a singer and breaks up his Velveteen riffing with lovely flowing Robby Krieger leads.




On just hearing them live, their words leave something to be desired. “London Lady” for instance appears to be a regressively sexist rock ‘n’ roll put down, while “Bitchin’”, a rant against everything in general and “posers” in particular, ill befits a mob of would-be 1966 L.A. hoodlums.

But the music, which fuses the Velvets with the Doors, and the songs, which are dynamically structured with a sophistication quite alien to the minimalist bands who are the only comparable phenomenon to the Stranglers around these days, have a drive and a flair that is quite intoxicating. “Go Buddy Go” is a hit.

The boring thing is that their conformist “rebel” image will require them to smash up the dressing room when they appear on Top of the Pops.*

* Something that Burnel acted upon at a later date!

On the same page as the review is another ad for a gig at The Red Cow in Hammersmith, which strangely omits the date. A cross check with the gigography in the Burning Up Time Forum indicates that the band played the venue on 2nd December 1976.


Time to type in 'time-machine' in an Ebay search methinks!



Saturday, 5 September 2020

Hemel Hempstead Pavilion 28th January 1982

 

Right a word of warning about this one. The quality is not so good, the sound is very muddy. The reason for posting it is only down to the fact that I came across a review of the gig this weekend and what's more it was full of praise for the band so recently re-energised by the surprise hit 'Golden Brown'.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-KnK6xiJJOk

01. Intro
02. Down In The Sewer
03. Second Coming
04. Non Stop
05. The Man They Love To Hate
06. Who Wants The World?
07. Baroque Bordello
08. Golden Brown
09. How To Find True Love And Happiness In The Present Day
10. Duchess
11. Tank
12. Let Me Introduce You To The Family
13. Tramp
14. The Raven
15. Nuclear Device
16. Genetix


I am amused by the closing lines. "As for the rest of us it will be interesting to see if they continue their success by making commercial records' But they'll always be great, live."

"Lads, lads I've got it... what about that one in French about cannibalism!"

That is of course to overlook the rather successful 'Strange Little Girl' and 'European Female'.



Thursday, 3 September 2020

The Cat's Out of the Bag! - Chippenham Golddiggers 28th January 1983 - Remaster

 


Following on from the piece reproduced from The Guardian from March that described the ideas behind and the recording of 'European Female', here we have a bit of a treat with another Dom P remaster. We present to you the opening night of the 'Feline' tour from 'Nam (as a mate of mineused to call it), Chippenham to the rest of us! The gig is notable for the inclusion of 'Blue Sister' which was dropped from the set for subsequent gigs.

An uneasy departure in style for both critics and fans alike, the mellow subtleties of 'Feline' was ammunition enough for the music press to further slate the band as indicated in the UK music press review of this gig below.

Over the years I have come to love the album to the extent that I consider it to be the last great Stranglers album. That is not to dismiss everything that followed it but I think that you can follow my meaning. To my ear, many of the songs from the 'Feline' album would sound perfect drifting from the depths of a smoke filled drinking haunt in France or Spain, which is really the point of the album.... a European concept album.

Unfortunately, I cannot recall the music weekly from which this review was culled, but that is rather an irrelevance given the pretty much universal contempt that the British music press had of The Stranglers.... that said there are much worse reviews of the Feline tour out there!

WAV: https://we.tl/t-bIAD02govU

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-eRQhprRATc

01. Intro
02. Nuclear Device
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Ships That Pass In The Night
05. It’s A Small World
06. Just Like Nothing On Earth
07. No More Heroes
08. Who Wants The World?
09. Never Say Goodbye
10. Baroque Bordello
11. Golden Brown
12. Princess Of The Streets
13. Midnight Summer Dream
14. European Female
15. Blue Sister
16. Tramp
17. The Raven
18. Duchess
19. London Lady
20. Strange Little Girl
21. Genetix


Wednesday, 2 September 2020

20 From '82 (13) Siouxsie And The Banshees Glasgow Apollo 15th November 1982

 


Here are the Banshees performing at the Glasgow Apollo on the 'Kiss in the Dreamhouse' tour in November 1982. The gig was recorded and broadcast on Radio Clyde.

I saw the Banshees a few times in the early '90's and if I am honest I preferred their later material to the early '80's stuff. But, either way they were a unique band and very talented.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-sktPQXt2U3

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-OY8VcCc6Lm

01. Fireworks
02. Green Fingers
03. Cascade
04. Paradise Place
05. Pulled To Bits
06. Halloween
07. Melt
08. Sin In My Heart
09. But Not Them
10. Painted Bird
11. Slowdive
12. Arabian Knights
13. Spellbound
14. Israel