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.


Saturday, 31 October 2020

The Adventures Of Hersham Boys - Sham 69 Lose Their Mojo!

 

'The Adventures Of Hersham Boys' was Sham 69's third studio album released in September 1979 and whilst it went on to be the bands most successful album, peaking at Number 8 in the UK album chart it was pretty much panned by the music critics of the day. The album's Wikipedia entry includes a line from music journalist, David Hepworth' which summed up the critics view on Sham's 'new direction'!

"A tired, hollow effort struggling between weary attempts at rabble-rousing and blush-making pseudo-Springsteen 'street' songs that reek of desperation and contract fulfilling. As empty and self-satisfied a record as anything they supposedly set out to replace."


Record Mirror (22nd September 1979)

SHAM 69: 'The Adventures Of The Hersham Boys'
(Polydor Deluxe POLO 5025)

AN UNSATISFACTORY conclusion from Sham, but then it appears they've not really concluded so maybe it doesn't matter anyway and Pursey always was a confused mass of contradictions in the first place.

After being single handedly responsible for the unnecessary resurgence of the skinhead movement, Gentleman Jim decides he's really a cowboy.

But it's not a jail you need to break out of Jim, or even a borstal – just your own elaborately - woven paranoia, if a song like 'Voices' is anything to go by. Or the self-made martyrdom of ' Fly Dark
Angel', hideously howled with Dylanesque vocals.

'Cold Blue In The Night' rides a similar theme, insecurities thrust into the open for a heart-felt cry of
"Someone's gotta help me/ Sympathy defeats me/ can't help myself." The Yardbirds ‘You're A Better Man Than I' appropriately concludes the introspection of side one which also includes the corral - storming 'Money' and 'Joey's On The Street' (no ... relation, rat fans).

On side two self-identification extends to James Dean on 'Lost On Highway 46', but you're
ALIVE Jimmy, as well as being rich, famous, popular and accompanied by an excellent sidesman
in Dave Parsons. 

Like 'Hersham Boys', 'Questions And Answers' is already owned by all the fans, and its inclusion is
hardly compensated for by the free 12 inch single. This features awful and over-long versions of 'If The Kids Are United', sung throwaway-style and sounding more like 'Roadrunner', and a live'Borstal Breakout’.

The latter, fortunately, adopts the words "It 's never too late to breakout" and there I'm right behind you, Jimmy. Christ, after a few years in a factory I did myself. The older - but - wiser lyrical change is matched by a similar modification on the album's live 'What Have I Got' where the reply is "I've Got You!" You still have, Jim, and they've still got you if you keep it cool. I know it must be very 'ard, but won't you try?

++ + MIKE NICHOLLS

Sounds (8th September 1979)


SHAM 69
‘The Adventures Of Hersham Boys’
(Polydor Deluxe POLD 5025) ***

WHAT DID Sham mean to you? I don't really give a monkey's cos to me and a lot of my mates they were the business. Whereas the Clash and the Pistols were heroes put on a pedestal by history, legend and the media, Sham 69 were the ultimate people's band.

"You are us, you are Sham 69, and Sham 69 are you," Jimmy used to say. And the band would make a non-stop-pogo rowdy racket and he'd sing about real life. Everyday life and everyday people. About rip-offs and shitty jobs and nagging parents and enjoying yourself. Sham were REAL, and d'you remember how they blew the Clash off stage at that Rainbow gig in December ‘77 ...

The first album 'Tell Us TheTruth' really knocked me out, specially the live side which was pure unrefined Sham and, to me, the essence of Punk Rock. That came out in February last year. The follow-up 'That's Life' came out just eight months later and it was magnificent. A lot like the home scenes in Quadrophenia, the album was true to life, serious and humorous, featuring a terrific eye for detail, and still great rock 'n' roll music. Sham were actually one of the few punk bands to avoid the dreaded 'second album syndrome'.

Which is why after two brilliant albums less than adequately critically received I was busting a gut to get hold of this one. At last someone was gonna review Sham who understood them and, more importantly, believed in what they were about.

Like a kid at Christmas I rip open the envelope. Gulp. Cover's a bit suspect. A deluxe affair portraying the
band togged up in spaghetti western threads blasting away on six shooters at all-comers in what looks like Albie Maskell's barn. Hmm. Just Jim's cockney cowboy joke I hope ..

Side One opens with , 'Money', a rocky re-working of the number Parsons and Pursey wrote for
Quadrophenia, and it's a fine passionate Sham stomper with great anti-commercialism lyrics except why's the guitar lost in the mix?

Next number 'Fly Dark Angel' is awful, really embarrassing as Jim tries his Dylan impersonations over a sub-Basement Tapes nonsong. What the hell's going on? Sham are capable of doing slow numbers and
doing them well, 'Everyone's Right' for example, but this just makes me cringe.

’Joey's On The Street Again' is another goodie except Jimmy still don't sound like Jimmy and the song sounds muddy. Compare the production on this to 'That's Life’ or 'Win Or Lose' or anything on the last album'. Still it's a powerful number with a strong chorus and a nice bubbling bass hook. Kermit's 'Cold Blue In The Night' is like a breath of fresh air cos it sounds like Sham and Jim sounds normal  again, he ain't putting on any airs and graces. But listen to the diction on , 'You’re A Better Man Than Me’ (originally the b-side of The Yardbirds ‘Shapes Of Things’). This might work well on stage but on the album it smacks of ‘how do we fill up the 40 minutes’.

The other side confirms this. There's 'Hersham Boys' the mighty Top Ten smash, a re-working of 'Questions And Answers' and a great live version of 'What Have We Got' (words changed to 'I've
Got You' and sounding to me like the Glasgow Apollo gig and thus featuring Steve 'n’ Paul.

This leaves just two new numbers. Both are excellent songs but both are to different extents sodded up
by that anonymous organ and the messy mix. 'Lost On Highway 46' is a full frontal belter about Jimmy Dean featuring silly frilly Cockney Rebel like keyboards, while 'Voices' is a Status Quo-sy exercise for Jim to hit back at media critics over a steamy rock and roll workout.

Free with the album comes a 12 inch single including ten minute versions of 'Borstal Breakout' and 'If The Kids Are United' which are so awful Sham's worst enemies wouldn't have believed it possible from them. 'Breakout' starts great with the lyrics re-written to feature most of Sham's song titles but soon degenerates into some sort of horrible cross between ELP and Hawkwind. 'Kids' is even worse with Jim sounding literally deranged as he goes through a prolonged 'stream of consciousness' hippy rant. It's too embarrassing to listen to.

Forgetting this vinyl waste, the album itself is thinly stretched and over ambitious. It features only five good new songs (that's a quid a piece) and even they are marred by bad production and that infuriating organ. So why?

I reckon the reason for the intrusive organ and Jim's silly voice changes is that this is his bid for critical credibility. Sham have always been slagged by media tossers and this is their attempt at acceptance and
sophistication. Except it doesn’t work and the result falls between too many stools to satisfy anyone.

On another level the album has moved away from the street reality the band have always traded in to pure escapism. Compare the covers of this and the first album. Compare the subject matter. Fly dark what?

The reason for this is obvious - the monster that Sham audiences became. And I ain't about to blame
Jimmy for the rise of neo-nazism and I don't know the answer to it either. It's not his fault that the only people willing to talk to white working class youngsters were ultra-right nutters and he certainly did his best to counter the German Movement's arguments (just as he's always done his best to put something back in the industry unlike all his big-talk contemporaries). Suffice it to say that the kids killed the band in more ways than one.

Finally the album was recorded in France with a Pursey whose mind was committed to other things - 
in particular the ill-fated Cook and Jones liaison - and it definitely shows that his heart wasn't in it. It smacks of getting out of the contract quick.

As it is the Pistols collapsed. What happens to Pursey, Parsons, Cain and Treganna now I don't know. They could get back to the roots of punk protest, they could become the Slade of the eighties, or they could carry on this 'serious' rock band mishmash. I know which one I'd prefer.

Saying all this has hurt but it needed to be said because I love Sham 69. It would have been so easy to gloss over the errors and pretend they'd gone out with a bang but the slogan says tell us the truth, right? I hope you can accept that Jim. This is not a good Sham album. For me the goodbye was 'Hersham Boys' the single, and the Glasgow Apollo gig. This is a rip-off. A mistake. It reeks of money, marketing and desperation. It makes a mockery of everything Sham stood for.

I wouldn't buy it. Parsons and Pursey are capable of much, much more.

GARRY BUSHELL



Sham 69 Outlook Club Doncaster 10th January 1978

 


Here's an early example of a Sham gig. Early in that the band run run through all of their material before returning for an encore in the literal sense to play 'Rip Off' and 'Borstal Breakout' again. Introduced by Danny Baker, until recently part of the 'Sniffin' Glue' editorial team, this set features material from the first singles and the debut album 'Tell Us The Truth'. Jim is on good ranting form throughout!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-v837k810q5

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-EIxszOWRef

01. Red London
02. I Don’t Wanna
03. I’m A Man, I’m A Boy
04. Hey Little Rich Boy
05. Rip Off
06. Ulster Boy
07. Banter
08. I Don’t Understand
09. George Davis Is Innocent
10. Borstal Breakout
11. What About The Lonely
12. It’s Never Too Late
13. Encore Break
14. Banter
15. Rip Off
16. Borstal Breakout

Friday, 30 October 2020

Ironworks Inverness 30th October 2008

 


Another anniversary, this time from Inverness, Enjoy!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-mMWJPHc4he

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-zbeDavadtM

01. Waltzinblack
02. Grip
03. Five Minutes
04. Peaches
05. Nice 'N’ Sleazy
06. Spectre Of Love
07. Skin Deep
08. No Mercy
09. Always The Sun
10. Strange Little Girl
11. Golden Brown
12. The Raven
13. Thrown Away
14. Walk On By

01. Hanging Around
02. Straighten Out
03. Big Thing Coming
04. All Day And All Of The Night
05. Duchess
06. Tank
07. Encore Break
08. Nuclear Device
09. Something Better Change
10. Encore Break
11. No More Heroes

City Hall Sheffield 30th October 1986

 


Happy birthday to this one that saw the Dreamtour roll into Sheffield. The sound is good although I think that it runs rather fast. See what you think.

Ask and you shall get.... Many thanks to Dom P for a speed corrected master!!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-jV8th9EJn1

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-hjRKG6jWxR

01. No More Heroes
02. Was It You?
03. Down In The Sewer
04. Nice In Nice
05. Punch And Judy
06. Souls
07. Always The Sun
08. La Folie
09. Strange Little Girl
10. Golden Brown
11. Nice 'N' Sleazy
12. Who Wants The World?
13. Big In America
14. Bring On The Nubiles
15. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
16. Uptown
17. Tank
18. Toiler On The Sea
19. Spain
20. Peaches
21. Duchess
22. London Lady

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

What Would You Be Doing For the Next Two Weeks back in '79!

 


It may seem thoughtless and perhaps bordering on the cruel, but hey, I am in the very same boat as everyone else. As we endure untold months deprived of the live music will you just take a peak at this two week period covering 7th to 14th October 1979 from the always rather light weight Smash Hits.

Just think, all you would need would be time off , a young person's railcard and either loaded parents or the best paid paper round in the land!

'That's Life' Sham 69 Review (Record Mirror 4th November 1978)

 

Sham's finest moment.... their 'A Day in the Life'. Nine to Five humdrum, the sack the 'orses, the boozer, night club and a punch up! Oh and listen out for a young Pauline Quirke!


SHAM 69: 'That's Life' (Polydor POLD 5010)
SLADE: 'Slade Alive Vol 4' (Barn 2314 106)

It would be easy I s'pose, to be glib about the simultaneous release of these two albums: to quickly sum up Slade and Sham as passing strangers, heading inexorably in their op posite directions: one up, one down. But the truth, it se to me, is more complicated than that.

True, Slade, after staying at the top throughout the early Seventies (a more suc-cessful reign than practically any other group of this decade?) have been heading for the pits in the last few years, and a totally horrendous gig in Denmark last year had me more or less convinced they were to be resigned firmly to (happy) memory. But Monday night's gig at the Music Machine, saw the boys (mind you, considering the time they've been around, I have to use that term extremely loosely) somewhere near old form, and this album, while patchy, confirms my opinion that they could still have something going for them… enough to make this record a worthwhile, if not exactly essential purchase, and enough, possibly, to get the group back on an even keel.

Their big problem, however, the one I still can't see a solution to, is the same old one of material: the oldies are still way the best. It's 'Take Me Bak 'Ome'. 'Everyday', C'mon Feel The Noize' and the eternal 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' that are the highlights of this album: forget the new stuff. Their ability to turn out those neat, complete, stompalong ditties seems lost forever. If they could  get that back though I'd put Slade back up there above 90 per cent of their successors. Ironically, if there is to be a renewal of interest to Slade's careers, one of the factors involved could be the ready acceptance by one of those suc-cessors, Sham 69, of the former's influence on them. The similarities, both musical (the same perfect three minute anthems, the same unstoppable rhythms. the same guts and enthusiasm) and ideological (the un-pretentious delinquent next door with a  heart of gold approach).

Sounds (2nd December 1978)

I should say that Sham are like early Slade: Slade's problems really started when they got involved with musicianship. Musicianship is of course irrelevant to groups of their ilk, dealing as they do in something much more basic. Sham thankfully haven't reached that stage yet, and in fact, don't ever look like reaching it: a group who only rehearse when they're forced in to it. A group who couldn't care less about technical mistakes.

Sham are on their way up, driven mainly by some great live gigs and a bunch of irresistible singalong singles. But with this, their 'concept' album, I personally feel that they've perhaps found a few obstacles in their way: that the route is just a little steeper than they first thought. I know Jimmy Pursey himself is pleased with the result, and I'm sure his fans will be equally delighted, but after a few listens, I can't help sensing a niggling disappointment, a feeling that it's not quite all it could've been. Maybe it's my own concept of concept albums (If you follow me) that's at fault - the concept albums that have gone before have perhaps conditioned me into expecting gloss and slickness. Of course you don't get that here: slick is the very last word you could use to describe Sham. Which, normally, I find endearing. This time it gets a bit much - the spoken scenarios linking the tracks for instance, while entertaining at first, soon begin to grate. Musical amateurism is one thing: theatrical amateurism something else. Perhaps, as a device it's simply overused: whatever, I don't think it works that well In the long run.

Sounds (18th November 1978)

Nor am I convinced about the wisdom of doing slow songs ; the opening tracks ‘Leave Me Alone’ and 'Who Gives A Damn', still sound weak and flat to me. Side one picks up again though, with the title track and 'Win or Lose', and side two is something else again: I mean, how could it fall, including as it does, 'Hurry Up Harry’ (which even Robin Smith Is humming these days), 'Angels With Dirty Faces' and 'Sunday Morning Nightmare', still my favourite track. (Unless, of course, you've bought all already..).

I still think 'Nightmare' shows the group at their best: perfectly displaying their ability to capture and reflect everyday life (in this case the aftermath of the disco) The rest of the tracks contain the same embodiment of real life to a greater or lesser extent. The result is, I don't think, totally successful, but despite my quibbles, it's not  failure by any means. Not that it matters too much in the end, anyway; because one more thing that Sham have in common with Slade is that they are essentially a live band. No matter how good their records, are, they'll never match up. All they'll ever be are plastic souvenirs of a great live show, Sham + ++ ½  Slade +++.

SHEILA PROPHET




Monday, 26 October 2020

'Come 'An 'Ave A Good Time With Us!' - Sham 69 Electric Ballroom Review (Sounds 9th December 1978)

 

It promised to be a good night (or two even). A pre-Christmas home coming gig, celebrating the very recent release of perhaps the band's finest album 'That's Life'. However, it was not to be and at least the first night ended up in another violent shambles as a small faction of British Movement skins did their darnedest to derail the gig.

Garry Bushell took up the story in his review that appeared in the 9th December issue of Sounds.


Sham 69
Electric Ballroom

So now we know who the real Sham fans are.

Three scenes from last night stick in my head this morning. One: A kid singing along to ‘Rip Off’. Four other kids come up “You like Sham then, mate?” “Yeah, they’re terrific.” “You f***ing c*** etc etc.” The kid hardly smiles again all night. The other four are British Movement, part of a gang of I suppose no more than 20. The same kids who mashed up the Lurkers fans at Thames Poly.

Before the set the atmosphere had been tense. Cimarons didn’t play because someone had smashed the drummer’s brother in the face on the way in. And everyone knew the BM had sworn to kill Sham next time they played London, but with friends and roadies lining the stage they had no chance. So instead they turned their attention to kids in the audience. 

Threatening, intimidating ruining an otherwise shit hot gig with tension and fear.

The British Movement hates Pursey because so many kids take more notice of him than they do of them. So the ‘hardcore’ headcases will try and wreck every Sham gig. They’re a problem that won’t walk away and can’t be talked away. A problem Sham’ll have to deal with every time they play London. What’s the answer? To ban known BM kids from gigs? To organise squads of fans in the audience? I’m not sure. What’s certain is that the BM ruined what looked like being a great Sham gig.
The band kicked off with ‘What Have You Got’, the words amended to “communists and National Front/they’re all a shower of shit”. The sound was razor sharp, far far better than the quality at the Bridgehouse (if only the atmosphere had been the same) and the band smashed through numbers like an out of control steam train: ‘Cockney Kids Are Innocent’, ‘ Family Life’, ‘That’s Life’, one of the best songs on the new album.

‘Angels’ which I’ve just decided is the single of the year, saw the first real pogoing of the night with a mass of bopping crops slamming about out of time with Doidie’s solid drumming. Repeat the sight for ‘Borstal Breakout’ – this is what punk’s about. Scene two came during ‘Angels’ when a skin climbed on his mates back singing “Kids like me (points to himself) and you (points at Pursey)”. There’s more for you than against you Jim, never forget it. 

Other good moments included the slower ‘Who Gives A Damn’, ‘Rip Off’ dedicated to Talcy Malcy with a new ending (“He’s just a c***/just a c***/just a c***") and ‘Hurry Up Harry’ which was scene three of the night with the wildest pogoing I’ve seen for months and these two girls sitting on the stage singing their hearts out beaming all over.

But all the time the BM skins had been operating and when after 14 numbers the band ended it took about 50 seconds before the ‘Sham’ chant went up. People were scared to clap. The worst moment came during the first encore of ‘Kids United’. By this time there was so much ill-feeling that Pursey just walked off stage, and though Dave and Kermit carried on until the end, no way would they come back again. 

In the van outside Pursey was well and truly pissed off: “Ow can you play when the audience is like shop window mannequins. It’s our ‘ome town and this ‘appens…”

Was he wrong to walk off?

I’m not sure but I don’t blame him. The irony is, cutting short the set left out the newest song and next single ‘Questions and Answers’: “So think before you do what they say/ It’s your life so go your own way/ There’s no one can tell you/ What you can and cannot be/ The world was made for all of us/ For you and yes for me…

And if you think it makes you tough to prostitute yourself to some tinpot crank who thinks he’s ‘feuhrer’ and who’s gonna shit all over you, fair enough. I think it makes you a tosser.

POSTSCRIPT: To put things in perspective, Friday night was far far better, the crowd was much bigger and rowdier and the BM kids who were there caused no trouble at all. Rather than run away from the problem Pursey gave a short speech during which you could hear a pin drop, reaffirming his hate for the Nazis and his love for his fans.


The trouble at the gig provoked an editorial piece into the background of the British Movement that appeared in the following week's issue of Sounds (16th December 1978).

Beware the British Movement

In recent months London gigs, notably those of The Lurkers and especially last week’s Sham gigs at the Electric Ballroom, have been prey to the anti-social, anti-music activities of a very small gang of kids lead by members of the British Movement. Who are they?

Putting things in perspective the British Movement are tiny. Where they do exist it is in miniscule pockets in a lunatic limbo to the right of Britain’s ‘respectable’ racialists of the National Front. In other words they make no attempt to conceal their Nazism.

The BM was formed in 1968 by leading British Fascist Colin Jordan, fresh out of jail for offences under the Race Relations Act. He was a veteran of such ‘crusades’ as the paramilitary group, Spearhead (for which he, alongside present NF leader Tyndall were jailed), the British National Party, the National Socialist Movement and the Synagogue Arson Gang. Excluded from the newly formed NF for personal rather than political reasons (Tyndall, Pirie, Fountaine and many others shared similar overtly Nazi backgrounds) Jordan formed his own party which by 1975 had a grand national active membership of less than twenty. At this time Jordan decided to take a ‘leave of absence’ (shortly before being convicted of stealing three pairs of red knickers from the Leamington Spa branch of Tesco’s) and the mantle of leadership fell to Michael McLaugglin.

Messrs Tyndall and Webster had realised long before that in order to gain any degree of mass acceptance at all they’d need a populist veneer to their politics but this often makes them appear to the hardcore, or arguably more stupid Nazis, as softies, hence the ‘real’ Nazis join the BM, the League of St George, the Leeds based British National Party or the even tinier underground paramilitary Column 88, none of whom have such scruples about image.

And so in miniature amongst kids who superficially identify with the NF, a smaller number superficially identify with the ‘harder’ BM. Their actual London membership could be counted on a normal Aryan’s fingers especially after just being further depleted by the latest BM edict – that every member should have BM tattooed on their arms.

The problem of fascist violence at gigs is new to Britain but it does stem from their inability to make any headway at all amongst the majority of kids. Their decision to turn on punk groups can only serve to isolate them even further from rock fans, a fact which when it eventually finds its way into their ‘brains’ (and we use the word reluctantly) might persuade them to turn to some more rewarding activity.

Like suicide.

So did Sham bring this problem down on themselves? I fully understand Jimmy Pursey's genuine desire to engage and dissuade those that turned up at the band's gigs hell bent on trouble, but as Bushell pointed out in his Electric Ballroom review, that element of the audience were not open to his liberal approach to the situation, "They’re a problem that won’t walk away and can’t be talked away." If anything, I guess that the approach was naïve, but at the same time I don't really know how it could have been handled when the targeting of 'political foot soldiers' at punk gigs seemed to be a deliberated policy decision for the leadership of Britain's prominent far right organisations of the day. In contrast.... Sham 69 were a band of four musicians facing this shit every time they set foot on a stage.





Sunday, 25 October 2020

Hersham Boys – Laced Up Boots and Corduroys!

 


I have long had a soft spot for Sham 69. They were a great singles band and as a result clocked up more Top of the Pops appearances than most of their punk and new wave contemporaries. Their songs, whilst rabble rousing, spanned a variety of themes from social commentary (‘Angels With Dirty Faces’), jack the lad humour (‘Hurry Up Harry’ and ‘Hersham Boys’), almost through to self help! (‘Questions and Answers’ and ‘If The Kids Are United’). Put ‘Hersham Boys’ on the turntable and you could be listening to a rough around the edges Madness (another troupe of lovable rouges, especially in their early years).

Originally championed by Mark P of Sniffin’ Glue/Alternative TV, Sham were sold as the band taking punk back to its grass roots, the punk band for young working class kids who couldn’t afford the look and style of the Kings Road from ‘Seditionaries’ or ‘Acme Clothing’ and instead made do with a torn school shirt and customised blazer. Sham 69’s songs spelled out a message of unity and the need to question and challenge authority, delivered through the lyrics and on-stage rants of front man Jimmy Pursey. Jimmy was something of a paradox. Did he and his band bring young people together or rather inadvertently open the door to elements of the far right and in doing so give the National Front and British Movement easy access to large numbers of disaffected working class youth looking for a purpose, at a time when their prospects for extremely limited by the economic and political climate that then existed in the UK?

The band tried to address the unwanted reputation they gained by virtue of the right wing skinhead elements of their audience, but often with limited success. Sham gave their support to the Rock Against Racism (RAR) cause, with Jimmy most notably performing ‘White Riot’ with The Clash in Hackney’s Victoria Park on 30th April 1978. Announcements of the band’s intention to play RAR promoted gigs were sometimes followed up with more announcements that they had pulled out gigs due to concerns over threats of violence that would ensue were they to play.

New Musical Express (23rd September 1978)

Pursey performing 'White Riot' with The Clash
Victoria Park, Hackney 20th April 1978

In 1979, some of the most exiting bands that the UK had to offer were on the rise, the likes of Adam and the Ants, The Angelic Upstarts, The Ruts, Sham 69, The Specials and The Beat. As great as the music was many of these bands gigs were regularly marred by politically motivated violence, with the 2 Tone bands being particularly easy targets. And for Sham that trouble seemed to follow in their wake.

Jimmy Pursey explains himself
London Weekend Show 11th February 1979

Prominance of the far right in the Top Ranks and Odeons of the land was reflected in the polling stations. Such was the new found confidence of the National Front in the 1979 General Election that they fielded candidates in nearly half of all British constituencies, polling 191,719 votes. This represented only 0.6% of the total vote and all deposits were lost but doubtless, their performance would have been stronger had the ultimately successful Conservative Party not played to the fears of would be NF voters to increase their vote.

Whiling away another sunny afternoon in Hersham Park!

As mentioned earlier, the band’s music did not warrant such a dubious reputation. When I listen to an early Sham 69 album, I cannot but smile. Think of ‘That’s Life’ punk’s own vinyl kitchen sink drama, a concept album no less documenting the drab 9 to 5 existence of a central character who lives for the horses and a fumble in the darkness of a nightclub on a Saturday night….. ‘Me brother thinks he’s John Travolta and me sister thinks she’s Olivia Nooooton Jo-o-ohn!’ (‘Grease’ was the runaway box office hit of 1978, songs from the soundtrack of which infected the UK charts for weeks on end!). ‘Everybody’s Right, Everybody’s Wrong’ sees our Jim in a reflective mood when he delivers the following lyrics, which are often quoted in our house:

‘I'm a jumper on the wrong way
With the label sticking out
I've been hung up to dry
But the dirt just won't come out

Everybody's wrong everybody's right
Someone must be wrong when someone else is right
Everybody's wrong everybody's right
You tell me that I'm wrong
Then you tell me that I'm right’

Just great, Keats could top that!!

The classic line up of Sham 69 disbanded in 1980 after the release of their fourth album ‘The Game’. Jimmy Pursey persued other artistic avenues including new fangled video and performance dance, remember the footage of Jimmy cavorting to ‘Meninblack’? No….

Jimmy suffering for his art!
(Riverside)

I first Sham 69 at The Marquee in 1992…. with keyboards! It was a tame affair. The only skinheads in evidence were very young and at one point Pursey leant over the stage and patted one of them on the head and told him to grow his hair. Given the fact that he was wearing a modern Skrewdriver T-shirt I would have favoured the more robust Mensi approach in the same circumstances!

In 2006, after a fall out, Sham 69 mainstays, Jimmy Pursey and Dave Parsons, parted company with the guitarist continuing with the band with Tim V on vocals. In more recent years three quarters of the classic line up of Pursey, Parsons and Treganna reformed and they still cut it although the former motor mouth stage proclamations have disappeared and that’s a shame.

New Musical Express
11th March 1978



The Stone San Francisco 9th May 1981

 


Thanks once again to Dom P for the replacement and upgrade of this classic bootleg. Great sound with Hugh on top form. One of the favourites in the collection.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-NxajMFThmu


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

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

The Damned Barrowlands Glasgow 30th June 1989

 


'This could be the last time, baby, I don't know'

In light of today's announcement here's one they did earlier.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-lfNnINdm5X

01. See Her Tonite
02. Fish
03. Born To Kill
04. Fan Club
05. Help
06. Neat Neat Neat
07. I Fall
08. New Rose
09. I Feel Alright
10. I Just Can’t Be Happy Today
11. Wait For The Blackout
12. Noise Noise Noise
13. Melody Lee
14. Love Song
15. Smash It Up
16. Day Tripper
17. Looking At You
18. The Last Time

Original Damned Line Up for 2021

 


Well, I can honestly say that today was the day that my Facebook feed was properly Damned. I struggled through the Roundhouse press conference that was dogged with IT issues, rather an inevitability for a stream with 1000+ keen listeners. However, I do not share the disbelief of many that were tapping out in messages of surprise prior to the 1pm gathering.

I said as soon as Pinch departed that Rat would be back on the drum stool not long after it was cold. OK, Captain and Rat have had some kind of spat over the past few years but by the same token, in the same period Rat has been in a band with Brian, Rat has been in a band with Paul, Paul has been in a band with Captain and Captain and Paul have been in a band with Dave.... it's not as if they have really been keeping out of each others way in any meaningful way!

All members of the band are in their sixties, the end is nigh-ish (retirement I mean, not death). Some of them have a liking for the big one off shows (RAH, Night of a 1000 Vampires), Dave in particular I believe, so this makes sense. A last hurrah with these original agents of chaos!


Good luck to 'em. For my part, as much as I love this band, £75 for a London ticket is a bit steep and I did see this line up play a few times in the late '80's and again in '91 (?) in a double headliner with the Ramones.

No offence to Brian but whilst 'Damned Damned Damned' is an undoubted classic of the punk genre, even in latter gigs without Brian, the band have thrashed the arse out of that album. Don't get me wrong, it had some great tracks, but the Stooges angle on much of the album never really floated my boat. Strangely enough, overall I think that 'Music For Pleasure' has more tracks that interest me than 'DDD' but Sensible is never gonna go near that one again.

Hopefully, provided that old animosities can be held in check amidst these feisty pensioners, Rat may stick around and do some dates with Paul in the band... that would be my Manna from Heaven.

But as I say.... all the best to the cantankerous old bastards!


 

Monday, 19 October 2020

Thanks!

 


A hearty COVID-19 secure elbow bump goes to all of you that responded to my begging post once again. Many thanks to the donors, be it from a financial or material contribution perspective (and for many both apply).

I am still enjoying the sharing and occasional opportunity to share my thoughts or sound off even. I hope you do too.

Cheers,

Adrian x.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

The Grand Studio RTL 21 Feb 2012 Audio and Video

 



Back in 2012, the band went to quite a lot of trouble to promote the then new album 'Giants' on the Continent. This is one of a handful of promotional visits that The Stranglers (as here) or JJ and Baz paid to various radio stations in France and Belgium to plug the album.

Here for the first time is a set that I put together of the band's gig at The Grand Studio RTL station in France. Part of the set was also streamed.






20 From '82 (18) The Dickies 9.30 Club Washington DC 5th February 1982

 


Here's another from '82 from Los Angeles' Dickies. Now in the process of winding up with the planned release of a final album, I am looking forward to seeing the band back in the UK for some farewell shows. Singer, Leonard Graves Phillips, is writing a book which promises to be good. It would be great to get another perspective on those early support tours.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-cd4WGhXnvy

01. Fan Mail
02. Bach Piano Solo
03. She’s A Hunchback
04. Jim Bowie
05. Shadow Man
06. (Stuck In A Pagoda With) Tricia Toyota
07. Curb Job
08. Manny, Moe And Jack
09. Gigantor
10. Paranoid

Aldos Hideaway Lyndhurst New Jersey 16th October 1980

 


A tad late with this one but hey! An astounding 40 years ago the band took the Meninblack to New Jersey as part of the Who Wants the World? tour. The smallest place that they had ever played except for when Hugh played in his Mother's womb..... according to the man himself. Not a bad audience recording, were it not for the berk yelling for 'I Feel Like a Waaaarrrrgggg' throughout the set. But what's not to love, The Stranglers in a club in a tiny town in New Jersey... I for one wouldn't have minded sweating it out in there that night.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-DPsqgEljyl

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-dUPpSUEZLX

01. Shah Shah A Go Go
02. Ice
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Duchess
05. Hanging Around
06. Baroque Bordello
07. Down In The Sewer
08. Who Wants The World?
09. Thrown Away
10. Just Like Nothing on Earth
11. Threatened
12. Tank
13. Nuclear Device
14. Genetix
15. 5 Minutes
16. The Raven

Monday, 12 October 2020

Metropolitan University Leeds 12th October 2006

 


On this day 14 years ago The Stranglers played Leeds. Great set and great times from a year of new possibilities and the year that I came back to the band!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-jSMacQSkah

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-7Sfin6YD7L

01. 5 Minutes
02. (Get A) Grip (on Yourself)
03. Spectre Of Love
04. Nice n Sleazy
05. Death & Night & Blood
06. Unbroken
07. Peaches
08. Always The Sun
09. Golden Brown
10. I Hate You
11. Lost Control
12. Summat Outanow

01. Walk On By
02. Relentless
03. Threatened
04. Burning Up Time
05. All Day & All Of The Night
06. Thrown Away
07. Duchess
08. London Lady
09. Nuclear Device
10. Dagenham Dave
11. No More Heroes




Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Gob On The Tyne - The North East Punk and Post Punk Scene 1976 - 1980


Last month I was contacted by a guy called Martin in connection with the T-Rex/Damned review that I posted. Amongst other things he wanted to highlight the upcoming book on the early punk scene in the North East.

Details can be found here:

http://www.northeastpunk.co.uk/

Of The Stranglers contribution he had this to say:

'The Stranglers were one of the first Punk bands to play in the NE (Newcastle Poly and The Rock Garden, Middlesbrough, in early '77). I heard that they also played at Teesside Poly in '76 although I haven't had it confirmed. They also played at the City Hall, Newcastle, in mid-'77 with local band Penetration supporting. I've been in touch with several folks who attended those gigs and have some great stories and photos. I asked JJ what he remembers about the Poly gig, to which he replied, 'Fuck all.'

Glasgow Apollo 7th October 1979

 


A happy Raven birthday to this one. 41 years ago tonight, touched up and speed corrected by Dom P.

I have also unearthed some contemporary reviews and comments on the gig, both from Jet's press collection and my own. In the main, the reviews appear to be very positive, with both the 'Record Mirror' and 'Superpop' reviews acknowledging the band's courageousness in terms of relying on the strength of the new (and therefore relatively unfamiliar) material rather than the safe, guaranteed crowd pleasers of the previous two years. Particular attention was paid to JJs emerging vocal style 'the  husky, breathless vocals which sound more like a dewy-eyed early Sixties teen idol, than a big, bad stud-in-town' contrasting strikingly to the guttural roar on tracks such as 'Curfew'.

Think about it, 12 months prior to 'The Raven' the band had reached their rawest punk pinnacle with the material on 'Black & White'. But by 1979 the band were far more introspective.... might have been something to do with the heavy duty pharmaceutical intake perhaps.... The themes were still dark, but almost seductive and alluring. They ranged from lost Samurai warrior codes, exotic continental knocking shops, revolution in the Middle East and some ne'er-do-well geezer by the name of  Harry. 

Whilst 'Black & White' took the band away from their basic rock 'n' roll roots, 'The Raven' took the band into uncharted waters that left fans bemused and enthralled in equal measure. This is the reason that for many 'The Raven' and the tour that accompanied it are the definitive highs of the band's long career. 

Listen out for the berating of the Apollo security that causes 'Sewer' to be cut in mid flow. Bouncers doncha' just love 'em.

Record Mirror (13th October 1979)

Superpop 27th October 1979

Glasgow Strangled Again.

The Stranglers
Glasgow Apollo: 7.10.79

The men in black returned to Glasgow for a third time with a killer album, new improved stage show and a - vengeance. It’s perhaps indicative of just how strong their current stage set is that the highlights of the show are no longer the obligatory ‘Hanging Around’ and ‘Bring on the Nubiles’.

They don’t even play safe shots like ‘Go Buddy Go’, ‘No More Heroes’ or even ‘Grip’ anymore, instead wisely concentrating on their latest work ‘The Raven’.

Opening fairly low key with ‘Five Minutes’, almost immediately it’s into the new songs. ‘Shah Shah A Go Go’ goes from an earsplitting Dave Greenfield keyboard refrain straight into the softer Burnel vocal of ‘Ice’ – again his piercing, digital keyboard stabs riding superbly on top of the backing muscle.

If anything, JJB’s smoothed off his often frantic shoutings to deliver husky, breathless vocals which sound more like a dewy-eyed early Sixties teen idol, than a big, bad stud-in-town. Truth is, it only highlights what a capable singing voice he really has – now balancing Cornwell’s gruffer, angrier tones more readily.

Indeed the material from ‘The Raven’ contrasts superbly with the black moods of their ‘Black & White’ set, and when ‘Down in the Sewer’ arrives mid-way through it provides timely light from the shade.

The pace builds forcibly as they heave layer upon layer of heavyweight playing towards the show’s climax – drummer Jet Black never lifting his head from his kit all evening – slamming into ‘Threatened’, ‘Baroque Bordello’, ‘Curfew’ and ‘Tank’ in quick succession.

They then finish with their – or more to be precise Cornwell’s new found tour de force, ‘Nuclear Device’ where he demolishes his companion’s great backing harmonies with his meanest snarls of the night.

A lot of people may feel that they’ve been a bit short changed because no-one had a real go at the house security, and there was no real drama to report back to the lads down the pub. But the fact is, The Stranglers are back. They’ve never played better or looked meaner.

BILLY SLOAN.

Glasgow Evening News 12th October 1979



01. 5 Minutes
02. Shah Shah A Go Go
03. Ice
04. Down In The Sewer (Aborted)
05. Down In The Sewer
06. Hanging Around
07. The Raven
08. Dead Loss Angeles
09. Threatened
10. Curfew
11. Tank
12. Burning Up Time
13. Bring On The Nubiles
14. Nuclear Device
15. Genetix
16. I Feel Like A Wog
17. Duchess
18. Toiler On The Sea





Monday, 5 October 2020

Palais Des Sports Montpellier 5th October 1983

 


And another one from that French France on its birthday.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-PGPTgR41OH

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-MjeNtfRXXW

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

01. Midnight Summer Dream
02. European Female
03. The Raven
04. 5 Minutes
05. Tank
06. London Lady
07. Encore Break/Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
08. Bring On The Nubiles
09. Hanging Around
10. Outro

20 From '82 (17) Motorhead De Montfort Hall Leicester 7th April 1982

 

Motorhead, now there is a funny old band! Like The Stranglers, they pre-dated punk, playing the same pub haunts. They looked like rockers, but didn't sound particularly heavy metal although they went with the flow when in 1980 the New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM raised its hairy head. To my ear they always sounded more aligned with punk than with metal and the band, Lemmy especially was a regular face on the early London punk scene.

Lemmy and Gaye Avert shopping for basses

Lemmy with another well known 'bass player'

Lemmy and Lydon

Just as Lemmy was confortable with punk, so punks were happy with Motorhead. I saw them a few times, first time in 1987, then with The Damned and finally at Guildfest. They were loud! 

This recording is from 1982's 'Iron Fist' tour, the last by what most people consider to be the classic line up of the band:

Ian 'Lemmy' Kilminster
'Fast' Eddie Clarke
Phil 'Philthy Animal' Taylor

Eddie Clarke left the band a month later in the middle of a US tour.

Record Mirror (22nd May 1982)

Some of their later material was not so hot, but classic line up albums of 'Overkill', 'Bomber', 'The Ace of Spades' and the live offering 'No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith' are classic albums.



01. Intro
02. Iron Fist
03. Heart Of Stone
04. Shoot You In The Back
05. The Hammer
06. Jailbait
07. White Line Fever
08. Leaving Here
09. (Don't Need) Religion
10. Go To Hell
11. Capricorn
12. (Don't Let 'Em) Grind Ya Down
13. (We Are) The Road Crew
14. Ace Of Spades
15. No Class
16. Bite The Bullet
17. The Chase Is Better (Than The Catch)
18. Overkill
19. Encore Break
20. Bomber
21. Encore Break
22. Motorhead

Sunday, 4 October 2020

20 From '82 (16) The Jam Wembley Arena 5th December 1982

 


So here it was, the out of town band who struggled to break into the London scene, finally bade farewell to the capital with the last of a five night run at Wembley Arena! Whilst The Jam may have lost out on the chance to be the one of the biggest bands in the world..... they were just too English for American audiences..... and The Clash found it much easier to appeal to US taste..... here in the UK at the point of the split they were top dog.

I have often argued with mates (Owen Carne) about the band's fifth and final studio album, 'The Gift'. I rate it, admittedly not as highly as 'All Mod Cons' or 'Setting Sons', but without doubt it was a worthy finale. I sometimes wonder what a sixth album would have sounded like.... would Weller have pushed  the band in the mellow brand of soul that he adopted for his next venture, The Style Council? I guess so, 'A Solid Bond in Your Heart' was one track demoed by The Jam and used by TSC later on. 


FLAC: https://we.tl/t-PZvpSozwX3

Artwork: (included in download file).

01. Beat Surrender
02. It's Too Bad
03. I Got You (I Feel Good)
04. Away From The Numbers
05. Ghosts
06. In The Crowd
07. Boy About Town
08. Get Yourself Together
09. All Mod Cons
10. To Be Someone
11. Smithers-Jones
12. Tales From The Riverbank
13. Precious
14. Start!
15. Circus
16. Mr Clean
17. Pretty Green/Move On Up
18. The Butterfly Collector
19. Town Called Malice
20. Going Underground
21. The Gift


Neil Tennant, prior to find pop stardom in his own right wrote for the teen pop biweekly 'Smash Hits' and his feature covering this gig appeared in the 23rd December 1982 issue of the magazine.



Barrowlands Glasgow 4th October 1992


Here's an anniversary gig from the second leg of the 'In The Night' tour. From The Barrowlands in Glasgow.

MP3 (as received): https://we.tl/t-1Z8cF7PrKf

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-SnzZ6uFlzC

01. Time To Die
02. Toiler On The Sea
03. Sometimes
04. I Feel Like A Wog
05. The Raven
06. Strange Little Girl
07. 96 Tears
08. Someone Like You
09. Always The Sun
10. Heaven Or Hell
11. Laughing At The Rain
12. Never See
13. Hanging Around
14. Brainbox
15. London Lady
16. All Day And All Of The Night
17. Sugar Bullets
18. Tank
19. JJ/Paul
20. No More Heroes
21. Duchess
22. 5 Minutes
23. Go Buddy Go