Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

Welcome to Aural Sculptors, a blog aimed at bringing the music of The Stranglers to as wide an audience as possible. Whilst all of the various members of the band that have passed through the ranks since 1974 are accomplished studio musicians, it is on stage where the band have for me had their biggest impact.

As a collector of their live recordings for many years I want to share some of the better quality material with other fans. By selecting the higher quality recordings I hope to present The Stranglers in the best possible light for the benefit of those less familiar with their material than the hardcore fan.

Needless to say, this site will steer well clear of any officially released material. As well as live gigs, I will post demos, radio interviews and anything else that I feel may be of interest.

In addition, occasionally I will post material by other bands, related or otherwise, that mean a lot to me.

Your comments and/or contributions are most welcome. Please email me at

Sunday, 31 January 2021

'There's A Riot Going On.....' - The Nice Incident 1980


The Stranglers cuffed in Nice June 1980

It was the tumultuous scenes on the 6th January in and around the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. that brought to mind another rumpus almost forty years ago. In the first instance I am talking about the riot that saw supporters of Donald Trump, a strange collective of Good 'Ole Boys and Q-Anon conspiracy theorists (or as some wag captioned them 'The Village Idiot People'), attack and enter the seat of US politics, and in the second, the 'riot' that ensued after an unsuccessful gig at Nice University on 20th June 1980.

The two events attracted widely differing levels of media attention unsurprisingly. The insurgency of Trump's militia set the world's media outlets ablaze, whilst reports of punk misdemeanors on the French Riviera were in large part confined to the pages of the music press of the day and the UK's sensation-seeking tabloid press. On the other hand similarities are to be found in terms of the issue of who was responsible for inciting a riot.

In both cases lawyers for and against poured over transcripts of what was said in the period immediately prior to the violence, with each side assigning legal significance to which ever comments carried most weight in favour of the case they were making.

In Washington, the outgoing President urged a crowd of his supporters to walk down to Capitol Building , two miles distant, where 'We're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness.  You have to show strength, and you have to be strong'.

In Nice, after the PA broke down for a third time in the band's set as a result of the inadequacy of the generator's provided by the University, the gig was abandoned. Jet Black explained the events that had occurred  throughout the day, including the University authority's refusal to allow a more powerful generator onto the site for fear that the heat produced would damage the concrete beneath. Jet's explanation was translated into French by Jean-Jacques and the band departed for a post (half) gig meal. Back at the abandoned gig, the riled and frustrated audience took the University to task for its failings by rearranging the campus somewhat.

In Washington, by the time the riot was quelled, five people were dead, including a Capitol police officer, more than 60 people were arrested and critically the political systems of the United States were on their knees.

In Nice, the outcome was less dramatic admittedly, with damage caused that, according to the University, amounted to £10,000 (approximately £40,000 worth today). Plate glass windows were smashed and trees set alight within the campus grounds.

In The Stranglers' situation, the damage to the fabric of the University could be quickly and simply reversed. The damage to the band's career was potentially devastating, the statuary penalty for incitement to cause riot was 1 year to a maximum of 5 years and there was real concern within the band camp that our gallic bass player could be looking at some manner of custodian sentence.

If incitement to riot under French Law carries such a harsh sentence, is there any chance that Trump could be extradited to France to answer charges for what occurred in Washington in a Nice courtroom?

Here, I have pulled together the contemporary reports of the Nice incident for your reading pleasure.

The decisions on the fate if The members of The Stranglers were decided largely on the unlicensed recording of the gig made by Radio Monte Carlo.... I want ! I want! I want!


UK Tabloid (Daily Mirror/News of the World?) June 1980

The Sun 21st June 1980

From Peter Stephens in Paris

Punk rock stars The Stranglers were behind bars last night after a riot at a concert.

The four-man British group were accused of deliberately urging their audience to wreck the concert hall.

They are likely to spend the weekend in a French jail before a court hearing tomorrow.

The group were arrested at their French Riviera hotel after walking out of the show at Nice University because of a power failure.

Students threw metal barriers through floor to ceiling windows when the band complained about the uni.

Police allege that one member of the group said to the audience “I urge you to break everything”.

The controversial foursome are Hugh Cornwell, Jet Black, Dave Greenfield and Jean Jacques Burnel.

The Stranglers’ manager, Ian Grant, said in London last night “We have been trying to get a lawyer to see them but it appears that there is no obligation on the police to let them have representation until 48 hours after arrest.”


The Sun June 1980


Three members of The Stranglers punk rock group were charged by French police last night with inciting a riot.

The three, Jet Black, 40, Hugh Cornwell, 31, and French guitarist Jean-Jacques Burnel were accused after appearing before an examining magistrate in the Riviera resort of Nice.

The fourth member of the group, 31 year old Dave Greenfield, was freed by the court.

Their London manager will fly to Nice today and lodge £30,000 bail so that the three can be freed on bail.

Otherwise they could spend months in jail awaiting trial.


The band were arrested and held in Jail for 36 hours after a riot during a concert at Nice University. Fans went on the rampage, smashing windows, wrecking furniture and setting fire to trees in the campus gardens.

Their manager Andy Dunkley said late last night that “The police have told us nothing. Dave Greenfield is back at the hotel exhausted".

He added “None of them got much sleep on Saturday night, they were four in a cell.”


“Most of today they were taken from the cell for questioning then dragged back again.”

Mr Dunkley said Dave Greenfied may have been released because he said little on stage.

But mystery surrounds the reason Hugh Cornwell was charged.

Several witnesses claimed he was not on stage when the riot began.

Andy Dunkley was tour manager at the time.

Melody Maker June 1980

Record Mirror 28th June 1980



Stranglers in jail on ‘riot’ charge

The Stranglers found themselves on the wrong end of the law yet again at the weekend when they were all arrested in Nice after a gig at the University turned into a riot. Keyboard player Dave Greenfield was later released but the other three – Hugh Cornwell, Jet Black and Jean-Jacques Burnel, were all charged with inciting a riot and held in prison.

The band’s manager, Ian Grant, was flying to France at the beginning of this week to arrange bail but at press time it was still not clear whether the band would have to remain in France until the trial came up and whether their upcoming British tour would have to be postponed.

The trouble started last Friday when the Stranglers arrived to play the gig at Nice University and claimed that both the power supply and the PA were inadequate for them. They decided to carry on with the gig but the power supply failed three times and the third time it happened the band left the stage for good. Jet Black was alleged to have told the angry audience to “take it out on the University, not us, and ask for your money back” which Jean Jacques Burnel kindly translated into French.

The audience did demand their money back and proceeded to wreck the theatre causing damage estimated by university authorities at £10,000.

The band meanwhile had already left the university and gone for a meal. When they returned to their hotel the police swooped and took them all into custody.

The following day they were brought before an examining magistrate to determine if there was a case for them to answer. A tape of the gig was playing to the magistrate who confessed he wasn’t able to understand any of it and demanded a translation.

The band were then taken back to the police cells for a second night and brought before the magistrate again on Sunday. He freed Dave Greenfield who had said nothing throughout the gig but charged the remaining three and sent them back into police custody. A trial date has not yet been fixed.

The tape containing the ‘evidence’ of the gig was made by Radio Monte Carlo without the permission of the band and the band’s management will be suing the radio station for unauthorized taping at the as well as the organisers for failing to supply adequate power or PA.

Melody Maker June 1980

In Court


Stranglers face the French music

The Stranglers, currently working on final details for a British tour in February, returned to France last week for the first stage of their court case in Nice.

Hugh Cornwell, Jean Jacques Burnel and Jet Black heard the court prosecutor demand that Burnel should be jailed for a year, and Cornwell and Black six months each on charges that they incited fans at Nice University to damage the hall after protesting about the poor quality of sound equipment at the gig in June.

They have paid more than £9,000 in compensation for smashed windows , damaged furniture and burnt trees. If found guilty they could get either suspended sentences or a fine when the verdict is delivered on January 13.

Meanwhile the band have their new album, “The Meninblack” for release in January, and will be touring Britain in February.

New Musical Express 5th July 1980

Stranglers out

The Stranglers’ British tour goes ahead next week on schedule – and its likely than more dates will be added to those already announced.

The tour was salvaged last Friday when the three members who’d been in a French jail for almost a week on a charge of inciting violence – Hugh Cornwell, Jet Black and Jean Jacques Burnel – were released, the first two unconditionally and Burnel on a bail of 100,000 francs (about £10,000). 

The accused are now required to report back to the court when summoned – probably in October – either to face trial, have the charges dropped or be re-bailed. They are hoping that by that time the court will be prepared to settle for a fine rather than a jail sentence.

Speaking from his Nice hotel on Friday, manager Ian Grant told NME: “Even our lawyer was surprised when the boys were freed so quickly. At best, we thought they’d be held until Monday. At worst they could have been in custody until October.

Naughty boys bailed, so UK tour is on

“The prosecution pulled all the usual strokes. They even raised the age-old issue of Jean Jacues’ national service in France, but fortunately we had the documents with us to prove he was exempt. Apparently they also contacted Interpol to get details of the band’s record in other countries, but the telex didn’t come through with the information in time for the court hearing – which is just as well!”

There is no question of The Stranglers not surrendering to their bail in October, though it seems that, if found guilty, the least they can expect is a fine of the same amount, which allegedly is the extent of the damage caused at Nice University where the trouble occurred.

The main worry, said Grant, is over Burnel – because it was he who spoke to the audience in French, and is therefore regarded by the police as the main culprit. But the band still insist that they in no way incited the riot, and hope to prove that this was not an isolated instance (British band Screen Idols had a similar experience with under-power generators when they played Nice University at the end of last year, though there were no riots or police involved).

The question of The Stranglers’ finances is also causing concern. The present hassles come on top of Cornwell’s jail sentence in March and the civil action in which the band have been involved, But Grant insisted that The Stranglers will continue come what may – even if their company is forced into liquidation.

The band cancelled their Athens concert, because they weren’t freed in time to make the necessary ferry bookings. But they were playing in Italy yesterday and tonight (Thursday) – then it’s a how in Palma on Friday, back to Italy on Saturday and home for their UK tour starting at the London Rainbow next Tuesday.

Record Mirror 5th July 1980


The band were released, only  couple of dates were lost and the British tour went ahead as planned. But the Nice experience had a profound effect on the band. The years 1979 to 1980 represent a low for the band and yet for many a fan these two years saw the band at the top of their creative game. At one time, the band attributed the misfortunes experienced in these years to an over-active interest in the Men In Black phenomena. On the other hand, pharmaceuticals may have made a contribution too!

In the wake of the Nice incident, the S.I.S. jailbird library was supplemented to the tune of one, with Jet's account entitled 'Much Ado About Nothing' which he subsequently updated in the 2011 account 'Seven Days in Nice'. 

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 22nd January 2015


This is the first occasion that I had the chance to see Kraftwerk, on the original 'The Mix' tour in 1991 at the Brixton Academy and rather good it was too.

As mentioned in an earlier post, with 'The Mix' the band took the opportunity to spruce up some of their classic material with the idea I guess that here was a chance to really add something to the original versions. In Kraftwerk's case this would have been relatively straight forward as especially in the case the oldest material such as 'Autobahn' and 'Radioactivity' where studio capability and equipment had advanced tremendously in the 15 years or so since the originals were recorded. The songs do not replace or supersede the originals, rather they complement the originals and offer an alternative to which contrasts can be made. To my ears, the additions made to 'Radioactivity (one of my all time favourite KW songs) take the track to a new level. The stark, tinny, almost ethereal quality of the 1976 version is made to so huge and menacing, qualities that are lacking in the original version. I remember, at around the time that 'The Mix' was released, being parked up on a hill in Cumbria that directly overlooked the Sellafield plant. 'Radioactivity' was cranked up on the car stereo and it all made for something of an otherworld experience... just thought I'd throw that into 'The Mix'!

01. [intro]
02. Numbers
03. Computer World
04. Home Computer
05. Computer Love
06. Airwaves
07. Intermission
08. News
09. Geiger Counter
10. Radioactivity
11. Autobahn
12. Pocket Calculator
13. Dentaku
14. Spacelab
15. The Model
16. The Man-Machine
17. Tour De France 1983
18. Prologue
19. Tour De France Étape 1
20. Chrono
21. Tour De France Étape 2
22. Trans-Europe Express
23. Abzug
24. Metal On Metal
25. [encore break]
26. The Robots
27. [encore break]
28. Expo 2000
29. Planet Of Visions
30. Boing Boom Tschak
31. Techno Pop
32. Musique Non Stop

Friday, 29 January 2021

'I Just Can't Be Happy Today!' - Vanian in ink


Dave Vanian hand printed linocut 15cm x 20cm in black ink over A4 dreadnaught grey art card and printed over the '79 summer tour ad with The Ruts.

Well you've gotta have something to do when the pubs are shut and the bands are all at home.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 21st January 2015


So here to my ear and in my personal opinion only is Kraftwerk's weakest album. Tensions existed within the Kraftwerk organisation at this point in time. Karl Bartos cited Ralf and Florian's perfectionist approach to music making as a reason for his departure. Whether this perfectionism was responsible for the near 5 year band hiatus between 'Computer World' and 'Electric Cafe' or whether it was due to the cycling obsession is known only to them, but this career break, if such it was, came at a crucial time. Instead of leading the early '80's synth brigade to bigger and brighter things, they were somewhat left in their slipstream as those bands took their ideas and ran with them. It took Kraftwerk many years to recover I think.



02.Electric Cafe
03.The Telephone Call
04.House Phone
05.Sex Object
09.Geiger Counter
12.The Model
13.The Man-Machine
15.Computer World
16.Home Computer
17.Computer Love
19.Tour De France 1983
21.Tour De France Étape 1
23.Tour De France Étape 2
24.Trans-Europe Express
26.Metal On Metal
27.[encore break]
28.The Robots
29.[encore break]
30.Elektro Kardiogramm
31.Boing Boom Tschak
32.Techno Pop
33.Musique Non Stop

Monday, 25 January 2021

'My Daddy Was A Bank Robber' Joe Strummer 1980


Another lockdown distraction.

Joe Strummer in 1980
Linocut print in black ink on cream art card, overprinted on a Mayfair, Newcastle gig poster (June 1980).

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 20th January 2015


So here is what is in my opinion the third of a trio of Kraftwerk albums that defined electronic music, what it was and indeed what it could become. I am not into the Dance music scene. I am 52 in March and so come from an age group that just did not dance in public unless it was to something like Madness or generally jumping around at a gig but I recognise that the dance scene is huge and very influential now in its own right, but what a debt of gratitude that all of the scene's producers, DJs and acts owe to this geeky quartet from the Ruhr!

It's not that everything that they released after 'Computer World' in 1981 was substandard, their re-imagining of a selection of tracks from their back catalogue for 1991's 'The Mix' (given a gig in its own right in this Paradiso residency) offered something fresh even when dealing with songs that were of a 20 to 25 year vintage... but like a fine wine, if the quality is there from the offing then there is always the potential to improve with age. Likewise, 'Tour De France Soundtrack' of 2004 featured some excellent material. I think that the problem that Kraftwerk faced was that by the early 1980's an army of synth obsessives had caught up with their inspiration....Kraftwerk and with off the shelf equipment (as opposed to the home made electronics that Kraftwerk developed) shiny electronic music could be made in half the time for a fraction of the effort. Did Depeche Mode ever lose studio time due to a blown fuse?

When 'Computer World' came out I was 12 years old and home computing was becoming all the rage. My Dad was an engineer with the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) in the UK and had an involvement with the development of air traffic control hardware and software. His interest in computing meant that I got a Sinclair ZX81 one Christmas which was great..... I wish I still had it. The BBC then into battle with Clive Sinclair with their Acorn developed BBC Micro computer in an effort to win the rapidly expanding UK home computing market. Here the BBC had an advantage and they started broadcast of a series by the name of 'The Computer Programme' in 1982, aimed at bringing the British public up to speed on the possibilities that these infant machines could offer. This series used 'Computer World' as its opening title which this 12 year old found hugely exiting. 

Here, Kraftwerk were once again ahead of the curve..... titles such as 'Home Computer' and 'It's More Fun To Compute' gave the listener an insight on what home computing could be and did become. 

'I programme my home computer and beam myself into the future'. 

That of course is exactly what we do but instead of having to learn a variety of computer languages, the software that we use does it all in the background.

Whether home computing has revolutionised the way we live today is a hotly debated topic that even Kraftwerk may struggle to answer!

Whilst listening to the album again this evening I stumbled on a BBC radio documentary on the impact of the 'Computer World' album:

01. [intro]
02. Numbers
03. Computer World
04. Home Computer
05. Computer Love
06. Pocket Calculator
07. Dentaku
08. Autobahn
09. Airwaves
10. Intermission
11. News
12. Geiger Counter
13. Radioactivity
14. Spacelab
15. he Model
16. The Man-Machine
17. Tour De France 1983
18. Prologue
19. Tour De France Étape 1
20. Chrono
21. Tour De France Étape 2
22. Electric Cafe
23. Trans-Europe Express
24. Abzug
25. Metal On Metal
26. [encore break]
27. The Robots
28. [encore break]
29. Elektro Kardiogramm
30. Boing Boom Tschak
31. Techno Pop
32. Musique Non Stop

JJ on BBC's 'The One Show' 3rd February 2012 - LINK RESTORED


I have updated a very old Rapidshare link to this short piece that JJ and the BB 'One Show' team did on 'No More Heroes' in early 2012. It can be accessed once again here.

Alhambra Dunfermline 2nd March 2012


So here we have the band on the 'Giants' tour in the wonderful Alhambra venue in Dunfermline.

Town and Country Club London 20th March 1991


Early days with the Mark II line up and with the low key club dates behind them the band felt confident enough for Paul Roberts to step onto the big stage for the London finale of the 'Heaven & Hell' tour. The set featured quite a few songs that would be included on 'In The Night' that would see the light of day the following year.

01. No More Heroes
02. Threatened
03. Something Better Change
04. Sometimes
05. Never To Look Back
06. Someone Like You
07. Laughing At The Rain
08. Heaven Or Hell
09. Always The Sun
10. 96 Tears
11. Brainbox

01. I Feel Like A Wog
02. Uptown
03. Wet Afternoon
04. Mr Big
05. Hanging Around
06. Toiler On The Sea
07. Down In The Sewer
08. London Lady
09. All Day & All Of The Night
10. Tank
11. Duchess

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 19th January 2015


So here we have the second of the albums that to my mind form Kraftwerk's Holy Trinity of albums. The aptly named 'Man Machine' the concept with which these four curious men from Dusseldorf really did blur the lines that distinguish man from machine, human from automaton. For me, and this may not make a lot of sense, 'The Man Machine' is both cold and warm at the same time. Cold in the sense that this is the world of robots casting a blank eye in the direction of A.I. and yet warm in terms of the richness of the melodies and the sounds that they coaxed from their machines within fortress of the Kling Klang studios. Take 'Neon Lights' for example, stark and cold by nature, but as Ralf describes his impressions of them as they shine down on him from tall Dusseldorf buildings in his gentle tones they too carry a warmth that is completely at odds with reality.

'Spacelab' is truly other worldly, this was 1978 and whilst the Western world was grappling with 'Star Wars' (1977 I know!), Kraftwerk presented the other sober side of space explorations...... no light sabres for the Kraftwerk boys, oh no, rather the serious task of gathering extra-terrestrial rock samples for some meaningful elemental analysis! May the Force be with you Herr Schneider! 

Oh and 'The Model' is just sublime! 'Sie trinkt in Nachtklubs immer Sekt.... korrekt!'

For those with an interest in the band but don't have the albums or maybe have the albums in their English release versions, I would urge you to get the German language versions.... they are on Spotify. Admirable though it is that Kraftwerk recorded in English too, we are big enough and ugly enough to enjoy the material in German, even if we are collectively crap at languages.... and it sounds much better! Trust me.



01. [intro]
02. he Man-Machine
03. Spacelab
04. The Model
05. Neon Lights
06. Metropolis
07. Autobahn
08. Airwaves
09. Intermission
10. News
11. Geiger Counter
12. Radioactivity
13. Numbers
14. Computer World
15. Home Computer
16. Computer Love
17. Tour De France 1983
18. Prologue
19. Tour De France Étape 1
20. Chrono
21. Tour De France Étape 2
22. Trans-Europe Express
23. Abzug
24. Metal On Metal
25. [encore break]
26. The Robots
27. [encore break]
28. Electric Cafe
29. Boing Boom Tschak
30. Techno Pop
31. Musique Non Stop

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 18th January 2015


So with this gig we have the start of something special. If 'Autobahn' and 'Radioactivity' laid the foundations for what was possible with electronic music, Kraftwerk's 'Trans Europe Express' was the cornerstone of the palace that Kraftwerk were soon to construct. I am listening to 'Europe Endless' as I write this and it still, many years after I first heard it, sends shivers down my spine. The essence of Europe and part of how I feel. 

Not deliberately invoking politics here, but that's the way it takes me. My small immediate family is British, German and Latvian, I work within the mechanisms of the European Union, that is my job, the roof over my head. I love London, almost each and everyone of our English Towns, even cricket on the village green (even though a cricket scoreboard is and probably will always unfathomable to me!). But, the cities of Europe take me the same way, different but wonderful!

I remember one of the family's frequent visits to Germany, the maternal side of my wife's family come from Dusseldorf/Leverkusen and on this occasion Gunta and I were standing next to each other on one of the multitude of Cologne Stations platforms. Directly up ahead was the iconic neon ad, built into the stations fabric, for 4711 kölnisch wasser, whilst on one side loom the blackened twin spires of the Dom. On a platform departure board the Moscow and and Vienna trains were announced (sure beats Victoria's announcements of trains to East Croydon, Burgess Hill and Brighton!). Then, oh Lordy! I spy the Trans Europe Express that sits waiting on a platform on the other side of the station. I have very little interest in trains, but some trains and lines hold a certain sense of romance and adventure, the TEE being one of them for certain.

'From station to station
Back to Düsseldorf City
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie
Trans-Europe Express'

Ha, after this hellish COVID blighted year, what would I give to be standing on the same spot this weekend, or even better in a nearby bar with the first of many Kölsch beers in front of me.

Until such times I raise a glass (make that a can) of Kronenburg 1664 (not having any of the German stuff in the house at the moment) to the late, great Florian Schneider, whose death was announced in the same week that we lost Dave.

01. [intro]
02. Trans-Europe Express
03. Abzug
04. Metal On Metal
05. Franz Schubert
06. Europe Endless
07. The Hall Of Mirrors
08. Showroom Dummies
09. Autobahn
10. Airwaves
11. Intermission
12. News
13. Geiger Counter
14. Radioactivity
15. Spacelab
16. Das Model
17. The Man-Machine
18. Numbers
19. Computer World
20. Home Computer
21. Computer Love
22. Tour De France 1983
23. Prologue
24. Tour De France Étape 1
25. Chrono
26. Tour De France Étape 2
27. [encore break]
28. The Robots
29. [encore break]
30. Aéro Dynamik
31. Boing Boom Tschak
32. Techno Pop
33. Musique Non Stop

Monday, 18 January 2021

Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 17th January 2015


Next up was 'radioactivity' release in late 1975 an album which offered up a colder, starker aspect of Kraftwerk's sound. The title itself is something of a play on works as the album mixes the themes of the nuclear chemisty meaning of radioactivity with its Geiger counter intro, references to Madame Curie and uranium with references to radio transmission, Radiowaves, Antenna and News. I know crazy Germans. But crikey, is it out there for 1975!

14 years later a revamped version of the title track appeared in their 'The Mix' album which was less stark than the original but enhanced by references to nuclear facilities with dubious safety records in the past (Sellafield) to those with full on meltdown histories (Harrisburg and Chernobyl). Those clean living alpine cycling chaps took up against nuclear in a bit way playing several Anti-Nuclear events.

With this album, Kraftwerk were on the cusp of creating some really extraordinary, truly innovative music.



01. [intro]
02. Geiger Counter
03. Radioactivity
04. Radioland
05. Airwaves
06. Intermission
07. News
08. The Voice Of Energy
09. Antenna
10. Radio Stars
11. Uranium
12. Transistor
13. Ohm Sweet Ohm
14. Autobahn
15. Spacelab
16. The Model
17. The Man-Machine
18. Numbers
19. Computer World
20. Home Computer
21. Computer Love
22. Tour De France 1983
23. Prologue
24. Tour De France Étape 1
25. Chrono
26. Tour De France Étape 2
27. Trans-Europe Express
28. Abzug
29. Metal On Metal
30. [encore break]
31. The Robots
32. [encore break]
33. Planet Of Visions
34. Boing Boom Tschak
35. Techno Pop
36. Musique Non Stop

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Stiff Little Fingers Interview New Musical Express 22nd September 1979


A final piece from SLF's tumultuous year in the spot light as punks great new hope! Here they Jake and Ali discuss Northern Irish politics (of course) but also of record company shenanigans and disputes as well as the future direction of SLF post 'Inflammable Material'.

New Musical Express 22nd September 1979

Don't play until you see the whites of their eyes.

“There’s this friend of mine who thinks that UFO is the best group in the world," says Jake Burns, singer with the Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers. "I don't think UFO is the best group in the world, but he does.

"Anyway, so when we'd signed with Chrysalis, I phone him up, and I says to him: 'Hey, we've signed with this big capitalist record company, Chrysalis.' And he says to me: 'Great. Fantastic. Can you get me some UFO albums?' I says: 'Of course.' And I do. And that's nice."

Jake Burns laughs good humouredly, and so does the Fingers' bass player Ali McMordie.

Ali says: "None of our friends need ever go short of UFO albums again.

They laugh once more.

Chrysalis Records is housed in an expensive office block slap in the middle of London's West End. In the foyer the walls are full of platinum, gold, and silver discs commemorating vast sales by the likes of Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Steeleye Span, and Mary O'Hara.

On the third floor there's a room set aside for interviews, and Jake and Ali are sitting there, working their way through cans of German lager.

"The one question we never ever answer is who are the Protestants and who are the Catholics in the band," says Jake.

"We say there's a Muslim and an atheist and .. . "

"A Protestant atheist and a Catholic atheist," Ali interrupts.

Jake: "That was something that was once said to a friend of our manager, Gordon (Ogilvie). This guy was stopped at one of the barricades in Belfast, and they said to him : 'Are youse a Prodestant or a Catholic?'

"So he says: 'I'm an atheist'.

"And they say: 'Are youse a Prodestant atheist or a Catholic atheist'?

It's no surprise that a big capitalist label like Chrysalis should want to sign Stiff Little Fingers. Their debut album 'Inflammable Material' on Rough Trade sold between 70,000 and 80,000 copies and they would have got a silver disc if Rough Trade had belonged to the appropriate record industry organisation.

In my view, Stiff Little Fingers are easily the most impressive young band to have emerged in the past four years. For sheer sustained aggression they effortlessly top the likes of the Pistols, The Clash or Sham 69. What's more, the honest insights of their songs, many of them about their own experience of the Northern Ireland Troubles, make most punk political anthems seem like empty posturing.

Not only are they fiercely hostile towards the security forces with songs like 'Law And Order' and 'Alternative Ulster', but with ‘Waste My Life' they also angrily dismiss the other side.

It takes courage to sing many of their songs in Belfast, but are the Troubles really as inescapable as the songs suggest?

Ali says: 'We can't remember what it was like before the Troubles. I mean we knew there was difference, us and them, before 1969 when it came to a head this time."

Did anyone ever attempt to recruit you into para-military groups?

"Oh yes," says Jake, "All the time. I mean, they don't come round with application forms, you know. But there's always a subtle pressure on you all the while. You've got mates at school who are involved."

How early don it start?

"At secondary school. You're not any use to them before that."

So how do you cope with that? How do you avoid it?

"You don't. I can't remember how I coped with it. I know I never joined it.

" It's basically that in your school class there are a couple who are in it who are fairly sensible blokes. The thing to do is to keep in with them. At least, that's what I did. If you keep in with them and you're known as a friend of theirs, when anything really nasty happens, and someone says: 'Well, he's not in
such and such: usually the sensible big bloke will say: 'Oh, he's okay, I can vouch for him.' So you can get out of it that way."

You didn't actually say stuff your fuckin' army to anyone face to face?

" No, that's a bit too dangerous. A bit too chancey."

Ali says: 'I was lucky. That was something that never happened to me because I was brought up in a mixed area. It was fairly heavy at times, but I suppose I was able to ignore it."

Jake comments that Jim Reilly, the band's new drummer, won't even talk about Northern Ireland.

"We went to Capital Radio yesterday, and the guy mentioned it and Jim jumped on him straight away. He said : 'Look, it doesn't matter what we've said about Northern Ireland, just drop it, Okay?' Because where Jim lives it's far, far too dangerous to talk about it."

I say that what's impressive about their music is that they seem to be singing about real experiences compared with other bands who aren't so closely involved.

"I'm glad that comes through," says Jake, "I don't know what kind of English teacher you had at school, but mine always told me: 'Write what you know', and that's what I did at school and since, when I've written songs."

Not all the band's songs are that serious. 'Barbed Wire Love' is full of jokey puns about romance among the plastic bullets.

"That was us taking the piss out of ourselves," says Jake. "It could get too serious. It just shows you've got a sense of humour. If you haven't got a sense of humour, you're dead."

Stiff Little Fingers needed all the good humour they could muster the other Sunday, when they got the Sham 69 treatment at Brixton's Anti-Racist carnival. The stage was invaded, the organisers turned the power off and the gig came to an abrupt, premature end.

Ali says : " The thing about that was that it could have been nothing, if there'd been a proper barrier and proper security."

Jake: "The organisers said that if you don't get the kids off the stage, we're gonna turn the power off. We couldn't get the kids off the stage, so they turned the power off. Then there was obviously nothing we could do and it just escalated. The problem was the people who turned the power off.

"In fact, it was a great afternoon really. It was going very well, until we ruined it," he laughs.

Both Ali and Jake strongly deny the idea that they've been chosen by the mob to have their gigs wrecked in the Sham 69 tradition.

"It's true that we've had only two gigs disrupted in the past few weeks, but they've also disrupted an Ian Dury gig .. disrupted Sham gigs, and disrupted Siouxsie and The Banshees.

"I was at a Ruts gig at the Nashville, and there was a fight. There's always fights at gigs. There always will be."

There's something a bit ironic about the idea that Stiff little Fingers might be the new Sham. Jake, who's 21, and Ali, who's 20, are both fairly fragile looking.

Ali, who's got spikey blonde hair, sports a single conspicuous earring, while Jake wears specs and looks the spitting image of Tony de Meur of The Fabulous Poodles. Ali and Jake met while on the same H.N.D. Business Studies course at a Belfast Poly.

Hardly The Angelic Upstarts.

"No," says Ali. "Nor do we want to be."

The thing that may fool people is Jake Burn's voice. So loud and raucous, it makes Jimmy Pursey sound like Sylvester. Jake says he'd never sung that way before he joined Stiff Little Fingers.

"The people I admire all sing gruff. People like Lee Brilleaux or Graham Parker. I used to come home and put on the first two Graham Parker albums, jack up the thing as loud as possible, and sing along with them.

"I used to really shout and try and make my voice sound like his. I never quite managed that, but I did manage to make my voice really rough. It actually suited what we were trying to do."

It's a very extrovert voice, but Jake Burns doesn't seem extrovert.

'Well, I'm not really."

Did you surprise yourself a bit, then?

"I think we all surprised ourselves as soon as we got on stage for the first time. Everybody started doing crazy things.

"The first couple of gigs were small bars in Belfast. We played so loud that people couldn't order drinks, but you had to play that loud or people wouldn't listen to you. We played deafeningly loud, and we were not only jumping in the air on the stage, but jumping off stage and on to people’s tables while they were drinking.

'We'd sit in the dressing room afterwards and think: 'Bloody hell, what have we done. We were scared to go back out into the audience to get home."

Stiff Little Fingers were formed two and a half years ago, and Jake says basically they got together to try to play music like the Pistols and The Ramones.

“We were never that good for months. The basic reason was that it was just a pastime, a hobby. We used to get together on a Saturday afternoon and get drunk. It started really when we thought: why don't we play somewhere?

"So we arranged to play in a pub and we were all scared because we'd never done it before. Two weeks before, we were panicking. So we decided to do some intensive rehearsals, which meant that instead of
Saturday afternoons, we did Wednesday evenings as well.

"Suddenly, during one of the rehearsals, it clicked. We actually started sounding like a band. We were playing the old Dr Feelgood number 'Lights Out', and at the end of it we all looked at each other and we thought: 'Oh, that's good. Let's try something else.' So we did."

Stiff little Fingers arrived in Britain on September 7 last year. Ali remembers it well. "We had not a
ha'penny in our pockets."

Jake adds: "We had enough money to buy a P.A. or a van. I wanted the van. They wanted the P.A. We argued about it for so long, we ended up just drinking the money."

The band wound up on the Rough Trade label because the company had already handled their 'Suspect Device' single on the Northern Ireland label Scotia. Before that, though, they were nearly signed to Island.

"Island brought us over and stuck us in Cunard Hotel in Hammersmith," says Jake.

'We will make you stars, kids. You know the kind of thing. We thought: 'Fuck! This is what it's like to be a pop star? Let me have it’

"They put us in the studio and let Ed Hollis produce us, just for demos. We'd been playing Hot Rods covers for the past year, and we thought- oh! ho! - their producer producing our demos. We were totally overawed by the whole thing.

"Then they just ditched us. They'd  hammered out a contract, made us an offer, and told us all to quit our jobs. They said Chris BlackwelI, the owner, had just come back from Jamaica or America or somewhere and decided he didn't want us.

'We were all very disappointed. Then we all got very angry Then we got really fucking angry. We felt that we'd been kicked in the teeth. Bu then we wised up, and we decided that the best thing we could do was to show them we were the best band they'd ever said 'no' to.

"Anyway, we did three weeks intensive rehearsal and we had four dates in Belfast, and then we got word that Tom Robinson wanted us to support him on his tour. He'd bought the single, all thanks to John Peel. And that was that."

Jake Burns clearly enjoys being a bit of a star. He recalls going back to his old school just after the album went into the charts.

"My old headmaster had turfed a couple of kids out for wearing 'God Save The Queen' badges. He said he would never have any punk at his school.

"Anyway, with our LP in-the Top 20 we were like big celebrities at home. Pages in the local paper. Local boys make good sort of thing. So I went back up the School, and said 'Hello'."

He laughs at the memory. "Great. Of course, the headmaster was pleased to see me. I was absolutely covered in Sex Pistols badges."

Ali says at his old school the kids have Stiff Little Fingers written on their books and their
school bags. He likes the idea of that.

For Stiff Little Fingers, a contract with an established label was obviously a logical move, though you can tell they expect some criticism because of their jokey remarks about "capitalist record companies".

When I raise the subject of Chrysalis, Jake shouts: "Sell outl Sell out!" But he goes on to explain why they did it.

"Chrysalis were the only label who would give us exactly what we wanted. Virgin, who are useless, offered us £15,000 and a million albums or something. I mean, Island had offered us £35,000 a year ago. Wake up! Anyway, Virgin then revised their offer a couple of weeks later. £65,000”.

Ali : "We said no thanks."

Jake: " Pye offered us £100,000 and our own record company and we said no. In fact, think of every label other than CBS, and we turned them down. CBS said they'd enough trouble with The Clash, so they didn't want us as well. They're a poxy label anyway."

Jake doesn't say what Chrysalis paid them, and I don't ask him. What he does say is that the money isn't important. The band have complete control.

"We make the records ourselves. We give them the finished tapes and say put that out and they have to. We also say what colour the vinyl is, what size the record will be, right down to the size of the hole in the centre."


"Really. We don't want kids to have to pay the earth for a 12-inch single in purple vinyl with green spots. Ordinary singles cost enough anyway."

The first Stiff Little Fingers single on Chrysalis is called 'Straw Dogs'. It's about mercenaries, people that Jake thinks don't have minds of their own. Men of straw. Hence the title, recalling the ultra-violet Sam Peckinpah movie of some years back. 

Jake and Ali think that a proper label will give them more chance of a hit. Their last one for Rough Trade, 'Gotta Get Away', sold 20 to 30 thousand in the first week of release, and that should have been enough to tet it into the Top 40. It disappeared, though, without a trace.

They say however that 'Straw Dogs' hasn't got a great melody. They didn't want to hand Chrysalis an instant hit the first time out. After their experience with Island, the band are wary of major companies. (In fact, they confirm that the vitriolic song 'Rough Trade' on the album was about Island and not Rough Trade itself).

Jake contends, however, that while they did well out of Rough Trade. Rough Trade did well
out of them, too.

"They were going to close down this August, but now they're carrying on. Not that I'm complaining, but apart from us they had nobody they could sell to anyone else.

"When we had to decide whether to be on the same label as Swell Maps or Generation X, it was easy. Generation X of course. At least they can play, and at least they stand a chance of doing something that'll please people.

"I'm not mentioning any names, but  sometimes I think some people on the music papers make a point of liking bands that are horrible just because they know no one else will.

Stiff Little Fingers are due to make a short tour of the UK in October, followed by a real blockbuster ("Ninety-six dates in two days", says Jake) in February. By then, they should know how things are shaping with their new label. Among other things, Chrysalis want them to go to the States.

"We'll probably end up insulting everybody over there," says Jake. "That's what's just happened in Holland and Belgium."

With the record company?

"No, with ordinary people. We played the Bilsen festival."

What was that like?

"God, it was bleedin' terrible," says Jake.

"Put it this way," says Ali. "The headlining bands were Whitesnake and Uriah Heep." .

Jake: "And then us."

Ali : "There were about a hundred punky type people and they liked us."

Jake: "We were awful, though. We were terrible. Couldn't play to save our lives."

Ali : "There were two stages. We were on the right hand one. Whitesnake were going to be on the left hand side and. their roadies were setting up while we were playing. There were three or four hundred people standing in front of their stage watching them and they wouldn't budge."

Jake: "Anyway, we came to our last number, which was 'Alternative Ulster and I said I'd like to dedicate this song to one of our favourite bands, and I started playing the riff from 'Smoke On The Water'.

"Suddenly, all these fuckin ' hairy idiots came rushing over to our stage. And we're standing there having hysterics, beating away at it. Then I went over to the microphone and said : 'One of our favourite bands - us!' They hadn't a clue. It was great."

After a year living in London, life has inevitably become easier for Stiff Little Fingers.

Jake says when they first arrived they used to make idiots of themselves when they walked into shops. They used to throw out their arms automatically, ready to be searched.

"People must have thought: Jeez, what are those idiots doing? Are they about to burst into song?"

'Inflammable Material' was a very angry album, but with twelve months to calm down, the band admit (as they've done before) that their music will inevitably be less angry in future. They insist, nonetheless, that their commitment to the music will continue.

"Right since the start," Jake maintains, "I’ve had very fixed ideas. I didn't want to play straight thrash. I wanted to keep the excitement that was first there, but instill it with a bit of intelligence. At the same time I didn't want to go over the top and get all arty-farty winding up sounding like XTC or something like that. I wanted to put just enough intelligence into it so that it was melodic enough for the kids to sing along with."

One of the great strengths of Stiff Little Fingers is their melodies. Songs like ‘Wasted Life', 'Suspect Device' and 'Here We Are Nowhere' are a very long way from "straight thrash".

It occurs to me that a lot of Irish rock acts have this quality in common: Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, Boomtown Rats. Without wishing to get into racial stereotypes, you understand.

"I think you just have to face up to facts," says Jake Burns. "People on that small island -Ireland - just happen to write the best songs and have the best bands in the world."


Kraftwerk Paradiso Amsterdam 16th January 2015


Six years ago today Kraftwerk commenced a residency at the iconic Paradiso in Amsterdam, where over the course of eight successive nights they would showcase each of their studio albums. Quite a feat! 

I think it is fair comment to say that when 'Autobahn' was released in November 1974 Kraftwerk still had one foot firmly planted in the experimental Krautrock scene that had a strong cult following. However, from the first slam of a car door on the 22 minute 47 second epic of the title track it was clear to the club DJs both in Europe and the US that Kraftwerk were coursing a uniquely different musical voyage of discovery.

So here is where it all began for Kraftwerk as most know them... Autobahn, the sound of the new Germany!



01. Intro
02. Autobahn
03. Kometenmelodie 1
04. Kometenmelodie 2
05. Mitternacht
06. Morgenspaziergang
07. Intermission
08. News
09. Geiger Counter
10. Radio Activity
11. Spacelab
12. The Model
13. Neon Lights
14. The Man Machine
15. Numbers
16. Computer World
17. It's More Fun To Compute - Home Computer
18. Computer Love
19. Tour De France 1983 - Tour De France 2003
20. Trans Europe Express
21. Metal On Metal
22. Abzug
23. [Encore Break]
24. The Robots
25. [Encore Break]
26. Planet Of Visions
27. Boing Boom Tschak - Techno Pop - Musique Non Stop

The Forum Melbourne Australia 7th February 2020


As we wait on yet another inevitable tour announcement here is one of the few gigs that the band (and indeed any band) managed to play in 2020. Their gig at the Town Hall in Auckland eight days later would be their last before COVID-19 closed everything down. The gig has added poignancy for other reasons of course.

Melbourne 7th February 2020 (Crew photo)

01. Waltzinblack
02. Duchess
03. Norfolk Coast
04. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
05. I've Been Wild
06. No Mercy
07. Nice 'N' Sleazy
08. The Raven
09. 5 Minutes
10. Unbroken
11. Golden Brown
12. Always The Sun
13. Time To Die
14. Skin Deep
15. Nuclear Device
16. Peaches
17. 15 Steps
18. Walk On By
19. Something Better Change
20. Relentless
21. Hanging Around
22. Tank
23. No More Heroes

The complete gig is also on Youtube as well should you with to kill a couple of hours on a miserable, cold lockdown Saturday.

Stiff Little Fingers Maxwell Hall Friars Aylesbury 2nd June 1979


Imagine this, SLF's gig at the famed Friars venue in Aylesbury as a part of the venue's 10th anniversary celebrations was the bands third appearance there in just eight months! This set is obviously centred on the debut album 'Inflammable Material' (released in the UK in 2nd February 1979, the day before the band's second appearance at Friars). Even 'Closed Groove' is in the set, along with one of the to be expected 'silly encores', here in the form of Mud's 'Tiger Feet'.

01. Alternative Ulster
02. Closed Groove
03. No More Of That
04. Straw Dogs
05. Breakout
06. State Of Emergency
07. Barbed Wire Love
08. Wait And See
09. Here We Are Nowhere
10. Law And Order
11. Gotta Getaway
12. Johnny Was
13. Wasted Life
14. Tiger Feet
15. 78 RPM
16. Suspect Device

The Damned Bath Pavilion 8th October 1982


Another nice sounding and chaotic gig from the Strawberries tour courtesy of the Second Time Around website.

MP3 (as received):

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. Curtain Call
09. Dozen Girls (Cut)
10. Limit Club (Cut)
11. Gun Fury
12. Melody Lee
13. Love Song
14. Smash It Up
15. Looking At You
16. Happy Talk
17. Hippy Hippy Shake
18. Noise Noise Noise

Friday, 15 January 2021

Stiff Little Fingers - Lyceum 25th March 1979 (Reviews)


A rather eclectic line up as I am sure that you would agree!

I have two reviews of this gig.

Sounds 31st March 1979

New Musical Express 31st March 1979

Friday, 8 January 2021

Sounds 'No More Heroes' LP Review Completed and Updated


Many thanks to Mark Hodgson for sending me the missing section of Angie Errigo's review of the second album. The completed review cam be found here. Cheers Mark!

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Stiff Little Fingers The Inflammable Material Story BBC Radio Ulster 2009


Yes I know, Jim Reilly appears on this cover when it was Brian Faloon who played on the album! In my defence, Jim came in straight after and played on all of the post album release dates and as such is certainly a part of the 'Inflammable Material' story.