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.


Monday, 28 March 2022

Hugh Cornwell Chalk Brighton 17th March 2022

 

What a St Patrick's night it was with the Gov'nor opening for The Undertones as he comes to his last dates promoting the return to form 'Monster' album. 

With thanks to Chatts and Elayne!

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-r5evj7UJYi

Artwork sleeve: https://we.tl/t-6wdbTJl3wF

01. Tuning-Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit
02. Big Bug
03. Duchess
04. Mr Leather
05. Skin Deep
06. Monster
07. Strange Little Girl
08. Always The Sun
09. The Beautiful Girl In Hollywood
10. Goodbye Toulouse
11. Bad Vibrations
12. London Lady
13. 5 Minutes

Saturday, 26 March 2022

The Undertones Chalk 17th March 2022


 It is very difficult to stand in a crowd watching The Undertones without having a big, stupid grin on your face such is the warmth and humour that comes across from the stage when they are playing. Equally, it is hard to think that these are men in their sixties (Paul excepted) singing 'More Songs About Chocolate and Girls' and in no sense does it seem wrong or out of place. I remember years ago, Jake Burns stating that he had retired the Stiff Little Fingers' classic 'Gotta Gettaway' as it didn't sit comfortably with him as a man in his then 40's I guess to be singing about leaving home. But when The Undertones tell tales of difficult relationships with their nerdy spoilt cousin (and Subbuteo cheat to boot!) it's fine! It may be that they have weathered well and with Michael Bradley's cheeky in between song interjections you, or at least I can forget that the band are sexagenarians and not the parka-donning youfs of the late '70's. They may not be an antedote for these shit times that we are living through but they can make the world seem a brighter,  more humane place for at least 90 minutes!


Thanks to Chatts for the recording and Elayne for the photos.

FLAC: https://we.tl/t-RsIQ7yVHfS

Artwork sleeve: https://we.tl/t-CnIX4cU4gW

01. Intro-Family Entertainment
02. You’ve Got My Number
03. I Need Your Love
04. Jump Boys
05. Billy’s Third
06. Love Parade
07. Thrill Me
08. Jimmy Jimmy
09. Tearproof
10. It’s Gonna Happen
11. Enough
12. Teenage Kicks
13. True Confessions
14. Oh Please
15. 9 Times Outta 10
16. Gotta Getta
17. Girls That Dont Talk
18. Here Comes The Summer
19. When Saturday Comes
20. Male Model
21. Dig Yourself Deep
22. Wednesday Week
23. Hypnotised
24. Runaround
25. Girls Don’t Like It
26. Listening In
27. Get Over You
28. Encore-More Songs About Chocolate And Girls
29. I Know A Girl
30. My Perfect Cousin



Friday, 25 March 2022

Here Comes The Summer... Out On The Town For The Undertones

 

Well it has to be said that that one was a long time coming. The mighty Undertones and Hugh in Camden Town no less.

Why not make something of a day of it. There was in fact an exhibition of Derek D'Souza's photographs (with associated memorabilia) from his time working with the Jam, The Style Council and Paul Weller as a solo artist. Always a pleasure to be at the Barbican and even more so the fact that the esteemed photographer was in attendance when we turned up.

The exhibition runs until May 2022 and is well worth a visit.


Of course it would be entirely unacceptable to be in the environs of London's Barbican development without acknowledging it's contribution to the brutalist canon of British architecture. It certainly has it's place and is striking whether the viewer loves or loathes it!


The Barbican, London 12th March 2022 (with a noir filter needless to say!)

Such culture-vulturing demands appropriate sustenance which pulled our party in the direction of beer and curry.

 

Refueled it was a dash to the Electric Ballroom for an early start by Hugh (it's my age but in London I love a club night related curfew!!).

Running through the last of his planned gigs promoting Monster. Hugh was on good form and dare I say it quite upbeat on the evening. Always great to see the man.


If Hugh was good, The Undertones were the perfect antidote to these shit times that we are enduring... even if they offered only a 90 minute respite!

'Billy's Third'
Electric Ballroom 12th March 2022.

The Undertones
                                                      Electric Ballroom 12th March 2022.

A good time was had by all!


Saturday, 19 March 2022

‘Victory Over Blindness’ Manchester Piccadilly Station

 

I have a huge interest in The Great War. Not from the perspective of grand strategies or successful or disastrous campaigns but from the human perspective, the impact that the war had on the men who fought (not forgetting those ‘Roses of No Man’s Land who did their upmost to save them in battlefield clearing stations and hospitals) and each and every combatants loved ones on the Home Front.

Men and boys thronged to any building that doubled up as a recruitment office in answer to the famous call by Lord Kitchener that all eligible men should step forward to do their bit for ‘King and Country’. Older men did just that to defend treasured British values and the principles of Empire. Young men stepped forward too, but their reasons to take the King’s shilling were in many cases far less jingoistic, rather a spell with the colours represented an opportunity to escape from the shackles of poverty, the hardships of factory existence or the drudgery of office working.

Regardless of the motives to enlist, the war was a great leveler and before too long, all soldiers, without regard of class or civilian status were exposed to the same hardships and horrors of modern warfare as experienced on the Western Front (as elsewhere). Of those shared horrors, a gas attack must have been one of the most feared and when it did happen it was one of the most horrendous of the brutalities meted out by either side.

Leaping forward some 107 years, I made my way from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to meet Mo for a Soft Cell anniversary gig at the O2 Academy in town. Stepping out from the station for the first time I was confronted by an extremely striking bronze sculpture. I promised myself to pay it more attention on my return…. but unfortunately poor organization on the day of the return journey resulted in a sprint past the sculpture in order to make the train back to London. On my next visit, I did make the time to see what it was all about… although I did have a good idea.

The sculpture is entitled ‘Victory Over Blindness’ by Cumbrian based artist Johanna Domke-Guyot. She pursued a degree in Fine art after receiving a devastating MS diagnosis in 1998 and her work presents her with difficulties related to the Multiple Sclerosis, including elements of visual impairment.

The final version of ‘Victory Over Blindness’ that now graces the entrance to Manchester Piccadilly Station was commissioned as part of the Great War centenary events, but prior to its unveiling in Manchester by the Countess of Wessex it had toured other venues in concrete rather than bonze form.

‘Victory Over Blindness’ in concrete displayed at Westminster Abbey, London


Study in wax for ‘Victory Over Blindness’

In its permanent Mancunian home it is accompanied by a plaque which states the following:


‘Victory Over Blindness
Johanna Domke-Guyot

Remembering the returning blind veterans
Of the First World War

More than 3,000 veterans lost their sight as a result of their service in the First World War. Making their way home from the front they began their journey to rebuild their lives after sight loss.

In 1915 a charity was founded to support them. Blind Veterans UK, formerly St. Dunstan’s has continued to support thousands more blind veterans to live independently as they begin that same journey today.’

The piece depicts a precession of seven wounded soldiers with injured eyes bandaged, each gripping the shoulder of the soldier in front. The sculpture is intentionally a three dimensional mirror of the famous ‘Gassed’ painting by John Singer Sargent. This huge, almost lifesize,  painting is housed in the Imperial War Museum in London. Sargent, an American war artist was commissioned to paint the piece based on his own experience. That experience came in the form if a German bombardment in August 1918 in the Arras sector in which mustard gas shells were used. Expose to mustard gas (1-Chloro-2-[(2 chloroethyl) sulfanyl]ethane to chemistry nerds…. I was one but had to look it up!) resulted in blindness, severe lung damage and blistering of exposed skin.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gassed_(painting)

I struggle to imagine the fear that gas attacks instilled in front line soldiers. I could be talking nonsense here but at least a bullet or a high explosive shell offered the possibility (with no guarantees) of a quick and clean death. Gas offered no such thing, rather a painful and lingering demise.

Wilfred Owen perhaps made the best attempt describing the horrors of a gas attack in the English language in what must be one of the most damning pieces of writing concerning war, ‘In Dulce Decorum Est’:

'Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.'

The saddest thing of all is the fact that when I saw the ‘Victory Over Blindness’ monument and decided to write a piece on it online I was looking at it in terms of a memorial to the horrors of a bygone age, more than a hundred years distant from today. However, at the time of writing, March 2022, politicians are seriously discussing the possibility that Vladimir Putin could deploy chemical and biological weapons against Ukraine. I for one never thought that I would here such talk on such a scale. Sad times indeed.


Ground Control Paris 8th December 2021

 


Here is what I am sure will be one of the definitive documentary records of 'Dark Matters' era Stranglers. From the ARTE Concert series 'Ground Control' here is a fantastic TV gig from Paris recorded on the European leg of the tour. Brilliant stuff!!

DVD iso image (suitable for burning to disc): https://we.tl/t-s1qFRPcBKN

MP4 version: https://we.tl/t-JSRsfLE8S5

Sleeve: https://we.tl/t-6loG8SJoKK

01. Water
02. I've Been Wild
03. This Song
04. Norfolk Coast
05. Always The Sun
06. Don't Bring Harry
07. White Stallion
08. Relentless
09. Hanging Around
10. No More Heroes
11. The Last Men On The Moon
12. Walk On By
13. Go Buddy Go
14. Tank

Captain Sensible On Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up 18th June 1983

 

Now I realise that I may get shot down in flames here but I am a fan of Captain Sensible's solo material! Unfortunately, and perhaps on more justifiable grounds the good Captain was never gonna have an easy time of it when ever he put something out on his own. If The Damned suffered under the 'Clowns of Punk (not to be taken seriously)' label, Sensible had it in a double measure. To this end he did not help himself. As the man has said himself, 'Happy Talk' is a millstone around his neck, albeit I suspect quite a lucrative millstone even all these years later. There are other abominations in the back catalogue too, 'The Hockey Cokey' anyone?! 

But amidst a stack of dross there are some pearls. 'This Is Your Captain Speaking', Cap's first solo offering saw the unlikely paring of Sensible and Crass's Penny Rimbaud. Released on Crass Records in November 1981 the three track EP saw a new political side to Sensible's song writing such as 'The Russians Are Coming' which addressed the nuclear threat at the then height of The Cold War. A great song pinned down by Penny's militaristic drumming. Lightening the mood somewhat but consistent with the Crass and the new Sensible ideology is 'Our Souls To You'.... almost like 'Reality Asylum' with humour. The week that he spent with members of Crass in their Dial House retreat inspired him to take the anti-war message further. He contributed 'Hey Jo' to the great anti-war punk compilation 'Wargasm'.


In 1982 he wanted to produce a pop album which he did with the production assistance of Tony Mansfield. The result was the 'Women and Captains First'. When released in September 1982, the album only reached number 64 in the UK album chart, being totally eclipsed by the runaway success of the 'Happy Talk', the first of three singles lifted from the album, which enjoyed two weeks at number one, much to the annoyance of many. That success meant that Captain Sensible was not exclusive property of punks anymore.... the berk on Top Of The Pops in shorts with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder belonged to everyone aged 5 and upwards!

Captain Sensible Performing 'Happy Talk' on Top of the Pops (June 1982)

However, aside from the throw away singles 'Happy Talk' and 'Wot!' the album has some great tracks such as 'Yanks With Guns' and 'Croydon' (Sensible's own 'Penny Lane'!). The biggest departure is his recording of the 1924 jazz standard 'Nobody's Sweetheart' with the help of the Beale Street Jazz Band. Usually one to run a mile from the music of finger-popping daddies and their music, I think that this version is great. Along with 'Happy Talk' it features on this two track download, an audio of his appearance on Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up in June 1983. 

'Nobody's Sweetheart' Chas 'N' Dave's Knees Up (June 1983)

1983's 'The Power of Love', 1983's mirrored the fortunes of  'Women and Captains First'. The album failed to chart but the single 'Glad It's All Over', another anti-war song aimed at the recent conflict over the Falklands reached Number 6 in the UK singles chart.

Later solo album's shunned the pop somewhat and drew on Sensible's love of prog and psychedelia of the Syd Barrett variety. A handful of albums are worth tracking down from the period prior to 1996 when he fell back in with Dave Vanian  and The Damned.



01. Nobody's Sweetheart
02. Happy Talk



Sunday, 13 March 2022

The Dome Brighton 17th February 2022

 

Another fantastic collective effort from the team. Here for your listening pleasure are the band in Brighton from the wonderful Dome Theatre (fun fact - once the stables connected to the Royal Pavilion where the Prince Regent's (who became George IV) horses were housed, not that he was very capable of mounting a horse and pity the poor beast that had him on his back!




01. Intro-Toiler On The Sea
02. Something Better Change
03. Sometimes
04. Water
05. Skin Deep
06. This Song
07. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
08. Don't Bring Harry
09. Strange Little Girl
10. Always The Sun
11. Peaches (1 Min Missing)
12. Golden Brown
13. Last Men On The Moon
14. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
15. Curfew
16. White Stallion
17. Nuclear Device
18. Relentless
19. Walk On By
20. Straighten Out
21. Duchess
22. Hanging Around
23. Encore-Lines
24. And If You Should See Dave
25. Encore-Go Buddy Go
26. No More Heroes

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Sex Pistols Le Zenith Paris 4th July 1996

 

I have never really posted much Pistols stuff on here. Maybe that was because PiL always floated my boat more at the time as they were more contemporary to me! I only saw the band once at Finsbury Park (on the '96 Filthy Lucre our) and I have to say that it was brilliant. Today, Lydon seems to be courting controversy for controversy’s sake which for me has lessened the man somewhat. The recent legal case fought between Lydon  and Cook and Jones seems to be another rather sad fall out typical of the feuding rock stars of yor that the Sex Pistols made it their raison d'être to annihilate!

Sometimes, what with the force of nature that John Lydon/Rotten is it is difficult to remember that the Sex Pistols were a band, the power of the whole being greater than the individual parts (whilst recognizing that Rotten as a very visible front man was always gonna be the centre of the media and public’s attention). Each band member contributed to a whole and that band at the time shook up not just the music industry but the whole of society in ways that the Beatles and the Stones could only dream of. Like it not, regardless of who was playing first we owe the Sex Pistols a tremendous debt in fermenting a scene that became the soundtrack to our lives.  

01. Bodies
02. Seventeen
03. New York
04. No Feelings
05. Did You No Wrong
06. God Save The Queen
07. Liar
08. Satellite
09. (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
10. Holidays In The Sun
11. Pretty Vacant
12. E.M.I.
13. Anarchy In The U.K.
14. Problems
15. Road Runner
16. No Fun

Monday, 7 March 2022

La Carriere Nantes 7th December 2021

 

I have an exclusive here! The band's December performance in Nantes. Many thanks to Chatts for this! I understand that there is a near complete video of the gig on Youtube but this is the complete gig in audio. In the usual spirit of collaboration, DomP has spruced up the sound with his own patented knob twiddling magic and I have to say that this recording sounds absolutely fabulous, a pointer to what was in store for the UK dates.

After the COVID drought... water has come. Enjoy!

FLAC (24 bit): https://we.tl/t-iGjuMTIUBb

FLAC (16 bit): https://we.tl/t-urbMMek4bu

Artwork: https://we.tl/t-C6EHscMRW3

01. Intro-Toiler On The Sea
02. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
03. I’ve Been Wild
04. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
05. This Song
06. 5 Minutes
07. Always The Sun
08. Golden Brown
09. Midnight Summer Dream - European Female
10. La Folie
11. White Stallion
12. Walk On By
13. Relentless
14. Peaches
15. Water
16. Nuclear Device
17. Duchess
18. Hanging Around
19. Last Men On The Moon
20. Encore-Lines
21. Go Buddy Go
22. Tank
23. No More Heroes