Aural Sculptors - The Stranglers Live 1976 to the Present

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 29 April 2023

Le Zenith Paris 29th April 1985


On it's birthday from 38 years ago no less here is a great sounding recording of Aural Sculpture in Paris. The recording suffers from tape flip breaks, but such was life in that pre-digital age! The set is also short of encore material but that not withstanding this sounds wonderful! Sound corrected too.



01. Intro
02. Something Better Change
03. Uptown
04. Dead Ringer
05. No Mercy
06. Souls
07. Nice 'N' Sleazy
08. Skin Deep
09. Let Me Down Easy
10. Midnight Summer Dream
11. European Female
12. Golden Brown
13. Strange Little Girl
14. Peaches
15. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
16. Death And Night And Blood
17. Threatened
18. Punch And Judy
19. Hanging Around
20. I Feel Like A Wog
21. Down In The Sewer
22. Encore break
23. Miming wind-up
24. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)
25. The Raven (Cuts Out)

Sunday 23 April 2023

Killing Joke Phoenix Festival Stratford UK 17th July 1994


Here's a typically robust performance from Killing Joke, appearing at the short lived Phoenix Festival in Stratford. I cannot remember the music programme that featured this footage.

DVD Disc Image:


20 From 81 (10) The Revillos JohnPeel Session 29th April 1981


Here's a John Peel Session from 1981 recorded by long standing band associates, The Revillos. 



01. Snatzo Mobile
02. She's Fallen In Love With A Monster Man
03. Man Attack
04. Caveman Raveman

Leadmill Sheffield 7th March 2004


The Stranglers were back on tour in the Spring of 2004 with a new album to promote... 'Norfolk Coast'. The band were clearly pleased with their efforts on the new album as the set contains no less than eight of the eleven songs that appear on the album.

MP3 (as received):


Back To The Norfolk Coast


It could be said that the regeneration of The Stranglers started in 2000. The year when JJ rediscovered his musical mojo. For whatever reason, after the departure of Hugh, the co-vocalist stepped back from the microphone. His vocal contributions diminished increasingly throughout the 1990's until to all intents and purposes he was going through the motions whilst other musicians on the stage played around him. In those years I moved away from the band, seeing them on vary rare occasions. In 1998 I was given a ticket to see them at Cambridge Corn Exchange and I found it distressing to watch. At this lowest ebb (to my ears at least) JJ had stopped engaging in the writing process I believe, effectively handed over song writing duties to Paul Roberts and John Ellis, which had a dramatic impact on how the band sounded. With the departure of John Ellis, JJ once gain stepped up to the plate so to speak.

I cannot recall, but it may have been as a result of trouble in the marital home, JJ spent some time in reflection on the stunning Norfolk Coast that resulted in the resumption of writing to the extent that he felt confident enough to go out on the road with his solo 'Songs and Stories' set. The track 'Norfolk Coast' lifted from JJ's gig at the Union Chapel in Islington in the summer of 2000 makes it on to the bonus disc that comes with the recent 'Norfolk Coast' album reissue. 

Some bands have a knack, and here I mean bands with many years under their belts that have spent some years drifting in the doldrums. Something happens that reignites belief, dispels writer's block and leads to the creation of something special, in this case an album that turned heads and forced those who had previously considered the band to have a history but no future. What was that something that happened?... well it was undoubtedly Baz Warne. In a younger musician with energy and ideas, JJ found a receptive partner for new ideas. The tracks on the album sparkle with those elements that are undeniably 'Stranglers call signs'. The bass is back and for me, most critically Dave Greenfield's keyboards were rediscovered in the mix after being sidelined for some years. 

As you will hear in the next post, this new energy and confidence radiated from the stage.

Saturday 22 April 2023

'BBC In Concert' Paris Theatre London 23rd April 1977 -UPGRADE


To conclude the posts related to 'Rattus Norvegicus' here is a great, clean sounding version of some of, if not the earliest radio exposure that the band got. In the month of the album's release The Stranglers featured on the regular BBC Radio 1 programme 'In Concert'. This is one of the first bootlegs that I acquired and it is still a classic. Thanks to MeAnIe for the artwork.



01. Sometimes
02. Dagenham Dave
03. Peaches
04. I Feel Like A Wog
05. Straighten Out
06. London Lady

Friday 21 April 2023

Gary Numan Announces an Acoustic Tour for October 2023


It's no secret, I was once a huge fan of Gary Numan, in fact I saw him only last week at the Electric Ballroom on one of his countdown dates to his 1000th landmark gig. Whilst a fan I have to say that my preference in the man's material harks back to 1978 to 1980 rather than his current industrial Nine Inch Nails inspired output. For this reason, I got a ticket this morning for his appearance at St John at Hackney Church. The appeal is that much of the 1978 Tubeway Army material that I love lends itself well to an acoustic treatment.

Glasses at the ready Chatts!

Jake Burns And The Big Wheel The Mean Fiddler Harlesden London 24th September 1987


Here's a bit of a rarity I guess. As Stiff Little Fingers close another UK tour, this looks back on that period before the band reformed. This performance was at the intimate Mean Fiddler in Harlseden, a small Irish Club in North London that was one of the best small venues (although a bugger to get to) there was at the time. The club closed in 2000. Just three months after this gig I saw SLF for the first time just down the road from Harlesden at the National in Kilburn. I thought the Big Wheel were a great band and it is a shame that there is not more of them on record or in the live record for that mater.



Thursday 20 April 2023

Rattus at 46 - Updated.


The Rattus at 46 post (here) has been updated to include additional reviews from back in the day.

Monday 17 April 2023

Rattus Norvegicus at 46!


Late by a few days on this one, but what the hell. Let me say this up front, for me this is my favourite album of all time, never to be surpassed. Opinions differ as to what was their best and of course that is fine, the band means something different to all of us and their is an album to fit every fan's taste. 'Rattus' engenders what The Stranglers mean to me. As Giovanni Dadomo of Sounds wrote "When was the last time you heard an angry psychedelia band?", a comment that I think kind of hits the nail on the head. Within 'Rattus's' concentric grooves the aroma of a patchouli scented jacket blends with the pungency of a London drain. The sound is grimy, sinister and utterly compelling. When Dave died, the family sat in the back garden and agreed that that was the sound of The Stranglers, for us at least. Other bands on the London scene sniped at these Doorsy hippies and keyboards, but 46 years down the line, few would disagree that it was those keyboards that lifted the band above the rest and made them the biggest commercial success of the scene.

The unquestionable musical prowess of the album is however matched by, let's just say questionable lyrics. Now don't get me wrong here, I am 54 years of age, just 8 in April '77, but I recognise how far we have come within society in terms of how we interact with each other. As someone who grew up on a diet of 1970's and early '80's television I have to say that I am rather conflicted in my opinions. Whilst I don't want to see the return of 'Love Thy Neighbour' or 'The Benny Hill Show' I am still titillated (pun intended) by the saucy postcard humour of the 'Carry On' films. I also appreciate the norms, in terms of language' that was in common use at the time. Nevertheless, even in the macho world of 1970's rock 'n' roll, 'Rattus' pushed the boundaries as did various band members when accusations of misogyny were leveled against the band. This perception of the band as women hating dinosaurs was certainly picked up to a greater or lesser extent by most of the music weeklies. It really was a case, in the words of Jesus, 'He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.' Thus it was for The Stranglers. Some publications were cut more slack by the band, Record Mirror being a good example, whose editorial team were more sympathetic to the band and turned in more favourable reviews. Conversely, New Musical Express pretty much dedicated the entire review to the lyrical content and only grudgingly recognised the superior musicality of the album in the last few paragraphs.

I recent years the misogyny cries at the very mention of the name of The Stranglers have died down and they are recognised for the enduring quality and craftmanship of their songs, but at the time it was real and ultimately damaging to the bands career in some respects. Whether they should continue to play songs like 'Sometimes' or 'I Feel Like A Wog' in 2023, well that's a discussion for another day...

So here then is a pretty comprehensive collection of contemporary reviews of the debut album. Thanks to Laurence Prior and others for posting material on various Facebook pages from where some of these reviews have been lifted.

OK, for fun let's start with the most damning... from the N.M.E.

New Musical Express, April 30th, 1977

THE STRANGLERS IV Rattus Norvegicus (United Artists)

"About giving the woman some stick."

Thus begins the ecstatic review of this album (referring to the opener, "Sometimes") in Strangled,
the apparently Stranglers-sanctioned free fanzine of what seems to be The Stranglers Fan Club.

Evidently the niceties of the late '60s social humanism - women's lib, gay lib, and the respectful
terminology that seemed such an essential basis for their fragile advances (not calling women "peaches" or gays “faggots" like you don't call blacks "nignogs" unless you're wearing an NF armband and have a crowd of thugs around you) - aii this seems to have gone by the board with the emergence of a generation seemingly devoid of self-respect and thus, by trite but true extension, devoid of self-respect for others.

It is with this defiantly oafish and thoughtlessly rebellious "attitude" that The Stranglers, visitors from another generation which may have wavered into complacency these past few years, choose to align themselves.

Not being a great C&W fan, I'd have to think hard before I could name an album as grossly sexist as this. If I've misunderstood, and someone can demonstrate the underlying “subversiveness" of the insults that fly relentlessly at the opposite sex on "Rattus Norvegicus", then I'll be overjoyed to understand, and to take back my criticism. But don't tell me it's just The Rolling Stones and "Brown Sugar" however many years on, because that was pretty pathetic too. Permanent immaturity is a heavy price for rock to pay for permanent youth, and maybe we're the ones who are afraid of change if we're prepared to pay that price.

This is an album that can move people to tears - female people to tears of humiliation, that is. I've seen it happen. Really. Bully for The Stranglers - hey, they get a real response, those guys. They can make you feel sick, too. Take it away, boys.

"Someday I'm gonna smack your face/Somebody's gonna call your bluff/Somebody's gonna treat you rough/You're way past your station/Beat you, honey, till you drop."

That's" Sometimes". What is it? Realism? It's a godawful, vindictive reality in The Stranglers' minds then. Documentary? If so, it faiIs. If they are role playing then they're just a little too convincing ...

"Little lady/With Dingwall’s bullshit/You're so stupid/Fetid brainwaves/Little lady/What really Happens/When you see mirrors/You get the shivers/Making love to/The Mersey Tunnel/With a sausage/Have you ever been to Liverpool?/Please don't talk much/It bugs my ears/Tonight you talked/For a thousand years/Plastic's real when you're sick/Plastic's real when you're real sick/Tell me what you've got to look so pleased about/London lady/Why did you lay me?/Your head is crowded/With the names you've hounded/The rings around your/Eyes they show me/You realise/The party's over/London lady."

Jean Jacques Burnel once actually quoted those words at me in order to show me "London Lady" wasn't sexist, which is pretty extraordinary as it's a nauseating putdown of female promiscuity, with all the old, subliminal, reactionary what's-all-right-for-the-man-is-wrong-for-the-woman dogma whose destruction would prove a far more radical step than destroying tower blocks - a "policy" which The Stranglers, who actually once claimed to be "too political" for my taste, don't even advocate anyway.

Burnel's defence of his putdown of the Dingwalls groupie is that "that's no way for a chick to be". No way for a what to be?

Go on, JJ:

"We were drawing lots on who was going to screw this female column writer, and someone said, 'But it'd be like chucking a sausage up the Mersey Tunnel.' Someone else said, 'Dangling a piece of string in a bucket' - it's been done before, so we decided it wasn't valid to do it.

"It's just about some chicks in a very small scene. It's not a 'retrogressively sexist song'," he concluded, quoting a phrase from a previous review of mine.

Well, you could fool me. For a start, without announcing before playing it that it's only about one person, not "London Ladies" in general, it's bound to be taken as a generalisation - and how anyone who stands around sneering at a woman in such gross chauvinist terms can deny regressive sexism quite beyond me.

"She's gone and left me/I don't know why/She's the queen of the street/What a piece of meat." 

And he doesn't know why she left him? That's "Princess Of The Streets". The rest of it is a tribute to this "piece of meat's" animalistic (read less than human) sexuality.

"Strolling along minding my own business/Well there goes a girl and a half/She's got me going up and down/Walking on the beaches looking at the peaches."

Etcetera. That's "Peaches". The Stranglers patrol the beaches looking at the sex objects. "Look over there/Is she trying to get out of that (obscured - presumably a garment)-( It's clitoris. G.S.)/Liberation for women, that's what I preach/Preacher man." 

Quite. Only a man could preach that kind of "women's liberation". It's demeaning just listening to it.

"I was there/She was there\We did the only/Thing possible."

That's "Ugly". I don't think they talked about Heidegger, do you? There's only one thing "chicks" are good for, eh? (Yes, I know insults like "chick" and "yummies" are horribly frequent in this paper – if  were you I'd write in about it).

"I guess I shouldn't have strangled her to death/But I had to go to work and she had laced my coffee with acid. "

Ah, the surrealist bit. Actually, he strangles her because her acne assumes massive proportions while she's tripping. The not unreasonable moral of the story, which Burnel rather overstresses by bellowing it out all unaccompanied, is:

"Only the children of the fucking wealthy can afford to be good looking!"

For once the grossness is in contex as they end with JJ yelling "MUSCLE POWER/MUSCLE POWER .. " But compared with The Clash's lyrics, this album is drivel. There might be some kind of justification if it were mixed with a vestige of the humanity which, as Nick Kent pointed out about The Clash, identifying it as "a sense of morality", is conspicuous by its absence from this scene. There might even be some justification if The Stranglers' sexism were tempered with the least iota of political drive. But their "political stance" is just that - a stance and nothing more, on the evidence of the songs. And the only thing they are anti- is women.

Sad thing is, the joke's on us because this album is just so damn brilliant musically. The most playable record I've heard in ages, virtually every track is a little masterpiece. There isn't another new wave band within several leagues.

Not that The Stranglers are astounding technicians, (Tell me you arent being serious-G.S.) sure they are compared with their peers, but follow them with a Bobby Womack LP (first in the pile, is all) and their efforts sound mighty stilted. What The Stranglers have is the aggression that's today's currency, particularly Burnel's snapping bass, and a knack of stringing together great series of melodic, compelling riffs.

"Down In The Sewer" is the archetype, launching from a glorious warm peak into the riff that best conjures up Burnel and Hugh Cornwell's great patented sneakered Groucho walk, seesawing like some inane grin, before building to that weird sub-Ventures bubblegum psychedelic lick from Cornwell's twangy guitar. As Cornwell (a far better singer than JJ) spits out his crazy tale of life in the sewer, the band seethe monotonously behind him, Dave Greenfield rippling off into genuine archaic strangeness on his organ. And so on - an ever-shifting, disciplined, tough version of the danker psychedelic days (the strange ones, sure), perfectly arranged in a blunt, linear fashion - no coming back and finishing where you started for these blokes, once you've hammered a riff forget it - that rings weird and very refreshing: tangible music, with just the right immediacy on Martin Rushent's production.

They may sound a little like ... But The Stranglers have somehow managed to find a place in rock that hasn't been overkilled, that is instantly comprehensible, yet it is totally absorbing. The same claim could possibly be made for a handful of other recent arrivals, here and in the States, but for nobody can it be stated as strongly as fur The Stranglers. And they do have good songs, too - "Hanging Around" and "Goodbye Toulouse" and "Grip" all have words that at least do not detract from (and with "Hanging Around" positively enhance) the music which flows so splendidly throughout the album.

The cloud nine lizard propulsion of "Sometimes" drags you in, those twisty guitar/organ lines cushioning it so well and the chords soaring and skydiving. "Toulouse" is a ridiculously thundering , like an army running as they re-envision Nostradamus' prophesy of the city's destruction; the subsequent Velvets bludgeoning and less than inspired individual shots of "London Lady" are a let down. "Princess Of The Streets" is amazing, a deliberate (as in robotic) Scots jig-meets-the-underworld, with sinuously wild-eyed, real lead guitar played real good by Cornwell. As for "Hanging Around", well, it's just truly wonderful.

"He's alright in the city 'cause he's high above the ground/He's just hapging around .. ./I'm moving in
the Coleherne with the leather all around me/ And the sweat is getting steamy but their eyes are on the ground/They're just hanging around."

Why can't they keep up to that standard elsewhere? Anyway, it's a gas musically. Flipping, we get
"Peaches" - a real violent riff devalued by the wanky would-be Charles Atlas lyrical posturing until
finally a really good line comes up: "Oh shit, there goes the charabanc/Looks like I'm gonna be stuck here the whole summer/Well, what a bummer."

And for a few bars the riff changes completely, vanishing and coming in backwards like stubbing its toe. Great. "Grip", the single (next one's probably "Go Buddy Go", which explains its absence), chugs along okay. "Ugly" is, I think, Burnel's only vocal apart from "London Lady", (Dont forget "Princess of the Streets"-G.S.) and that's not the only reason they're the worst tracks - it's a noise; and finally the ecstatic look-at-me-I'm-a-bad-guy West Side Story underground saga of "Down In The Sewer" .

A big tick for the music, an emphatic cross for the words - but words don't sell records. Perhaps sadly, they don't stop people buying either.

Phil McNeill

Here's what Record Mirror's Barry Cain (well known as a fan and supporter of the band) had to say about 'Rattus'.

Record Mirror 23rd April 1977.

Better Barry, but why moan about the inclusion of a free single of two tracks that do not feature on the album?!

Then on to Melody Maker, the UK music weekly favoured by musicians. Of the big four music weeklies, Melody Maker were the most resistant to punk and new wave music. Their readership had a higher proportion of musicians as opposed to music fans. The in depth articles and reviews of instruments (largely absent within the pages of NME, Sounds and Record Mirror) were testimony to the muso readership.... Blues and Jazz were still king.

The now infamous line from the review 'The music on the album confirms that the Stranglers have little or nothing to offer' says all that you need to know about this publications stance on the 'new music'!

Melody Maker 23rd April 1977.

And finally, leaving the established music press behind, let's give the last word to Mark Perry and his 'Sniffin' Glue' fanzine (which in fairness at that time had a circulation that was similar to the music nationals. He liked it, seemingly against his will in terms of SG being the bible of the London punk scene. He makes a fair comment on the rationale for the inclusion of the 'Choosey Susie'/'Peasant In The Big Shitty' single though, perhaps Barry Cain had something similar in mind.

Sniffin' Glue Fanzine 9th April 1977.

Saturday 15 April 2023

Le Grand Rex Paris 30th May 1990


I was reminded of this gig when recently in Paris for the gig at L'Olympia. Le Grand Rex was very close by the hotel in which we were staying.



01. Intro
02. Shah Shah A Go Go
03. I Feel Like A Wog
04. Straighten Out
05. Shakin' Like A Leaf
06. 96 Tears
07. Someone Like You
08. Sweet Smell Of Success
09. Always The Sun
10. Strange Little Girl
11. Peaches
12. Where I Live

01. School Mam
02. Let's Celebrate
03. Uptown
04. Tank
05. Was It You?
06. Down In The Sewer
07. Golden Brown
08. Nuclear Device (Wizard Of Aus)
09. No More Heroes
10. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
11. All Day & All Of The Night
12. Punch & Judy

Exo 7 Rouen 12th June 1980


From the most creative and chaotic periods of the band's career. Hugh had walked free from Pentonville Prison three weeks earlier and little did they know they were to be incarcerated in Nice cells within eight days of this gig. The trials of these times put a great strain on the band and their future looked uncertain. However, on stage they were magnificent as can be heard from this recording.



01. Shah Shah A Go Go
02. Ice
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. Duchess
05. Hanging Arouond
06. Baroque Bordello
07. Waiting For The Meninblack
08. Down In The Sewer
09. Who Wants The World? (False Start)
10. Who Wants The World?
11. Thrown Away
12. I Feel Like A Wog
13. Tank
14. Nuclear Device
15. Genetix
16. The Raven

Friday 14 April 2023

Madness Palais Des Grottes Cambrai France 1st June 1980

 Here's a great soundboard recording of the band in France some months before the release of their second album 'Absolutely' although this set includes quite a few tracks from it.

Undoubtedly the most commercially successful of the 2 Tone crop, they ditched the Blue Beat sound and went on to release a string of brilliant singles establishing themselves as one of Britain's greatest singles band.



Monday 10 April 2023

The Bodysnatchers Leas Cliff Hall Folkestone 30th August 1980


I think that it is a real shame that The Bodysnatchers did not get to the point of releasing an album. The material was certainly good enough, but it wasn't to be. Consequently, the fossil record for the band is very sparse indeed. Official releases amounted to two singles (both on 2 Tone), 'Let's Do Rocksteady'/'Ruder Than You' and 'Easy Life'/'Too Experienced' and the live recording of 'Easy Life' that appeared on the 'Dance Craze' soundtrack. With the film and soundtrack reissue the archive has been boosted by the addition of 'Let's Do Rocksteady' and '007 (Shanty Town)'. Unofficially, a trawl of the internet will throw up the two radio sessions that the band recorded for John Peel and this recording from Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone from August 1980.

More recently, their former lead singer, Rhoda Dakar has rerecorded and toured Bodysnatchers' material. Interestingly, her new album, an album of covers includes one 'Hanging Around'... something to watch out for.

The Selecter Ole Man Rivers New Orleans 4th May 1980


Since those heady days of '79/'80, The Selecter have been one of the more prolific of the bands, still playing with original members, Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson, fronting the band. As I write this they are about to release a new studio album, 'Human Algebra'.

Here is a recording of the band down in New Orleans at the Ole Man Rivers Club. It surprises me that 2 Tone enjoyed a fair degree of success Stateside, in contrast with some of the British punk bands that tried to crack America a couple of years earlier and largely failed. One of the reasons for this failure was considered to be the fact that some of those bands, The Jam in particular (one of our biggest bands at the time), were thought of as being 'too English'. I think on paper, the same could be said for the 2 Tone bands. The songs and their delivery were rather Anglo-centric and yet American audiences took them to heart. Perhaps it was the energy. Certainly, a few years later, a US ska revival took place ('Rancid', 'The Mighty Mighty Bosstones' etc) that owed everything to the bands that trailblazed across the US back in 1980.



01. Don't Wanna Know
02. Danger
03. Everyday Things Are Getting Worse
04. Three Minute Hero
05. Street Feeling
06. Black & Blue
07. The Selecter
08. Missing Words
09. Murder
10. They Make Me Mad
11. Carry Go Bring Come
12. Live Injection/Too Much Pressure
13. On My Radio
14. Train To Skaville
15. James Bond

Sunday 9 April 2023

Bad Manners Paris Theatre London 22nd July 1981


Bad Manners had been doing their thing (in fact they still are!) down in The Smoke for a few years prior to the arrival of 2 Tone. Musically aligned they found a place on the stage with the other bands if not on the label itself. 

Although they enjoyed considerable chart success, unlike the other bands, Bad Manners were never on my albeit limited purchase list, but there is no doubt that they had their place in 2 Tone history.

Here they are appearing on BBC Radio 1's 'In Concert' in the Summer of 1981.



01  01. Intro
02. Echo 4-2
03. Just A Feeling
04. Ben E. Wriggle
05. Lorraine
06. Ivor The Engine
07. Suicide
08. Night Bus To Dalston
09. Here Comes The Major
10. Walking In The Sunshine
11. King Ska/Fa
12. Dansetta
13. Weeping And Wailing
14. Lip Up Fatty
15. El Pussycat
16. Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu
17. Inner London Violence
18. Don't Be Angry
19. Special Brew
20. Wooly Bully
21. Can Can

Rolling Stone Milan 9th April 1985


Ok, away from 2 Tone for a moment. Here is an anniversary gig from, would you believe it, 38 years ago! Aural Sculpture in Italy, where they do know a little bit about sculpture.



01. Uptown
02. Dead Ringer
03. No Mercy
04. Souls
05. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
06. Skin Deep
07. Let Me Down Easy
08. Midnight Summer Dream/European Female
09. Golden Brown
10. Strange Little Girl
11. Peaches

01. Death And Night And Blood
02. Threatened
03. Punch And Judy
04. Hanging Around
05. I Feel Like A Wog
06. Down In The Sewer
07. Nubiles (Cocktail Version)/Toiler On The Sea
08. Outro

The Beat Emerald City Cherry Hill New Jersey 5th October 1980

 OK, so Madness, The Bodysnatchers and Bad Manners were very much London bands, but few would dispute that overall 2 Tone belongs to the West Midlands. If Coventry was 2 Tone Central, then its big brother, Birmingham, England's second city, was its principal outpost. The Beat remained a founding member of the 2 Tone club having released a single on the label. However, two other Birmingham bands were very much linked with 2 Tone through a combination of geography and philosophy. UB40 released the great 'One in Ten', a reflection of the unemployment statistics of the time. The band's multiracial line up was very much akin with the bands in the 2 Tone camp, although UB40 were more influenced by reggae sounds. Another Birmingham outfit were Dexy's Midnight Runners who like the 2 Toners incorporated much brass into their Northern Soul tinged music. The also used to appear on the bill with the 2 Tone set.

Anyway, back to The Beat. For my money, along with The Specials, The Beat were the cream of the crop. Their songs ranged from angry and political ('Big Shot', 'Two Swords', 'Stand Down Margaret') to everyday, boy/girl challenges of youth ('Best Friend', 'Hands Off... She's Mine', 'Too Nice To Talk Too'). In Roger they also had a brilliant, engaging front man.

I believe that this is the gig that was recorded for use in the 'Dance Craze' film. This is the gig in it's entirety and it is stunning. Thanks to the 'Life in Monochrome' forum.



Saturday 8 April 2023

The Specials Carnival House Shinjuku Tokyo 20th July 1980


From all that I have read of 2 Tone and the ideas behind it, it seems that there was no one band fronting the label. Undoubtedly, Jerry Dammers was the principal creative engine behind the label and everything that was done in its name, but otherwise 2 Tone seemed to be a pretty democratic enterprise. Nevertheless, I will make no excuses for kicking off this thread with a recording by The Specials.

Now I have waxed lyrical about this band over many column inches of this blog so I will spare you the repetition. Only to say that the melding of punk with the uptempo rhythm of Blue Beat was a stroke of genius that created a sound that endures 45 years down the line.

Here are the band back in 1980 entertaining an audience in Tokyo.... did they clap or did they bounce?



Dance Craze - The Reception


Promo poster for the screening of the original film in New Zealand.

Record Mirror (7th February 1981)

THE PREMIERE of 'Dance Craze' , the Two - Tone movie, was an extra special event held on Saturday for several hundred under - 18s. Tickets were distributed via a Record Mirror competition and direct invitations to childrens' homes such as Dr Barnardo's. Our 14 year old correspondent Sean O'Donovan hot - footed it from Canvey Island to the Sundown in Charing Cross Road and sent us this report:

AT 4 PM the waiting crowd were at last let into the premiere of 'Dance Craze'. hailed as 'the best of British ska - live' and starring the Beat. Madness. The Bodysnatchers, Bad Manners, Selecter and the Specials. As the mass flocked in, the walls were stripped bare of all posters and LP covers. Down on the stage. Radio One's Richard Skinner was playing some of the aforementioned groups' hits, which got us up onto the dance floor for a moonstomp. At 4.20 the first of the groups' members entered - John Bradbury,  drummer of the Specials, came in rather unnoticed. Suggs. However  made a dramatic
entrance and was immediately mobbed by autograph hunters. I don't think anyone could not have noticed Madness because they were wearing black dress suits with red carnations and canes for the event.

Arriving later were Terry Hall, Rhoda of the Bodysnatchers, Ranking Roger and Dave Wakeling of the Beat, Charley ex of Selecter and many others. They gathered in the Liggers' bar above the main hall, talking to fans and signing the posters and LP covers previously decorating the walls.
The music played for an hour, with records, T-shirts. posters (which were ripped to bits) and badges being distributed to the madding crowd. Five o'clock and the film was underway. The fans were not exactly ecstatic - no one danced! – but clearly enjoyed it nevertheless.

As the crowd filed out, the announcement came over the speakers that more merchandise was being given out at the door. This caused havoc, but luckily order was maintained.

The one question being asked at the end of the event by all the girls was about Suggs and Bette Bright. Is she really going out with him? SEAN O'DONOVAN

THE OPENING of the Two - Tone movie is a spoof of the old 'Look At Life' short films that used to precede the main feature at Odeons up and down the country, and though many of its audience won't remember such things, it's a nice witty way to start.

The Specials' 'Nite Klub' is first up, followed by Madness with 'The Prince'. A new technique has been used for the live footage of which the film largely consists, and very effective it is too. The hot, jumpy atmosphere of the various gigs is splendidly captured throughout.

The Bodysnatchers' cover of old fave '007' comes next, and it's a heartening sight to see the girls - girls! hooray! - keeping well up with the male musical competition. Pauline Black of the Selecter looks exceeding well, too, and I hope she' ll forgive a totally non - sexist comment here: the camera seems
reluctant to move away from her bottom (clad in white ski - pants) and I don't blame it a bit.

During Madness's ska 'Swan Lake ' there's some really tasty footage of loafers and Dr Martens slow - motion dancingl, and amusing cuts to a ballet company performing to 'Swan Lake' in its onginal form. I only wish there'd been more of this sort of thing; it would have broken the relentness flow of live
performance to good effect.

Ah well, on with the bands . .. Bad Manners don't come off too well I'm afraid. particularly when following the Bodysnatchers; they look so big and white and male. The Beat quite simply steal the show, with Ranking Roger in particular walking off with my personal Oscars for best dancing, best hat, most charm and totally infectious enthusiasm.

Halfway through we break for a section of Pathe News, hilarious stuff showing dance crazes of yesteryear. This would have been better cut up and shown in bursts throughout the film methinks,  but it's a good idea .

More stand - out bits: Madness's 'Razor Blade Alley ' and ' Night Boat to Cairo' . the staged fight during Selecter's 'Too Much Pressure ', the bottle of Lucozade on Jerry Dammers' piano and the closer - ' Nite Klub' again – with Terry Hall deadpanning beautifully throughout the scathing lyrics.

See it, dance to it, sing along and cheer for your laves. It's that kind of movie and I loved (almost) every minute of it. SUNIE.

Record Mirror (7th February 1981)

DANCE CRAZE (Soundtrack)
(CHR TT 5004)
By Sunie

YOU'VE FLOCKED to the gigs, you've thrilled to the hits, you'll soon be queueing for the movie - now hear the soundtrack! Let's skank through the tracks on this live monument to the Two-Tone story so far, before sitting back for some armchair analysis ...

Side One opens with the Specials' 'Concrete Jungle', followed by the Beat's 'Mirror in the Bathroom', the
latter surprisingly sounding more sinister here than on the studio version. Anti-stoutism's firmest
advocates Bad Manners are next with 'Lip Up Fatty', which is hearty enough but suffers rather from
foliowing the much more subtle Beat sound.

Absolute stand-out on this side is 'Razor Blade Alley' by Madness, a superb slice of finger-snapping
sleaze closer to Tom Waits than to Prince Buster, which tells of losing virginity and health in one brief
encounter. On to 'Three Minute Hero' by the Selecter after that brief change of tempo; I never reckoned
this song much, but that's just my grouse. The Bodysnatchers' sole contribution to the LP is 'Easy Life',
wrapping the liberation v procreation dilemma in delicious girly harmonies and what I imagine to be a rock-• steady rhythm; it sounds different from pure ska, anyway. The Beat reappear with 'Big Shot' and
Madness end the side with an insanely fast and saxy 'One Step Beyond' .

Side Two kicks off with the seat's 'Ranking Full Stop', a lively if unexceptional number brought up to
scratch by Ranking Roger's sheer exuberance. Specials next with 'Man at C&A'; then the Selecter's
'Missing Words', smashing melodic pop deftly performed. Bad Manners' 'Inner London Violence' is more of their razzy stomp, but with considerably more musical ' substance than their previous effort.

'Night Boat to Cairo' is the song that made me fall for Madness, and here it is in all its glory: I don't know
which I love more, Lee Thompson's marvellous sax or Suggs's inimitable vocal. Then we're back to the
Selecter for 'Too Much Pressure' , and the set ends at the 'Nite Klub', with brass ensemble Dick & Rico well to the fore of a steamy Specials sound.

Each group uses its own producer, and since the list of those gentlemen's names reads like a studio
'Who's  Who’, you may rest assured that the quality throughout is triff.

It's positively mind-boggling to consider that each of these bands owes their first taste of success, at
least in part, to J Dammers Esquire's vision, and trying to count the sum total of their hits brings me and my abacus out in a cold sweat. It's been said many times before, but it is a truly joyful thing that such groups as these are actively breaking down barriers of race, age, gender and musical style. More
power  to them. + + + +

Smash Hits (19th February 1981)

New York Times (25th April 1982)

The sloppy but cheerful ''Dance Craze,'' which opened Friday at the Eighth Street Playhouse, is a concert film devoted to the musical hybrid known variously as ska, or two-tone, or rock steady. The English bands featured here owe a lot to reggae - the best-known British band rockers playing anything of this sort are the Police, who do not appear in ''Dance Craze'' - but have added a thing or two of their own. Flat tops. Checked jackets. Persistent hopping, preferably from one foot to the other. An overall spirit of jubilation.

''Dance Craze,'' which was directed by Joe Massot, shows so little concern for the ordinary cinematic niceties that it never even identifies the bands on screen, except in the opening credits. These groups are the Specials, the Bodysnatchers, Madness, Bad Manners, the English Beat and the Selecter.

The personnel is racially mixed -which is part of why the music is nicknamed ''two-tone'' - and a couple of the lead singers are women. One lead singer, from Bad Manners, is a fat man in T-shirt, droopy pants and suspenders, wearing army boots and a skinhead's hairdo. No one can accuse these bands of lacking either enthusiasm or character.

''Dance Craze'' isn't anything more than a chance to watch these groups for an hour and a half, and to hear a very muddy version of their sound; the lyrics are almost indistinguishable throughout. For anyone interested in this happy, energetic music, that may be more than enough. Janet Maslin

The Cast

DANCE CRAZE, directed by Joe Massot; visual concept and photography by Joe Dunton; edited by Ben Rayner; music produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley; produced by Gav- rik Losey; released by Nu-Image. Running time: 86 minutes. This film has no rating. At the Eighth Street Playhouse, at the Avenue of the Americas.

Some were critical...

London Trax

Fuck Art Let's Dance! - 'Dance Craze' Gets The Deluxe Treatment (At Last!)


Music Week magazine announcement of the original 'Dance Craze' release
7th February 1981.

Rock ‘n’ Roll films can be lame affairs, a vehicle by which stars on a downward trajectory can salvage something from a flagging career or a means by which a record company can foister a few more quid from soundtrack sales on the back of a bit of celluloid exposure. However, very occasionally, a rock ‘n’ roll film can spark the imagination of its audience.
When Bill Haley & The Comets’ ‘Rock Around The Clock’ opened in British cinemas in 1956, the reaction took the public by surprise as young audiences let rip. Seats were slashed and members of the audience danced in the isles, their reverie only halted by the arrival of the police. Such behaviours were very unbecoming in austere, 1950’s Britain. When similar scenes occurred some 25 years  later upon the release of the film ‘Dance Craze’, the element of shock had gone. Teenagers and their associated youth cults/movements (call them what you will) were well established, if not well received by the wider public. As suggested by the name of the film, audiences were again in the isles dancing to the band’s performing on the big screen. Was there fighting? I don’t know, probably if some of the 2 Tone gigs were anything to go by. Did seats get slashed? Most certainly.

By the time Joe Massot's film was released in the UK in February 1981, 2 Tone’s flame was already sputtering. The Specials’ camp was not a happy one and within six months they would be no more. The Selecter  released their second album in the same week as ‘Dance Craze’. However, the single that shared the same name of the album, ‘Celebrate the Bullet’ was subject to radio play bans, by virtue of the fact that John Lennon had been shot dead only weeks before. Such censure hastened the demise of the band. All girl 2 Toners, The Bodysnatchers called it a day that year without releasing an album. The Beat continued on their own ‘Go Feet’ label into 1983 before splintering. Madness went on to win the hearts and minds of chart aware kids with a string of classic singles that paid scant regard to the original 2 Tone sound. And Bad Manners? Well they were Bad Manners.
It was Massot’s intention to make a music film about Madness, a band his son had seen on their first US tour. However, realising that the bands originally signed up by Jerry Dammers onto the 2 Tone label formed a cohesive scene that encompassed both music and fashion, the scope of the film project was revisited. At the time that the footage was shot in 1980, all six bands that featured in the film were alive and well and in your town. The film is intense, the stage is crowded (the bands sum of members was 43 musicians!) and the dance floors heroically bore the weight of thousands of bouncing souls and soles. The Top Ranks, Locanos and Meccas of Britain throbbed with energy when the 2 Tone bands rolled into town. The exuberance of the stage performances transmitted effortlessly into the receptive audiences as the boundaries between musician and music fan blurred. At no point was the absence of a feeling of ‘them and us’ more apparent than during the stage invasion that became a regular feature at the end of a Specials set. Occasional glimpses of a microphone or guitar headstock would be the only indication of the fact that in the middle of the throng a band were playing!

‘Dance Craze’ was a tonic for troubled times. British industry creaked under the malign influence of a new economic experiment. The ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland were at a ferocious peak and women in Yorkshire walked the streets in fear as a serial killer did was serial killers do. Black youth rose up in the inner cities as policing methods caused resentment to boil over and the National Front smashed up gigs in their efforts to find a scapegoat for their woes. This was the nature of the soil in which the 2 Tone seed germinated in 1978-’79.
2 Tone is remembered as a movement/scene with an anti-racism message at its heart, which of course it was. However, the bands were not given over to preaching, only a small number of the bands’ songs addressed the subject of racism. There really was no need to preach, just the fact that each of the bands (with the exception of Madness) featured both black and white musicians in their line ups. That had not really happened before, at least not to the same extent. Rather than focusing on a political agenda, the 2 Tone material dealt with the everyday trials and tribulations of growing up in Britain’s cities in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s.

‘Dance Craze’ captures the 2 Tone bands in their prime. Both the film and the associated soundtrack brilliantly convey the energy and passion of these bands and through that the politics finds a voice. These live recordings are in my opinion a far better reflection of what 2 Tone was all about that the studio albums (brilliant though they are). So, that leads me to ask, why has the film been ignored for 43 years! For some reason, the film did not get an official release until 1989 on VHS video. Since that time all of the band’s albums (sorry Bodysnatchers) have received the deluxe reissue treatment, so as an official release on the 2 Tone label, why was ‘Dance Craze’ overlooked. I do not have the answer to that but I can say that the issue has been addressed with a stunning release (expanded CDs, triple vinyl, T shirts and tote bags, not forgetting of course the DVD/BluRay edit of the film itself).
The man entrusted to turn Joe Massot’s film concept into reality was film maker Joe Dunton. Massot and Dunton has first worked together in the late sixties and both men trusted each other’s abilities. Dunton was interviewed in the 100th issue of ‘Vive Le Rock’ magazine and from that it became apparent to me for the first time just how much technical care and attention had been lavished on this cinematic project. I am no techie, but understood the fact that the decision was taken to shoot the film on 35 mm film as this can be blown up nicely to 70 mm for the big screen. It was always intended that ‘Dance Craze’ was a production to be viewed on the big screen. In fact there was no other option at that time, since at the time of its release (February 1981) home video was still in its infancy and only available at a cost that was well beyond the means of the largest proportion of its intended young audience. The other innovation was the use of the ‘Steadicam’ camera, very useful when cameramen and their subjects are in constant and frenetic movement on overcrowded stages! The film is shot both from the audience and the stage which further serves to break down barriers. The overall effect is that of a joyous communion….

‘Buster, he sold the heat with a rock-steady beat’….

To mark the release of the restored film, screenings and Q&A's were hosted across the country. I am still kicking myself that I missed the London screening. It was a gathering of 2 Tone royalty make no mistake!

Rhoda (The Bodysnatchers), Pauline (The Selecter), Jerry (The Specials), Buster (Bad Manners), Neville (The Specials), Sugary, Woody, Lee (Madness).
BFI IMAX, London.

Promo for the rerelease (2023).
What will follow are first a couple of contemporary reviews of the film/soundtrack and then six posts, one for each of the ‘Dance Craze’ bands performing at around (give or take a few months) the time when the film was recorded or released.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Punk Rock Bowling Las Vegas 27th May 2019

 A festival set from the prestigious West Coast bonanza that goes by the name of 'Punk Rock Bowling'. Many thanks to a site supporter for sharing the file for posting. Cheers!

MP3 (as received):


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