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

Friday 30 June 2023

Generation Sex Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts Worthy Farm Pilton 24th June 2023


I did not watch much of the Glastonbury Festival at all. It just doesn't appeal when there are smaller, more intimate festivals on my doorstep (Sign Of The Times and Stone Valley South for example). Not only do these festivals cater much more to my hoary old taste in music, but they are affordable and on a scale whereby to get to the stage is not a half day hike... listen to me. what an old codger! But seriously, whilst not a seasoned festival goer I went to Reading in '87 and '89 when that festival (one of the biggest in the UK at the time) was still transitioning from a metal festival to an indie festival. As such I was far more comfortable with the image of the festival goer as someone in a leather jacket with four cans suspended from a bullet belt. On the first morning at Reading in 1987 I threw up... to deal with this I went down to the river's edge and ate a tin of cold baked beans washed down with a couple of cans of Webster's Best Bitter (there was nothing best about it!). Now, no doctor was ever going to commend me on my festival diet, but rather that than a jog around a festival site perimeter before a granola breakfast!

So you get it, Glastonbury is not for me and whilst I must admire Elton's talent and longevity, I didn't watch him either. But I did see this... Generation Sex... perhaps what the Sham Pistols could have been! And now I am gonna moan again, As much as I like the Pistols and The Professionals, I have never got on with Generation X, bar a couple of singles I have nothing by them and yet they were the real deal, Class of '77 and there are not many bands of that ilk that I don't like (Boomtown Rats). What it is about them that always put me off I don't know... they looked sharp, they had mod sensibilities in image and music (and I love the Small Faces), so on paper they would be a good fit. It's probably sneering Bill that has put me off... and before you ask it has nothing to do with JJ's antipathy towards him. Tony James went to Brunel, as did I, not that that fact would sway me one way or the other... but I didn't like SSS or late Sisters of Mercy and I never really got to hear his short lived collaboration with Mick Jones, 'Carbon-Silicon'.

But let's be objective for a minute about Generation Sex. Cook and Jones sound fabulous, those songs still pack one hell of a punch even on a balmy Somerset afternoon and James nails the bass. As for Billy I can't fault him on the Gen X material, it's his after all how could anyone do a better job. As far as the Pistols' renditions go, he does a good job I think. It's not Lydon, but then we must make do as the prospects of seeing Cooky and Jones treading the same boards as Johnny are pretty slim in the wake of 'Pistol'.

See what you think.

I hope that the DVD works OK, it's the first DVD edit that I have done for several years and I had to teach myself all over again. Fingers crossed.

Incidentally, whilst this DVD is the full BBC broadcast, the band's set also included Stepping Stone, Kiss Me Deadly, Dancing With Myself and Silly Thing.... I would have preferred to see Silly Thing over Black Leather!

DVD Iso Image:


Monday 26 June 2023

'Yes We Know! But Who Is Celia?'

 I have mentioned before my partiality for 'Celia & The Mutations (here). That post features pretty much all there is to be had in print about this rather enigmatic 'spin-off', just a couple of 'non-interviews' and a handful of promo adverts for the singles that carried their name.

It was an odd move for United Artists to make in my unqualified opinion. In The Stranglers they had a band which was rapidly becoming the principal punk cash cow. To dilute that signature Stranglers' sound with the refined vocals of Celia Gollin must have been thoroughly thought through... or maybe it was a nice punk idea. It was a strategy more suited to a label like Stiff than UA. That is not to say that UA were aiming to deceive anyone. The campaign for the first single, 'Mony Mony'/'Mean To Me' featured the instantly recognisable silhouette of the band. It was also a clever way however to release an early Stranglers' original that was now perhaps less representative of their band's recognised studio output.

It is to be regretted that the band's discography did not stretch to more than the two singles (and even then the personnel changed considerably). But, then again would the release of three albums within the space of a year opened the band to accusations of cashing in. Who knows?

Whatever the case, here is the elusive lady lino printed in black ink on cream card (21cm x 29.7cm).

Saturday 24 June 2023

The Apollo Glasgow 30th September 1978


Once in a blue moon this happens. I can think of two or three occasions upon which this has been so for the Aural Sculptors web site. A new recording surfaces that to all intents and purposes is a first for all. It may be that it is out there but in a very limited circulation or that it has genuinely passed people by.

That it is visible is not doubted as it appears on the website, a non-profit making site dedicated to documenting the contribution to popular music as made by the Glasgow Apollo.

This was one of the last gigs that the band played in 1978, the year perhaps above all others when The Stranglers made their mark. The difficult third album had been a critical triumph and the band were taking full credit for it. On stage the band were never more belligerent, their relationship with the music press upon which most bands relied for some degree of support was at an all time low. The band seemed to be in a near state of paranoia... the world and his wife pitched against them. True, the press didn't like them but at the same time would you as a music journalist relish the prospect of interviewing the 'enfants terrible' of punk? The kids however loved them. Listen out for the audience chanting 'We Want The Stranglers!' at the end of 'Ugly'... it's almost 'Roller' behavior!

Early doors Hugh warns the audience not to goad the security with attempts to get onto the stage (I presume). 'Don't try and climb this 'cos they're fucking dangerous (the bouncers)... there were a few fractured skulls the other night' (a reference to the band's gig at the Manchester Apollo two days earlier that ended in violent disarray). How you scaled the Apollo stage is a mystery.

I believe that this was the only live outing for 'Walk On By' in the year of its release.

This is a great addition to the record so many thanks to the folk at Rescued Recordings for their ongoing efforts to bring so many of the great shows that the Apollo hosted and thanks to DomP (as ever) for passing this on to me! Highly appreciated!



01. Ugly
02. I Feel Like A Wog
03. Burning Up Time
04. Bring on the Nubiles
05. Something Better Change
06. Hanging Around
07. Princess Of The Streets
08. Peasant In The Big Shitty
09. Walk On By
10. Curfew
11. Do You Wanna? 
12. Death And Night And Blood
13. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
14. Threatened
15. Sverige
16. Tank
17. 5 Minutes
18. No More Heroes
19. Toiler on the Sea

Stranglers 2000 - Communication on the Edge of the Digital Age


1997 saw the sad demise of 'Strangled', our oracle and gateway to the band. This august publication told us most of what we needed to know in order to effectively follow the band, not always in a timely manner but hey. What information could not be gleaned from its pages could be obtained by means of a letter to the SIS offices or even by a letter to a member of the band.... accessibility to the band always appealed to me. The Stranglers seemed to have a relationship to their fanbase only bettered by The Jam!

After 'Strangled' folded, Marian Shepherd and Owen Carne picked up and created 'Stranglers 2000', what was to be a short-lived stop gap that filled the needs of the fan base between the cessation of 'Strangled' and the digital revolution that put paid to paper based/S.A.E communication across the board. 

Running to just two issues at around the time of the release of the 'Coup De Grace' album they do make a good read and provide an insight into the dynamics within the band at that time. In a lengthy interview in issue 2, JJ opens his heart. Even without the benefit of hindsight the fact that the late '90's incarnation of the band were floundering is painfully obvious. JJ is in reflective mood looking back on a career that may or may not be over at that point. The writing on the album (mostly JJ's) questions the band's relevance and validity. Not that my opinion carries any weight, but at this point the band were at their lowest ebb, if there were any positives at this time it was only that the sole direction available was upwards! Anyway, see what you think.

Strangled 2000 Issue 1 (pdf):

Strangled 2000 Issue 1 (pdf):

Sunday 18 June 2023

SIS Magazine Query

 After the demise of 'Strangled' as I recall (I have them somewhere) there followed a short lived fanzine. It ran for just two issues. Issue one was associated with a live recording. Can anyone shed any light on this 'SIS' release (venue, date , track list) Apologies, but here my MIB knowledge falters a bit, this period being part of my Stranglers' wilderness years!

Punk Spring 2010 Osaka Japan 2nd April 2010


Here's another find from the 'to be sorted' disc piles. A short festival set from Japan's annual 'Punk Spring' festival in 2010. Talk from the stage minimal if non-existent language barrier I presume.



01. 5 Minutes
02. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
03. Nuclear Device
04. Something Better Change
05. Peaches
06. All Day & All Of The Night
07. Spectre Of Love
08. No More Heroes

Ruts DC Hammersmith Odeon 21st October 1980 - Full Set?


Sorry for the cock up! The extra tracks are actually the band's Peel Session.... I am disappointed too.... must pay more attention.

Upon sorting through a few hundred half labelled and unlabelled discs, I was very pleased to find this gem in a lossless format. It's an early outing of Ruts DC supporting The Skids at the Hammermith Odeon in the autumn of 1980. I had previously uploaded a version in mp3 format (5 songs) that can be found here. This version adds ' Mirror Smashed', 'Parasites', 'Fools' and another rendition of 'Different View'. And, like the lossy version, this is also of good sound quality.

I was making the assumption that this version represented the full set played on the night, my thinking being that the set may have ended with a rerun through 'Different View' which was/would be the new single. However, upon reading Garry Bushell's review again, mention is made of 'SUS', 'Staring At The Rude Boys', 'It Was Cold' and 'Savage Circle' having been played. Regardless, this would appear to be the fullest version in circulation and it is a great addition to the Ruts DC collection.



01. Love In Vain
02. Different View
03. West One (Shine On Me)
04. Society
05. Babylon's Burning
06. Mirror Smashed
07. Parasites
08. Fools
09. Different View

The Ritz Club New York 21st October 1980


Well, whilst I have my 1980 head on, here's another one from the US leg of the 'Who Wants The World?' tour. I thought I would have uploaded this before, it being a nice quality radio broadcast, but I hadn't. Hugh makes reference to Ronald Reagan favourite for the 49th presidential election a week and a half away from the time of this gig.



01. Intro
02. Hallow To Our Men
03. I Feel Like A Wog
04. Toiler On The Sea
05. Hanging Around
06. Down In The Sewer
07. Who Wants The World?
08. Tank
09. Nuclear Device
10. Genetix
11. The Raven

Keystone Berkeley 13th November 1980


A great radio broadcast from the west coast documenting the band's appearance at the Keystone Berkeley in California. Hugh's on great form. The US tours of 1980 and 1981 are brilliantly represented in the bootleg record but I have often wondered why the sets were so short... perhaps it was down to unbearable heat in the smaller clubs they were booked into, but that doesn't sound so feasible given that the band did their apprenticeship in subterranean furnaces such as the Hope & Anchor.



01. Toiler On The Sea
02. Duchess
03. Baroque Bordello
04. Hanging Around
05. Down In The Sewer
06. Who Wants The World?
07. Threatened
08. Just Like Nothing On Earth
09. Tank
10. Nuclear Device/Genetix
11. Dead Loss Angeles
12. The Raven

Saturday 17 June 2023

Stiff Little Fingers Troon Concert Hall 16th March 2022

 A nice recording of SLF from the much Covid disrupted 'Sure Wish We Had 20/20 Vision' tour. Many thanks to malcolm769 for the recording. Hanx!



Devo Something For Everybody US TV June 2010


A bit of a diversion here, but one with links to The Stranglers and a strong cross-over appeal to many Stranglers' fans I know.

Akron's Devo defy attempts at pigeon-holing. With a longevity stretching beyond that of The Stranglers by a matter of months they sounded and perhaps just as notably looked like no other band in the United States or anywhere else. Back in 1978, when appearing on 'So It Goes' they eloquently described themselves to Tony Wilson as 'the fluid in the punk enema bag'.... now there's a description should you be in need of one! Like The Stranglers not every record that they have put their name to has been great by when they did get it right the results were brilliant."2009's 'Something For Everybody' was a real return to form album.

Here are a couple of promotional appearances that they did for US TV.

DVD iso image:


The Colbert Report:

Live With Kelly And Regis:
Whip It

Spuugh Vaals The Netherlands 13th August 1983


A Dutch gig here, at the tail end of the 'In The Night' Period. Vaals is located at the southern tip of the Netherlands and presses on both the Belgian and German borders... in case you were wondering!



01. Waltzinblack (Intro)
02. Time To Die
03. Toiler On The Sea
04. 5 Minutes
05. Never See
06. Southern Mountains 
07. Northwinds
08. I Feel Like A Wog
09. 96 Tears
10. This God Is Mine
11. English Towns
12. Ugly
13. Brainbox
14. London Lady
15. All Day And All Of The Night
16. Sugar Bullets
17. Tank
18. Always The Sun
19. Uptown
20. Hanging Around
21. No More Heroes
22. Discussion With Dave Greenfield

Rosengarten Musensaal Mannheim Germany 18th October 1992


Here's a decent sounding recording from the continuation of the 'In The Night' tour, this time from Mannheim in October 1992.



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

Friday 16 June 2023

20 From '81 (12) The Damned To Act Disco Weissenohe Germany 3rd July 1981


Great sounding boot from my 'classic line-up' of The Damned. The set is great but for all that the audience seem to be very subdued, maybe that's how it was down in those southern parts of Germany. It has to be said too that the band didn't engage with the audience much on the night... perhaps a language issue I dunno. Thanks to the Second Time Around Damned site for the file. Cheers!

MP3 (as received):


Saturday 10 June 2023

Siouxsie The Fillmore San Francisco 13th February 2008

As Siouxsie seems to be the woman in vogue at the moment I thought that I would post an earlier solo set from the 'Mantaray' tour. Enjoy! And thanks to the original Dime uploader, PunkRockster.



01. They Follow You
02. About To Happen
03. Here Comes That Day
04. Dear Prudence
05. Arabian Knights
06. Night Shift
07. Drone Zone
08. Loveless
09. If It Doesn't Kill You
10. Sea Of Tranquility
11. One Mile Below
12. Into A Swan
13. Heaven And Alchemy
14. Cish Cash
15. Spellbound
16. These Boots Are Made For Walking

The Dome Brighton 14th March 2013


It's hard to consider that this recording from the 'Feel It Live' tour is over a decade old! Thanks to MeAnIe for the artwork.

MP3 (as received):


Friday 9 June 2023

Ruts DC Water Rats King's Cross London 24th and 28th May 2023


Limited tickets the ad stated, I'll go for that I thought. I have been going to gigs in London since 1985, being from outside of London, earlier gigs were mostly attended in Brighton, but I had never yet set foot in The Water Rats on the Grays Inn Road. That surprised me as it has an impeccable rock 'n' roll pedigree as a venue of some standing. Perhaps the jewel in its fact crown is that it played host to Bob Dylan for his first UK gig. Snotty Burnage boys, Oasis, played their first London gig here and The Pogues, when Pogue Mahone, played their first drunken gig at Water Rats too. For this first Ruts DC gig, the London date on the Faces In The Sky/Counterculture Part 2 tour, tickets were as I recall limited to 100... pretty intimate. In the event, this was just as well for the following reasons 1) the venue at the back of the pub is very small, 2) it was the end of May and the outside temperature was quite warm and 3) the inside temperature was roasting!

I arrived part way through the exclusive playback of the new second volume of their acoustic album, which is fine as I will buy it and listen to it at my own leisure. More important was a meet up with a regular crowd of friends ahead of the main event at 9. 

With stage time upon us I manoeuvered my way with Gunta to the front... not a grand feat as it was but a few short steps from the rear of the venue! The band emerged looking remarkably fresh given that they had been subject to a pretty grueling tour schedule for the past two weeks.

Opening up the set with 'Faces In The Sky', I must confess that I had never really sat down (as I always used to) to pour over the lyrics. Doing so now, it is not lost on me that this song, an attack on the ever increasing impact on our lives of smart technology and specifically A.I. has gone nuclear (no pun intended) in the press, not the song of course but the tech. For this month, this idea of Artificial Intelligence is the news headlines! What was the subject of science fiction Hollywood films is now being mooted as a potential instigator of human extinction. The scariest part is that the messengers of this apocalyptic prophecy are none other than the computer scientists that have been at the cutting edge of this technology! Well, Ruts DC got in there first!

Very soon though I was back on more familiar turf with a trio of Ruts classics in the form of 'SUS', 'You're Just A...' and 'It Was Cold' (just for the record, it was not!). Then joy of joys, in the next clutch of tracks a couple of tracks from 1981's 'Animal Now' resurfaced in the form of 'No Time To Kill' and 'Despondency' which saw Segs and Leigh swap four strings for six strings in an instrument exchange. I have rued the fact that I miss this 1981 material from the band's set these days (an inevitable consequence of their prolific release rate I know). I also understand that material from that album is not easy for them to play given the circumstances under which that material was written and recorded. 

The front of the stage seemed to be heating up to very uncomfortable levels, but the new album's title track, 'Counterculture' only ratcheted the pace up a bit more before 'Born Innocent', 'Jah War', 'Poison Games' and 'Caught In The Kill Zone' offered some respite. 

One highlight of many were the musical tributes paid to fellow bass players during 'In A Rut' in the form of 'How Soon Is Now?' (Andy Rourke) and 'Love Song' (Algy Ward). Of course Algy was on bass for The Damned on that incendiary tour in the Summer of 1979 that really broke The Ruts. A really nice touch!

As is usual the set was closed with 'Psychic Attack' and that sprang yet another surprise. Standing next to us throughout the set was Peter, the mentally troubled the central character in the song's video. Having spotted him, Segs gestured that he should come on stage which he duly did, so for one song Ruts DC merged with interpretive dance as Peter deftly recreated his moves of mental anguish between the guitarist and bass player.

It was a fantastic set and it was also fantastic to get out into the cooler air of Kings Cross!

The gig on the Sunday night was less packed which was a blessing for all I think as the day itself was quite hot. I am sure that the band were glad of the extra available oxygen as they embarked on the last night of their tour. The gig was wonderful but similar to that that I have described above. Of note was yet another insert of tribute during 'In A Rut' as in the interval between the two Water Rats gigs news broke of the death of Tina Turner. The band played a little of 'Nutbush City Limits' on the night.

Now looking forward to seeing them again at Rebellion and in December.

'So Far Away' A New Single From Department S Featuring Baz Warne - Released 9th June 2023


As was the case for many, Department S came to my attention by way of the brilliant 'Is Vic There?' single in late 1980. Taking their name from a UK sci-fi series that launched the iconic character of Jason King, the band released a clutch of singles that really deserved better chart placings than they achieved. The B-side of 'Going Left Right' (the follow up to 'Is Vic There?'), 'She's Expecting You' was always a favourite of mine, a rather sinister pre-Sat Nav journey into London recited over a suspense loaded bassline... I wonder what did transpire behind the closed door of the Hilton Suite 325? Their contemporaries understood the quality of their sharp sound that to my ears straddled both post punk and the mod revival musical genres that opened the 1980's. Not least among these were The Jam who had the band support them on several occasions.

The original incarnation of the band split in 1982, but you can't keep a good thing down as they say as the band reformed in 2007. No strangers to collaborations, the revamped Department S recorded songs with the likes of Glen Matlock, Marco Pirroni and Bedders from Madness.

So, moving right up to the present...

On 9th June 2023 (today!), the band release their new single in digital and vinyl (coloured 7") formats. 'So Far Away' features the guitar work of Baz in a collaboration that pre-dates the Wingmen project.

The song is a pacey reflection upon the limited time that we have on this mortal coil.  

The intro builds over the opening lines;

'I see a radar pulse on a screen
I don't know where it is but I think it's me
And where it's heading I cannot say
Over so many hills and so far away.'

The atmospheric keyboards and the sharp, tight delivery of the guitar, bass and drums ensure that the track retains the essence of the Department S sound, whilst Baz's guitar part achieves the 'wistful vibe' that the band were keen to evoke. Together, the band and Baz have created a feel to the song that is so befitting to the lyrical content.

'Only change is constant, there can be no doubt
You're not the same man as the boy who started out
How much time is left to us it's hard to say
When you're over so many hills
And you're so far away.'

A 'Relentless' feel is certainly in there and Baz through his guitarwork on the track also brings in some of the feel of 'Dark Matters'. I also pick up tinges of recent material from The Damned, but perhaps that is not so surprising as the new Department S may or may not be listening to the Wingmen... featuring Paul Gray. The collaboration principle is extended further on the forthcoming studio album, 'Burn Down Tomorrow', additionally features Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC/Wingmen) and Stephen Rice (The Chameleons).

It could be the case that the message of the song can be taken in more than one way, depending I guess on the listener's mood or inherent outlook on life.... 'Glass half full or half empty'. The lyrics could be positive and upbeat or rueful and melancholic.... it really is your call!

Visit and sign up to the mailing list in order to get further details for purchasing this release.

Phil Thompson (Department S) and Baz Warne at the Cenurion Club Somersham in 2018
(photo courtesy of the Department S Facebook page).

Thursday 1 June 2023

Manchester Academy 21st March 2015


Here's one by request from Manchester on the March On tour of 2015.



01. Intro
02. Longships
03. The Raven
04. Straighten Out
05. (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)
06. I've Been Wild
07. Four Horsemen
08. Relentless
09. Baroque Bordello
10. Golden Brown
11. Always The Sun
12. Genetix
13. Freedom Is Insane
14. Time To Die
15. Nice In Nice
16. Norfolk Coast
17. I Feel Like A Wog
18. Skin Deep
19. Dead Ringer
20. Time Was Once On My Side

01. Duchess
02. Lost Control
03. Curfew
04. Down In The Sewer
05. Encore Break
06. Peaches
07. Walk On By
08. Encore Break
09. No More Heroes
10. Outro