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 30 September 2023

X-Ray Spex CBGB New York 17th March 1978 (TFTLTYTD#1)

For some reason it seemed right for me to kick off this 'memorial' thread with something by X-Ray Spex. That band along with their enigmatic singer Poly Styrene were in many ways the epitome of British punk rock. A more unlikely 'rock band' you would be hard pushed to find! A band of young kids thrashing out a set of songs that told of a plastic, art-I-ficial and disposable existence that was our present and future. Poly in particular was an absolute polar opposite of your mid-'70's A&R perception of a female lead singer. Poly could not be marketed in the conventional manner of the day. Blondie got that treatment (although I think that Debbie Harry was well aware of the value of her looks when it came to shifting units) and even a forward thinking Stiff Records messed up with The Adverts debut single 'One Chord Wonders' when they featured Gaye only on the sleeve... old marketing habits die hard.

If visually Poly and Co embodied punk rock, the opening line of the band's debut single was the perfect lyrical distillation of the attitude of punk rock.

'Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard,
But I think 'Oh! Bondage, up yours!'

The band were lauded even in the early days of punk as being something unique amongst their peers. However, the pressure of being the face in such a band took a heavy toll on Poly and in 1979 suffering with exhaustion and mental health issues she left the ranks of the band. They in turn, rather adrift without their charismatic singer, split soon after.

I was lucky enough to see them on the occasion of their first reunion gig at the Brixton Academy in 1991.

Several years later Poly performed 'Oh! Bondage' at the Love Music Hate Racism Festival on 28th April 2008, 30 years to the day that Victoria Park in Hackney hosted the Rock Against Racism festival at which X-Ray Spex played. London was to see one final appearance from the band at the Roundhouse on 6th September 2008.

Poly (or rather Marion Elliot) succumbed to spinal and breast cancer in April 2011 at just 53 years of age. She was a true original.

So, to complete the picture, here's a recording of the band at CBGB's in New York's Bowery, wher the band enjoyed a significant residency.

Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die


'Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die', a slogan that links the spirit of teenage rebellion from James Dean through to punk. Vivienne and Malcolm certainly did very well out of the phrase and there is even a compilation by original punk Marco Pirroni of the same name that features tracks that were on the jukebox within the 'Sex' boutique on the King's Road.

Early demise seemingly has been part of rock 'n' roll from the outset... Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran etc. Of course some folks lived their albeit short lives by this mantra, silly Sidney, Johnny Thunders, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse to name but a few. However, it is not the case that all of our musical 'heroes' have had such a nihilistic approach to their time on this mortal coil. In the 48 years since 1976, the generally accepted punk Year Zero in the UK, we have lost so many of the musicians that made the late '70's and early '80's the best era in music that this country has known. Many have lost their lives to the same illnesses that afflict us all, the likes of cancer and heart disease. We are all getting older...

So in the coming months I will endeavour to post 50 recordings of bands who have lost a member. I don't do this a a morbid exercise, rather as a genuine tribute to some of the talent that we have lost.

On The Nice 'N' Sleazy Sleeve Record Mirror 28th April 1978

The edition of Record Mirror in the week of the release of the Nice 'N' Sleazy single carried a short piece in which a man of the cloth in the North West objected to the image that adorned the sleeve. True, the nature of the image would most likely not pass muster in a record company's boardroom meeting in 2023. But before 'snowflake' accusations are levelled at me from all directions, it is worth remembering that the woman depicted was a real victim of murder, one of the 13 victims of Albert DeSalvo, known to the annals of crime as 'The Boston Strangler' a man who had the inhabitants of the east coast city gripped in fear during the early 1960's when he perpetrated his crimes.

Hope And Anchor Front Row Festival Album Review Record Mirror 4th March 1978


Sunday 24 September 2023

Futurist Theatre Scarborough 8th March 1990


Here's one that cropped up recently on Dime from the '10 Tour' that wasn't in my collection. many thanks to the uploader AlarmFan. A nice sounding recording from a great tour.



01. Shah Shah A Go Go
02. I Feel Like A Wog
03. Straighten Out
04. Shakin’ Like A Leaf
05. 96 Tears
06. Someone Like You
07. Sweet Smell Of Success
08. Always The Sun
09. Ships That Pass In The Night
10. Peaches
11. Where I Live

01. School Mam
02. Let’s Celebrate
03. Uptown
04. Tank
05. Was It You?
06. Down In The Sewer
07. Strange Little Girl
08. No More Heroes
09. Nuclear Device
10. Duchess
11. All Day & All Of The Night
12. Punch & Judy

Friday 22 September 2023

20 From '81 (13) Killing Joke City Hall St Albans 3rd July 1981


Without doubt, one of the most influential, innovative and enduring bands to have come out of the punk/post punk landscape. No other band sounds like them which is no mean feat nearly 70 years since Elvis. I admire this band for their courage to experiment where other bands opt to play it safe. Those experiments don't always pay off, but when they do something extraordinary results.



Tuesday 19 September 2023

JJ Burnel 'Strangler In The Light' Book Event Rough Trade East 15th October 2023


To mark the launch of the English translation of 'Strangler In The Light' JJ is making an appearance at Rough Trade East in London's Brick Lane. Having posted this 48 hours or so behind Stranglers (Official) I would imagine that it is sold out.... it is a small space with lots of record aisles (as you may expect in a record shop!). Looking forward to getting my copy through the post.

Sunday 17 September 2023

Soft Cell BBC Radio 2 in the Park Leicester 16th September 2023


Here's Soft Cell's set from yesterday's broadcast by Radio 2 as part of their 'In The Park' weekend in Leicester. In a 30 minute set they played most of what you would have expected them to play. Much more fun I think would have been to bamboozle the crowd, no doubt patiently waiting for the likes of Simply Red, Rick Astley and Kylie, to hit them with a 15 minute version of 'Martin', followed by 'Baby Doll' and rounded of with 'Sex Dwarf'. Oh well, I guess you can't have it all.



Siouxsie Sioux Inked... Again.


Siouxsie 2023.

'What in the world is happening?
What in the world could this be?
I'm on the verge of an awakening
A new kind of strength for me.'

Still cutting it at 66.

Lino print (29.7cm x 21cm (A4)
Black ink on cream art card.

Saturday 16 September 2023

Ombudsmen 'Terms and Conditions Apply' EP Release


The second EP from Manchester band Ombudsmen is due to be released on 6th October.

In the band's own words:

'On our new EP "Terms & Conditions Apply" out 6th October, we reiterate in a different way (because everything's been done now) the best and worst ways to avoid getting stung when buying an electric car.

“Terms & Conditions Apply” will be available on all the usual streaming platforms as well as physically. All formats of course contain terms of use and conditions which require the upmost cooperation.'

I will post on availability of the CD release in due course. 

Shepherds Bush Empire London 12th November 1994


This one by request and I am very grateful to DomP for coming up with the goods, and a nice recording it is too. Having seen my arse at the Kilburn National gig in 1992 there are big gaps in the 1990's Stranglers' fossil record, so all the more thanks to those willing to fill some of the gaps!

With a preview of some of the tracks that would appear on the forthcoming 'About Time' album, here is 'Bodysearch' in West London.



01. Intro
02. 5 Minutes
03. Sometimes
04. The Raven
05. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
06. Money
07. Paradise Row
08. Straighten Out
09. Gain Entry To Your Soul
10. Still Life
11. Face
12. Always The Sun
13. Sinister
14. Duchess
15. All Day & All Of The Night
16. Brainbox
17. Tank
18. No More Heroes
19. Golden Brown
20. Hanging Around
21. Someone Like You
22. Down In The Sewer
23. Go Buddy Go

Monday 11 September 2023

Nashville Rooms Review 10th December 1976 (Music Week 18th December 1976)


Here is a review that appeared in the UK trade publication Music Week. It reads quite positively I think, especially when you consider how in late 1976 the ultra-conservative record industry desperately tried to understand the new music i.e. punk in order to tame it and capitalise on it as quickly as possible. See what you think.

Saturday 9 September 2023

Siouxsie Electric Proms 2007 and Jonathan Ross Show 2008 DVD


What a summer Siouxsie has with a tour that has gone down a storm. It could be the last time she takes to the stage and if it is, what a way to go out! From what I have read, the two Troxy dates were great and what a fitting venue for her with all of its Art Deco splendour!

So, on topic, here are two tracks that I put onto DVD some years ago from the time of Mantaray. These may be of interest to someone as if you blinked you could well have missed them.

DVD Global Image:


Thursday 7 September 2023

The Newtown Neurotics 'Kick Out' Film Premier 100 Club London 5th September 2023


Finally, it happened, the much awaited, COVID battered documentary about the Newtown Neurotics. I have followed the band for 40 years, they made me think about all manner of things when politics was starting to loom large on my teenage horizon, be it national political commentary... 'Let's Kick Out The Tories', 'Get Up And Fight' or politics of a more personal nature... 'The Mess', 'Agony' and 'Wake Up'. Intelligent punk from the front line of Harlow Town. So, this premiere had been in the diary for an age. 

In many ways it is almost poetic that the film's release was delayed by a couple of years. In the interval the band saw fit to record an album of new material, but perhaps more importantly the period between the planned screening in Leytonstone in 2020 and last night's event spanned some of the most bizarre events in British political history... yet more confirmation that the Neurotics knew... don't argue!

From arrival in London, specifically, The Blue Posts in Newman Street, through to entering the hallowed depths of the 100 Club there was a wonderful atmosphere, a sense of solidarity... 300 or so people crammed into an Oxford Street basement with aligned values at a time when elements of the press inform the public that a woke generation are about to destroy everything we stand for as a nation. 

The film is brilliant, all credit to Luke Baker for this extraordinary achievement. There was a comment from someone in the film, sorry I forget who, that said that Harlow was just waiting for punk to happen. Whilst unfortunately I was not witness to the development of the 'Stortbeat' scene (being 1) too young and 2) in a different part of the country), I think that the real achievement of punk lies in a local and  independent meeting of minds and bands, venues etc etc. As was evident in the pub and later in the 100 Club the bonds and friendships formed way back then endure to this day. You cannot ask for better than that!

These days I limit my filming of gigs, it annoys people (although I can honestly say that if ever I do record something it is never impinges on other punters view of the stage!) and I get it. However, occasionally, the event warrants it and this was one such case. Last weekend Gunta and I saw Steve play a solo gig at The Hare pub in Harlow. That afternoon he discussed the inspiration behind the song 'This Fragile Life', a Harlow resident revealed to be a lady named Maggie Reynolds who died in poverty in the early 1980's. Last night, the song, as important in my mind as 'Kick Out The Tories' or 'Living With Unemployment' had a 'Repercussions' makeover with the introduction of brass (not to forget a second guitarist by the name of Leigh!).

'This Fragile Life'

All in all, a brilliant night of positive affirmation that things can get better! 


Monday 4 September 2023

A Wonky 7 Memory Big Band Cafe Caen 24th November 2019

It was 2019 and another foray into Northern Europe on a Wonky Bus, number 7 no less. Three gigs in France on this occasion. The footage shows a number of the party in the customary 'tour' shirt..... in BLUE!! Well, as I recall, the official rationale for this fashion departure was that 2019 marked the 40 anniversary of the release of the very pro-European 'Euroman Cometh' album from the gallic one. Unofficially, 2019 saw the UK in a ferment of protest and counter-protest as the Government tried to push through Brexit, so the shirt featuring the Council of Europe's flag featuring the 12 gold stars, the symbol of the European Union, was for some on the trip something of a two fingered salute to the jingoism that gripped many at the time back home.

Anyway, back to the video clip above, found upon setting up a new work phone and transferring data from the old. The venue was heaving, so much so that it was nigh on impossible to get into the auditorium in what is a pretty small venue, so for want of a better plan we took over the bar/merch area and made it our own.... I think drink had been taken!

Sunday 3 September 2023

Hugh Cornwell The Stables Milton Keynes 4th November 2022


A solo show from Hugh when 'Moments of Madness' fell upon Milton Keynes last year. Like its predecessor 'Monster', 'Moments of Madness' is another on form album featuring some strong material. Once again Hugh splits the set with solo/'Nosferatu' material followed by a second set of Stranglers' material. Of the second set, whilst I admire Hugh's willingness to mix it up a bit, I don't think that Waltzinblack particularly works as a live track and 'Turn The Centuries Turn' live is what? Well... a bit of a dirge.

It makes great sense for Hugh I think to keep an eye on what The Stranglers have been playing (if indeed he ever does), what better way to ensure that you can give the Stranglers' section of your audience something that they are not going to hear elsewhere. That said there is a wealth of material that would, I am sure, leave that part of the fanbase happy as Larry... 'Fools Rush Out' or some of those old 'Sculpture' era B-sides that have never had a live airing. But that is a minor criticism really on what is a great show!

Many thanks to Chatts for the share.



In The Night Demos 1990-1991


Another definitive demo collection here from the Rat Zone treasury, complete with tracks that ultimately didn't make the cut onto either the UK or US release of the first post-Hugh album. Thanks again to The folks at The Rat Zone who lavished so much care and attention on this and the other recordings too!

Outcasts 4th August 2023 Spanish Hall Blackpool

And one last one from the Friday running order, an acoustic set from Belfast's The Outcasts. Thanks to Pater once again for the share!