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.
01. Song and Dance
02. Empire Song
03. We Have Joy
06. Lust Almighty
07. Sun Goes Down
11. The Pandys Are Coming
14. The Fall of Because
17. The Gathering
Back in '84 Goth was at its peak and Andrew Eldritch and his happy go lucky troupe The Sisters of Mercy were the Royal Family of the movement. The Sisters never really gripped me, although I do intend to upload one of their gigs as a part of this thread.
Loosely associated with that scene but eminently less preposterous than their laugh a minute Leeds pals, The Sisters, were The March Violets. With both bands coming from Leeds, The Sisters of Mercy's own label, Merciful Release, oversaw the release of the early March Violets singles. Unfortunately, I never saw them, but mates of mine did. They played some great songs, but I am sure that part of the appeal of the band for us 15 year old boys was the fact that they were fronted by a rather striking lady called Cleo.
So here is a short blast in the form of a session recorded for Radio 1's Richard Skinner at the end of the year.
Presenter Sue MacGregor interviews Gina Birch (The Raincoats), Toyah Willcox (Toyah), Gaye Black (The Adverts), Tessa Pollitt (The Slits) and Vivien Goldman (The Flying Lizards) about their lives in punk and the impact they had as leading female lights within a changing music industy.
Right, Ruts DC are off and slaking their thirst with a beer, which means that The Stranglers are to take to the stage.
The tour was billed as 'The Classic Collection' and whilst this may not be the punchiest of tour hooks even the briefest scans of the set clearly shows why that particular label can be applied. This year the set highlight for me had to be the coupling of a powerhouse 'Bear Cage' and 'Who Wants The World', representing one of the most creative periods in the band's career. The run out wasn't so shoddy either, especially for those whose Stranglers' palate favours a '77 vintage!
So, we're done for another year, UK tourwise at least. As restated some weeks ago, I don't think that it is on to post gigs from the current tour when the wheels of the tour bus are still turning but as it is all done and dusted, some can be shared.
It will come as no surprise to frequent visitors to this site that the most exiting part of the tour was the presence of Ruts DC as support. The Stranglers and Ruts DC on the same bill night after night! Two of my bestest bands sharing the stage. In fairness, recent years have seen a couple of excellent packages, notably Wilko Johnson and The Rezillos as openers. However, with the greatest respect to them, I have not seen a Stranglers tour support go down as consistently well as Ruts DC.
With a 40 minute set available to them, it was never going to be easy to shape the set but they managed it with a perfect showcase of their diverse material. Both Segs and Ruffy have always been at great pains to keep their shows current, so whilst acknowledging the importance of their back catalogue new material is the key to the set. It would be pointless otherwise. Ruts DC are no man's tribute act for sure!
Take a look at this set from the tour opener. The Ruts classics are all present and correct, but they sit side by side with new material from 2016's 'Music Must Destroy' (which incidentally was 'Vive Le Rock' magazine's album of the year). The dub reggae side of the bands set was limited to the brilliant 'Mighty Soldier', but you can't squeeze everything into 40 minutes can you.
As a big fan of all that The Ruts and Ruts DC recorded, it does seem a little sad that songs such as 'No Time To Kill', 'Whatever We Do' and 'Mirror Smashed' may be back in storage (only to reappear in longer headline sets hopefully) but this is the price a fan has to pay when a band continues to produce new material of such quality that it demands to be listened to!
As the tour progressed (but after this gig), for me the master stroke in the band's set construction was the fact that after playing 'Babylon's Burning', the obvious finale, they continued with the new 'Psychic Attack'. A crystal clear message that said 'This is what we were.... this is what we are!'.