BEST known as frontman of the Stranglers, one of the most long-lived and internationally popular bands from the original wave of British punk, Hugh Cornwell returns this autumn with a new solo album and UK tour which sees the 69-year-old Londoner stop off in Chester next month.

Monster, which was released last week, features 10 tracks written about some of the most remarkable, and indeed infamous, people of the 20th Century, with the album recalling the Stranglers' famous hit No More Heroes' references to the likes of Leon Trotsky, Lenny Bruce, William Shakespeare and Sancho Panza.

"Some of these people's life stories you just couldn't make it up even if you tried," says Hugh, who's used the lives of Lou Reed, Mose Allison, Evel Knievel, Benito Mussolini and Robert Mugabe, among others, for Monster's subject matter.

"I started out writing a song about my mum because she died about five years ago and I wanted to write a tribute to her. It turned out really well and suddenly a few more people presented themselves to me and I thought 'they've never had songs written about them'.

"It just shows you don't have to just write about love - you can write a song about anything as long as you're inspired."

One of the more unusual figures featured is American special effects legend Ray Harryhausen who created memorable sequences for films including Jason and the Argonauts, Sinbad and Clash of the Titans.

"I saw a documentary about him a while ago and it was full of people like George Lucas and Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg calling him a genius and saying how they wouldn't have got into movie if it hadn't been for him," says Hugh. "It made me realise what an influence he'd had on people and how inspiring he was."

Hugh is no stranger to the art of the concept album with Stranglers' classics like The Gospel According to the Meninblack exploring religion and 1981's La Folie looking at different aspects of love.

"It does help to have a concept," he says. "It acts as a glue to link all the songs together. It's interesting to find these people who have never been a subject of a song and it fired me up because they are all terrific stories. Take Mugabe and Mussolini for example: they both started out with these great ideals for their countries and thought they were doing the right thing and slowly power corrupted them and the agenda changed. It takes all sorts to make this world and you can't just concentrate on the good people otherwise you won't ever get a proper viewpoint."

As a companion disc to Monster, Hugh is also releasing Restoration - a collection of re-recorded acoustic versions of Stranglers songs which he has rediscovered over the years including favourites No More Heroes and Always the Sun alongside gems from the band’s catalogue including Outside Tokyo, Don’t Bring Harry and Let Me Down Easy.

"Over the years I've been doing these acoustic tours with just me and my guitar and when I go into the Stranglers back catalogue I've been finding some really obscure songs that work fabulously well on acoustic guitar," he continues.

"I thought it would be nice to play them rather than all the hits but it's all about whether they work well and what's fun to play."

Driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel's distinctive bass sound, Dave Greenfield's Doors-esque keyboards and Hugh's growling and aggressive vocals, converting the Stranglers' hits into gentle acoustic tunes doesn't sound the most obvious idea but Hugh disagrees.

"It's not always the hits that work," he laughs. "Peaches is really boring on an acoustic guitar but some are remarkable the way they sound. The record company suggested putting them out on a record and I thought I'd never recorded an acoustic album before and I'm always up for trying something new."

Despite his recent foray into unplugged music, Hugh will be back on stage with a full band for this tour which will see him playing songs from across his 40 year career.

"They'll be two sets with half of the new album and other solo songs and then I'll come out and shove those Stranglers songs down their throats for about an hour," he says.

"This tour will be the first jaunt I've done with the new musicians - our new bassist Pat Hughes is a like a prowling panther on stage and they're very energised which is good for me."

Chester, it seems has been a happy hunting ground for Hugh in the past and he speaks fondly of previous gigs at the Live Rooms and Telford's Warehouse.

"There's always been somewhere to play in Chester for years," he adds admiringly. "I like Chester a lot: it's a nice town and has an interesting vibe to it."

Hugh Cornwell plays Chester Live Rooms on Thursday November 8. Doors 7pm. Tickets cost £20 and are available from 08444 780 898 or