It was while doing a gig at the Glenmachan Hotel that they first met Gordon Ogilvie , who had been invited along for the evening by Colin McClelland , a journalist who Burns had been corresponding with. Ogilvie suggested they play material based upon their experience of the Troubles. McClelland arranged to get the band some recording time at a local radio station, and in the studio normally used to record jingles, they recorded "Suspect Device".
A copy of the single was sent to John Peel. The single was released on the band's own Rigid Digits label and sold over 30, copies. There were a number of well-publicised arguments between the two bands; the Undertones accused Stiff Little Fingers of sensationalising the Northern Ireland conflict, while they retorted that The Undertones ignored it.
Their second single, "Alternative Ulster", was originally intended to be given away free with the fanzine of the same name.
In the second half of , they toured with the Tom Robinson Band , and in , they released their first album on the Rough Trade Label, Inflammable Material. This inspired their move to London, which led to the departure of Brian Faloon and Colin McClelland who along with Gordon Ogilvie had been joint manager of the band up until that point.
The Nobody's Heroes era brought some success in media terms, with the single "Straw Dogs" narrowly missing the cut for Top of the Pops ; they eventually got on the show twice, with "At the Edge" and "Nobody's Hero". However, after their appearance with "At The Edge" the band were told they would never be invited on again as they did not take it seriously as they were not playing live; it was to be one of the most infamous Top of the Pops ' 's performances.
In the band released their third studio album Go for It which was to be Jim Reilly's last involvement with the band. In the face of low sales and concert attendances, they broke up in , when Burns said: "Our last LP Now Then was to my mind the best album we have made.
But it is also unfortunately the best I think we will ever make. So I have decided to call it a day". The band later revealed the original split had been somewhat acrimonious, with band members apparently having fistfights rather than talking through their differences. They made a couple of demos, but Foxton received an invitation to make a solo album which ended their collaboration. December Rolling Stone : The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2nd ed.
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There's even a reggae crossover here in the form of their Bob Marley cover "Johnny Was," which along with the classic singles lifted from the album more on them later ranks among the highlights. As well as being songwriter in-chief, Burns also acts as the single most important component of the band's sound throughout Inflammable Material. The record's production is red raw, but even less polished is the singer's voice, an intense, powerful and yes, angry weapon which gives the majority of his songs their added edge.
Even more impressive are Burns' lyrics, which provide absolutely everything you'd want from an album made in such desperate context.
The third, "Alternative Ulster" was also the most successful, topping the UK's independent chart but more importantly providing perhaps the most frank statement of dissatisfaction with their homeland on the whole record. The rest of it isn't half bad either, and can pack just as strong a punch. In true punk fashion, the band experienced a backlash to the raging blast of "White Noise," with many accusing them of being racists despite the fact that the song's underlying message is of quite the opposite stance.
Not so controversial but equally thrilling are the likes of "No More Of That" and "Breakout," but amid those standard punk moments it's "Barbed Wire Love" which brings the biggest surprise. As it's title alludes, it's lyrical core is as abrasive as Burns' other songs, but this composition also shows his more tender side, displaying a versatility which the band would come to expand on with subsequent releases. Really, the only misstep here is finale "Closed Groove," a song which holds a similar level of lyrical brilliance as the 12 to it, but fits them around a melody which sounds pathetically amateur.
Burns himself has never held back in his criticism of it, claiming that he's never rated it as a song, and deeply regrets including it an album where it simply doesn't fit. Aside from that though, there's not really much that you can fault with Stiff Little Fingers' debut. It's singles may rank as clear high-watermarks, but the same could be said of just about any classic punk album of it's time, and the album tracks can certainly hold their own anyhow.
They may have arrived a little late and thus missed out on the hysteria surrounding the genre's earlier bands, but Inflammable Material was just about as genuine as punk rock got, and for that reason alone it deserves to grace anyone's collection. It was well worth the wait!
Admittedly, I have not gone back to pick up the earlier stuff mentioned above, but this just happens to be the era of the bank I first fell for. I chose Stiff Little Fingers. As much as Inflammable Material is great and "hardcore", the band I saw that night in Passaic, although the same band, didn't really act or put on the pretense that they were "punk". MikeT , Dec 7, Location: Kansas.
SLF mellowed tremendously over the course of their first run, but I don't think the quality of their music ever waned. I would recommend all three records that followed IM. It's funny, listening to Now Then , they practically sound like a power pop band by today's standards. There's a quaint naivete to it that I find charming. Obviously, if you only want the raw stuff, I would recommend only Nobody's Heroes , and perhaps the live album, Hanx!
Their best live album is See You Up There! Ironically, this set is from a run of reunion gigs after a five year layoff. The band sounds positively re-energized, and just nails this one. It's possible this was released on vinyl, but I'm not sure. As far as the past twenty! If I were to keep just one album from this period it would be Guitar and Drum , which is easily the best since the early days. Have fun!
Location: Toronto, ON, Canada. Wow, never thought I'd hear that name bandied about on SHtv! Just seeing the thread title brought back some great memories. Off to refamiliarize myself. Clarkophile , Dec 7, Location: North Hollywood.We'll keep you posted on the new album, tour information, and more! You'll received an email with a link to confirm your subscription. Sign up Tour Dates. Mar 4. O2 Academy. Thursday, March 4, Thu, Mar 4, O2 Academy, Bristol. Get tickets. Stiff Little Fingers uses.