Today's artists are one of these groups that during the first wave of U.K. punk rock, sang about a world full of violence and chaos, but these guys didn't have to imagine a dystopian world -- living in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the height of "The Troubles," police brutality and terrorist violence were simply a part of daily life, and the band's music was a powerful response to what they saw, raw-boned rock & roll that balanced rage at a world gone mad against hope for a better day......N'Joy
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Prior to becoming Stiff Little Fingers, Jake Burns, vocals and guitar, Henry Cluney, guitar, Gordon Blair, bass, and Brian Faloon, drums, were playing in a rock music cover band, Highway Star, in Belfast. Upon the departure of Gordon Blair (who went on to play with another Belfast group, Rudi), Ali McMordie took over on bass. Cluney had by this time discovered punk, and introduced the rest of the band to it. They decided that Highway Star wasn't a punk enough name, and after a brief flirtation with the name "The Fast", decided to call themselves Stiff Little Fingers, after the Vibrators song of the same name.
A copy of the single was sent to John Peel. He played it repeatedly leading to a distribution deal through Rough Trade. The single was released on the band's own Rigid Digits label and sold over 30,000 copies. Peel later did the same with the first single by another famous Northern Irish band from Derry, The Undertones. 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.
In the second half of 1978, they toured with the Tom Robinson Band, and in 1979, they released their first album on the Rough Trade Label, Inflammable Material. The band signed a contract with Island Records, but it fell through, leaving the band to release the album on their existing label. Despite the album's independent release, it reached number 14 in the UK Albums Chart and reached Silver status, selling over 100,000 copies. Inflammable Material was the first album distributed by Rough Trade records, and the first independent album to chart in the UK. This inspired their move to London, which led to the departure of Brian Faloon and Colin McClelland .
Jim Reilly became their drummer in time for the "Gotta Gettaway" single, and played in the Rock Against Racism tour. In mid-1979, Stiff Little Fingers signed their Rigid Digits label to Chrysalis Records, and in 1980 released their second album, Nobody's Heroes. This 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 weren't playing live. it was to be one of the most infamous TOTP's appearances. They subsequently appeared on Top of the Pops for "Nobody's Hero", "Just Fade Away" and "Listen".
In 1981 the band released their third studio album Go For It which was to be Jim Reilly's last involvement with the band. Go For It signified the change in Burns' writing style, with much darker and taboo subjects, such as domestic abuse in the song "Hits and Misses" and football hooliganism in the song "Back to Front" (not on the original LP but a bonus track on CD reissue) but the band also still told the story of being a teenager growing up with the song "Kicking Up a Racket".
In 1982 came a 4-song EP called £1.10 or Less and then their fourth studio album, Now Then... (actually their fifth album, as they had released a live LP, Hanx, as their official third album between Nobody's Heroes and Go for It). Now Then was the first album for former Tom Robinson band's drummer Dolphin Taylor. In the face of low sales and concert attendances, they broke up in 1983, 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.
In 1987 the band reformed. Despite some critics who had said "Nobody would be interested in coming to see you" the band had a successful tour including Germany with shows selling out night after night. The band changed their plan of it just being a temporary re-union and decided it was to be permanent. Ali McMordie decided he could not commit the time to tour full-time or record and so left, being replaced by Bruce Foxton in time to record 1991's Flags and Emblems. In Britain, the single from this album, "Beirut Moon", was withdrawn from sale on the first day of release, allegedly because it criticised the government for not acting to free hostage John McCarthy, who had been held in the Lebanon.
In 1993 Henry Cluney was asked to leave the band, and the trio of Jake Burns, Bruce Foxton and Dolphin Taylor continued for the next four years, joined on live shows by either Dave Sharp or Ian McCallum. In 1994 they released Get a Life in the UK, releasing it in the US in 1996. By the end of 1996 Taylor left due to family commitments. Burns called in Steve Grantley who had played drums for Jake Burns and the Big Wheel in the late 1980s. The trio of Burns, Foxton and Grantley recorded 1997's Tinderbox album, with help from Ian McCallum who joined as a full-time member for 1999's Hope Street. This same line-up recorded 2003's Guitar and Drum.
On 18 January 2006, the following announcement appeared on the SLF Website. "Bruce Foxton has announced that he is to leave Stiff Little Fingers with immediate effect. After 15 years of writing, recording and touring with SLF Bruce says it is time to move on and concentrate on other projects. "The situation is amicable" says Foxton. "I have enjoyed my time with Jake, Ian and Steve and will miss them. Naturally I wish them all continued success and hope to catch up with the boys during their spring tour." The band released a statement saying "Obviously, we as well wish Bruce every success in everything he goes on to do in the future. He has been a fantastic asset to the band and we'll miss him as well."
On 23 January 2006, it was announced that original bass guitarist Ali McMordie was to rejoin the band for the duration of their upcoming March tour. The tour was a success, with many fans writing into SLF's message board saying how much they enjoyed it, and how fired up the band seemed to be. On 9 March 2007, Burns announced that Stiff Little Fingers would be recording a new album Fifteen And Counting.
On 16 October 2013, the band launched a project on PledgeMusic to raise funds for a new album to be released in March 2014. The project reached its funding goal within 5 hours. The title has been confirmed by the band as No Going Back with recording completed in January 2014 and was released first on 15 March 2014 through PledgeMusic and to the general public on 11 August 2014. A tour in support of the album kicked off in the spring of 2014 and included dates in the U.S. on the Summer Nationals tour. The album was the band's first U.K. chart success since 1983's "All The Best" and their first ever number 1 record on the BBC Rock Album Chart.
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One more time Restless Records, in association with Ryko, trot out the first three Stiff Little Fingers albums for reissue (Inflammable Material, Nobody's Heroes and the live Hanx), this time in the United States. They are identical to the 2001 versions with bonus tracks, so punters beware of making the same purchase twice. Originally released in 1979, Stiff Little Fingers were Ireland's answer to both the Clash and the Sex Pistols. They had the personal and political stance of the former, and the noisy, pissed off, slash-and-burn musical aesthetic as the latter. Fronted by guitarist and songwriter Jake Burns (he collaborated with journalist Gordon Ogilvie), SLF took off with their two singles "Alternative Ulster," and, for that time, the utterly out of control screaming that was "Suspect Device." These two singles make the purchase price of the album a priority. They represent barely contained youthful anger at social and political mores as righteous, utterly devoid of posturing or falsity and raging to break out. "Alternative Ulster" decries the Irish political sides in the Northern Ireland controversy -- the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Irish Republican Army -- holding them both accountable for bloodshed and social and economic stasis furthering nothing but their own interests. "Suspect Device" which opens the set, screams at the heart of the conflict, that neither side can be believed as both reduce freedom to a buzzword while wielding guns. Both tracks are calls to arms, but of a different sort -- the arms of dialogue and intelligence in the midst of idiocy and murder. Punk rock never sounded so brutal or positive in one band. There are other fine cuts here as well, such as the Bob Marley cover "Johnny Was," reinvented for the times in Northern Ireland; "Wasted Life," another paean to drop out of a society that breeds death and acquiescence for its own sake, and the scathing indictment of the record company that released the album, "Rough Trade." The bonus material includes the single mix of "Suspect Device," the B-side "78 RPM," and part one -- the other two parts are on the subsequent reissues -- of an interview with Burns. If you already have these, don't bother. If you've been trying to dig through the morass into the heart of punk's original fire, this one's for you.
Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material (flac 391mb)
01 Suspect Device 2:35
02 State Of Emergency 2:28
03 Here We Are Nowhere 0:58
04 Wasted Life 3:09
05 No More Of That 2:03
06 Barbed Wire Love 3:32
07 White Noise 1:57
08 Breakout 3:02
09 Law And Order 3:13
10 Rough Trade 2:39
11 Johnny Was 8:10
12 Alternative Ulster 2:44
13 Closed Groove 4:21
14 Suspect Device (Single Version) 2:43
15 78 RPM 2:38
16 Jake Burns Interview By Alan Parker (13/6/01) Part One 17:41
Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material (ogg 151mb)
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It's easy to see why Stiff Little Fingers' Rough Trade debut remains so highly rated, but for the discerning fan of second generation punk, Nobody's Heroes is every bit as special. For a start, new drummer Jim Reilly was an improvement on Brian Faloon (who gets a heartwarming tribute on "Wait and See"). Secondly, Jake Burns' songwriting collaborations with journalist Gordon Ogilvie are really beginning to pay off. The cornerstones of the LP are "Gotta Gettaway," "At the Edge," and "Tin Soldiers" -- three songs which, in different ways, brilliantly articulate the frustrated ambitions of young men in search of expression and identity, trapped in nowhere jobs or situations. Though "Suspect Device" and "Alternative Ulster" had long since ensured they would always be tagged with the label of "political punk," in truth SLF were always more interested in their immediate environment, and finding a way out of it. A couple of plausible stabs at reggae are more than an interesting aside.
Stiff Little Fingers - Nobody's Heroes (flac 383mb)
01 Gotta Gettaway 3:35
02 Wait And See 4:26
03 Fly The Flag 3:45
04 At The Edge 2:57
05 Nobody's Hero 4:09
06 Bloody Dub 3:48
07 Doesn't Make It All Right 5:48
08 I Don't Like You 2:41
09 No Change 1:57
10 Tin Soldiers 4:47
11 Bloody Sunday 3:24
12 Straw Dogs 3:30
13 You Can't Say Crap On The Radio 2:50
14 Jake Burns Interview By Alan Parker (13/6/01) Part Two 15:08
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Following confidently on from the relatively straightforward punk purity of their first two albums, Stiff Little Fingers entered the 1980s with Go for It, an album whose sense of adventure was as radical as its sense of purpose, a raw affirmation of the rock and reggae hybrid that had been pioneered elsewhere (the Clash and the Ruts come most immediately to mind), but was now to be twisted through Jake Burns' own private vision of punk at its most personally committed. The opening "Roots Radicals Rockers and Reggae," of course, sets those intentions out plain as day, while "Safe as Houses" and, among the three bonus tracks, a sterling cover of the Wailing Souls' "Mr. Fire Coal Man" confirm the Belfast band's status among the era's most convincing exponents of the mélange. Two excellent hit singles, "Just Fade Away" and "Silver Lining," bolstered what was already shaping up to be Stiff Little Fingers' finest album; the addition of "Back to Front," a Top 50 smash the previous year, and a rousing live version of "Doesn't Make It Alright" (the B-side of "Just Fade Away") complete a sensational reissue.
Stiff Little Fingers - Go For It (flac 237mb)
01 Roots, Radicals, Rockers And Reggae 3:58
02 Just Fade Away 3:04
03 Go For It 3:14
04 The Only One 4:17
05 Hits And Misses 3:49
06 Kicking Up A Racket 2:42
07 Safe As Houses 5:28
08 Gate 49 4:22
09 Silver Lining 3:01
10 Piccadilly Circus 4:42
Stiff Little Fingers - Go For It (ogg 82mb)
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On 1982's Now Then, which again featured a new drummer (skilled journeyman Dolphin Taylor), SLF attempted to become a full-fledged mainstream rock band. As a consequence, their hardcore fans deserted them in droves. To be fair, leader Jake Burns had always professed a high regard for Bruce Springsteen and Little Feat as much as his punk elders, and his lyrics here changed in tone rather than theme. But that wasn't enough to establish a new audience, nor retain their existing one. It's a real shame, because so much of Now Then is superb, honest, combative, and heartfelt. "Won't Be Told," "The Price of Admission," and the singles "Talkback" and "Bits of Kids" are far more three-dimensional than "Suspect Device" could ever be. Incidentally, Jake Burns inspired Paul Young to cover "Love of the Common People," a version of which is included here, rather than vice versa. Five years later, when SLF re-formed for the first time, no songs from Now Then would appear on their set lists. To paraphrase the Gang of Four, history had done a bunk on SLF's finest hour.
Stiff Little Fingers - Now Then (flac 387mb)
01 Falling Down 3:14
02 Won't Be Told 3:22
03 Love Of The Common People 2:35
04 The Price Of Admission 3:18
05 Touch And Go 3:20
06 Stands To Reason 3:01
07 Bits Of Kids 3:35
08 Welcome To The Whole Week 3:45
09 Big City Night 3:49
10 Talkback 2:50
11 Is That What You Fought The War For ? 3:50
12 Listen 4:13
13 Sad-Eyed People 3:55
14 That's When Your Blood Bumps 3:43
15 Two Guitars Clash 4:30
16 Good for Nothing 2:43
Stiff Little Fingers - Now Then (ogg 130mb )
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