A historical testament that focuses retrospective analysis on
SLF's worth and importance, this complete collection of singles (all
the B-Sides too) dismisses the cosmetic glory of an edited highlights
'Greatest Hits' compilation, causing 'All The Best' to feature quite
a lot of the worst as well!
Needless to say it kicks off with some of the most passionately
inspired protest music ever committed to vinyl - the horrendously
furious rage of "Suspect Device"; "Wasted Life", "Alternative Ulster"
and "Gotta Getaway" burst out with a snarling aggression that was
both shaped by, and helped shape, the punk ethics and style of '77
These tracks are seminal stuff; irresistible slices of screaming
bloody outrage, teeming with urban and teenage frustration
threatening to boil over. There was no way such uncontrollable energy
and revolt could last without mutating.
The emphasis on lyrics about Belfast shifted to a more universal
dissatisfaction with feeling hemmed in and being misunderstood, as
the double a-side of "Nobody's Hero" and 'Tin Soldier' forcefully
The band made a stab at chart success with rough-edged dynamism,
and the failure is as much a mystery to me now as when I watched Jake
Burns night after night crashing through vital anthems, like, "Johnny
Was" "Tin Soldiers" and "Wasted Life". In some ways, they were the
happiest times I spent with a sense of commitment and determination
matched only by the great fun I had.
Mostly this album is a remarkable reminder for me of those days;
the sort of record which rams home just how many great tracks a band
like Stiff Little Fingers amass over a period of four or five years.
The problems soon creeps up on you though. Firstly this is by no
means an essential anthology, omitting such classic cuts as "Johnny
Was", "Fly The Flag" and "Hits and Misses", while a series ot highly
forgettable 'joke' b-sides (a live version of 'White Christmas'
ferchrissakes) take up the space. And anyway - who the hell needs a
complete collection of singles who won't already have bought them?
Most of the music here has a paradoxically timeless quality while
burning, burning on a very short fuse.
The political motivation, the degree of honesty and the gruff
attack of Fingers' style established them as youth spokesmen only a
rung below the mighty Clash while making the Upstarts and Sham 69
seem like a Women's Institute whistdrive!
Unfortunately; their drive and ideals weren't always matched by an
attention to musical integrity, I mean, "White Christmas" indeed!
This double album finally falls short as an over-ambtious grasp at
setting the SLF work into context. But that will never render much of
the music any less than magnificent!
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Punk & Ska
Really you should be listening to them
whilst reading this work of art - go here for some great
Book for bedtime Sir? Try this lot out -
they're really very good.