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Stiff Little Fingers Biography

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A taut, explosive Belfast-based punk} band, Stiff Little Fingers} (named after a Vibrators} song) had the dubious distinction of being referred to as "The Irish Clash}." What must have seemed like a compliment at the time did little to help their career, only because it made comparisons between the two bands inevitable. Granted, there were many similarities: both bands debuted playing revved-up late-'70s punk rock}, were politically inclined, featured pissed-off lead singers, had a love for reggae}, and possessed a near-palpable sense of isolation and desperation. But as we all know, the Clash} offered complexity, panache, and a consistently breathtaking body of work. Stiff Little Fingers}, on the other hand, were simply a very good punk rock} band. With sandpaper-throated frontman Jake Burns} leading the way, SLF} did release an auspicious, if badly produced, debut album, Inflammable Material}, that featured the band's two best songs, "Alternative Ulster"} and "Suspect Device."} Both were passionate, ferocious songs dealing with the harsh, deadly realities of growing up in the middle of two decades of Northern Ireland's violence. These songs thrust SLF} into the limelight and got them loads of enthusiastic press, which led to a contract with the decidedly anti-punk} Chrysalis} label in 1980. After that, SLF} released a handful of pretty good records (including a terrific live album, Hanx}), but their unregenerate fast and loud punk} style started to sound stale. In 1982, the band released their most non-punk} record (Now Then...}), which was greeted by general apathy. In a musical rut, dogged by the facile Clash} comparisons, and with punk rock} running out of steam, Burns} pulled the plug on SLF}.

Sadly, the band's breakup lasted only five years. After a string of forgettable solo singles and a stint as a BBC Radio} producer, Burns}, hoping to cash in on punk} nostalgia, re-formed SLF} (with another aging punk} rocker, ex-Jam} bassist Bruce Foxton}) in 1987, and released a bunch of lousy (mostly live) records for the rest of the millennium. ~ John Dougan, All Music Guide

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