“Inflammable Material” by Stiff Little Fingers - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1979Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s

TJR says

Belfast’s raging in the 1970s and Stiff Little Fingers are screaming all about it. More explosive than a Molotov cocktail and pricklier than a barbed wire zone, their 13 track debut proffered a bullshit-free diatribe that loudly condemned sectarianism and oppression, opting to broadcast on a humanitarian rather than an overtly political frequency. At the time of release in February ’79 the mighty Belfastian 4-piece were: Jake Burns (21, vocals, guitar); Henry Cluney (21, guitar, vocals); Ali McMordie (19, bass, vocals) and Brian Faloon (20, drums). “Impresario” Gordon Ogilvie is almost a fifth member, contributing to the song writing process as well as making sure they didn’t get ripped off; pretty much the opposite of Malcolm McLaren really. The classic “Suspect Device” opens up the record with the immortal words “Inflammable material is planted in my head, it's a suspect device that's left 2000 dead.” Fookin’ ell. Sensationalist perhaps, but there’s no point whispering is there? “Wasted Life” makes it clear they are PISSED OFF with this BOLLOCKS, ya hear? “I won't be a soldier, I won't take no orders from no-one, stuff their fucking armies, killing isn't my idea of fun”. Ooft. This verbal gelignite is fully charged.

Offering some light relief, relatively speaking, is the excellent “Barbed Wire Love”, a humorously titled punk n roll number which even breaks-on-down to a dooby-doo-wop ballad in the mid-section… “Blasted by your booby traps”… I’m even smiling as I write. Seemingly taking a leaf from the Clash school of Punk-Dub, a cover of Bob Marley’s “Johnny Was” proves to be hugely inspired: “Woman hold her head and cry, 'Cause her son had been shot down in the street and died from a stray bullet.” “As was my Paddy” / “As was Billy” weep the Mums of Belfast as Brian’s drums of war march on. The plea to the youth is once again to the fore on the phenomenal “Alternative Ulster”: “Take a look where you're livin', you got the army on the street, and the R-U-C dog of repression, is barking at your feet. Is this the kind of place you want to live? Is this where you want to be? Is this the only life we're gonna have? What we need is an Alternative Ulster, grab it and change it, it's yours.” SLF might have frightened conservatives, but they found support through Geoff Travis at Rough Trade who gave them carte-blanche freedom to express themselves. For his part, he proved to be a most able enabler; the first Rough Trade LP went into the UK Top 20. This DIY lark was a breeze, eh? It helps when you’ve got something to sing about mind you… don’t waste your lives kids, tell those paramilitaries where to shove it ; - )

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [02:29] 9.5.png Stiff Little Fingers - Suspect Device (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Punk
A2 [02:23] 6.6.png Stiff Little Fingers - State Of Emergency (Jake Burns) Punk
A3 [00:56] 6.9.png Stiff Little Fingers - Here We Are Nowhere (Henry Cluney) Punk
A4 [03:03] 10.0.png Stiff Little Fingers - Wasted Life (Jake Burns) Punk
A5 [02:03] 6.8.png Stiff Little Fingers - No More Of That (Henry Cluney) Punk
A6 [02:29] 8.7.png Stiff Little Fingers - Barbed Wire Love (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) New Wave
A7 [01:42] 7.5.png Stiff Little Fingers - White Noise (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Punk
A8 [03:02] 7.0.png Stiff Little Fingers - Breakout (Jake Burns) Punk
B1 [03:10] 7.4.png Stiff Little Fingers - Law And Order (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Punk
B2 [02:29] 7.6.png Stiff Little Fingers - Rough Trade (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Punk
B3 [08:06] 8.5.png Stiff Little Fingers - Johnny Was (Rita Marley) Alternative Rock
B4 [02:41] 10.0.png Stiff Little Fingers - Alternative Ulster (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Punk
B5 [04:04] 9.4.png Stiff Little Fingers - Closed Groove (Jake Burns, Gordon Ogilvie) Post-Punk

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