Straight outta war-torn Belfast, Stiff Little Fingers, fronted by larynx-shredding vocalist-guitarist Jake Burns, dived headlong into the punk fray in 1978 with a Clash-worthy, neutron bomb of a single, “Suspect Device.” Signing to Rough Trade, the group quickly assembled its debut LP, and Inflammable Material sounds as fresh now as it did in 1979. No small wonder: It contains the signature SLF politi-anthem, the incendiary “Alternative Ulster,” a tune no self-respecting punk compilation should omit. 1980’s Nobody’s Heroes was next, a somewhat more diverse and melodic affair as typified by the sturdy title track and the psychedelic dub vibe of “Bloody Dub.” A live album to capture Burns & Co.’s concert prowess was now in order; Hanx! (1980) reprised key numbers such as “Ulster,” “Nobody’s Hero” (here, faster and harder) and “At the Edge,” whose velocity almost made it a punk version of Love Sculpture’s “Sabre Dance.” Go For It (1981) was the group’s most accomplished effort, its widescreen production (check the effects in “Kicking Up A Racket”) and deployment of horns (punk-soul number “Silver Lining”) suggesting a band in the process of evolving. By 1982, however, that evolution seemed to stall, and following a final album (Now Then) Burns disbanded the group, eventually re-forming it in 1987. Consumer Note: These four discs are almost identical to the remastered reissues that came out in Britain on EMI a few years ago; each comes with two or three bonus tracks plus worthy Jake Burns interview material.
Send comments to [email protected].
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.