Thursday, October 06, 2016

Rocktober Deep Cut Artist #4: Stiff Little Fingers

For the criteria for bands and artists to be considered "deep cut artists," click here.

Band or artist:  Stiff Little Fingers
Where from:  Northern Ireland
Years active: 1977-1982, 1987-present
Number of studio albums:  10
Highest-charting single on the Billboard Hot 100:  N/A
Highest-charting studio album on the Billboard 200:  N/A

Stiff Little Fingers is, by far, my favorite Northern Irish punk band.  Some of that has to do with the fact that they are the only Northern Irish punk band with which I'm familiar, but they are also pretty damn good.  I first heard of them when Pandora was in its infancy, and I was absorbing new music like a promiscuous sponge.  Several SLF songs popped up, and I liked everything that I heard.

Inspired by the world around them in Belfast, their music was raw and unafraid to discuss the harsh realities of The Troubles.  Lead singer Jake Burns's raspy voice seemed to ooze pain and anger about the violence that was, sadly, a part of everyday life in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and early 1980s.  I had assumed the band had broken up long ago, until I saw their name come up in an upcoming concert email a few years ago.  Apparently, they broke up in 1982 and reformed in 1987.  Burns has remained a constant in the group, while there has been some shuffling of the other band members.  I was thankful that they were still playing music, as that allowed me to see them at Double Door several years back (do you see a pattern here?)

My favorite SLF song is "Alternative Ulster," off the band's 1979 debut album Inflammable Material.  It's fast, fierce, and catchy, imploring Northern Ireland's residents to change their conditions and their native land in a positive manner.  The song has been a staple on my running mix for ten years, as well as a staple on my St. Patrick's Day mix.  It's one of those songs that gives me goosebumps and pumps me up when I hear the first few chords. There's not an official video for the song, so I went with a video on YouTube someone made with various photos of the violence in Northern Ireland, with the song as a backdrop.

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