"Inflammable material planted in my head/If "Suspect Device" were the only song that Stiff Little Fingers ever wrote, they would still be greats, coming in the second wave of punk in 1979. However, as
It's a suspect device that's left 2,000 dead"
Inflammable Material demonstrates, Stiff Little Fingers were fiery, raw, and honest. Although they have been compared to an Irish Clash, I don't think the analogy fits: the Clash seemed more intellectual, whereas SLF were simply stating the facts, giving reports from the front line. Check the following lyrics for a key difference:
Clash: "All of the power is in the hands/of the people rich enough to buy it/While we walk the streets/too chicken to even try it."
SLF: "They take away our freedom/in the name of liberty/why can't they all just clear off/why can't they let us be?"
Even in 2006, this is still heady stuff....and it's only the lead off track.
There's no sweetener in this batch of songs - this is a flat-out aggressive album. There's no self-mythologizing ("You look for a hero/well don't look at me" lead singer Jake Burns sneers), merely tunes about conscription ("Wasted Life"), war ("No More of That"), racism ("White Noise"), record company dealings ("Rough Trade"), and a killer cover of Bob Marley's "Johnny Was".
Even the "pop" song, "Barbed Wire Love" - despite a slightly tongue-in-cheek tone - doesn't fall into the usual romantic cliche's. Read the lyrics and you'll see what I mean. Somehow, I don't see Green Day covering any of these songs any time soon.
So, want a St. Patrick's Day to remember? Get this album. Get two copies, and send one to our President. I think he could use a wake-up call.
[P.S. If anyone knows of a good indie-oriented online musicstore with an associates program, please let me know via e-mail.]