March 16, 2007

March's Record You Should Own

You know, I was trying to decide what Irish band to feature for St. Patrick's least, some Irish band that wasn't U2. (I always try, in this feature, to highlight music that people might not have caught the first time around). So many bands to choose from - the Undertones, Boomtown Rats, even Van Morrison...but then, I realized that in these times, there is a band that demands our attention.
"Inflammable material planted in my head/
It's a suspect device that's left 2,000 dead"
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
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.]

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