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Stiff Little Fingers

During the first wave of U.K. punk rock, plenty of bands sang about a world full of violence and chaos, but Stiff Little Fingers didn't have to imagine a dystopian world -- living in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the height of "The Troubles," police brutality and terrorist violence were simply a part of daily life, and the band's music was a powerful response to what they saw, raw-boned rock & roll that balanced rage at a world gone mad against hope for a better day. Stiff Little Fingers were formed in 1977 by singer and guitarist Jake Burns, guitarist Henry Cluney, bassist Ali McMordie, and drummer Brian Faloon. Burns, Cluney, and Faloon had previously been in a cover band called Highway Star, but when Cluney became a convert to punk rock, Burns and Faloon followed suit, and after recruiting McMordie, they took the name Stiff Little Fingers from a song by the Vibrators.

Shortly after the band started playing out, Burns struck up a correspondence with reporter Gordon Ogilvie, who urged Burns to use his own experiences of Belfast life in his songs; Ogilvie began collaborating with Burns as a songwriter, and Ogilvie and music writer Colin McClelland agreed to manage the band. McClelland booked time for the band at a studio in a local radio station usually used to record commercial jingles; the band cut raw versions of "Suspect Device" and "Wasted Life," two anthemic tunes that became SLF's first single, released on their own Rigid Digits label in early 1978. The influential BBC disc jockey John Peel started spinning "Suspect Device" on his show, and soon the indie label Rough Trade struck a distribution deal with Rigid Digits; in 1979, Rough Trade released Stiff Little Fingers' brilliant first album, Inflammable Material, and it became one of the first independent punk albums to chart in the U.K., rising to 14 on the British sales surveys.

With their new success in England, Stiff Little Fingers relocated to London, which led to drummer Brian Faloon leaving the group (as did co-manager McClelland). Jim Reilly signed on as drummer in time for the sessions for SLF's second album, 1980's Nobody's Heroes, their first LP in a new distribution deal with Chrysalis Records. The album fared well, as did the 1980 live set Hanx! and 1981's polished but effective Go for It. However, Reilly quit the band after the release of Go for It, and Dolphin Taylor, formerly of the Tom Robinson Band, took over behind the drums. Released in 1982, Now Then... was a more pop-oriented effort that didn't please fans and made no great impression on the charts; as ticket sales began to lag, acrimony rose within the group, and in early 1983, Jake Burns announced Stiff Little Fingers had broken up.

Little was heard from the members of Stiff Little Fingers (though Burns released a few singles with his group Jake Burns & the Big Wheel) until 1987, when Burns and Ali McMordie got together for a few pints and decided it was time to give SLF another try. With Henry Cluney and Dolphin Taylor returning to the lineup, Stiff Little Fingers launched a successful tour of the U.K. and Europe, and the group opted to make the reunion an ongoing concern. In 1991, the band began work on a new album, but McMordie bowed out of SLF, saying he was unable to commit to their increasingly busy schedule, and the group recruited a new member, former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton. Issued in 1991, Flags & Emblems became the first new Stiff Little Fingers album since their reunion, but by the time they released Get a Life in 1994, Henry Cluney was out of the group, with Burns handling all guitar work in the studio and Dave Sharp (formerly of the Alarm) or Ian McCallum joining SLF for live dates, depending on availability. In 1998, McCallum was officially named Stiff Little Fingers' full-time guitarist, while drummer Steve Grantley had taken over for Dolphin Taylor, who left to spend more time with his family.

Stiff Little Fingers toured frequently and continued to record, releasing Tinderbox in 1997, Hope Street in 1999, and Guitar and Drum in 2003, and after Foxton left to join the group From the Jam in 2006, Ali McMordie returned to the lineup. However, by his own admission, Burns was unhappy with his own songwriting, feeling he was writing because he had to and not because he wanted to, and in 2008, after turning 50 years old, he decided to scrap an SLF album in progress as he felt his material was subpar. However, several years later, when news broke of the pedophilia scandal in Ireland's Catholic Church and how it affected men of his generation, Burns was inspired to once again write songs that dealt with injustice and how it ravaged the lives of ordinary people. In 2013, Stiff Little Fingers eagerly began work on a new album, financed by their fans through a crowdfunding campaign, and in 2014, No Going Back was released. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Yes! The SLF bio was rewritten! Thank you Mark Deming, Rovi, for doing a great job with the new bio. (I don't know what the heck the other guy's problem was, but now all our complaints in the comment thread probably won't make any sense, lol.)
A pretentious git wrote this bio. This is worse than the one I saw on iTunes for Better Than Ezra - and that was a terribly ignorant bio. I probably could've done some brief research on SLF and written a better, less condescendin g bio, and I'm not even a musician!
Who writes these bios?!? This is the worst I've seen and I've seen some terrible ones!
A truly sad review. SLF continues to perform and tour the world--and are now recording a new album. Foxton left awhile back and original bassist Ali McMordie has been back for several years. Saw them in Belfast for my 50th 3 years ago and got to meet the boys. They continue to blow me away. Inflammable Material remains one of the most important punk albums of all time. I hope Pandora seriously rethinks updating this review.
Who are the clash ??SLF rock !
Whoever wrote this biography can f**k off!
This bio is pretentious, biased, and just overall terrible.
SLF did not put out a bunch of lousy records Don't read the above review about SLF and think they are lousy. SLF made a big imprint on the music scene at the time they were in their prime and you can see the impression they have had on other bands to follow. Screw you John Dougan
Haha , it says sadly they got back together , holy crap
I like slf plenty. But the bio is right on.
you realize there are like 5 albums missing from this discography, you nkow like tinderbox, hopestreet, guitar and drum, get a life, and tin soilders, plus i think 2 more on top of that. one of the best lead singers in a punk rock band
this is my moms email i may be going to jail for a long time court on friday pray for me fellow old punks....... O i !
nothing like s.l.f. f**k comparisons to other bands hearing them in my youth changed my life
This band rules, the first record wasn't badly produced, I own the vinyl and it rules. This bio blows, haha.
Who is Doh Jougan? Toolbox.
so good
Can anyone rewrite this bio?
Yea...F**k The
How did this vague, totally biased and absolutely USELESS biography make it here? Oh right because Pandora doesn't actually care about the music. Suck a spotted-dick . If you want to be a Clash groupie, write the Clash bio. Sorry your boss didn't give you the assignment that you wanted so you're going to take it out on a band you probably have never listed to John Dougan, Rovi. A biography is more than a list of dates. Find a new job rookie.
SLF - Still my favorite band of all time!
Bio = Bull$h!t. Clash=sellou t commercial sound. Rock the Casbah? Just terrible.
hannahhaugen 9
I agree F**ck this bio, the clash we're way more commercial f**cks! SLF are hands down one of the greatest bands ever!
Yeah f**k this bio. SLF is better than than the Clash.
Yes, The Stiff Little Fingers were *simply* a very good punk band when they essentially set the president for so many hardcore bands that were to follow in the 80's. SLF could be very dynamic and complex, ESPECIALLY in the newer albums. Though maybe never to the extent of The Clash, it shouldn't count against SLF. Anyway, f**k this bio.
i know right, bio is s**t, and harsh.
Sadly, the band's breakup lasted only five years. This Bio needs to be rewritten. It is too subjective and judgmental. I've seen much better Bios.
i dont like you
Nobody's Hero is Regrettable? Really. Assmaster
Saw them two months ago, still killin it. Top band of its kind, sound and genre. Hands down!
Whoever wrote this band bio is an idiot. You can't let personal opinions cloud something that other people might use as a tool for getting more information about an artist or band. SLF has a ton of great albums, none of which are lousy.
Out Stiff Little Standing!
SLF boldly forged on despite what the non-creative press thought about them. Burns had much to say, and even if he didn't, people still listen to this day. Live they are one of the best band of punk codgers still hitting the road to date. They proved melody can be place in the most abrasive sounding chords and be extremely heart felt without being weak and boring. SLF!
Listen to KSHON The Roots of Rock n Roll
Inflammable Material is one of my top 10 records of all time. It's A+ record! The music is all Punk Rock (emphasize the "Rock") hooks and chops! Jake's vocals are so fukn cool, he could be singing the McDonalds drive thru menu and you wouldn't give a s**t. Here's the catch; Jake really had something to say. If you had never heard the record and only had the lyric sheet, you would of fallen in love with this band anyway!
One of the best live shows I've ever seen!
Best Band EVER!....Lis t e n i n g since 1984.
"HANX" is one of the best live records ever. Great Great band.
Hear a lot of thae sound that would become
Husker Du's - especially the drums and bass and song structure.
zachlaperrie r e
Good stuff!
Ram the head into speakers!!!
Specials, Clash and Stiff little Fingers. My three favorite bands still after all these years.SLF even does a killer cover of Specials Doesn't Make it All Right.
yeah they dont sound like the misfts....

Garciareuben 1 4 - Chux made that comment with his tongue fimly planted in his cheek Or do I need to explain this comment as well?
why does pandora think every 77 punk band sounds like the misfits, SLF sounds nothing like the misfits!
garciareuben 1 4
Chux i disagree with you. I think punk is saying fuk it and taking matters into your own hands. not just sitting on your fuking computer writing about what your going to do about the government and how big of b**ches they are. start doing something you hot topic loving fuker.
I saw them live a few years ago. it was my first punk show. somebody threw a bottle at the singer and he called him a wanker...bes t show ever.
amazing music...defi n i t i o n of punk. =)
In the early 80' this band made me love the punk movement and I never looked back! One of my first records was Nobody's Heroes...gre a t bands to down-load Effigies, Naket Raygun, Local H!
The 70's punk bands were punk! not the wanna punkers of today who only play the part on stage and then they go home and wear nice cloths, drive a S.U.V., watch soap opera's on their big azz plasma tv,and have loads of cash... .
The 70's were raw, straight sewage crap,... . f'n mohawk , razor blade scars, drinkin vomit... .
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