Stiff Little Fingers – “No Going Back” (Rigid Digits)
SLF were the Belfast equivalent of The Clash formed in the fires of Ulster – raw, abrasive and with literally nothing to lose being caught between the crossfire of the British Army and the IRA, SLF reflected the bitterness, hopelessness and anger of their youth in militant songs like ‘Wasted Life’, ‘Nobody’s Hero’ and ‘Alternative Ulster’. It was incendiary and inciting revolution, but when your city’s burning anyway what did you haveta lose? Still with original founding members Jake Burns (vox / guitar) and bassist Ali McMordie, SLF have soldiered on in various forms – including having The Jam’s Bruce Foxton for 15 years – and in fine style of their DIY approach reflected no better than this album’s Pledge Campaign that took just 12 hours to reach its limit – proof that even after 35 years the band’s fan base remains as cult as it always was! I guess that must be down to the street rock written from the heart that the band continue penning out to these days – it may not be as angry as ‘Suspect Device’ but the social consciousness is still there in both the material and as well as the band themselves. Burns actually sings nowadays although he clearly can’t resist the temptation to agg his vocal or do little to sooth any creeping rawness – which is great for old ‘uns like me who can now understand what he’s actually saying instead of trying to shout him down like back in the late 70s ha ha! Still, SLF can give you a hefty kick like on ‘Trail Of Tears’ with its raw high energy rock guitars and graced by some original punk pop melodies in the breaks and solos – brilliant, as these guys were doing it when some bands today weren’t even born. These days the vibe and the message is positive giving hope and inspiration whether its on the acoustic punk pop a la Dropkick Murphy’s ‘Guilty As Sin’ or going right back to their own inspirational roots that came from reggae – yeah reggae (well there was fuck all else in Belfast – Ed) – with elements of it in ‘Don’t Mind Me’. Closing with the out n out punk anthem of ‘When We Were Young’ tears welled up in my eyes as the crowd shout out chorus got my arms air punching once again – fuck man, Stiff Little Fingers are still out there and can teach kids a thing or two.