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Guitar and Drum

Stiff Little Fingers

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Album Review

Since they reunited in 1990, Stiff Little Fingers have been releasing a new album every few years, and the discs seem to get lost in the constant glut of live reissues that pop up every six to 12 months. It's a shame, really, because the band is still very good and at times great. Signing to EMI in the U.K. was good for them, as it raised their profile a few notches. This, their second album on EMI, is actually better than their 1999 release, Hope Street, and should hopefully help the band reconnect with old fans while opening the doors for a whole new generation. Still as energetic as they've always been, Stiff Little Fingers remain true to their original sound, although the punk edge has been softened a bit (by age, perhaps?). Original SLF vocalist/guitarist Jake Burns still leads the pack, followed by former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton (a full-time SLF member for 15 years), guitarist/vocalist Ian McCallum, and drummer Steve Grantley. Burns handles most of the vocals and songwriting, but each of the members either has co-writing credit or sole writing credit on nearly half the album, adding a new dimension and depth to the band's sound. Burns shines with the harmony-laden "Dead Man Walking," the rocking yet still touching Joe Strummer tribute "Strummerville," the energetic "Best of Fools," and the anthemic title track. McCallum's two tracks, the soulful "Can't Get Away With That" and the reggae groove of "Be True to Yourself," are welcome additions to the SLF catalog. The distinctive guitar sound of the band fuels every song, with even more interplay than usual — just listen to the first few bars of "Who Died and Made You Elvis" for proof. By the time the acoustic "Protect and Serve" finishes up the album, you'll be ready to hear it all again. They've released some fine albums over the last decade, but this is, hands down, the best SLF in 20 years. ~ Steve "Spaz" Schnee, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1977 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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Guitar and Drum, Stiff Little Fingers
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