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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
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: Long Way To Paradise

1. Straw Dogs

2. At The Edge

3. Hope St.

4. Drinkin' Again

5. Gotta Getaway

6. Tin Soldiers

7. Listen

8. Barbed Wire Love

9. Piccadilly Circus

10. Suspect Device


Track List: Guitar And Drum

1. Guitar And Drum

2. Strummerville

3. Can't Get Away With That

4. Still Burning

5. Walkin Dynamite

6. Dead Man Walking

7. Empty Sky

8. Be True To Yourself

9. Best Of Fools

10. I Waited

11. Achilles Heart

12. Who Died And Made You Elvis

13. High & Low

14. Protect & Serve


Track List: Wasted Life [Live]

Disc 1

1. Straw Dogs [Live]

2. Wasted Life [Live]

3. At The Edge [Live]

4. Hope St. [Live]

5. You Can Get It (If You Really Want It) [Live]

6. Drinkin' Again [Live]

7. Harp [Live]

8. Gotta Get Away [Live]

9. Last Trian From The Wastelands [Live]

10. Forensic Evidence [Live]

11. Race To The Grave [Live]

12. She Grew Up [Live]

13. Tin Soldiers [Live]

14. All The Rest [Live]

Disc 2

1. Listen [Live]

2. Doesn't Make It All Right [Live]

3. Barbed Wire Love [Live]

4. Piccadilly Circus [Live]

5. Roots, Radics, Rockers And Reggae [Live]

6. Suspect Device [Live]

7. Alternative Ulster [Live]

8. Can't Belive In You [UK Radio Edit]

9. Silver Lining [Unplugged

10. Listen

11. Wasted Life

12. Shake It Off

13. Not What We Were

14. Alternative Ulster [Live '93]


Track List: Now Then...

1. Falling Down

2. Won't Be Told

3. Love Of The Common People

4. The Price Of Admission

5. Touch & Go

6. Stands To Reason

7. Bits Of Kids

8. Welcome To The Whole Week

9. Big City Night

10. Talkback

11. Is That What You Fought The War For?

12. Good For Nothing

13. Listen

14. Sad Eyed People

15. That's When Your Blood Bumps

16. Two Guitars Clash


Track List: Go For It

1. Roots Radicals Rockers & Reggae

2. Just Fade Away

3. Go For It

4. The Only One

5. Hits And Misses

6. Kicking Up A Racket

7. Safe As Houses

8. Gate 49

9. Silver Lining

10. Picadilly Circus

11. Back To Front

12. Mr. Fire Coal Man

13. Doesn't Make It Alright (Live)


Track List: Nobody's Heroes (Explicit)

1. Gotta Gettaway

2. Wait And See

3. Fly The Flag

4. At The Edge

5. Nobody's Hero

6. Bloody Dub

7. Doesn't Make It Alright

8. I Don't Like You

9. No Change

10. Tin Soldiers


Track List: Inflammable Material

1. Suspect Device

2. State Of Emergency

3. Here We Are Nowhere

4. Wasted Life

5. No More Of That

6. Barbed Wire Love

7. White Noise

8. Breakout

9. Law And Order

10. Rough Trade

11. Johnny Was

12. Alternative Ulster

13. Closed Groove


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What drugs is that did dude on he's going in reverse on the timeline lol
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codylalonde0 1
True, i mean like how can a 90's band inspire a 70's band? I don't hate green day but DoD has to be f**king retarded
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Don of the Dead absolutely has to be trolling. A quick glance at Wikipedia would prove every point wrong.
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codylalonde0 1
DoD is probably a troll
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DoD dude: Jason White was 6 years old when Inflammable Material first came out. which I first listened to 1984. Oh, and I had my first Ramones album in 1979 when the rest of Green Day were 7 years old....Nothi n ' against GD or Blink 182, but either you're trolling or really have no idea what you're talking about.
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GREEN DAY WAS BEFORE NEW YORK DOLLS....... . T h a t is why they have an album called t your facts straight...
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codylalonde0 1
And LOL New York Dolls were WAYYYYY before GD... do your f**king research
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codylalonde0 1
And I know their names because I've seen tons of concerts by them on YT
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codylalonde0 1
You forgot Jason white. And no, the ramones and the sex pistols invented punk like 20 years before GD. I'm not saying GD is bad, I actually like everything before Warning... But please get your facts straight.
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any of GD? Hey Cody, their names are Billie Joe, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool. They pratically invented the genre. Bands like SLF, New York Dolls, Heartbreaker s , would not exist without classics like american idiot
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codylalonde0 1
And SLF were probably playing before Billie Joe or any of GD were born.
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codylalonde0 1
-_- Green Day aren't punk at all, they are just an alternative rock group for emos trying to commercializ e punk for profit. Their ramones covers were awful.
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Nuh uh Green Day and Sum 41 were first. They created Irish Working class punk rock, just ask Billie Joe Armstrong. He was like so mad when SLF started ripping them off.
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Not sure how a punk band from the 70s can ripoff a band from the 90s, but. . . .. There's punk rock, there's angry punk rock, and then there is angry punk rock from Belfast.
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Stiff Little Fingers are such a ripoff of Green Day and Blink 182!!
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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.)
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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!
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Who writes these bios?!? This is the worst I've seen and I've seen some terrible ones!
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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.
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Who are the clash ??SLF rock !
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Whoever wrote this biography can f**k off!
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This bio is pretentious, biased, and just overall terrible.
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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
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Haha , it says sadly they got back together , holy crap
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I like slf plenty. But the bio is right on.
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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
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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 !
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nothing like s.l.f. f**k comparisons to other bands hearing them in my youth changed my life
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This band rules, the first record wasn't badly produced, I own the vinyl and it rules. This bio blows, haha.
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Who is Doh Jougan? Toolbox.
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so good
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Can anyone rewrite this bio?
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Yea...F**k The
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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.
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SLF - Still my favorite band of all time!
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Bio = Bull$h!t. Clash=sellou t commercial sound. Rock the Casbah? Just terrible.
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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!
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Yeah f**k this bio. SLF is better than than the Clash.
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i know right, bio is s**t, and harsh.
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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.
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i dont like you
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Nobody's Hero is Regrettable? Really. Assmaster
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Saw them two months ago, still killin it. Top band of its kind, sound and genre. Hands down!
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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.
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Out Stiff Little Standing!
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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!
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Listen to KSHON The Roots of Rock n Roll
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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!
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