Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stiff Little Fingers

I am dedicating this post to my brother Vincenzo, who is a huge SLF fan, and to Johnny Pez and Zombie Rotten McDonald, who mentioned SLF in the comments two posts ago.

Belfast's Stiff Little Fingers took the name by a song by London punk band The Vibrators,though the political subject matter that characterizes many of their songs brings The Clash to mind more readily. The band was inspired to write about the sociopolitcal situation of the time by Daily Express writer Gordon Ogilvie, who became the band's first manager. The first SLF single was Suspect Device, a vitriolic jeremiad about the "powers that be" that kept the population of Ulster divided and hostile. It is important to note that SLF was an integrated band, composed of both Catholic and Protestant members*, and their ire was directed at the authoritarian figures on both sides of the divide that kept the conflict going. The call to action posed by the band was not a call to violence, but, as articulated in the single Alternative Ulster, a call to transform society, to "ignore the bores and their laws" (this jerk, the kind of guy who'd get along swimmingly with Pat Robertson or James Dobson-but not Pat Buchanan or Bill Donohue- comes to mind).

I'm posting the video for Barbed Wire Love, a blackly comedic string of macabre puns and 50's pop cliches describing the giddy highs and rubble-strewn lows of love in the ruins:

My brother Vincenzo, who's a commissioned officer in the US Army, is partial to the song Tin Soldiers from the band's second album - hell, he knows and commands the kind of kids the song describes.

Here's the website for the band, which is still a going concern

* I just want to note here that the characterization of the conflicts that have torn Ireland apart as "sectarian violence" is a gross oversimplification, and that factors too numerous to enumerate here have been at work throughout the whole tragic history.


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I think it should be noted that I am also a huge SLF fan. Their version of "White Christmas" is a staple in the Zombiehood.

I always thought of them more in the line of the Jam than the Clash, although they were more overtly political than the Jam. But their later work was more in the line of "Beat Surrender" to my ear, than of the "Combat Rock".

But you know, doesn't matter. Good good stuff by any metric. And now I gotta see how much eMusic I have left on my account....

Another Kiwi said...

Yay for SLF from me also

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

I always thought of them more in the line of the Jam than the Clash, although they were more overtly political than the Jam.

The influence of Jamaican music was always more apparent in songs of the Clash, it's something I just don't hear in SLF's music- even their cover of Bob Marley's Johnny Was sounds martial, the drumming is pure parade-march.

Yay for SLF from me also

Punk night at the Old Entomologist has been cancelled due to ZORBS in the mosh pit!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I still went and downloaded some of the more recent releases, and y'all couldn't stop me.

Johnny Pez said...

The thing to keep in mind about Pat Buchanan is that he gets his religion from his mother -- his father's family were probably anti-Papist Know-Nothings back in the day, and thus ideological soulmates (and maybe even distant relatives) of the Rev. Paisley.