Stiff Little Fingers “Nobody’s Heroes”

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Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#430 in the Series) is Stiff Little Fingers, Nobody’s Heroes.

1977. Northern Ireland. Punk rock was exploding in Britain with the Sex Pistols, Clash, Buzzcocks, Jam, Stranglers, Eddie and the Hot Rods, and Damned dominating the airwaves, charts, and tabloid headlines. Where was Ireland’s entry into the punk sweepstakes? The Undertones, one of the greats of the decade, were more of a pop band than punks. Enter Stiff Little Fingers.

SLF’s debut (Inflammable Material) broke in 1979. It’s follow up, Nobody’s Heroes was released in 1980. As its title infers, anyone could be in a band and Stiff Little Fingers avoided most of the traditional trappings of stardom. Any group of kids could be on stage or in a recording studio kicking up its own racket.

Jake Burns, Henry Cluney, Ali McCordie, and Jim Reilly were frequently refered to as “the Irish Clash.” Politics (both personal and societal) were at the center of most Fingers tunes. At the time of their 1977 formation, unemployment in Northern Ireland was 11%. Love songs to your sweetie rang hollow to the quartet.

Nobody’s Heroes roars to a start with “Gotta Get Away.” This is a classic tale of teen independence versus mom and dad wanting to keep their son close to them at home. “You know there ain’t no street like home, to make you feel so all   alone” says it all. Burns and co. know that there’s a world out there that’s passing them by. “Nobody’s Heroes” spells out SLF’s DIY view. “I never wanted to be different, didn’t ask to be nobody’s star.” Punk rock is famous for having people without any experience (and sometimes talent) get on stage and make music. “Nobody’s Heroes” could be the anthem for this movement.

“Wait and See” discusses original drummerstiff-little-fingers Brian Faloon dropping out of SLF to start a family and stay in Belfast. The band is cocksure of its talent and   future (“When we started we thought we were great, Tho’ nobody else agreed.”).

Where Stiff Little Fingers shines is when they tackle the problems of society. “Fly the Flag” is a ferocious attack on Great Britain’s aristocracy and its favoring of the haves over the have-nots. “Tin Soldiers” echoes an anti-military tract for trapping youngsters in the army for longer periods of time that they were told they were signing up for. The Union Jack was not always a blindly respected symbol to SLF.

What sells these songs, though, is Jake’s gargles with barbed wire voice. His anger and growl is what hooked me on this band decades ago and what still holds me in their firm grasp today. In a year when we we given mega-hits by Madonna, Olivia Newton-John, Christopher Cross, Air Supply, and Kenny Rogers, et al., Stiff Little Fingers said that anyone could do it with their 1980 masterpiece   “Nobody’s Heroes.” Anyone who invested money, time, and emotion in SLF came out the winner.

Postscripts: The CD has several non-album tracks and a 15 minute interview with Burns.

Also, Stiff Little Fingers is on tour in the States this summer.

— Jim McCabePlease visit and LIKE our facebook page

Track listing

  1. “Gotta Gettaway” (Fingers/Gordon Ogilvie) – 3:37
  2. “Wait and See” (Burns/Ogilvie) – 4:28
  3. “Fly the Flag” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 3:46
  4. “At the Edge” (Fingers) – 2:59
  5. “Nobody’s Hero” (Burns/Ogilvie) – 4:11
  6. “Bloody Dub” (Fingers) – 3:47
  7. “Doesn’t Make It All Right (Dave Goldberg, Jerry Dammers) – 5:50
  8. “I Don’t Like You” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 2:44
  9. “No Change” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 1:56
  10. “Tin Soldiers” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 4:46

Personnel

  • Jake Burns – vocals/guitar
  • Jim Reilly – drums
  • Henry Cluney – guitar
  • Ali McMordie – bass

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Posted by Larry Carta


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