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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to… Stiff Little Fingers October 5, 2013

Posted by irishelectionliterature in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....

The recent This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to….. Bands Written On My Old Schoolbag got me thinking about SLF again…. and how powerful their early material was. Their Live Album ‘Hanx’ was the first of their albums I got. It was angry and brilliant…. and then they broke up!
Their music was a lot more angry than their counterparts the Undertones who broke up around the same time. Funnily enough both bands had mellowed in their final albums before breaking up. Early SLF songs were about the troubles the likes of ‘Alternative Ulster’, ‘Barbed Wire Love’ , ‘At The Edge’ and ‘Wasted Life’ .
Their Track ‘Go For It’ was a favourite on television during the 80s for music over action shots, the way some Sigur Ros songs are now.
They reformed again in 1987 and over the years I’ve seen them twice, both times they were very good but I couldn’t help wondering if it was a patch on what seeing them live in 1981 would have been.


1. LeftAtTheCross - October 5, 2013

Excellent choice. Never saw them live. Inflammable Material was one of my first albums bought. Got it when on holidays with the family in connemara. I remember absolutely dying for the holiday to finish so I could get home and play it. And the reaction of my mother that maybe I should tape it so I could listen to it in my room. Partly the noise, partly the word’hordes’ being mistaken for ‘whores’ in one of the songs. Fantastic album. Loved its anti-sectarianism, it fitted with and helped form my young WP sympathies. The version of Johnny Was is still a favourite, very powerful musically, not unlike the Clash’s Police & Thieves in many ways. Downhill after the first album though imho.


2. WorldbyStorm - October 5, 2013

Great group, perhaps one of the hardest edged sounds of any Irish group ever? Good politics too. Agree that the second album etc wasn’t as good. Didn’t Bruce Foxton wind up playing with them in more recent years?


dilettante - October 5, 2013

Saw them in the late 90s. Audience mainly consisted of blokes wearing 20 year old t-shirts that would have fitted their children better.

And yes, they introduced Bruce Foxton as a new member of the band. I was surprised they hadn’t publicised it in advance. They probably would have got a few old Jam fans in as well.

Great gig though.


3. Dr.Nightdub - October 5, 2013

Absolutely loved these back in the day, scoured record shops obsessively until I’d assembled the entire back catalogue of all their singles. The huge SLF logo I drew in chalk on the inside of my parents’ garage is still there today, abeit somewhat faded.
Didn’t get to see them live until around 1982 in the old TV Club, when they were touring the pretty woeful “Now Then” album and were booed / gobbed off stage. Things quietened down when they came back on and started playing the first two albums.
Also saw them on the first reunion tour in the Olympic Ballroom when they’d ditched the Hawaiian shirts, gone back to playing the early material and were brilliant. When I say “saw”, I mean half-saw – I got hot cigarette ash in my eye down the front but it was worth it, great gig.
Nearly sure that Jake Burns was one of the team captains in very early seasons of “Never Mind The Buzzcocks” but I wouldn’t swear to it.


4. Joe - October 5, 2013

Saw them in UCD in 1980ish. The Ents Officer publicised the gig by printing very large print black on white posters with chunks of lyrics from the band. And pasting them up all over Belfield. Great gig. Saw them in the SFX later too I think. And the politics crucially were good.


5. Paul Wilson - October 8, 2013

Saw them several times including when some facist bastard got up on the stage at Brockwell park in London, think that was 79, noticed that Bruce Foxton played with them years later. Agree with LATC, Johnny Was also Barbed Wire Love and Alternative Ulster of course.


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7. Dr. Nightdub - June 9, 2019

More than anything, hearing “Hanx” for the first time really turned me onto punk. Not just the rage, but the fact of it being nordie rage and me a recent transplant from Belfast to Dublin. This was rage from home at a time when I was disconnected from home itself.

Didn’t see them in the Mansion House, first time I did was the TV Club in 1984ish when they were gobbed off the stage for playing too much new stuff (around the time the “Now Then” album came out).

Got beaten up in a chipper for singing along to one of their songs that came on the radio. A young man of the skinhead persuasion took extreme exception. Still have a scar, just over the eyelid, but I don’t blame SLF for that.

Saw them in the Olympic Ballroom for the first re-union tour, when it was just material from “Inflammable Material” and “Nobody’s Heroes” plus a Beastie Boys cover version. Nearly lost an eye to a stray cigarette and did lose a sleeve off my flight jacket in the general mayhem, but it was way more fun than the 1984 gig.

Was very tempted to go see them play Custom House Square in Belfast for their 40th anniversary tour, but in the end, decided some memories are best left as just that.

In my folks’ garage, as kids, me and my brother had a wall each where we’d scrawl our thing in chalk. My wall still has a fading SLF logo. My niece’s drawings, from when they’d be over from England to visit the grandparents, are way more vivid.

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WorldbyStorm - June 9, 2019

I still haven’t seen them live. But they were pivotal weren’t they? The fact of how hard edged that sound was and definitely a sort of gateway to punk.

Know what you mean about leaving some memories as is. I’ve not gone to a few groups in recent times because I saw them before and think I saw them at a better rather than worse time. Then again some bands keep on keeping on (I really like the current version of the Undertones).


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