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Stiff Little Fingers


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Stiff Little Fingers (1977-1982, 1987-present): a Punk band from Belfast, North Ireland, UK.
Founded by Jake Burns(vocals/lead guitar), Henry Cluney (guitar), Ali McMordie (bass) and Gordon Blair(drums), the latter soon leaving and replaced by drummer Brian Faloon. Taking their name from a Vibrator's B-Side song they started out as a The Clash covers band until journalist Gordon Ogilvie discovered them and would later become a co-writer and manager of the act.

On the self-financed 'Rigid-Digits' label Stiff Little Fingers released their debut single Suspect Device in 1978. The single showcased Stiff Little Fingers as one of the most angry and compelling bands since The Sex Pistols. The tracks covered the frustration of living in a war torn Belfast and played by the infamous John Peel they struck a deal with the now defunct 'Rough Trade' to release the UK only debut album Inflammable Material (1979) to a UK 14 position, with the Alternative Ulster track ripped off as a single for publication as a flexi-disc in a magazine.

Jim Reilly replaced Faloon, and by the follow-up album, Nobody's Heroes (1980), they had engaged in touring and gained a considerable fan base resulting in an 8 UK charting. Their live effort Hanxi came next that same year and got a 9 UK position. Go For It (1981) stood in contrast to the cod-reggae that so many punk bands had resorted to at the time, S.L.F. included. Although the album got a 14 UK, the follow-up was fair but not as high for it proved to be an uncomfortable attempt to convert to pop/rock that didn't exactly work as planned. The album received a 24 for their efforts all the same. The album also featured Brian "Dolphin" Taylor (ex-Tom Robinson Band) stepping in to replace Reilly. All The Best, their "best of..." compilation followed in 1983 with a 19 UK position accompanying it, but the band split shortly later.

Burns would then go off to form Jake Burns & The Big Wheel with Nick Muir (keyboards), Sean Martin (bass) and Steve Grantley (drums) to release only a set of 7" singles during the mid-1980s until Stiff Little Fingers reformed in 1987 with Burns, Taylor, Cluney and McMordie to release another live effort Live And Loud in 1988 to little notice; and ditto for the follow-up, another live effort titled See You Up There (1989) when ex-Jam bass man Bruce Foxton stepped in to replace McMordie. The follow-up albums, however, didn't fare any better and made one wonder how this band had stooped to re-treading past glories for an aging audience with Flags & Emblems (1991) and Get A Life (1994). The fans were still calling for the old songs at concerts when Tinderbox was released in 1997 with Steve Grantley (ex-Jake Burns) replacing Taylor.

The trio of Burns, Foxton and Grantley would record Tinderbox (1997) album, with help from Ian McCallum who joined as a full-time member for 1999's Hope Street and guitar and drum (2003).

January 2006 would see Foxton leave, as well as original bass guitarist Ali McMordie rejoining for the duration of their upcoming March tour.

May 2006, Ian McCallum would announce he would not be able to join the band on its Spring US tour due to health reasons. John Haggerty of Pegboy and Naked Raygun fame would fill in. No Going Back would follow in 2014.

Stiff Little Fingers live in Chicago 2012 L-R: Ali McMordie, Jake Burns, Ian McCallum.
Photo by: Robman94
CC BY-SA 3.0

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