Back into the world of punk rock today, and unlike most of the acts I have recently covered here, I had never heard of Stiff Little Fingers before. They come from Belfast in Northern Ireland, and bring an even more aggressive vocal tone than anything I have heard so far as punk rock continues to move forward. This album, “Inflammable Material”, which was their debut album, is rated as the 6th greatest punk rock album on loudersound.com.
From a vocal perspective, and from pretty much any other angle, this is definitely punk rock, but underneath it all, it is just aggressive and fast-paced rock and roll with a more caustic vocal front. I had to smile just a bit when I heard the opening chords of the first song, “Suspect Device”, which opens with the same basic chords as “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. That coincidence aside, this is a pretty fun album to listen to, and there are several songs I prefer above the rest. “Barbed Wire Love” is a great track, and I also love “Johnny Was”, which has a long, extended instrumental intro. “Breakout” is sort of like “Blitzkrieg Bop” if Joey Ramone had a really bad sore throat. “Law and Order” opens with similar chords to “Desire” by U2. Any way you slice it, good chords make good songs.
Like I have noted before, there are certain fundamental limitations and boundaries with most of these early punk rock acts, but the music is fast, powerful, authentic and a needed shot in the arm for a rock and roll genre that was showing its age. Somehow, all these years later, singer Jake Burns and the latest version of the band continues to rock on in 2021.