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Askew Review 15

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STIFF LITTLE FINGERS
- Guitar And Drum (Kung Fu Records) Thank fuck this doesn’t suck (and in truth, there’s really some good stuff here, but back to my lame build up for the moment).  SLF is one of my top five all-time favorite bands.  Singer/lead guitarist Jake Burns is a god, and original rhythm guitarist Henry Cluney inspired me to play like nobody else could.  That we’re now over 25 years past their historic first release, combined with the fact that I haven’t been all that excited by their more recent albums- though I think they still rule live- made me sort of dread reviewing this.  I would’ve felt terrible saying bad things about a band so dear to me.  Happily, this disc tells me in no uncertain terms that ol’ Jake Burns & company still got it.  First off, Jake’s voice is pure magic.  Not as growlly as in his younger days, but it’s so passionate and smooth it amazes me that this guy, who is the only original member of SLF still in this version of the band, has got to be near 50 years old.  Stand-outs on this one include the title track (an instantly likeable lament about how much today’s corporate music blows), “Walkin’ Dynamite” (a corking history lesson on the troubles of boxer Sonny Liston) and “Who Died And Made You Elvis” (a pounder about a rock “star” with an over-inflated ego that sounds like it would have fit beautifully on their underrated 1981 release Go For It).  The lyrical cream of the crop on Guitar And Drum is “Strummerville,” a moving eulogy to the mighty Joe Strummer.  It’s powerful stuff listening to this tribute from one punk legend to another.
     I don’t love every song on this one, but there’s enough good here to make buying it worth your while.  If you’ve never, gasp, heard Stiff Little Fingers before, you should pick up Nobody’s Heroes (their second release and what I think is their masterpiece) or Inflammable Material (their fantastic debut) before buying this one.  If you’ve already got those- and Go For It for that matter- pick this sucka up as soon as you can. –Ben Hunter

 

 

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