White Noise & Barbed Wire | Forty-Years Of The Stiff Little Fingers Masterpiece
Punk, at the very beginning was an expressionist- revolution, a reflection of the failings within society delivered perfectly and directly through the simplest forms of music.
Whilst true for most punk bands which sprang up in the late nineteen-seventies, for Belfast’s Stiff Little Fingers it is true more so than any other. The second-of-February this year marks forty-years since the release of their incendiary debut ‘Inflammable Material’.
What better way to celebrate than looking at the beginnings of Stiff Little Fingers and the core of one of the most explosive Irish albums of the twentieth-century.
Starting life as a Deep Purple covers band was never going to resonate with what they felt inside, the broken concrete landscape of Belfast was a perfect muse for their frustrations.
Formed in-1977, Stiff Little Fingers consisted of:Jake Burns vocals and guitar, Ali McMordie guitar, Henry Cluney on bass and the man who introduced them to punk Brian Faloon on drums.
A false start but a historic one, as the deal signed with Island Records fell through they had to rely on a new indie-label. On the fourth-of February 1979 ‘Inflammable Material’ became SLF’s first album and the first album distributed by Rough Trade Records, though it went one better and became the first independently released album to chart in the UK, hitting a peak of number 14.
This is a musical-observation into the heart of a dangerous time, an angst ridden dialogue between Jack Burns and the listener, with a very direct eyewitness report from the ground. This was art colliding with realism in its finest form.
Although not a concept album as such but it does tell a very real story. ‘Inflammable Material’ serves as a time capsule which could be dug up in a hundred-years time to show the perspective of that youth culture. Any common thread connecting these tracks becomes very obvious to the listener.
The album is an honest and unrestrained view of what the band members had witnessed as everyday aspects of Northern Ireland, where reality is central and not escapism. This is not an album packed with love songs or romantic themes to get lost in, the landscape this release presents is submerged in war and those caught up in the tense crossfire.
“Inflammable material, planted in my head
It's a suspect device that's left two thousand dead
Their solutions are our problems
They put up the wall
On each side, time and prime us”- Suspect Device
Kevin Burke-Jan 2019
New album by Canadian Duo Front Line Assembly, including a cover version of Rock Me Amadeus, out from today!
Front Line Assembly will release their first new album in almost six years early 2019. Having rejoined the group in 2016 in a touring capacity, 'Wake Up The Coma' also marks the studio return to FLA of Rhys Fulber, thus reuniting him with founder member Bill Leeb in the duo line-up that has already made so many classic electronic records together.
Musically, 'Wake Up The Coma' sees FLA continue to push the envelope of the electro-industrial genre that they helped to define. A teaser single from the record entitled 'Eye On You' featured Robert Görl of DAF (one of Leeb's earliest influences), while the album also includes guest vocal appearances from Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost on the strident title track, Chris Connelly (Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Cocksure) on the Bowie-ish 'Spitting Wind' and Mindless Self Indulgence frontman Jimmy Urine on a surprise cover version of Falco's 1986 no. 1 smash hit 'Rock Me Amadeus'. A reference to Leeb's own Austrian heritage, perhaps?
A video for 'Rock Me Amadeus' is available now. Directed by Jason Alacrity, who himself has roots in industrial electronic music and has shot clips for the likes of Skinny Puppy and Combichrist, it features Urine performing half-rapped, half-sneered verses in German over a relentlessly oscillating bass line and exudes Teutonic cool, albeit in a kitsch 80's way. In red-rimmed shades and skinny pinktie, Urine appears, Max Headroom-style, on an old Sony CRT TV. There are laser lights, old-school threads and vintage video effects, plus a rotating bust of Mozart under Miami Vice lighting. Despite this, the clip feels contemporary and is the ideal accompaniment for a reanimation of a classic pop number that always gets listeners singing along.
This month it’s 30 years since Front Line Assembly released their third studio album Corrosion!
This month it’s 30 years since Vancouver Industrial / EBM band Front Line Assembly released their third studio album Corrosion (February 1988), or fifth full length if we count in two self-released tapes Total Terror and Nerve War which were released earlier in 1986. It was their first release on Third Mind/Wax Trax! with PIAS (Play it Again Sam) manufacturing and distributing the Third Mind issue in Europe.
At this time Front Line Assembly was Bill Leeb only, while Michael Balch acted as producer and Dave 'The Rave Olgivi mixed some of the tracks. Third core member Rhys Fulber would join the band one year later, in 1987 and become Leeb’s right hand until this very day.
This eight track album captures very well the dark, almost claustrophobic, sound and atmosphere of Front Line Assembly before their ‘breakthrough’ with Gashed Senses & Crossfire (1989). A perfect stylistic blend between early Cabaret Voltaire and Front 242 but with a more American / Wax Trax industrial sounding touch.
The album received a 7/10 in the NME (New Musical Express) and was favoured by Melody Maker Magazine.
Tracklist for Corrosion:
1) Lurid Sensation
2) Right Hand Of Heaven
4) On The Cross
7) Dark Dreams
8) The Wrack Part III - Wisdom
WaxTrax! announce release of the INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT, a documentary and soundtrack, with unreleased old-school track by Revolting Cocks!
Wax Trax! Records, the Chicago store founded by lovers Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher quietly became a cult label in the 80's, overlapping the fringe gay, punk and BDSM cultures, a massive influence on industrial dance music. Jim's daughter Julia has unearthed some gems and come together with INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT, a documentary and soundtrack both released wide on April 16, 2019 (the doc has already screened in a couple cities).
Today Wax Trax announced the doc + soundtrack release with an unheard, unreleased track by Revolting Cocks (Al Jourgensen, Luc van Acker, and Richard 23 of Front 242)!
Best part...You can hear this unique track already on below or on Soundcloud but even more excitingly - if you call 1-833-WAX-TRAX you can also hear messages and party sounds! Leather and mascara sold separately.
The doc features interviews with Steve Albini, Jello Biafra, Chris Connelly, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Dave Grohl, Al Jourgensen, Ian MacKaye, Trent Reznor and so many more. The soundtrack features unreleased tracks by Ministry, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Revolting Cocks, The Young Gods and more.
The Stooges classic 'Raw Power' was released on the seventh of February 1973, the game changer, in 1997 Iggy Pop remixed the album, making it sound like a war of noise and aggression.
Some said there was no need to overhaul the original Bowie mix of this incendiary album, after all it was that which caused such a huge influence on Punk in the 70s, probably why Pop did do a remix at the request of CBS was more than likely to stop anyone else from doing it.
'Raw Power', is a beautiful album of destruction.
Recorded in the Autumn of '72 in London with a new guitarist in James Williamson, he brought the extra cutting guitar licks into all this.
When a suitable rhythm section could not be found the Asheton brothers were brought back into the frame. Ron, being the original guitarist and core songwriter for the first two Stooges albums,vthis time switching to bass and the lineup was complete.
Pop producing and mixing the original sessions, but Bowie took the masters to remix them again.
Several of the tracks were remixed in one day, another reason why Iggy may have felt in 1997 that he wanted to leave his stamp on it. Willamson and the late Ron Asheton had both publicly stated they preferred Bowie's mix of the album.
All this talk of remixes,does it really make a difference?
In this case yes!, on Iggy Pops version there is a lot more distortion in the mix, especially on the guitar lines,probably down to Pop keeping all the levels in the red and turned up full for the remix.
The noticeable difference is the Asheton brothers are much more prevalent in the mix, unlike before. Ron proving he was handy enough with the bass, this seems closer to Pops original vision for the album. Feedback, distortion, over the loud mixes is the hallmark of Iggy Pop and The Stooges.
Ironically it was Bowie who pushed to get Pop back on the scene in the early 70s due to Iggys spiralling heroin problem.
What happened with the two gentlemen and their relocation to Berlin in the years that followed makes that effort by Bowie seem a slight contradiction.
Distortion and feedback and talk of remixes to one side, it is Iggy Pop at his finest, his vocal delivery is faultless, snarling, convincing and perhaps his best, from the 'Search And Destroy' opening line,
"I'm a streetwalking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb",
To the closer -‘Death Trip', all is remarkably well delivered, with the collision of two nuclear warheads.
The argument will always be there surrounding this album,which is the better version,the true version, is whichever you personally like the most, the argument is there for both sides, but don't turn the attention away from a fine album it is and what it did for punk- rock, not only in the 70s but in general.
Kevin Burke January ‘19