Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material (Vinyl)

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Inflammable Material is the debut album by the Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers, released in 1979. Most of the album's tracks are about the “Troubles” and the grim reality of life in Northern Ireland with the songs containing themes of teenage boredom, sectarian violence, RUC (police) oppression, etc., urging people to "grab it and change it, it's yours" in what became their signature song "Alternative Ulster". The song "Rough Trade" is about the band's view of the music business as being dishonest, but they have since claimed it is not about their record label which happens to have the same name.

 



I've always considered it typically and quaintly British that sectarian divides, knee-cappings, masked men breaking down doors and shotgunning fathers in front of their children and the mass slaughter of innocent and guilty alike by random bombing can be termed "troubles". But, when Inflammable Material was first released, Northern Ireland had apparently been having a spot of trouble for years! Even in music, bands from the province always seemed to steer well clear of any mention of the violence and bloodshed as though it was just how life was and nothing could be done about it. So, when Stiff Little Fingers released Inflammable Material, there was something almost seditious about the flagrant, brutal, stark manner in which the bitter conflict was brought to the fore. The music and lyrics are explosive, angry and passionate and Jake Burns stinging, venomous vocal perfectly compliments the mood.

Tracks like "State Of Emergency", "Law And Order", "Alternative Ulster", "Suspect Device", "Wasted Life" and "White Noise" blast past on waves of hate that are difficult to stomach but hit the bullseye with unerring accuracy. "White Noise" is especially dangerous treading a razor thin line between racism and righteous indignation with the grace of a ballet dancer. Most will read the lyrics and dismiss the song as white trash supremacy not realising it's that short-sightedness the song is railing against.

Inflammable Material isn't all political - after all SLF were still teenagers right? So "Here We Are Nowhere" is about boredom. "Breakout" is about trying to find your own way in life. "Barbed Wire Love", which contains a great doo-wop break, covers trying to find love across the troubled divide. "Rough Trade" is about the disillusionment of getting a record deal.

But it's the political songs that remain the most memorable and, even though this inflammatory, vitriolic, ardent rant will not be to everyone's taste, everyone should listen to it - if only to try and ensure that the little spot of trouble that Northern Ireland suffered doesn't rear its ugly head again.

By: Grampus.


A1 Suspect Device
A2 State Of Emergency
A3 Here We Are Nowhere
A4 Wasted Life
A5 No More Of That
A6 Barbed Wire Love
A7 White Noise
A8 Breakout
B1 Law And Order
B2 Rough Trade
B3 Johnny Was
B4 Alternative Ulster
B5 Closed Groove



• Bass – Ali McMordie
• Drums – Brian Faloon
• Guitar [Lead], Vocals – Jake Burns
• Guitar [Rhythm] – Henry Cluney
• Producer – Geoff Travis (tracks: A1 to B3, B5), Mayo Thompson (tracks: A1 to B3, B5)
• Written-By – Ogilvie* (tracks: A1, A6, A7, B1, B2, B4, B5), SLF* (tracks: A1 to B2, B4, B5)