Monday, May 30, 2016

Stiff Little Fingers: Suspect Device

The first song I ever heard by the Stiff Little Fingers was on an unlabled mix table given to me by G.B., one of my co-workers when I was an intern in DC.*

It was eye-opening.

Who was this? It sounded like a harsher, harder version of The Clash, yet had this incredibly catchy riff and great lyrics. And much like The Clash, there was social commentary in there.

Suspect Device has this "no one is to wholly trusted with power" message.

How do the SLF feel about the people in power?

"Don't believe them, don't believe them"

Not a surprise, growing up and living in Ulster in Northern Ireland.

But how do they feel about revolution?

"Why can't we take over and try to put it right?

Please don't believe us
Don't believe us
Don't be bitten twice"

The "a pox on both your houses" feeling runs through a lot of SLF material. They're on the side of the people caught up in the conflict of others.

By the way, there is a single version - but I really prefer the album version. Probably because I heard it first.

* Also on that tape were The Undertones, The Vibrators (from whom the SLF took their name), Television, and Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, amongst others. All of those skyrocketed right to the top of my "why did no one tell of these bands before?" list. I knew a lot of bands, but I hadn't heard much of (or any of) them before that tape. Television, yes, of course, because I knew Richard Hell & the Voidoids from a collection of punk 45s, but the others . . . never.

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