Stiff Little Fingers – Nobody’s Heroes (1980): Review

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Produced by Doug Bennett
Label – Chrysalis

Hot on the heels of their blistering 1979 debut “Inflammable Material”, Belfast four piece Stiff Little Fingers were now recognised as one of the few credible punk bands left. Their debut had perfectly captured the history of life in a Northern Ireland filled with the continuing cultural and political problems within the country. The fear and isolation were all subjects for the bleeding tortuous rants from gravel throated singer and guitarist Jake Burns. For Burns, the message was that for many young Belfast kids there was very little alternative other than to escape, and “Nobody’s Heroes” follows many of the traits of its former. Titled “Nobody’s Heroes” in response to over zealous fans, and mockingly portraying a 1978 letter of contractual rejection from Chrysalis Records on the back cover (who ironically were now distributing their singles and LP’s) the album is highly rated sophomore release claiming some extremely memorable moments.

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Writers Burns and manager/journalist/fifth member Gordon Ogilvie articulate biting lyrics of shattered ideals, destroyed ambitions, and limited opportunities for expression all wrapped around the bands urgent punk performance. Although not necessarily technically gifted, they make up for any deficiencies with a mix of passion and gritty pride. When Burns rawks out the chorus line of the opener “Gotta Getaway”, you almost feel his life depends upon it. In the face of the political turmoil “Fly The Flag” is a brave song to release and could have caused a strong backlash from the Republican contingent. From the powerful “At The Edge” Burns directly quotes the words of his father saying “I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t want to hear no lip, Take your share don’t shout about it, That’s your lot remember you’re a kid”. The outstanding closer “Tin Soldiers” describes the hopeless situation British boy soldiers were put into by joining the army, many being sent to serve in a land where the rule of the gun or the bomb was still regarded as the main form of negotiation. For in Northern Ireland at that time, anyone be they Republican, Unionist, or British military were ever fearful of the snipers bullet, and the band tell the harrowing stories with a verve no one could match. Like The Clash, the band toyed with Reggae with less convincing results, and “Bloody Dub” and the cover of The Specials “Doesn’t Make It Alright” sound forced, almost un-natural in comparison to the rest.

“Nobody’s Heroes” displays passion, guts and pride, but most of all a healthy disdain for the conservatism of most rock bands. They’ll speak their mind, and no-one will stop them.

8/10

Track Listing
1.”Gotta Gettaway” (Fingers/Gordon Ogilvie) – 3:37
2.”Wait and See” (Burns/Ogilvie) – 4:28
3.”Fly the Flag” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 3:46
4.”At the Edge” (Fingers) – 2:59
5.”Nobody’s Hero” (Burns/Ogilvie) – 4:11
6.”Bloody Dub” (Fingers) – 3:47
7.”Doesn’t Make It All Right (Dave Goldberg, Jerry Dammers) – 5:50
8.”I Don’t Like You” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 2:44
9.”No Change” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 1:56
10.”Tin Soldiers” (Fingers/Ogilvie) – 4:46

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