BY JONATHAN LEVITT
I must admit that I never really listened to Stiff Little Fingers later period material, but then this box set came along. The 4-cd set expands the albums released by the band spanning seven years in the ‘90s and is a bit of a mixed bag.
The centerpiece of the boxset is the live set from Glasgow circa 1993, a blistering run through their canon of songs. “Tin Soldiers” slays everything in sight and will have you pumping your fist to the chorus. “Alternative Ulster” is a punch to the gut, and like Sham 69’s “Hurry up Harry,” anthemic and empowering. The album Flags and Emblems is a brilliant return for a band that had broken up. An aggressive political statement that was a big fuck you to the corporation called government. Tracks like “(It’s A) Long Way To Paradise (From Here)” thumb their nose at the establishment and are a resounding call to action. “Beirut Moon,” the single which was deleted right after its release for taking on the government head on, is the perfect amalgamation of political chiding and anthemic rock. The antithesis to this record is Tinderbox which in this reviewer’s estimation is the weakest album of the bunch and sounds like an afterthought coming from a band with such lauded credentials. Get a Life is only slightly better, but begs the question, what was the goal of recording something that sounds somewhere between REO Speedwagon and Green Day? “Can’t believe in You” is a trite absurd tune that is so color-by-numbers it hurts. “Road to Kingdom Come” is dreadful and sounds like the band was chasing instead of leading. While not advocating artistic stasis, I do think that in this case their choice of direction was wrong and rings hollow.
Ultimately, this is a boxset for completists only.
DOWNLOAD: “(It’s A) Long Way To Paradise (From Here)” “Beirut Moon” “Tin Soldiers” “Alternative Ulster”