A Big Stiff One

Enough with the house music. I got some more I’ll put up some other time. But I need to feel something a bit more real right now. How about two albums of exceedingly rare recordings by one of the greatest British labels of all-time? Yeah, that should it.

Stiff Records was (is) awesome and since their history is wide and varied (and since I’m writing this at 3AM) I’m not going to go into why they rock so hard. If you want to know more about them check out their page.

A Bunch Of Stiffs
In 1977 Stiff Records released this compilation of their first ten singles. Much of it is available on other albums, but some have remained rare some 20-plus years later. I’m not putting up the stuff you can get on CD easily, just the harder-to-find stuff which is only available on old vinyl LPs and some hard-to-find box sets and best-of sets.

Here are those tunes:

Magic Michael
Little By Little
No idea who this dude is. Very 70s rock and not bad.

Stones Masonry
Jump For Joy
Excellent bluesy instrumental. Some of the members of this band were in Chilli Willi. This track is produced by Nick Lowe.

Jill Read
This is a cover of the classic doo-wop song that was originally performed by The Chantels and later by The Shangi-Las and Janis Joplin (and John Frusciante?!?!) This version is absolutely stunning and makes me wonder who the hell Jill Read is and what happened to her. Turns out I’m the only one wondering about her, this is what it says on the album sleeve about “Maybe.”

Little is known of this Welsh song bird.

Cut in 1969 at Rockfield Studios.

Backing band: Dave Edmunds

Produced by: Dave Edmunds

Jill, if you’re out there write to us for your royalties.

That might just be some marketing gimmick (Stiff was really good at those) but I can’t find anything on this babe other than the fact that she totally owns this song 20 times over.

The Tyla Gang
The Young Lords
Never heard of these dudes. It’s pretty damn obvious though that they really like Bruce Springsteen. They re-recorded this for their debut album.

The Takeaways
This is fucking retarded. Someone must have thought they had a good Bob Dylan impression going on and got some other guys together to record this oddity. The singer is uncredited (the linear notes lead you to believe it’s Bob Dylan) but the rest of the band is made up of Sean Tyla (of The Tyla Gang), Larry Wallis, Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. It was produced by “Stan Francisco (we have a winner for the worst pun of 1977!)

In case you’re wondering, the full tracklisting for A Bunch Of Stiffs is:
1. I Love My Label – Nick Lowe
2. (I’d Go) The Whole Wide World – Wreckless Eric (this track made it’s first appearance here)
3. Motorhead(!!!) – White Line Fever (sticking out like Lemmy’s Mole)
4. Less Than Zero – Elvis Costello
5. Little By Little – Magic Michael
6. Back To Schooldays – Graham Parker (a hidden track)
7. Jump For Joy – Stones Masonry
8. Maybe – Jill Read
9. Jo Jo Gunne – Dave Edmunds (this Chuck Berry cover is fucking insane!)
10. The Young Lords – The Tyla Gang
11. Food – The Takeaways
If you want a second opinion or a bit more information on this album check out this site.

Live Stiffs
And now for the real good shit. In the late 70s Stiff Records put on a traveling show of their greatest acts called “5 Stiffs Live.” After it was all said and done they released the highlights of that tour on this criminally short LP (which is also known as Stiff’s Live Stiffs and 5 Live Stiffs), which if there was any justice in the world would have been re-released on an extended CD by now. As it now stands it’s out of print and goes for 60 bucks on Amazon. Fuck that jazz, here’s the whole thing.

The above link is the entire album, but here’s a quick track-by-track rundown so you know what you’re getting. The Mp3s I made include full band credits in the information part of the ID3 tag in case you area really hardcore about that kind of thing.

Nick Lowe’s Last Chick In The Shop
I Knew The Bride
Let’s Eat
Nick’s backing band includes Dave Edmunds.

Wreckless Eric & The New Rockets
Semaphore Signals
Reconnez Cherie
No live “Whole Wide World”, but this will have to do. I’ve never seen Wreckless Eric credited with a band before, but The New Rockets include Ian Dury.

Larry Wallis’ Psychedelic Rowdies
Police Car
Awesome band name. Nick Lowe is one of the previously mentioned Rowdies.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions
I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Miracle Man
No introduction or information needed. Great live version of the Bachrach song.

Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Wake Me Up & Make Love To Me
Billericay Dickie
“Dickie” is no “Rhythm Stick,” but it’ll do I guess. “Wake Me Up” is a great Ian song though.

Stiff All-Stars
Sex Drugs Rock & Roll & Chaos
This is everyone helping out Ian for the finale. Totally awesome. They have like a billion drummers for this one.

5 Responses to “A Big Stiff One”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Tyla Gang was a spin-off of the incredible pub rockers Ducks Deluxe. Sean Tyla had been that band’s lead singer. Guitarist Martin Belmont left the Ducks to join Graham Parker’s backing band The Rumor; while bassist Nick Garvey, and keyboardist Andy McMasters went on toforms The Motors.

  2. rpchurch says:

    This was great to see. I just found this at the local Goodwill for about a buck, and it was fantastic from start to finish. Really, really hoppin’ tunes. Thanks for putting this up in a much more accessible format.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jill Read is actually Dave Edmunds of Rockpile etc.

    Thanks for all the Ian Dury stuff too. Much appreciated.

  4. The Lost Turntable says:

    WTF? How is that Dave Edmunds? He ripped his balls off?

  5. Jon Blake says:

    Jill Read is Gillian “Tawny” Reed of Adamsdown, Cardiff, who was touted as the next Lulu when she was signed by Tony Hatch for Pye in the mid-sixties. She released two singles, then was dropped. Check out Tawny Reed on youtube. She was the only UK artist ever to be released on the legendary Red Bird label and a singer of astonishing power and emotive force. Sadly she never got the recognition she deserved and died tragically young in 1985.

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