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Monday, 9 December 2013

Stiff Records - The Early Years Part One 1976


I've been listening to some early material by Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello and it got me thinking about Stiff Records and maybe doing a post about the early days of the label and including some of the fascinating music (and maybe even some of the non-fascinating music) that they released between 1976-1979. And so here it is.

We begin at the beginning. Dave Robinson and Jake Rivera received a £400 loan from Lee Brilleaux of Doctor Feelgood to start 'The World's Most Flexible Label' and on August 14th 1976 they released the first of many great singles.

Nick Lowe had recently departed Brinsley Schwarz and this was his first solo outing for which he was paid the princely sum of £45 to record two songs.



BUY 1
A-Side: So It Goes.

Fortunately for Robinson/Rivera the single went on to sell 10,000 copies via specialist shops and mail order.


BUY 2

The Pink Fairies (featuring Larry Wallis) had been around in the early seventies as part of the psychedelic scene and were responsible for performing many free shows. By the time Stiff released this single (the Fairies first for three years) they had only been back together a year or so after performing a one off reunion show at the Roundhouse in London in 1975 (they originally disbanded in 1973).




BUY 3
A-Side: All Aboard.
These two links are not actually the original Stiff Records recordings but live versions of the songs performed by The Roogalator vocalist Danny Adler from a concert in 2010 (I think).

With it's 'Meet the Beatles' cover artwork The Roogalator were nothing Beatlesque, but merely another Pub Rock band who had been doing the rounds since 1972. The single 'All Aboard' was a one off release for the band on Stiff Records.



 
BUY 4
B-Side: Styrofoam.

Sean Tyla was another Pub Rocker who had been around since the early 70's. He had been a member of Ducks Deluxe before they split in 1975 and Tyla signed a one single deal with Stiff in 1976. To date he is still playing live with reformed versions of both Ducks Deluxe and the Tyla Gang.




BUY 5
B-Side: Caravan Man.

Lew Lewis was a Canvey Island man who had played in The Southside Jug band with pre-Feelgood members Lee Brilleaux and John B. Sparks. He had also played with Eddie and the Hot Rods, leaving them due to a fall out with management. This was his first solo outing and the band backing him was Doctor Feelegood.

Stiff Records fortunes were about to change for the better with the release of their 6th single. It would be the first British Punk Single and it was by a Croydon based band The Damned.




BUY 6
A-Side: New Rose.
B-Side: Help.

Nick Lowe produced the single as he would the first British Punk Rock Album, 'Damned Damned Damned' (released on the 18th February 1977). The single also became the first Stiff single to reach the charts, even though it was just the lower reaches - #81!




BUY 7
A-Side: Another World.

The first non-British artist on Stiff Records was former Television and Heartbreakers member Richard Hell along with his backing band the Voidoids (that featured future Ramones drummer Marc Bell aka Marky Ramone). It's a mystery to me that one of the great songs of the whole Punk/New Wave movement, Blank Generation,  is reduced to merely a b-side! Though saying that, Sire Records had the right approach when they released it in September 1977 as the lead single off of the 'Blank Generation' album.




BUY 8
A-Side: Silver Shirt.
B-Side: This is the World.

Sean Tyla produced the one and only Stiff single by Nottinghamshire based Plummet Airlines. They were another Pub Rock band who had been doing the rounds in the early 70's and got a break with a John Peel Session in 1976. Various members of the band would go on to other groups like The Darts, Brainiac 5 and The Pogues.




BUY 9
A-Side: Leaving Here.

United Artists Record label had prevented the release of the debut single because the band were still under contract to them (and the label were refusing to release the debut album). It was then released on the French label Skydog.
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