Founded in 1976, STIFF RECORDS was at the heart of the new wave, bringing the world artists as diverse as Elvis Costello
, Kirsty MacColl
and Ian Dury
and what is generally regarded as the first ever punk rock single, “New Rose” by The Damned
. The label set the yardstick for music business marketing, with artwork by Barney Bubbles and an array of memorable slogans, not least If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth A Fuck". Stiff continues to this day, with the 2012 UK #1 single “Bom Bom” by Sam And The Womp
and a back catalog comprising 150 singles and more than 50 albums of revered 70s and 80s pop, punk and rock.
This LIMITED EDITION 7” Box Set Ten Big Stiffs
takes you on a tour of the Stiff catalog, which includes ten 7-inch releases, all chosen by Stiff Records, featuring some of the most recognizable tracks from the label throughout the years: Tenpole Tudor
's “Swords of a Thousand Men” (as heard in Aardman Animations' Pirates!
in 2012 and in TV ads for EA Games' FIFA 11
in 2011), Tracey Ullman
's “They Don't Know” (#8 US hit on the Billboard
Hot 100 in 1983), Wreckless Eric
's “Whole Wide World” (MacDonalds TV ads in 2012) and Desmond Dekker
's “Israelites” (a classic hit featured in Drugstore Cowboy
Set for release on November 29, as a Record Store Day exclusive in North America through indie stories via Razor & Tie Records, Ten Big Stiffs
is an incredible collector's item, the original sleeve artwork is recreated on each, with the exception of Mint Juleps
' Docklands." This is the Stiff 7-inch that never was." Scheduled to have been a 7-inch release back in the day, it originally got overlooked, so collectors are always asking for it.
PINK FAIRIES: Between The Lines" / Spoiling For A Fight": A remnant of London’s psychedelic club scene, Pink Fairies
had already been recording for five years prior to joining Stiff, where they recorded their one and only release “Between The Lines” with new guitarist Larry Wallis
. The band left Stiff after this single, but Wallis, after joining Lemmy
in the first incarnation of Motorhead
, became an in-house producer at Stiff.
WRECKLESS ERIC: Whole Wide World" / Semaphore Signals": Produced by Nick Lowe
, who also played bass on the track, “Whole Wide World” is probably the best known track of English rock / new wave singer Wreckless Eric
. More than two decades after its release, it was included on Mojo
Magazine’s list of best punk rock singles of all time! The song has since been covered by Lightning Seeds
, The Monkees
, The Proclaimers
, and Paul Westerberg
, among others.
JONA LEWIE: You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen at Parties" / Bureaucrats": Stiff spotted ingenious songwriter Jona Lewie
as he experienced success as a member of Brett Marvin and The Thunderbolts and off-shoots Terry Dactyl and The Dinosaurs. His career with Stiff spanned five years, and saw the release of 11 singles, the fourth of which was the synth-pop masterpiece “You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen At Parties”, which made it into the UK Top 20.
DESMOND DEKKER: Israelites" / Why Fight?": A legend in Jamaican music, Desmond Dekker
had a successful touring business, but only sporadic hits through the 60’s and 70’s. After joining Stiff, Dave Robinson quickly teamed up Dekker with The Rumour and other Jamaican artists who backed him on new recordings of various old hits to create the album Black & Dekker
, which included the single “Israelites”, which reached number 10 in the UK.
PLASMATICS: Monkey Suit" / Squirm (Live)": Led by the ‘Queen of Shock Rock’, Wendy O. Williams
, with their porno sleeves, S&M styling, fusion of punk and heavy metal, were the most parent-frightening and gloriously perverted band a teenager could find in the 80s. Released in 1980, “Butcher Baby” would have been far better suited for the year 2000. A band definitely ahead of its’ time.
TENPOLE TUDOR: Swords of a Thousand Men" / Love and Food": After appearing in the Sex Pistols
’ film The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle
, Malcolm McLaren
told Ed Tudor-Pole he could “either form a band or go into pornography”, hence Tenpole Tudor was formed. On Stiff, the band delivered six singles, including the UK chart hit “Swords of a Thousand Men”, as well as two albums.
TRACEY ULLMAN: They Don’t Know" / The B-Side": As part of the BBC comedy trio Three Of A Kind
, Tracey Ullman was already a household name before joining Stiff in 1983 to record 60’s throwback, bubblegum-pop singles. The first three, “Breakaway”, “They Don’t Know”, and “Move Over Darling”, all went Top 10 in the UK, with “They Don’t Know” also hitting number 8 in the U.S.
KIRSTY MACCOLL: A New England" / Patrick": Originally spotted by Stiff singing backing vocals for the punk band Drug Addix, Kirsty MacColl was signed to a solo deal and released her first single “They Don’t Know” in 1979. After leaving Stiff for Polydor in 1981, singer-songwriter MacColl returned to the label to work with Tracey Ullman, who had a hit with a cover of “They Don’t Know”, on a cover of her own, Billy Bragg
’s “A New England”, which reached number 7 on the UK charts. This version includes two extra verses specially written for her by Bragg for the release.
THE UNTOUCHABLES: (I Spy For The) FBI" / Whiplash": Part of the early 80’s Silver Lake, Los Angeles, ska revival scene, Ohio Untouchables
cut their teeth playing covers of the Blue Magoos
and the Small Faces
. Upon signing to Stiff, they recorded a few singles, including “(I Spy For The) FBI”, which charted at number 59 in the UK.
MINT JULEPS: Docklands" / Docklands" 12" Version: The Stiff 7” That Never Was! An all-female group centered around the four Picket sisters toured with everyone from Sister Sledge
to Billy Bragg, as well as singing backup for Bob Geldof
and Dr. Feelgood
before joining Stiff. Their soulful, a cappella style fused with earthenware pop songs set them apart from other similar acts.
Experience the history of STIFF RECORDS, and all the artists featured on this release, through a series of videos produced by award-winning film-maker NIGEL DICK. The British born Dick began his career at Stiff Records as a Press Officer. He has since directed over 300 music videos and seventeen documentaries, won three MTV Awards, three MVPA awards, two Billboard Awards and a Brit Award.