I’m Belfast bound today and it got me thinking about the rich cultural and musical heritage of the city. I’m not going to bore you with a long-winded article about cultural history or differences that exist in the city as I’m pretty sure we’re all aware of this and it sounds more like a module to be tackled on an undergraduate degree course. Both past and present there has been a steady stream of great bands and musicians to emerge from the city but for me it will always be what it brought to the world of punk that makes it special.
In the late 70’s at the height of ‘The Troubles’ very few musicians would dare journey to Belfast or elsewhere in the North of Ireland with the exception of Rory Gallagher that is. This must have fed the musical despair and anger which led to one Belfast band in particular, Stiff Little Fingers setting the world alight with their debut album Inflammable Material. One of the key elements of their music is like all the great punk bands they looked at the socio-political environment they lived in and challenged it, in their case it was writing non-sectarian songs about the Troubles not just causes far away like the classic ‘Alternative Ulster’ and bloody curdling ‘Suspect Device’ to the brilliant much-needed and humourous ‘Barbed Wire Love’. The album became the first to be distributed by Rough Trade records and was the first independent album to chart in the UK when it reached number 14 in 1979.
Inflammable Material is still worthy of attention years later and their brash and angry punk is still as rousing today as it was then (I can imagine) especially if your lucky enough to get their material on vinyl. Lest we forget that Belfast is the city of Good Vibrations record label and store founded by Terri Hooley in the early 1970’s which is responsible for bringing Derry’s The Undertones to the world too.
The photo is thanks to Zoe52