The Stiffs The Singles Collection 1979–1985 LP

The STIFFS were a punky power pop band out of Lancashire, UK, initially active from 1976 to 1988 (they reunited in the late ’90s and are still somewhat active today). As the title suggests, this collection compiles their singles output from the first act of their career (plus their 1981 “Innocent Bystander” 7” that was shelved by their label), and, seeing as how they never issued any LPs, essentially functions as a complete discography. The stuff these guys play is pretty typical for the genre and time period—imagine a less catchy INCREDIBLE KIDDA BAND with maybe a touch more street punk/Oi! pedigree. What helps them stand out from similar acts, though, is also what I like least about these tunes. The vocal melodies (which, again, aren’t the catchiest) are almost always delivered in a nearly alien multi-part harmony, with the band members singing just enough out of sync to make it all just sound like a big mess. It’s a shame really, because I otherwise dig the tracks, especially the sub-three-minute rippers. Anyway, John Peel apparently really loved these guys, even going so far as to claim that “Inside Out” is “the greatest record in the history of the universe.” And who am I to disagree with that guy!