Unlike the truly vintage XTC
, and Ruts
releases in this BBC Live series, all of which are must-buys, this one is a disappointment. The recording quality, though crisp as always on these BBC recordings, is not quite as hot as the above-named, but the real problem is the show itself. Recorded April 8, 1981, at London's Paris Theater, this catches the band promoting their third LP, Go For It
, the (by far) weakest of their four albums; the only (mild) clunker in an otherwise brilliant career (we mean the first go-round, 1977-1982), and with the least of their three drummers, Jim Reilly
. Sadly, all eight selections here are from that only decent third LP, which means none of the songs that made Stiff Little Fingers
one of the best live bands in history are here -- you have to go back to the god-awful Hanx
live LP, or the much better but post-reunion See You Up There!
-- for those. Hearing songs such as the flaccid-rockabilly "Gate 49" here makes you wonder how Jake Burns
and pals briefly lost their way so badly, and "The Only One" and "Hits and Misses," though OK songs, sound bloated. Mind you, all is not completely lost, thanks to the perpetual magic of that LP's few highlights: "Piccadilly Circus" is still a gripping epic, the punk/pop (a style they perfected a year later on Now Then
) "Just Fade Away" (introduced in mock tribute as "an Undertones
-like song" -- boy those two Irish bands hated each other!) is fine live, and their interpretation of "Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae" skips mightily, and the band did indeed have a great deal of chops on-stage. But the narrow scope of SLF
's major-league past presented here does this in a just little too much.