It's hard being a rock critic these days. All the new releases seem to be either noisy or catatonic. I was starting to think maybe my arteries were hardening. Or that I was permanently living in the past with my old old Kinks rekords, you know like, hey you really got me now.
Preparing myself for the graveyard, (because when you're too old to rock 'n' roll, well, there's just nothing left) I felt this strange sound in my ears. At first it was just a slight hum, then it became a definite buzz. I followed the sound until it became a loud thumpa-thumpa and soon my body started moving. Up and down, back and forth and I thought wow, I've found rock 'n' roll. But then my depression came back. If it was real rock 'n' roll, it must be a relic, like me. But my survival instincts were too strong and so I had to find out what this magical music was. I found a stiff record.
A Stiff record you ask? Yes. A British indie label which just entered a distribution deal with Arista. And their first release is Stiffs Live (Stiff STF 0001) with a crew of motley rock 'n' rollers like Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Elvis Costello, Wreckless Eric, and Ian Dury & the Blockheads. Each group playing a couple of cuts from live concerts. And recorded this year. I'm not getting old after all.
Not only does Stiff have a wonderful logo (three of them, in fact: We Came, We Saw, We Left; The World's Most Flexible Label; and best of all, Stiff — The Shape of Things to Come) but the music is raw, raunchy and rocking. And the music isn't punk, kids, these groups have no such pretense (least I don't think they do).
This album makes me feel the way Alice Cooper's Killer did ten years ago, but now I'm ten years more raunchy than that. Stiffs Live. Wow, already spring is coining, I can breathe easier, my soul is flying, and rock and roll is here to stay.