NEW YORK — Stiff Records, a leading new wave label in the UK responsible for introducing Elvis Costello, the Damned, Nick Lowe, Ian Drury and others, has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for the U.S. and Canada with Arista.
First product, a live LP documenting last year's U.K. tour by its roster of artists, is expected later this month. Costello, Drury, Lowe, Larry Wallis and Wreckless Eric are featured. A Drury solo LP is next up, according to Arista.
Founded by Dave Robinson, now co-partner in Stiff with Allen Frey, the label's off-beat, simple advertizements attracted regular interest in the U.K. among retailers and the public.
Costello, for example, who with Lowe has since signed with CBS Records, had cultivated a mystery man image culminating in a series of ads throughout the U.K. music press, each ad carrying a likeness or various parts of his anatomy. The result stirred widespread interest in piecing the various parts together.
The label is also noted for a marketing approach more in line with the progressive tastes of many of its retail accounts, introducing tongue-in-cheek humor and a candid view of profits, following in the footsteps of the U.K.'s Virgin Records, and in some respects, to Wagner Bros. ads in the late 1960s in this country.
The man credited with introducing Stiff's lively image has since left the label to manage Costello and Lowe, whose deals with CBS are attributed to him. He is Jake Riviera, one of Stiffs founders.