Listen, there's no love lost between Stiff Records and this rag Andrew Jakeman, aka Jake Riviera who runs Stiff, hates RM with a vengeance and it's not entirely unreciprocated.
I mention this for one reason: In reviewing Hits Greatest Stiffs there's no cow-towing, no cool-chasing. Eighty per cent of critics would give this album a good review if it contained two 20-minute sides of Nick Lowe picking his nose. It has hip value.
I, on the other hand, would quite savour massacring it.
Unfortunately Jakeman's too smart. Sure, he's put a couple of stone cold duffers on the album — accomplished pseud Richard Hell struggles with a very wet "You Gotta Lose" and Plummet Airlines dribble a "B" side that sounds like "C" side, "This Is The World."
But the rest is at the very least interesting and at the very most even more interesting.
The entire album sounds as though it was recorded in a small plastic tea-chest, which is half of its charm. The other half is in quirk and strangeness. For instance can you imagine the Damned doing "Help." You don't have to! It's right here, track four side two. Beautiful chaos.
Motorhead, the world's most terrible band ever, come up with a perfectly insensitive "Leavin' Here" which has got to be the least dislikeable thing they've ever done.
My personal fave is Nick Lowe's "Heart Of The City." Now I'm not a blind Lowe disciple. If he put out an album of nose-picking — which isn't entirely unlikely — I wouldn't buy it. An EP yes, but an LP takes the concept just a little too far.
However, nothing could he further removed from nose-picking than "Heart Of The City" which is typically inspired slip-shod pop 'n' roll.
Other bonuses are Elvis Costello's "Radio Sweetheart" complete with pedal steel guitar, Sean Tyla's lurching "Styrofoam," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Boogie" and the wonderful Lew Lewis's "Caravan Man."
I can take or leave Roogalator's "Cincinnati Fatback" and the Pink Fairies "Between The Lines" but a Stiff album wouldn't be a Stiff album without a bit of filler.
Besides who needs an album anyway with a cover like that — trashy sixties' rip-off with a totally useless Stiff album voucher. And that's not the only gimmick: you get wacky sleeve notes and a list of recommended albums on other labels — ABBA, the other Elvis, even Lee Dorsey.
If I hadn't got this album free I'd have bought it were it not for the glaring omission of Yachts, Stiff's new signings who knock prats like Rooglator into a cocked trilby.
And remember — if it ain't no use to no one, it ain't Stiff.
Is that right?