Stiff Little Fingers

Now Then...

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On 1982's Now Then, which again featured a new drummer (skilled journeyman Dolphin Taylor), SLF attempted to become a full-fledged mainstream rock band. As a consequence, their hardcore fans deserted them in droves. To be fair, leader Jake Burns had always professed a high regard for Bruce Springsteen and Little Feat as much as his punk elders, and his lyrics here changed in tone rather than theme. But that wasn't enough to establish a new audience, nor retain their existing one. It's a real shame, because so much of Now Then is superb, honest, combative, and heartfelt. "Won't Be Told," "The Price of Admission," and the singles "Talkback" and "Bits of Kids" are far more three-dimensional than "Suspect Device" could ever be. Incidentally, Jake Burns inspired Paul Young to cover "Love of the Common People," a version of which is included here, rather than vice versa. Five years later, when SLF re-formed for the first time, no songs from Now Then would appear on their set lists. To paraphrase the Gang of Four, history had done a bunk on SLF's finest hour.

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