Various Artists

The Stiff Records Box Set

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The Stiff Records Box Set Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Stiff Records was a maverick among British independent record labels, partially responsible for starting the punk and new wave revolution of the late '70s. Under the guidance of house producer Nick Lowe, Stiff turned out an enormous number of seminal punk and new wave singles in their first years, including classic tracks by the Damned, Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, the Adverts, Ian Dury, and Lowe himself. But what really gave the label its wild, original flavor were minor artists like Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric, Tenpole Tudor, the Yachts, Lene Lovich, Rachel Sweet, and Mickey Jupp, who turned out a series of raw pop gems that were everything good rock & roll singles should be -- catchy, energetic, and memorable. Over 100 of Stiff's finest tracks are collected on this wonderful four-disc box set. While most of these songs weren't hits, they are classic rock & roll. The first three discs are excellent; the fourth disc contains some bright moments, but by that time, their artists were pretty much spent. However, the box remains one of the most compulsively listenable sets ever assembled, providing the definitive retrospective of arguably the most important and influential British record label of the late '70s.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Nick Lowe 02:32 Amazon
2 Nick Lowe 02:04 Amazon
3
The Pink Fairies 03:15 Amazon
4 Roogalator 06:06 Amazon
5 Sean Tyla 02:37 Amazon
6 The Damned 02:44 Amazon
7 Richard Hell 02:53 Amazon
8 The Damned 00:59 Amazon
9 Elvis Costello 03:10 Amazon
10 Max Wall 03:28 Amazon
11 Jill Read 02:55 Amazon
12 The Adverts 02:36 Amazon
13 Elvis Costello 03:21 Amazon
14 Dave Edmunds 05:00 Amazon
15 Wreckless Eric 02:58 Amazon
16 Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias 01:38 Amazon
17 Ian Dury 03:13 Amazon
18 Ian Dury 02:57 Amazon
19 Yachts 03:15 Amazon
20 Mick Farren 02:20 Amazon
21 Elvis Costello 03:45 Amazon
22 Ian Dury 03:39 Amazon
23 Larry Wallis 03:19 Amazon
24 Jane Aire 03:07 Amazon
25 Graham Parker 02:53 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Nick Lowe 03:00 Amazon
2 Nick Lowe 02:47 Amazon
3 Ian Dury 03:27 Amazon
4 Elvis Costello 02:24 Amazon
5 Humphrey Ocean 02:29 Amazon
6 Lene Lovich 02:46 Amazon
7 Devo 03:20 Amazon
8 Ian Dury 03:43 Amazon
9 Wreckless Eric 02:56 Amazon
10 Jona Lewie 01:45 Amazon
11 Rachel Sweet 03:07 Amazon
12 Lene Lovich 02:46 Amazon
13 The Members 03:55 Amazon
14 The Rumor 03:31 Amazon
15 Wreckless Eric 03:42 Amazon
16 Kirsty MacColl 03:02 Amazon
17 Mickey Jupp 03:14 Amazon
18 Rachel Sweet 02:58 Amazon
19
Motor Boys Motor 02:20 Amazon
20
Lew Lewis & Reformer 03:22 Amazon
21 Theatre of Hate 02:49 Amazon
22 Madness 02:19 Amazon
23 The Rumour 02:46 Amazon
24 Ian Dury 05:19 Amazon
25 Lew Lewis & Reformer 02:17 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Madness 02:47 Amazon
2 Desmond Dekker 03:09 Amazon
3 Joe "King" Carrasco 03:37 Amazon
4 Graham Parker 03:30 Amazon
5 Jona Lewie 03:03 Amazon
6 Any Trouble 03:29 Amazon
7 Dave Stewart 03:55 Amazon
8 Graham Parker 03:05 Amazon
9 Dirty Looks 03:13 Amazon
10 Madness 02:45 Amazon
11 Dave Stewart 03:49 Amazon
12 John Otway 02:39 Amazon
13 Tenpole Tudor 03:01 Amazon
14 Jona Lewie 02:55 Amazon
15 Department S 04:24 Amazon
16 Department S 03:05 Amazon
17 The Equators 03:36 Amazon
18 Tenpole Tudor 02:56 Amazon
19 Desmond Dekker 02:38 Amazon
20 Alvin Stardust 02:41 Amazon
21 Billy Bremner 02:54 Amazon
22 Tenpole Tudor 03:30 Amazon
23
Pookiesnackenburger 02:25 Amazon
24 Via Vagabond 03:06 Amazon
25 Tracey Ullman 02:53 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Belle Stars 02:55 Amazon
2 Belle Stars 03:19 Amazon
3 Electric Guitars 04:12 Amazon
4 Tracey Ullman 02:35 Amazon
5
Passion Puppets 03:31 Amazon
6 Jakko 04:36 Amazon
7
King Kurt 03:26 Amazon
8 The Pogues 02:59 Amazon
9 Inspirational Choir of the Pentecostal First-Born Church of the Living God 04:03 Amazon
10
Makin' Time 02:50 Amazon
11 The Pogues 03:31 Amazon
12 The Untouchables 04:01 Amazon
13 Kirsty MacColl 03:55 Amazon
14 Jamie Rae 03:40 Amazon
15 The Untouchables 03:39 Amazon
16 The Pogues 02:42 Amazon
17 Furniture 03:43 Amazon
18 Dr. Feelgood 03:56 Amazon
19 Tommy Chase 04:36 Amazon
20 Furniture 04:37 Amazon
21 Dr. Feelgood 02:50 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick