Speaking of Stiff Records, their second L.P. release, after Damned, Damned, Damned, A Bunch of Stiffs emphasizes the lark-ish side of the label. The hits here are Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World", Elvis Costello's "Less Than Zero", "Back to Schooldays" by Graham Parker and Motorhead's "White Line Fever" (officially released on Chiswick). Then the going gets weird. Nick Lowe's "I Love My Label" works as a laugh and a song, Dave Edmunds' cover of Jo Jo Gunne fulfills the rock n' roll quotient and, predating Dewey Cox by thirty years, we have "Food" by the Takeaways with a Mystery Guest you're all supposed to hope is Bob Dylan. As if, deep into his mystic-poet guise (not his best but far from his worst) between Desire and Street Legal, Dylan did boozy self-parody.
(Badges courtesy of Buy the Hour)
I Love My Label - Nick Lowe
Go The Whole Wide World - Wreckless Eric
White Line Fever - Motörhead
Less Than Zero - Elvis Costello
Little By Little - Magic Michael
Back To Schooldays - Graham Parker (uncredited)
Jump For Joy - Stones Masonry
Maybe - Jill Read
Jo Jo Gunne - Dave Edmunds
The Young Lords - Tyla Gang
Food - The Takeaways
This post owes some inspiration to Bert Muirhead's Stiff: the Story of a Record Label. After a little more digging I found this on some other blogs (including one of the first, and still one of the best, music blogs, Power-Pop Criminals). I was in too deep to stop, so to add some value (the book sells for almost a hundred bucks on eBay), here's its gossipy entry on this album:
A 'cash-in' record all the acts here were old friends of (Stiff founders) Jake (Robinson) or Dave (Rivera). The album worked well considering the ragbag of demos and finished articles from which it was compiled. The blend of heavy metal, rock and roll and new pop combined to make a potent album. Certainly, when the word punk was on everyone's lips and there was little of it in the shops, it helped fill the void.* According to roberto (and backed up by the authoritative 45 Revolutions) the faux-Dylan was in fact C.P. Lee, head of faux-punk band Albertos Y Lost Trios Paranoias and author of the definitive Stiff slogan, "If it Ain't Stiff, it Ain't Worth a Fuck".
Only the Costello and Wreckless tracks had been issued as singles and Motorhead's would have been if they had not signed to Bronze. Of the rest, "I Love My Label" was a typical Nick Lowe ditty (co-written with Jake). Magic Micheal was well-known on the benefit concert scene and was on the first Greasy Truckers album. GP's track was uncredited as he'd just signed with Phonogram but was still managed by Dave Robinson. Stones Masonry featured Martin Stone and postdated his spells with Mighty Baby and Chilli Willli (famous Jake connection). Jill Read was in fact Dave Edmunds. (Sean) Tyla was also part of the pre-Stiff crowd. The Takeaways were a studio band comprised of Lowe, Edmunds, and Larry Wallis. The nasal intonations are probably* Tyla imitating Dylan. Recording costs were minimal and the profits were probably high as the album sold like hot cakes.
* C.P. Lee dropped by to give some excellent detail, "It was me - It was the second take - the first take was done in the 'style' of Brian Ferry - Jake and Nick asked if I could do Dylan - I did and got £25, a free copy of the album and a night out at The Marquee - Vive Le Rock!!" Bless you, C.P.
(Image courtesy of fredpopdom)
A Bunch of Stiffs L.P.