Happy to finally welcome into the fold this amazing and essential punk album, Inflammable Material from Ireland’s Stiff Little Fingers. Originally released in 1979, this 1980 US pressing was offered by Rough Trade Inc., 1412 Grant Ave., San Francisco, CA 94133… for those wondering. I’d been on the hunt for this album since my Milwaukee days back in the early 2000’s, and only just found out that the opening track, Suspect Device (which is arguably among the top three on the album) is a slightly different recording from the bootleg CD version I’ve known and have grown to love in the 18-some-odd years since I knew of this album’s existence… so that’s bitter sweet. Anyway, if you’re into seminal punk from across the pond with a timestamp of nearly 40 years, get into Inflammable Material. Simply put, it’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard.
Little more is common thread between the bass-baritone troubadour, Bing Crosby, and early 90s pop-hop hooligans, House of Pain save for their Irish-American heritage, and their longevity in pop music history. Bing’s Shillelaghs and Shamrocks boasts traditional fervor, ripe with Irish folk-lore (or so the back sleeve prompts), where as HOP’s Shamrocks and Shenanigans boasts pub-brawling, head-knocking, fine malt beer-drinking, aggressive hip hop by three guys looking to draw blood, and get paid doing it.
Although at seemingly opposite ends of the musical rainbow, both are little pots of entertainment gold, and whether you’re a fan of the straightforward Bing-and-sing-along-Crosby, or the radio-friendly, malt lyric-spiked-shamrock shake-drinking shenanigans of early 90s House of Pain, nothing says, “thanks for running those nasty snakes out of town, St. Patrick” like Shillelaghs and Shamrocks and Shenanigans.
Easy listening waltz romps manifesting themselves as interplanetary folk ditties. Solemnly executed by Alfred Hause & His Orchestra, this 1970 cultural roller coaster politely invites you, the listener on a destination vacation through the sunny shores of Mexico, over to the Mediterranean-basking banks of Italy, behind the looming German wall, down to the open, festive, ambience of Spain, all the way across the Atlantic and halfway across the Pacific to paradisiacal Hawaii, before making a pit stop (to flip the record) all the way back to the island of Ireland. If jet lag isn’t your thing, consider a shot and a nap before continuing on with the equally delightful side 2.
All rested up and ready for another go? Fantastic. After your three day nap, you find yourself amongst the natural wonders of Argentina (Argentine Republic), before hopping over to the densely populated, yet culturally explosive streets of Japan, up to the chilly, crisp air of Russia, back to Germany (to retrieve a pair of socks you accidentally left behind… you know the socks, the ones you got as a gift from Aunt Silvia that you simply can’t live without), then over to the ignorant-minded throes of Southern United States, before reaching your final, and justly deserved, destination of Scotland.
Closing out a multicultural trip that you’ll undoubtedly remember for the rest of your days with the classic, Auld Lang Syne, you look back at your wondrous journey with exhausted fervor, and a lifetime of memories and useless knowledge with which to entertain (or annoy) your friends and family.
Wikipedia will have you know, that Martin Crosbie “was an Irish tenor” who is internationally known for the song, The Miller’s Daughter featured here, on his 1975 album, Yesterday When I Was Young. At the time of this record’s release, Mr. Crosbie had been performing at Clontarf Castle in Dublin “for the past ten years” (1965-1975 for those not keeping track). Many of the chosen tracks that appear on Yesterday When I Was Young were those most requested by levelheaded audience members attending his consistent executions on stage at the above-mentioned Irish castle. The man was a hoss… a performance whore with lines that wrapped around the corner, and down the halls (no evidence of this exists).
The back sleeve offers a little insight into Mr. Crosbie’s personal life: “The recent tracks on the album are Thelma (the first wife) on the organ, and myself only.” First wife? How many more were there? Could a once blooming, and romantically blossomed love really be diminished down to a three-word description such as “the first wife?” Apparently so. Passing away in 1982 at the age of 71, and with little-to-no information about this golden-throated legend available online, we are all left to the inconsistent suggestions of speculation.
As for the bulging wang… no comment.
On a recent excursion to the corner thrift shops, I was able to unearth a few awkward gems. Let me back-up a bit and say, wholeheartedly, that inflation is a bastard. I’m going to sound very old, very quickly here, so please bear with me. I can remember strolling into any random thrift shop and paying nothing over $0.99 for a used record. Today, tainted by the thick, grubby hands of the monetary virus known as inflation, these thrift shops, that receive all of these records for free, mind you, are selling records for $3 a pop! Granted, yes, $3 for a record is still a monumental steal, but I clearly would have picked up at least two, possibly three more albums had the price been “what it used to be.”
I believe it was George Costanza who said, “I pay what I want.” I’m strongly considering adopting that principle. It blows my feeble mind to think who would ever pay $3 for a scratched-to-hell Lawrence Welk album with a ripped cover. Ok, my teeny-tiny rant over with, I wanted to present the three, newest additions to my collection. First up is the 1975 Win, Lose or Draw by the Allman Brothers Band. My catalog of Allman Brothers music is small, so this will help the cause.
Second is a 1962 UK release of Mrs. Mills’ Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties. In almost pristine shape, Mrs. Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties is a nostalgic (for someone, I suppose) keepsake for the burlesque-inspired and boa flinging dance parlors of a decade nearly a century old. Not to mention, the cover is priceless (even though it was had for three times the price I would have like to have paid).
Last, but certainly not least, is a magnificent 1975 album from an artist I’d never heard of, Martin Crosbie (with Thelma). Yesterday When I Was Young, released on the Irish Olympic Records label, showcases a stern, and slightly annoyed Martin Crosbie standing atop a few dry rocks directly in front of a roaring river. I can’t wait to listen to this album.
In short, inflation is an inevitable priss, and $3 for an album is still not bad (screams to himself), especially considering the unknown gem that potentially waits in the dimly lit, and dust-filled shelves of your local thrift store.