James Joyce and Stiff Little Fingers punk


This music video from Northern Ireland is called Stiff Little Fingers Live Queens Hall Belfast 6 Tracks 1980.

On 16 December 2020 the Punk Scholars Conference on the internet, after days about France, about Europe and about Indonesia, moved to the USA. That did not mean that all papers presented were about the USA.

One paper was about Ireland. It compared the novel Ulysses by famous 20th-century Irish author James Joyce to the punk album Inflammable Material by Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers. Professor Ryan Kerr, English, University of Florida said that writings about Ulysses are often limited to its literary innovations. They don’t mention the sharp criticism in it of the British army and police in Ireland.

Likewise, the lyrics of Stiff Little Fingers contain criticism of the British army and police in Ireland. Stiff Little Fingers differ from, eg, the Pogues, in not having influence of traditional Irish folk music in their punk rock.

The first presentation was by Michael Valania from Sacramento in California. It was about direct action activism, eg by British punk band Crass, Food Not Bombs and the Occupy movement.

Next came Ellen Bernhard, Department of Communication, Graphic Design & Multimedia, Georgian Court University (Lakewood, New Jersey). She spoke about Epitaph Records. Epitaph Records is an independent music label founded in Los Angeles by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz in 1981. Ellen Bernhard says there are older generation-younger generation tensions about it.

Then, Olivier Berube-Sasseville spoke on skinheads in France (1983-1993). Most writings so far are on far-right skinheads. However, not all skins are neo-nazis.

Marian Phillips spoke about queercore from 1980 to the present. Queercore fights for LGBTQ rights within the punk movement. The name with -core sounds like it is a subdivision of hardcore punk. It is not; queercore bands may play many different punky music styles, not just hardcore punk in the post-1980s sense (not the same as the pre-1980 sense of ‘hardcore’ by the way). What links them is ideas and lyrics, not really musical genre. Queercore is varied (eg, Black queer punks).

Peter Woods discussed Do It Yourself punk venues in the USA. Cameras had recorded what happened just after concerts. Quite often, people from the audience then went up to the bands to ask questions about instruments, amps, etc. Discussions which may be valuable for starting new bands, improving existing bands, etc. When a woman had just finished playing on stage, both men and women asked her questions. But when a man had just finished playing on stage, only male members of the audience asked him questions. In this way, women who may want to start bands or to improve their music may become excluded from valuable information. Thus making music scenes one-sidedly male. How can venues improve that?

Is this only a problem where the research was done, or in all of the USA, or worldwide? Only at a certain time or always? When Terry of Dutch band Cheap ‘n’ Nasty started to play bass, she spoke not only to Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads, who gave her a plectrum. She talked also to Jean-Jacques Burnel of the Stranglers who gave her relevant information.

There was also a paper on punk in Israel, but I will write about that in a separate blog post.

4 thoughts on “James Joyce and Stiff Little Fingers punk

  1. Pingback: Stiff Little Fingers – Live Queens Hall Belfast [1980] – FanXoa

  2. Pingback: Punk in Israel, research report | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Punk in Italy and Greece, research reports | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Punk in Israel, research report | Punk Scholars Network The Netherlands

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