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.
It's hard to sound nervous and soulful at the same time, but White Denim manage that remarkable accomplishment on their sixth album, 2016's Stiff. The edgy energy that's long been the band's trademark is present in abundance here, which is welcome news since Stiff debuts a new White Denim lineup. On Stiff, singer and guitarist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki are joined by new guitarist Jonathan Horne and drummer Jeffrey Olson. The new combination has much of the same combustible bounce that's been White Denim's hallmark, but they're just as agile with the plentiful R&B grooves on this set.