One of the first indie labels to be established in the U.K. as punk rock started exploding, Stiff Records almost instantly established a formidable stable of musicians who for the most part weren’t quite as noisy as the Sex Pistols or The Clash, but were certainly indebted to the sudden musical freedom that came in the wake of punk.
Establishing a tone with their very first single, Nick Lowe’s immortal “So It Goes” (which I’ll be writing about tomorrow), Stiff Records alternated cheeky marketing — “If it ain’t Stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck! — with seriously groundbreaking music.
And so in the autumn of 1977, they put together a tour filled with future immortals — Nick Lowe, Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric and Elvis Costello — as well as Larry Wallis, and called it the “Live Stiffs” tour, with the idea that everybody would share musicians, though by this time Nick had 3/4 of Rockpile together and Elvis had all of the Attractions backing him up.
The tour was enough of a success that Stiff put out an album & film called Live Stiffs Live, the highlight of which was Nick Lowe’s furiously hilarious “Let’s Eat,” a 50’s-style rock song done up at punk speed, dominated by Penny Tobin’s organ and some merciless drumming by Terry Williams & Pete Thomas, and yet remains obscure enough for me to have to transcribe the lyrics from the song rather than look them up on the web.
I wanna move move move move my teeth
I wanna chew chew chew chew on a piece
With Dave Edmunds right there in place for the harmonies, it’s one Nick Lowe’s all-time greatest hooks, even — or maybe especially — if it’s also kinda silly as well. That said, it’s also on-brand for a guy who had an early single called “Food” that also featured a particularly bad Bob Dylan impersonation, and who named his band for this tour “Nick Lowe’s Last Chicken in the Shop.”
Fan-made video for “Let’s Eat”
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