In 1979, Stiff Little Fingers recorded a number of live shows for their live disc Hanx (which was initially intended to get American fans up to speed on SLF's pre-Chrysalis body of song), and close to thirty years after the fact, one of the gigs committed to tape for the project gets a release of its own. While excerpts from this show appeared on a limited-edition picture disc called Broken Fingers in 1996, and the version of "Straw Dogs" recorded this night showed up on the B-side of the European 7" of "At the Edge," none of the performances on Live in Aberdeen (1979) made it on to Hanx, and it's hard to say why: Jake Burns delivers the songs with fierce passion and plenty of energy, the band sounds tight and powerful, and SLF's rapport with their Scottish fans is impressive. By the time this show was recorded, Stiff Little Fingers had started to grow beyond their initial status as scrappy kids from Belfast into a world-class punk rock powerhouse, and the recording is a bit more polished and the playing more nuanced than one might expect from a spin of Inflammable Material, but there's still admirably little fuss and clutter on display in this show, and Burns' between song patter (as he asks the punters not to fight, demands the same of the bouncers, explains a few of the tunes, and scoffs at his own pop star status) sounds like something straight out of a show at a corner pub. While Hanx is a non-stop barrage of early Stiff Little Fingers hits, Live in Aberdeen (1979) plays more like a typical live show, with occasional stops and starts and a fair bit of by-play with the audience, but it's all loud, powerful and engagingly fun, and captures a great band near the top of their game, especially when they tear into audience favorites like "No More of That," "Nobody's Hero," "Wasted Life" and "Alternative Ulster." Longtime fans will definitely want to hear this. ~~ Mark Deming
trACks:- Alternative Ulster - Barbed Wire Love - Can't Say Crap On The Radio - At the Edge - Johnny Was - Suspect Device - Nobody's Hero - No Change - No More Of That - Gotta Getaway - Rough Trade - Wait and See - Breakout - Straw Dogs - Wasted Life.