"If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth A Fuck."

Stiff Records Box Set En Route

Wrote HARP, "As any self-respecting record collector knows, Stiff was at the forefront of the late '70s British punk boom, issuing records by the Damned, Motorhead, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, the Pink Fairies, the Adverts, Lene Lovich, Madness, and Ian Dury."

Yet even during those heady safety-pinned days, Stiff garnered a maverick - if not outright bloody-mindedness, as evidenced by such eclectic, and decidedly un-punk acts as Tracey Ullman, Sweet, ska godfather Desmond Dekker, pre-freak-folk chanteuse Phranc, and a record titled The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, an LP consisting of two empty (literally) sides of vinyl. The label was also responsible for introducing American acts Dirty Looks, Devo, and Joe "King" Carrasco to England.

"According to a spokesperson, Stiff was renowned for flamboyant marketing ploys, singles and picture sleeves, and for reviving the package tour concept. Living up to the slogan, 'The World Most Flexible Record Label,' Stiff's roster of artists was the most diverse imaginable. Founders Dave Robinson and Jake Riviera took chances, took risks, and all music fiends (on both sides of the Pond) benefited from their daring. Stiff, but not dead! The label's ongoing importance and influence was reflected in a recent two-part BBC documentary, If It Ain't Stiff."

The label began reissuing some of its back catalog items earlier this year, and now comes a massive 98-song, 4-CD box set entitled The Big Stiff Box Set, due November 5 from Salvo/Union Square Music.

Here's the breakdown, according to the label:

Over five hours of digitally remastered music, there are tracks from early signings like Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, to recent 2007 singles from The Enemy. An array of unique, quintessentially Stiff pop discoveries are taken in along the way including Kirsty MacColl, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, The Pogues, and Wreckless Eric.

Stiff's massive impact on punk is explored with The Damned, The Adverts, and others. Its contribution to '80s pop is covered with million-sellers like Madness, The Belle Stars and The Go-Gos, groundbreaking eccentrics like Lene Lovich and Tenpole Tudor, and long-forgotten heroes ranging from Jona Lewie to Furniture. Contributions from Devo, Yello, M, Department S, and Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin tackle Stiff's work in electro-pop. Influential bands like The Prisoners and The Untouchables chart its support of the mod scene. And a cast of colourful characters from the late '70s pub-rock and blues boom - Dr Feelgood, Lew Lewis and Mickey Jupp among them - chart Stiff's musical roots.

This special DVD-sized box set comes with a full colour 68-page book featuring a label history, new interviews, biographies of every artist featured and as many photos, sleeves, flyers and badges as we could squeeze in!

All together now, one more finely-wrought Stiff slogan, please: Fuck Art, Let's Dance!

Material: harpmagazine.com