Founded in 1976 by the improbably-named Jake Riviera, Stiff Records (motto: “If it ain’t Stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck”) was on the cutting edge of the New Wave movement in England in the late ’70s. In addition to Elvis Costello, their biggest name, Stiff also had Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds in their stable. Lowe, who later produced Costello’s albums, played with the legendary (and mostly unheard) bar band Brinsley Schwarz in the early ’70s, and had a big hit in England with “Cruel to Be Kind” from his album Jesus of Cool (which was renamed Pure Pop For Now People for US release). He also wrote “What’s So Funny (’bout Peace, Love and Understanding),” which has become something of a standard.
In late 1978, the whole Stiff label went on a “Stiffs Live” tour in England. At the London show, Lowe and Edmunds got together one night to do a severely pumped-up version of Lowe’s “I Knew the Bride.” This is the loudest, fastest and most exciting song I’ve ever heard, and is one of the few recordings that actually captured the feeling of a live band playing at full volume in a room full of people. When a friend of mine got married back in the ’80s, I almost bribed the band to play the song. But the fact that I “knew” the bride even after she was engaged made the song a little close to home.