“If It Ain’t On Stiff, It Ain’t Worth a F***!” declared a famous slogan for the venerable punk and New Wave label. This month, that worth-a-f*** spirit extends to catalogue label Razor & Tie, who today announced a brand-new licensing agreement in North America with both Stiff and equally iconic British label ZTT.
Stiff, of course, was best known for putting out early works by The Damned (their “New Rose” is considered by some scholars to be the first punk rock single), Kirsty MacColl (some of her early singles appeared on the recent compilation A New England), Ian Dury and, of course, Elvis Costello. (Costello famously controls his own masters, having distributed them in the United States on the Columbia, Rykodisc, Rhino and UMe labels between 1978 and the present, in varying configurations of “deluxe.”)
Just as exciting, of course, is Razor & Tie’s partnership with Zang Tuum Tumb Records, the quirky U.K. dance-pop label celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Early singles “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and “Moments in Love” by The Art of Noise redefined pop music for the 1980s (the former was famously banned by the BBC for its saucy lyrical content), and latter-day bands like 808 State and Propaganda remain favorites by discerning rock lovers to this day.
ZTT has seen a great deal of U.K. catalogue work since The Second Disc started in 2010, with expanded reissues of works by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Art of Noise and others earning general acclaim among catalogue connoisseurs.
While exact details for either label’s physical reissue plan have yet to be ironed out, Razor & Tie’s strategy, according to a statement, includes “newly expanded editions this year,” “licensing opportunities for the catalog” and “new, direct to consumer ZTT Records and Stiff Records online merch stores which will feature an array of newly created, limited-edition items including classic logo shirts and much more to be announced soon.”