Brothers and Sisters, the time to decide whether you dig the UK Subs is I believe long passed. You will definitely know by now if you do.
Inching ever closer to a fully continuous A to Z of album titles, “XXIV” is their 24th long player, and although that does include a few live releases, a majority are studio recordings, dating all the way back to ‘79’s “Another Kind of Blues”. That’s a pretty phenomenal legacy, and in Charlie Harper they are fronted by one of Punks endearing legends, a guy who has resolutely kept this band going for over 30 years.
I was a bit disappointed by the last album “Work in Progress” but approached “XXIV” with fresh ears, and guess what – it’s mostly a real ripper, chock full of some of the best Subs material since the two mid-Nineties albums “Quintessentials” and “Riot” that saw the classic Harper/Garret/Gibbs line-up regrouped to great effect. Opener “Implosion 77” launches “XXIV” in blistering fashion, Charlie hollering megaphone style to a thumping beat and striking power chords. I was surprised they threw in the harp driven “Coalition Blues” so early on, but it does in fact work, and nails some bang-on topical lyrics about the public school government, and all those “ministers who can’t administer”. From here on in it’s a steady mix of fast thrashers and mid-paced hoary punk rockers, and good old Charlie sounding in fine fettle.
The ‘expanded’ version of this album is boosted by an acoustic collection of songs, so kick back as Charlie and Alvin Gibbs split vocal duties, and these seasoned old rockers show a they can be sensitive boys when they want to. I’ve played these acoustic tracks a number of times, and there are some real nice tunes. “Thunders in The Wind” has Alvin pondering on the opiate felled Johnny Thunders, and warning of too much junkie business, whilst “Stormy Day” is a snappy shanty those of us down on the coast will very much understand.
A solid album from the UK Subs, and for longtime fans a definite cause for celebration.