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UK Subs

Captain Oi!

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.

Pete Craven

Live Reviews Music

UK Subs Live at 100 Club, London

UK Subs/Anti-Nowhere League/Discharge
100 Club, London
31st July

Part of a series of gigs that Converse are promoting at the 100 Club (the tickets are free to those who could grab them first online), tonight was the brand’s homage to all things spiky and snotty, bringing together three UK punk legends under one roof. And not just any roof at that – seen by many as the birthplace of UK punk (the 100 Club hosted the first punk festival in 1976) this is, as Captain Sensible put it whilst having a beer outside – ‘the scene of the crime, this is where it all began.’ He explains as the doorman tries to move him away from the entrance with a shove. “Can’t believe I’m still getting into trouble here all these years on,” laughs Captain.

Inside the venue is a funny old mix of gnarled old punks mixed with guests and staff of Converse, but there’s a great atmosphere and energy in the room at odds with what some more cynical types may refer to as ‘penshioner punk’. But as Charlie Harper once said, ‘born a rocker die a rocker’ and nothing is going to stop these old punk bands from continuing to play, not even nuclear war – something that Discharge have been shouting about since the early eighties when everyone thought the bomb was about to drop at any second. Discharge’s paranoid anthems of war, death and destruction inspired a whole new generation of punks (as well as many metal heads too, their then ultra-raw and fast punk was a big influence on the likes of Metallica, Anthrax etc). These days, Discharge are fronted by The Varukers frontman Rat, original singer Cal having parted with the band long ago. And considering the dodgy metal direction Cal took the band in before, this is probably no bad thing. Discharge are a harsh, bellowing, distorted mess of noise. Bones’ guitar tone makes your teeth rattle and all in all, they make a horrendous noise, that somewhere underneath lurks classic punk anthems like ‘Protest And Survive,’ ‘Fight Back’ and ‘Never Again.’ All good fun!

Next up, Anti-Nowhere League (made most famous for Metallica’s cover of their filthy-anthem ‘So What’), take the stage, fronted by the snarling, towering biker-punk monster that is Animal, an apt nickname if ever there was one! He stalks and prowls that stage like a caged lion (he has quite a mane of hair to boot!), spewing obscenities out of his mouth to songs, mainly drawn from their early eighties debut album ‘We Are The League’. Tracks like ‘Streets Of London’, ‘Woman’, and of course, the revolting ‘So What’ all provide dumb, drunk, moronic punk fun that’s certainly not meant to be taken seriously.

Tonight the UK Subs are a revelation. So many musicians, both good and bad, have passed through the bands ranks over the years that their live shows can sometimes be a hit and miss affair, depending on who is in the band at the time. The band that frontman Charlie Harper can proudly call UK Subs in 2012 is shit hot. With original member Alvin Gibbs on bass, Charlie is joined by drummer Jamie Oliver and guitarist Jet who both inject a massive dose of energy into the barrage of classics that pile from the stage.

It’s a complete mystery how Charlie, now well into his sixties, keeps going with such rampant energy and enthusiasm. The man is an absolute inspiration for those that never want to give up, and just keep on going. And it tonight’s gig is anything to go by, let’s hope there’s many more years left in the UK Subs yet. The set is back to back absolute classics – ‘Warhead,’ ‘C.I.D.’ ‘I Live In A Car,’ and many more are all played with total conviction and passion from a band who deserve far more respect than they get. The UK Subs are the kings of UK punk and long may they reign over us!

WORDS: James Sherry

Music Music News Preview

Converse Represent Events Streamed Online Here

Converse Represent got off to a flying start yesterday with singer Plan B opening up proceedings. The event which runs nightly between 30th July and 10th August at London’s iconic 100 Club gives a nod to past legends by including nights headlined by UK Subs, Toots & the Maytals and Paul Weller. The best of the new breed are also showcased with Pulled Apart By Horses, The Safety Fire, Santigold, Best Coast, Japandroids and The Bots also featuring.

The highlight of the event has to be Blur’s ridiculously intimate gig on August 2nd. For a chance to be at this incredible show, fans will need to visit between 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM on Wednesday 1st August.

For those unable to get their hands on sought after tickets, Converse are kindly streaming the shows online here, you also stream the shows by scrolling to the bottom of the page.. The full line up for Converse Represent is as follows:

July 30 – Plan B, L Marshall, Jacob Banks, Yuna
July 31 – UK Subs, Discharge, Anti-Nowhere League, Goldblade, Ed Tudor Pole, Dumbjaw
August 1 – Paul Weller, Spiritualized, Japandroids, 2:54, Towns
August 2 – Blur, The Bots, Savages, Swiss Lips
August 6 – SBTRKT, Rudimental, John Talabot, Man Without Country
August 7 – Santigold, Django Django, Best Coast, Citizens!, Friends
August 8 – Toots & the Maytals, Natty, The Heatwave, Janice Graham Band
August 9 – Overkill, Pulled Apart By Horses, The Safety Fire, Wet Nuns
August 10 – Nas, Kano, Speech Debelle, Spoek Mathambo, Children Of The Night


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