So, how do you write a review of your favourite punk bands latest cd and yet remain unbiased?? Well, I haven’t a clue!!… Just say it how you see it I suppose, what more can you do. So, here goes…
It’s been 8 long years since the UK SUBS last made a studio album. Far too long. This is an enduring band that has been continually out on the road with one line up or another. 34 years down the line they are still here and refuse to go away!! Many bands call it a day then reform in later years, not so the UK SUBS. They just go onward and evolve and get better and better…
My own personal experience with the UK SUBS began on May 8th 1980 at Cleethropes Winter Gardens. A venue which is now no more. Demolished to nothing, yet in it’s day played host to none other than the Sex Pistols on the Anarchy Tour… Yes, the Sex Pistols played a small UK east coast venue, a venue steeped in musical heritage. The night the UK SUBS played I will never forget, a true introduction to punk rock in no uncertain terms… The place was rammed!! What I witnessed that night stays with me still, a vivid memory I can still recount even now in clear detail.That same year August 8th 1980 proved to be yet another memorable date in my own personnel UK SUBS history, a line up change but a band still undiminished in it’s appeal for me, if not more so. After failing half my O level exams my best friend Nick suggested we go to London to see the band at the Music Machine. So, off we went. Supported by none other than The Straps. A couple of 16 year olds from the provinces on a journey to the capital which will forever be etched into our brains and still recounted with such enthusiasm even today. Priceless…
The history of the UK SUBS is well documented on http://www.uksubstimeandmatter.net the best source for all things UK SUBS. Take a look, it’s a great site!!
Enough of things past. Back to the present…
The idea basically being that the band should record an album beginning with every letter of the alphabet, they have now reached the letter W in that quest. Work In Progress being the result. 14 tracks with a combination of power, precision and subtly which shows the adaptability of the band, a band which is one of the finest bands around let alone a punk band! A band full of character and talent with every member contributing to this album to produce for me the best UK SUBS album to date. It’s taken a long time to knock Another Kind Of Blues off my top spot in terms of albums by the UK SUBS but they have done it with this one.
Fronted by punk rock legend Charlie Harper, he has assembled a band which has raw talent and experience in abundance. From first seeing this line up I’ve waited for some studio work to see if they could match their live performances, and can they?? In my opinion YES, they can and then some.
I’m not going to review the album tracks with any great depth of detail, it’s up to you the listener to decide for yourselves what you think about the album. These are just my thoughts about an album when I first heard was being recored have waited for with bated breath. So much so that I ordered it from 2 different outlets and in the end couldn’t wait for it to turn up so downloaded it off itunes to get it quicker!! As I have said before each member of the band; Charlie Harper, Alvin Gibbs, Jet and Jamie Oliver have contributed to the writing along with Lars Frederiksen of Rancid. ( Yes, the Lars Frederiksen )
The album bursts into live with Creation, a reworked version of a song previously recorded on the 2008 Warhead EP. It took time to adjust listening to this version of the song but it sure as hell wakes you up to what is to follow. Tokyo Rose is next, a very catchy track which leads into Hell Is Other People. I can personally testify to that!! Never afraid to speak his mind, Charlie just tells it how it is. Plain and simple, the way it should be. The pace slows with The Axe but not in intensity or power. Something which this album has plenty of in abundance, In typical UK SUBS style they then hit top gear with Radio Unfriendly, a fast paced track which owes so much to the talent of Jamie Oliver. Modern day radio under corporate control is indeed a sludge fest…
This Chaos, says it all about the world we live in. A co-operation between Charlie Harper & Lars Frederiksen has produced a classic social comment track.
Do we have a chance?No
To realise potential? No
Do they have freedom? No
To be what we wanna be
Guru sees Alvin Gibbs take to vocals with a self penned track about fake, self righteous guru’s who are just out for the money. There are plenty of those about who people fall victim to these days. Eighteen Wheels with it’s Dwain Eddie style guitar twang and the powerful Children Of The Flood, complete with it’s sumptuous rock style guitar solo’s from Jet lead into what for me is the best track on this album, All Blurs Into One. This album certainly doesn’t do that by any means!! It’s the longest track on the album but has subtle pace changes, backing vocals along with pure raw UK SUBS power. It builds in intensity all the way through to provide a show stopping track. I love this… It would be great to see this performed live.
Blood is a powerful punchy track. The crowd cried out for more, with an album of this quality the crowd certainly will. Rock n Roll Whore which is another very catchy hard hitting song which makes way for the classic Sonics song Strychnine. A cover song they have played live and I’m glad to see it has made it onto the album. After 13 tracks the album finishes with track number 14 for me the weakest track on here, Robot Age. Maybe it was case of one track too far… But it has grown on me somehwhat. I’ll let you be the judge of that for yourselves.
I have seen the band live over the years and this line up for me is personally my favourite. Chalrie Harper must have played hundreds, if not thousands of gigs over the years and shows no sign of slowing down. He is always in amongst the fans talking and posing for photo’s with them as are the rest of the band. A true punk rock legend. In Jamie Oliver they have the second longest serving member of the UK SUBS only after Charlie Harper himself. Jamie is a great drummer with talent to match which comes through to the fore on this album. Jet is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet and also an excellent guitarist. He is in full flow on this album with subtle chords and powerful guitar riffs. For me Alvin Gibbs is the best UK SUBS bass player. He gives that bit extra in terms of drive and power when he plays whilst being no mean lyricist too. It is good to here him on vocals.
So there you have it, my thoughts on the latest UK SUBS release Work In Progress. Don’t take my word for it, go buy a copy and judge it’s merits yourselves. Even better go see the band live, trust me, you won’t regret it!!! They are on FIRE…
Basically I love this band. Everyone has their favourite band and for me this is it!! Bands come and go but for me the UK SUBS are out there doing it! As Charlie says ” We’re living it!! ” Year after year. No pretence, they are what they are, an EXCELLENT band and this IS an EXCELLENT album. I would just like to congratulate Charlie, Alvin, Jet and Jamie. You can keep your corporate conveyer belt media hyped shit. This is the real deal. Punk rock’s finest!!! I can’t wait for X…
Shortly after writing this the terrible events of the earthquake and tsunami unfolded in Japan. Jet had returned to Japan for 3 months while the band toured Europe with original UK SUBS guitarist Nicky Garrett. We are all worried about him as there has been no contact with him as yet. We all hope he is safe, well and hear from him very soon.
UK SUBS PUNK FOREVER…
To buy a copy of the album go to http://www.captainoi.com
Work In Progress…
Charlie Harper: Vocals
Alvin Gibbs: Bass
Jamie Oliver: Drums
All Photographs Copyright Jez Keefe