UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader Album Review

UK Subs – XXIV/Yellow Leader

Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records

Release date: 27/05/2022 and 08/07/2022

Running time: 38 mins and 52 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10 and 8.5/10

Recap time: regular readers may remember that yours truly recently reviewed the re-issue of “Work in Progress” by punk veterans UK Subs.  You may also recall that that album covered the letter W in the bands ongoing mission to release an album for every letter of the alphabet.  Well, the good news is that Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records are also releasing the next two instalments in the series – that’s the letters X and Y (but you knew that).

Working through chronologically, we have “XXIV” – which the lovely record company peeps have released on drool-worthy double 10” vinyl, one green, one clear.  Yummy.  Our first song is an absolute belter: the full-on turbo romp ‘Implosion 77’.  Hold on tight and buckle up!  There’s plenty more fast’n’nasty thrills on offer too: ‘Speed’ has a merciless UK82 vibe; ‘Monkeys’ has a classic Subs singalong chorus; ‘Garden of Good & Evil’ is another pogo-till-your-pants-fall-off rocker.

There’s some well-placed variety too, with the harmonica adorned political thrust of ‘Coalition Government Blues’; and Bo Diddley swagger of ‘Wreckin’ Ball’ – both showing hints of the bands R’n’B origins (like as in, what R’n’B used to be).  Lyrically there are plenty of targets for Charlie to attack, both politically and socially.  ‘Memento Mori’ finishes the album off with one most aggressive tunes on offer, leaving us with a great album of 14 adrenaline infused songs.

“Yellow Leader” follows in a similar fashion, featuring 18 songs (whereas the original vinyl was cut to just 14 due to running times).  To be released on slinky, divine double 10” vinyl (one red, one turquoise here), it’ll be a feast for the eyes and ears.  Again, the album is crammed with more relentless punk rock shenanigans like ‘Sick Velveteen’, ‘Chemical’ and ‘Heathens’, all of which will have you jumping around the room like a monkey on a lava stream.

As the previous record, there’s plenty of other sounds and ideas here: single ‘Sin City Blues’ has a killer rockabilly feel; and ‘Rebellion Song’ breaks out the acoustic guitar.  The only mis-step is ‘Archaeology’, a strange post -punk/goth style experiment that while not awful, isn’t a total success.  All in all, the quality of music is impressively high and the recordings sound excellent.

And there you go, music lovers: not one, but TWO albums of mighty UK Subs songs, lovingly compiled and curated by those nice folks at Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records.  You lucky people.  Pick ‘em up while you can, nobody is this fortunate twice.    

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

Cherry Red Records have a website. Plus you can find them on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and Bandcamp.

This review is a joint presentation from Ever Metal and Platinum Al.

UK Subs – Album Review

UK Subs – Work in Progress

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 22/04/2022

Running time: 41 minutes

Review by: Alun Jones

9/10

Ladies and gentlemen: the UK Subs.  A fine collective of upstanding, noble samurai and no mistake.  Led by the indomitable Charlie Harper, the band have roots stretching right back to the origin of the London punk scene (and actually, a fair bit further than that).   The band are still touring and recording all this time later, albeit with changing line ups throughout the years, so their integrity and passion should never be in any doubt. 

Casual observers may not be aware that the UK Subs have released an album for every letter of the alphabet (plus more).  That’s no mean feat.  What is somewhat daunting, is that’s a lot for any new fans who want to collect everyone of those releases!  Yet fear not, music lovers: Cherry Red records have been gracious enough to re-release the 2011 album “Work in Progress”, on sexy double 10” gold and silver vinyl.  For anyone struggling to keep up, that means the punters have no excuse to at least have the letter W from the list in the bag.

And what will discerning music fans find within this sumptuous collection?  Why, fourteen songs of the finest punk rock vintage, of course.  That means a blitzkrieg of blinding rockers like ‘Creation’, ‘Radio Unfriendly’ and the brilliantly titled ‘Hell is Other People’.  Some bloke called Lars Frederickson, from a band called Rancid, co-wrote ‘This Chaos’ – another brain melter – and you can even bang your head to ‘Children of the Flood’, if you want to.

Punk rock unbelievers, I say unto thee: these songs do not all sound the same.  They are not simply constructed, amateur-hour noise.  All the tracks are full of energy and have their own identity.  There’s a hint of rockabilly on ‘Eighteen Wheels’, R&B garage rock on the bouncy Sonics cover ‘Strychnine’ and ‘All Blurs into One’ has an almost psychedelic sheen. 

The only potential misfires are ‘Tokyo Rose’, which at first sounds a bit too Hollywood Sunset Strip (but redeems itself after a few listens) and ‘Rock’n’Roll Whore’, which could be a bit – well, dated lyrically.

This UK Subs album admirably highlights a classic band who are still fighting on, taking their music to the world.  It shows the roots of the band in R&B, whilst also providing a link from the Ramones to US hardcore bands like Circle Jerks and Descendents, and ever onwards.  After all these years, the UK Subs are still a “Work in Progress” and show no signs of stopping.

Right, see you later.  I’m off to hang around in a graveyard with my old mate Dave Vanian.  Captain and Rat, you can only come if you promise to stop setting fire to mattresses.

You can find UK Subs on Facebook and Twitter.

Cherry Red Records have a website. Plus you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bandcamp.

This review is a joint presentation from Ever Metal and Platinum Al.

Toyah – Album Review

Toyah – Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! (2021 Remaster)

Cherry Red Records

Release date: 13/05/2022

Running time: 61 mins

Review by: Alun Jones

8.5/10

Now, your first question may well be: “How did Platinum Al manage to slip a Toyah review onto a Rock/Metal website?”  Well, dear reader, let me tell you a story.  The first time I ever saw Toyah live was at a local club, where the dynamic lady herself was backed by the mighty Girlschool.  All of these fearsome females put on an explosive show, comprising of ultra-rocked-up originals from both artists and classic rock covers.  So yes, Toyah is more rock’n’roll than you (or I) will ever be.

To be fair, despite her pop pedigree, Toyah Willcox has always been more Bowie than Kylie.  And on this reissue of the 1980 live album, Cherry Red have presented us with a vibrant – even, dare I say it, rocking – bunch of post punk songs that show Toyah and her band in full flight.  The expanded deluxe CD set is packaged with a DVD featuring a contemporary documentary.  For this review though, we’re focussing purely on the music.

Happily, the production is top notch.  Remastered by Nick Watson from the original master tapes, the sound is formidable.  The instruments come through crisp and clear, and the vocals are excellent, as shown on ‘Victims of the Riddle’ where keyboards maintain a steady melody while lead guitar erupts with energy.  Likewise, bass and drums shine on ‘Love Me’ – it’s particularly impressive considering we’re dealing with a 40-year-old live album.

Highlights on “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” include ‘Bird in Flight’, ‘Danced’ (which reminded me of the Skids) and the occult war chant of ‘Ieya’.  Never truly dark enough to be goth, the songs here are more “Scary Monsters” with a generous helping of Hawkwind space rock, especially on ‘Race Through Space’.

Through it all, Toyah’s one-of-a-kind voice soars.  Toyah has never stopped writing and performing music, acting, presenting and so on; these days she’s famous for her lockdown YouTube videos performing kitchen-based rock covers with husband, King Crimson legend, Robert Fripp.  It’s great to hear “Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!” remastered and in pristine condition.  Even speaking as a vinyl purist, it looks like my ancient vinyl copy has had its day.

Check out Toyah on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or her own website thingy.

You can also investigate the many wonders offered by Cherry Red Records on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bandcamp and their own webalicious site.

This review has been presented to you by Platinum Al and Ever Metal.