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.

SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

Best years of my life? 15/16 years old, skateboarding all day and hanging around with my friends.  It was the late 1980s, and the days of the 180 Boneless, No Comply and learning to Ollie.  Back when kickflips were the raddest trick in the car park – except we called them “Ollie kickflips” back then.

This was also the time when I started to really veer off the obvious track as far as music was concerned.  Skate videos and Thrasher magazine began to open up a whole new world of music.  Sometimes these bands would enter the mainstream a couple of years later; sometimes they never did.

I remember hearing a great song on a Vision video.  I had no idea what the song was called, but worked out from the credits that it was most likely performed by the Descendents.  I recorded the song onto cassette off the TV as there was no other way to hear it.  A few months later, on a skate buying trip to Manchester, I stumbled across a record shop that stocked a few records by the band.  I had to buy one: taking a gamble on “All” as it featured a song called “Coolidge”, which fitted the lyrics of the track I loved.  I was so stoked when I got home, played the vinyl and heard the song I was hoping for!  Great album, all in all.

This practice of researching and hunting became a big feature of my relationship with music ever since.

Skating all day, then listening to music in the evening was a big part of my teenage years.  This playlist is designed to reflect those days: music I enjoyed back then and became the soundtrack to that time.

Some songs featured in skate videos (McRad, Odd Man Out).  Some were checked out after I saw them advertised or reviewed in Thrasher (The Cult, Misfits).  Others were just part of the current soundscape, and are forever linked with those halcyon days.

Here’s the playlist I made, split into a two CD format:

Part 1

  1. McRad – “Weakness”
  2. Odd Man Out – “Four Thirty One”
  3. Descendents – “Coolidge”
  4. Sex Pistols – “Holidays in the Sun”
  5. Devo – “That’s Good”
  6. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
  7. Motorhead – “Killed by Death”
  8. Faith No More – “We Care a Lot”
  9. Misfits – “Astro Zombies”
  10. Hard-Ons – “Don’t Wanna See You Cry”
  11. The Stupids – “Skid Row”
  12. Beastie Boys – “She’s On It”
  13. Circle Jerks – “Wild in the Streets”
  14. Spermbirds – “Something to Prove”
  15. Dead Kennedys – “California Uber Alles”
  16. Suicidal Tendencies – “Possessed to Skate”
  17. Generation X – “One Hundred Punks”

Part 2

  1. The Cult – “Wildflower”
  2. The Damned – “Love Song”
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground”
  4. Fishbone – “Freddie’s Dead”
  5. Iggy Pop – “Cold Metal”
  6. GBH – “Too Much”
  7. Mudhoney – “Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More”
  8. Ramones – “I Just Wanna Have Something To Do”
  9. The Stranglers – “Peaches”
  10. Bad Brains – “Soul Craft”
  11. Gang Green – “Church of Fun”
  12. Metallica – “The Thing That Should Not Be”
  13. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Purple Haze”
  14. Rolling Stones – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
  15. Jesus Jones – “Never Enough”
  16. The Skids – “Into the Valley”
  17. Fugazi – “Blueprint”

Some of the above tracks I owned on vinyl or cassette back in the day; some I found in later years.  There are still plenty of other bands from skate videos that I either still haven’t tracked down, or as I didn’t own them at the time I’ve omitted for now.

Instead, this is a basic playlist to represent my late 80s skateboarding days, boiled down to the bare essentials.  I hope you enjoy and these bring back some memories.

And this sin’t an exhaustive list: how Anthrax and Run DMC didn’t get included is baffling.  Maybe I can expand with some more for a Part 2…