Wednesday, May 27, 2009

UK SUBS: Left for Dead - Alive in Holland '86 [ROIR]

Once a major player in the second British punk explosion of 1979-1980, the UK Subs still retain a cult following whose tastes never left that era. This factor, coupled with singer Charlie Harper's boundless perseverance, has enabled the UK Subs -- short for "United Kingdom Subversives" -- to outlast first-generation peers like the Clash and Sex Pistols. Never a real presence in America, Harper's profile received an unexpected boost there from Guns N' Roses' inclusion of "Down on the Farm" on its dubious punk covers album, The Spaghetti Incident. Harper's own musical history stretches to the early '70s, with combos like Charlie Harper's Free Press and the Marauders. His career is an anomaly, by any measure; how many middle-aged former hairdressers are fronting punk groups with ever-fluctuating lineups? Left for Dead reissues a cassette-only recording of a 1986 gig first taped in Holland. Immediacy is the name of the game here, a point driven home by the cover packaging ("23 Songs! 60 Minutes!") and Harper's breathless delivery; he remains a presence unto himself, even if he is the sole surviving original member onstage. The band's style is agreeably diverse within punk's bass-drum-guitar constraints, a reflection of its flirtations with melodic punk (Another Kind of Blues(X), 1979), glossy experimental pop (Endangered Species, 1981), and primal proto-metal (Flood of Lies, 1984). Songs aim darts at cops ("CID," "New York State Police"), broken romance (the affecting "Fear of Girls"), rock biz hypocrisy ("Limo Life"), nuclear holocaust ("Warhead"), and homelessness (the sardonic "I Live in a Car"). The crowd howls along to every chorus, supplying an atmosphere airbrushed from the standard artfully dubbed live album. So do Big Takeover editor Jack Rabid's liner notes, which could have stood some updating (even while they cheerfully recount that Harper led three completely different bands in the years before Left for Dead's release). The UK Subs' persistence is unlikely to change the big-time rock scene, let alone their lowly cult stature, but punk fans will find plenty of delights here.
-- by Ralph Heibutzki, Allmusic Guide

tRaCk lIsTiNg
.CID - .emotional blackmail - .endangered species - .fear of girls - .rock'n'roll savage - .sk8 tough - .new york state police - .does she suck - .limo life - .confrontation street - .warhead - .police state - .teenage - .i couldn't be you - .i live in a car - .blues - .telephone numbers - .left for dead - .rockers - .strangehold - .new barbarians - .tomorrow´s girls - .between the eyes

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stogref said...

Great. Roir is always a quality release label to me, and UK Subs prolly one of the best british punk bands ever. Thanx alot Nagiant! 8)

Rich said...

Great blog, mate. Been following it unofficially for a couple of years now.
Setting my own blog up at

Any chance of a link?



Whitey666 said...

Dude, awesome stuff as always. I've been frequenting yer site for a while now and it gave me enough inspiration to make my own punk blog.

It's small but it's growing.

Check it out, I've already got you linked so my friends out there maybe you could link me as well so I could start getting some traffic to my site. if you want to slag on me.

Toxik Boys said...

Nice band, nice label.