U.K. Subs - UK SUBS

U.K. Subs - 1979 lineup

Formed: London, England, 1977

In their first ever interview in 1976, Eater famously decided the Sex Pistols were “too old.” Sadly, history does not record what Andy Blade and co first thought of the U.K. Subs when they trod the boards at the Roxy in 1977: their singer Charlie Harper was well into his thirties, and "sang" about living in a car and filling in forms for the benefit office. Surprisingly, he’d been playing in blues bands since the mid-60s, but it wasn't until the rise of punk that he found a home for his dubious singing talents.

Once the initial fuss had died down and the best punk bands either split or moved to America, the British punk audiences readily accepted the Subs into their hearts as one of the few remaining holders of the torch. They did not play new wave and were beery street urchins far removed from the dour post-punk crowd. Their music was spunky, catchy, fast and chugging, and songs covered such relatable topics as dodging paying the TV license, sex, getting hassled by the man, war, and life in the big city. Even more so than the Ruts, Angelic Upstarts, Sham 69 and Stiff Little Fingers, they were the punk band of the late 70s and early 80s, until the hardcore gnashings of The Exploited and Discharge made them seem more like a relic of the early punk years than something entirely new. Nonetheless, they remained popular and sold many records until 1983, whereafter they kind of fell below the radar.

Their line-up was never stable for long, but they were undoubtedly at their best when Nicky Garratt played guitar, Paul Slack played bass and Pete Davies drummed. This was from 1978 to 1980, whereupon the rhythm section was replaced. At their strongest during these early years (78-82), they never strayed far from playing basic 1977 punk but since the mid-80s have been doing it with much less zip.

U.K. Subs - 1981 LineupFollowing the high-selling C.I.D. 7" in 1978. they signed with RCA subsidiary and embarked on a four year spurt of high productivity and widespread commercial success. Another Kind Of Blues and Brand New Age are the U.K. Subs albums to buy, with the lads charging through 31 bona fide top-of-the-second-division second wave punk, with slashing guitars, shouted Cockney vocals and, almost without exception, a great lyric (Harper is one of punk’s most underrated lyricists, capable of wit, insight and unflinching realism). The records spawned a brace of charting singles, including such recognised classics as 'Stranglehold', 'Tomorrow's Girls', 'Warhead' and 'Teenage'.

Recorded with the new rhythm section (Alvin Gibbs and Steve Roberts), the purple vinyl live LP Crash Course captured the band at the height of their powers, with 20 of their best numbers played with maximum vim. Hardly slick, this captures all their anarchic glory, and a bonus 12” single includes four more live numbers. This lineup hung around for the much weaker Diminished Responsibility, which sold fairly well but proved to be their last hit record, and the superb Endangered Species , which they released for the NEMS label in 1982. The Shake Up The City EP (recorded with a new drummer) in 1982 marked the last time they sounded like a top band.

U.K. Subs - 1983 LineupU.K. Subs - 1985 Lineup

The band seemed to fall completely apart during mid 1982, but harper soldiered on with an entirely new band, but releases for the next six years or so badly missed the distinctive Garratt touch: Flood Of Lies was pretty good if sloppy sounding, but by the time of Huntington Beach the group sounded tired and the recording budgets were audibly decreasing. Following an unsuccessful "original lineup reformation" on 1988's Killing Time, the band ploughed along, with Harper and an ever revolving lineup trudging through shoddy messes such as Mad Cow Fever, Normal Service Resumed and Occupied.

Harper, Garratt and Gibbs reconvened in 1996 for a pair of albums they recorded simultaneously: Quintessentials and Riot. Reviews were favourable but before long Harper was going at it with more pick up bands, and that's the way the band has been going ever since, with Garratt re-appearing every now and again. Unfortunately they seem stuck in a permanent rut, re-living glory days by playing punk festivals and churning out live albums and - worse - covering their own material.

U.K. Subs - MRR 1997

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise: between 1978 and 1983 they were the bollocks.

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

U.K. Subs - C.I.D. U.K. Subs - Stranglehold U.K. Subs - Tomorrows Girls U.K. Subs - Another Kind Of Blues U.K. Subs - She's Not There
C.I.D (7', 1978) Stranglehold
(7', 1979)
Tomorrows Girls
(7', 1979)
Another Kind Of Blues (LP, 1979) She's Not There
(7', 1979)
U.K. Subs - Warhead U.K. Subs - Brand New Age U.K. Subs - Teenage U.K. Subs - Crash Course U.K. Subs - For Export Only
Warhead (7", 1980) Brand New Age
(LP, 1980)
Teenage (7", 1980) Crash Course (LP+12", 1980) For Export Only
(12", 1980)
U.K. Subs - Party In Paris U.K. Subs - Diminished Responsibility U.K. Subs - Keep On Running (Til You Burn) U.K. Subs - Countdown U.K. Subs - Endangered Species
Party In Paris
(7", 1980)
Diminished Responsibility
(LP, 1981)
Keep On Running (Til You Burn) (7", 1981) Countdown
(7", 1981)
Endangered Species (LP, 1982)
U.K. Subs - Shake Up The City U.K. Subs - Another Typical City Involved In Another Typical Daydream U.K. Subs - Flood Of Lies U.K. Subs - Magic U.K. Subs - Gross-Out USA
Shake Up The City
(7", 1982)
Another Typical City Involved In Another Typical Daydream (7"/12", 1983) Flood Of Lies
(LP, 1983)
Magic (12", 1984) Gross-Out USA
(LP, 1984)
U.K. Subs - This Gun Says U.K. Subs - Huntington Beach U.K. Subs - In Action (Tenth Anniversary) U.K. Subs - Japan Today U.K. Subs - Hey! Santa
This Gun Says
(7", 1985)
Huntington Beach
(LP, 1985)
In Action (Tenth Anniversary)
(2xLP, 1987)
Japan Today
(LP, 1987)
Hey! Santa
(12", 1987)
U.K. Subs - Killing Time U.K. Subs - Sabre Dance U.K. Subs - Motivator U.K. Subs - Live In Paris Greatest Hits U.K. Subs - Mad Cow Fever
Killing Time
(LP/CD, 1988)
Sabre Dance
(12", 1988)
Motivator
(12", 1988)
Live In Paris Greatest Hits (LP, 1989) Mad Cow Fever (LP/CD, 1991)
U.K. Subs - Normal Service Resumed U.K. Subs - The Road Is Hard, The Road Is Long E.P. Swingin' Utters / U.K. Subs - Split Vision Vol. 1 U.K. Subs - Betrayal U.K. Subs - Occupied
Normal Service Resumed (LP/2xCD, 1993) The Road Is Hard, The Road Is Long E.P (7"/CDS, 1993) Split Vision Vol 1
(7", split with Swingin' Utters, 1994)
Betrayal (7", 1995) Occupied
(LP/CD, 1996)
U.K. Subs - Peel Sessions 1978-1979 U.K. Subs - War On The Pentagon U.K. Subs - Day Of The Dead U.K. Subs - Cyberjunk U.K. Subs - Quintessentials
Peel Sessions 1978-1979 (LP/CD, 1997) War On The Pentagon (7", 1997)Peel Sessions 1978-1979 (LP/CD, 1997) Day Of The Dead
(7", 1997)
Cyberjunk (7", 1997) Quintessentials
(LP/CD, 1997)
U.K. Subs - Riot U.K. Subs - Riot 98 EP U.K. Subs - Sub Mission - The Best Of Uk SUbs 1982-1998 U.K. Subs - The Revolution's Here U.K. Subs - Time Warp - Greatest Hits
Riot (CD, 1997) Riot 98 EP (7", 1998) Sub Mission - The Best Of Uk SUbs 1982-1998 (2xCD, 1999) The Revolution's Here (7"/CDS, 2000) Time Warp - Greatest Hits (CD, 2001)
U.K. Subs - Drunken Sailor U.K. Subs - Universal U.K. Subs - Violent State Live U.K. Subs - 666 Yeah U.K. Subs - Warhead
Drunken Sailor
(7", 2002)
Universal
(LP/CD+CD, 2002)

Violent State Live (LP/CD, 2005)

666 Yeah (7", 2007) Warhead
(CDS, 2008)
U.K. Subs - Work In Progress U.K. Subs - Product Supply      
Work In Progress
(LP/CD, 2010)
Product Supply
(7", 2011)
     

Extraneous Releases

U.K. Subs - Live Kicks U.K. Subs - Recorded Live In London U.K. Subs - uksubs_danger.html U.K. Subs - Recorded 1979-1981 U.K. Subs - Demonstration Tapes
Live Kicks
(LP, 1980)
Recorded Live In London (LP, split with other bands, 1980) Danger UK Subs Live At Gossips 28.9.81
(Tape, 1982)
Recorded 1979-1981 (LP, 1982) Demonstration Tapes (LP, 1984)
U.K. Subs - Left For Dead - Alive In Holland '86 U.K. Subs - Live In Holland U.K. Subs - Subs Standards U.K. Subs - Raw Material U.K. Subs - AWOL
Left For Dead - Alive In Holland '86
(Tape, 1986)
Live In Holland
(7", 1986)
Subs Standards
(LP, 1986)
Raw Material
(LP, 1986)
AWOL (LP, 1987)
U.K. Subs - The Singles - 1978-1982 U.K. Subs - Europe Calling U.K. Subs - Fascist Regime U.K. Subs - Live At The Roxy Club U.K. Subs - Down On The Farm (A Collection Of The Less Obvious)
The Singles - 1978-1982 (LP, 1989) Europe Calling (The London - Paris - Vienna Recordings) (CD, 1990) Fascist Regime
(3xCD, 1991)
Live At The Roxy Club (LP/CD, 1991) Down On The Farm (A Collection Of The Less Obvious) (CD, 1991)
U.K. Subs - Los Exitos En Singles - 1978-1985 U.K. Subs - Greatest Hits Live U.K. Subs - Scum Of The Earth (Best Of The U.K Subs) U.K. Subs - The Punk Is Back U.K. Subs - The Punk Singles Collection
Los Exitos En Singles - 1978-1985 (LP/CD, 1992) Greatest Hits Live
(CD, 1992)
Scum Of The Earth (Best Of The U.K Subs) (CD, 1993) The Punk Is Back
(CD, 1995)
The Punk Singles Collection (CD, 1995)
U.K. Subs - Punk Can Take It (Rare And Unreleased 78-82) U.K. Subs - The Hidden History U.K. Subs - Rebel Radio U.K. Subs - Self Destruct - Punk Can Take It II U.K. Subs - Live In The Warzone
Punk Can Take It (Rare And Unreleased 78-82) (CD, 1996) The Hidden History (Tape, 1996) Rebel Radio
(CD, promo, 1997)
Self Destruct - Punk Can Take It II (CD, 1997) Live In The Warzone (CD, 1998)
U.K. Subs - Punk Rock Rarities U.K. Subs - Warhead U.K. Subs - Strangle Hold U.K. Subs - Live At The Roxy U.K. Subs - Countdown
Punk Rock Rarities
(CD, 1998)
Warhead (CD, 1999) Strangle Hold
(CD, 1999)
Live At The Roxy (LP/CD, 2001) Countdown
(2xCD, 2001)
U.K. Subs - Gruesome Twosome Vol 1 U.K. Subs - Staffordshire Bull U.K. Subs - World War U.K. Subs - Before You Were Punk - The Very Best Of U.K. Subs - Complete Riot
Gruesome Twosome Vol 1 (CD, split with National Razor F.D.I.C., 2001) Staffordshire Bull
(CD, 2003)
World War
(CD, 2003)
Before You Were Punk - The Very Best Of (CD, 2004) Complete Riot
(CD, 2005)
U.K. Subs - Live And Loud!! U.K. Subs - Original Punks Original Hits U.K. Subs - An Introduction To Presents The U.K Sub U.K. Subs - Punk As Fuck U.K. Subs - Stranglehold
Live And Loud!!
(CD, 2005)
Original Punks Original Hits (2xCD, 2006) An Introduction To Presents The U.K Subs (CD, 2006) Punk As Fuck
(LP, 2007)
Stranglehold
(CD, 2007)
U.K. Subs - A Blast In Belfast 1998        
A Blast In Belfast 1998 (CD, 2010)        

Bootlegs

U.K. Subs - DANCE AND TRAVEL IN THE RONOT AGE        
Dance And Travel In The Robot Age
(LP, 1980)
       

Various Artists

Farewell To The Roxy UK LP 1978 (Lightning): I Live In A Car / Telephone Numbers

Business Unusual (The Other Record Collection) UK LP 1979 (Cherry Red): C.I.D.

A Sudden Surge Of Sound UK LP 1980 (VU): Left For Dead

We Do 'Em Our Way UK LP 1980 (Music For Pleasure): She's Not There

Back-Stage Pass UK LP 1980 (Supermusic): Emotional Blackmail (Parts 1+2) / New York State Police

Burning Ambitions (A History Of Punk) UK 2xLP 1982 (Cherry Red): Stranglehold

Wave News - The New Generation Of Music Germany LP 1982 (Intercord): Countdown

Wave News 2 - Independent Smash Hits Germany LP 1982 (Intercord): Endangered Species

Punk And Disorderly III - The Final Solution UK LP 1983 (Anagram): Police State

We Don't Want Your Fucking War! UK LP 1984 (Fight Back): Anti-Warfare

Maggie, Maggie, Maggie - Out! Out! Out! UK LP 1987 (Anagram): Flood Of Lies

Punk - Past, Present And Future ... The Released Emotions Compilation (1988-1993) UK CD 1993 (Released Emotions): Motivator

Punk Explosion Live UK CD 1995 (Carlton Home Entertainment Limited): Telephone Numbers

At War With Society US CD 1998 (New Red Archives): State Of Alert / Nobody Move / NRA Jingle

1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): C.I.D.

Live From The Roxy UK CD 1999 (Castle): World War / I Couldn't Be You

Smells Like Bleach (A Punk Tribute To Nirvana) US CD 2000 (Cleopatra): Stay Away

White Dopes On Punk UK 2xCD 2005 (Castle Music): I Live In A Car (Live)

The Roxy London WC2 - A Live Punk Box Set UK 6xCD 2005 (Castle Music): See entry for tracks

Fuck You Punx Vol III 7" 2003 (Blue Moon Recordings/Vigilante Justice): Terroristos

Links

THE OFFICIAL U.K. SUBS WEBSITE

U.K. SUBS TIME AND MATTER - Unbelievably great fansite

WIKIPEDIA

COMPLETE DISOCGRAPHY - New Red Archives

 

 

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