Origin: London, England
Genre: Punk rock, hardcore punk, street punk, Oi!
Years active: 1976–present
Rab Fae Beith
Another Kind of Blues (1979) (UK No. 21)
Brand New Age (1980) (UK No. 18)
Crash Course (1980) (UK No. 8)
Diminished Responsibility (1981) (UK No. 18)
Endangered Species (1982)
Flood of Lies (1983)
Gross Out USA LIVE (1984)
Huntington Beach (1985)
In Action (10th Anniversary) (1986)
Japan Today (1987)
Killing Time (1988)
LIVE in Paris (1989)
Mad Cow Fever (1991)
Normal Service Resumed (1993)
Peel Sessions 1978-79 (1997)
Submission: the Best of the UK Subs 1982-1998 (1999)
Time Warp GREATEST HITS (2000)
Violent State (2005)
Work In Progress (10 January 2011)
XXIV (6 February 2013)
Yellow Leader (due early 2015)
The U.K. Subs are an English punk band, among the earliest in the first wave of British punk. Formed in 1976, the mainstay of the band has been vocalist Charlie Harper, originally a singer in Britain’s R&B scene. They were also one of the first street punk bands.
The U.K. Subs were part of the original punk movement in England that formed in 1976, with the initial name of the Subversives. The band’s founder, Charlie Harper selected guitarist Nicky Garratt, bassist Paul Slack, and various drummers (eventually Pete Davis became fairly stable) under the initial name “U.K. Subversives”. The London based band’s early line-up changed frequently.
Their style combined the energy of punk and the rock and roll edge of the then thriving pub rock scene. The band had some hit singles such as “Stranglehold”, “Warhead”, “Teenage”, and “Tomorrow’s Girls”, with several of their songs managing to enter the United Kingdom’s Top Forty.
The band played several John Peel sessions in 1977 and 1978 for BBC Radio 1, and then signed a recording contract with GEM Records. Under GEM, the U.K. Subs recorded an album in 1979 called Another Kind of Blues. The group also played a few opening gigs for The Police, as well as recording a set at The Roxy (a punk club), which was issued in 1980 as Live Kicks. Their biggest selling album came with 1980s Crash Course. Crash Course was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 30 May 1980 during the Brand New Age tour.
In 1979 Julien Temple wrote and directed a short film Punk Can Take It, a parody of wartime documentaries, that consisted mainly of the U.K.Subs playing live on stage. The film had a theatrical release.
With the arrival of new bassist Alvin Gibbs and drummer Steve Roberts in the early 1980s, the songs took on a more heavy metal-influenced edge. In July 1982, they became the first western band to perform in Poland since the imposition of martial law, and the suppression of the trade union, Solidarity. Their concert was held in Gdansk, and they were supported by Brygada Kryzys. In 1991, the U.K. Subs also had Lars Frederiksen (now of Rancid) on guitar for a 30 date UK tour. Decades after the disbanding of other late-1970s punk groups such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, the U.K. Subs continue to perform.
Successive U.K. Subs album titles start with consecutive letters of the alphabet, and according to an interview with TxPunk.net, the band will start the process over after reaching the letter “Z”. The U.K. Subs song “Down on the Farm” was covered by Guns N’ Roses on their 1993 covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?”. The U.K. Subs joined the bill for the 2006 Fiend Fest. The band have toured with The Misfits, The Adicts, Osaka Popstar, Agent Orange, and The Ramones. The U.K. Subs song “Warhead” is played in the movie, This Is England. U.K. Subs are one of the regular bands to play the Rebellion Festival nearly every year since its origins as The Holidays In The Sun Festival in 1996.
In 2007, drummer Jamie Oliver was a contestant on the UK quiz show Nothing But the Truth. Vocalist Charlie Harper was among the panel of witnesses. Oliver reached the £5000 mark, but lost it all in a bid to double his winnings.
In recent years, the band’s work has been critical of British politician Nick Clegg, with the 2013 song Coalition Government Blues describing the Liberal Democrats’ leader as “liking his perks”. The band’s forthcoming album is entitled Yellow Leader, which is widely suspected of referring to Clegg, with yellow being the official colour of his political party.