Gary Steel is slowly compiling all his album reviews in one place. This is a work in progress, or what we call a “live document”. Today is the letter ‘U’.
Punk rock is alive and well and living in our homes, if not our hearts. It seems that society could hardly wait to obituarise and bury that nasty social phenomenon known as “punk”. But unbeknownst to this planet’s vinyl consumers, variations and progressions stemming from this era are more prolific and popular than ever they were in their heyday.
UK Subs (short for United Kingdom Subversives), if for nothing else will be remembered as the first punk nostalgia group. They were relatively late on the scene in Britain, and it’s obvious from Another Kind Of Blues that they are content to pay interminable homage/tribute to those early punk bands with limited musical ability and lowly artistic goals.
Nick Garrett plays impressive heavy metal-oriented guitar, but the rest of the band don’t pull their weight so well. Charlie Harper “sings” or shouts unintelligibly and plays even worse harmonica, while Paul Slack’s bass throbs instead of packing real punch. To call Pete Davies’ drumming rudimentary would be to underemphasise.
Their material (all 17 songs) is largely uninspired and forgettable, but on occasions, they come up with an interesting tune or sound, as on the almost-blues of ‘I Couldn’t Be You’ or the all-out no stops barred energy of ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’, ‘TV Blues’, ‘CID’ or ‘Blues’. 5/10
The Undertones must be the ugliest bunch of geezers yet to have their music etched in vinyl for posterity. Ireland’s major punk band’s first album possesses an honesty which shines through like a beacon in the dark against most current album releases.
Punk they may be, but this never imposes limits on a band more concerned with expression than fashion. They race through a total of 14 tantalising short pieces, each a complete entity, each full of tune, tone and colour.
Their music acknowledges roots in early 1960s British rock (Beatles, Dave Clark Five), and is orthodox while at the same time forging out an original sound and musical construction.
Every track is of interest, but as a starting point, try the engagingly memorable ‘Girls Don’t Like It’, the standard pop of ‘Wrong Way’, or the almost avant-garde ‘True Confessions’.