The following news story appeared on the T&M homepage:
Friends & Relations album reviewed by FungalPunk website
The ever-superb Fungal Punk website has reviewed the recent Cleopatra Records released U.K. Subs compilation album 'Friends & Relations'.
Read the full review on the Fungal Punk website: CLICK HERE
Review also archived on T&M below:
UK SUBS - FRIENDS AND RELATIONS
I did say that one day I will review all of the UK Subs CD's in alphabetical order, missing out the odd few that I have already done of course. I have always followed this band, from the early days until now with many gigs under the belt and a full CD collection to boot. The crew have seen many highs and many lows but are now, at the time of scribbling, on the crest of a crooked wave and despite my desires for new bands and new hungry underdogs I do hope the success continues. Here we have a collection of less familiar ditties from here and there, some of which are not exactly true Subboid material. Nevertheless, it is an interesting mix and I go in hopeful of igniting something akin to positivity.
The opening 3 tracks come from a 2005 recording done in Tacoma, WA and have a typical Subsy flavour with Harper's gobbage totally identifiable even to the most untrained lug.
‘Product Supply’ war-mongers on heavy tympanics before fracturing open with scuzzed guitar thrusts. The opening battle hollers are tribal and almost out of kilter and this, in some vague way, throws the appraising guest a little off balance. Things level out into a sub-chorus that offers light in what I deem to be a very murky movement. Harper’s gob remains as identifiable as ever and I slap this one down as an opening grower for sure. ‘Rare Disease’ is a more cultured and less vulgar offering with the crew steering along a ship of sonica over a most thoughtful ocean of noise. The initial filthy and highly infected string work and oral statements set a scenario for something heavy and deliberate and what comes is a most gratifying bout of viral cacophony. A stated and sentenced song, coursing with a poisoned blood that not only simmers with spite but has something of a bitter edge and unsettled essence. The result is a most rewarding sizzler.
‘Embryo’ in some unintentional way I presume, resembles just what it says on the tin, a product not quite finished. The foundation of the outburst is hefty and has a good underscore of pulsing matter that summons up similarities between songs on the bands highly effective ‘A. W. O. L. CD. For me though there is a kind of flat-lined threat that fails to culminate in anything spectacular and no sooner has the song found its footing then it is out of the door leaving us still expectant. A shame but the chasing ‘Terroristos’ makes up for matters with some typical UK Subs fodder that sticks to a certain regimented, tried and tested, rarely bested formula. The verses are steady, the chorus an obvious jump, jig and join in episode and the break swift and to the point. Nothing outrageous but firm-footed Subs produce the crew do so well. You should know this script off by heart! ‘Phillips Environmental’ is the best of the opening five with a good revved up skip in the wire work and a good splash and smash in the tympanic department. Vocally honest and raw-boned this is the band at their most appetising best with a vim and vigour bursting through the main membrane of melody and infecting the likes of me and you, those foolhardy and convinced UK Subs fans (silly buggers we be). Bouncing and trouncing, restless and spitting back and very much part of a certain era, yeah why not! By the way these latter 2 tracks were recorded at Mr Som Studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2001 - there ya go.
The next batch of tracks are the dabblings of Charlie Harper and his buddy, Captain Sensible. I have reviewed these 4 tracks on this website before (keep up ya bastards) so will not dally about or over analyse here. Recorded at Oscillate Recordings, Albourne in 2012/13 these varied offerings leave a good taste in the tuned in mouth with the opening dreamscape drift of 'Too Much Reality' a particular favourite that has grown on me since first hearing it when doing the initial review. It is a creation with a sub-psychedelic lilt and easy mannered affect that magnetises attention and gets one moving with analytical gusto. 'Space Virgins' is an equally pleasing roam around realms outside the norm with once more a switched off observance the main characteristic of drift, combined with a slow moving rhythm. I remember stating that I originally liked this one - no reason to change my mind here. 'Human Traffic' is similar but gets things more blue-tinted and has a little more irritation it seems. A groovy little number that hustles and bustles with a sub-'Gunn'ed guitar drive and drawling, scrawling vocals paraded over the top. Not bad. 'Kamera' is a bit of repeater fun, a song that wraps around and throws out a message we may be well advised to take heed of. Almost a dabbled ditty in essence but with no offensive edge so why not indulge!
Onto tracks 10 and 11, both of which are Urban Dogs offerings and were recorded in July 2014 at Perry Vale Studios in London. 'Rebellion Song' and 'One Foot In The Grave' are two familiar songs to me, both of which have fine appeal to my inner sonic sensors. 'Rebellion Song' is one of those under the radar classics that stirs the soul and rewards with a rich and warming sensation borne from a noise laden with care. A gentle yet massaging song that has much muscularity and convincing weight. One for a group sing-a-long, a communal croon out when resistance is very much required. The second song is very much Vibrator-slanted with Knox at the fore and the melody very reminiscent of the bands later composites where high string wanking and enthusing drums did the business. Sniping and politically snatching this sharp barbed song is a richly corrugated account that weaves along with natural ability and I rate this as another minor pip of irritation – nice work.
The last 5 tracks were recorded at Manchester Square Studios, London in 1984 and come from a band containing 2 Subs members (Gibbs and Garratt) and 3 others (Wylie, Wesson and Scott). In a time when New Romanticism was still around, the cleansed and hygienic pop piss was pouring as frequently as ever and when bands felt the need to experiment and reach commercialised pastures new this is something of an experimentation in things away from the expected. We get five tracks all of a similar labouring texture with 'Complete Surrender', 'Sail In The Wind' and 'Think Of Me' coming across as insipid sub-sleazoid shit that conjures up images of wannabe Duran Duran dabblers or Teardrop Explodes taggers - oh the horror of it all. I listen to many vibes during the course of the assessing journey and some I get, some I don't - some have depth, some are shallow and I am afraid these opening bursts of the last five all fall into negative territory as far as I am concerned. Production wise they are charming and really well blended but when listening to the finished products one can't help be doused in mental imagery of clean-cut creeps playing a game and trying to crack the more acceptable realms of rhythm - bah. Just personal thoughts but I am sure many will get the same vibrations - they have my deepest sympathy. The closing brace are slightly more appealing but of the same noxious order with 'The Things We Saw' another slow emittance that moves with feline grace but still has that suspicious edge I find questionable. A ponderous, indulgent song that leaves me in its wake but even I can recognise the adequate texturisation and sub-scene circles it will find greater appreciation from. 'King For A Day' is typical time soaked produce, has many accents and lilts that could be borne from many bands of the early to mid 80's horror show that exposed much fakery and much finger fucking nonsense. Again, a well-played song, ideal for many in the groove but for this git - no chance. Before I finish this last batch let me add that my tastes are very eclectic and I do like many flavours of sound. I can also add that it would be easy here to feign delight at these songs and come across as a patient clever clogs of cacophony who finds these latter tracks cerebrally challenging, laden with depth and rhythmically invigorating - but that would be dishonest and that ain't a route I want to take – think fuckin’ on.
There ya go then, another mixed bag of sounds, some I like, some I don't. I remain a UK Subs and Urban Dogs fan , I don't reckon I'll be racing to get the back catalogue of Target Generation anytime soon though - one can't like everything ya know.