With ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ being, in my humble opinion, one of the very best albums released in 2019 thus far the prospect of catching Alvin Gibbs and his band of Disobedient Servants live on a short run around the UK was just too much of a “one of kind” opportunity to be overlooked, plus the gig is in one of the best venues Bristol has to offer, so a ticket for this must-attend event was duly purchased.

For those of you who might never have been to The Louisiana it’s got that fantastic upstairs above a pub vibe going for it and over the years it has seen everyone from Airbourne to Fleet Foxes treading its – oh so low it could be a step – stage. Views in this place are of a premium when it’s packed out so that’s why even before local street punks Criminal Mind takes to the stage the place is a tippy toe view only kind of full.

I’m actually embarrassed to say I’ve never seen or heard Criminal Mind before tonight, I’m embarrassed because with over 10 years together as a band, playing hundreds of shows around the UK, I’m not entirely sure how they have evaded me. Their set tonight is packed full of great tunes (which I’m of course hearing for the first time) all loaded up with chant-along choruses and delivered with the kind of enthusiasm and attitude that first made me fall in love with the ‘Total 13’ era Backyard Babies. There’s a hint of The Living End to be heard during the anthemic ‘Blood On The Cobbles’ plus a dash of Rancid on show when bassist Ben Dowling takes over the vocals mid-set but what Criminal Mind do have in spades is their own identity – something which is not lost on the diehards who holler back every word. We always love it when a new (?) band falls into our laps here at RPM towers and with their third album due to be released very soon you can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be catching up with Criminal Minds very soon indeed.

Promising tracks from the  ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album along with some choice Gibbs voiced Subs tunes plus maybe a few surprises (and guests) along the way reports online that the aptly named Disobedient Tour has been doing brisk business ticket wise is reassuring to hear given the apathy a lot of venues (not the Louisiana I might add) across the UK seemingly has towards original music right now. The army of West Country UK Subs fans makes sure that tonight is no exception and the Cheshire Cat grins on the faces of Alvin Gibbs, Leigh Heggarty and Jamie Oliver as they fight their way through the crowd to the stage does indeed speak volumes. This promises to be everything I thought it might be…even if we don’t actually get any special guests here tonight.

Kicking off with the opening 1-2 from the ‘Servants’ album, ‘Arterial Pressure’ and ‘Ghost Train’ is simply stunning in the live setting, the latter still the best Iggy song Iggy never wrote with Alvin commanding the dual role of bassist and lead singer with consummate ease. ‘Bordeaux Red’ is the first of the UK Subs songs to be aired tonight and it’s here that Gibbs truly shines in his day job, twisting his body and the strings on his Fender Precision into places other bassists can only dream of going. Elsewhere there’s a ferocious two-song tribute (‘Down On The Streets’ and ‘1969’) to Alvin’s stint with Iggy all complete with a hilarious Iggy V’s Charlie anecdote that I won’t spoil here, and then there’s Leigh Heggarty taking over the mic for a fantastic version of ‘In A Rut’ that perfectly segues into ‘Warhead’ mid-song. Of the other Subs tunes aired ‘Stare At The Sun’ from ‘XXIV’ is the wildcard Gibbs has personally chosen whilst ‘Dragging Me Down’ from ‘Killing Time’ sounds reborn devoid of the awful late-80s production that drowned that LP.

Of course tonight is really all about the ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ album and the trio certainly do not disappoint delivering the likes of ‘Dumb’ (dedicated to Trump, Farage and Bojo), ‘Clumsy Fingers’, ‘Polemic’, ‘Camden Town Gigolo’, ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ and a frantic ‘Back To Mayhem’ like the band have been on the road for months…not days. Credit also that the guys effortlessly pull off the epic soundscape that is ‘Heaven And Angels’ even with Alvin complaining his throat was a bit sore after 6 consecutive shows this really is a faultless performance.

Encoring with a run through of Ian Hunter’s ‘Once Bitten, Twice Shy’ and Urban Dogs’ ‘A Bridge Too Far’ the Servants eventually have the venue lights turned on as a subtle reminder they have broken all the Sunday night curfew rules and probably should know better than that by now…but what the hell this is punk rock, right?

Make sure you catch Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants live at Rebellion Festival this August it’s one set you really do not want to be missing.

 

Author: Johnny Hayward

I’ll put my cards on the table here and admit that when I heard there was a new Subs album coming out I got excited then when I heard it was more covers I wasn’t too bothered. Subversions was a pretty decent effort and there were some great takes on there but, when I saw the tracklist for this I think I was half way through reading and I found I was reading through my fingers and gasping at some of the suggestions.  However, I have a varied taste and it would be boring if they happened to take on songs you would, or could, associate with the band. So I waited for my copy to arrive and would make my mind up yay or Nay after I’d heard the interpretations.

OK here goes, nothing ventured nothing gained I guess. First up is ‘Diversion’ and a jolly uptempo ditty it is too they give it a right good seeing to so I guess I can sit back and relax – for the time being.  Once again Pat Collier has done a sterling job on capturing the band and pulling out a fantastic live feel where everything is crystal clear and super vibrant.   I guess ‘White Light White Heat’ isn’t too much of a stretch and then that riff chimes in as they take on Led Zepplin and ‘Immigrants Song’ and if for hearing Alvin’s bass playing alone this is a resounding success.  Now I obviously know who Led Zepplin are and I have heard them many times before but I can’t say I’ve heard them covered by a punk rock band and sounding so good.  I often joke that Zepplin had a great drummer and a few tidy riffs I might be joking I might not but quite why they get so many column inches is baffling to me but this is one of their better tunes and this version is very well delivered and has exceptional qualities.

Joe Jacksons snappy ‘One More Time’ is afforded similar respect as the Subs do justice with a decent interpretation but it’s not as much of a stretch from the original. Vanilla Fudge ‘Season Of The Witch’ is up next and again kudos to Charlie’s vocals as the band really turn up a few stones to find songs to cover and take ownership of.  Put this one down as one I didn’t see coming but quite enjoyed, in fact, its the ones I was having the sweats over are turning out to be the ones I’m most impressed with.

OK so Alvin toured with Iggy and not the stooges so one of the more predictable covers and an absolute stone-cold classic and one you just knew they would slay and could never fuck up – obviously they don’t disappoint and knock it right out of the park.

Side two kicks off in style with a thunderous take on ‘This Is Rock And Roll’ originally from The Kids closely followed by a suitably sloppy ‘My Generation’ that gives the rhythm section of the Subs a chance to stretch their legs with some awesome solo breaks.  Take a bow Alvin and Jamie – sensational work. I bet nobody saw the Subs tip the hat to Tom Petty and the other Heartbreakers on ‘You Wreck Me’ and what a ball this one is.  As a band the Subs show just how versatile they can be and taking on a song like this and take ownership of the track is a real testament to just how good these boys are.

As we head into the home straight there are three big uns starting with the Neil Young anthem that is ‘Rockin In The Free World’ and rolling it round in the dirt and giving it some right yob treatment on the chorus is a joy to hear.  We know what the Subs are good at and this is them purring like an illite sports car – sure its easy to cover a song like this but you still have to do the right job on it and Straughan owns the solo by leaving it understated rather than running riot over it.  and the Riff is meaty which is nice. Great song great cover.  Now the song I feared most but to be fair the rest of the album is so bloody good I’m not bothered how ‘We Will Rock You Sounds’ but once the band stretch their legs and rock the shit out of it I’m chuffed to report that Charlie might not be Freddie he gives it a right seeing to. what was I worried about  The subs fuckin’ smash it so by the time ‘The Last Time’ chimes in I knew they’d do the Stones justice so finishing on a real high.  I can safely say that when anyone askes what does the Subs sound like doing Queen I can say without any irony or piss taking they do it very well and treat a cover with respect and a challenge check it out.  All thats left to say is I hope it’s not the Last time and there are more more more to come.  Long live the UK Subs. Buy it!

Buy subversions 2 Here

Author: Dom Daley

One of the albums of the year gets a re-press on Blood Red vinyl for those who missed out on the initial press.  RPM  reviewed it Here and we urge you not to sit on your hands a second time as this will sell out as the first run did.  Go Go Go!
Alvin says, “For all you vinyl junkies that missed out on obtaining my solo album ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ on 12 inch vinyl earlier this year due the initial 300 being sold out in short order, Time & Matter Records have manufactured a new batch of 300, this time on blood-red vinyl and minus the accompanying CD and download code. This release will, therefore, be sold at the lesser price of £17 (the first pressing was priced at £22) and can be ordered from this Here”

It features twelve songs written by yours truly and an array of very talented guest musicians that reads like this: Brian James – The Damned / Lords Of The New Church; Leigh Heggarty – Ruts DC; Mick Rossi – Slaughter & The Dogs; James Stevenson – Generation X / Chelsea / The Cult / The Alarm; Barry ‘Barrington’ Francis – The Saints; Timo Kaltio – Johnny Thunders band/Hanoi Rocks / Cheap ‘N’ Nasty; Mel Wesson – Keyboard player & Ambient music designer – TV Smith’s Explorers/The Verve ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ / U.K. Subs ‘Diminished Responsibility’ LP / Films Mission Impossible 2, Batman Begins, Hannibal etc; Steve Crittall – The Godfathers; Jamie Oliver – U.K. Subs.

“I would advise interested parties to get their orders in sharp to avoid what occurred last time, which was a lot of people missing out due to the speed that the original batch sold at. In fact it was due to so many people voicing their disappointment at not being able to get a vinyl copy in time that persuaded T & M Records to go with this colour-altered second run. For those of you that are not so disposed to a bit of vinyl, there is also a CD version of the album available from the same link. Ta! A x”

Forty years into his career as the number one 4-string plank spanker on the UK punk rock scene you can perhaps forgive Alvin Gibbs the “self indulgence” (his words, not mine) of a solo record. I mean he’s worked with some of the biggest names on the scene during that time, plus he’s also penned some absolutely amazing songs along the way too… and the musician’s modesty aside, I for one was straight out the blocks to order my copy when the pre-order for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ went live on the T&M Records website just after Xmas. So, why all the rush of anticipation I hear you ask?

Well, the best place to start is with the guest list of musicians that Alvin has assembled to help him make this record. It reads like a veritable who’s who drawn from his expansive career and boasts the likes of Brian James, Mick Rossi, Timo Kaltio and James Stevenson amongst the names eager to offer up their services as Disobedient Servants. It was only the name of Iggy Pop that for me was the real glaring omission, but then when I first got to hear ‘Ghost Train’ the lead single from the album, I had to double-take. Could my jug-likes be deceiving me? That is surely Iggy crooning his way through this belting ‘Instinct’ like rocker, but no…it’s actually Alvin Gibbs, and what a great voice he has too. ‘Clumsy Fingers’ the flipside of that mega limited and long since sold out 7” also proved to be a fun time piece of Iggy influenced garage punk, and these two tracks alone were enough to convince me that this was certainly no vanity project and Alvin Gibbs was possibly about to do a Keef and release a solo album fans of his day job band would be clambering to hear too.

With Alvin having also released one of the best books about being in a rock ‘n’ roll band, the awesome ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ (recently re-released as ‘Some Weird Sin’) written about his time spent playing bass for Iggy Pop. It kinda feels eu natural for ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ to kick off with ‘Arterial Pressure’ a (just shy of 2 minutes long) barnstormer of a track written about how Alvin got to know Joey Ramone through Mr Osterberg.

Next up is the aforementioned ‘Ghost Train’ which here perfectly segues into the equally Iggy -like strut of ‘Dumb’, and right here we have as near a perfect opening 1-2-3 to any album I’ve heard in many a long year. Seriously folks if these tracks were on a new Iggy record the mainstream music media would be spunking their chinos over them.

‘Camden Gigolo’ takes things down an anthemic gear or two before ‘Clumsy Fingers’ speeds off in a frenzy of glam tinged punk rock guitar complete with few week’s road dirt under those nails.

Not unlike Glen Matlock’s excellent ‘Good To Go’ album from the tail end of 2018, where ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ really excels is when it throws you a curveball and in side one closer ‘Heaven And The Angels’ Alvin delivers a menacing slice of southern fried psycho-drama that challenges the listener with each new listen twisting and turning itself into your very soul.

Flipping the record over and side two kicks off with perhaps the most UK Subs like track on ‘Your Disobedient Servant’, the riotous ‘Back To Mayhem’ a track that simply fizzes with raw energy, that’s before the more subtle slide driven ‘Polemic’ takes you on a fascinating trip through what influenced Alvin to get into the music business in the first place.

It’s here that for me the LP flips from the overarching influences of Iggy and garage punk to that of one drawn from the likes of Mott and Bowie with ‘No!’ hinting at latter day Hunter and ‘Desperate Dave Is Dead’ doffing its baker boy cap to one of the young dudes passed all to soon. ‘I’m Not Crying Now’ too has more than just a little bit of cracked acting going on within its grooves, whilst album closer ‘Deep As Our Skin’ hints at just how great Cheap And Nasty might have been if Alvin had been given more a role in front of the microphone.

Having been lucky enough to get a good few preview listens of ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ the immediate thing that leapt out at me was just how much this sounds like a band, not a solo record. So kudos indeed to the real heartbeat of The Disobedient Servants; guitarist Steve Crittall, drummer Jamie Oliver and of course Alvin himself for making this one hell of a riotous rock ‘n’ roll record….and one I just can’t wait to get my finished vinyl copy of.

As I mentioned in the intro to this review ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is available to pre-order right now via T&M Records on LP/CD and via Bandcamp for the download (the links are below). If you are after the LP/CD combo you best make sure you snap one up sharpish as when those red and white splatter babies are gone they really will be gone. So, trust me when I say, ‘Your Disobedient Servant’ is one record you really do not want to be without.

 

Buy It Here

Bandcamp

Author:Johnny Hayward

Hot on the heels of another kinda UK Tour the Subs have been into the studio to record some brand new tracks.  Not content with completing the A-Z compendium of records and releasing a pair of amazing box sets as well as a solo album from Alvin the Subs headed back into the studio and let the tapes roll to capture some more of that irrepressible magic.

‘Screaming Senile’ is five songs four new ones and one rework of an old but classic. opening up with the Gibbs penned ‘Crank It Up’ which as you can probably imagine from the title is a hard-hitting rocker. Complete with Alvin’s vocal leading the way this mid-paced tune has your usual sparkling performances from Alvin’s huge glugging bass line to Stevens great off-kilter solo that totally rules another great song for a band that keeps on delivering.

‘Geordie Ray’ is a ferocious humdinger as the Subs hammer out a real banger with a wonderful huge riff handled by drummer Jamie Oliver before heading back into the verses.  Superb stuff, really.  From the backing vocals to Charlie spitting out the lyrics to that killer riff over the chorus. what a tune! Geordie Ray is the ultimate superfan tribute.

Not a band to let the grass grow under their feet nor do they stay still and bask in their achievements ‘Hounds At The Door’ is another high tempo tune that would show most new bands a clean pair of heels.  This is how to do punk rock in the 21 st century – always something to say and always delivering, brilliant.

‘Keep On Running’ gets a freshen up. Apparently, this is closer to the original written by Alvin in ’81 as it was Garret who insisted on the picked guitar part rather than Alvin’s Thunders styling that he originally intended and it’s only ever been released on 7″ so a good chance to own it again on vinyl I guess.  Great songs are great songs no matter how they’re recorded and this is certainly a great song.

To finish off this EP we have ‘2000 years’ which is a slower more measured tempo with a Stonesy like riff and has some honking Charlie harmonica all over it another reason to pick up a copy of this EP.  Again the Subs release a must own EP that shows their exceptional talent and ability to pen great songs.  Snooze you loose on this one folks.

Buy EP Here

Author: Dom Daley

Over the years I have witnessed dozen and dozens of performances with almost as many lineups but I think its safe to say that the current line up is right up there with the best ever if not the hands-down top of the pile although I appreciate that is open to debate.  Stephen Straughan has been in the band for several years now and to put it one way – is part of the furniture and adds the required bite to proceedings which the current Subs line up deserves. Alvin and Jamie are without a doubt the driving force and an incredible powerhouse rhythm section that is up there with the best anywhere.  As for Charlie.  what can you say about the guy?  An incredibly likable frontman with an insatiable lust for life and one whose talent shows no sign of abating.

Of all the times I’ve seen the band I think this was my first foray into Bristol but I wouldn’t swear by that and with a healthy crowd inside the exchange on a school night the Subs casually saunter onto the stage and proceed to knock out a fantastic set with the required amount of mainstays and some very welcome additions to the ever-evolving set list.  Let’s be fair they have a bazillion songs to choose from yet always seem to throw up a new gem or two every tour. This one is no exception. 

 

They could easily get away with playing for seventy-five minutes and do the best of but they keep writing new material that is as strong if not stronger than their impressive back catalogue.  Tonight begins with the likes of ‘Fragile’ followed by ‘Quintessentials’ ‘Mouth on A Stick’ then to follow that up with ‘Ladt Esquire’ from the first album was some excellent choices. It then became apparent that this decent-sized audience that some down the front wanted to hold up their blessed camera phones which rightfully got Charlie’s goat a little, to say the least.  Sure take a few pics I do but that takes a few seconds then it’s gone but I’m also baffled as to why somebody would go to see a show and spent the entire evening watching it through a phone screen!  When did that even become a thing? Charlie became more and more perturbed by the actions of a few but he wasn’t the only one.

Anyway, the songs came hard and fast and the heat was raised by the time we hit a purple patch of classic Subs tunes and one to add to the list has to be ‘City Of The Dead’.  Not that the crowd needed warming up but to follow that with ‘I’ve Got A Gun’, ‘Emotional Blackmail’ and ‘Another Cuba’ was exceptional. I’m sure there are many who would say that their favourite album is ‘Endangered Species’ I flip-flop from one week to the next putting this at the top of the pile so it was great to hear ‘Fear Of Girls’ but when they chime up with ‘Bitter & Twisted’ I’m loving ‘Quintessential’ but enough of that their cover version of ‘Here Comes Alex’ sounds as bright as the first time I heard it.

We head into the home straight and from here on in its a sing-along classic fest.  ‘Teenage’, ‘Party In Paris’ they all lead to that classic bass line and ‘Warhead’ signals the crowd participation as some people lose their collective shit.  It is great that these songs we’ve possibly heard too many times still hit the spot and tonight ‘Warhead’ sounds as fresh as it ever has and as relevant as it ever has.  I guess our leaders have learned nothing over the decades.

For an encore tonight we’re treated to the trio of UK Subs classics in the shape of ‘C.I.D’, ‘I Live In A Car’ and to send us into the cold Bristol night its the ‘New York State Police’ and then we’re gone.  Another night in another town with the same familiar songs sounding as fresh as the day they were written watching a band killing it time after time and night after night already I’m checking my diary to see when I can catch them next and Cardiff Tramshed in 2019 it is. Phenomenal band phenomenal back catalogue and still giving, new EP and then there is Alvin’s solo album to look forward to – bring it on – the more the merrier.

Time & Matter

Buy UK Subs Here

Author :Dom Daley