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.

 

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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.

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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

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Author :Dom Daley