Following 2019 comeback album ‘Angel In The Flames’ former English Dogs and Prodigy guitar slinger Gizz Butt takes us back in time with a couple of curios from the Janus Stark archives that he has made available on CD, limited to 200 copies each, all hand-numbered. Both albums are actually a collection of demos, the first ‘Rewind To A’ is the full demo version of Janus Stark’s debut album ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ released back in 1997, and the second ‘Chez Wrong’, the lost follow-up album demoed in 2002.

Both albums come with 16-page booklets and extensive liner noted from Gizz explaining the history and background of each song and the circumstances surrounding the writing and recording of each.

 

If you are familiar with ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ then ‘Rewind To A’ is a good place to start and an interesting listen. These demos are the sound of a band finding their feet and finding their sound. Following the name change from English Dogs and guitarist Gizz stepping into the frontman role, the band trade in the punk sound for a more commercial, pop/punk feel.

During the time period these songs were demoed (1996-97), Gizz was playing guitar with The Prodigy on the ‘Fat Of The Land’ tour, and this influenced his songwriting. Utilising multi-effect processors, Gizz experimented with Dance music and it spawned some interesting tunes that veer in a different direction to the sound Janus Stark would eventually pursue. ‘Frayed Edges Of Sanity’ is a dark, trippy ride through the songwriter’s mind and a departure from the po/punk/ that would prevail on the debut. The following ‘Only One Can Know Me’ is more experimental, Prodigy style breakbeats and pulsating bass verse that leads to descending chords and a trademark Gizz melody.

Elsewhere. The thrashy blast that is ‘Wedding Bells’ is actually an old Desecrators tune. While it’s a fun run through, the hardcore style didn’t really fit the direction the band were heading.

‘200 Duty Frees’ though, did make the album. This version is a bit more dancey, yet it still has those full distorted guitars. Sonically, as with the other tracks that finally made the album, the songs benefit from a sweet production. ‘Every Little Thing Counts’ still sounds immense even in demo form, even if the extra verse throws me off for a second or two. It’s a perfect example of how a producer cuts the fat from a demo and makes it the song it should be.

For me ‘Great Adventure Cigar’ is up there with the great albums of the late 90’s Brit Rock movement and this collection is a great insight into the development of a band who should’ve got more attention at the time.

‘Chez Wrong’ is considered the lost Janus Stark album, the sophomore album that never was. These are the final demos from 2002 at a time when the band were shopping for a new record deal. Written during tough times, it’s a heavier, more edgy collection of songs influenced by the changing musical climate and the changes within the band.

The band had been touring heavily across Europe with Die Toten Hosen and Fear Factory while these songs were formed, and the likes of Slipknot and System Of A Down were the darlings of Kerrang! And MTV. These influences are evident from the off on the crunchy ‘Near Extinction’, a riff heavy beast that channels feelings of despair and struggle and maybe pre-empting the demise of the band.

The killer opening riff of the title track brings to mind Metallica before descending into more melodic sections and an uplifting chorus that harks back to the punk/pop of the debut. With its arpeggios and jarring riffage, the Nu Metal tinged ‘Paralysed’ could be a Papa Roach outtake.

Elsewhere the fiery ‘Back To Live’ and the brutal ‘The Child Deserves A Life’ are quality highlights. The band only take the time to breathe on the atmospheric closer ‘Empty Chair’, a song that shows a different side to the band with some cool, effect-ridden guitars and cool beats. It’s an album highlight and a great song to bow out with.

 

 

These 2 releases stand tall on their own as albums and also serve well together as the perfect accompaniment to ‘Great Adventure Cigar’. They help to tell the full picture of Janus Stark at the turn of the century before the band split and descended into the wilderness years.

‘Rewind To A’ shows the development of a band with new ideas and experimentation, including songs that for whatever reason, didn’t make the final cut, but are still worth your hard-earned cash.

‘Chez Wrong’ is the sound of what could’ve been. It shows a band on the edge, changing with the times and fighting a (losing) battle to survive. Strangely, even though it covers line-up changes and personal upheaval, I feel it’s the more cohesive of the two albums.

It’s also worth noting both albums are available to purchase directly through the Time & Matter Store as a package deal for 15 notes with an additional free four track digital EP of unreleased tunes. Now, if that’s not a bargain, I don’t know what is!

 

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Author: Ben Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time & Matter Recordings are absolutely thrilled to announce that they have registered a new venture – TOME & METRE PUBLISHING, with T&M BOOKS’ first release being the first-of-two-volumes ALVIN GIBBS MEMOIRS.

To help T&M with the funding of this new project, we are firstly offering fans the chance to have their name printed in Alvin’s new book, entitled DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILTY: My life as a U.K. Sub, and other strange stories – Volume I.

Click the link below to get your name added to the first edition of Alvin’s book, we have set the price for this at a very reasonable £5.00, for which your full name will be printed, alongside your town or city and your country, in what will be the world’s first ever book about your favourite band – the U.K. Subs.

Please be aware that this payment doesn’t buy you a physical copy of the book, but when the book goes to pre-order later this year retailing at £15.00 you will have played your part in a bit of U.K. Subs book publishing history 😊

And talking of History! As followers of this page are fully aware, ALVIN GIBBS & THE DISOBEDIENT SERVANTS’ have a fabulous new gatefold cover double 7” single four track ‘HISTORY EP’ being released by T&M… this is now available to pre-order as well; again we have tried to keep the price as low as we can, at £15.00, and a download code is also included with your purchase.

Limited to 500 hand numbered copies!

We will be letting you have plenty of updates regarding both Alvin’s book and the double single, with the DOUBLE SINGLE DUE TO BE RELEASED 30 JUNE 2020.

Please however, be aware that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, we are unfortunately unable to fully guarantee this delivery date for the single.

These are indeed historical times, so we are tentatively looking at Alvin’s book being on pre-sale May/June time with a 1 JULY 2020 PUBLISHING DATE.

Alvin’s fellow punk luminary HENRY ROLLINS brilliantly observes in his ‘Foreword’ in the book:

“Alvin puts his experiences across with energy and excellent detail… cheerful, hilarious and armed with insight… you are immediately pulled in by this book’s contents… a mark of not only a great story teller but of one who has truly lived in full and continues to do so…”

Volume I of Alvin’s superb, fascinating memoirs run to 105,000 words over 18 chapters and also boast many rare, previously unpublished photos from Alvin’s extensive archive, as well as a discography and bibliography… and your name! 😉

ORDER DOUBLE SINGLE & GET-YOUR-NAME-IN-BOOK LINK:

Pre Order Here

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

The lesser known of the Record Store Day family would be the winter version that leans more towards North America and this Black Friday offerings might well be a bit thin on the ground that might all be changing with Jungle being involved in knocking out a few must-have purchases and this latest offering will be of great interest to UK Subs fans (obviously).  Sure this summer just passed the Subs released their entire back catalogue over two box sets that were nicely housed inside a book like cover and split over two periods they housed every single A-Z in the bands releases which was very nice as it had stuff that was fairly hard to find even for avid collectors of Subs stuff but it was all available for under seventy sheets in most places with Charlie’s signature and limited to 1000 pieces.  Well maybe someone somewhere will take on the same collection but on vinyl, however, I’d imagine it might be a little more expensive so one will have to make do.  there is one album included in that set that was released as part of the A-Z but it never got a vinyl release ever.  Until now that is and the good people at Jungle and Fall Out records have taken on the job of producing a double album pressed on yellow and blue vinyl and limited to 500 pieces so you’ll have to be fairly diligent and quick to find a copy before they are all hoovered up.

 

housed in a gatefold sleeve with pictures of all the Subs who passed through the band in the time period and a brief description of each track and where the versions come from.  the one thing that shines through is how diverse the Subs have always been and they certainly aren’t a one trick pony.  I particularly like the Gibbs vocals on ‘Drag Me Down’ from the Killing time Album and the take of Die Toten Hosen ‘Here Comes Alex’ which was done in return for the version of ‘Stranglehold’ that Hosen did prior to this. Subs lyrics have always been on point and relevant except maybe fo r’Hey Santa’ depending on how you view things but ‘Ozone Death’, ‘Warhead’ ‘Riot’ could all have been written yesterday to be fair as sad as it is to say.

Having seen the band recently they are indeed alive and well and still on tour and kicking up a shit storm and as relevant as ever with a new EP on the way as well as Alvin Gibbs having his debut solo album ready to drop.

‘SUB MISSION’, was compiled by Charlie Harper, how he chose the best 20 tracks from their albums F – R I’ll never know although this is indeed a pretty good starting point.  And the bonus of a previously unreleased live recording of the Subs in top form in Bristol 1991adds exceptional VFM. Now we can carry on arguing as to which is the best line up.  any of these? The first? Current?  Does it matter as long as there is a UK Subs playing a venue near you someday soon.

Buy Vinyl RSD Sub Mission Here

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