Album Review: UK Subs – “Subversions”
Following the completion of their 40-year quest to release an album for every letter in the alphabet, Subversions sees Charlie Harper and his bandmates kicking back and having some fun with the tried and tested covers album.
From the offset, it’s pretty obvious that this is the sign of a bunch of good old geezers kicking out the jams and enjoying themselves – indeed, the opening track is a version of the aforementioned MC5 classic, which crashes by in a ramshackle cascade of guitars and drums. Followed by a harmonica-honking version of The Train Kept A-Rollin’ and a muscular blast through Humble Pie’s I Don’t Need No Doctor, the early signs here are definitely good.
The Subs have dabbled in covers quite a few times before, with their under-rated Mad Cow Fever album from 1991 containing quite a few takes on the old blues standards that Harper grew up with. However, the oeuvre here is a bit more varied with songs ranging from proto-punks like the Stooges (1969) through glam (Bowie’s Suffragette City), straight up rock ‘n’ roll (Bob Seger’s Get Outta Denver), groups who were the Subs’ contemporaries in the late 70s (the Saints’ This Perfect Day, the Modern Lovers’ Roadrunner, Slaughter & The Dogs’ Boston Babies and Motorhead’s Bomber) and bringing things relatively up to date with a cover of Queens of the Stone Age’s Feelgood Hit Of The Summer.
The thing that unites these tracks though is the enthusiasm with which the Subs attack them, and it’s this sheer joie de vivre that makes Subversions good fun to listen to – the group are clearly having the time of their lives here and the sense of enjoyment is truly infectious. Harper may well be in his mid-seventies nowadays, but the energy he and his band show here would be impressive from a band in their twenties. A real blast all told.
Cover albums are always a difficult beast to get right, but the sheer amount of energy and enthusiasm that the Subs plough into these songs makes Subversions a real riot to listen to. It's clear that the group are having a great time blasting through this set of classics and you can't help but be drawn in. Good stuff.