Worlds Apart

Continuing my ‘albums that never make it on to greatest albums list’ I decided to cast an eye on the Subhumans. Now before I start I do need to clarify that there were two bands with this moniker: one from Canada and the other from England. The band I am writing about is from England. I could, if I so wished, have concentrated on nearly any release by this band such is the quality of their work and in the future I may review another but for the purposes of this blog I am concentrating on the album ‘Worlds Apart’.

Released in 1985 on their own record label Bluurg the Subs were out of time with the commercial industry that existed around them. In the world of Wham, Madonna and Phil Collins, this band was as welcome as Keith Moon lecturing at a driving safety course.  The album starts with a heart beat bassline on the instrumental entitled ‘33322’ which fades into ‘British Disease.’ Lead vocalist and main lyric writer Dick Lucas rips into a system that has produced an underclass of people hell bent on rioting. Goading the British establishment he proclaims ‘you thought this country was so great, nobody could ever hate the way the system treated them and then you wonder why they burned your buildings down.’ It seems that Britain still has some of the same problems today, unfortunately it no longer has voices in musical culture that shows a way in which  to harness this anger and, in turn, turn it into something productive. The band (Bruce on guitar, Phil on Bass and Trotsky on drums) back up their main man with a frantic guitar and bass riff driven by razor sharp drumming. The opening track spells out the mission: this is a state of the union polemic from the neglected underground.

‘Heads of State’ follows and imagines a political world where those that rule simply replace their head with a new when the situation dictates. Lucas could see that the politics of pure spin was just around the corner and things were gonna get worse. The guitar swings and is reminiscent of a folk type song and again matches the singer’s observations. Moving on the world of cheap booze, cheap cigarettes and cheaper sex is put under the microscope and found wanting in the song entitled ‘Apathy.’ The riff is a killer and the chorus is a staccato burst that lifts the song to another place.  Next up is the Reggae tinged ‘Fade Away’ where Lucas implores the listener to live their life before it is over. The theme of mortality looms large in this tune but then we are back to matters temporal. ‘Businessman’ continues the relentless attack with the bands ire focusing on the money hungry yuppie culture of the 1980s. The pacy overdriven riff propels the song along. It nearly skims across the rhythm section and the band again adds a stop/start component which foregrounds a tight unit, one that was on top of their game.

In my mind, one of the strongest songs on the album is ‘Someone is Lying.’ It is such a dark song which, concentrates on workers who have to get rid of nuclear waste. The negligence of the state in ensuring the safety of the workers leads to cancer. A stabbing guitar captures the mood and the looping bass underpins the whole. Lucas is an astute observer of the worst aspects of human nature and shows the way in which big business slimes out of it’s obligation to those they employ. They inform the press that the deaths are caused by ‘coal dust, it’s cancer, it’s normal they say’.  There is hope, for a lone voice cries out ‘these people are dying, someone is lying’. The song sums up Thatcher and Reganite economics: fuck the little guy, screw the worker-the future belongs to me! (To borrow a phrase from a famous musical).

Go buy it , find it on youtube, contact the band themselves or do what I used to do back in the day and record it on to tape (Home recording is killing music-remember those stickers on your vinyl album ha ha the fuckers never saw what was coming). Other highlights on this album include ‘Pigman’, Get to work on time’ and straight-line thinking’ to name but three. Right, when you listen to it you’ll think ‘Dick can’t sing’ and ‘the production is a bit tinny (it is they had fuck all money). But consider all the cocksuckers in the music business that can’t sing! I hope that somewhere in this world there are teens that want to set the world to rights and that couldn’t give a fuck about the mass produced puke fest that we call music these days. That somewhere they find this band and album and that it does for them what it did for me: change my life, make them pick up an instrument and make some noise before it is too late. Yes, somewhere in music lies hope, lies stories, lies voices that are different and lies a road map to a different future. To me punk changed my life, got me to think and eventually propelled me to university and beyond. It showed me I could be more than I ever thought possible-it remains to me one of the most positive and life affirming art forms this beautiful planet has produced. To Dick, Bruce, Phil and Trotsky wherever you are I would just like to say ‘Thank You’.

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    • Con
    • January 30th, 2012

    up the subs !

  1. Ah they are still one of the best.

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