early-01.jpg (11953 bytes)UK Subs - The Early Years - By Nicky Garratt

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Chapter Six - U.S. Subs

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UK Subs - The Early Years
1 London
2 Band From The Pubs
3 John Peel & CID
4 In The Charts
5 U.S. Subs
6 Top 10 & The New Subs
7 Endangered Subs
8 The Cold War
9 Aftermath

Table Of Contents
UK Subs Main Page

Back To Bands

By June the new line up was in place. Steve Roberts came from the Yorkshire band Cyanide who were a proto- type Oi band. Cyanide had opened for us on a number of shows on the last tour. We auditioned bass players, briefly tried out Kevin Nixon, also from York (co-wrote “Fall Of The Empire”), and the ex Bass player from the Killjoys, but settled on Alvin Gibbs from the “Users”.

Charlie Harper PuppetThe new line up played some secret gigs and worked on new material. During September we recorded the single “Party In Paris” (Backed with “Fall Of The Empire”) and the “Diminished Responsibility” album with Gary Glitter’s producer Mike Leander. Leander didn’t show up half the time and did a very poor job. I ended up remixing the session to try and save it just prior to our first headlining European tour.. The tour started on Oct 1st 1980 with the first show in Antwerp on the 2nd and ended in Herford, Party In Paris 7"Germany on the 14th of Oct. This tour rolled right into our biggest UK tour yet starting at the Music Machine on the 19th and ending with no less than four headline shows at the Marquee. Chutch was still our personal roadie but we now added Tinny and Julian, two subs fans who had been following the band for some time. Towards the start of the tour we challenged the support band “The Citizens” to indoor soccer in the empty hall before the show. During the game the Citizens lead singer jumped over my slide tackle and there was a huge cracking sound. He broke both bones in his shin and his foot hung loose with the the bone sticking out. He screamed like crazy until the ambulance came and medicated him. We didn’t see him again.

Crash CourseMeanwhile, the Subs definitive live album “Crash Course” had entered the charts the first week at# 8 making it our highest charting album. Entering the top ten of the album charts opened press avenues never before available to the band. Not only where features in Sounds, Melody Maker and New Musical Express again forthcoming, but the teen mags like Jackie now ran pieces on the band. Released on purple vinyl, the original pressing of Crash Course came with a free 12” “For Export Only”, a live EP recorded at the Lyceum theater on 15th of July 1979. This was probably a factor in the chart impact the record made. The album received a five star review in Sounds.

Diminished ResponsibilityThe debut 7” from the new line-up, “Party In Paris”,charted at #37 in October and in preparation for chart success GEM had scheduled our first video shoot. Short on imagination, the director had “Page 3” girls from the Sun newspaper acting as Can Can girls while Charlie sang with a wine glass in hand complete with stripped Tee shirt. Off camera Chutch threw streamers to add the party atmosphere. The video wasn’t used, but we did record a “Top Of The Pops”. During the taping a bunch of Subs fans actually invaded the stage. It was the most exciting TOTP’s recording we had done - needless to say, it wasn’t shown.

Record Mirror had run a huge three page feature including a center color spread a few weeks earlier followed by Carol Clerk from the Melody Maker writing a feature on us which appeared in the November 29th issue. Carol also accompanied us on our ill fated Irish shows. These two shows were supposed to start in Dublin, but when we arrived it was the day of mourning for the victims of the Stardust disco fire. The show was cancelled, so the next day we set off for the Belfast gig. We stayed in the Europa hotel which was the most bombed hotel in Europe. At the venue, the PA hadn’t arrived so we had to play through a makeshift system. The show went ok until Charlie got dragged off stage by over enthusiastic fans, then collapsed in the audience. He managed to get back on stage later and finish the set until the house lights came on and the stage swarmed with security. The show was finished.

Nicky Garratt Finland 1981Although Diminished Responsibility was sonically disappointing, it charted at #18 in February and the Subs set off on another, albeit short, UK tour with opening bands “Anti Pasti” and “The Stiffs” which started on 21st at Manchester Poly and ending at the Lyceum on March 1st. Then onto another European tour starting on March 10th in Hamburg Germany running until the end of the month including shows at the Paradiso in Amsterdam, Berlin, Hanover and Brussels. Following the European tour we were flown to finland for four dates between April 29th and May 2nd with Hanoi Rocks opening.

Keep On Running ('Til You Burn)Diminished Responsibility did however get good reviews, five stars in Record Mirror, four stars in Sounds. Only Gavin Martin in the New Musical Express gave the album a scathing review saying when he’s Prime Minister he: “wouldn’t have to ban groups like the UK Subs, they’ll die due to lake of interest”. (Well here we are 21 years later - What ever happened to Gavin Martin?)

Disappointed in the sound of “Diminished Responsibility”, I wanted the next record to be well produced. GEM chose Peter Collins, who had had some chart success over the past year or so, to produce. GEM felt that the most commercial new song was “Keep On Running, (‘until you burn)” written by Alvin & Charlie. I liked the song, but added a maybe ill advised Police style guitar part. (which Alvin took the rap for). The ‘B’ side was a short unusual song, “Perfect Girl” I wrote with Charlie. The single hit the charts at #41 and we played our last Top Of The Pops, although we also made a video visually based on the film “Scanners”. While the single was in the charts, the label, in a sly move, issued a special version with two extra tracks, (a demo for the next album and a version of Party in Paris sung in French). The idea was to boost the single higher into the charts and reach a crossover audience. It didn’t work and the single dropped out of the charts.

 

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