Album review: THE UK SUBS – Yellow Leader

Cherry Red [release date 8.07.22]

And they said it wouldn’t last… back in print for the first time in 7 years, The UK Subs 25th studio release gets a coloured vinyl makeover. Yellow Leader 2022 is an 18 track double album in red and turqoise, housed in a gatefold sleeve, now including the 4 tracks cut from the original vinyl release.
It’s the third in a trio of pumped vinyl reissues… Work In Progress and XXIV were reissued earlier in the year.

If it were needed, Yellow Leader confirms that the ‘Subs still deliver, nearly 40 years since start up. This late in their career, few bands can stir up the motivation that ignites the fire. And that’s what’s needed to land blow after blow of hard hitting, hi energy punk rock like the ‘Subs do on this album.

Pat (Vibrators) Collier’s production gets the exposure it deserves on this expanded vinyl reissue. Exhuberant and modern, it channels the spirit of the DIY seventies while creating a suitably widescreen backdrop for the band’s undeniable songcraft.

The result is a huge sound that never undercuts the raw savagery of songs like ‘Artificial’, ‘Sin City Blues’ or ‘Deconstruct’ – which doesn’t just chew the scenery, but annihilates it in a minute and a half.

For this album, the band was: ever present founder, Charlie Harper; Alvin Gibbs (who’s been in and out a few times); Jet (phenomenal guitarist) and Jamie Oliver (not that one).

Over the years, it’s noticeable that they’ve added layers of hard rock here and there. The boiling hard rock of ‘Chemical’ and ‘Prime Evil’ are as close to the mainstream as the Subs are probably ever going to get. Both songs swagger and rage as Harper spits out a stream of barbed lyrics, tempered only by Jet’s sublimely melodic guitarwork.

And who’d ever have thought that the punk rock poetry in song titles, like ‘Bordeaux Red’, ‘Sick Velveteen’ and ‘Feed The Whore’ would be fighting it out with the sharp edged metaphors of ‘Rebellion Song’ and ‘Suicidal Girl’.
Primetime Subs, no question.

Completists should again note the restoration of the full 18 tracks, and a suitably splendid rendition of Lichtenstein’s striking cover artwork, in full colour. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 17 July.

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09:00-12:00 LESSMAN VOSS Rock Is Our Religion (Atomic Fire Records)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. Force Majeure (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS A Very Unusual Head (indie)

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