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Non-Prog CD Reviews

U.K. Subs

Subversions II

Review by Gary Hill

This, as the title suggests, is the U.K. Subs’ second album of covers. I’ve not heard the first one, but if this is any indication, it would be well worth a listen. You sort of know what to expect when you get a punk rock disc. This is no exception to that rule. They often cover songs that were pretty punky to begin with, meaning there aren’t a lot of surprises here. That said, their version of Queen’s “I Will Rock You” definitely lands in the category of surprise, and quite a good one at that. If you dig solid punk rock delivered with style and fire, give this a try.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Diversion
They fire out of the gate with a powerhouse punk arrangement. This is raw, and yet catchy. It’s a real screamer. This song was written by Eddy Grant and originally released by The Equals in 1973.
White Light, White Heat
A Lou Reed penned number, he originally did this with Velvet Underground. Even rawer and heavier, the punk rock really drives this with style. The guitar droning is so potent.
Immigrant Song
I wouldn’t really expect a raw punk version of this Led Zeppelin classic to work, but somehow it does. Oddly enough, I can understand the lyrics a bit more here than I can on the original.
One More Time
High energy, up-tempo and rocking, this works well, too. It’s a not a big change, but it doesn’t really need to be. This is a cover of a Joe Jackson song. He was always lumped into the punk zone (somewhat deservedly), so this seems a natural extension in some ways.
Season of the Witch
Every version of this song I’ve heard before has this sort of spooky atmosphere to it. They lose that on this. I would think that the cut wouldn’t work without it, yet it does. This is a stripped back, raw punk take on the old classic. I do miss the spooky edge, but this has its own different charms. I love the guitar solo on it, too, and they do bring in some psychedelia there.
Search and Destroy
Fierce and rocking, this is a punk screamer. It has so much energy, anger and drive to it. Of course, this is the Iggy Pop classic. As one of the early punks, any of his music is prime for modern punk rock interpretation.
This Is Rock N' Roll
Not a big change, or anything unexpected, this is just another screaming hot punk cover. The tune was originally released by a band called “The Kids.”
My Generation
There are those who consider The Who to be one of the biggest influences on the punk movement. This cover really drives that point home. The tune feels very faithful in a lot of ways, yet it is also decidedly raw punk rock.
You Wreck Me
While this is no big change, it does have some seriously catchy hooks. Of course, those are built into the tune. They manage to preserve them. To me there was always a punk rock edge to Tom Petty. It really comes to the fore in this rendition. That’s probably why this take on it works so well.
Rockin' in the Free World
Neil Young is another guy who is often mentioned as one of the founding fathers of punk rock. This is more evidence for that argument. I’d consider this to be one of the more effective covers here. Given the competition, that says a lot.
We Will Rock You
Now, this is a huge change. They take Queen’s original percussion and vocal excursion and turn it into a full band treatment. I almost think I like this version more than I like the original. Then again, I’ve never been a big fan of that percussion and voice type of thing.
The Last Time
The Rolling Stones were another early band with a punky edge. That makes this sort of an expected kind of thing. It also makes it work well in this particular format.
 
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