UK Subs singer Charlie Harper’s new record


This music video from London in England says about itself:

UK Subs performing live at the 100 Club

12 January 2020

This video is the sequel.

Anyone who knows anything about punk music knows the UK Subs.

Founded in 1976, as one of the first wave British punk bands.

Still making music today.

Not only known for their many live concerts and many records. Also for helping other bands. When fellow English band Crass did their first interview in a Dutch fanzine in 1978, they praised especially the Subs for that.

In September 1980, the UK Subs played in Venlo, the Netherlands. The Pinkpop organisation refused to pay to have a support band. Then, Subs singer Charlie Harper paid out of his own pocket for the petrol of the small car of the bass player/female vocalist of Dutch band Cheap ‘n’ Nasty, so they could come to Venlo to play.

Next year, 1981, UK Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs wanted to buy the first copy of the Cheap ‘n’ Nasty Covergirl EP. It happened.

More recently, Charlie Harper has been helping Brighton, England all-women punk band the Ramonas. Eg, by playing harmonica with them.

Talking about recently. Just after the live London videos on the top of this blog post were recorded, the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of deaths. More millions with permanent brain or permanent lung damage.

There are a few bright spots.

In some places, wildlife benefited from lockdowns. In New Zealand, only 25 people died. Concerts with 50,000 people without anyone catching COVD-19 are again possible there.

Thanks to the government listening to a pink-haired punk girl: to New Zealand COVID-19 fighter Dr Siouxsie (note the spelling) Wiles.

More bright spots: Captain Sensible of the Damned predicted that after the pandemic, it would turn out that many musicians had written good songs during lockdowns.

That is becoming apparent already. As the UK Subs have recorded new songs. Some for their new LP, Reverse Engineering. It will be out later this year. An album with twelve songs, three by each of the four band members.

And there is a new EP by the other band of Subs bassist Alvin Gibbs, the Disobedient Servants. I will review that record in a later blog post.

This blog post is about the new 7″ solo single by Charlie Harper. Charlie designed the sleeve himself. Originally, the songs were intended to go with Charlie’s autobiography. As that book was delayed, they are released now.

There are two songs on it. Panic, and Post War Punks.

The people playing on it are, on Panic:

Charlie Harper – Vocals
Marlon Payne – Guitar & Piano
Victoria Smith – Bass
Marley Perez – Drums

Marley Perez is Charlie Harper’s grandson.

Victoria Smith is also special. She is the bass player of the Ramonas. And also a bass teacher. Clara Wiseman, a woman teaching music, has played bass for the UK Subs before. But as far as I know, this is the first time that a specialised bass teacher plays on a Charlie Harper record.

Victoria Smith

Victoria Smith

On Post War Punks the line-up of ‘Charlie Harper & The Sub Machine’ is the same, except that Bram Payne, Marlon’s brother, plays bass instead of Victoria Smith.

Let us look at the two songs. First, Panic.

The music reminds me a bit of one of my favourite songs, Melody Lee by the Damned. At first, a piano. Is this going to be classical music or something? Then, unexpectedly, the snare drum and other instruments and the vocals come, making it a real punk song.

Charlie names young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg as an inspiration for this song. You can hear that in the lyrics, which are about threatening climate catastrophe ‘for God and greed’. How religious fundamentalists and short-sighted Big Businessmen in Big Oil etc. ruin the environment, and how everyone suffers from that. There is a certain similarity to the 2020 Damned song about the threat of bees becoming extinct.

The next song, Post War Punks, right from the start, leaves no doubt about being punk. It mentions ‘Post war punks eating post punk sandwiches’.

Charlie Harper

Maybe Charlie on this photo eats a post punk sandwich.

Both Charlie’s and Alvin’s songs are in this Punks Not Dead radio show.