Crash Course: Live

by: U.K. Subs

The U.K. Subs were always at their best when they were at their most elemental, and the stage was where they were most at home, not the recording studio. Fittingly, the Subs had only released two studio efforts when they brought out Crash Course, which documents a May 1980 gig the group played at London's Rainbow Theatre, though they might have been prompted by the unexpected appearance of Live Kicks, a live EP taken from tapes of a 1977 show that predated their recording contract and released without their authorization. After Live Kicks fared well on the charts, the U.K. Subs easily proved they could do better, and if it's hard to say if this is the definitive U.K. Subs live release (given how many have flooded the market in the band's nearly 40-year career), this captures the sound and fury of this band's no-frills street punk with rough, energetic accuracy, and was recorded in the presence of an audience eager to cheer on the band to deliver the goods. Charlie Harper's vocals may lack nuance, but he's as good a ranter as the U.K. street punk scene ever produced, and he sounds suitably revved up on this particular evening, while guitarist Nicky Garratt, bassist Paul Slack, and drummer Pete Davies keep the music fast, furious, and raw from first chord to last. Quite simply, if you want to hear what the U.K. Subs were like in concert during the height of their success and the peak of their abilities, this is the album to get. ~ Mark Deming

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