Left for Dead

by: U.K. Subs

Left for Dead is a recording of a 1986 gig taped in Holland. Immediacy is the name of the game here, a point driven home by the cover packaging ("23 Songs! 60 Minutes!") and frontman Charlie Harper's breathless delivery; he remained a presence unto himself, even if he was the sole surviving original member onstage. The band's style is agreeably diverse within punk's bass-drum-guitar constraints, a reflection of its flirtations with melodic punk (Another Kind of Blues(X), 1979), glossy experimental pop (Endangered Species, 1981), and primal proto-metal (Flood of Lies, 1984). Songs aim darts at cops ("CID," "New York State Police"), broken romance (the affecting "Fear of Girls"), rock biz hypocrisy ("Limo Life"), nuclear holocaust ("Warhead"), and homelessness (the sardonic "I Live in a Car"). The crowd howls along to every chorus, supplying an atmosphere airbrushed from the standard artfully dubbed live album. So do Big Takeover editor Jack Rabid's liner notes, which could have stood some updating (even while they cheerfully recount that Harper led three completely different bands in the years before Left for Dead's release). The U.K. Subs' persistence is unlikely to change the big-time rock scene, let alone their lowly cult stature, but punk fans will find plenty of delights here. ~ Ralph Heibutzki

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