The Punk Singles Collection

by: U.K. Subs

Still going strong after 30 years, the U.K. Subs demand more than a single CD to tell the story of their prodigious 45-rpm output. Though it was released to mark their mere 20th anniversary, The Punk Singles Collection does not even try to round up everything; rather, its 21 songs follow the band through to its first (short-lived) split in the mid-'80s and, in so doing, highlights both the very best -- and some of the worst -- material the Subs ever recorded. There is no arguing with the first half of the disc. Between 1978, when "Stranglehold" brought them their first U.K. hit (sadly, the debut "I Live in a Car" is absent from this set), and 1981, when "Keep on Running" brought them their final chartbuster, Charlie Harper and company racked up some of the most memorable 45s of the age: "Tomorrow's Girls," "Warhead," an incandescent cover of the Zombies' "She's Not There," "Party in Paris." All are here, matched by their attendant (and often equally exciting) B-sides. But, thereafter, things start declining fast. Too many lineup changes, and too little time in which to break the new members in before returning to the road, saw Harper absolutely distill the magic that was once the Subs' greatest asset and, long before the CD ends, the listener will be reaching for the off switch. Those first ten or so songs, though, helped rewire punk rock for the decade (and decades) to come. ~ Dave Thompson

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