U.K. Subs

The U.K. Subs are an English punk band, among the earliest in the first wave of British punk.[2] Formed in 1976,[3] the mainstay of the band has been vocalist Charlie Harper, originally a singer in Britain's R&B scene. They were also one of the first street punk bands.

U.K. Subs
UK Subs bw.jpg
UK Subs performing in 2007
Background information
OriginLondon, England
GenresPunk rock, street punk, Oi!, post-punk
Years active1976–present
LabelsNew Red Archives, Cleopatra Records[1], Captain Oi!, Fall Out, Time & Matter Recordings, Diablo Records, RCA, Punkerama Records
Associated actsUrban Dogs, The Damned, Rancid, The Flying Padovanis, King Kurt
WebsiteUK Subs Official Website
MembersCharlie Harper
Steve Straughan
Jamie Oliver
Alvin Gibbs
Past membersNicky Garratt
Steve Slack
Terry Bones
Gregor Kramer
Jacek Ostoya
Pete Davies
David Ayer
Alan Campbell
Rory Lyons
Belvy K
Matthew McCoy
Steve Roberts
Brian Barnes
Tony Kibbutz
Paul Slack
Chema Zurita
Jason Willer
Mal Asling
Leo Mortimer
Benjie Bollox
Rab Fae Beith
Eric Baconstrip
Sarah Copson
Lars Frederiksen


The U.K. Subs were part of the original punk movement in England. The band formed in 1976, initially using the name the Subversives.[3] The band's founder, Charlie Harper selected guitarist Nicky Garratt, bassist Paul Slack, and various drummers (eventually with Pete Davies became fairly stable) under the initial name "U.K. Subversives".[4] The London-based band's early line-up changed frequently.

Their style combined the energy of punk and the rock and roll edge of the then thriving pub rock scene. The band had hit singles such as "Stranglehold", "Warhead", "Teenage", and "Tomorrow's Girls", with several of their songs managing to enter the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart.[5]

The band played several John Peel sessions in 1978 for BBC Radio 1,[2] and played some opening gigs for The Police, and recorded a set at The Roxy (a punk club), which was issued in 1980 as Live Kicks. They signed a recording contract with GEM Records in May 1979.[2] Under GEM, the U.K. Subs recorded their most successful studio albums, Another Kind of Blues and Brand New Age.[5] Their biggest selling album came with 1980s Crash Course.[5] Crash Course was recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London on 30 May 1980 during the Brand New Age tour.

In 1979, Julien Temple wrote and directed a short film Punk Can Take It, a parody of wartime documentaries, that consisted mainly of the U.K.Subs playing live on stage.[6] The film was released theatrically.[7]

In the 1980s with the addition of the new bassist Alvin Gibbs and drummer Steve Roberts, the songs took on a more heavy metal-influenced edge.[5] In July 1982, they became the first western band to perform in Poland since the imposition of martial law, and the suppression of the trade union, Solidarity.[8] Their concert was held in Gdańsk, and they were supported by Brygada Kryzys.[9] Also in 1983 they came to Poland, where they played several concerts with new wave polish band Republika.[10] In 1991, the U.K. Subs also had Lars Frederiksen (now of Rancid) on guitar for a 30 date UK tour. Decades after the disbanding of other late-1970s punk groups such as the Sex Pistols and The Clash, the U.K. Subs continue to perform.

Successive U.K. Subs album titles start with consecutive letters of the alphabet, and the band announced on 24 October 2015 via their Facebook page, that the 26th album starting with the letter "Z" would be their last long playing record, although they would continue to release EPs. The band intend to fund the final album through Crowdfunding site Pledge Music, the official start date for their pledge campaign is 1 November 2015.[11] The U.K. Subs song "Down on the Farm" was covered by Guns N' Roses on their 1993 covers album "The Spaghetti Incident?".[5] The U.K. Subs joined the bill for the 2006 Fiend Fest. The band have toured with The Misfits, The Adicts, Osaka Popstar, Agent Orange, and The Ramones.[citation needed] The U.K. Subs song "Warhead" is played in the movie, This Is England. U.K. Subs are one of the regular bands to play the Rebellion Festival nearly every year since its origins as The Holidays in the Sun Festival in 1996.

In 2007, drummer Jamie Oliver was a contestant on the UK quiz show Nothing But the Truth. Vocalist Charlie Harper was among the panel of witnesses. Oliver reached the £5000 mark, but lost it all in a bid to double his winnings.

In recent years, the band's work has been critical of British politician Nick Clegg, with the 2013 song Coalition Government Blues describing the Liberal Democrats' leader as "liking his perks". The band's 2015 album Yellow Leader was widely suspected of referring to Clegg, with yellow being the official colour of his political party.

Band membersEdit


Studio albumsEdit

  • Another Kind of Blues (1979) (UK No. 21)[12]
  • Brand New Age (1980) (UK No. 18)
  • Diminished Responsibility (1981) (UK No. 18)
  • Endangered Species (1982)
  • Flood of Lies (1983)
  • Huntington Beach (1985)
  • Japan Today (1987)
  • Killing Time (1988)
  • Mad Cow Fever (1991)
  • Occupied (1996)
  • Quintessentials (1997)
  • Riot (1997)
  • Universal (2002)
  • Work in Progress (10 January 2011)
  • XXIV (6 February 2013)
  • Yellow Leader (3 August 2015)
  • Ziezo (2 May 2016)
  • Subversions (22 June 2018)[13]
  • Subversions II (28 June 2019)[14]

Compilation albumsEdit

  • Recorded 1979–1981 (1982)
  • Demonstration Tapes (1984)
  • Subs Standards (1986)
  • Raw Material (1986)
  • A.W.O.L. (1987) (U.S only release)
  • The Singles 1978–1982 (1989)
  • Down on the Farm (A collection of the less obvious) (1991)
  • Los Exitos En Singles 1978–1985 (1992) (Argentinian release)
  • Scum of the Earth-Best Of (1993)
  • The Punk Is Back (1995)
  • Self-Destruct – Punk Can Take It 2 (1997)
  • Punk Rock Rarities (1998)
  • The Punk Singles Collection (1998)
  • Punk Rock Rarities (1998)
  • Sub Mission: The Best of the U.K. Subs 1982–1998 (1999)
  • Time Warp: Greatest Hits (2001)
  • Before You Were Punk (2004)
  • Original Punks Original Hits (2006)
  • An Introduction to The U.K. Subs (2006)
  • Complete Riot (2006)
  • Greatest Hits (2009)

Live albumsEdit

  • Live Kicks (1979) (Recorded Live at the Roxy 1977)
  • Crash Course (Live) (1980) (UK No. 8)
  • Dance & Travel in the Robot Age (1980) (Bootleg live album recorded in Milan)
  • Live in London (1980) (Australian release of "Live Kicks" plus the rest of "A Farwell to the Roxy")
  • Gross Out USA (Live) (1984)
  • Left For Dead (1986)
  • In Action (10th Anniversary) (1986)
  • Live in Paris (1989)
  • Europe Calling (1990)
  • Normal Service Resumed (1993)
  • Peel Sessions 1978–79 (1997)
  • Live in the Warzone (1998)
  • Countdown (Live) (2001)
  • World War (Live) (2003)
  • Staffordshire Bull (Live) (2004)
  • Live & Loud (2005)
  • Violent State (2005)


  • "C.I.D." (1978) (EP)
  • "Stranglehold" (1979) (EP)
  • "Tomorrows Girls" (1979) (EP)
  • "She's Not There" / "Kicks" (EP) – 1979 – No. 36 UK
  • "Warhead" (1980) (EP)
  • "Teenage" (1980) (EP)
  • "Keep on Running EP Version" (1981)
  • "Shake Up The City" (1982) (EP)
  • "Another Typical City" (1983) (EP)
  • "The Magic" (1984) (EP)
  • "This Gun Says" (1985) (EP)
  • "Live in Holland" (1986) (EP)
  • "Hey Santa" (1987) (EP)
  • "Motivator" (1988) (EP)
  • "Sabre Dance" (1989) (EP)
  • "The Road is Long, The Road is Hard" (1993) (EP)
  • "War on the Pentagon" (1997) (EP) (U.S. only)
  • "Day of the Dead" (1997) (EP) (U.S. only)
  • "Cyberjunk" (1997) (EP) (U.S. only)
  • "Riot" (1998) (EP)
  • "The Revolution's Here" (2000) (EP)
  • "Warhead" (2008) (CD EP)
  • "Screaming Senile"(2018) (EP)


  • "Stranglehold" – 1979 – No. 26 UK
  • "Tomorrow's Girls" – 1979 – No. 28 UK
  • "Warhead" – 1980 – No. 30 UK
  • "Teenage" – 1980 – No. 32 UK
  • "Party in Paris" – 1980 – No. 37 UK
  • "Keep On Runnin' (Till You Burn)" – 1981 – No. 41[12]
  • "Countdown" (1981)
  • "Another Typical City" (1983)
  • "Postcard from L.A." (Split single) (1994) (U.S. only)
  • "Betrayal" (1995) (U.S. only)
  • "Drunken Sailor" (2002)
  • "666 Yeah" (2006)
  • "Product Supply" (2011)

Compilation appearancesEdit

Tributes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ Mark Deming "U.K. Subs – Discography" "AllMusic.com" Retrieved 30 October 2017
  2. ^ a b c O'Connor, Alan (2008). Punk Record Labels and the Struggle for Autonomy: The Emergence of DIY. Lexington Books. p. 2. ISBN 9780739126608.
  3. ^ a b Apter, Jeff (2009). Never Enough: The Story of The "Cure". Omnibus Press. ISBN 9781847727398.
  4. ^ "UK Subs Return To New Zealand & Australia", scoop.co.nz, 8 July 1009
  5. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 1203. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  6. ^ "Punk Can Take It (1979)". IMDb. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  7. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 26 July 2014 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ Ensminger, David (2013). Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons. PM Press. ISBN 9781604866414.
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 368. CN 5585.
  10. ^ "Republika – "Gwiazdy, komety & czad". Książka A. Stacha". Republika.art.pl.
  11. ^ "UK Subs Facebook Video (2015)". Facebook. Retrieved 24 October 2015.[non-primary source needed]
  12. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 574. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  13. ^ "Subversions, by U.K. Subs". Uksubsmusic.bandcamp.com.
  14. ^ "UK Subs announce second volume of cover songs". Punknews.org.

External linksEdit