The world needs more bands like The Subhumans. Since the dawn of the ’80’s, they’ve been around, reminding the UK and the US that punk rock is about more than just mohawks and venom. Along with bands like Crass, The Subhumans espoused the DIY ethic now considered inherent to punk rock, but unlike Crass, they’re still around.
Though The Subhumans haven’t been together full-time in a while, they still get together to practice, write, and tour, and recently recorded this live album, the fifth in Fat Wreck Chords’ Live In A Dive series.
The Subhumans haven’t changed their message, though new material like “This Year’s War” brings it up-to-date with the chantable line “War on terror like the war on crime/Is a war against anyone, at any time.” The best thing about live albums is usually the in-between song comments that you only hear most of the time at shows, and this album as well is entertaining between songs. While these series of records may be billed as “…In A Dive,” the sound quality is among the best live recordings I’ve heard. You almost forget you’re listening to a live album until the song ends and you’re laughing at Dick talking about Mickey Mouse, or large pigmen that go around “eating people for Sunday dinner.”
I saw the Subhumans back in 1998 in a smoky, dark club with a miserable sound system in New Orleans. Listening to this CD was probably more enjoyable than that experience, and the sound quality is definitely better. You also get an enhanced CD (the liner notes advise you to “stick it in your computer,”), which may not seem terribly punk rock, but the extras are fun. The liner notes also include a comic book drawn to the lyrics of “Subvert City,” and “This Year’s War” so you can graffiti them everywhere your local patriots hang out.