On 23rd March 1983, under the name ‘The Original UK Subs’ the band appeared at the Fulham Greyhound. The line up was Steve Slack – bass, Captain Scarlet – guitar, Steve Jones – drums and Charlie on vocals.
During April, they concentrated on rehearsing and writing new material. They still managed to play the odd gig – Marquee 25.04.83.
This was followed by a May/June UK tour, with American band Bad Brains. including further dates in London, as well as gigs in Nottingham, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester Gallery, this gig was recorded live and released on video by Jettisoundz.
The tour ended at the ‘Punk and Disorderly’ festival at the London Lyceum, on the 5th June, where the Subs headlined.
The album Flood of Lies and single, written by Charlie on the previous years US tour in Orlando, Florida, Another Typical City were recorded during August. The Subs took time out of recording for a short tour of Scandanavia, including gigs in Sweden.
The Subs then returned to the UK, finished recording the single and album, played a couple of gigs in the UK before embarking on a European tour taking in Germany and Holland.
In the Autumn they were back in the UK and embarked on their largest UK tour to date. The tour consisted of 42 dates and went from October until early January 1984, playing venues in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham as well as dates at the Marquee and 100 Club in London.
They were filmed during one of dates at the Retford Porterhouse in November. This later was released on video by Jettisoundz Productions – Live at the Retford Porterhouse, It has since been re-released on DVD. The album and single remained in the top ten of the British indie charts.
Line-up problems forced a change for a major US tour with The Exploited. Tezz Roberts ex-Discharge joined on bass, Captain Scarlet was on guitar and Pete Davies rejoined on drums. This tour was one of the most successful to date, and one of the performances was captured on video and three tracks were released on Flipside Compilation No: 5, featuring Subs tracks – Stranglehold, Crash Course and Disease and other bands playing live such as Bad Religion, TSOL, Subhumans and Conflict. In late May they returned to the UK.
Steve Roberts was to rejoin for a series of gigs in the UK and in Holland. He couldn’t commit as much time as was needed and the ever revolving drummers stool was vacant again. The album Demonstration Tapes hit the shops, this was previously a UK Subs tuck shop only release.
A 12″ EP single entitled Magic was released. Steve Jones played drums on this release. Harper once told me that they ran out of time due to the fact that Scarlet had so many overdubs, this left Charlie only 2 hours for vocal takes. Hence the result. It was remixed 3 times, and cost the record company a fortune, as it didn’t sell particularly well. Captain Scarlet went AWOL before the scheduled Spanish tour with Chelsea and the Anti-Nowhere League. The tour went ahead, but with yet another line up change. Tim Britta played guitar (learning the songs on the ferry to France), John Armitage played Bass and Matthew ‘Turkey’ Best was behind the kit. Returning to the UK once more towards the end of 1984, they played a few gigs in London – 16.12.84, (100 club 6th November with Steve Roberts on drums) Stevenage and in Manchester with yet another line-up change. Tezz was back, this time playing guitar and ex- The Wall, Rab Fae Beith appeared on drums. John was still on Bass.
A release party for the new album, Gross Out USA, was held at the Tunnel Club in Greenwich, south east London, on 11th January 1985. The album was recorded in Chicago, on their last US tour, on a 4-track ‘Portastudio’.
In February the Subs then embarked on a mini tour with The Exploited and a few dates with 999. The Subs ‘left’ their record company after they failed to promote the new single This Gun Says. Only a 1000 copies of this 7″ were pressed, some with red covers, some with blue.
They toured the United States in April and May, James Moncur replaced Tezz mid-tour on guitar. Tezz’s behaviour was becoming strange, erratic and sometimes violent.
On returning to the UK they were filmed early one morning at Camden Palace in London by Trillion Pictures/Hendring, for the ‘Live In London’ TV series, as a replacement for Hanoi Rocks who pulled out at the last minute, this was released on video in September and entitled Gross Out UK, Rab formed his own record label with the help of his connections within Polydor and Pinnacle. The label was called RFB recordings.
They recorded the album for autumn release, Huntington Beach with new bassist Ricky McQuire/Plonker Magoo. They then embarked on a 15 date UK tour to end the year.
Dates from this tour were recorded at Telford and Aberdeen with the intention of releasing these on the next album, instead studio time was booked and the tracks were recorded ‘live’ in the studio and were released as In Action , a weaker follow up to the live classic Crash Course. The first 5000 copies were released on green vinyl.
1986 started with a tour of Holland, France, Belgium and Switzerland in early January. Whilst in Rennes, France they appeared on TV, capturing one of the best performances ever, but like all Subs performances, it has dissappeared.
They returned on 21st January to find a ‘new’ GEM compilation entitled Sub Standards and a ROIR version of a live album entitled Left For Dead- Alive In Holland. The 7″ EP single- Live In Holland on red vinyl was released.
After a few Northern and London gigs the band jetted off to the US on April 20th. They returned on June 2nd after a six week tour including some dates in Canada. While the Subs were in the US, Rab met his future wife. The last gig that Rab did was at the 100 club, on June 5th. He then jetted off to America to concentrate on his marriage and record company. The Subs were once again ‘drummerless’
Thank god for Pete Davies, as he stood in yet again for a few dates on the British tour before the Subs borrowed Geoff Sewell, from Chelsea for the following several months. Out in July was a re-issue of Demonstration Tapes, this had been repackaged with a new sleeve and a new title – Raw Material.
Ricky Mcquire was replaced by Marc Barratt in late August. They gigged around Britain taking in places such as London, Coventry and Rochdale. The video Gross Out UK was shown on ITV on 12th September. On 23rd October the Subs headed off for another European tour.
Away for 5 weeks, they played in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and France. Captain Scarlet had now become the Subs roadie for this tour. The Subs returned on 24th November in time for Christmas gigs in Nottingham, Derby, Leeds and London amongst others.
Early January the Subs escaped the cold of England and rather sensibly scheduled a Spanish tour, They returned to England in late January, and gave back drummer Geoff to Chelsea. Another line up change takes place as Charlie and Marc team up with ex Bazooka Joe drummer Dave Wilkinson and guitarist Darrell Bath. This line up remained stable throughout most of 1987. They did a 3 week residency (Jan 31, Feb 7, Feb 14) at a yuppie city pub called The Suprise, as a way of acclimatising the newcomers to the heat and speed of the set. They then went up and down the M1 taking in places that the Subs hadn’t played before, and had not played since the Garratt heydays.
Steve Roberts replaced Dave Wilkinson in September when the Subs went into Alaska studios and recorded the next album Japan Today between Sept 24 – Oct 7.
This features Charlie on vocals, Steve Roberts back on drums, new boys Flea on bass, Alan Lee, Darrell Bath and ‘Vibrators/Urban Dogs’ Knox sharing the guitar duties.
Alan Lee replaced Darrell Bath officially on October 8th debuting at the ‘yuppie festival’ at the London Astoria on October 29.
In November, the UK Subs took a short trip to France and played Pontoise (28) and Lorient (29)
In December Hey Santa was released on 12″. It also featured other tracks from the album Japan Today – Captain Scarlet, Thunderbird Wine and Street Legal. December also saw a brief UK tour, where Steve Roberts was replaced by Duncan Smith
This tour was followed by a European tour starting in Hamburg, Germany on 23rd December and running until mid January 1988 where the last gigs were in Holland.
Steve Roberts comes back on drums and they play gigs around the UK. In late April, they head off to the USA for the long awaited ‘Skate The States USA tour’ with Broken Bones, kicking off in Washington on 29th April they played more than 30 gigs in the US as well as a few in Canada. At the end of the tour 3 more dates were added, drummer Steve Roberts couldn’t commit himself to this extension so Tezz Roberts, who also played in Broken Bones, stood in for the last few remaining gigs. At the end of the tour the Subs all went their seperate ways Charlie ended up in New York, and met up with Nicky Garratt. Alvin Gibbs, fresh off a tour with Iggy Pop also ended up in New York, a drummer – Belvy K, from band Demolition Boy was found and a recording session took place between 22nd-28th July. These recordings appeared on the album Killing Time released on Nicky’s own label New Red Archives.
Charlie returned to the UK in early August and set about trying to find out where his band was for the UK tour beginning on August 7th in Cardiff. Matt McCoy took over from Steve Roberts and debuted on 11th in Bristol
Further UK gigs are played through until November when the Subs record a new 12″ single Motivator . Other tracks include Combat Zone, Fascist Regime. Auld Langs Syne and Pyscho Sluts. This is released on 23rd December on Released Emotions. Also released in the US on New Red Archives, on yellow vinyl, is a 12″ EP entitled Sabre Dance, which also features tracks, Motivator, No Heart, Fear To Go and Nico.
Alan Lee leaves and is replaced by Darrell Bath and with the new line up of Darrell Bath – guitar, Flea – bass and Matt McCoy – drums, they tour Europe in January 1989. On the European tour they are recorded for their next album release.
In April the Subs tour the UK . Captured on video as ‘Alive And Kicking’ on 22nd April.
Charlie went out to the US on July 26th, followed by the band on August 22nd. The US tour began on 23rd in Milwaukee and ended on October 18th 1989.
In October/November they tour the UK. They are filmed live at Downham Market Town Hall, on 29th October, this is released as Down Amongst The Dead Men on video in 1990. This also features interviews with the band. In November studio time was booked and tracks for the next ‘M’ album were recorded (before the ‘L’ had even been released!) the tour finished on December 27th in London.
Darrell Bath left the band and was replaced by ex-Exploited guitarist Karl Morris. He debuted on January 9th 1990 at Bristol. The European tour started a few days after this and ran through until early March. Also in March, the long awaited new album Live In Paris is released on Released Emotions, and features their ‘Greatest Hits – Live’, recorded last year in France (Radio Strasbourg 11th February 1989). Also released by the same record company is an album entitled Europe Calling , this features tracks recorded live in Vienna and Paris, as well as studio recordings, with Alan Lee on guitar. The album also features an interview with Charlie Harper.
In April Matt McCoy goes to America he is temporarily replaced by Leo Mortimer, the band had further gigs in Finland and Spain.
Darrell Bath was briefly rehired to finish off the Mad Cow Fever sessions on August 3rd, 6th and 27th.
The Subs ill fated tour of the USA in September was a disaster due to mismanagement and was abandoned half way through, with Flea flying home in disgust. A replacement bass player was found for a few gigs, until the Subs realised that abandonment was the more respectable thing to do.
Back in the UK numerous re-releases had hit the shops.
A UK tour was scheduled for November and kicked off on the 22nd in Nottingham and finished at The Dome in London on December 22nd.
The Subs start off 1991 with gigs in Plymouth (Jan 8th) and London Moonlight (10th), the new album Mad Cow Fever has it’s launch party on 14th January at JFK’s bar in Portland Street, London. At the party there are numerous UK Subs past and current members in attendance. Richard Anderson, Pete Davies, Dave Dudley, Matt McCoy and Karl Morris all perform.
A few days later Flea, Morris, McCoy and Harper venture out on yet another European tour starting on 17th January in Nijmegen, Holland and running until the last gig in Amsterdam in March. This rolled on to a ten week UK tour, starting on March 16th in Manchester. Flea hopped off the tour in April and was replaced by Brian Barnes, whose official debut was on April 5th in Birmingham. The tour eventually ran until mid May, and took in basically the whole of the UK, playing towns and cities that the Subs hadn’t been since the glory days of the late 1970’s. The UK tour was followed by further UK gigs in June, before they ventured out on another US tour.
This started on July 5th in Greenbay and ran for six weeks until mid-August.
The Subs are filmed by Tower Bridge in London by Japanese TV, this is broadcast in Japan.
The Subs once more tour the UK in the Autumn. Lars Fredrikson plays guitar on the 30 date UK tour. He leaves the Subs after the tour, and returns to the US to join a band formed from the ashes of Operation Ivy called Rancid, complaining about the lack of management / organisation surrounding the Subs. (with that kind of attitude Lars, you’ll go nowhere, young man!)
Re-released on CD for the Christmas sales rush was a cluster of stuff, including The Singles. 1978-1982, this featured a limited edition ‘picture disc’ . Also re-released (again) was Live At The Roxy, this time on CD, by Receiver Records.