Following on from his highly acclaimed and extensive series of books covering most UK punk bands since the early 80s, Ian Glasper sets his sights on one of his favourite bands, the Subhumans. His writing style and investigative skills really get the space to shine through in this mammoth volume (nearly 600 pages) as he delves much, much deeper into their history and what makes them tick than any of his previous works.
This is a real labour of love (I mean, who doesn't love the Subhumans? I found myself yearning to put their old classics on till I remembered my record player has been destroyed!)
The book starts off with how the members first got into punk and started playing music before joining together in this lifelong adventure. A story that followed similar lines (drunken shenanigans, getting in trouble with the authorities, and random violence from rival youth subcultures) and will be familiar to many, whether from urban or rural settings.
It follows them through the many ups and downs, breaking up, starting other bands, getting back together, and everything in between over the following 40 years.
It's amazing how much detail is recovered and the insights into some of their songs and events that occurred are enlightening. The story evolves not just from the band's perspective but Glasper has also tracked down countless other people involved in one way or another to get their anecdotes. As well as the main story there are loads of photos, flyers, lyric sheets, scribblings, etc.
Although there is a serious message there is also plenty of humour (“We were like a cross between the Toy Dolls and Crass” as Dick puts it) but that is one of the things that make us human right? This book gives you a good feeling inside, like meeting an old friend. Here's to many more years! Cheers! (Earth Island Books)