Punk legends’ sophomore foray into the terrain of former fellows and foes – full of fire if not ire.
Having finished their alphabet-based album run, this British bunch found themselves liberated enough to pay a visit to other artists’ catalogues. Yet, while 2018’s “Subversions” (detailed here and not available for review) saw the quartet tackle more or less predictable choices, its follow-up – marking the 40th anniversary of the band’s debut, “Another Kind Of Blues”; also a fitting title for this covers’ set – opens a different perspective to the punks’ matured focus. That’s where the drift and shift, as opposed to Sturm und Drang, become interesting, with “Search And Destroy” implying creativity of anarchic kind.
Of course, the London foursome’s frantic take on “My Generation” may not sound as paradoxical as it does in the current repertoire of the track’s architects, and “White Light, White Heat” can’t really escape the original black hole despite newly added heft, but the SUBS’ hypnotically heavy dis-psychedelicizing of “Season Of The Witch” has the depth that the ensemble rarely, if ever, fathomed before. What four decades ago would be seen as pandering to old farts’ pomp sounds most alluring now that the group not so much venture outside their comfort zone as pull classic cuts into this area: as a result, “We Will Rock You” does indeed pump wild testosterone into the listener’s veins, and the immense reading of “Immigrant Song” – stressing the unifying “we” – turns into communal battle cry.
Kickstarting the collection with a supercharged rendition of THE EQUALS “Diversion” and probably signaling the end of such an experiment with the booming “The Last Time” from THE STONES’ dark past – even though a fresh delivery of Joe Jackson’s “One More Time” could suggest otherwise, singer Charlie Harper and his compadres infuse the familiar tunes with cartoonish vigor, and Alvin Gibbs’ bass throb is bound to bounce around the room long after the music’s over. Surely, THE KIDS’ “This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll” is closer to the band’s heart than Tom Petty’s “You Wreck Me” which they pull off with enviable panache; still, best of all the aforementioned liberty oozes out of “Rockin’ In The Free World” – springing from the deliberately flat monochrome of the rest to the multicolored 3D. Whether it’s subversive is a moot point; yet it’s indubitably joyful.