Sunday, 27 January 2019

Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants "Your Disobedient Servant" - Debut Solo LP From U.K. Subs & Iggy Pop Bassist

Alvin Gibbs, the current U.K. Subs & former Iggy Pop bassist is due to release his debut solo album "Your Disobedient Servant" on the excellent Time & Matter Recordings label at the end of January. It will be released on limited edition red and white splatter coloured vinyl packaged with a double-sided full colour insert along with a CD of the album and a download code that you can redeem via Bandcamp. Throughout the album Alvin handles lead and backing vocals, bass and rhythm guitar and has assembled an impressive star-studded band, entitled The Disobedient Servants, to back him up. There are some legendary names from the worlds of Punk, Trash and Alternative Rock including Brian James from The Damned and Lords of The New Church, Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC, James Stevenson from Chelsea and Generation X and Alvin's U.K. Subs colleague Jamie Oliver on drums and percussion. The good thing is that despite the many special guests, "Your Disobedient Servant" still retains a cohesive sound that feels like it's a been produced by a 'real' band. This is mainly down to Alvin's impressive vocals that hold everything together along with a great powerful production. It's also a varied album that runs through some of the musical styles that Alvin has been involved with over the years from sleazy Glam-tinged Rock'n'Roll to a full-on Punk Rock and fans of the U.K. Subs, Hanoi Rocks and Iggy Pop in particular are going to love this record.

Alvin on stage with U.K. Subs - Photo by Paul Slattery
Lyrically, the album could be seen as a soundtrack to Alvin's candid autobiography "Some Weird Sin: On Tour With Iggy Pop", in particular the revised edition which replaced the earlier, and slightly more restrained "Neighbourhood Threat". The book is packed full of often brutally honest confessional tales of a Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle on the road with Iggy Pop when he was touring the world to promote the back to basics album "Instinct". I was lucky enough to see a couple of the shows on this tour and it was definitely one of the best line-ups that Iggy had assembled. His band also included Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks on guitar and Paul Garisto from The Psychedelic Furs on drums and they were absolutely mind-blowing gigs. "Your Disobedient Servant" opens with the short sharp shock of "Arterial Pressure" a crunching 2 minute tribute to Joey Ramone and the scene is set for the thoroughly satisfactory listen that is to follow. The album includes both sides of the recent limited edition 7" Single "Ghost Train" & "Clumsy Fingers" which had cover artwork designed by another legendary Punk bassist, Gaye Black from The Adverts. "Ghost Train" features Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC on guitars and has Alvin in great voice, booming out an impressive Iggy style baritone. The flip-side "Clumsy Fingers" is an absolute belter of a song, rocket fuelled by Brian James from The Damned and Lords of The New Church. It recalls the tale of an 'amorous duel' and starts off with a great drum beat before a killer bass riff comes in. You can hear "Clumsy Fingers" in Episode 32 of our Retrosonic Podcast where my colleague Paul Slattery chats about his time photographing the U.K. Subs for various weekly music papers such as Sounds. Some of his photos were used on the back cover of the "Warhead" 7" single and the front of the compilation "Original Punks Original Hits".

Alvin Gibbs - Photo by Aleksander Korobczuk
"Dumb" is another highlight, driven along on an irresistible hand-clap rhythm and a great guitar motif. "Camden Town Gigolo" featuring the guitar talents of James Stevenson from Chelsea and Generation X, slows the pace a bit and is built around a circular bass riff as it tells the tale of a fading Rock'n'Roll casualty coming to terms with the ageing process. "Back to Mayhem" with Steve Crittall from The Godfathers on lead and rhythm guitars is a full-on Hardcore Punk rush that will certainly appeal to fans of the current U.K. Subs line-up. Here, Alvin admits that he struggles with dealing with the come-down following a long period of life on the road and having to face reality, he craves the excitement and danger. "When life is good, confidence high, I need a dose of chaos, some poison with the wine, back to mayhem, I’m in too straight a place, comfort is a curse". The brooding "Polemic" is one of my favourites on the album with slide guitar by Leigh Heggarty from Ruts DC, it chronicles the impact of seeing his very first live bands in the Seventies and how they "conditioned my ambition and set me free, it’s the blood that fuels my guitar". "I’m Not Crying Now" features Barrington Francis from The Saints on lead and rhythm guitar and it's a candid vignette of a relationship that turns sour when one person finds out the other is maybe not quite as famous and wealthy as was hoped. "Deep As Our Skin" closes the album in some style, it's a classic slice of sleazy New York Dolls Rock 'n' Roll courtsey of Mick Rossi from Slaughter & The Dogs that aptly soundtracks the songs subject matter of a raucous night in CBGB's and Manhattan.

Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants will be playing some shows in 2019, including this year’s Rebellion Festival in Blackpool and other dates are being announced now. Check out the official U.K. Subs web-site for further details. The album can be ordered from Time & Matter Recordings or downloaded at the Bandcamp site. Alvin's superb book "Some Weird Sin" can be ordered here. With thanks to Mark and Rob at Time & Matter, please check out their excellent and official U.K. Subs web-site and archive here.

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