Friday, December 9, 2011

The Suhumans: Incorrect Thoughts (1980)


 
As a disaffected youth, I discovered rival Vancouver punk legends D.O.A. and the Subhumans on the same day, in a musty, suburban basement.

At one time in North America's cultural evolution, no basement would have been complete without a stack of abused and abandoned vinyl records. To be sure, they usually had the words Nana and Mouskouri stamped on them. But some obsessive types, as I was, and remain, are physically incapable of passing  a stack of records without succumbing to the urge to 'flip'.

So on that day in the summer of 1984, buried deep in friend's basement, I hit upon the black sheep of that family's records. A modest-in-size but utterly pure vein of gold among the slag. There, amidst the "Learn French" records and Ms. Mouskouri's purported Greatest Hits, were half-a-dozen or so records that were absolutely not like the others.

I swear it is this particular discovery which makes every stack of worn and beaten vinyl magnetic in a pull. What if, I still ask myself, instead of James Last, Rusty Warren or Strange Advance and other such Columbia House cast-offs, some black sheep's albums are lurking in in there?

What I did find therein was the Buzzcocks's Different Kind of Tension, 999's High Energy Plan, Iggy Pop's Soldier, The Cure's Boys Don't Cry et les pieces des resistance, those hopelessly rare (even then) foundational documents of Canadian punk rock;  D.O.A.'s Something Better Change and The Subhuman's Incorrect Thoughts.

While I took to each of these albums with a sort of fury, I was never uncritical. I scrutinized the sleeves of each LP as it spun, considering what to commit to tape and what to excise. The Subhumans' album made it to tape unscathed. After all, the band's mid-tempo rhythms, melodic guitar lines and bellowed politics reminded me of my beloved Clash, albeit with more audible hard rock roots and less stylistic fiddling. However, while Punk rock has, throughout its history, often rewarded sound-a-like bands, (Ramones-core? D-beat? Street-punk?), The Subhumans played nobody else's game.

In fact, the refusal to play anybody's game may be the defining trait of an album that simply bleeds alienation. Each of the three song-writers appears hopelessly at odds with the culture from which he sprung. Whether it's guitarist Mike Graham saying that "I don't fit the big picture", singer Brian Goble telling us us "I can't stand the new regime" or bassist Gerry Hannah mocking Saturday Fever culture with the charge, "I'm just a slave to my dick", this album is like discontent distilled. More than any other of the albums I uncovered that day, Incorrect Thoughts was the one that that could 'comfort the afflicted and afflict the comforted', even though both affliction and comfort marked the life of that disaffected youth.






Now I post this album with some trepidation. While Incorrect Thoughts itself remains difficult to obtain, thanks to some inexplicable legal chicanery, the band has not only re-recorded the album they've added new depth of experience to the songs. The end result of this being an unusual case where you'd want BOTH versions of the album. So if you're here to get Incorrect Thoughts (1980) feel free to do so but if you sense its power PLEASE go and find the 2010 version, called Same Thoughts, Different Day, and see how much it adds to the band's legacy.


So let us know MRML readers, Any favourite albums found in strange places? Any favourite Subhumans moments? Let us know in the COMMENTS section (where you'll find the Incorrect Thoughts link).


Subhumans.ca

Alternative Tentacles

12 comments:

  1. _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _


    Your own 'incorrect thoughts' are welcome here!



    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _
    _


    http://www.mediafire.com/?f727gt577oz7y48

    ReplyDelete
  2. the first time i heard "slave to my dick" it was a cover by the frank fink five on a compilation cassette i wish i still had. Nomeansno, no fun, go four 3, and of course, bruno gerrusi's medallion. all bands doing cover songs. i ended up searching out the subhumans because of frank fink's cover version. also really liked no fun doing hotel indiscreet, but that's another story.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Got to agree with you on this Lp as to it's sound not standing up to the originals from their first 7" Firing Squad with the brilliant "No Productivity" and the 2nd ep Subhumans S/T with equally classic "Inquisition Day" I'd have to say my pick would be the EP "Death was too Kind" witch brought the two together for those who weren't around to get copies of the early releases. Still All and all these guys were my favorite band to play shows with Wimpy Roy is such a cool guy as were all the others Greg (Great Guitarist) and the bassist who's name slips my old mind =) Hail Hail These real deal purveyors of Rock n' Roll !

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm with RevolutionaryBum.

    The Subhumans 12" EP was the first "complete" recording I ever heard by them. (And not until 1989!)

    Everything else was a track or two from a comp or a mixed tape, so I found the rest of their albums really kind of meandering affairs when I finally did hear them in their entirety.

    That said, everyone should go get their 'Death Was Too Kind' album, which has the two 7"s and S/T EP.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Actually, I don't know if I'd ever heard 'Oh Canaduh!' before that CBC 'The Squamish Five' movie... Which makes me wonder: was this Death Sentence?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey thanks man! I too first heard Slave to my Dick on a comp, somehow didn't know it was these guys. Stoked to hear this!

    ReplyDelete
  7. It's really hard to get me to download something new now and give it a listen since I've got so much I'm sorting through already, but this really piqued my interest. So thanks! I'm looking forward to hearing it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. JC
    You ever find a rip of that tape let me know!

    Rev
    I heard this early so it stayed with me. I got the 12" later and loved that to but The original Subhumans never did any wrong in my book.

    BIo
    I gotta get "Death Was Too Kind"
    soon.
    P.S. Hmmm possibly (That clip will be used this week I assure you!)

    Minknowski
    I hope you hear something good in it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. great . . . thanks

    ReplyDelete
  10. Part of the problem with this album "not standing up" to earlier releases is that this is actually not the album as it originally appeared.

    After CD Presents got the rights to the album (however that happened) they remixed it and really fucked it up. True they did add the songs "Behind My Smile" and "Out Of Line" (which were previously only available on the Vancouver Independence comp) but that didn't make up for what they did to the sound quality of the record with echo-y effects and overdubs. Plus they changed the song order.

    The original pressing on the Friends label was way better than what CD Presents did to it later on. The latest CD Presents rip-off... I mean re-issue that was on iTunes for little while does sound better in that they got rid of the shitty guitar overdubs that got put on the initial re-issues, including the first ones on vinyl.

    I would kill to find a rip of the Friends vinyl.

    ReplyDelete
  11. again, thanks for all the subhumans posts. i really appreciate them.

    oddest find for me was at least fifteen or more years ago at a suburban yard sale. in digging through a box of records that, like yours, had ample offerings from nana mouskouri, the canadian brass and anne murray, i found an ep by some band called the moral lepers. of course i bought it, and the owner of the house, who was a typical older suburban mom, laughed and said "oh good, i wanted that to go to someone who would like it. my niece sent me it and i tried to like it but i'm just not young enough. she's a lovely musician but her records aren't for me." so, i bought a moral lepers record from the aunt of one of the members, for fifty cents.

    ReplyDelete
  12. DG
    One day I will post that version, as it's the one I first knew.

    PB
    Love the story - it's those moments that keep us digging!

    (*Tries to remember Moral Lepers*...)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for clicking the COMMENTS link.
Now that you're here,I should mentions that
without reader feedback blogs slowly wither and die