By Ian Pickens
Mass Movements UK
Without doubt my favourite Anarcho band, in both the breadth of their musical creativity and the lack of pretension and preachiness in Dick Lucas lyrics. Subhumans have been consistently popular throughout their 40-year ‘career’ and a dependably solid live band (I’ll have to take other peoples’ word for this, as to my shame I have managed to miss them live at every possible opportunity, for a variety of reasons. I’ve begun to feel like there may be a curse on me when it comes to the Subhumans live experience).
‘Silence is No Reaction…’ is a real labour of love that celebrates the authors affection for the Wiltshire Anarchotects stretching back their entire ‘career’ and his own time in the UK Punk scene (I can testify to this, having seen Ian’s old band Decadence Within cover ‘Religious Wars’ at a gig with the mighty Cowboy Killers in Blackwood Miner’s Institute many, many moons ago).
Glasper uses the same technique as his other books on the UK Punk, Anarcho, Hardcore and Thrash Metal scenes (not to mention the majority of Hardcore historical books) in asking an opening question and then letting the band speak for themselves, his encyclopaedic knowledge of Subhumans giving him plenty of scope to delve into the bands initial formation, their hard earned, and enduring popularity, numerous line-up changes, (including the inevitable departures) and the eventual splintering of the band in 1985 – after only 3 albums – a fact hard to reconcile with their level of influence on countless bands and individuals; until their temporary reformation in 1991 and the subsequent, more permanent, touring reunion in ’98.
At a hefty 600 hundred ages the book is broken down into individual years/periods starting (unsurprisingly) with the bands earliest origins as the short lived Vermin and Stupid Human, and Dick Lucas’ first forays into punk with his brother in The Mental. There’s plenty of anecdotes of hanging around with likeminded punks sniffing glue, drinking “… a helluva lot” and purloining the local constabulary’s headwear! It also discusses the band members earliest musical influences which include prog acts such as King Crimson and Pink Floyd – unusually honest for a punk band, and which helps to explain the bands eclectic style on ‘From the Cradle to the Grave’ and how they played a major part in bringing together like minded elements from both the Punk and Hippy scenes.
Over the following six chapters the band, touring crew, friends and fans detail their experiences in writing, recording and relentless touring across the UK, Europe and the USA, liberally smattered with anecdotes about their fellow travellers (bandmates, crew, other bands etc.) making for an interesting and enjoyable read.
Beautifully laid out and Interspersed with a plethora of exclusive photographs, newspaper clippings, interview transcripts (including one from Sounds conducted by the legendary Winston Smith) and a treasure trove of Dick’s hand written lyrics, flyers, and complete(?) disc/gig-ographies. ‘Silence is No Reaction…’ is as comprehensive a biography as you could wish for. Essential.