Friday, June 18, 2010

Incorrect Thoughts

No, not the English Subhumans, although they did come through the Bay Area on tour last weekend and inspired this post by doing so. I’ve never exactly been a big fan of the Brits, which once compelled some drunken shitpunk at Gilman to proclaim that I “wasn’t punk” for holding that opinion. Fine by me. If that’s what it takes to be considered “punk as fuck,” then count me out. Chances are that dude hung up his leather jacket a long time ago and didn’t even bother to attend either of last week’s shows anyway.

However, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the Canadian Subhumans, even years before I actually got to hear them. After all, they wrote one of the all-time quintessential punk anthems, simply titled “Fuck You.” From what I can tell, the Subhumans never really got their just due. They resided in the shadow of fellow countrymen DOA, who worked harder and had a more incendiary sound. Hardcore took over and emphasized blistering speed over power and songwriting craft, leaving a lot of bands out in the cold. You could say that the Subhumans were one of those bands, since they played slower than your average hardcore band and utilized a more melodic approach. If anything, the Subhumans are better known for their bassist Gerry Useless making headlines in 1983 for being arrested as part of a militant environmentalist group called Direct Action. Known in the mainstream media as the Squamish Five, the group was responsible for bombing a Litton Industries plant, which assembled guidance systems for American nuclear cruise missiles. Gerry himself was convicted of stolen weapons charges and conspiracy to rob a Brinks armored truck, serving five years in jail.

Incorrect Thoughts came out in 1980 on Friends Records, who also released several DOA records. It was repressed five years later by CD Presents, who have quite the shady reputation in the San Francisco punk scene. This record is just one example of that reputation. The songs were re-mixed and placed in a different order. Other songs that weren’t on the original record were added. Even the cover artwork was different. None of this was done with the band’s permission, nor were they ever paid any royalties. After the Subhumans reunited in 2005, Alternative Tentacles did a reissue CD called Death Was Too Kind, which compiled their early seven-inches and 12-inch. Incorrect Thoughts was next on the list, but CD Presents claimed ownership of the record, thus blocking it from a proper re-release. Rather than spend their time and money fighting it in a courtroom, the Subhumans opted to re-record the album instead.

CD Presents owner David Ferguson (the same guy who founded the Institute for Unpopular Culture) will get what’s coming to him someday, at least if any of the bands he’s screwed around with have anything to say about it. Get what’s coming to you here.

1 comment:

Team Awesome said...

Hey there, first I would like the say it's good to see this posted somewhere with an accurate opinion of CD Presents' practices voiced. Secondly is there any chance of getting this re-upped? I'm hoping it's the original and superior version that I have been hunting for.