Punk bands are known for their economy: short songs played fast with a loud impact. So when the British band the Subhumans released their second album and included a 17-minute song called “From the Cradle to the Grave,” it shook the punk scene. The year was 1983. Every other punk band was churning out one-minute blasts of noise. What was up with this long, epic song?
The Subhumans may not have necessarily fit in with the punk scene of the early 1980s, but when I think now about the younger generation’s a disdain of capitalism and power structures in general, I can’t help but think they were a band ahead of their time. The Subhumans recorded songs about government, police and abuse of power, but also had songs about how to not lose faith, to find your community, to keep fighting—and ultimately how to get through dark times for the country together. Sound familiar?
The Subhumans have reunited a few times over the years, and whenever they come to the Bay Area—a hotbed for political punk—it’s always special. The Subhumans play at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco on Friday, July 15. Details here.