Same Thoughts, Different Day
Alternative Tentacles Records
Since reuniting in 2005, Subhumans (Canada) have almost been active for as long as their original 1978-1983 run. And in an odd turn of events, their second recording since reformation is actually the same as their original lineup’s second and final release. Well, almost the same. Apparently Subhumans Canada tried reissuing their sophomore album, Incorrect Thoughts, a couple years back, but learned that label CD Presents had snapped up the rights to the album, and was claiming complete legal ownership. Unable and unwilling to procure a lengthy legal battle, the band simply opted at rerecording their tracks and rereleasing them under the cheeky title, Same Thoughts, Different Day.
According to the band, this process actually provided them with the rare chance to “improve some of the things [they] were never really happy with on the recordings.” While they don’t go into particular detail about exactly what those are, a quick cross-reference of the two releases and a few differences stand out.
First – and rather obviously – the production quality has vastly improved. While the original release has a rather shallow quality characteristic of the DIY sound that came to characterize SST Records hardcore releases like Husker Du and Black Flag, Same Thoughts feels tighter and much bassier. Tracks feel as if recorded after numerous takes as to pluck out vocal imperfections, and gives for a slightly more melodic listen. Brian Goble still sounds as rough as ever, but he now controls his voice under the wisdom of age, rather than succumbing to the energy of youth. Obviously siding with one or the other will come down to preference, but Same Thoughts certainly feels more accessible to modern listeners than perhaps a straight reissue would have. Still, if you’re partial to the flaws of the first, some tracks may come across flat.
The next major difference is the addition of four bonus tracks. These tracks were envisioned around the original time of release, but were never officially recorded outside of a live setting. Now fans can finally get their hands on these rare gems. The “new” tracks include “Twenty First Century,” “Escalator To Hell,” “I Gotta Move,” and “Out Of Place,” and benefit from not having any originals as reference points. In other words, listeners can enjoy them free of the referential judgments inherent in rerecordings.
And as for the original tracks, everything fits as one would expect from a reissue. Lyrics remain unaltered, and their defiant, doing-what-we-want-in-the-face-of-mediocrity message retains as much relevance today as it did twenty-seven years ago.
For those unfamiliar, Subhumans Canada fits right along side the Canadian chapter of 80’s melodic political hardcore. If you know their gruff Vancouver brethren D.O.A., then you more or less knowSubhumans Canada – heck the reformed band even includes D.O.A. drummer Jon Card. Their biggest defining point has always come in their guitar style, which features fractured riffs inviting comparisons to Stephen Egerton’s early Descendents work.
It’s tough coming to a verdict on a personally unfamiliar classic. I can’t profess a great familiarity with Subhumans Canada prior to their reformation (I wasn’t even born when they first dissolved), so I can’t (and won’t) issue a definitive statement on Same Thoughts as a superior or inferior effort. After all, I’m viewing both releases from an entirely different generational lens. But what I can say is that I’ve enjoyed Same Thoughts for what it is – a good modern throwback to classic 80’s hardcore. So if Same Thoughts represents anything for me, it’s that the sounds of old can still excite the minds of new – even if I’m not entirely sure the appeal works inversely.