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Krautrock • Germany

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Formed in Munich in early 1969, originating from various local beat groups, SUB chose their name due to their affinity with the underground scene that was proliferating at the time. Though, unlike Amon Düül's brand of underground music, SUB were much more inspired by American psychedelia, notably Vanilla Fudge, and British bands like Traffic, Egg and Soft Machine. They had a heavy riffing psychedelic style, an excellent lead vocalist, and knew how to jam and freak out.

Strangely, fed up with waiting for a contract, an employee of SUB's management, made off with the tapes of their album, getting it released in Italy. Masquerading as a live album, complete with overdubbed audience sounds, 'In Concert' was still a fine album, showcasing a style of music that's little-heard from Germany. Only about a thousand were pressed, and in Germany they were still stuck with apathetic reactions. SUB split in 1971.

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4.00 | 2 ratings
In Concert

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 In Concert by SUB album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.00 | 2 ratings

In Concert
Sub Krautrock

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars Here's one from the rare underground archives of Germany's early Krautrock scene. The rather un-Krautly named SUB formed in 1969 released one of the rarest of the rare with its one and only release IN CONCERT which was recorded in 1970 and released in 1971 with only 1000 copies being pressed. The album went nowhere and literally was forgotten as quickly as it emerged. Luckily the master tapes were cozily and safely stored in the Munich Union Studios for the next couple of decades until the album was properly released in 1994 when the great psych and prog revival was underway.

The band is known to have been from Munich and featured Christian Wilhelm (vocals), Klaus Kätel (guitar), Johannes Vester (keyboards), Peter Stimmel (bass), Lutz Ludwig (drums). The rather odd title IN CONCERT for a studio album resulted from some faux audience noises added to the album's 18-minute opening opus "Sub Theme." It seems that the marketing techniques failed miserably however from a musical standpoint, SUB were a bunch of extraordinarily talented musicians very much in the heavier keyboard dominated rock section of the universe such as Frumpy and the English bands like Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Quatermass.

The difference between SUB and the aforementioned bands however is that these guys were heavily into jamming and improvisation that put the band squarely in the world of Krautrock as opposed to the more structured compositional approaches of bands like Frumpy. And to add to the band's par excellence, singer Christian Wilhelm delivers an excellent vocal range filled with passion and a keen sense of control. A true rock star in the making. The band emerged from various local beat groups of the 1960s and the bluesy psych rock is apparent throughout reminding more of bands like Vanilla Fudge as well as Traffic. The key workouts have garnered some comparisons to the Canterbury band Egg as well.

The band also can recount a very strange tale and one that pretty much derailed the band entirely. A tale of greed run amok, SUB's management basically stole the master tapes and headed to Italy and had the album released there on the Help! label. For whatever reason it was decided to turn the studio tapes into a faux live album with overdubbed audience sounds hence the album title IN CONCERT. The band existed for three years and toured German, Austria and Italy but unfortunately the album attracted little interested despite some excellent material presented. The original vinyl featured seven tracks however CDs offered an additional five bonus tracks.

The opening "Sub Theme (Sub In Concert)" is the highlight of the album with an 18-minute jamming session that displays some wild and unhinged moments of keyboard virtuosity. The overall vibe of the track is rooted in the beat groups from which the various members emerged but updated to the prog fueled 70s with a heavier groove, more adventurous hairpin turns and an emphasis on an overall trippier atmosphere. The rest of the album consists of much shorter tracks which are based more on classic song structures with the typical verse and chorus stylistic approach with some of the slower tracks such as "Sub Theme II (Money Maker)" sounding more like Traffic.

"Gimme Some Lovin" showcases Stimmel's bass playing skills and although not a cover of the classic Spencer Davis Group song, feels like its an alternative universe version of it only with a more spaced out presentation due to the keys. The hilarious "Ma-Mari-Huana" shows how the band was clearly a product of the drug fueled 60s and features one of Wilhelm's most captivating performances as he literally sounds hypnotized by the gods of ganja before throwing a Robert Plant sort of energetic vocal tirade of some sort! The frenzied keyboards in tandem make this a highlight as well.

"Match I" featured a dramatic vocal exchange between Wilhelm and an unknown female diva and then the track gets all weird with a sally-forth-and-charge-them percussive drive and some fo the freakiest keyboards that sound like a lava lamp set to music! After the freak out it engages in some stellar classical keyboard workouts as well. This is definitely a highlight as well but short and to the point. "Match II" closes the original vinyl album and features a funkier guitar presence however Wilhelm had a psychotic edge to his vocal style which always keeps a unique tension the music. SUB comes across to me like a mix of The Stooges, Frumpy, early Deep Purple along with the pop sensibilities of Traffic and similar bands. The bonus tracks are well worth the price of admission as well albeit adding nothing to the original album cuts.

On the surface SUB may seem like just another heavy psych band of the era but the intricate complexities and experimentation set it apart from its contemporaries. Hovering somewhere between a organ driven English hard rock band and a German psychedelic Kraut outfit, SUB successfully drifted in many directions on its one and only contribution to the early 70s underground scene. This is the style of music that was quite common but not always executed with such elegance and therefore SUB was a few grades above the average heavy psych wankers trying to cash in on the latest craze. Had these guys found the right support to channel their talent, SUB could've been a much more popular band of the era fully capable of a lengthier existence. Of the members only drummer Lutz Ludwig would go on to play in Amos Key otherwise the members and this band in general are somewhat of an enigmatic mystery. As far as i'm concerned, these SUB guys captured the essence of this short-lived era perfectly.

Thanks to rivertree for the artist addition.

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