Wednesday, September 19, 2007


OK, if there's going to be a Crass revival, I'm staging my own 1978 NME JOURNALIST REVIVAL. Let's face it, one of the best things about "Feeding of the 5,000" was the 'REpUtATioNs iN JeoPARdY' collage of scathing reviews that came with the lyric insert, including rants from GARRY BUSHELL (future TV pundit and professional homophobe) and TONY PARSONS - the first man in Britain to marry a lesbian.

Now, it may shock rubbish bands like Kooks and Stereophonics - whose fear of a drubbing from music hacks is SO intense they have to be booked into an adult baby creche for pampering whenever a negative live review reduces them to tears! - but it was fairly common for punk bands to incorporate slaggings from the press into their own PR. Most deployed this tactic as a badge of defiance - y'know, Nietzsche, "what don't kill us makes us stronger", etc - though, uncannily, almost every put-down Crass reproduce on the "Feeding.." insert is... really accurate: "unlistenable garbage...gumbie voices spewing hysterical stream of consciousness lyrics...sordid piffle...rant against the system, society, THEM (keep it non-specific, make it painless, make it product)...'Teach Yourself Anarchy', memorised in 5 minutes (guaranteed ineffective), punctuated by 'fucks' (bet they went to university)...a one way ticket to the vomitorium...for me Crass aren't bad musically - they're appalling...they write/lyrics/like/this/and sometimes/ LIKE THIS/you/you are a tulip/ tinkle/i am a rhodendron/fucking arseholes...'The Clash sold out by signing to CBS', well, for all the contradictions in that me hearties, it's more effective than recycling garbage in your Epping commune...being middle class they think class doesn't matter, being prats they take themselves very gonna support the living dead factory sheep if they move into your Safe Epping Home?...what a witless, liberal cop-out!...a Charlie Drake least PiL's "Religion" was a bit of fun...let's face it, Crass? Precisely It's also great fun to read while listening to the record, all 17 minutes of it.

If you've never heard "Feeding of the 5,000", here's a brief summary - Zippy from "Rainbow" on vocals, two angry buzzsaws for guitars and a drummer who sounds like he's just been kicked out of the Black Watch for amyl abuse. I mention this simply cos if you've never heard it, forget it, it's too late. You can only like this LP up until the age of 18. After that, you have to give it away to a girl or leave it lying around in a mouldy cardboard box for a younger sibling to discover ten years later. I'm not joking about this - listen to Crass at the age of 23 and you might as well lurk outside the local school gates, telling little girls "Mummy's in hospital" (the only exception to this is if you incorporate one of their tracks 'ironically' into a grime DJ set, but you can only get away with this once). Sounds harsh? Sorry, it's a rite de passage, like realising that love comes in spurts, that life isn't fair, that we all get the gods we deserve, or that the Anti Nazi League would rather grab your cash, fast-track you into the SWP and persuade you to suck off some 48-year old alcoholic ex-social worker than actually take a physical stand against NF yobs.

Basically, there's about 4 good tracks - "Owe Us a Living" (which sounds way more NF yob pogo than anything Skrewdriver recorded), "Punk Is Dead", "Banned From the Roxy" and "Securicor". These days, you rarely see Securicor vans on Britain's streets - I'm surprised Penny Rimbaud hasn't claimed that Crass drove them away. As for the rest of the album, well, it'll be interesting to see how Steve Ignorant handles songs like "Women". But someone else will have to report back on this, I've got a strange feeling I'm going to give it a miss - just something about the image of crusties swigging £4 cans of Strongbow and punching the air, chanting "Fight War Not Wars!" in unison, that's putting me off.

HOWEVER, to celebrate this cultural event, I will be xeroxing a brand new re-working of Tony Parsons' venomous attack, and distributing it outside the venue, while denouncing the gig through a megaphone until the bouncers chase me down the road. Apparently FLUX OF PINK INDIANS are playing too, so if I get my skates on, I can get this electro version of "Tube Disaster" recorded and make a few bob punting that too.

Mind you, that time my mum stormed into my bedroom right at the point where it goes: SO WHAT IF JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS / SO WHAT ABOUT THE FUCKER, I DON'T GIVE A TOSS

I enjoyed that bit.
so this would be a bad time to mention my Crass tattoo? :D
Well, you got it when you were 15 didn't you? Just as long as if anyone asks you what it means you give them a steely glare, take a slug of Wild Turkey, spit on the floor and say something cryptic like, "It's the scar to hide all scars...a lot of men never came back from Conway Hall" and leave it at that.

Still, you'll have the last laugh in Colombia, when the rebels storm the bus and shoot all the other pieces of gringo imperialist trash in the face, but the gunman who's about to ventilate you just happened to grow up listening to They've Got A Bomb, and instead escorts you to the border after a drunken night of singing every single bloody song Crass ever recorded (even the hippie poem tracks)
i HEART you

...i still love them... they're just what you need when you're young and not in love...when we were at school we had a Crass and Sex Pistols covers band (i say covers band but that's just because I want to forget the songs we wrote ourselves)- the lyrics sounded much better in a west country accent - Justin Lee Collins through a Pinky and Perky funnel... never as funny as Peter and The Test Tube Babies though...

mind you, we pushed anarchy to the max - even got kicked out of the Boys Brigade hall for yelling out the lyrics to 'so what' and blew the amp during an attempted flamenco crossover version of Reality Asylum...
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