Well what a turn up. A revolutionary and often inspiring punk band noted for their fiery anti-establishment stance (giving consent to?) the reissue of a deluxe CD package of their work (replete with booklet, sleeve notes, extra tracks and artwork, etcetera)… I’m not being snotty here, not at all. I’m really glad to have this CD: rather, I wonder when they started out if they ever thought that they’d become part of a heritage industry. Punk is Dead indeed… Such are the nefarious ways of technology and public demand, and this is how they impinge upon us.
It’s the accepted belief that Crass’s music is overwhelmed by their state of mind & printed output. Listening back now, with the sound stripped of its period constraints and the listener not wholly or constantly involved with the band’s preoccupations, the eloquent polemics and the basic, tinny racket that encases them actually seems the perfect combination. The listener accepts the sonic package for what it is, and gradually gets sucked into the message.
Funnily enough (in my humble opinion) in terms of doing something different or startling musically, it’s downhill from the opener: Asylum. Penny Rimbaud’s provocative lines are some of the most brilliantly angry anti-religious rants ever recorded: set over an unnerving slice of feedback. After that it’s the quickstep to guitars pretty much all the way; albeit with the odd surprise. (I still got caught out by the silence in They’ve Got a Bomb and the switch between Women and Securicor is fabulous). But the lyrics are brilliant and the LP’s main strength: Women is as hard-hitting as ever, Securicor is a brilliant piss take of the tough lad stance, and Banned From the Roxy’s lyrics rip the idea of cool out of music and stamps on it till it’s a pulp.
If you want to listen to this record set to music, go and listen to the tracks on the Jeffrey Lewis Crass compilation.