Albums you never really find on greatest album lists.

So, I Iike to read music mags and every now and then they do top 50/100 albums. Now there are certain genres that usually get ignored in these lists i.e. heavy metal/hardcore punk and psychedelic five string banjo albums. ‘Yes, but that is because the albums are shite’ I hear you say, well that maybe true but  I have a few that I like and I’m starting with a review of this: Crass: The Feeding of the 5000.

This is a dark album Crass don’t really do humour indeed they don’t really do light. Yet it is in many ways an album of hope, a scream for those to affect change in their society asking the listener to view the world in a different way. The playing is weird: Crass aren’t musicians in the conventional sense i.e. they can’t really play their instruments yet I would hazard a guess that they have influenced more than their fair share to pick up instruments and become musicians. It is a dark and gritty debut wrapped up in that beautiful gatefold sleeves that they did so well. Crass covers were like manifestos. Random thoughts asking you to consider the world around you with images out of a surrealists nightmare all done by the wonderful Gee Vaucher.  Printed on the label was Pay No More than £2.00 just to make sure you weren’t ripped off. This was, as mentioned above, their debut album released in 1978 and 5000 was the originally pressing. It kicks off with Asylum, less a song and more a spoken word poem backed by a soundscape. I remember the first time I heard this and it is a blasphemous blast denouncing the Christian religion. Spoken by Eve Libertine she calls Christ ‘a suicide reveller’ and this is the mild stuff. It starts with a young child praying and when I listen to it now (and that isn’t too often as this isn’t a song you put on before you head out for a jar) I can’t help but think of the child sex abuse scandals of the RCC (look I never promised this would be light hearted). This is followed by the anthem that is ‘Do they owe us a living?’  A bona fide punk classic, the male vocalist Steve Ignorant enters the fray with the memorable lyric ‘Fuck the politically minded there is something I want to say…’ you just have to listen. Penny Rimbaud rattles the snare and guitar and bass cacophonously move forward an aural assault that rattles the heart and gets the brain in gear.  The opening two songs tell you that you are in a different league of punk. This ain’t the Clash or the Pistols and just in case you haven’t figured it out they make sure that you get the message in ‘Banned from the Roxy’ (the famous London punk venue) where they say that the punk scene just wants ‘well behaved boys, who think guitars and microphones are just fucking toys’.  ‘Punk is dead’ follows in the same vein and basically the ‘70s scene is called out and told that it was nothing but a sham.  Northern Ireland, Nuclear War, Buddha, Marx, Charlie’s Angels and even Securicor all get it in the neck.  This album was a look at what was to come. Thatcher, Regan and the Falklands War were all going to be attacked. Feminism, Anarchy, Peace, 1984 and the futility of the capitalist system were all part of what they believed and they wanted to spread the word. Look, they had ideas were these ideas sometimes flawed? Yes. Did a heap of people take it and start a rigid scene? Yes. But by God did they make you think and it was better than the Grease soundtrack and ABBA and at the end of the day they did say ‘ Fight War, Not Wars’ and that is never a bad idea is it?

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  1. What can I say? I just love your posts? I love the way you tell their story. You give them a fair trial – some of their stuff is off the wall and some of their stuff just makes us stop and ask ourselves some serious questions. I love the bit at the start in relation to the RCC and the current unforgiveable crisis that it finds itself in though I would disagree with their sentiment that Christ was a suicide reveller. Not sure if I would listen to the album or not but the cover is certainly fascinating. This reminds me to comment that there is nothing like buying vinyl in a record store: Itunes just doesn’t do it for me…sorry (actually I’m not sorry at all!)

  2. Wouldn’t agree with everything they say either. They do attack all systems equally. It is a difficult album to listen to but nonetheless a very important one.

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