Merry CRASSmas

Crass. Nasty. Filthy. Anarcho-Punx. Tuneless dirge. They were great. And, bizarrely, they’re more relevant now than when they existed as a band. They get name checked by a wide range of modern bands and, in some quarters, are revered more than the Sex Pistols or The Clash.

Why should we care? Well… (intake of breath) THE WORLD IS FULL OF RUBBISH WITH NO SOUL. What made Crass vital, then and now, is that they walked it like they talked it. They started off as a commune in the 70s (still going) and used the band as a vehicle to disseminate ideas. There’s a link to a documentary at the end of this and I advise you to watch and learn kids.

OK. they weren’t always great musically but, from inception to execution, the band were needle sharp in delivering a polemic. The graphics by Gee Vaucher are still powerful today. They used video at live gigs, showing footage that just wasn’t seen anywhere else: war atrocities; police brutality; porn; news reports. Eve Libertine on the Penis Envy LP is a million miles from Florence and her feckin Machine (and all the rest of the current crop) but has more soul and honesty.

All this was before t’Interweb and desktop publishing. They got their message out through gigging, pamphlets, and their record label. They weren’t in it for RocknRoll. The message is in the grooves. They put a cap on how much their records could be sold for. Any money made, after costs, was ploughed back into the label so they could put out more music, usually doing one-off deals with umpteen bands who wouldn’t have got a sniff otherwise. The whole package – sound, look, language – was tight and precise. All that shit about Branding in the modern age? They had it then, but not to shift another mobile phone or whatever piece of pointless consumerism: community, trust, consistency and authenticity was what they created. Do you really want to live in a world where “X-Factor” is deemed a viable source of culture? Oh, but it’s only a bit of fun, say some. Is it? Crass were refreshing in their opposition to the mainstream: they’d have ripped “X-Factor” to shreds (and rightly so, ahem). And don’t get me started on the Brit School….

Crass were activists and basically started the Stop The City movement in the early 80s. Ah, the 1980s. I’m old enough now that I work with people born in the 80s (and later) who have no knowledge of Thatcher, Reagan, Miners’ Strike, Falklands etc etc Twas a heavy time and Crass vented righteous spleen.

The politics might be contrary, naive, deluded, unrealistic. Or spot on, depending on your viewpoint. But at least they had an opinion and stood up tall to shout about it. The band split in 1984. Where are the bands today taking a stance? Coldplay? Helping kiddies’ charities… and appearing on the live final of “X-Factor” 2011. Also, did you know, a recent bit of research reckons that 80% of UK rock bands are made up of public school kids. 30 years ago it was 8%. Rock is now a rich person’s play thing. Nuff said.

And, believe, we need people like Crass more than ever to point out the evil that men do. You’re Already Dead, as one of their charming ditties had it.

So, do yourself a favour, have a root around the Web and read up on this lot. There’s loads on Youtube. Your ears might take a battering – you can’t help but applaud the conviction though.

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