The Story of Crass
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In-depth interviews with the main movers in the punk rock movement—Crass members Penny Rimbaud, Gee Vaucher, and Steve Ignorant—detail the face of the revolution founded by these radical thinkers and artists. When punk ruled the waves, Crass waived the rules by putting out their own records, films, and magazines and setting up a series of situationist pranks that were dutifully covered by the world’s press. Not just another iconoclastic band, Crass was a musical, social, and political phenomenon: commune dwellers that were rarely photographed and remained contemptuous of conventional pop stardom. As detailed in this history, their members explored and finally exhausted the possibilities of punk-led anarchy. This definitive biography of the band not only gives backstage access to their lives, philosophies, and the movement that followed, but also to never-before-seen photographs and rare dialogues.
in Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, John Coltrane, and KarlHeinz Stockhausen. When we got bored with them, we would play birdsong forwards and Bach backwards.” He recalls John Loder spending a brief time as a mini-cab driver, then building Southern Studios in his garage. As Rimbaud recalls: “And it was John’s managerial, production and engineering skills which were to assist the likes of Crass, Bjork, Chumbawamba, Fugazi, Shellac, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Slint and Babes In Toyland into the public
and slide down the embankment. A different kind of magic perhaps, and one it would be very hard to imagine happening today, even if the furthest reaches of the tube line hadn’t been closed down by the powers that be. A time before the arteries hardened and clogged innocence in the UK. Also starting to visit the house by this time was a very young future Crass vocalist Joy De Vivre. “I think it did have magic actually, but it depended on the brew of people being good,” she says.“Dial House on its
doing or we’re just taking the piss. Which Pen didn’t want to be a part of – ‘That’s fine but find another drummer’. First it was, ‘Don’t smoke (dope) before we go onstage, just drink’, then, ‘Actually, perhaps we should cut down on drink as well.’ Because all of us were just getting really out of it. Well, everybody except Pete.” Eve Libertine: “Around the same time, Penny wrote ‘Punk Is Dead’ about the night at the Roxy. I remember him saying we’ve got to sort ourselves out, and I remember
Witch Trials, the record was received badly by the music press. Underneath the title ‘Obscene oaths do not a revolution make’, Sounds journalist Garry Bushell began: “It’s so hard to take Crass seriously. . . They flirt with fascistic uniforms – how risqué – but they claim to be anarchists and hide behind CND badges – how relevant. They write lyrics a/lot/like/this and sometimes LIKE/THIS and being middle class they think class doesn’t matter. . . Crass lyrics are a reiteration of Teach yourself
presentation of their ideas. Next song is ‘Mother Love’ – wherein Steve Ignorant states of his family: “I didn’t fucking need them with their love and family ties”. “That’s a song I really don’t like,” he says. “It was just a bitter attack on parents. I wrote that because I went to see my mum and dad. Now I look back, I totally got the wrong end of the stick. I went there and they weren’t interested in seeing me – they never played any of my records, hadn’t ever listened to them. They weren’t