Steve Ignorant & Eve Libertine of Crass
I don't know how best to describe Crass, it's probably impossible if you haven't heard them before. I remember being a Crass fan in the mid '80's (from about '84 when they disbanded... the story of my punk life!). A few years later I recall being hated for playing Crass in the 6th Form common room. Access to the tape recorder was on some sort of rota basis and some pretty diverse tastes were tolerated, Lone Justice, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, even the Alan Parsons Project..... but not Crass! With hindsight, my fellow students may have had a point.
Out of the school environment I was wearing the Crass uniform, with a black bondage jacket having the Crass logo and 'Fight War Not Wars' painted on the back. A banner of the same logo hung behind my bed about 6 foot in diameter (a rather large sheet banner with the Raven covered most of the opposite wall..... I used to get through a lot of black paint in those days!).
Image-wise I thought they were great, although I'm sure I'd get no thanks from former Crass members for saying that (like the Stranglers, the black look was an effort to shun the concept of 'image' and in neither case did this work out).
The early albums were great too, 'Stations Of The Crass' and the 12" 'The Feeding Of The 5,000', the later albums became a little left-field for me. The singles stood out too from 'Bloody Revolutions' and 'Big A Little A' to the more controversial 'Sheep Farming In The Falklands'. I suppose a major appeal of Crass to a budding vinyl junkie was the affordability of it all. Vinyl was expensive then, but anarcho-punk records invariably carried a 'Pay No More Than...' print on the sleeve, which imposed a low price on the retailer.
As a scene the anarcho scene was iconic, with Crass establishing the visual aspects early on from the Exit Stencil artwork to the banner bedecked gigs.
Pistols 'inspired' Crass Artwork
'Oi! Don't go putting pins in my walls!'
Crass get the message across live
With a strong anarchist message Crass on record and in interviews railed against he establishment, government and Margret Thatcher in particular. Their opposition to the Falklands conflict of 1982 got them into some serious hot water, not experienced by a mere band since the Pistols came to the public's attention a few years before. The release of the single 'How Does It Feel (To Be The Mother Of A Thousand Dead?)' saw the band debated in the House Of Commons.
Crass Melody Maker 1982
Crass In The Courts
So this then is Crass recorded for a John Peel session in March 1979 (only Peel could manage to get this lot into the BBC!). Actually that last statement is not strictly true since this recording has an additional BBC Radio 1 interview from 1980 with founder members Steve Ignorant and Penny Rimbaud.