The Crassical Collection – The remastered Crass CD out now!

Crass performing at Acklam Hall, Ladbroke Grove March 1979 ‘Free All Prisoners Now’ benefit gig –  photograph taken by Tony Barber c/o Terry Smith archive.

Crass poster – Acklam Hall, Ladbroke Grove March 1979 ‘Free All Prisoners Now’ benefit gig – Toby Mott archive

It’s official!

News of the release of the re-mastered Crass material is now available on the Southern website HERE.

The Feeding Of The Five Thousand tracks plus a heap of bonus material on CD yours for £12…

AL Puppy

Southern Studio notes below:

The Crassical Collection is finally here, and the first release is the newly remastered “The Feeding Of The Five Thousand”. After many years of being out of print, this legendary album has been been restored from the original analogue studio tapes, repackaged and bolstered by rare and unreleased tracks, and stunning new artwork from Gee Vaucher, who has lovingly created what could only be considered a real artefact. Included in this package is a 64-page booklet featuring all lyrics along with extensive liner notes from band members Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant, which shed light on the making of the record. Also included is CD-sized recreation of the iconic original fold-out poster sleeve.

‘Five thousand’s a crowd (four thousand nine hundred and ninety nine more than I imagined were going to buy the record), but two’s company (I knew for certain that my Mum would want one), so it was on the plate, ready to serve, The Feeding of the Five Thousand’.
‘We were setting out as purists: hard, uncompromising and utterly bemused’

‘On one thing we were very clear, in bringing a prosecution of Criminal Blasphemy against us the authorities would have been giving us the kind of publicity which overnight would have made us a household name. They were aware of this, and so were we. It was a situation that allowed us carte blanche to say pretty much whatever we wanted without any real fear of incrimination, a situation which over the next seven years we exploited to the hilt’.

‘Easy listening? You ain’t heard nothing yet’.

First released in 1978 on Small Wonder Records, and later rereleased on the band’s own Crass Records, “The Feeding Of The Five Thousand” showed Crass as an anti-establishment and highly uncompromising act, and one that would influence countless other bands to follow. This signals the first in a series of remastered versions of each of Crass’ now legendary albums, each one including bonus tracks and brand new artwork.

Crass flyer Colombo Street Community Centre Waterloo July 1979 – Terry Smith archive.

  1. tonyb
    September 26, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    nice one penguin…i only put that as i took the photo!!

  2. Penguin
    October 11, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Tony, there is now a poster of the gig you attended in the post above below your photograph.

  3. Chris L
    Chris L
    October 13, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Ive got back after just listening to this for the first time. Two things really stood out for me –
    1) no wonder crass were chucked off stage at the Roxy as their early material is just pants.
    2) yes, the sound is obviously ‘cleaned up’ , a lot ‘hotter’ and more compressed but personally, i’d rather listen to the recordings as they were. As they were when I first bought the LP when it came out at the age of nine or ten on the reccomendation of the older punks I knew (“EVERY SONG is just full of swearing!!”) and also with 50p a week pocket-money i’d be able to save up for it quicker. As such, there is no record I can think of that is more “of its time”, and that’s not even approaching the specifics featured in the lyrics. Plus, musically, on the original 12″ it just sounded like one relentless, uncompromising sonic attack with no real ‘tunes’ in the musical backing – which was precisely its appeal and why I loved it so much. On this remastered version of Feeding every song is propelled by Pete’s (highly competent) fret-running bass lines. But however impressive these may be for me they ruin the sound of the songs, just as – Glen Matlock’s overly florid plucked scales ruined most of the Pistols songs he played on. Also Andy’s stoccato guitar punctuations effectively add a containment to every bar which didn’t audibly exist before and I find really changes the songs. Just as if the lyrics/instead of being/written/like/this were now transcribed with perfect punctuation. Some of the drumming grates a bit as well. Take it Penny was in the cadet corps at school as his rolls are classic pipe-band, martial drumming.
    “Women” sounds absolutely fantastic tho 🙂
    Dunno about the cover art as I haven’t seen it.
    So, to conclude, in my view, definately a validation of the ethos “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” – but that’s just me, i’m sure if I were some 14 year old kid who’d got into punk through skateboarding or Green Day or whatever and heard it for the first time i’d think it was the most amazing thing ever recorded. Which can only be a good thing.

  4. luggy
    October 13, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Never liked Penny’s drumming much either, had a Pinky & Perky album where the drummer sounded just like him.

  5. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 13, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Pinky and Perky? Now, you’re talking. Always thought that there was an air of menace to them in those naff dungarees with those blank stares. And I much preferred their politics.

    Seriously though, did anyone understand the Crass collective’s obsession with religion? Most of my generation had never even set foot in a church (I still haven’t) and yet they harped on about some dead guy on a cross almost continuously. Made no sense whatsoever. Were they from a catholic or quaker or jehovah’s witness background? Why did they feel so compelled? Their constant use of pseudo-catechism, apocalyptic imagery, sanctimonious preaching style and the religious iconography in their artwork was actually utterly anachronistic the more I think about it.

  6. Simondo
    October 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    i always understood Crass’ obsession/problem with religion to be against the control it exerts over human behavior – to become guilt ridden and fearful of a ‘God’ that one has not yet physically met, to compromise a ‘common sense’ train of thought in life for a self-loathing, self-punishable approach, living almost half scared throughout life in the hope that you make ‘God’ love you and the control exhibited by so called ‘righteous leaders’ on the sinful minions who exploit their faith as a lever for power.

    Thats what i got from it but i might well have missed the point.

  7. Martin C
    Martin C
    October 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I was chatting to somebody about the religious aspect, and they didn’t get it either…though personally having grown up in a very Catholic home (and been press-ganged into altar boy duties), I found shit like ‘Reality Asylum’ and ‘So What’ incendiary! So did my mum, who walked into my bedroom right during the ‘so what about the fucker, I don’t give a toss’ line – not exagerrating when I say I had to leap over to the turntable and prevent her from snapping the 12″ in two (and then hide it in case she came back for it when I was at school). Still got the dirty looks and “you’ll end up on the drugs, like your brother” treatment for a month after (I wasn’t too damned to escape being dragged back to Sunday Mass, tho…). I think that kind of obsessive ranting definitely hints at a religious background (wasn’t Eve Libertine a Christian?)

    Just heard the remaster. I kind of agree and disagree with Chris – the bass sounds pretty much like the vinyl to me, tho the drums seem a bit weak – I remember the bass drum moving small objects around the room when played loud enough on the 12″. Also that SKRAK-SKRAK-SKRAK guitar bit where ‘Punk Is Dead’ kicks in seems muted. But yeah, cool hearing the shambolic old demos, despite the absurdity of listening to a song slagging off Tony Blackburn in 2010…

  8. Nic
    October 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    The ‘religion’ things seems (in retrospect) to be largely Rimbaud’s doing…By the time most of us were young, religion had lost much of its grip (unless you were raised Catholic) and so it seemed even more of a ‘rubber ducky’ than Securicor (which actually turned out to be much more relevant)…

    I haven’t listened to the Crass reissue yet: I’ll get on the download…

  9. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    At secondary school 1970-76, there was a school magazine which came out at the end of term. There would always be one or two poems recounting how gruesome life in the trenches was – not based on tales of our grandfathers, but through having to read various poems by Wilfred Owen about choking to death on poison gas during English lessons.

    Reading Crass lyrics always reminded me of those poems my school mates wrote about the horrors of World War One.

  10. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    ‘Who’s to say it won’t happen all again?’

    Actually the chateau generals sipping bacardi ‘while the privates feel the pain’ was a myth largely created by that monstrous self-aggrandizer Churchill. In actual fact, more British generals died on the front line in WW1 than in any other conflict.

    Alternative values WERE nevertheless a fuckin’ con though.

    There was definitely a gasmask obsession going on with Crass and other anarcho-punk bands, from what I remember, in their cover art. Strange.

  11. Chris L
    Chris L
    October 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Perhaps they were into, ahem… ‘dressing for pleasure’ ?
    Just found this early pic of Penny with some other Crass members, plus Vi Subversa and Annie Anxiety, relaxing at Dial House before they decided to go for the black dyed, army surplus look:

  12. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    October 14, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I remember reading quite recently that Igs had a Christain upbringing, and was even involved in some some kind of Christian Youth group just before hooking up with Penny Rimbaud, and that he had genuine fears that he would be struck down by a bolt of lightening when singing ‘So What?’ (which he also wrote), I think at least part of it was about him exorcising what he by then had come to feel was Christian guilt. When I interviewed Crass many years ago (1980!) and asked them about the heavy emphasis on attacking Christianity (having had an agnostic/atheist upbringing I too wasn’t particularly bothered about religion one way or the other, but at the time I did have some friends who were Christians who were alienated by tracks like Asylum and So What who would otherwise have been very open to many of Crass’ other ideas) I remember them (Penny?) saying that they were mainly interested in confronting the guilt thing that Christianity lays on many people, and the ‘myth’ of Christ rather than Christ the man or or christians as a whole.

  13. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    That is interesting Graham – makes me think of Crass as heirs to the Enlightenment, attacking myth and superstition…

  14. gerard
    October 15, 2010 at 12:24 am

    With the present christian and muslim crops so determined to repeat murderous history, we could do with an enlightenment revival more than ever now.

  15. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    October 15, 2010 at 5:46 am

    Pretty much what I was going to say, most of you might think of religion is largely an irrelevance, but there are literally millions of idiots that disagree, and as the last 30 years have shown us, a disturbingly large group of (and let’s not mince words) murderous fanatics who want to drag us back to the Dark Ages.

    All religions are irrational, and all of them are potentially dangerous. Anyone who is preapred to criticise religion is fine by me.

  16. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 15, 2010 at 10:04 am

    I don’t think religion has anything to do with current global events. And to pretend that religion itself has not become rationalised or can even exist outside the rationalist paradigm is an absurd proposition in itself. The Enlightenment (gunpowder & printing (mass media) = nation state – it’s still with us btw, although it is clearly in crisis) is more at the root of current problems than any phony religious revival. More people believe in astrology, soap plotlines and the healing power of facebook than in any process of divine intervention.

    Religion existed in pre-modern times and was all powerful because it existed in a total intellectual vacuum. There were simply no other sources of meaningful cultural/philosophical input nor antagonistic secvular ideologies. (Only other competing religions or superstitions of course.) People who pretend religion today are merely deluding themselves. It is usually just a willful avoidance or denial of pervading secular ideologies than a tacit submission to a ubiquitous and monolithic spiritual/psychological power. (“How many tanks does the pope have?” as Stalin said.)

    This view of mine was recently reinforced when I was told by a Pakistani recently that the tiny number of islamists in his country amost exclusively come from overwhelming secular backgrounds. They are actually not the products of religious schools ie madrassahs. Anymore than muslim (or any other religious) extremists anywhere else are. They all listen to fifty cent and have seen Baywatch re-runs by the truckload. That is the real cause of their psychological crises imho. As for American fundies and their political allies, they seem to be more the products of American smalltown cultural bleakness, bad infomercials and viral-based money-spinning enterprises rather than a genuine yearning for the divine. Dale Carnegie is their spiritual guide not Jesus Christ. Venality and cynicism just fill in the blanks. (I dare anyone living in the midwest or an anonymous city suburb not to visit their local church just as a relief from the monotony and social isolation of modern American life.)

    Of course, I would not deny the powerful political and social dimensions of some of religious organisations. The question is whether these organisations are genuinely independent or designed and manipulated by outsiders and staffed by useful idiots. I would go with the latter theory.

    Religion today is just another brand on the supermarket shelf. No more, no less. It’s utterly secularised. And it’s probably no less rational than internet porn, flashmobs, tamagotchis or people who collect snowglobes. Or indeed most accepted societal norms.

  17. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Sorry about the typos above – fucking pda keyboards eh?

    But thought I’d add….

    I’m not sure that AL’s admirable portrayal of Steve Ignorant as Voltaire or Penny Rimbaud as Locke and it’s various intellectual ramifications is nothing more than a trope.

    A great deal of the rationalist enlightenment was palpable rubbish anyway; the idea of unstoppable social/economic/moral progress (history as a straight line) or even its obverse – the idiotic ‘noble savage’ hypothesis of Rousseau. It seems to me that such teleological abstracts merely substitute ‘progess’ or ‘civilisation’ for ‘God’ but essentially still adhere to the same absurdly mechanistic paradigm. The penchant for moralising and conscious misinterpretation/manipulation of the facts is still present, if not more so. Intellectual heresy is but a heartbeat away…..

  18. Sam
    October 15, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Fokker…you’re definitely in the ‘smarter football hooligan’ bracket.

  19. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    A trope? But what if we deconstruct Bloody Revolutions? We have little snatches of La Marseillaise coming in right from the start and then, about two minutes in we get the ‘Viva la revolution’ line and it comes in strongly…
    Since the song is anti-revolutionary ”the truth of revolutions is year zero’, the use of La Marseillaise in this anti-revolutionary context signifies Crass rejection of the French Revolution as well as any future revolution.

    Now although the Enlightenment (more the French than the Scottish version) is associated with the French Revolution, the philosophes -including Diderot as well as Voltaire and Rousseau were advocates of rational reform rather than bloody revolution.

    The French Revolution was an unintended consequence of the Enlightenment so that by using La Marseillaise as a connecting musical theme in their anti-revolutionary Bloody Revolutions, Crass were allying themselves with the the reformists and against the revolutionaries.

  20. gerard
    October 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    If current global events are to include 9/11, 7/7 and pretty much any other contemporary suicide bombings, then surely the fact that they all scream ‘god is great’ as their last words would indicate a connection to religion?

  21. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    October 16, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Again, pretty much “What Gerard said.”

  22. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 16, 2010 at 10:41 am

    But Gerard and Nick, isn’t Dr. Fokker making the point that in the 21st century people can only be religious by denying reality? Whereas in the past religious belief was supported by reality as then understood? Before the development of science and technology actualised Enlightenment theory, the world itself and its very existence seemed to confirm belief in god(s) – religious beliefs made sense of what was otherwise an incomprehensible reality. Religions provided the basic structures and frameworks within which lives could be lived (and wars could be fought.)

    The structures and frameworks of religions still exist, but the ‘church’ (temple, mosque, synagogue) has become a empty shell and the gods an absence, a void at the heart of religious interpretations of existence. Of course some people still claim that ‘God told me to do it’ – but why should we believe them? Or rather why should we accept their sincerity?

    In other words when seeking to understand the actions of self-confessed religionists, we have to look for known and knowable influences and patterns of power relations rather than the hand of god in history.

  23. Jim V
    Jim V
    October 16, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    To deny that the Church,s mentioned do not have an unacceptable influence on our society now, never mind when this recorded seems….well bizarre.

  24. Nic
    October 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I agree, Gerard and Nick, that religious perspectives DO have a great influence over many people in the world, and it may well be pertinent to address that. However, my comment was more about the way in which the focus on religion in Crass lyrics seemed like more of a personal obsession being played out in the public sphere. Looking back, Rimbaud’s lyrics live under the shadow of Ginsberg (wrestling with guilt, guilt, guilt) like us nippers lived under the shadow of ‘The Bomb’…

    Having said that, don’t both the ‘Left’ and the ‘Right’ use the notion of ‘guilt’ in the same manner as religious groups and thinkers? Remember how alienated many people became with the cult-ish zeal of some of the exponents of ‘Animal Rights’? I imagine it’s the same if you’re in the BNP and into a bit of Northern…Pete Wright touches on this in some of his comments related to the recent ‘Crassical Collection’ (groan)…

    To play the advocate for a moment Jim: ‘unacceptable’ by whose standards? Yours? Mine? My neighbours? Church affiliated projects in my city are doing more to house, feed and clothe the homeless than any of those who are supposedly on the ‘Left’ – is that an unacceptable influence?

    (Don’t get me wrong – I’m as wary of religious groups as I am of nutters like Dawkins)

  25. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 17, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    “To deny that the Church,s mentioned do not have an unacceptable influence on our society now, never mind when this recorded seems….well bizarre.”

    Which is why I never denied it. To wit….

    ‘Of course, I would not deny the powerful political and social dimensions of some of religious organisations. The question is whether these organisations are genuinely independent or designed and manipulated by outsiders and staffed by useful idiots. I would go with the latter theory….’

    Thanks, AL, I knew you’d understand the point I was making vis a vis modern religious beliefs in a profoundly, if not ubiquitously, secular world.

    As for bloody revolutions a la Bastille, some interesting ruminations there, but was the French Enlightenment, absurd as this may seem, that much of a factor overall in the proceedings? I’ve always subscribed to the refreshingly anglo-centric viewpoint that diverse English poltical shenanigans such as the ordeals of the English Commonwealth and the Bill of Rights of 1689 were more of an influence on such inorganic constitutions and stellar upheavals. Always thought Coke, Hampden and Pym (Or even Lilburne and later Wilkes) as more influential than Diderot, Montisquieu etc….(Of course you need your French intellectuals to elucidate and diffuse ideas with their characteristic grand academic style and irrepressible theoretical panache but I think we excel in the ‘doing’..mais, oui? Actuallly I have just finished reading an interesting monograph on the direct influence of the magna carta and the bill of rights on the American constitution (s). Never really knew how much was unashamedly plagiarised. Bloody colonials!


    The problem with incarcerating uneducated thugs is that they tend to read a lot of books. Such are the internal (or eternal) contradictions of any system, I suppose.

  26. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 17, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Origins of the French Revolution… one factor was that the French had supported the US of A in its war of independence against the UK. The cost of that war plus the earlier Seven Years War had virtually bankrupted France. So Louis XVI tried to raise taxes but to do so he had to convene the main French parliament (which had not met since 1614). The parliament then tried to extract reforms in return for agreeing to new taxes…but Louis refused setting in motion the events which would lead to the Revolution.

    The US of A declared independence because the Americans were not prepared to pay higher taxes which the UK needed because it had also almost bankrupted itself fighting the Seven years War… The Americans argued their ‘no taxation without representation’ case using a whole set of constitutional arguments going back to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the political debates of the 1640s against Charles I and the Levellers pro-democracy movement (suppressed by Cromwell) – and all the way back to Magna Carta… so it could be argued that the French Revolution was started by the Brits. (If Samuel Rutherford’s Lex Rex of 1644 counts as a Scottish contribution).

    Certainly the first stirrings of the French Revolution were welcomed in the UK – the French having their Glorious Revolution 100 years after we had ours. But then some paranoia crept in – what if popular support for the French got out of hand? Especially since the UK was having its own new revolution – the industrial revolution which was concentrating large numbers of rootless poor people in the new cities and industrial districts. So that almost as soon as the ‘working class’ had been created and begun to organise themselves – they were attacked as an enemy within, as ‘traitors’ who would ally with France in the war which began in February 1793 and was to last 22 years, until Napoleon’s final defeat at Waterloo in 1815.

    Economic conditions got worse after the war ended, especially for textile workers in Manchester – which led to political prostests…Hence the irony of ‘Peterloo’ -in 1819, when cavalry/ yeomanry charged a crowd at St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester and killed 11 and injured 600. In 1842 there was an ‘almost’ revolution in the north of England and central Scotland with troops despatched by train to Manchester.

    Friedrich Engles arrived in Manchester in 1844 – and convinced himself (and then his mate Karl) that the English (British) industrial revolution was creating social tensions so acute that there was bound to be be another revolution, one which would complete the unfinished work of the French- and it was going to happen very soon. Very, very soon.

  27. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 17, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    An adequate summary of events but I was more interested in discussing the theoretical millieu that led to the French Revolution. But seeing as you are in your usual free-flowing mood for tangential narrative….You missed a few critical events that have very important echoes in today’s world of ballooning deficits and shrinking civil liberties.

    The 1797 Bank Restriction Act which led to an avalanche of debt and inflationary horrors as cash payments of gold were suspended and we began our first experiments with a truly fiat currency. (Only possible because of our enormous industrial might and efficient capital markets – our three greatest ‘generals’ against Napoleon were probably Watt, Arkwright and Brindley.)

    The suspension of habeas corpus by Pitt in 1794. Something that was again resorted to in the wake of the food shortages under Lord Liverpool’s repressive administration.

    And the nefarious imposition of a income tax in 1798. Something which, despite a short period of abolition, inevitably returned and has now become part of our political landscape. And the mainstay of government mafiosi the world over.

    Interestingly enough, William Pitt jr, that true pinnacle of bipolar creativity and personal instability, is William Hague’s personal hero. Proof positive that he is a cunt of the highest order. As if any proof were needed.

    Weirdly, I only last week watched Bondarchuk’s classic on the Corsican Monster. One of the few historical epics that is largely devoid of errors and inaccuracies. (Though there are some omissions.)


    Who makes the ‘parlez-vous’ to run? OUR ATTY!
    Who’s the boy with the hooky nose? OUR ATTY!
    Who’s the lad who leathers the French? OUR ATTY!
    Who’s the boy to kick Boney’s arse? OUR ATTY!

    (That should keep the web spiders happy for another day….)

  28. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 17, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Hmm.. so if we can learn any lessons from history, the UK is in a potential pre-revolutionary situation? Meanwhile the French are indulging in a bit of nostalgia for 1968- at least according to this dodgy looking site

    I wonder what Guy Debord would have to say?

  29. Nick Hydra
    Nick Hydra
    October 18, 2010 at 8:36 am


  30. AL Puppy
    AL Puppy • Post Author •
    October 18, 2010 at 4:16 pm


  31. Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    Kerr Ray Z. Fokker
    October 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I think it is in a potentially pre-economic collapse situation – as is the entire global financial system, predicated as it is on endemic inflation to stoke perpetual demand and the unlimited expansion of pyramidal debt instruments to raise capital. But revolution, as in a popular upheaval in which the elite is suddenly overthrown and replaced by a new ruling class from the lower orders? I doubt it. But revolution as in a return to pre-industrial forms of social and economic organisation (especially considering the rapid dwindling of key finite resources) is a distinct possibility. But it will probably take decades to play out. (Japan has been in a 20 year economic malaise without any cataclysmic chaos so far.) Of course, there is always the possibility of a paradigm-changing spectacular global event gumming up the works permanently and/or sending them into a horrifying freefall.

    I’m long on bean-sprouts, crossbows, antibiotics and medieval histories at the moment. Shit, everybody needs a hobby…Besides, line dancing and paintballing is soooooo 1990s.

  32. gerard
    October 20, 2010 at 12:52 am

    On a different note, here’s an interesting ‘state of play’ regarding creationism and the (knowledge of) US Constitution (esp 1st amendment):

  33. hagarthewomb
    April 4, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    CRASS CRASS for those with the wit and stomach for it, try
    From Crass to Franchise

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