Reviews

Crass Records

Alternative In Nomine Patri EP

Nowadays, one opens a single on the Crass label with a little skepticism. Does the classic sleeve conceal another ANDY T? Well, you don’t have to worry about ALTERNATIVE, because they rip. The title cut is an excellent show song that may not appeal to the unrelenting hardcore type. The others are dynamite and should be played over and over, as loudly as possible. Great record.

Anthrax Capitalism Is Cannibalism EP

Penny Rimbaud’s distinctive production spices up four new compositions by ANTHRAX on their second EP. “Violence Is Violence” and the title track boast fast tempos and a blistering guitar sound which underline well-taken lyric concerns; the two cuts on the B-side aim for subtler effects, with equal success. This is political punk that’s both unusual and exciting.

Conflict The House That Man Built EP

Of the four tracks on this record, “Wargames” blazes through familiar hardcore territory, anti-war protest, with economy and splendid production values, while “I’ve Had Enough” connects with a poppier approach. The other two numbers, more workmanlike and less inspired, still hold enough requisite punk energy to be recommended. A fine debut.

Crass Christ the Album 2xLP

Two albums, one poster, and a splendid 28-page large-format booklet (all in a sleek boxed set) seems all too much to digest—especially from England’s most astute punk outfit, CRASS. The studio LP, ranging from unrestrained thrash to sophisticated post-punk, contains some of CRASS’s most astonishing compositions to date; especially exciting are “The Great Working Class Rip-Off” and “Tribal Rival,” two impassioned attacks on Oi violence, and the superbly written “Reality Whitewash” which exposes vicious sex stereotypes and roles. In addition to a delightful live LP, Penny Rimbaud’s extensive article in the booklet provides a historical background for CRASS that’s spellbinding, perceptive, and lyrical. This release is incredibly mandatory.

Crass How Does It Feel? EP

Coming so close on the heels of their Christ – The Album, it’s almost too much to digest. The title song is a catchy headbanging attack on the jingoistic British attitude towards the Falklands/Malvinas crisis. It has created a hoopla in the English press, who amazingly have supported CRASS against Parliament’s cries of “treason.” The flip features Eve and will please fans of Penis Envy. CRASS may be accused of preachiness, but their unrelenting critiques are having an impact.

Crass Yes Sir, I Will LP

This is a profoundly different sort of CRASS album. It counterpoints a thrashy, wild instrumental backdrop with an extensive lyric essay attacking the politics of power, nuclear escalation, organized religion, and especially our sheep-like passivity that allows it all to happen. CRASS apparently feels that their message hasn’t sunken in yet—hence the numbing music and emphasis on words—and they obviously hope that action will replace boredom and endless posing in the contemporary punk scene.

Crass Who Dunnit? 7″

This is more of a novelty record than a punk record per se. The song gets to the core of British life, both thematically and structurally, since it’s in the form of a rousing pub sing-along, but it’s also about looking at ourselves as being responsible for the officials we elect, not just pointing the finger at them later. CRASS may be serious, but here they display their anger in a humorous format. Americans may find it a bit inaccessible, but if you know that “#10” is the residence of the Prime Minister and the “Birds” is akin to Jello, you should get the point and have a laugh besides.

Crass You’re Already Dead EP

Although nobody could respect CRASS’ political efforts more, I no longer have any desire to listen to their annoying music. It’s not that I object to bands experimenting in principle, but in practice I like to hear fast, raw stuff with a primal beat, and CRASS rarely provide it these days. Despite some intense moments and an out-of-character guitar solo (!), this EP doesn’t quite click.

Crass Best Before… 1984 2xLP

An outstanding compilation of CRASS material most of which is taken from past singles. But there are three previously unreleased songs that document the band’s musical growth. Recorded interviews and conversations are included, as well as a complete lyrics booklet that contains an essay about the band’s history. Overall, very inspiring and highly recommended.

D&V The Nearest Door EP

I was about to term this drum and vocal combination as a real innovation in punk till I remembered SF’s NOH MERCY, who did it years ago. Actually, I think the latter’s approach was more exciting than this, because D&V’s drumming tends to be quite repetitive, and the vocals are too poetic and even in their delivery. Still, it’s refreshing because it’s different.

D&V Inspiration Gave Them Motivation to Move On Out of Their Isolation LP

This is essentially the new CRASS record. At least most of the members make an appearance in some capacity. I’d say it’s the most innovative, interesting, and yes, inspired thing they’ve done in a while. Still a stark beat and lots to say, but more varied in terms of influences, moods, and studio effects. Reminds me of something FOETUS would do and dependent on many listens. Admirable.

Dirt Object Refuse Reject Abuse EP

A great record that sounds exactly like CRASS at their vitriolic best. I’d swear it was CRASS if I didn’t know better, but I am convinced that CRASS have mastered the cloning process. Seriously, this is intelligent raw noise with a militaristic beat, so march out and buy it.

Dirt Nevermind Dirt, Here’s the Bollocks LP

This live LP (EP?) by DIRT captures all of the raw intensity of their exemplary debut, and fuses it with a punky venom that’s quite irresistible. Admittedly, the songs on this record vary considerably in quality, but their fiery version of “House of the Rising Sun” is alone worth the price.

KUKL The Eye LP

This fascinating release presents inventive, discordant post-punk with poetic lyrics. While some of the songs have a lilting, unmelodic approach that goes nowhere, “Dismembered” is a chilling aural composition, as are the instrumentals that finish both sides of the album. Not for the closed-minded, for there is some really beautiful music here.

Omega Tribe Angry Songs EP

I love OMEGA TRIBE. It’s fast with that masterful Penny Rimbaud production, but this band also has a pop element. For example, the great “Profiteer” is the epitome of catchiness, with handclaps artfully added; and “Another Bloody Day” is a ballad that includes piano, but it retains power. The lyrics are predictably unrelenting, so don’t miss this one.

Penny Rimbaud Acts of Love LP

Some of the CRASS-releated people return to short songs. Lots of emotions penetrate these fifty minute-or-under tunes. These short, snappy numbers, though, depart from, say, earlier CRASS or the MINUTEMEN in that they’re…classical music. Not classical punk, but the Real McCoy. Well, if you saw Amadeus, you know the music biz really hasn’t changed all that much in the last several hundred years. Right?

Sleeping Dogs Beware EP

Hats off to the first American band on the Crass label, formerly known as ARSENAL. Both the music and the record cover are important here. The former is offbeat and original, with lots of effects and superior lyrics; the latter is a well-researched expose of American imperialism with poignant essays. This isn’t hardcore, it’s the hardest-core. A must.

The Cravats Rub Me Out / When Will We Fall 7″

After two disappointing singles, the CRAVATS almost return to their true 1980 form with a pair of mid-tempo post-punk offerings. While “Rub Me Out” opts for a more hypnotic effect, the real stuff appears on the flip, with its spooky changes of mood and entertaining sax work. Quirky, inventive, and original, this single also has the most hilarious lyric sheet I’ve ever seen.

The Mob No Doves Fly Here / I Hear You Laughing 7″

The anti-war sentiments of this single are related with a good feeling for concise, compelling verbal imagery; too bad this effort veers into non-descript pop, especially on the flipside. While a song like “No Doves Fly Here” would have been right at home on the Wargasm compilation, its subject matter has been done more powerfully, lyrically, and eloquently elsewhere. Disappointing.

V/A Bullshit Detector Two 2xLP

Those who found Bullshit Detector 1 disappointing may be pleasantly surprised at the quality and intensity of this important double album set from the people at CRASS. The musical spectrum ranges from experimental and poetic right through to the trashiest of contemporary hardcore, and the tracks by BOFFO, RIOT SQUAD, and the SUSPECTS are worth the price of admission in themselves. In addition, you’ll find this to be the best document of the current British underground scene to date.

V/A Bullshit Detector Three 2xLP

41 underground acts delivering the message of peace and their anger about the corrosion of society. A variety of musical styles, ranging from readings and folk to punk. Loud and aggressive, it carries it all and holds strong. The poster cover features an informative segment on each artist’s lyrics and beliefs. As the cover states, “Don’t expect music when the melody is anger, when the message sings defiance.” With a haunting illo by Naomi!