Hugs and Kisses: Jeffrey Lewis's 12 Crass Songs

Another SOTC cameo from Everett True, publisher of Plan B. Send him your Crass memories here at Read all his Sound of the City columns here.

Hugs and Kisses

The Outbursts of Everett True

This week: anarcho-punks Crass and Will-Oldham-horrorfied Jeffrey Lewis

I liked Crass when I was a teenager.

I got a scholarship to a posh school. Well, kinda posh. It had boarders, anyway. Me and my three brothers, we had council places, I used to get called 'tramp' because I wore hand-me-downs, and everyone laughed at my appearance, least until the Sixth Form when it was 1977, punk was in and suddenly everyone was claiming to be really, really poor. Like, I didn't know they lived in a fucking mansion down the road, whereas I shared a room with my three brothers. Whatever. I got a reputation for liking music--or perhaps the fact I lived 10 minutes walk from a council estate gave me a certain credibility that my school 'chums' couldn't help but aspire to; but all of a sudden I was getting invited to parties, to DJ. Took along Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono Band album, and the first Crass 12-inch The Feeding Of The Five Thousand in revenge, played them back-to-back, and never got invited there again. Whatever.

Primitive anarchist punk band (they later became far more sophisticated) Crass tapped into a primal rage within me; a burgeoning distrust of society, my peers, the accepted way of thinking, what with all their overtly far left lyrics concerned with (and I'm quoting direct from Wikipedia here) anti-consumerism, direct action, animal rights, feminism, anti-war, anti-corporatism, environmentalism, LGBT rights, anti-globalisation, reproductive rights, anti-racism, squatting, and the separation of church and state. Their songs were short, brutal, focused and brilliant: diatribes against. . . well, all of the above, and also (to start with) cheap pot-shots at their own peers, the vilified 'establishment' of punk that was swamping the media: The Clash, et al.

"Do they owe use a living/'Course they do/'Course they do/Do they owe us a living/'COURSE THEY FUCKING DO!" singer Steve Ignorant sneered over a ramshackle two-chord thrash and tinny drums; the sheer bile and passion of his anger more than making up for whatever production deficiencies you care to name. A 45 followed - "Reality Asylum" b/w "Shaved Woman" (PAY NO MORE THAN 45p) - which was fine and everything, and 1979's debut full-length Stations Of The Crass was pretty fucking good, albeit somewhat pushing their generic Ramones-thrash formula to its limits; but it wasn't until 1980 when they released the incredible split single with Poison Girls, "Bloody Revolutions" b/w "Persons Unknown," that they really started to affect my life.

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