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Yes Sir, I Will

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Album Review

Wound up to an even more vicious fury of rage and sorrow due to the Falklands War, Crass completely exploded on the awesome Yes Sir I Will, its bitter title taken from an encounter between a gruesomely wounded veteran of that conflict and Prince Charles. The most concise sonic assaults against the war and the role of Margaret Thatcher's government — "Sheep Farming in the Falklands" and "Gotcha!" — aren't included among the seven untitled tracks here, instead appearing as separate singles. What is here, though — essentially one long piece divided up into six shorter pieces and a lengthy second side/second half — is, as a collective artistic expression, one of the strongest indictments of a society and its government ever. As always, Crass mixes things up in the recording studio, from beautiful string/piano pieces (the "what did you know?/what did you care?" passage, with flat-out lovely vocals from Ignorant) to amped-up roars of rant and rage. Ignorant, Libertine, and De Vivre trade off lead throughout, creating an ever-evolving piece that more than most sounds like the expression of a full society needing to simply say the truth at long last. Musically, the fierce power of the band doesn't let up (Rimbaud's drumming sounds better than ever, punchy and full, as does Wright's bass, while Free and rhythm guitarist N.A. Palmer keep up the electric aggression). The war isn't the only subject under discussion: everything from the Thatcher government's complicity in allowing U.S. cruise missiles to be based in Britain to the exploitation/packaging of musical traditions in the guise of "world music" gets a look in. Even Crass rip-off pseudo-anarchy groups go under the knife. But as the group says early on in the recording, "Everything we write is a love song," and extreme as it all seems, there's no doubt Crass wanted to help humanity up from where it was at.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s

The brittlest and most hard-line radical of the first wave of British punk bands, Crass issued a blitz of records that were ruthless in both their unrelenting sociopolitical screeds and their amelodic crash of noise. The horrors of war, the arbitrary nature of legal justice, sexism, media imagery, organized religion, the flaws of the punk movement itself -- all were subjected to harsh critique. Like few other rock bands before or since, Crass took rock-as-agent-of-social-and-political-change seriously,...
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