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Stations of the Crass

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Album Review

"They said that we were trash/Well the name is Crass, not Clash." So goes the opening of the coruscating "White Punks on Hope," and with Stations Crass takes things to an even more vicious level than on Feeding. The opening yelps and screams from Ignorant on "Mother Earth" over a slow-building burn show that there was already much more to Crass than simple crash and bash punk, and with the rest of the album the collective moves between full-on assault and an ever increasing agit-snarl experimentation. Originally released as two vinyl discs, the conclusion of the second consists of a live show in Islington the summer of 1979, with the band tearing through new and old cuts with passion, including such fierce anthems as "Do They Owe Us a Living?" and "Shaved Women." The studio tracks, including versions of some cuts from the live show, all come from a one-day session four days after the concert, and while some tracks are almost fragments, surprisingly things aren't as constantly monochrome or as rushed as one might think. Whether stripping things down to dub-tinged bass, drums, and repetitive guitar snarls or blends of staccato rhythms and found-sound noise (or even, on "Walls," trying a bit of disco), Crass creates a unique brand of fierce, inspirational music. Libertine and De Vivre make impressive cameos alongside Ignorant's lead vocals, making the perfect argument through performance that passion trumps technical skill when the chips are down. The sheer amount of issue tackling and blunt speaking throughout ranges from political statements of purpose over every aspect of the status quo to relentless self-examination. One running attack against the band was always that their words were better read than listened to, but hearing the seething hatred projected by Ignorant on "Big Man, Big M.A.N." is enough to convince one otherwise. One of the funniest tracks is the vivisection of music press figure Garry Bushell, "Hurry Up Garry," which uncannily predicts his eventual descent into right-wing tabloid idiocy.


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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