Held over from just before Christmas. It’s just the sort of stuff for dark, depressing Mondays.

It’s really difficult to do justice to the story of Crass in a single blog posting. They were a band for whom music was just one of the ways to express messages about anarchism in the truest sense of the word; they were never your everyday punk band who wanted to write songs, have hits, go on tour and live life to the max. There’s a great few sentences in a very lengthy and detailed wiki entry which sum up how difficult it was to really fall for the band but how impossible it was to ignore them:-

The Crass logo was an amalgam of several “icons of authority” including the Christian cross, the swastika, the Union Jack and a two-headed Ouroboros (symbolising the idea that power will eventually destroy itself). Using such deliberately mixed messages was part of Crass’ strategy of presenting themselves as a “barrage of contradictions”, challenging audiences to “make your own fucking minds up”. This included using loud, aggressive music to promote a pacifist message, a reference to their Dadaist, performance-art backgrounds and situationist ideas.

I found it hard to really like their music other than in small doses as it more often than not was an aural assault on your senses. Nor did I ever go see them although I’m actually hard pushed to recall knowing anyone from Glasgow who actually did. But I did wear one of their badges to school, hidden under the lapel of my blazer, quoting a line from their 1979 single Asylum


It got me into a bit of bother with the teachers at the Roman Catholic secondary school I was attending, especially when I insisted it be used as the quote next to my name in the yearbook that was put together in 1981 to commemorate us all leaving. I’m thinking now that I probably would have been expelled if I wasn’t already a certainty to get to university given that so few pupils from the school at that time gained enough qualifications to achieve that. I certainly must have embarrased my poor mum and dad but at that time I was so typically self-centred and absorbed in my own little world that I didn’t notice or care.

Crass enjoyed five #1 singles in the indie charts:-

mp3 : Crass – Bloody Revolutions (31 May 1980 for 5 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – Nagasaki Nightmare (7 March 1981 for 2 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – How Does It Feel To Be The Mother of 1000 Dead? (6 November 1982 for 3 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – Sheep Farming In The Falklands (2 July 1984 for 2 weeks)
mp3 : Crass – You’re Already Dead (31 March 1984 for 1 week)

I think you’ll get an idea of what to expect from the song titles alone.  It’s far from easy listening.  Just felt like throwing a curveball today.  I can be like that sometimes.


  1. I remember seeing them in Glasgow, at a venue in (near?) the Gorbals. I think it was a quickly arranged show, as their Stirling gig that day had been cancelled.

    I also caught one, or possibly two sets at Edinburgh Nite Club, as if I remember correctly they played two in one night, and attended the infamous Perth gig that showed up on CD a few years later.

  2. I’m sure my mate’s oldest brother saw them in Edinburgh.

    I have most albums and all the singles with the exception of Who Dunnit? which contains the memorable lyrics “Birds put the turd in custard but who put the shit in Number 10”. I don’t think that “liked” or “enjoyed” are the correct words for what I felt when listening to Crass but I did get something out of it. I preferred some of the other stuff on the label such as No Doves Fly Here by the Mob or Tube Disasters by Flux of Pink Indians and Conflict’s Serenade is Dead is a great punk record but that was after they left the label.

  3. Hi JC, I come here often but haven’t commented before – great blog and so much variety of music here, always interesting! Anyway I just had to pipe up when I saw this as I had a lot of connection to Crass once upon a time and it’s always interesting to read views on them now all these years (argh, decades…) later. I do find them hard listening now – I guess that’s an age thing – but had no difficulty at the time at all – a powerful force and like nothing else. Love your story of getting into trouble at school for the badge and quote! Saw them many times thanks to my b/f (now husband) being in a band who supported them many times around the country. Mesmerising live mostly thanks to Steve Ignorant’s commanding stage presence. Thanks to billisdead for mentioning FoPI!

  4. There are one or two songs (‘So What’ in particular) off ‘The Feeding Of The 5.000’ which I can still sing along to word by word after all 38 years that have passed since its release! A great album by an important band!!!

  5. My first concert was Crass at the Lesser City Hall Perth, July 1981 as mentioned by Lorne previously. Annie Anxiety on first, The Poison Girls next then Crass. Followed by fighting then more Crass (and more fighting).
    All for a £1, a crazy introduction to concerts.
    Siouxsie and the Banshees a month later in the main City Hall was a lot safer.

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