Friday 12 March 2004
Anyone who saw black-clad anarchist punks Crass play live, or took a cursory glance at their record sleeves, may be surprised that they considered their output to be songs of love rather than hate. It was easy to miss amidst the buzzsaw guitars and expletive-laden lyrics, but Crass never went about anything in an orthodox manner during their tenure as fomenters of dissent from 1977 to 1984. Living as a collective on the edge of Epping Forest, where growing organic vegetables was more important than tour schedules, Crass were on the end of a large amount of invective from the music press. This is why the likes of Garry Bushell and Tony Parsons come in for a fair bit of stick in this collection of the band's lyrics set out as poetry and revealing which band member wrote which song. Previously the words were credited to the band as a whole, an important part of their "no celebrity" stance. Shorn of the music, the lyrics lose none of their power and act as an essential, insightful piece of social history. They also go a good way towards explaining how the band came to spawn the anti-globalisation and modern animal rights movements, as well as get up the nose of police, security services and politicians.
Update December 2012
Exit Stencil Press Gee and Pennys publishing house have produced a beautiful Hardback version of the book, Listed on the southern website as
Love Songs is the book which compiles all of the words to all of the songs by Crass. Originally published by Pomona in 2004 as a paperback, and out of print for a couple of years and so we felt it was time for a resurrection. Love Songs seems a fitting endpoint to the Crassical Collection - the remastered and expanded CDs of Crass' studio albums.
Photos curtesy of Southern.
There are still copies available from the southern web site