If written crAss, with the A
in a circle
, this refers to probably
the greatest, purest
, British anarchist punk group ever.
In fact the circled-A symbol, which is now a worldwide
recognised symbol for anarchism
, was first popularise
d by crAss:
before they started using it (and backing it up with an attempt to
in anarchist graffiti
), the symbol was nothing more
than a historical curiosity
known to a few
s of the
Spanish Civil War
crAss started out in 1978, although vocalist Steve Ignorant and
drummer Penny Rimbaud had known each other for a couple of years
before that. Steadfastly refusing to kowtow to The Man or to
water down their message in any form at all, crAss lived and breathed
Anarchy in the UK while the Pistols simply sung about
it in a music industry-controlled format.
Completely rejecting anarchist theory (they joke that they used to
think Bakunin was a brand of vodka), they also annoyed the
rest of the punk world by rejecting the ripped-clothes, spiked hair
and safety-pin through the nose image that the rest of the genre had
adopted, and instead dressed in black.
Their music was all
extremely political and controversial. their first EP was put out
on the tiny Small Wonder Records label. Although an EP it contained an
amazing 17 tracks, although when released it only had 16: they were
unable to find a pressing plant anywhere in the world prepared to
manufacture a record with "Reality Asylum" (the opening track) on it,
claiming it would get them sued under the blasphemy laws. The EP was
eventually put out with a 2-minute silent track at the beginning,
which the band entitled "Free Speech".
Discouraged with the attitudes of even the fringes of the
music industry they formed their own label, "crAss records", but
were so short of cash that at the beginning they had to hand-draw the
artwork for record sleeves. They put out a series of singles over
the next few years, each as uncompromising as the last, and played
a number of CND and Rock Against Racism gigs.
crAss were eventually killed by The System: whether intentionally
or not they had neglected to pay value added tax to the Inland Revenue
for the records they'd made, and along with regular vice squad raids
on their premises they eventually gave up the fight in 1984.