Tag Archive: Crass

Part of an irregular series of bite-sized posts about 7″ singles I own – shameless nostalgia from the days of vinyl. (Search ‘Backtracking’ to collect the set!)

ROBERT WYATT – Shipbuilding b/w Memories Of You (Rough Trade, 1982)

“Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of this shipbuilding.”

This is the best looking single in my collection with its handsome gatefold colour sleeve that opens to a colour reproduction of a detail from Stanley Spencer’s painting from the 1940s – ‘Shipbuilding On The Clyde : Riveters’.

Apparently it  was released with four different editions; mine shows a worker with a brazier on the cover, others show  workers with ropes , with tarpaulins or hammering.

The words are by Elvis Costello, the music by Clive Langer and the inimitable voice is by Robert Wyatt’s which draws out the beautifully judged mix of the vernacular and the poetic.

Shipbuilding  is rated number 9 in the New Statesman’s Top 20 Political Songs and that magazine stiffly describes the song as a “Complex examination of the futility of war combined with empathy for soldiers in the Falklands conflict”. Continue reading


33 Revolutions Per Minute – A History of Protest Songs by Dorian Lynskey (Faber and Faber, 2010)

This is an ambitious, well researched and highly informative historical study of a strand of popular music that seems to be largely on the wane.

Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer artists willing to align themselves to political causes or identify themselves as protest singers.

There are notable exceptions like Billy Bragg or Steve Earle but there aren’t too many under 30 who take rebellion beyond the predictable statements of teenage angst or broad criticisms towards some vaguely defined authority.

Even on her magnificent anti-war album Let England Shake, PJ Harvey is careful to present her sentiments in emotional rather than political terms.  Intelligent artists like Polly J are all too aware of the risk of being seen to be lecturing listeners; as Lynskey correctly observes  “the biggest problem with protest songs is that they engender smugness”. Continue reading

Part of an irregular series of bite-sized posts about 7″ singles I own – shameless nostalgia from the days of vinyl. (Search ‘Backtracking’ to collect the set!)

CRASS – Reality Asylum / Shaved Women” (CRASS1, 7″, 1979)

“There are no words for my contempt” is a very ironic line in the context of Eve Libertine’s venomous rant entitled Reality Asylum.

She hardly comes across as a woman lost for words. The track is an uncompromising tirade of venom which she justifies in the sleeve note dated 28/5/79:  ” I need to exorcise myself of these things which have bound me in that powerful stranglehold of reverence for so long …… Can I really believe in this God of Masculinity, first in a long line of hideous male structures, (the church, the crown, the state, the family), and where do I stand in this order of power?”

Against a white noise backing, she accuses Jesus of (among other things) arrogance, violence, rape, self-righteousness, cowardice , warmongering and genocide.

It has to be said that she brings plenty of her own baggage to this topic. Dumping ALL the blame on Jesus strikes me as a bit harsh as he isn’t the misogynistic monster she portrays him as. She makes the mistake of branding him as guilty because so much oppression and so many atrocities have been carried out in his name. Her target is really religious (and all other) institutions but she seems to take on JC on the basis that the buck must stop somewhere. In the end she borrows a line from Patti Smith’s Gloria:  “Jesus died for his own sins not mine”. Continue reading

A song for this special day from the album, Penis Envy!

The real Berkertex   ( the train now standing….)

The wrong mug on the mug – the perfect souvenir.

Steve Bell – royals and mugs go well together (Guardian.co.uk)


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