THE big news of the month for nostalgia-nerds such as myself has got to be the long-awaited reissue of The Feeding Of The Five Thousand, the spiky, spunky, awkward and bolshie debut release by Crass from 1979. It had seemed like the project, which has been talked about for years, wouldn’t ever see the light of day after objections to the release were aired by former members of the band.
Now digitally remastered by Penny Rimbaud and Harvey Birrell and lavishly repackaged by Crass visual artist-in-residence Gee Vaucher, The Feeding Of The Five Thousand: The Crassical Collection is a wonderful and joyous thing. For example, besides illuminating contributions from Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant, the booklet also reveals who wrote which songs – it’s the little things that show you how much has really changed. You even get a dinky little facsimile of the original fold-out poster.
Having loved and lost my copy of Feeding back in the day, I bought it again a couple of years ago – though I ended up getting the original Small Wonder version, with the space where the censored Reality Asylum should be occupied by the silence of The Sound Of Free Speech instead.
Listening to tracks like Securicor, Reject of Society and They’ve Got A Bomb, you’re struck by the fact that although they came to be defined to some extent by their opposition to Margaret Thatcher’s Tory junta, The Feeding Of The Five Thousand was actually written and recorded under a Labour government.
Coming across as resolutely undated and contemporary, there’s now a bigger, fuller sound, with a heavier bottom end and much more robust guitars. As before, there is barely any space between the tracks. No sooner does one song finish than another comes slamming in. They’re in a hurry, clearly. They haven’t got time to waste. There’s a lot of stuff to talk about.
I’m probably going to end up talking about all this shit myself, at length, some other time so I’ll leave it there for now (though I could do with not having to listen to Do They Owe Us A Living? again for some time). Suffice to say, I think it’s a marvellous thing, not only that the young people get access to this stuff but also that Crass finally get paid in some kind of meaningful way.
The sleeve designs of the various albums to be reissued all combine to form a big Crass symbol, meaning that the more idiotic among us will just have to buy the lot – even Acts Of Love and Yes Sir I Will. All I’ll say is: Bravo to the heartless cynics in the Existencil marketing department!
If I had a coffee table in my comfy living room, I would probably mount all the individual sleeves in some kind of expensive frame on the wall above it.
And, leading on from this, one note of caution: When I bought the CD from Piccadilly (in the first week of release, naturally), I asked the guy behind the counter how many copies they’d sold to the young people, only to be told that it was usually being bought by 30 and 40-something blokes not unlike myself. That really wasn’t the point at all.
Young people! Sort it out! A brave new black and white world awaits you!
More info, including the reasons why the reissues are coming out at all, in this illuminating Vice interview with Rimbaud and Ignorant.
And more nostalgia for the bad old days comes with This Is England 86. Set three years on from Shane Meadow’s Bafta award-winning original tale of ordinary kids in the unfashionable and very recognisable provinces, This Is England 86 is yet another example of Channel Four’s admirable insistence on making television of a quality which is utterly above and beyond the comprehension of other TV companies.
Featuring many of the superb cast from the original film (Thomas Turgoose as Shaun, Stephen Graham as Combo, Joe Gilgun as Woody etc), you have to hope that the four-episode format allows Meadows to really tell his tale properly and avoid the clumsy telescoping together of non-contemporaneous events, trends and attitudes which occasionally threatened to spoil This Is England.
For me, 1986 was all about hitching around the country to see bands, fanzines and vegieburgers, trips and resin, Jah Shaka and Hunter S Thompson. It absolutely wasn’t about skinheads and mods. Or the World Cup, come to think of it. Having said that, the story is supposed to be at least part-autobiographical and maybe it was still all about skinheads and mods and the World Cup where Shane Meadows lived.
Either way, it’ll be good to see some serious drama on TV that isn’t about crime, doctors or marital infidelity. More details here.
This month I am also enjoying (care of my wonderful missus) Cee-Lo Green’s excellent Fuck You! single and (care of Mr Suhail Khan) Brett Domino’s awe-inspiring Hip Hop Medley, while I am absolutely fucking loving the shit-kicking, dirty guitar noise of Panico (produced by Joakim, no less, with a free download via the band’s own website). The video is great too.
More please soon.
Other stuff of interest this month includes an interview with Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon by my Vice paymasters, the music of Londontown electro-duo Widower (though I have to say that their own stuff doesn’t do as much for me as their remix of Paloma Faith’s Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful – which is not something I ever thought I’d find myself saying, to be frank) and In Like Flynn, purveyors of ‘Alternative Indie Disco Pop’ (something else I didn’t ever think I’d find myself recommending).
Head straight for the satisfyingly aggressive Dinner For Two at the band’s Bandcamp site here.
And finally, I am also fast finding a place in my heart for the former Nouvelle Vague chanteuse LeeLou and her fabulously titled Kiss Death Love Come EP (you can listen to the lead track Burn Down Your Houses here, though I have to say I prefer Gasoline and Kiss Like Carnivores myself). Think poppy post-punk and you’ll be in more or less the right place.
Pretty bloody brilliant sleeve too. But why the long face?
[Dial House living room photo courtesy of Kill Your Pet Puppy]