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.