Crass

The Feeding of the 5000

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Perhaps the most uncompromising early British punk record, though a long way from the best. This is far more interesting for its form than its content; super-brief, incoherent rants over pummeling drums and incomprehensible vocals were made into a hardcore cliché by the early '80s, but were impossibly radical and noisy in 1978. If you're at all left-of-center, you can find a good deal to sympathize with in the lyrics, addressing class warfare, social hypocrisy, organized religion, and punk rock itself with serious venom. It's not without humor at times, either, as on the famous chorus, "Do they owe us a living? Of course they f*cking do!" (A lyric sheet, always an essential item for Crass releases, is provided.) But the melodic and textural qualities of the record, not to mention the throat-full-of-vomit vocals, are so unrelentingly harsh and monotonous that it's difficult to imagine anybody playing this for pleasure. With a band such as this, that might indeed be the point, but it doesn't make for lasting art. The most enduring piece, actually, had relatively little to do with traditional punk rock: On "Asylum," the spoken female voice delivers a vitriolic attack on Christianity over disquieting guitar feedback.

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