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Punk for the People

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.hour.ca/books/books.aspx?iIDArticle=20538 September 30th, 2010 The
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2010
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      http://www.hour.ca/books/books.aspx?iIDArticle=20538
      September 30th, 2010
      The Story of Crass
      Punk for the people
      by Stefan Christoff
      The Story of Crass, by George Berger (PM Press), 304 pp.

      The Story of Crass traces the creative history and social-activist roots
      of the U.K. punk rockers

      Punk rock culture is diverse, from frontline anarchist squatters to
      candy-coded punk-pop radio hits, yet across the spectrum it is without
      question that legendary U.K. collective Crass carved into the rough
      edges of punk-rock history.

      Crass burst onto the U.K. punk scene in the late '70s, delivering a
      sound and political practice that challenged and reshaped the genre.
      Spitfire lyrics aiming at state and religious authorities rode over more
      vague artistic renditions on the punk sound, while Crass collective
      members actively joined grassroots campaigns of the era, putting lyrics
      into practice as social activists.

      The Story of Crass, by George Berger, offers a striking and deeply
      reflective account on the formation and trajectory of Crass. Beyond
      punk, the book offers key insights into the political context in Britain
      during the post-hippie, economic-depression era of the late '70s that
      fostered the emergence of punk culture in the U.K.

      Iconic playwright Bertolt Brecht's famous meditation "Art is not a
      mirror to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it," aptly
      begins a key chapter: art for the band is vividly described in the
      biography's pages as a creative process directly tied to confronting
      perceived social injustices of the time.

      Crass' unique take on punk culture has earned the group an enduring
      status in contemporary punk history, yet The Story of Crass points out
      the anti-stardom of the group, especially at their height, as well as
      delving into the origins of publicity-shy practices of celebrated
      revolutionary music collectives like Montreal's own Godspeed You! Black
      Emperor, who continue to baffle mainstream music press even today.

      "Perhaps unbeknown to the members of Crass, their deliberate policy of
      anonymity, mixed with tales of their remote farmhouse in the country,
      lent them a certain mystique in punk circles," writes Berger. "Everyone
      wants to know the answer to a secret, as any stage magician or
      amateur-physiologist will testify."

      In fact, one of the many open secrets to Crass, as the books tells, is
      their expression of an honest grassroots rage at the social injustices
      of the Margret Thatcher era. In weaving together music, political
      activism and artistic experimentation during a period rife with social
      unrest, Crass made their mark on contemporary cultural history.

      The book goes beyond slogans to detail the multiple artistic influences
      on the band, which famously combined sound collage, live projections,
      noise guitars, punk rock vocalizations and sampling at a time before
      computer-made music. It is certain that the resonance of Crass is also
      linked to their groundbreaking artistic experimentation, as the
      collective orchestrated not only a unique sound but some of the first
      national graffiti projects in the U.K.

      "Another thread of Crass' multimedia assault on conformity came in the
      forum of the stencil graffiti campaign," outlines Berger. "The stencil
      graffiti craze became a minor revolution in the U.K. for a while as
      people the length and breadth of the country followed Crass' lead and
      took up political sloganeering, subverting adverts ('sub-vertising') and
      society throughout the land." The Story of Crass also points to the
      lasting cultural influence of Crass graffiti on street art culture,
      citing globally celebrated artists such as Banksy.

      The Story of Crass goes on to trace the punk culture scene that gave
      birth to Crass via subcultures of the late '60s, breaking a punk
      subculture taboo in highlighting a historical trajectory between the
      hippie era and punk rock that would make Sid Vicious roll over in his
      grave. But Crass' attempt to articulate revolutionary dreams, in action
      and sound, reaches beyond cultural labels like punk rock. Key to
      understanding the continuing relevance of Crass today is the universal
      nature to the anarchist ideas that fuelled the group.

      --
      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      http://tinyurl.com/yd3bxkw
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0035LTS0O
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      http://tinyurl.com/292yz9
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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