Pub. 14 February 2004 ISBN 1-904590-03-9 Published by Pomona Books
Friday 12 March 2004
Anyone who saw black-clad anarchist punks Crass play live, or took a cursory glance at their record sleeves, may be surprised that they considered their output to be songs of love rather than hate. It was easy to miss amidst the buzzsaw guitars and expletive-laden lyrics, but Crass never went about anything in an orthodox manner during their tenure as fomenters of dissent from 1977 to 1984. Living as a collective on the edge of Epping Forest, where growing organic vegetables was more important than tour schedules, Crass were on the end of a large amount of invective from the music press. This is why the likes of Garry Bushell and Tony Parsons come in for a fair bit of stick in this collection of the band’s lyrics set out as poetry and revealing which band member wrote which song. Previously the words were credited to the band as a whole, an important part of their “no celebrity” stance. Shorn of the music, the lyrics lose none of their power and act as an essential, insightful piece of social history. They also go a good way towards explaining how the band came to spawn the anti-globalisation and modern animal rights movements, as well as get up the nose of police, security services and politicians.
Update December 2012
Exit Stencil Press Gee and Pennys publishing house have produced a beautiful Hardback version of the book, Listed on the southern website as
Hardback, 304 pages, 12.7 x 19.5 cm. Litho printed, embossed heavy card cover bound with litho printed spine tape.
Love Songs is the book which compiles all of the words to all of the songs by Crass. Originally published by Pomona in 2004 as a paperback, and out of print for a couple of years and so we felt it was time for a resurrection. Love Songs seems a fitting endpoint to the Crassical Collection – the remastered and expanded CDs of Crass’ studio albums.
Photos curtesy of Southern.
There are still copies available from the southern web site
Crass Records 321984/1
Recorded at Southern studios, London Dec 1980. Design by Crass at Exitstencil press. B6 is an unlisted track which was originally released as a flexi disc (321984/1F). Cover Sleeve – Front “What Vision Is Left And Is Anyone Asking? No More Than Â£2.25 – Crass, Penis Envy” Run-out groove etchings: Side A: “In her hands she has seduction-you’ve heard it all before”. Side B: “In his hands he has destruction-make love not war”
The third Crass LP, Penis Envy, was a radical departure from the first two albums and as such represents something of a milestone. It was released the same week as the Loving flexi scam, proving Crass were no idiots in the promotion department. Penis Envy is “the misuse of one of Freud’s more absurd theories”, as described by Penny Rimbaud to a radio interviewer in 1983.“When we first started, we were seen as a male boot band and this record certainly puts that straight – that our sensitivities are much wider than just that element.” In this respect, Penis Envy could be thought of as Crass’ first truly self-conscious recording. Having had plenty of time to reflect on the position they found themselves in, Penis Envy is the sound of the band trying to achieve something tangible and pre-conceived. The band heralded Penis Envy as their big feminist statement, though in truth it covered a broader range of topics, and with considerably more generosity to men than other feminist acts of the time. Indeed, it could be argued that the real theme of the record is love itself.The cover fea- tured a packaged rubber doll, none too subtly juxtaposed with back cover artwork of an animal being cut up in a slaughterhouse, and a collage of women in bondage.
Other Pressings of Penis Envy have slightly different Covers
UK release pay no more than £3.00
Plastic Dreams Plastic instead of the pay no more
UpDate Dec 2012
Penis Envy Japanese release
1982 saw Penis Envy Released in Japan through a licensing deal with Rough Trade. (Japan RTl-25 (RTL-25 B) 1982. This Pressing is from from Tokuma Japan and the cover has a pink Obi
Penis Envy Test Pressing
Test press of Penis Envy pressed by Waddell co. I always though it was rare to see a white label or Test press of Crass records as they kept costs down, but over the last few years quite a few have made it on to the auction sites.
I originally touched on this release in the Reality Asylum single release details, but I’ve found some new images around the net that now allow me to flesh out this post. After the initial release of the single and had been an indie chart hit Rough Trade approached the band to see if they wanted to release the single in Japan. Penny remembers ” Rough Trade asked if they could release it and we thought why not, I think Gee did some extra stuff for the sleeve, they did all the work we didn’t have much to do with it” Numbers released vary between 1000-5000
Single with Poster, note the Rough Trade single slip cover.
Japanese idents on single sleeve
Manufactured By Japan Records Inc. Tokyo Distributed by Tokuma Musical Industries Co, Ltd
Image from Toby Mott collection
Flyer for the October 1980 Northern Tour, these were the last live gigs of 1980. Crass wouldn’t tour again until April 1981.
Ticket for Rochdale Tropical club on the October tour
Ticket for Cleator Moore Civic Hall gig on the October tour
International Anthem Number 3 1980 Gee Vaucher 37cm x 30 cm
Third edition of International Anthem, came out in 1980 and the first issue to have the Crass logo on it.
Gee Vaucher collage 28 cm x 21 cm for International Anthem Number 3
Gee Vaucher 1979 International Anthem Number 2 – Domestic Violence Collage 34cm x 27cm
International Anthem Number 2 returned after a two year hiatus, released as Crass were getting up to full steam.
International Anthem 2 – Domestic Violence Gee Vaucher Collage 27cm x 25cm
International Anthem Number 1 1977 35cm x 27cm
Gee wrote in Crass Art And Other Pre Post-Modern Monsters, In 1977, Whilst living in New York, I started work on the first International Anthem – ‘a nihilist newspaper for the living’ Profiting from the illustration work I was given, and aware that what I produced was becoming too radical for the mainstream American tastes, I decided to create an alternative vehicle for myself and for the others who felt I had something to offer. International Anthem was never intended to be a regular newspaper, it was produced when and if I had the inspiration and the finance to see it through. So although I compiled five editions only three made it into print.
George Berger adds, Now truly up and running, Crass’ artistic backgrounds and vivid imaginations quickly expanded from gigs with banners to a multi- pronged multimedia attack on the status quo and the establishment.The written word was another branch.With a bit of money under her belt, Gee had earlier started her own paper, International Anthem, with the strapline ‘A nihilist newspaper for the living’. Still in regular contact with Pen back in England, Gee had enlisted his writing services, along with those of Eve, for the first issue. It sold through an independent network and radical bookshops.
You can thumb through a copy here
Gee Vaucher’s Cover Illustration for International Anthem 1 – Education. Collage 42cm x 30cm