THE FEEDING OF THE 5000 (SMALL WONDER)


1978 UK Crass: “The Feeding Of The Five Thousand” 12″ WEENY 2
The Feeding of the 5000 is the first album by Crass, released in 1978 . Crass never gained a large mainstream audience, but their virulently anti-establishment lyrics and anarchist politics brought the band a committed following upon the record’s release.
The record came to be made when Pete Stennett, owner of Small Wonder Records, heard a demo that the band had recorded. Impressed by all of the material, he decided that rather than release a conventional single by the band, he would put all of their set onto an 18 track 12″ EP.
However problems were encountered when workers at the Irish pressing plant contracted to manufacture the disc refused to handle it due to the allegedly blasphemous content of the track “Reality Asylum” (referred to as “Asylum” on the record sleeve). The record was eventually released with this track removed and replaced by two minutes of silence, retitled “The Sound Of Free Speech”.

Penny wrote in Shibboleth, In the summer of 1978 having been picked up by Small Wonder a quirky and vehemently independent record label, we recorded our first album “The Feeding of the Five tHousand”, so called because five thousand was the minimum number we could get pressed, and some four thousand nine hundred more than we thought we’d sell. Taking one day to record, and a further day to mix, we committed to disc our entire repertoire of songs. The first track on the album, ‘Reality Asylum’, was a spoken piece, performed by Eve, who by then had adopted the surname Libertine. Taken from my book ‘Christ Reality Asylum’, the track was a passionate attack on the establishment Christianity, and as Marion Boyars had warned, led us into immediate complications. No pressing plant could be found to press the record, and no printer would agree to print the cover. Backing down, we decided to leave it out, replacing it with a minute’s silence under the title of ‘The Sound of Free Speech’

The Feeding of the 5000 second sitting Crass Records 621984
A later repress of The Feeding Of The 5000 (subtitled The Second Sitting) released on Crass records in 1981 restored the missing track of Reality Asylum
The song “They’ve Got A Bomb” also features a period of silence within it, inspired by John Cage’s “4’33″”. The band have acknowledged the influence of Cage, and said that the idea of the space in the song, when performed live, was to suddenly stop the energy, dancing and noise and allow the audience to momentarily ‘confront themselves’ and consider the reality of nuclear war.
“The feeding of the five thousand” is well-known phrase in Christian tradition, being the name of a Biblical miracle in which a small amount of food is said to have fed 5000 people. According to drummer and spokesperson Penny Rimbaud: “We named the album ‘The Feeding Of The Five Thousand’ because 5000 was the minimum number that we could get pressed and some 4900 more than we thought we’d sell. Feeding is now only a few hundred short of going golden, though I don’t suppose we’ll hear too much about that in the music press”
But I will go into the Crass release of the 5000 in more detail later. For those who bought the 12″ without Asylum could write to the band,  “With the first 5,000 pressings we decided to forward cassette copies to people requesting them.”

A quick quote about the art work  found on streetbonersandtvcarnag The cover of “The Feeding of the 5,000.” Though Gee often does collages, the paintings that look like this are painstakingly done with a tiny brush and a solitary tube of black gouache. She used that same tube for all the Crass art, just diluting it to varying degrees to get lighter and lighter colors.

NME review January 2oth 1979

cutting found at http://noclass.co.uk/

Feeding Revew from the NME


Crass Stencil Flyer with the small wonder address


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One response to “THE FEEDING OF THE 5000 (SMALL WONDER)

  1. Crass are brilliant simple tunes greet lyrics, they sound angry but are anti war technology and compassion are destroying the world.

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