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Crass - The Feeding of the 5000 (Remastered), The Crassical Collection

As punk imploded upon itself and became a caricature, Crass took the template and became something much more important. The Feeding of the 5000 was the opening salvo in a career that saw the Crass collective inspire a movement, hoax MI5; the CIA and the KGB, be branded as enemies of the state, and have questions asked about them in the Houses of Parliament. Arguably responsible for the resurgence of the peace movement and the political education of a generation.

The Feeding of the 5000 opens with 'Asylum', possibly the most genuinely terrifying and disturbing "song" ever written - a poem set to a sound collage (foreshadowing Crass' later output) which draws in and pulls apart the listener in a little over two minutes.

Feeding of The 5000 never quite reaches the heights of 'Asylum' again but 'Do They Owe Us A Living?' sets the pace and gives us the classic stereotypical punk sound which remains for the remainder of the album. Particular stand outs being 'Securicor'; 'Banned From The Roxy' and the iconic 'Fight War Not Wars'.

On its original release, The Feeding ... was a curious sounding album - unsettling due to the trebley nature of the production and giving Crass a unique recorded sound.

This reissue updates the sound, giving a more even and fuller production and 16 bonus tracks which show how the sound evolved. The music now sounds much more powerful and direct but it's the lyrics that are important addressing religion, pacifism, anarchism and feminism - all of which would be further explored on future releases.

Crass' influences (including free jazz and dadaism) aren't immediately apparent here but these are the first steps. Later reissues will show how confidence allowed them to become much more open and experimental but the importance of Crass should never be underestimated. This is an essential album. For more information go to www.southern.com (review by Peter Dickie)