Sounds And Their History: Crass – Reality Asylum/Shaved Women 7″
October 12, 2011
This record was made during a time when punk music had been discovered, marketed, and capitalized by the mass media. They released their first LP, “The Feeding Of 5000”, in the spring of 1979 featuring songs such as, “Punk Is Dead”, defying the idea of bubble-gum rickers that the plastic transisted at that time. On this record, they had intended to include the song which at the time was known “Asylum”, later released as “Reality Asylum”, which was intended as the introduction buxom with eclectic philanthropy. However, no pressing plant at the time would press it due to its heresy, so the spoken word track was removed for its dense blasphemy and on the day “The Feeding Of The 5000” was to be released, where “Asylum” was meant to be placed on the record, there was a two minute track of silence entitled “The Sound Of Free Speech”. Although the track was compromised, I personally feel that the group took a very artsy, poetic, and equally (though over-looked) intellectually malicious and tactful stand against the authorities that were of the elite class. As the original song was, and I believe under the circumstances that the actual EP i’m writing about were released under, it gave it time for their popularity to rise in order for it to become known for what it is today.
Eventually, they found a pressing plant that would press it and from that moment on they would be completely D-I-Y with their project by starting up Crass Records. However, the controversy of this record’s message hadn’t really even began. When it fist hit record stores, there were police raids throughout any store that had it within its stock. It reached out to the people, the public, and this was when you could say was the beginning of the band’s quarrel with the state, and in quite a political and legal sense, so much so, that in fact they were stricken with the threat of the onus of prosecution. Though, they eventually beat the case in court and were only served a warning note that clearly stated that they were free but that they had better not do anything of such an heretical nature again. Of course, Crass being such a informative and evocative group of individuals that they are, they inevitably seemed to raise the eyebrows and slap snarls on the faces of any form of authoritarianism that opposed them in the mission of spreading their message. The message in the case of “Reality asylum”, a spoken word track that had a rather avant-garde experimental tape method within it, is one that relates certain aspects of Christianity’s input on society, particularly from forms of government, to things such as what we now call globalization, sexism, war, hypocrisy, and most any aspect of the social struggle between the free and free-thinking people; also centering on authority itself while completely defying Christ in a blunt, yet, brilliantly poetic manner.
It amazes me, and I am ever compelled not just in this situation, that just because someone spoke out and expressed an opinion, actually following the law under terms of freedom of speech, can be so publicly persecuted while at the same time gaining the love, respect, and peace that they were trying to express anyway. Not to mention that this is just a classic record, and even if you don’t enjoy the music, you should at least respect it for it’s social, intellectual, and highly innovative sound. Its style and innovations have collectively succeeded in lodging a new format in the punk sub-culture.