Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Crass: How Subversive Was it?

When one measures the influence of bands from the late 1970s-early 80s punk rock, many presume that The Clash were the most influential.

If one were to judge the matter according to influence on popular music as a whole, they would be correct. But in terms of inluence on punk rock more specifically, many punks would argue that the Crass is more important.

While many punks respect the Clash, they idolize the Crass.

If the success of a punk band is to be decided by how politically subversive their music is, the Crass were incredibly succesful. As related in There is no Authority But Yourself, the Crass managed to become a Parliamentary controversy during the Falklands War, when the band received -- and disseinated -- information alleging that the British ships struck by Exocet anti-ship missiles were ordered not to deploy chaff (an anti-missile countermeasure) in order to divert attack from a naval ship carrying a member of the Royal Family.

Margaret Thatcher responded to these reports by declaring the Crass to be persona non grata within the British Conservative Party. This decree led to Labour Party MPs teasing the Conservatives about who had or hadn't listened to the most recent Crass record.

That is a feat that the Sex Pistols, even at the height of their fury, was never able to match.

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