Crass. A band that deft any label. A unique band, so authentic, living what they preached the band lived in a commune and shunned practically everything. Not great musicians by any measure but their output so essential and so different.
Stations, for me, is their most essential release. Others have attempted to imitate but no one comes near what they achieved. Not many bands / artists can make you look at yourself and question things like this band did / can.
Stations is the bands second album. A triple sided affair with a live side thrown in at the end. Feeding Of The 5000 is as good, it too is a unique piece of music / art. Stations just pips Feeding for me. It’s a very close call.
Altogether Stations is a more mature record. It will offend. Arguably that’s what it sets out to do. It’s like an electric shock, it has the ability to repulse you away or jar you into life. This is not easy listening.
Mother Earth begins with an icy spoken intro before a relentless bass is coupled with feedback slide guitar and Steve Ignorant screaming like a man possessed. It does not sound like a punk record in a cartoon sense at all. It paints a very dark image. Like a controversial painting in an art gallery you should become fascinated. The objectional will already have stopped listening.
White Punks On Hope kicks off with that “working class’ delivery of Steve Ignorant. The tone of the voice sneers but always sounds like he really means every word. Straight away it attacks punk sell-out. The Clash are vilified for taking the CBS dollar. Musically it has a high tone level that gives the band their own sound. The track attacks violence, politics and band-wagon jumping. It promotes real anarchy.
Big Hands is very urgent it has one of the most unique choruses you will ever hear. Wordplay repeating, the backing vocal almost morphs to sound like “camping”. I always think that when I listen to Big Hands. Relentless vocals chased by urgent drums form a quite unique track.
Wordplay merges into real aural art on Darling. Eve Libertine’s vocal is ice cold and sounds so direct that it is almost scary. Scathing, sneering sounding like a defiant stand off it’s a great track.
System mocks The Clash’s – Guns On The Roof musically. Lyrically it admits they will change little, but they will stand by what they’re doing. It’s defiant. System runs into Big Man, BIG M.A.N. with no musical break. It mocks macho army men. The vocal full of hatred towards sexism it almost tires itself out with that much pent up anger.
Hurry Up Garry goes for the jugular of Garry Bushell (then a music critic). The last line in the track shows the bands feelings. It does not hold back.
Fun Going On sees Pete Wright take vocals. That clattering sound backtracks. It’s a musical departure initially. It builds with real quality with swirling instrumentation.
Crutch Of Society vocally sounds like the most apathetic delivery you may ever hear. The sound of total rejection of values of mainstream society. It’s brushed away with urgency as it bleeds into Heard Too Much About. It’s shouty but controlled. The sound gets more urgent for the intro of Chairman Of The Bored, a great wordplay song title if ever there was one. the track looks for truth but leaves empty handed and truly pissed off.
Tired has the more solid Crass sound. The backing gives it a huge extra dimension. Chanting What Do You Want with screeching instrumentation fuelled by processional drumming.
Walls (Fun In The Oven) racks up the musical art a notch. Radio waves are used as a near instrument. It’s almost a dirty house record light years ahead of its time. You could almost dance to its near sublime groove. Eve Libertine’s vocal sounds almost removed from the groove. It sounds like the search for freedom. A totally unique piece of music.
Upright Citizen sees Pete Wright attack a woman beating man. Self oppression and values are venomously torn apart. As it ambles out you may need a breather from its full on attack.
The Gasman Cometh is the most depressing vocal delivery I have ever heard. Painting the picture of war victims used in the press for sales purpose. War. Media. Death. It’s so bleak that it suffocates. After the darkest intro ever it picks up musically. The vocal, incredibly, gets angrier before mellowing momentarily then crashing out.
DEMOnCRATS has that sound of Nagasaki Nightmare and Reality Asylum. The sound of deep nuclear explosions is vocally dreamt over by a truly terrifying delivery by Eve Libertine. Repeating wordplay “I’ll make no subscription to your paradise” evokes religious distain of the highest order. It will chill you (not in a clubbing sense).
Contaminational Power too rages against the nuclear setting of the late 70’s. Atomic Power. Death Shower. Of its time maybe but still of large relevance today.
Time Out scathes the acceptance of war. Using the imagery of teaching a small boy to use a toy gun it suggests have you ever seen the effects of war.
I Aint Thick It’s Just A Trick is the last proper track on Stations. Again it is very defiant. A total rejection of societies values. It has that urgent Crass sound and questions nearly everything.
Stations Of The Crass the has a live side (Side 4 of the double Vinyl). It’s a nice extra. An album that stands the test of time and the kind of output a raw anger that you just do not get these days.
It can be a difficult listen, but it is well worth checking out. After serious consideration i’d definitely say it is one of the best 20 Albums i’ve ever heard. An encapsulation of honest real anger that does offer alternatives. I’m not suggesting you agree with everything Crass come out with. I am saying listen to it.