Crass Records

was set up in 1979 primarily to enable us to release our second album Stations of the Crass. Feeding of the Five Thousand, released on Small Wonder Records, had sold around five thousand copies at that time, so we had budgeted Stations accordingly. Within two weeks of its release we had sold over twenty thousand copies, and suddenly we had "loads-a-money". The "do-it-yourself" punk ethic had made lots of promises, but as the new punk "stars" increasingly drifted away from that ethic and across the Atlantic, we vowed to fulfill at least a part of that promise. The new-found wealth of Crass Records was to be the vehicle.

From the start we had decided to market our products as cheaply as possible. This was a policy that was reflected in everything that we did, from our low cost gigs with Poison Girls, our strict vetoing of commercial exploitation of the band by badge and T-shirt manufacturers, to our often ludicrously underpriced records. No one really made much money over the years that Crass Records was in full swing. Most of the releases by other bands just about paid for themselves, and gave the bands a small royalty. But profit was never the intention. The aim was to give bands who otherwise might never have had the chance to record their songs the opportunity of public exposure, and the experience to perhaps set up their own labels (as was the case with Flux of Pink Indians, Conflict, Rudimentary Peni, etc. etc.)

Most of the bands on the label consisted of people who we met "on the road". In the case of Zounds and The Mob this literally was the case; their tour bus broke down a few miles from our house and we met not as fellow musicians, but as pseudo-mechanics! Other bands would approach us at gigs; our first encounter with Flux of Pink Indians was after they had heckled us throughout our set for being Nazis! Before we set up our own label we had been playing regularly with Poison Girls, who already had their own label (Xntrix), and through them we me Honey Bane, with whom we made our first release.

It was very rarely that we made a record as a result of demos sent to us, but we did use many of them on our Bullshit Detector series. There were exceptions however. Andy T. was one of them. I recall thinking that anyone with that amount of controlled insanity must be worth recording; he was.

Sometimes people got in touch with us out of the blue. Captain Sensible simply rang us up one day and said, "How about it?"
"Why not?" we replied, and a lasting friendship was forged.

Crass Records was not a commercial venture, it was an ideological showcase. All of the bands who contributed their work to it did so because for them the message was more important than the medium. From the unique relationship that we had with Poison Girls (in which their poignant brand of feminism tempered our more aggressive stance), to the uncompromising avantgardism of Annie Anxiety; from the raucous street cries of Conflict to the surreal internalizations of The Cravats; from the revolutionary Belfast anarchists of Hit Parade, to the healing sounds of Jane Gregory, it is a privilege to have worked with such diverse talents.

Penny Rimbaud. 1992.
(updated 27 Oct. 1994)

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