The Guardian’s John Robb questions whether punk legends Crass – or a band with similarly extreme ideals – could exist in today’s musical and social climate. Are kids today too cynical to buy into such ideals? Was Crass’ success outside the mainstream merely a product of extraordinary times? The band played its last show 25 years ago, having released some of the most challenging and experimental punk records in history over the course of its seven year existence, or as Robb further explains:
“The band released a series of records that spliced art-school (in the best possible way), avant-garde collage with white-heat, punk-rock anger. When Crass got mad, they got really mad, and they were ranting and raving at the UK during a mean and miserable time, when Labour buckled and Thatcher took over.
The music of Crass can only properly be understood in this context – the decaying nation, state brutality, the miners’ strike, the Falklands war, and the death of 60s idealism.
Sadly, we’re living through similar times now. Are we too cynical to create an answer like Crass did?”
There will always be niche freaks, who embrace codes that flagrantly reject societal norms, so I think it’s entirely possible for a band to capture some nebulous sense of idealism and turn it into a movement, despite attention spans being so seemingly short these days. But Crass’ appeal stretched beyond those that actually bought into what they were selling.