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Virtual Trouser fights war not wars

By culture editor DJ NRG Raver

Posted April 12, 2012
crass in action
They can call it freedom: Crass run through another Shirley Temple number. (Check bottom for credits)

Where next, Columbus? Virtual Trouser goes sheep farming in the Falklands with sugary sweet popsters Crass.

Welcome to Virtual Trouser, the online home of Naked Trouser (NT), the planet's demonstrably greatest alternative music bash.

Thanks to YouTube and Dailymotion and the like, we once again embark on a sonic journey to the exotic realms invoked at a real-life NT session.

And this time it's a trip to 1970s London for some 'alternative' punk rock.

steve ignorant of crass
Steve Ignorant: Crass co-founder prepares for a Smash Hits photo shoot. (Check bottom for credits)

London, of course, was home to the Sex Pistols, who gave us those NT stalwarts God Save the Queen, Holidays in the Sun, Animal, Bodies and Submission.

But with Anarchy in the UK on the stereo, it's Epping that we head for and the Dial House commune, birthplace of Crass.

Uncompromising and ear-splitting in equal measure, Crass were so hardcore that they made the Pistols look like a boy band.

Formed in 1977 by posh hippy drummer Penny Rimbaud (who inspired the Beatles to write Nowhere Man) and angry vocalist Steve Ignorant as a seven-year project to end in the Orwellian year of 1984, Crass promoted anarchism and anti-authoritarianism as a way of life.

Deliberately contradictory, they promoted their pacifist message using the most aggressive sound they could muster combined with military-type clothing and a logo composed of "icons of authority".

Joined by other commune members, including NA Palmer, Phil Free and Pete Wrong (real name Wright), the band subverted the system with albums such as Stations of the Crass and Yes Sir, I Will.

crass logo
Icons of authority: The Crass logo. (Check bottom for credits)

Margaret Thatcher was a favourite target, particularly during the 1982 Falklands War, when they released Sheep Farming in the Falklands/Gotcha and How Does It Feel to Be the Mother of 1,000 Dead?

Not only did this attract the attention of Members of Parliament, but it also led to an approach by the KGB, which tried unsuccessfully to recruit the band to the commie cause.

Clearly, the Soviet spooks hadn't understood Bloody Revolutions.

So, to really bring out the punk in you, check out Big A Little A and that dole office favourite Do They Owe Us a Living?

After that try Suck and White Punks on Hope followed by Major General Despair, Nineteen-Eighty Bore and Angela Rippon.

And if that doesn't have you smashing your TV and spray-painting "Fight War, Not Wars" and "No Authority but Yourself" on derelict buildings, nothing will.

Just remember, "freedom has no value if violence is the price". Certainly something to ponder while watching the following vid from blobperson's YouTube channel, me thinks.

The original version of this article first appeared in Point Blank Poznan. Cheers, Steg. There's a load of old offal in the fridge if you want.

See also Virtual Trouser gets rapping, posted 2/4/12.

Picture credits

Top: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using original images by Graham Burnett (quercus robur); and Dave King.

Middle: Original image by Trunt; rejigged by Ignatius Rake.

Bottom and thumbnail: Original image by Dave King.

For licensing information click the above links.

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