Christ, The Reissue

It’s a delight and simultaneous feeling of liberation to finally announce the release of Crass’ Christ, The Album LP reissue, which is now available for pre-order on the Southern web shop.

Released in 1982 with unplanned irony as the Falklands War raged on, Christ, The Album, another double vinyl half-studio/half-live release, once again aimed to take no prisoners. It’s controversial and boundary pushing style has been at the crux of critic and fan discussions for the years that followed, but admittedly received unquestionable respect and admiration. Harry Sword phrases it best: “Christ, The Album is too good for the TV punk documentaries, that’s why it’s still relevant and dangerous now.” Read his thoughts as the album marks it’s 30th year in the sonic ether.

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“By 1981 Crass had been in existence for four tempestuous years. In that time we’d encouraged punk to grow from being no more than just another ‘great rock’n'roll swindle’ into a genuine movement for change. Anarchy had been rescued from the dusty libraries of academia and the equally dusty dreams of barstool bullshitters to become the catchword for a whole new generation of streetwise activists.” – Penny Rimbaud

Cut to new lacquers at Abbey Road studios from the untouched original analogue vinyl master, this double LP comes with the original book (“A Series Of Shock Slogans And Mindless Token Tantrums”), original poster and the addition of a download card giving you free access to an mp3 download of the album. All of the original tracks remain intact, including recording of their 1981 summer gig at the 100 Club in London, as well as other studio tracks, demos, radio broadcasts and cassette recordings, leaving no Crass gem unturned.

Available to pre-order from the Southern web shop now.

 

Mickey Mouse….

Perhaps in response to the Disney-brand shirts “inspired by” Joy Divisions’s album sleeve, some clever clogs fashion hacker has devised a mash-up of Mickey Mouse via the Crass symbol and infiltrated Disney retail outlets by depositing stacks of folded shirts on the shelves.  Bravo.  Or as Crass said in Smash The Mac…. Mickey Mouse, fuck off.

First reported by Tara McGinley on Dangerous Minds.

Christ The Lacquers

Christ The Lacquers

For anyone who follows these things, we’ve been trying to get all of the Crass vinyl back into print for about a year now. Our mission has been to (a) Restore the original vinyl mix tapes (the quarter inch analogue tapes that were originally used to cut the vinyl on initial release) (b) Create new metalwork (from which the vinyl is stamped) and (c) Reproduce the original poster sleeves and inserts (minus the “Pay No More Than”, which was actually removed over a decade ago when these were last printed).

Part (a) was pretty easy – we have the set-up to bake tapes right here at Southern Studios.  The thing with magnetic tapes is that during the late 70′s and through much of the 80′s, some tape manufacturers started using new (aka cheaper) technologies to produce tape which resulted in an unstable binder material.  This causes the tape to oxidize over time and shed particles when you attempt to play the tape.  Tapes in this state can be temporarily fused by a process known as baking – a long exposure to very low heat in a special oven.  Once this is done you can transfer the programme to another digital or analogue storage device.  Harvey Birrell, who runs our studio, is very accomplished at restoring and mastering and has handled all of our reissue projects.   Harvey did a faithful ‘flat’ transfer of the recordings (no changes to the mix or levels) and these were checked by original producer and band member Penny Rimbaud once done.  So far, so easy.

Equally part (c) was straightforward enough as we have kept all of the original artwork files and have some excellent printers that we work with regularly.  We’ve had the print ready to go for some time now.

It was part (b) that was giving us a real headache.  Despite the popular niche that vinyl has found with the public over the years, there are very few plants who press vinyl (and do it well and in any kind of a timely fashion).  Probably about 90% of the independent labels we know work with a well-known plant in the Czech Republic, who are generally great people to work with.  Until something goes wrong, when you are thrust through a time-warp back to the 1950′s and customer complaints are ‘reviewed’ by committees whose job is to determine the ‘validity’ of your dissatisfaction.  We have, and still do, use DMM for a lot of mastering jobs, but despite several tries at doing the Crass titles this way, we only managed to get good results on two titles – Feeding of the 5000 and Penis Envy.  These two were repressed earlier this year (and have since sold out, so we need to do more).  Eventually we were forced to concede defeat on DMM and take our lumps and start over.

We had no other option but to go back to the three-step process of cutting a lacquer  master (or father) from which a metal mother is made, which is then used to make the stampers used to imprint the grooves on the vinyl.  We have used many vinyl cutting rooms in London in the past, and most of them are gone now!  So we went back to John Loder’s favourite haunt, Abbey Road.   Penny and Harvey attended and were very pleased with the results – which you can see above!  So the remaining albums – that’s Stations of the Crass, Yes Sir I Will, Christ The Album and Ten Notes On A Summer’s Day have all gone off to to the pressing plant (in France this time).  Fingers crossed everything will go smoothly and we’ll have vinyl back by the end of November – just the things for putting under your Crassmas trees.