Dick’s Picks: Classic slice of vintage UK agit-prop-punk from the short-lived Crisis….
Crisis what Crisis?
Err, this Crisis were a short-lived UK punk five-piece forming in the ‘white heat’ of 1977. Hailing from that hot-bed of political unrest that was/is Guildford (just kidding, we know you can’t choose where you’re from), they quickly built up a loyal following and within a year their debut ’45 ‘No Town Hall’ was released on the suitably agit-prop Action Group Records. Wearing their political hearts on their armband festooned sleeves, the band soon became a regular feature on the Rock Against Racism (RAR) and Anti-Nazi-League (ANL) benefit gig circuit.
The EP / ‘No Town Hall’
Although sharing quite a few similarities with Crass (their names are but a couple of letter different after all), the band differed in a number of ways, not least musically. Not for them, atonal, fuzz-saw guitars and avant-garde soundscapes a la Crass (that’s a good thing btw), nope – they adopted a slightly more measured approach. Take EP opener ‘No Town Hall’ with its clipped guitar intro and staccato chords….so far so Clash….then Phrazer (that’s the vocalist) delivers the lyric in his finest ‘angry-yoof’ vocal. What’s it about? It centres on the notion that endless bureaucracy and red tape are the enemy of democracy, in short, endless council meetings by the men in suits results in yet another Town Hall being built instead of the cash being given to those “with their backs against the wall”. Note to self: Do bands write songs like this anymore?
On the second track ‘Holocaust’, the guitarists, armed with one effects pedal between ’em, press the button marked ‘holocaust’ and we’re off, this time taking on a bigger enemy – fascism. Fascism was a hot topic circa 1978 and Crisis do an admirable job in shouting down the Holocaust deniers, “Remember Belsen, remember Auschwitz, they’re trying to say they didn’t exist”…you can hear it at the 2.39 mark here…
The third track on the EP, which segues neatly from ‘Holocaust’ (how very Yes) deals with another v. popular punk trope – the Rozzers, the ol’ bill, pigs, the Police, call ’em what-you-will – here with a little bit of Orwellian dystopia thrown in for good measure, “PC 1984′.
What happened next?
Weirdly, the band changed beyond all recognition when vocalist Phrazer and the wonderfully named Insect Robin the Cleaner (Drums) left in 1979 to be replaced by long time fan/roadie Dexter and Luke Rendle. Doulgas Pearce (guitar) and Tony Wakeford (Bass) went onto form proto-goths Death In June who knew!
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