follow us in feedly
‘They wanted to be rock stars’: Crass co-founder disses Sex Pistols and Clash in Positive Force doc
12.16.2014
08:13 am

Topics:
Activism
Punk

Tags:
Sex Pistols
Crass
Clash

Positive Force
 
Positive Force is a Washington DC-based activist collective that’s been around since 1985. The documentary, Positive Force: More Than A Witness; 30 Years Of Punk Politics In Action, explores the history of this organization, which often stages benefits with like-minded bands to promote various causes. There’s a wealth of archival performances in the film—including footage of Fugazi playing in front of the White House on the eve of the Gulf War—and this updated edition of the DVD has another 30+ minutes of rare live clips. The documentary also features interviews with such notables as Ian MacKaye, Kathleen Hanna, Jello Biafra, and Dave Grohl, who talks about his first-ever live gig, drumming for the band Scream at a Positive Force benefit.

One of the highlights of Positive Force is the interview with Penny Rimbaud, drummer and co-founder of the UK group Crass. Rimbaud’s band, which existed from 1977-1984, very much influenced the principles of Positive Force. Crass not only put out their own records and were critical of the mainstream, but they were also activists, believing that it wasn’t enough to just sing about social justice, you had to practice what you preached. In the clip, Rimbaud accuses the members of the Clash and the Sex Pistols of not meaning it, man, as he feels their drive to make it as rock stars came before all else.

If you have any interest at all in the history of American punk and/or activism, Positive Force is definitely worth your time. Pick up the new edition of the DVD via PM Press or Amazon.

All right, here’s Mr. Rimbaud:
 

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
‘Merry Crassmas’ (or Santa died for somebody’s sins, but not mine)
12.11.2014
09:08 am

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Crass


 
From the Dangerous Minds archives comes this festival holiday favorite…

In 1981, anarcho-punk heroes Crass had had about enough of the increasingly commercialized holiday season—not to mention the mass slaughter of turkeys each year—and decided to protest musically with a Casiotone medley of some of their best-loved numbers. The two-sided single, “Merry Crassmas,” was the result. It is the only Christmas song I can think of that hopes you choke on your turkey…

“Merry Crassmas” was credited to “Creative Recording and Sound Services.” On the picture sleeve, ringing Gee Vaucher’s distinctive art were these words:

COLD TURKEY ONE. VERY MERRY CRASSMAS. HERE’S AN AMAZING XMAS MEDLEY OF CRASS’S GREATEST HITS. SUPER FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY. PLUS…SUPER FUN TIME COMPETITION THAT EVERYONE CAN JOIN IN. HERE’S WHAT YOU DO…IT’S EASY. JUST LIST, IN ORDER, THE TITLES OF THE EXCITING CRASS SONGS ON THIS RECORD. THE FIRST THREE CORRECT POSTCARDS TO BE RECEIVED WILL BE SENT THE FOLLOWING GREAT PRIZES…1ST PRIZE… BATHSALTS, 2ND PRIZE…ONE EXPLOITED SINGLE, 3RD PRIZE…TWO EXPLOITED SINGLES. HAVE FUN. SEND ENTRIES TO “CRASSMAS COMPETITION.” PO BOX 279. LONDON N22.

Please note that back in 1981, kids, “bath salts” actually meant bath salts like you would put in your bath—not a drug that makes you want to eat people’s faces off—a shitty prize, in other words. I like how third place gets not one, but two Exploited singles!

Side A:
Jingle Bells
Big A, Little A
Punk is Dead
Big Hands
Contaminational Power
I Ain’t Thick, It’s Just a Trick
Nagasaki Nightmare
While Shepherds Watched

Side B:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Securicor
Darling
G’s Song
Banned from the Roxy
Tired
So what
Silent Night

One of only two Christmas records I own. I guess you could say that I’m not big on the holiday myself…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rondos, the punk band that made Crass ‘look like a vaudeville show’
09.03.2014
07:00 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Crass
Rondos


The Rondos’ Red Attack LP
 
“The Rondos were Maoists—bloody heavy,” Crass guitarist Phil Free remembers in George Berger’s The Story of Crass. “Jesus, they were frightening! Serious! They made us look like a vaudeville show! They’re probably still doing time for something!”

Contemporaries and comrades of The Ex, the Rondos (1978-1980) were a Rotterdam punk band that ran a record label (King Kong) and print shop from their communal habitation, Huize Schoonderloo. With the bands Rode Wig, Tändstickor Shocks, and Sovjets, they formed Rotterdam’s “Red Rock” collective.

According to Berger, Crass dates the beginning of the violence that beset shows throughout their career to a September 1979 gig at Conway Hall in London. There, they played with the Rondos and Poison Girls in aid of “Persons Unknown,” a group of anarchists facing conspiracy charges. The book does not explicitly state what the Rondos are supposed to have done at the benefit, but it implies that members of Crass believe the Rondos provoked right-wing skinheads in the audience. (Crass avoided taking sides in skirmishes between punk factions: “left wing, right wing, you can stuff the lot.”)
 

Poster from issue #4 of the Rondos’ fanzine Raket, published September 1979

However, Berger also quotes an eyewitness account by self-identified anti-fascist Martin Lux, who says he was on security that night and mentions no such provocation. Rather, in Lux’s account, a mob of fascists came out to bash heads, not to see the bands: “Around forty plus British Movement skinheads had barged in and were gathered inside the main entrance exuding menace[...] The organisation of the gig had collapsed, Nazis ruled the roost. The only thing holding them back from rampage was that they were waiting for Crass to come on for the finale, then they’d rush and take the stage.” Lux says that he met outside with SWP members he knew from “many a past expedition against the Master Race,” and agreed to their proposal: he’d “keep the lid on it for a couple of hours” while they rounded up an anti-fascist crew to whup Nazis.

The memoir of Crass drummer Penny Rimbaud, Shibboleth: My Revolting Life, gives yet another account of the Rashomon-like event:

[A]ll hell broke loose when we attempted to play a benefit for Persons Unknown at the Conway Hall, London. Sharing the bill with the Rondos, a Dutch band who we had thought were anarchists, but turned out to be hard-line Maoists, the gig had its tensions from the start.

“We are not in favor of patronising the Right,” they had declared on hearing about the skinhead faction of our following. “If there is trouble, we will reciprocate.”

By then, I was pretty certain that if there wasn’t trouble, the Rondos would create it, but I needn’t have worried, there was plenty of it without their help.

Throughout the evening rumours were flying that out of the audience of over seven hundred people, fifty or so skinheads planned to storm the stage during Crass’ performance. It was a rumour we’d heard many times before, one that I felt was not based on any tangible reality, but created out of a sad need for vicarious thrills. Of course some skinheads purported to support the British Movement, but then the Queen purported to support egalitarianism. Very few skinheads were convinced fascists, and even if they were, so what? They were the ones who could have most benefited from what we had to say.

Shortly before we were due to go on, a commotion broke out at the door. We were under attack, not from the British Movement, but from the Red Brigade, Trotskyists who, in their crusade for peoples’ power, had taken it upon themselves to rid the hall of ‘Nazi scum’. Anyone with hair shorter than half an inch, plus a scattering of those unfortunate enough to be wearing a hat that disguised their allegiance, were regarded as fair game. The resultant carnage was ugly, unnecessary and utterly indefensible. The Rondos were nowhere to be seen throughout.

A couple of days later, the ‘Guardian’ ran a report on the evening, claiming that the gig had been broken up by the British Movement who ‘stormed the door with broken bottles and cries of “red bastards”’, a report that created a reputation for violence that became the bane of our life on the road.

Despite several letters to the editor of the ‘Guardian’, in which I demanded that the truth be told, no correction was ever published. The delicate balance that we had been able to maintain between the opposing political camps had been irrevocably destroyed. From then on, believing that we had set them up for a beating, Crass and its followers became targets for repeated British Movement attacks. In one unthinking report, the ‘thinking man’s paper’ had wrecked any possibility of success for our commitment to open dialogue.

Finally, there’s the Rondos’ own account of the show, from the biography section of the band’s website. It’s the only version of the story that includes vegan spring rolls:

The day of the concert arrived, a benefit concert for anarchist prisoners in England. Crass practised the transitions between the songs, which they played without pausing, like they did on their records. We hung around in their delightful garden. Steve Ignorant, Crass’ brilliant singer, polished everyone’s Dr. Martens boots. He asked how we could remain so calm just before a performance. We smiled, because we didn’t understand the question. He told us he kept running to the toilet with nerves all day. We raised our eyebrows. That afternoon we arrived at the Conway Hall in Crass’ van. The place was swarming with skinheads. The fascist National Front had just held a big meeting. In the Conway Hall, of all places.

The atmosphere in the venue just before that night’s performance was vicious. Fights broke out near the toilets in the corridor between different groups of skinheads supporting different football clubs. They marched ostentatiously into the room, with bloody hands and faces. They raised their arms in the Nazi salute. The Rondos played. Apart from the odd broken string the gig went perfect. We got good reactions. Poison Girls played. There was a lot of Hex-like behaviour from female fans. Their vocals were rather theatrical, but still it was a great show, supported noisily by a gang of West Ham skins thrashing the balcony.

Then all hell broke loose. It all happened very fast. People were getting punched and kicked. Panic broke out. The audience scattered. We lifted small skinheads on to the stage so they wouldn’t get trampled. They cried with shock and fear and were barely eleven or twelve years old. People were lying on the floor. The police arrived and cleared the room. The skins were told to hand in their shoelaces. Peace returned and staff scrubbed the floor and mopped up the blood. Apparently, members of the Anti Nazi League and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) had clashed with skinheads of the British Movement and the National Front, who had stayed behind in pubs around the Conway Hall after the NF meeting to come to Crass’ gig that evening. A Jewish activist from the SWP walked up to the stage and pointed his finger at Crass. Your fault!

We grabbed our things and got in the van. We were packed together and very quiet. We went by a Chinese take-away for some vegan spring rolls. At Crass’ place a discussion ensued. The tone was friendly, but still. Shouldn’t you protect yourself from this kind of violence? They frequently wrestled with these problems. Crass had become a target for skinheads who were attracted to their furious music, militant appearance and swastika-like symbols, but who rejected anarchist and pacifist ideas. Crass refused to employ bouncers or let the venue hire them, even though that was a common thing in London in those days. It was a question of principles but should the audience be put through all this? You do invite them to come to your gigs, after all. Is it fair to deliver them unprotected to hordes of skinheads, fascist or not, while you are safely on the stage? It was fair, said Crass, for that was simply the situation in London at that time and they didn’t want to be ‘anti’. Crass said we didn’t understand, coming from the peaceful Netherlands. Crass’ pacifist anarchism, although admirable, opposed The Rondos’ more militant attitude.

We said goodbye the next day. We agreed to do more concerts in England together, organize a common tour of the Netherlands and there were plans to record an LP with Crass’ help. We’d talk about it all later. In the meantime the newspapers in England were full of the Conway Hall battle. The only venue, by the way, that had offered the National Front a space to meet, from the fundamental conviction that everyone has the right of assembly.

Here’s some surprisingly good-looking footage of the band performing three songs. If you like this stuff, there is a box set. A Black & White Statement: The Story of the Rondos contains the Rondos’ complete discography, a live show, a photo book, a comic book, a lyric book, and the band’s autobiography.
 

Rondos perform “I Got No Time” and “System”
 

Rondos perform “Russians Are Coming”
 
Hear the Rondos play a 1978 set of fifteen covers, including the Suicide Commandos’ “Burn It Down.”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Christ the Auction: Crass drumhead goes up for auction at Sotheby’s
06.20.2014
12:20 pm

Topics:
Pop Culture
Punk

Tags:
Crass
Sotheby's


 
A stenciled Crass drumhead is going up for auction as part of Sotheby’s rock and roll memorabilia event. The estimate is that it’ll go for between $15,000 and $20,000. The “Presley to Punk” auction will occur on June 24. When I saw this, I have to admit, the collector in me swooned.

It’s a pity that this will probably just end up in some rich asshole’s house instead of in an anarchist museum or some place like that. At least I hope that it’s Penny Rimbaud himself who’ll be getting the money for this (it appears that he signed it recently). If anyone deserves to cash in on their past in this way—I really mean this—God bless them, it’s Crass. No one’s selling out here, they’re just clearing out the garage!

The auction also has some amazing signed items from The Beatles, one of Sly Stone’s vests, a jacket worn by Jimmy Page, several drawings and paintings by Joni Mitchell, as well as guitar straps worn by Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia. A naughty comic strip from a young Jim Morrison and a semi-pornograpic collage made by John and Yoko for Elton John’s birthday in 1975. Several gold records belonging to Mick Jagger, even the Grammy presented to Johnny Cash and June Carter for “Jackson.” There are 145 items in all being auctioned off.
 

Sly Stone’s beaded vest, as seen during his infamous stint as co-host of The Mike Douglas Show.
 

Crosby, Stills & Nash by Joni Mitchell
 

Gary Panter’s original rendition of The Screamers logo

Thank you Luhuna Carvalho!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Pranksters make a Crass logo crop circle, oblivious ‘astronomologer’ attempts to interpret it
05.22.2014
05:28 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Belief

Tags:
Crass
crop circle


 
In 2011 some ambitious punks made this crop circle of the Crass logo not too far from Stonehenge. If that doesn’t already give you a giggle, take a look at what mega-earnest “Astronomologer” Donna Provancher, interpreted from it! (Astronomology, by the way, is defined by Donna as “the practice of astrology using astronomy to build the chart and supply new insights,” so while it’s not entirely clear why crop circles fall in her professional purview, my guess is something to do with aliens or Wicca.)

You know those pictures of the Gods and Goddesses with eight or eighteen or a thousand arms? That’s what we are when we work together. You can tack thousands of pairs of eyes and ears to that image while you’re at it. Nothing escapes our notice.

Roving Astronomologer eyes and ears (thanks again Solar Ophiuchus Raya King—that makes two Gold Stars for you) directed my attention early this morning to a new crop circle reported June 20, 2011 near Stonehenge.Crop Circle Connector is calling this area “Stonehenge (1)” whatever that means. I have a Facebook Wall ping out to Philip Peake (visit his blog Thoughtsoftheguru.com) my longtime Friend (with a capital F), Web Host and Webmaster who is from the U.K.  Maybe he can tell me where this is in relation to the megaliths. The map wasn’t revealing of that little detail.

Something about the above photo immediately bothered me. My first instinct was to want to walk around the circle until I found up, down, left and right. So you know me. I couldn’t leave it alone—I had to tweak it.

To her credit, at this point Donna rotates the logo to match the cover of Christ: The Album! Well done, Donna! From there though, her interpretations go back to indecipherable New Age esoterica.

Oh yes, this is definitely it!

—As Above, So Below (opening greeting)

—An equal-armed or Tau-Cross (the balancing of Earth’s energies)

—A double-headed serpent wrapped around one of the axial poles of the planet — we’ll have to assume it’s the poles of the planet since East-West doesn’t have an axial pole.  The piece on top (the double-headed serpent) is bolted to the Tau-Cross, so at this point, Raya’s vision of the Staff of Asclepius is partially correct; she just didn’t finish it.

The 2-headed King-snakes I used to see at the San Diego zoo had tails. This one isn’t like that. But then it’s not imitating a snake, it’s picturing a new concept. The new Planetary Caduceus. It needs to be finished. This is something else I haven’t discussed yet but it looks like this is one more Agenda Item on the Table I’ll put this on my To-Do list to discuss. What else is on there?  Ophiuchus and Solar Physics since Gloria Prophet requested that I share more on this topic [see Solar Physicists Stymied—Sky & Telescope News Blog].

Oh Donna, no one knows what you’re talking about, but I’ll be damned if you’re not adorable. Say what you will about her lack of punk rock cred, when you see a New Age lady on the subway, you know she’s going to smell good—like patchouli—can you say that for your average crust punk?
 
Via PORK

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
‘Our Wedding’: Crass’s magnificent romance-mag prank
02.05.2014
06:56 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Crass

Crass in Romance Magazine
 
In a career jammed with brilliantly provocative instigations, few surpass the delicious prank that Crass pulled on the professional romance industry just as the most overhyped wedding of the twentieth century (uniting Charles and Diana) was about to occur on British soil. Released in 1981, Crass’s third album Penis Envy foregrounded the vocals of Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre, as befitted an album focusing on women’s topics. As Crass fans know, the album’s final track, not mentioned in the album art itself, is an über-saccharine ditty called “Our Wedding,” performed in a style vaguely reminiscent of “Heaven,” the song delivered by the “Lady in the Radiator” in David Lynch’s 1977 classic Eraserhead. The song brilliantly used the language of matrimonial devotion to skewer the marriage industry and all of its attendant assumptions. Here are the lyrics:
 

All I am I give to you
You’ll honor me, I’ll obey you
Rich or poor or come what may
We’ll forsake all other love
Just we two, one flesh, one blood
In the eyes of god
I am yours to have & hold
I’m giving you my lie….

Never look at anyone, anyone but me
Never look at anyone, I must be all you see
Listen to those wedding bells
Say goodbye to other girls
I’ll never be untrue my love
Don’t be untrue to me [repeats]

 
The song as an adjustment to a Connie Francis parody called “Lipstick On Your Penis” that the band deemed necessary to avoid a copyright lawsuit. Having done so, Crass decided to see if they could fool anyone into imbibing the song “straight.” They found a taker in Loving, a magazine aimed at teenage girls of a romantic bent. Loving agreed to offer the single as a white flexi-disc release readers could receive for free by writing in to the magazine. It’s been said that copies of the flexi-disc go for impressive sums on eBay, but a brief trip to the website failed to confirm that.
 
Our Wedding
 
Loving gushed to readers in the May 30, 1981, issue (a few weeks before the Charles and Diana wedding) that the free Crass flexi would make “your wedding day just that bit extra special…. Joy De Vivre has captured all the happiness and romance of that all-important big day—your wedding—so make sure you send off your copy in time for the grand occasion—it’s a must for all true romantics.”

In 2005 Penny Rimbaud wrote the following account of the incident for Vice:
 

We were recording an album called Penis Envy, the last track of which was “Lipstick On Your Penis” based on the old standard “Lipstick On Your Collar”. Penis Envy was fronted by the women of the band, it was a very feminist album and “Lipstick” was about the institution of marriage being little more than prostitution. Having recorded that track, we realised it would almost certainly lead to a copyright prosecution, so we decided to completely rewrite the lyrics. What we ended up with was so convincingly schmaltzy that we had the idea of trying to sell it to a teenage romance magazine called Loving. It was one of those magazines which feeds lies to young girls, sets them up with ludicrously impossible fantasies which they can’t follow, won’t follow and don’t follow. Magazines like that just create heartache, they remove young people from themselves, set them up to be knocked down.

Anyway, we called in at Loving‘s IPC offices as Creative Recordings and Sound Services (CRASS) and said “We’ve just made this recording and think it would be suitable for your publication.” They jumped at it, saying “It’s great, fantastic. We’re about to do a special brides [bribes] issue. How about us doing it as a free flexi?” Which is precisely what it became. They advertised it as “Our Wedding”—an “absolute must for your wedding day”. They’d bought it hook, line and stinker, but the lyrics were frightful, banal shit about the social fantasy of marriage, you know, things like never looking at other girls or guys once you’ve fallen for it. It was total rubbish, but they happily gave it away with their magazine. Now, what kind of loving is that? Shortly afterwards a friend in Fleet Street exposed the scam and The Star printed the glorious headline “Band of Hate’s Loving Message”. I think there were a few sackings at Loving magazine.

 
When the hoax was exposed, a brief tabloid controversy resulted; the News of the World hilariously called the title of the new album Penis Envy “too obscene to print.”
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Anarcho-punk’d: Hear Reagan threaten to nuke Europe in Crass’s infamous ‘Thatchergate’ prank
01.24.2014
12:06 pm

Topics:
Punk

Tags:
Ronald Reagan
Crass
Margaret Thatcher
Thatchergate


 

This two-year old post from the Dangerous Minds archive is something we’ve noticed has been getting a lot of attention recently, so we’re moving it onto the front page again. The reason for renewed interest in this matter is that on January 2nd, the UK’s National Archive released some documents regarding Crass’s epic “Thatchergate” prank of 1982 (it had a bit of a long fuse, as you will see). They’re revealing on several accounts, not least for the level of blinkered-ness they indicate prevailed in the spy agencies back then…

There’s a lot of text here, but it’s instructive to read the news reports—there weren’t many—from the time in chronological order and see how the story was ultimately revealed. At the end of the post, I’ve added recent comments from Penny Rimbaud and Steve Ignorant.

These days we’re used to seeing public figures like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker punked, but in the early 1980s, the avenues for media hacking just did not exist the way they do now. The infamous “Thatchergate” tape—an audio collage constructed by Crass bassist Peter Wright (aka “Sybil Right” and “Pete Wrong”) of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan “talking” about nuclear weapons and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield as a deliberate attempt to escalate the conflict in the Falklands War was one of the first. The “Thatchergate” tape was an event back then, especially in the squatter/anarcho-punk crowd that I was a part of in London at the time. To hear about Crass perpetrating the hoax of Ronald Reagan getting “caught on tape” threatening to nuke Europe (he’d show Russia who was boss!) was nothing short of a blow against Moloch!

Today, there are a little more than 2000 items that come up on Google for “Thatchergate” and most have nothing to do with Crass. This story should be a lot better known, it’s one of the greatest pranks in history:

From San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 1983.

Washington. A fake tape of a purported conversation between President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was circulated in Europe this spring, possibly by the KGB, the State Department said yesterday.

“This type of activity fits the pattern of fabrications circulated by the Soviet KGB, although usually they involve fake documents rather than tapes,” the department said in a written response to reporter’s questions.

The department said that although the recording is of “poor quality,” a technical analysis revealed that the voices were those of Reagan and Thatcher.

But the department indicated the voices were spliced together and said they were not part of an actual conversation.

“We checked with the White House, which advised thay no such conversation took place,” the department said.

The President’s part in the recording apparently was lifted from his Nov. 22, 1982 speech on nuclear disarmament,” it said. “We are not sure where Mrs. Thatcher’s remarks came from.

The department said a copy of the tape was received by the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands a week before the British elections.

The tape dealt with the Falklands crisis and U.S. missiles in Britain, the department said.

It said, “From the drift of the tape, the evident purpose was to cause problems for Mrs. Thatcher by blaming her for the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield and also for us by stirring trouble on the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) issue.”

The Sheffield was sunk by Argentine forces last year during the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Britain and the United Staes took part in a NATO decision to install intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe late this year as a counter to similar Soviet forces if an agreement on restriction such weapons is not reached.

The State Department said the tape-recording was sent with a covering letter from an anonymous person to Dutch journalists.

It is said an analysis by the language experts “suggests that the author was not a native speaker.”

The Reagan administration has contended for some time that the KGB has contended for some thime that the KGB has a forgery factory producing false documents to mislead target audiences.

It was also written up in The Sunday Times, on January 8, 1983

How the KGB fools the West’s press.

THE TAPE is heavy with static and puntuated with strange noises, but through it all can be heard the authentic voices of Ronald Reagan on the telephone: “If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.”

At the other end of the telephone is Mrs. Thatcher. “You mean Germany?” she asks increduously.

“Mrs. Thatcher, if any country endagers our position we can decide to bomb the problem area and so remove the instability.”

If this is not hair-raising enough, we hear Mrs. Thatcher virtually admitting that she had the Belgrano sunk to end any chance of an agreement with Argentina. “Oh God!” says Reagan.

The whole conversation is fake. Both voices are real but the words spoken have been doctored, cut, rearranged and then expanded on the transcript of the tape. Every word from Reagan is extracted from his lengthy presidential address on nuclear strategy. When, for instance, he seems to swear at Mrs. Thatcher, he is in fact coming to the end of his speech and quoting a hymn: “Oh God of love, O king of peace.”

The tape surfaced in Holland just before last year’s British general election, but it never quite overcame the suspicions of Dutch journalists. They declined to publish the juicy exclusive, sent to them anonymously. But other journalists across the world have fallen for an increasing flow of such stories based on “authoritative” cables, memo and tapes. The State Department in Washington says they are all products of an increasingly sophisicated Russian campaign.

“They have accelerated their efforts and they have fine-tuned them,” claims Larry Semakis, deputy director of a State Department team that monitors what the Russians call “active measures.” He admits that “no one can specifically prove in a court of law that Soviet hand was on this or that item.” But he says there is a pattern in the use of forgeries which points unmistakably to the Russians.

The State Department believes that “active measures” are the responsibility of the KGB’s first directorate; that some forgeries go as high as the ruling Politburo for approval…

“[W]hich points unmistakably to the Russians”? I don’t think so…

Then one year later in The Observer newspaper on, Sunday, January 22, 1984, it was revealed that…

‘Soviet’ faked tape is rock group hoax

A TAPE recording, purporting to carry details of a secret telephone conversation between Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, has been revealed as a hoax manufactured deliberately by an anarchist rock group.

The recording was taken to newspapers throughout Europe—including The Observer—but, apart from one Italian newspaper, nobody had been taken in by the hoax tape until it appeared in the Sunday Times earlier this month.

That newspaper described it as part of a KGB propaganda war. Unfortunately the tape was recorded not in Moscow but in an Essex farmhouse.

The New York correspondent of the paper reported that the State Department believed the tape was evidence of ‘an increasingly sophisticated Russian disinformation cam- paign.’

The real authors of the hoax tape, the anarchist punk rock group Crass, said that they had been ‘amused and amazed’ that the tape had been attributed to the KGB.

The recording first appeared in the offices of a number of Continental newspapers shortly before the British general election last year.

A covering note said it was a recording of a crossed line on which was heard part of the two leaders’ telephone conversation, and that the person who sent it wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Key lines in the tape include Mr. Reagan apparently asking why the Belgrano was sunk during the Fallrlands war, when Secretary of State Haig was nearing a peace agreement. Mrs Thatcher appears to reply: ‘Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.’

Mr. Reagan then says: ‘Oh God, it is not right. You caused the Sheffield to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on the screen. You must have, too, and not let them know.’

Later, in a discussion on nuclear strategy, Mr. Reagan is made to say: ‘If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.’

The tape was first brought to The Observer by a Belgian journalist last June. We concluded, like most of the other newspapers, that it was a fake.

The quest for the real hand behind the tape led to an isolated farmhouse in north Essex, where the eight members of the band live with their children.

Reluctantly the members of the band, who sport names like Joy Be Vivre, G Sus and Sybil Right, admitted faking the tape. They showed how they had put it together over two and a half months, using parts of TV and radio broadcasts made by the two leaders, then overdubbing with telephone noises.

‘We wanted to precipitate a debate on those subjects to damage Mrs. Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appaling way Tam Dalyell was treated over the Belgrano debate,’ they said.

‘We believe that although the tape is a hoax, what is said in it is in effect true.’

And there was more: From The Associated Press, Sunday, January 25, 1984
 

 

More still, plus the “Thatchergate” tape, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Merry Crassmas’: Have an anarcho-punk holiday (or Santa died for somebody’s sins, but not mine)
12.26.2013
06:33 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Christmas
Crass


 
Considering that this is the only Christmas song I can thing of that hopes you choke on your turkey, it’s probably better to post this one the day after Christmas….

In 1981, anarcho-punk heroes Crass had had about enough of the increasingly commercialized holiday season—not to mention the mass slaughter of turkeys each year—and decided to protest musically with a Casiotone medley of some of their best-loved numbers. The two-sided single, “Merry Crassmas,” was the result.

“Merry Crassmas” was credited to “Creative Recording and Sound Services.” On the picture sleeve, ringing Gee Vaucher’s distinctive art were these words:

COLD TURKEY ONE. VERY MERRY CRASSMAS. HERE’S AN AMAZING XMAS MEDLEY OF CRASS’S GREATEST HITS. SUPER FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY. PLUS…SUPER FUN TIME COMPETITION THAT EVERYONE CAN JOIN IN. HERE’S WHAT YOU DO…IT’S EASY. JUST LIST, IN ORDER, THE TITLES OF THE EXCITING CRASS SONGS ON THIS RECORD. THE FIRST THREE CORRECT POSTCARDS TO BE RECEIVED WILL BE SENT THE FOLLOWING GREAT PRIZES…1ST PRIZE… BATHSALTS, 2ND PRIZE…ONE EXPLOITED SINGLE, 3RD PRIZE…TWO EXPLOITED SINGLES. HAVE FUN. SEND ENTRIES TO “CRASSMAS COMPETITION.” PO BOX 279. LONDON N22.

Please note that back in 1981, kids, “bath salts” actually meant bath salts like you would put in your bath—not a drug that will make you want to eat people’s faces off—a shitty prize, in other words. I like how third place gets two Exploited singles!

Side A:
Jingle Bells
Big A, Little A
Punk is Dead
Big Hands
Contaminational Power
I Ain’t Thick, It’s Just a Trick
Nagasaki Nightmare
While Shepherds Watched

Side B:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Securicor
Darling
G’s Song
Banned from the Roxy
Tired
So what
Silent Night

One of only two Christmas records I own. True!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Crass co-founder Steve Ignorant is keeping the seas safe as a volunteer lifeboatman
09.03.2013
07:57 am

Topics:
Heroes
Punk

Tags:
Crass
Steve Ignorant

Steve Ignorant
 
The folks from Crass have settled in to quieter (though certainly not apolitical) lives, and understandably so. Dedicating so much of yourself to producing and living activist art definitely takes a toll, sometimes quite literally—the fees incurred in defending 1981’s Penis Envy from obscenity charges cost them a pretty penny. On top of money and legal troubles, their elaborate political hoaxes began to render them a more visible target for political enemies, and there were disagreements within the group that started to splinter them, politically (most notably, not every member was committed to pacifism). And of course, they’d always intended to split sometime in 1984, anyway.

At first glance, it appears singer Steve Ignorant retired to a quaint, seaside village. He’s kept busy with new projects, but why move to the country if you’re not going to relax? Apparently Steve’s not much for relaxing. He actually volunteers to drop everything at the sound of a beeper, drive to the shore, take a boat to wherever a potential emergency might be, and if need be, save people from drowning. Ignorant takes his responsibility incredibly seriously, openly admitting to the fear he feels every time he’s called up for duty, and though his colleagues seem to have an inkling of his radical punk rock past, it appears he’s appreciated as a valuable member of the team, first and foremost.
 

 
Via BBC News Magazine

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Eyewitness accounts of one of the final Crass shows, 1984
07.18.2013
01:35 pm

Topics:
Class War
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Crass


No, Adam and The Ants and Motörhead were not playing on the same bill as Crass, this was a joke…

If you have flickering, drug-impaired memories of a cultural event from eons ago that you were a witness to, or took place in, fear not because there are always going to be people on the Internet who were there also, and they are happy to provide their version of your shared experience, if not audio-visual records.

Kill Your Pet Puppy is the ultimate repository of information about England’s anarcho-punk movement (e.g. Crass punks, basically) of the late 1970s to about 1986. As these decidedly last century events begin to fade from the memory of many who might’ve been around at the time, Al Puppy, the site’s proprietor, is doing future historians of that scene an invaluable service by putting his enormous archives online as well as soliciting what others might’ve experienced at certain punk gigs, political protests or squat evictions.

The top post at Kill Your Pet Puppy currently is about a Crass gig at the squatted Islington Bingo Hall on March 4, 1984. Although I’m one of those infuriating people who has managed to find myself (often by accident) at some pretty legendary gigs, I’ve truly got one rock snob braggart’s trump card that wipes the smile off the face of any smartass: I saw Crass! Take that bitches!

Obviously, that’s not something many Americans can claim. Here’s my memory of the show:

Crass made no secret of the fact that they planned to disband in 1984, so this also had the air of it being an unmissable show, perhaps one of the last they might do. It was a fundraiser for the striking British miners, an anarcho punk mini-festival with Crass-associated acts like Flux of Pink Indians and Annie Anxiety (aka Little Annie, who stuck her hand right down the front of my friend’s pants) also on the bill. There was someone with video equipment and TV monitors set up and I’d brought along a video I’d made of particularly gruesome WWII footage cut to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s jaunty “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” that I was hoping to get screened and it was.

The ceilings were very low. It was very dark (between the acts and during them, too) and it was very sweaty. The Islington Bingo Hall was a squat and it had the nastiest, most diseased dark green carpet I have ever stood on for hours upon end, with wads of old chewing gum stomped into it and the smell of stale beer and… worse.

Crass’s Penny Rimbaud recalled that same infernal, disgusting carpeting:

The only real memory I have of that evening was the near-violent argument outside which developed between the vegetarians and the vegans. I don’t think I’d ever seen such a stupid expression of bigotry. Apart from that, I seem to remember that the carpet inside was greasy, dark and stinking of the sort of things one doesn’t want to be thinking of. Love, blessings and joy.

 

 
Here’s what “Al” (I think this is the guy who gave Al Puppy a tape of the show, not Al Puppy himself) recalled:

As I remember it Flux (wearing beachwear & sunglasses) and Annie Anxiety also played great sets that night but we only had one tape so we got what we got. Forty five minutes of No Defences and D&V, then forty five minutes of Crass.

This was a great night, where you come away from it energised and restored, with the complex atmosphere that permeated the whole culture. Genuinely violent, angry, aggressive, edgy, confrontational, chaotic, but in equal measure, friendly, warm, calm, peaceful and life affirming. Fuck yeah!

“Fuck yeah,” is about right. Thinking about it today and sort of mentally placing myself in my 18-year-old body at the time, it did feel like I was in attendance at, and a minor participant in, something that quite honestly might someday be thought of as “culturally significant.” It was a very vivid thing to witness and I was just a few months out of West Virginia at the time, so it made a very big impression on me. This was also probably where I heard about the big Stop the City anti-capitalism demonstrations that were to come in just a few weeks time.

Sure, there might have been some vegan versus vegetarian bickering(!) and undoubtedly there were arguments over how fake leather is JUST AS BAD AS THE REAL THING, but this was an amazing, and very inspiring thing to experience as a young person.

If you click over to Kill Your Pet Puppy, there’s an MP3 download of the entire 45-minute Crass set and much more.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The original Occupy Wall Street: Stop the City, 1984

Below, CRASS: There Is No Authority But Yourself:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Girls Aloud: Insanely HUGE compilation of female-fronted punk bands 1977-1989


 
Behold an absolutely monstrous compilation of female fronted punk bands from all over the world from the mid to late ‘70s to the mid 80s (and a little beyond). Some of the artists you’ve heard of (Blondie, Crass, The Avengers, Josie Cotton, Kleenex, Honey Bane, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Rezillos, Slits, Malaria!, etc.) but others, trust me on this, there’s just no way you could have heard of all of them. The fellow who compiled this beast is a master. An expert’s expert! A maven’s maven!

This gargantuan set represents a deep education in an exciting, but for the most part never really respected sub-genre of punk. It would be overstating the case to say it has aspirations of being a Harry Smith-type collection of punk and obscure hardcore bands, but some of this stuff I don’t think I’d ever come across if given two lifetimes. Apparently some of these songs come from cassettes, probably copied one at a time. Obviously plenty of the tracks were taken from vinyl 45 RPM records. And the stuff from the Eastern Bloc countries…. I mean, where did he get this stuff?

What a maniac! It must have been really hard to collect all of these songs, even in this day and age. Without a deep knowledge of the subject, it would be difficult to even search for some of these records on Google. Like I say, it’s damned impressive.

From the Kangknave blog (where you will find all of the download the links and a track listing):

This is a pretty insane project put together by my pal Vince B. from San Francisco a few years back. As the title indicates, this is a homemade 12 x CD-R (!) compilation of punk bands fronted by female vocalists from 1977 to 1989. More like a giant mixtape than a compilation, as he only made 36 copies which he sent to friends and people who submitted material. You may notice that some of the bands didn’t have a steady female vocalist (The Lewd, etc.) but he still included songs that were sung by another member of the band. This is as international as it gets, with stuff ranging from world famous Blondie or Crass to the most obscure Eastern European cassette compilation veterans. The boxset came packaged in a hand-numbered fancy translucent lunchbox enclosing all 12 CD-Rs, a stack of full-colored cards featuring comprehensive tracklist and artwork/info, as well as a manga pin-up figure! Talk about a labor of love.

 

 
Above, Slovenian punk rockers, Tožibabe
 

 
East LA’s The Brat do “High School” in 1981.

Via Boing Boing

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
THE NATURE OF YOUR OPPRESSION IS THE AESTHETIC OF OUR ANGER: The Art of Crass
06.18.2013
10:18 am

Topics:
Design
Music
Punk

Tags:
Crass


 
I’m not sure what to make of seeing a young person with the Crass logo painted on the back of their leather jacket. I mean these days. What does it mean to them?

Of course I knew what it meant and what it stood for back in the day. I lived in south London squats in 1983 and 84 and many of my er, squatmates were classic scruffy cliched Crass punks. As a result, I regularly went to see anarcho punk gigs at places like The Ambulance Station on the Old Kent Road. Poison Girls. Chumbawamba. Flux of Pink Indians. Annie Anxiety. Flowers in the Dustbin. Rubella Ballet. I saw a lot of Crass-associated punk bands back then. (When Chumbawamba released “Everything You Know Is Wrong” in 2004, I was chuffed to bits.)

I even saw one of the final Crass gigs, a miner’s strike benefit at the Islington Bingo Hall. Between bands they let me show a little video that I’d cobbled together from particularly gruesome WWII footage set to a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s “Polka-dots and Moonbeams.” Although I personally was not a Crass punk per se, I definitely had a foot in that tribe and Crass had a major effect on me and the way I see the world to this very day. Something that I am very grateful for.

When the band was actually together, the idea of what Crass offered was greater than the sum of its parts as well as something, frankly, that was significantly based more on the militant anarchist-vegan-anti-vivisection-pacifist-anti-religious pro-environmental stances they took, than the music itself. Crass were many things—many important things—to many people, but listenable wasn’t really one of them (I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s amusing to think about how many of the Crass punk anarchist squatter types who I knew in Brixton were also into early UB40. Not shitting you. That’s what they listened to, not Stations of The Crass!)

A big part of the appeal, like I say, were the ideas, the leafleting and sloganeering, but there was also Gee Vaucher’s brilliant graphic art and and Dave King’s iconic logo that went along with the Crass mystique. This is what their tribe rallied around. It wasn’t about them as people—most fans probably had no idea what they looked like (I didn’t) and they quite literally shunned the spotlight, performing in near darkness—it was about the fact that because of Crass’s orbit and the gravitational pull of their example and lifestyle that you could meet other people who thought they same way that you did. That aspect of Crass fandom was the glue that held that entire scene together, that you could, as Timothy Leary once said, “Find the Others.”

I think this is why young people today still want to wear the Crass logo across their backs. It may seem somewhat anachronistic—like hippie tie-die does—but the romantic notion of what that scene was all about, is, what I think, motivates kids to sport that symbol in 2013. It will never happen again quite like that, but its a testament to how influential Crass truly were that kids who weren’t even born then continue to be interested in the ideas they espoused, some of which have wormed their way far further into the culture than could have been imagined 30 years ago. Widespread veganism is merely one of the triumphs of Crass that can be seen in today’s landscape and you’d better believe they had a lot to do with it. The concept of veganism seemed so far out in the early 1980s in a way that is almost impossible to convey to someone who wasn’t around back then. People were offended by the very concept of it! Although I was already pretty much already a vegan by 1983, I had never in my life met, until falling into the anarcho punk circles orbiting around Crass’s sun, other people who had the same diet. That was a big deal with me.

Which brings me to the second installment of MOCAtv‘s “The Art of Punk” video series and its exploration of the art and iconography of Crass:

We head up to the Anarchist Book Fair in San Francisco to meet up with Gee Vaucher, and founding Crass member, writer, and activist, Penny Rimbaud. We discuss the art and the lifestyle stemming from the infamous Dial House, where they have lived, worked, and created their own brand of anarchistic beauty, for more than 3 decades. We have a sit down with artist Scott Campbell, at his own New York tattoo shop, and talk about how the art of Crass, and one single t-shirt created a fork in his own road of life. Owen Thornton talks some shit. Finally we hang out with British graphic designer Dave King - the creator of the infamous snake and cross symbol, and discuss post war England, hippies, punk, graphic design, and more, that led him to the creation of the symbol made legendary by Crass.

Next up in this series, The Dead Kennedys. Directed by Bryan Ray Turcotte and Bo Bushnell.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Crass met the Beatles: John Lennon and Penny Rimbaud on ‘Ready Steady Go!’ 1964


 
One from the DM archives: In 1964, future Crass drummer Penny Rimbaud, then known by his given name of Jeremy Rattner, appeared on the Ready Steady Go! music program to receive an award from Beatle John Lennon. He’d won a contest for producing artwork inspired by “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”

The prizes were copies of the LPs Mingus by Charlie Mingus and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto. This anecdote appears in Rimbaud’s autobiography, Shibboleth: My Revolting Life.
 

 
Thank you to Brad Laner for calling this delightfully weird pop culture connection to our attention.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Anarchy in the Magic Kingdom: Crass/Mickey Mouse tee-shirt hack!


 
It appears that someone is having a little fun with the whole “sacrilegious” Disney/Joy Divison tee-shirt controversy...

Some crafty anarcho-inspired culture hackers have made their own Crass/Mickey Mouse mash-up tees and discretely deposited them neatly folded in Disney boutiques. Unsuspecting shoppers will either be baffled or delighted by their DIY creation.

Me, I’m delighted! I need one of these! Now, I’ve got… Mickey envy.

Click here to see larger image.

Via Submitterator

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Anarcho-punk’d: Crass’s infamous ‘Thatchergate’ tape


 

These days we’re used to seeing public figures like Sarah Palin and Scott Walker punked, but in the early 1980s, the avenues for media hacking just did not exist the way they do now. The infamous “Thatchergate” tape—an audio collage constructed by Crass bassist Peter Wright (aka “Sybil Right” and “Pete Wrong”) of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan “talking” about nuclear weapons and the sinking of the HMS Sheffield as a deliberate attempt to escalate the conflict in the Falklands War was one of the first. The “Thatchergate” tape was an event back then, especially in the squatter/anarcho-punk crowd that I was a part of in London at the time. To hear about Crass perpetrating the hoax of Ronald Reagan getting “caught on tape” threatening to nuke Europe (to show Russia who was boss!) was nothing short of a blow against Moloch!

Today, there are a little more than 2000 items that come up on Google for “Thatchergate” and most have nothing to do with Crass. This story should be a lot better known, it’s one of the greatest pranks in history:

From San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 1983.

Washington. A fake tape of a purported conversation between President Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was circulated in Europe this spring, possibly by the KGB, the State Department said yesterday.

“This type of activity fits the pattern of fabrications circulated by the Soviet KGB, although usually they involve fake documents rather than tapes,” the department said in a written response to reporter’s questions.

The department said that although the recording is of “poor quality,” a technical analysis revealed that the voices were those of Reagan and Thatcher.

But the department indicated the voices were spliced together and said they were not part of an actual conversation.

“We checked with the White House, which advised thay no such conversation took place,” the department said.

The President’s part in the recording apparently was lifted from his Nov. 22, 1982 speech on nuclear disarmament,” it said. “We are not sure where Mrs. Thatcher’s remarks came from.

The department said a copy of the tape was received by the U.S. embassy in the Netherlands a week before the British elections.

The tape dealt with the Falklands crisis and U.S. missiles in Britain, the department said.

It said, “From the drift of the tape, the evident purpose was to cause problems for Mrs. Thatcher by blaming her for the sinking of the British destroyer Sheffield and also for us by stirring trouble on the INF (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces) issue.”

The Sheffield was sunk by Argentine forces last year during the war with Britain over the Falkland Islands.

Britain and the United Staes took part in a NATO decision to install intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe late this year as a counter to similar Soviet forces if an agreement on restriction such weapons is not reached.

The State Department said the tape-recording was sent with a covering letter from an anonymous person to Dutch journalists.

It is said an analysis by the language experts “suggests that the author was not a native speaker.”

The Reagan administration has contended for some time that the KGB has contended for some thime that the KGB has a forgery factory producing false documents to mislead target audiences.

It was also written up in The Sunday Times, on January 8, 1983

How the KGB fools the West’s press.

THE TAPE is heavy with static and puntuated with strange noises, but through it all can be heard the authentic voices of Ronald Reagan on the telephone: “If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.”

At the other end of the telephone is Mrs. Thatcher. “You mean Germany?” she asks increduously.

“Mrs. Thatcher, if any country endagers our position we can decide to bomb the problem area and so remove the instability.”

If this is not hair-raising enough, we hear Mrs. Thatcher virtually admitting that she had the Belgrano sunk to end any chance of an agreement with Argentina. “Oh God!” says Reagan.

The whole conversation is fake. Both voices are real but the words spoken have been doctored, cut, rearranged and then expanded on the transcript of the tape. Every word from Reagan is extracted from his lengthy presidential address on nuclear strategy. When, for instance, he seems to swear at Mrs. Thatcher, he is in fact coming to the end of his speech and quoting a hymn: “Oh God of love, O king of peace.”

The tape surfaced in Holland just before last year’s British general election, but it never quite overcame the suspicions of Dutch journalists. They declined to publish the juicy exclusive, sent to them anonymously. But other journalists across the world have fallen for an increasing flow of such stories based on “authoritative” cables, memo and tapes. The State Department in Washington says they are all products of an increasingly sophisicated Russian campaign.

“They have accelerated their efforts and they have fine-tuned them,” claims Larry Semakis, deputy director of a State Department team that monitors what the Russians call “active measures.” He admits that “no one can specifically prove in a court of law that Soviet hand was on this or that item.” But he says there is a pattern in the use of forgeries which points unmistakably to the Russians.

The State Department believes that “active measures” are the responsibility of the KGB’s first directorate; that some forgeries go as high as the ruling Politburo for approval…

“[W]hich points unmistakably to the Russians”? I don’t think so…

Then one year later in The Observer newspaper on, Sunday, January 22, 1984, it was revealed that…

‘Soviet’ faked tape is rock group hoax

A TAPE recording, purporting to carry details of a secret telephone conversation between Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan, has been revealed as a hoax manufactured deliberately by an anarchist rock group.

The recording was taken to newspapers throughout Europe—including The Observer—but, apart from one Italian newspaper, nobody had been taken in by the hoax tape until it appeared in the Sunday Times earlier this month.

That newspaper described it as part of a KGB propaganda war. Unfortunately the tape was recorded not in Moscow but in an Essex farmhouse.

The New York correspondent of the paper reported that the State Department believed the tape was evidence of ‘an increasingly sophisticated Russian disinformation cam- paign.’

The real authors of the hoax tape, the anarchist punk rock group Crass, said that they had been ‘amused and amazed’ that the tape had been attributed to the KGB.

The recording first appeared in the offices of a number of Continental newspapers shortly before the British general election last year.

A covering note said it was a recording of a crossed line on which was heard part of the two leaders’ telephone conversation, and that the person who sent it wished to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

Key lines in the tape include Mr. Reagan apparently asking why the Belgrano was sunk during the Fallrlands war, when Secretary of State Haig was nearing a peace agreement. Mrs Thatcher appears to reply: ‘Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.’

Mr. Reagan then says: ‘Oh God, it is not right. You caused the Sheffield to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on the screen. You must have, too, and not let them know.’

Later, in a discussion on nuclear strategy, Mr. Reagan is made to say: ‘If there is a conflict we shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays within its borders.’

The tape was first brought to The Observer by a Belgian journalist last June. We concluded, like most of the other newspapers, that it was a fake.

The quest for the real hand behind the tape led to an isolated farmhouse in north Essex, where the eight members of the band live with their children.

Reluctantly the members of the band, who sport names like Joy Be Vivre, G Sus and Sybil Right, admitted faking the tape. They showed how they had put it together over two and a half months, using parts of TV and radio broadcasts made by the two leaders, then overdubbing with telephone noises.

‘We wanted to precipitate a debate on those subjects to damage Mrs. Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appaling way Tam Dalyell was treated over the Belgrano debate,’ they said.

‘We believe that although the tape is a hoax, what is said in it is in effect true.’

And there was more: From The Associated Press, Sunday, January 25, 1984
 

 
And still more…

Crass ‘KGB tape’ hoax (Sounds, January 28, 1984)

CRASS have been uncovered as the perpetrators of a bogus tape of a telephone ‘conversation’ between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

The tape was originally circulated last sammer before the General Election and was claimed to be a recording of a crossed line between the two leaders. Needless to say it is not complimentary to either statesperson.

During the coarse of the ‘conversation’ Thatcher replies to Reagan’s question about the Belgrano by saying: “Argentina was the invader. Force had to be used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.”

And later in a discussion aboat nuclear strategy Reagan says: “If there is any conflict we a shall fire missiles at our allies to see to it that the Soviet Union stays with stays within its borders.”

Most newspapers recognised the tape as a fake but the Sunday Times attributed it to KGB propaganda a couple of weeks ago and last Sunday’s Observer took considerable delight in tracking the tape back to Crass’s HQ in Essex.

Invoking the spirit of one of Reagan’s predecessors, George Washington, they explained that the tape had been put together from TV and radio broadcasts overdubbed by telephone noises.

They justified their actions by saying: “We wanted to precipitate a debate on the Falklands and nuclear weapons to damage: Thatcher’s position in the election. We also did it because of the appalling way Tom Dalyell (almost the only MP to raise any awkward questions over the Falklands affair) was treated over the Belgrano debate in the House of Commons.

I recall hearing at the time that Jane Pauley did a story on this on The Today Show in the US, but can find no record of that online, sadly… To this day, the members of Crass have never been able to figure out how the tape was traced back to them.

Pretty much there are only two ways to hear the “Thatchergate” tape: In the Crass song, “Powerless with a Guitar” you can hear a bit of it. It was also included at the end of a “God Told Me to Do It” mix by David Tibet which you can download at the excellent Kill Your Pet Puppy blog (where I got most of this information from and has audio interviews about “Thatchergate”). Since it’s not ideal listening—the conceit was that it was recorded due to crossed wires, so there is a ringing phone noise throughout (a nice touch)—here’s a transcript of the “Thatchergate” tape in full:

Thatcher: Own business!

Reagan. I urge restraint. It’s absolutely essential or the area ‘be “through the roof”.

Thatcher: Look, our objectives are fundamentally different. Al Haig…

Reagan: Secretary Haig….

Thatcher:. Doesn’t seem to be able to find a solution.

Reagan: Why eliminate “Belgrano”? You directed this. The Argentinians were then going…. Secretary Haig reached an agreement.

Thatcher: Argentina was the invader! Force has been used. It’s been used now, punishing them as quickly as possible.

Reagan: Oh, God, it’s not right! You caused the “Sheffield” to have been hit. Those missiles we followed on screens. You must have too, and not let them know. What do you hope to gain?

Thatcher: What I said before -“Andrew”- ....As “cruise” go in, I want incentives at all levels….

Reagan: There’s a deal….a third more submarine ballistic missiles, and you will see that the United States forces remain deployed. The intermediate range missiles are U.S. defence. You proposed building them in Europe. Build up the economy. They don’t work, they’re social programmes…. The United Kingdom is a….er….little nation….

Thatcher: You still need those nations, and you’re given long term international markets.

Reagan: We are supported by our allies, whether they want, or not.

Thatcher: I, I don’t understand you….

Reagan: In conflict, we will launch missiles on allies for effective limitation of the Soviet Union.

Thatcher: ‘Mean over Germany?

Reagan: Mrs Thatcher, if any country of ours endangered the position, we might bomb the “problem area”, and correct the imbalance.

Thatcher: See, my….

Reagan: It will convince the Soviets to listen. We demonstrate our strength….The Soviets have little incentive to launch an attack.

Thatcher: Our British people….

Reagan: London! ....

Thatcher: I think….

Reagan: Let that be understood…

 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 2  1 2 >