Penis Envy

by Crass

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about

Named as a reference to some of Freud's ideas concerning sexuality, Penis Envy marked something of a departure from the somewhat 'macho', 'hardcore punk' image that The Feeding of the 5000 and its follow up Stations of the Crass had to some extent given the group, for it featured more obviously complex musical arrangements, as well as exclusively female vocals provided by Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre (although Steve Ignorant remained a group member and is credited on the record sleeve as not on this recording). The album addressed feminist issues and once again attacked the institutions of 'the system' such as marriage and sexual repression.

One track, not actually listed on the album cover, was a deliberately saccharine (described in fact by the band themselves as "pure, unadulterated shit") parody of a "MOR" love song entitled "Our Wedding". This was given away as a flexi disc with a teenage girl's romance magazine called Loving after having been offered it by an organisation calling itself Creative Recording And Sound Services (note the initials). A minor tabloid furore erupted once the hoax was revealed, with the News of the World going so far as to state that the album's title was "too obscene to print" (a leaflet giving the background to this Situationist-style prank was subsequently issued by the band). Now considered a rarity, the original flexi-disc fetches high prices on the collectors market.

During the mid 1980s copies of this album were seized, along with other records by Flux Of Pink Indians and The Dead Kennedys, by Greater Manchester Police from Eastern Bloc record shop. Frank Schofield was charged with displaying "Obscene Articles For Publication For Gain".

'There's a strong argument for the two most influential punk bands of all time being the Sex Pistols and Crass; the former encouraged bored teenagers everywhere to get off their arses and start their own bands, the latter encouraged them to get off their arses and think for themselves' – Ian Glasper, Record Collector, 2004

'There were, and still are, ideas within the words of these Crass songs which can act as tools to choose and use for a while as you go on your own crazy, sweet way. When they no longer serve you, discard them. Good luck...and laugh.' - Eve Libertine, 2010

credits

released February 14, 1981

Eve Libertine - lead vocals
Joy DeVivre - lead vocal on "Health Surface"
Phil Free - lead guitar
B.A. Nana - rhythm guitar
Pete Wright - bass
Penny Rimbaud - drums
Gee - harmonium on "What The Fuck?"
Members of CRASS not on this recording: Steve Ignorant

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about

Crass England, UK

Crass was founded by Steve Ignorant & Penny Rimbaud in 1977. Members included Gee Vaucher, Steve Herman, Eve Libertine, Phil Free, N.A. Palmer, Pete Wright, Joy De Vivre, Mick Duffield & John Loder. Crass popularised the anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, advocating direct action, a DIY ethic, animal rights & environmentalism. ... more

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