WHEN THE CRASSWORDS project released the original stems of the 1978 recording session for Crass’ debut release The Feeding of the 5000 for free download urging listeners to remix the record, there was no guarantee that the idea would strike a chord.

Feeding was recorded essentially live, but using a studio set-up in which each member of Crass worked in soundproofed isolation. This meant that every instrument and vocal could be assigned its own track or tracks in the sixteen-track studio facility. That enabled the band to record the entire album at speed, but in a way that retained at least some flexibility at the point that the record was mixed (within the limitations of 1970s’ analogue tape technology).

Crasswords has given access to the separated premix contents of each elements of the recording “naked, raw and uncooked.” It was intended to be source material that was: “Yours for the taking, yours for the making.”

Mix it backwards

Those with the requisite kit (and, ideally, the talent) were urged to: “Mix it backwards, forwards and upside down. Turn up the heat and fix it with a downbeat, bring in the trumpets and let’em blow, let the piper call the tune to let us all know; it’s up to you to do what you like with it.”

By the time of the Covid Spring, One Little Independent (the label now handling the pressing and distribution of the Crass back-catalogue) had received more than a hundred remix submissions by an assortment of “professionals, amateurs, do gooders, do badders, DIYers and and give it a tryers.”

It was always intended that a selection of the remixes would be released as a track-for-track recreation of Feeding, a “re-imagined re-release” provisionally entitled More Tea Vicar? New mixes are still being sent in, and will continue to be accepted until 1 August 2020. 

Normal Never Was

As a taster for that full release, One Little Independent are releasing a limited edition 12-inch EP Normal Never Was featuring: 

remixes by producer and XL Recordings honcho Richard Russell under the guise rLr who tackles and further subverts the anti-war anthem ‘They’ve Got A Bomb’ and turning it into a stuttering, rhythmic rattle, whilst Boston, Massachusetts experimental synth-pop artist Glasser takes aim at ‘Do They Owe Us A Living?’ and takes the original songs simple, direct messaging into entirely different realms of rhythm and distortion.

Available now for vinyl pre-orderNormal Never Was is also available from a range of online streaming platforms. All proceeds from the release will go to the domestic violence charity group Refuge.

Normal Never Was cover

Amongst the larger collection of alternative mixes available to stream now from Soundcloud are some “interesting experiments”, a few of which are included below:

The Nick Newton remix of “Bomb” brings out and emphasises the guitar textures of the song to great effect, and reconstructs the explosive ‘gap’.

The Score remix of “You Pay” is a gloriously weird revisiting of the original, that foregrounds Pete Wright’s bass and vocals amidst the swirling sounds of some unexpected additions.

The Bearcage Remix of “Securicor” is a minimalist synth-driven reworking, that resists the obvious temptation to pile on the percussion.

If you want a sense of how ‘deconstructed’ these versions can be, check out The Outer Limits inspired reworking of “Punk Is Dead” by Political Baddie – which kinda cheats by taking its sounds from the You’ll Ruin It for Everyone release rather that than Feeding, but which remains “highly original”.

And there’s much, much more where they came from…