Jeffrey Lewis’ fourth album, 12 Crass Songs, a collection of songs by the legendary anarchist punk band Crass, will be released by venerable label Rough Trade, in Jan 2008. It seems eons ago that one of Sentimentalist’s editors used to think of herself as an anarchist peace punk, whatever that meant at the time to a kid. Hanging out with “real” squatters? Creating underground fanzines? Of course, Crass was always at the top of the “educated” teenage anarchist’s playlist. They were one of those bands you didn’t listen to for fun, but rather, for the message. It’s nice to see Jeffrey Lewis kept his admiration for Crass alive, held onto his albums, and proceeded to come up with his own version of 12 of their songs.
The chosen 12 have been updated lyrically to reflect the world in 2007 and are radically different musically, to say the least. I guess it’s a little bit like Dirty Projectors’ recent “retelling” of Black Flag’s album Damaged, with their release Rise Above. Admiration can be a very inspiring thing.
After the jump, more on Jeffrey Lewis!
Lewis was raised on New York City’s Lower East Side and is a maker of
comic books, tragi-comic folk narratives, and lysergic garage rock.
With brother Jack on bass and David Beauchamp on drums, the Jeffrey
Lewis Band mixes 60s acoustic psychedelia like Pearls Before Swine with
the experimental art-punk of the Fall and the urban lyricism of Lou
Reed, sounding a bit like if Woody Guthrie fronted Sonic Youth.
12 Crass Songs is already out in the UK and your counterparts there are
Jeffrey Lewis’ talents appear without end … (on 12 Crass Songs he)
magically makes the anarcho-rockers’ anti-establishment savagery his
own, by wrapping their barbed sentiments in his trademark mottled
tea-towel warmth, autumnal aura and breathless, barren drawl” NME
“(Jeffrey Lewis) offers this quite brilliant reconfiguration of music
long since erroneously dismissed as no-mark primitivism. Lewis’ jaunty
bijour chamber-pop arrangements demonstrate the Crass essentially dealt
in folk songs” Mojo
“Jeffrey Lewis is possibly the only musician on the planet to devote a
whole album to oeuvre of …Crass. It’s no mean feat to transform such
abrasive harangues into lush, tuneful folk …without diffusing their
righteous anger” The Guardian
“What could be sacrilege is actually a small epiphany: the gorgeous
instrumentation weaving acoustic guitar, gentle piano – proves a deft
counterpoint to the lyrical rage. The Man probably said it would never
work but The Man was wrong” Uncut