40 Years Ago: CRASS record Reality Asylum

Daily Noise - / 2019

40 Years Ago: CRASS record Reality Asylum

The whole thing was how the western world is like a concentration camp or asylum. At one point it was going to be 'Christ's Auschwitz' or something. I saw the concentration camps as a template for how it actually was: you had your slaves working at Ford or down the mines. You were perfectly happy to eliminate them through poverty when they ceased to be functioning pawns in your process, or you sent them off to war to be killed. It didn't seem to me to be any different, except with a little bit more room. Basically the western world in my eyes was one fucking enormous concentration camp and if you didn't play the game you were gonna get it.

Penny Rimbaud / Crass interview, The Quietus, 2010

CRASS recorded the Reality Asylum b/w Shaved Women single on this day in 1979 live at Southern Studios, London.

"Reality Asylum" was originally recorded in 1978, intended for the debut CRASS album The Feeding of the 5000. The pressing plant refused to manufacture the record and it was eventually removed. The Feeding... was released by Small Wonder in late 1978. Later reissues (from 1980 on) restored "Asylum" as the opening song.

The band quickly made the song available directly. By writing to the band at Dial House you could obtain a cassette and lyric sheet.

NOTES. 28 / 5 / 79
I have felt fear, fear of the thunderbolt from His Mighty Hand, exclusion from some heaven, fear of unknown fear.
I was born free, free body, free mind, until I breathed the moral air and became aware that my 'free' body was female, Eve's guilt, and that my 'free' mind was left to strive with others definitions of good and evil.
Now I need to exorcise myself of those things which have bound me in that powerful stranglehold of reverence for so long. Everyone is born a sinner? The void, the abyss, black-hole, emptiness, fear; we all struggle there.
Father forgive for me have sinned against Thee; or is it a more worldly power against which we sin, a system within which our objection to being formed, ordered and distorted, is our crime? The barbed-wire fences between our trees; we all struggle there.
We are held, believer or not, by God Our Father's blessing; which way are the guns firing? God is on our side, for power, for possession, the pain in His Name, again and again, God at our side.
Can I really believe in this God of Masculinity, first in a long line of hideous male structures, (the church, the crown, the state, the family), and where do I stand in this order of power?
What choice do I have?
Martyr / mother / victim / martyr / whore / victim / martyr / witch / victim.
What choice?

I'll find new names for myself and a new place to stand.
Eve Libertine.

The lyrics for "Reality Asylum" were adapted from Penny's poem "Christ's Reality Asylum", which is also the origin of the CRASS symbol.

I started ranting to Dave King (a fellow communard at Dial House). We were sitting around and I started a rant about Christianity, which then involved the state. It was this huge savage attack on everything inside me. I ended up rolling around on the floor screaming all this stuff. When I finished, Dave picked me up and said, 'You wanna write that'. Two days later I started writing it. It ended up as 34 pages of unremitting rant.

'Reality Asylum' [the Crass track] was a very small part of that book. The actual Crass symbol was not originally a Crass symbol but was designed for that book. I asked Dave King to design a frontispiece which represented the fascism of the state, the fascism of the church, and the fascism of the family.

Penny Rimbaud / Crass interview, The Quietus, 2010
Penny Rimbaud reads from Christ's Reality Asylum

...the first single that we did, was taken from a book I had written before Crass was even thought of. It was a book called Christ Reality Asylum and the Pomme De Printemps, which is "apple of spring" in French. I wanted to put out a single which was really seminal. For me, a lot of what I wrote for Crass was sort of founded in that book before Crass; a lot of the subjects that Crass went to deal with, like patriarchy, and the state, and capitalism. It was all pretty much dealt with in "Christ Reality Asylum". For me, it was my punk teat that I sucked. "Reality Asylum" was written in the beginning of 1977 with copious amounts of wine. It was a complete sort of catharsis for me. That was why it was the first track on Feeding on the first release we ever made. I think a lot of my anger and political views were sort of stated in a sort of way in Reality Asylum.

Penny Rimbaud / Crass interview, Punk News, 2009