Vinyl Corner is a feature where we take a look at vinyl pressings of various albums and weigh them up to see just how good they sound, how well they’re pressed and what sort of packaging to expect – as well as giving a brief overview of the music itself. Continuing our look at the discography of UK punk institution Crass, this time it’s the band’s much-feared ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ that comes under the microscope.
Crass’ fifth and final core studio album is an exercise in extremes. Already well versed at shaking the status-quo until eyes watered, 1983’s ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ is the sound of a confrontational band pushing their craft as far as it can be taken. It would prove to be the last full-length offering from the band before their split the following year – and it’s not hard to see why. The savage anger of the album’s lyricism found the group’s songwriters delving further into their own rage than ever before, while the group’s musicians provided a chaotic accompaniment which meshed the wild-eyed energy of free-jazz with the sonic grime of anarcho-punk. ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ is an almighty statement piece; one that drummer and bandleader Penny Rimbauld once went so far as to call “unlistenable”. In the face of such extremities it’s little surprise that this would be the group’s final major release; there would, surely, be little left to explore after something so uncompromising. ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ isn’t unlistenable though: far from it, in fact. While the group do push the listener to the limits here, there’s a great depth to this record. Where earlier efforts pushed the limits of what punk could be, ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ went further still, instead choosing to push the limits of what might reasonably constitute music at large. The end result is a compelling, visceral avant-garde statement piece.
We’ve now reviewed the vast bulk of the Crass discography on Vinyl Corner. Over the course of a few months, their entire output has been rereleased through the group’s own Crass Records, with help from classic UK indie label One Little Indian. Regular readers will be unsurprised to note that this reissue of ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ is another excellent pressing. We’ve been highly impressed with the quality of all the previous Crass reissues, so it’s as-expected that this is no different. This is a heavyweight slab of black wax; surfaces are clean both visually and auditorily, with tidy playback across both sides of the album. Admittedly, the sonic ruckus is so intense here that surface noise would have a job breaking through but, even so, this is a great sounding slab of vinyl.
As with the bulk of Crass’ discography, ‘Yes Sir, I Will’ was originally released in a fold-out poster-sleeve. Gee Vaucher’s arresting artwork is presented in fantastic form with this reissue, which faithfully reproduces the presentation of the original release – right down to replicating the original label designs. The paperstock used to produce the poster is very sturdy and the print quality is excellent. A download code is included, which can be redeemed in 320kbps MP3. The record itself is sleeved inside a black generic polylined inner; it’s a rare bonus to see a modern release (especially one sold at a reasonable price) presented in such a high quality, protective inner.
‘Yes Sir, I Will’ is a vivid, intense and uncompromising experience but also a very worthwhile one. Although perhaps not quite as essential as ‘Feeding Of The Five Thousand or ‘Penis Envy’, this is still a record that comes with high recommendation to those with open minds and ears. This new 2019 reissue presents the album in attractive form that remains faithful to the original release and also offers an edition of the album that sounds as clean as such an inherently dirty recording ever can.
Enjoyed this feature? We’re always looking for further albums to highlight on Vinyl Corner – and if you have a vinyl release that you’d love to see written about here, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – it would be great to hear from you!