Sleeping Dogs – Beware
Available on black vinyl
Punk pioneers Crass continue their vinyl reissue series, re-pressing their limited releases by adjacent artists through Crass Records, in association with One Little Independent. Following records from the likes of Captain Sensible, Honey Bane and more, new EPs from Lack of Knowledge and Sleeping Dogs are out now.
The series, including over twenty bands and solo artists recorded at the legendary Southern Studios and produced by Penny Rimbaud, continues with two more historic pieces from the Crass Records catalogue; The ‘Grey’ EP by North London post-punks Lack of Knowledge, and ‘Beware’ by US anarchists Sleeping Dogs.
Sleeping Dogs were one of only two American bands to release on Crass Records and in 1982 their sardonic and sludgy, but politically sharp, hardcore made up the ‘Beware’ EP. They were first formed under the moniker Arsenal by the late artist, and designer of the iconic Crass logo, David King. ‘Beware’ showed the originality and potential of Sleeping Dogs, even as Rimbaud and Crass guitarist Phil Free augmented the band’s sound for the studio session. The front cover of the single featured its own striking image, courtesy of King. Sleeping Dogs disbanded shortly after, re-emerging briefly under the new guise of Brain Rust a few years later. Distorted, biting, and beat-driven, the collection is a well-researched and poignant expose of Western imperialism.
First released on 7” vinyl, limiting the sound, the new series has been remastered for 12” by Alex Gordon at Abbey Road Studios, allowing them to be heard as never before. This, plus enlarged replicas of the original covers, brings new gusto to their already radical sound.
Penny Rimbaud notes that “Our (Crass’) interest was never in personalities, profits or power, and neither did we have time for reformist liberals. Our position was solidly revolutionary; we took no prisoners. Talking the talk was never enough for us, no, we demanded that we also walk the walk. Ours wasn’t a show, it was a battle, not a living, but a lifestyle, a lifestyle with a difference – rather than looking only to ourselves, we sought to share our gains. I feel that this willingness added great strength to the form of anarchism that we practiced both on stage and out on the street.”
In giving a platform to an impressive array of other bands, Crass Records broadened the front of what popularly became known as anarcho-punk. Not, it must be said, a moniker that Crass themselves much favoured. In this respect, Crass’ classic line, “There is no authority but yourself”, makes its point. Crass sought to empower others, and the output of Crass Records does much to confirm this, while ‘2 By 2 And Back Again’ seems to nail it – “get out of your own way, we’re all in this together”.
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