Penis Envy (album)

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Penis Envy
Studio album by
RecordedDecember, 1980
StudioSouthern Studios (Wood Green, London)
LabelCrass Records
Crass chronology
Stations of the Crass
Penis Envy
Christ – The Album
Alternative covers
Cover of the remastered 'Crassical Collection' rerelease
Cover of the remastered 'Crassical Collection' rerelease
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
Head Heritage(favorable)[2]
The Sleeping Shaman(favorable)[3]
Tiny Mix Tapes(favorable)[4]

Penis Envy, released in 1981, was the third LP by the anarchist punk band Crass. The album is included as #36 on Rolling Stones' "40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time" list in 2016.[5]

The Crassical Collection version of this release, including new artwork by Gee Vaucher, remastered sound, liner notes by Eve Libertine and Penny Rimbaud and bonus material, was released in November 2010.[6]

Background and release[edit]

Named as a reference to some of Freud's ideas concerning sexuality,[7] this release marked something of a departure from the somewhat 'macho', 'hardcore punk' image that The Feeding of the 5000 and its follow up, Stations of the Crass, had to some extent given the group, for it featured more obviously complex musical arrangements, as well as exclusively female vocals by Eve Libertine and Joy De Vivre (although Steve Ignorant remained a group member and is credited on the record sleeve as "not on this recording").[8] The album addressed feminist issues and once again attacked the institutions of 'the system' such as marriage and sexual repression.[4]

One track, not actually listed on the album cover, was a deliberately saccharine (described in fact by the band themselves as "'pure, unadulterated shit")[4] parody of a "middle of the road" love song entitled "Our Wedding". This was given away as a flexi disc with a teenage girl's romance magazine called Loving after having been offered it by an organisation calling itself Creative Recording And Sound Services (note the initials). A minor tabloid furore erupted once the hoax was revealed, with the News of the World going so far as to state that the album's title was "too obscene to print".[9] (A leaflet giving the background to this Situationist-style prank was subsequently issued by the band).[10] Now considered a rarity, the original flexi-disc fetches high prices on the collectors' market.[citation needed]

The album was banned by the retailer HMV. During the mid-1980s, Greater Manchester Police under the direction of James Anderton seized copies along with other records by Crass and the Dead Kennedys, from Eastern Bloc record shop. Frank Schofield was charged with displaying "obscene articles for publication for gain". The band Flux of Pink Indians, its two record labels and its publishing company were also charged under the Obscene Publications Act. The judge ruled against Crass in the ensuing court case, although this decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal, apart from the lyrics to one song, "Bata Motel". The heavy costs incurred by this episode were a contributing factor in Crass deciding to disband.[11]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
1."Bata Motel"3:34
2."Systematic Death"3:57
3."Poison in a Pretty Pill"3:40
4."What the Fuck?"6:43
Side B
5."Where Next Columbus?"3:11
6."Berkertex Bribe"3:21
7."Smother Love"1:48
8."Health Surface"3:31
9."Dry Weather"3:06
10."Our Wedding" (unlisted track)2:04



  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Eous, Aaron (2000-08-16). "Crass - Penis Envy Review". Head Heritage. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  3. ^ Stygall, Ollie (2011-04-07). "Crass Penis Envy". The Sleeping Shaman. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  4. ^ a b c Diamond, Samuel (2013-02-06). "Crass - Penis Envy". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  5. ^ n/a (2016-04-16). "40 Greatest Punk Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  6. ^ n/a (2015-06-06). "The Crassical Collection: Penis Envy". Eyeplug. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  7. ^ Berger, George. The Story of Crass. PM Press. 2009.
  8. ^ Raha, Maria. Cinderella's big score: women of the punk and indie underground Seal Press. 2005.
  9. ^ Schnieder, Martin (2014-02-05). "'Our Wedding': Crass's Magnificent Romance-Mag Prank". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ Rimbaud, P; sleeve notes to The Crassical Collection; Ten Notes On A Summer's Day, Crass Records, 2012

External links[edit]