The Cravats: live review from Rebellion punk festival
Rebellion Punk Festival
Blackpool August 2011
One of the great things out Rebellion Festival is this resurrection of the shadowy legends of the punk era, a time crammed full of eccentric and off the wall bands all operating under the punk banner.
The Cravats were one of these groups. From Redditch they emerged out of the punk scene with a bass driven cacophony that was flavored by this great toy town sax and full of surrealism and English eccentricity. They had that scratchy Stranglers influenced sound that they took on another step, taking the Burnel bass of the meninblack and adding that sax instead of the keyboard and going off on their own inspired and instead tangent that was loved by John Peel and eventually found a home with the Death To Trad Rock bands.
There were some fab pile driving single like the neo hardcore rush of ‘Precinct’ and the bludgeoning ‘I Am The Dreg’ and the wonderful ‘Terminus’ which my favourite of the lot- with it’s avalanche of a sax driven riff and it’s incessant building rush- perhaps one of the great singles of the period and certainly one of the great lost seven inch statements of the time and a song that is well worth seeking out on the Internet.
The band eventually found a home with the Crass family were released by the anarchist band as they hit a new peak with the infernally dark and foreboding slice of paranoia ‘Rub Me Out’ and a great Peel session before morphing into the Very Things who found a bit of success.
The Cravats themselves left a couple of albums, the initial Cravats In Toytown an intense slice of eccentric British small town madness and a follow up which clarified their sound and was overlooked as the Very Things took off.
It was great t see the band returned to stage at Rebellion a few years ago with a much shuffled line up that saw the Shend drop his bass and take over all the singing duties, original sax player Richard is still there with the rest of the band being made up of a bunch of eccentric looking droogs dressed as east European bus conductors. Sound wise they seem to have lost that scratchy cheese wire pile driving dynamic of their earlier incarnation and replaced it with a more tripped out squelchiness that takes a few minutes to attune to before a whole new Cravats world unfurls in front of you.
The Shend makes an engaging frontman, like a gigantic character out of a long lost black and white movie intoning his black humour laced songs of paranoia and confusion as the band continue their strange and off the wall trip around them building up the seething oddness.
There is talk of Penny Rimbaud remixing their second Crass released album and getting it released later this year. In the mean time they operate with the odd, very odd, gig to remind you of the wonderful diversity of the original punk wave were everyone seemed to have their own version of the madness erupting around them.