I never loved Crass. No, it took the folk-riddled agit-punk of Chumbawamba to turn me into scowling, self-righteous prat back in the nineteen-eighties. Then, just after I'd fully absorbed their first album, Pictures of Starving Children Records and to a lesser degree their second, Never Mind the Ballots (crucifying a pop star like Cliff Richard I could understood but the significance of British politician Micheal Heseltine less so) along came this 10" record. It was during a three week vinyl bender, involving stops in Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and Minneapolis, that this record found me. For a few days I just read the liner notes, preparing for the time when I could find a record player. When I finally did put needle-to-vinyl, these A Capella songs actually surpassed my high hopes.
Freed from screeding against the modern machine, Chumbawamba created a righteous, historically-minded brand of folk that was quite unexpected. Though it does sounds a bit like the ideal listening for those dour socialist youth who streamed out of The Royal Albert Hall in '66 proclaiming "Bob Dylan was a bastard in there", there's a punk bluntness here that makes these songs hit like morning star. (As a bit of a Red Diaper Baby, I was hit hardest by the WWI trench song, "Hanging on the Old Barbed Wire".)
While this ORIGINAL version is out-of-print, the band RE-RECORDED the whole thing with two new songs and that revision (which does not replace the genuine article for me personally) is still available at their web-site. Please go there and support the band!
English Rebel Songs 1381-1914 link is in the comments.