PENNY RIMBAUD (CRASS) - War & Peace 7"
Over the past four years, 2014 to 2018, Penny Rimbaud has been performing the War Poems of Wilfred Owen, these being an unrelenting and powerful condemnation of the carnage of WW1. Prior to Wilfred’s death in battle in the last weeks of the conflict, Owen had written of his poetry saying, ‘My subject is war, and the pity of war. The poetry is in the pity’, thereby suggesting that it was the pity which was foremost in his thoughts over and above the poetry which, in these circumstances (and not surprisingly), played a subsidiary role.
Focussing on similar themes, in 2012, Penny decided to record an album of covers focussed on his favourite songs, songs which had been seminal to the making of the person he had become. Working with Tony Barber (ex
Buzzcocks and Lack of Knowledge) as engineer and co-producer, they
launched the project with Bob Dylan’s ‘Masters of War’ and George Harrison’s ‘Isn’t it a Pity’, both key songs within the framework of his lifelong interest in peace and love; different angles, same story.
From the start, they decided to limit the instrumentation to cello (Kate Shortt) and fretless bass (Jennifer Maidman) which, they hoped, would give the lyrics the space that they so deserved. The two tracks were recorded and mixed and then, as John Lennon once remarked, ‘life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’, Tony closed shop and left to set up a studio in New York, leaving the tracks to gather digital dust. Then, suffering a bout of ‘seven-year itch’, they decided to resurrect the tracks and put them together as a 7” single which in itself seemed a tragically relevant statement to make in a period of time which appears so fractured by conflict and doubt.
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