I took almost a year off from this website (or is it a “blog”?) for a number of reasons, many of them lost to the mists of time… Okay, yeah, it wasn’t really all that long ago but some of the reasons I have forgotten. Then I read of this lovely reissue, CAPTAIN SENSIBLE’s This Is Your Captain Speaking, and figured maybe it was time to revisit things. Let’s move on from questions of who’s to blame and finger pointing to more, uhhh, sensible things, shall we?
First released as a 7″ back in 1981, This Is Your Captain Speaking is a 3-song solo record that The Damned’s guitarist put together for the good lil’ anarchists at Crass Records. It was super hard to find here in the States (I didn’t actually learn of it until late ’82 or so) and the one I ended up with was pretty worn out already. It didn’t help that the record was cut at 33 rpm. What must have been at least somewhat interesting to the person who owned it before me was how Sensible combined his love of punk rock with his then not-so-documented love of psychedelic rock, pop rock and liberal politics. The A-side, “The Russians Are Coming,” is a diatribe about how big superpowers continually use scare tactics (like blame and finger pointing) to prime the pistons of their war machines. The backing vocalists sing “the Russians are coming” and Captain screams “it’s all I’ve ever heard!” and then again with “the Russians are coming” and Sensible’s retort, “I don’t believe a word.” Whether you believe it or not, folks, you may at least be old enough to remember hearing that refrain as a warning/threat/etc. when you were young. Here it’s set to a catchy melody that makes for a good political pop song.
On the EP’s B-side were two songs, not as strong but still quite good, starting with “(What D’Ya Give) The Man Who’s Gotten Everything?” a tune Sensible would re-record for his first A&M album, Women and Captains First, a year later. That tune could’ve just as well been recorded by The Damned, with its punkily humorous refrain. Then there’s “Oursouls to You” – an anti-religious hymn sung by an all-Captain choir – which starts and ends with found-sound dialog clearly nabbed from some radio or television program aimed at whatever kind of Christians were likely to be tuned in.
In one fell swoop – errrr, uhhh, 3-song volley – Captain Sensible took swipes at a trio of his biggest bugaboos: war, greed and religion. Or is that just one collective bugaboo? Whatever, the indie single was hard to find for years until last summer when Crass Records reissued it as a 12″ single via the much larger One Little Independent label. Being the kind of guy who’s usually tuned in to these kinds of releases, you’d think I would have been right on top of ordering this baby. Well… hey! Even I miss one now and again. Nevertheless, this 12″ was entirely worth the wait, as these tracks have not only never come out on CD but have never sounded this good. Cut at 45 rpm and wisely pressed on a big 12-inch, This Is Your Captain Speaking is available for purchase. Pass on it at your own peril. – Marsh Gooch
4.5/5 (Crass/One Little Independent 321984/SR, 2023)