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Thread: Henry Cow Discussion

  1. #1
    Member Lieto's Avatar
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    Henry Cow Discussion

    This past week in my commute I did all the Henry cow albums, and I just finished with western culture, the last and arguably most challenging of the studio albums. It's An amazing record in truth, full of awesome moments and great writing. Powerful and badass!! Cow rules! Hardest listen is the second disc of concerts, but some great music hidden in the cacophonous improvs. All the albums are amazing and are near impossible the rank, but here's my list for right now:

    Leg End
    In Praise of Learning (these two always fight for 1)
    Western culture
    Concerts, disc 1 (amazing live record)
    Unrest
    Stockholm and Goteborg
    Concerts, disc 2

    Such a wonderful ride. Favorite albums? General Cow chat? Concerts disc 1 has some serious playing on there! Best Gloria Gloom IMO
    "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible"
    -Frank Zappa

  2. #2
    I struggle with this band. I have huge respect for them, but they do a lot of stuff I don't particularly enjoy. But still, I keep trying. They are my #1 "broccoli" band.

    Oddly, my favorite by far is Western Culture. I think this one strips away many of the elements I don't like and focuses on intense compositions. It's a rough ride, but to me it is sharp and focused in a way much of their other material is not to me. I just purchased In Praise of Learning fairly recently. I've spun it a few times and I like it better than I thought I would from sampling it. My wife didn't like it, so I have to be judicious when I spin it to preserve the peace. She likes some avant, dissonant stuff, but something about this one rubbed her the wrong way.

    I only have the four studio albums, I don't have any of the live stuff.

    Bill

  3. #3
    Member mellotron storm's Avatar
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    Leg End
    Western Culture
    Unrest
    In Praise Of Learning
    "The wind is slowly tearing her apart"
    Sad Rain
    Anekdoten

  4. #4
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Western Culture is my favorite by them, no idea why but it just connects, love your descriptions of Concerts disc 2, so true, disc 1 is monstrous

    Western Culture
    Concerts disc 1
    In Praise Of Learning
    Unrest
    Leg End
    Concerts disc 2
    Ian

    I blame Wynton, what was the question?
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  5. #5
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Unrest
    s/t (Leg End)
    Western Culture
    Concerts
    In Praise of Learning
    Michael: "Harold, don't you have any other music, you know, from [last] century?"
    Harold: "There is no other music....."

  6. #6
    Subterranean Tapir Hobo Chang Ba's Avatar
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    I like the cow. When I listen to them, I'm compelled to take my pants off. All of their studio albums (sans In Praise) have been my favorite at one time or another...so a list is practically impossible to assemble. Yet:

    Western Culture
    Leg End
    Unrest
    Concerts
    In Praise Of Learning

    The two boxes are also fantastic. Trondheim I & II are insanely delightful. But every disc is full of great Cowness that are absolute necessities for fans.
    The desert is not a rose.
    Softly goes the coda.

    Never let good music get in the way of making a profit.

  7. #7
    I guess we're ranking the original five to start? Ok ...

    Leg End
    Praise
    Concerts
    Unrest
    WC

    All brilliant and I have always enjoyed their improvisations, so no need to split things up. WC does the least for me. It just feels like "math rock" at that point and the humor which was so crucial to their original approach is having a hard time getting any breathing room. I suppose when Dagmar joined that this had already taken a backseat, but by WC, I don't know ... music has given way to analytics or something. I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe time for a revisit.

    Talk about a band in need of a "BBC Sessions" release. Some of their early sessions are astonishing and contain material never released. I suppose the masters are lost but even a release properly compiled and archived from available sources would suffice.

  8. #8
    Can't tell you how exciting it is for me to see these images


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by JeffCarney View Post
    Talk about a band in need of a "BBC Sessions" release. Some of their early sessions are astonishing and contain material never released. I suppose the masters are lost but even a release properly compiled and archived from available sources would suffice.
    Most of these BBC sessions are in The Road boxset, vol. 1, and Concerts.

  10. #10
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mellotron storm View Post
    Leg End
    Western Culture
    Unrest
    In Praise Of Learning


    That's more or less how I would rate their album, adding Slapp Happy at the end

    Now of course, counting the archives material would upset that list of course. Not sure if the Concerts release should be considered as archives or posthumous release.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from heroin-addicts to crazy ones

  11. #11
    My favourite group. Ever. Probably.

  12. #12
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kavus Torabi View Post
    My favourite group. Ever. Probably.
    The band that everyone assumes is My favourite group. Ever. But actually isn't even in my top 20.
    Steve F.

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    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  13. #13
    They're in my top 7. At least.

    And I keep coming back to them for more than any other progressive band except for maybe Magma, Hatfield and some (selected) Gentile Gaunts. I listened to "Ruins" three times in a row this Saturday, and I'm not tiring of it or losing any fascination over how a rock group would even think of doing such a piece of music.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  14. #14
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    I'm shuffling my top. Sometimes Henry Cow is there.

  15. #15
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    That's more or less how I would rate their album, adding Slapp Happy at the end
    I've been wondering if I was the only person who considered Desperate Straights part of the Henry Cow canon.

  16. #16
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I've been wondering if I was the only person who considered Desperate Straights part of the Henry Cow canon.
    It really is an excellent piece of work. Recommended to everyone who digs Cow!
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

  17. #17
    Member Lebofsky's Avatar
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    As much as I like them, I have to say Leg End is by far my favorite album, in that I enjoy everything on it from start to finish. It has the rare quality where it consistenly and successfully treads the fine line between being "new music" and "actual entertainment."

    That said, there are many wonderful songs on the other albums.

    - Matt

  18. #18
    Are they milk or beef cows?
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  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by unclemeat View Post
    Most of these BBC sessions are in The Road boxset, vol. 1, and Concerts.
    Concerts has one BBC session from 1975. I guess I was thinking about the pre-Dagmar material but yes, On The Road is well spotted. Good point.

  20. #20
    Member Emeritus (A.M.P.) rcarlberg's Avatar
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    I can't rank their albums because there are at least two different bands. How can you compare Legend with Western Culture? H. Cow is a band I have enormous respect for, and when I'm in the mood no other band scratches that itch -- but I'm rarely in *that* mood. Their great great albums mostly sit on the shelf, proudly displayed but rarely played.

  21. #21
    Member FrippWire's Avatar
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    If it ever comes time to scale back my music collection, the Henry Cow catalog is untouchable. I thoroughly enjoy every release and each one contains diamonds of a different sort.

  22. #22
    Chronic Overspender zombywoof's Avatar
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    Henry Cow are one of those bands who seem to lack any 'transitional' albums. Each album is a completely different, and fully formed variation of Cow. And over 5 studio albums (including "Desperate Straights"), they covered more ground than many groups did in an entire career.
    Check out Colouratura's sophomore release Unfamiliar Skies - out this spring on Melodic Revolution Records!

    colouratura.bandcamp.com

  23. #23
    Member Phlakaton's Avatar
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    Western Culture
    Unrest
    Leg End
    Concerts
    In Praise of Learning

    Indeed tough to rank these - Leg End could be my favorite since it was the first one I heard - but damn... they all kick so much arse. They were a monster for me back in college (1992) when I was starving for something new and different. Each album presented something totally awesome. Something different from the other. Getting Concerts on CD for the first time was huge ... almost as huge as finding National Health Complete in a crappy Turtles store in Savannah, Georgia out of the blue.

  24. #24
    Member FredOCal's Avatar
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    I only have Leg End and Concerts, both of which are excellent. Time to take care of this problem.

  25. #25
    For those interested, my review of the Cow Box, published when it was first released. I was very pleased that (a) Chris sent me advance burns so I could absorb it all and get the article ready for street date; and (b) he was very pleased with the finished article - which has currently been read nearly 59,000 times since first published, and is the 44th most read article of all time and 4th most read CD review of all time at AAJ.

    It says something for the reputation and popularity of Henry Cow, and is quite an amazing number, when you consider the group has been gone for over 35 years. To put it in perspective, my Steven Wilson interview has been read just over 62,000 times, is the 38th most read article...and that's for an artist who is current and, in his space, pretty damn popular.

    Anyway, the review is, if I do say so myself, a fairly good retrospective, since the box was about telling the whole story that the original releases simply didn't tell. Nothing wrong with them (they're great); just that they only represented part of what Henry Cow was about.

    Best!
    John

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