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Thread: Henry Cow Discussion

  1. #601
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    No more desperately sad than us here. But as long as the fucker is still alive, he will be playing Greece so I am not desperately sadly desperate ☺
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  2. #602
    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    I received Chris Cutler's book File Under Popular today. Is it any good?
    It's a quite good - sometimes even excellent - account of rock/pop representations seen as ideological analysis. But if I were you I'd most definitely read Piekut's book on the Henry Cow band itself first, seeing as this serves to somewhat 'humanize' the very strange project they were all about. For a bunch of players officially lauded AND reviled for their apparent aim at everything akin to formal perfections, it's a true revelation to learn how much flesh/blood was involved after all.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  3. #603
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kcrimso View Post
    I received Chris Cutler's book File Under Popular today. Is it any good?
    read it and tell us!

    seriously though, I own it although I haven't read it in 25 years.

    It's very....'Chris of the 70s'. Distilled into book form.
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  4. #604
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    It's a quite good - sometimes even excellent - account of rock/pop representations seen as ideological analysis. But if I were you I'd most definitely read Piekut's book on the Henry Cow band itself first, seeing as this serves to somewhat 'humanize' the very strange project they were all about. For a bunch of players officially lauded AND reviled for their apparent aim at everything akin to formal perfections, it's a true revelation to learn how much flesh/blood was involved after all.
    I already read Piekut's book. It was mostly wonderful even though I would have liked to read more actual analysis of the songs.
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  5. #605
    ^ http://www.rermegacorp.com/mm5/merch...6RXlUv14WeZ0RE

    I thought the actual musical analysis of songs and works were pretty good with Piekut. Or rather the presentations of possible analysis; Piekut has luckily not written a full-on academic thesis on the band but instead a wonderfully biographical account which still integrates some heavy-duty layouts of theoretical contextualization. It's sandwiched so briliiantly between those two "clean" chapters of methodical framework that you don't even need to actually read them before after.

    As for File Under Popular, it's the one non-academic "rock music" dissertation I ever came across in which the concept of a paradigm shift is actually asserted with an explanation (outlining T. Kuhn) AND a single footnote. Fabulous!
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  6. #606
    Member Kcrimso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Link does not work.
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  7. #607
    ^ http://www.rermegacorp.com/mm5/merch...6RXlUv14WeZ0RE

    Pretty in-depth, with charts and everything.
    "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

  8. #608
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    I found File Under Popular an absorbing read and draws on a lot of disparate contemporary cultural and political themes to weave the web he does. It is a very opinionated work with lots of obvious inaccuracies and mere assertions dressed up as if they were accepted consensus or established fact. I'm sorry to say that since Chris Cutler is smarter, more knowledgeable and certainly has experience of the times and paradigms of which he writes more than I have or can ever hope to.

    If you think my characterization is off base, I am happy to provide myriad quotes from his (still excellent) book to support my claim. As always, IMO and YMMV.
    Last edited by Buddhabreath; 2 Weeks Ago at 12:49 PM.
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  9. #609
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    Two people saying the same thing in different ways:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve F. View Post

    It's very....'Chris of the 70s'. Distilled into book form.

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    It is a very opinionated work with lots of obvious inaccuracies and mere assertions dressed up as if they were accepted consensus or established fact.
    Steve F.

    www.waysidemusic.com
    www.cuneiformrecords.com

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    This space for rent: Well established location. Perfect opportunity for an up and coming smart-ass to benefit from our years of provocation!

    "You run a great label, but sometimes you go out of your way to be a jerk." - Jed Levin

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

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

  10. #610
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    ^ http://www.rermegacorp.com/mm5/merch...6RXlUv14WeZ0RE

    Pretty in-depth, with charts and everything.
    Ah that one! I in fact ordered that few weeks ago but it have not arrived yet.


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  11. #611
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    I found File Under Popular an absorbing read and draws on a lot of disparate contemporary cultural and political themes to weave the web he does. It is a very opinionated work with lots of obvious inaccuracies and mere assertions dressed up as if they were accepted consensus or established fact. I'm sorry to say that since Chris Cutler is smarter, more knowledgeable and certainly has experience of the times and paradigms of which he writes more than I have or can ever hope to.
    I can attest to this.

    But being a former far-left academic and activist myself, these reservations and observations become more or less self-evident. Still I find his analysis not so much dogmatic as enigmatic, because he wanders into thoroughly dense theoretical terrain which he somewhat presents without actually exploring them to half-full. IMO, of course.

    Yet I like the book. Cutler, to me, remains one of the most enlightened - if profoundly difficult - 'untrained' theorists on understanding the cultural dynamic of 70s rock. Which leaves him not so much with "a lot to be desired" but with questions of ideological bias. Given this (the authorship itself) was pre-postmodernism, it'd be interesting to read a more thorough interview with him about how he sees the book surviving the post-postmodernist analytical era. He added bits and pieces, I know - yet even Fred Frith's esteemed brother Simon Frith challenged some of those more politicized paradigmas already in the 90s.
    "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

  12. #612
    Cutler is releasing a new book soon: https://bit.ly/2xuUwYr

  13. #613
    With time on my hands I decided to read Benjamin Piekut’s book on Henry Cow. Yes, I know it came out months ago and has had extensive coverage here, but I have always been behind the curve (and always sat at the back of the class!). Anyway, I had imagined the book would be a dry, academic tract, but, far from this, I have found it an excellent read with loads of understated humour and subtle observations. I was not a huge fan of Henry Cow in their heyday but I have found their story fascinating and I am revisiting their catalogue through ReR’s Redux box (very rewarding). But what I did not realise about the Piekut book is how much it diverges from the straightforward Henry Cow narrative to cover and comment on topics/music that shaped my formative, record-buying years (the German music scene, Faust, Slapp Happy, electronic/minimalist music, the beginnings/workings of Virgin, etc.).

    It has also got me listening to some of the artists’ back catalogues (Dagmar’s sounds particularly interesting, although I suspect very hard to find). Brief reference was made, too, to Frith’s collaboration with Robert Wyatt on his Ruth is Stranger Than Richard album. I have just revisited that record with fresh ears. I had always seen Muddy Mouse (a), (b) and (c) as filler and, as a result, overlooked Muddy Mouth. But after relistening to all of them again I have changed that opinion massively. Muddy Mouth, in particular, is brilliant. I found this clip on YouTube that has all four segments rolled into one. Wyatt’s vocal delivery, and the treatments at the end of the song, are sublime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF20WDoUOzM
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  14. #614
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    I found File Under Popular an absorbing read and draws on a lot of disparate contemporary cultural and political themes to weave the web he does. It is a very opinionated work with lots of obvious inaccuracies and mere assertions dressed up as if they were accepted consensus or established fact. I'm sorry to say that since Chris Cutler is smarter, more knowledgeable and certainly has experience of the times and paradigms of which he writes more than I have or can ever hope to.

    If you think my characterization is off base, I am happy to provide myriad quotes from his (still excellent) book to support my claim. As always, IMO and YMMV.
    I don't think your characterization is off base oh, but I would love to see some of the quotes that you would give as examples. I find Chris Cutler to be a bit much, so I'm interested reading a few of them

  15. #615
    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    It has also got me listening to some of the artists’ back catalogues (Dagmar’s sounds particularly interesting, although I suspect very hard to find). Brief reference was made, too, to Frith’s collaboration with Robert Wyatt on his Ruth is Stranger Than Richard album. I have just revisited that record with fresh ears. I had always seen Muddy Mouse (a), (b) and (c) as filler and, as a result, overlooked Muddy Mouth. But after relistening to all of them again I have changed that opinion massively. Muddy Mouth, in particular, is brilliant. I found this clip on YouTube that has all four segments rolled into one. Wyatt’s vocal delivery, and the treatments at the end of the song, are sublime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AF20WDoUOzM
    That’s lovely to hear all together like that.
    When Wyatt gets into his “wuh-wuh-waaaaah” stuff it makes me wish that he, Frith and Harry Nilsson had made an album together.

  16. #616
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    Quote Originally Posted by Munster View Post
    With time on my hands I decided to read Benjamin Piekut’s book on Henry Cow. Yes, I know it came out months ago and has had extensive coverage here, but I have always been behind the curve (and always sat at the back of the class!). Anyway, I had imagined the book would be a dry, academic tract, but, far from this, I have found it an excellent read with loads of understated humour and subtle observations. I was not a huge fan of Henry Cow in their heyday but I have found their story fascinating and I am revisiting their catalogue through ReR’s Redux box (very rewarding). But what I did not realise about the Piekut book is how much it diverges from the straightforward Henry Cow narrative to cover and comment on topics/music that shaped my formative, record-buying years (the German music scene, Faust, Slapp Happy, electronic/minimalist music, the beginnings/workings of Virgin, etc.).
    You're the only one at the rear of the pack about this.

    I tried ordering on Amazon UK (along with Syd Smith's Crimson book, which appears OOP), but since Brexit is official begun, Amazon has denied me shipping.

    Before I try further (after the confinement) with buying this HC book, I'd like to know what the time frame is.
    Genrally, I don't care much when a book about a 70's band goes into the 80's, but in the RIO world, it's a different story.
    In other words, does this book delve into Art Bears, Lindsey Cooper's works and especially News From Babel?
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  17. #617
    ^ Luckily, it does not go into further biographical detail on those numerous individual spinoff projects; the HC musicians became prolifically active to an extent practically unheard of in rock music, and to venture into outlines of entirety as regards this would take, I'd say, some five or six volumes. Piekut's book is an overall contextualization of HC, the one band, its members, supporters and their story - featuring theoretical frameworks utilized as tools of analysis on their music, its cultural representation and reception, and its legacy. It's not a "whodunnit?".
    "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

  18. #618
    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    ^ There is of course quite a bit about the first Art Bears album, as that one is essential to the story of Henry Cow itself.

  19. #619
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Czar View Post
    I don't think your characterization is off base oh, but I would love to see some of the quotes that you would give as examples. I find Chris Cutler to be a bit much, so I'm interested reading a few of them
    Sorry didn't see this until now. Paging through the book just now, it's not easy because a quote doesn't give you the context and Cutler can get pretty abstract and pedantic, but briefly with what I can find and recall in a few minutes:

    "...with the decline of psychedelia came the decline of the whole progressive element in British Rock." (p120) He is specifically referring to the year 1968. I don't get it at all, for me the best of British progressive rock was yet to come.

    or more characteristically:

    "If the content of the form (the content of the music) and the form of the content (the form of the text) are in contradiction, or if the content of the form is in is in contradiction with the ostensible content - or even if the form of the content jars with ostensible form - then the 'meaning' communicated by the whole is bound to reflect that contradiction and can only be understood or analyzed in terms of it." (p 146) Again I don't really get it. It seems a rather tortured, self-justifying and contumacious statement but regardless, I don't see at all that this is the only way the subject can be understood or analyzed, even if I do take (and correctly interpret) his meaning. I could say a lot more about this but I think I'm getting a headache.

    Again, Chris is smarter and far far more knowledgeable than I ever will be on this stuff, and much of this may be attributable to his state of mind and writing style 35 years ago. I know if I tried to write a critical theoretical work on popular music 35 years ago (or even today) it would be total tripe, but at least it would be easier to read...

    Hope that makes sense and gives you an idea of what I was talking about.
    The combined fortunes of the world's 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.

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  20. #620
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhabreath View Post
    Sorry didn't see this until now. Paging through the book just now, it's not easy because a quote doesn't give you the context and Cutler can get pretty abstract and pedantic, but briefly with what I can find and recall in a few minutes:

    "...with the decline of psychedelia came the decline of the whole progressive element in British Rock." (p120) He is specifically referring to the year 1968. I don't get it at all, for me the best of British progressive rock was yet to come.

    or more characteristically:

    "If the content of the form (the content of the music) and the form of the content (the form of the text) are in contradiction, or if the content of the form is in is in contradiction with the ostensible content - or even if the form of the content jars with ostensible form - then the 'meaning' communicated by the whole is bound to reflect that contradiction and can only be understood or analyzed in terms of it." (p 146) Again I don't really get it. It seems a rather tortured, self-justifying and contumacious statement but regardless, I don't see at all that this is the only way the subject can be understood or analyzed, even if I do take (and correctly interpret) his meaning. I could say a lot more about this but I think I'm getting a headache.

    Again, Chris is smarter and far far more knowledgeable than I ever will be on this stuff, and much of this may be attributable to his state of mind and writing style 35 years ago. I know if I tried to write a critical theoretical work on popular music 35 years ago (or even today) it would be total tripe, but at least it would be easier to read...

    Hope that makes sense and gives you an idea of what I was talking about.
    They both make me want to pass on reading it. To me, he says a lot of nothing.

  21. #621
    "A bunch of posing wankers!" - Belchin's statement has traumatized me somewhat.

  22. #622
    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    ^ There is of course quite a bit about the first Art Bears album, as that one is essential to the story of Henry Cow itself.
    I'd like to think that both AB and NFB (despite the latter's later creation date) are essential...
    maybe less so for Cassiber or Skelleton Crew (both swiss-based)
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  23. #623
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trane View Post
    I'd like to think that both AB and NFB (despite the latter's later creation date) are essential...
    maybe less so for Cassiber or Skelleton Crew (both swiss-based)
    Just to be clear, I wasn't making a value judgment about the musical importance of any of the spin-off bands, just saying that the events of 1978 that resulted in the release of Hopes and Fears under the Art Bears name are an integral part of the history of Henry Cow itself, which cannot be said for any of the post-Cow bands.

  24. #624
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    Just to be clear, I wasn't making a value judgment about the musical importance of any of the spin-off bands, just saying that the events of 1978 that resulted in the release of Hopes and Fears under the Art Bears name are an integral part of the history of Henry Cow itself, which cannot be said for any of the post-Cow bands.

    I know you weren't but if I'd been writing a HC book, I'd have included at lest AB and NFB because of FF, CC, DK and LC

    Now as a reader, I'd be interested in reading what they were up to until at least 85/6 - which I'm sure I'm not the only one

    OK, so it isn't the case. Too bad.
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

  25. #625
    Orange Tick Squasher Buddhabreath's Avatar
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    ^^^ I think the first AB album was a logical endpoint since it was meant to be an HC album. But I agree with you, it would be great to have the story continued to cover AB, NFB and perhaps other carriers of the banner, so to speak.
    The combined fortunes of the world's 26 richest individuals reached $1.4 trillion last year — the same amount as the total wealth of the 3.8 billion poorest people.

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