Henry Cow — In Praise of Learning
(ReR Megacorp ReR HC3, 1975/2000, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01
For readers familiar with In Praise of Learning I need say no more than, “Here it is, come and get it.” This release captures all the wonderful strangeness of the original in pristine digital clarity. So if you’re like me, and looking to get some of your old vinyl favorites on CD, wait no longer for Henry Cow. For readers unfamiliar with the album, it’s a little harder to decide what to say. This loose band of musical and political radicals produced some of the most original music of the rock era. Their uncompromising approach to music brooked no bending to commerciality or accessibility. The lyrics read like modern poetry, without many rhymes, though with much reason (no “ooh, baby, baby”); the music features no catchy themes you’re likely to find yourself humming (though that first part of “War” ends up going through my head a lot: “Tell of the birth, tell how war appeared on Earth”). Sure, Dagmar’s voice can be a little grating (OK, a lot grating), but there’s a reason for everything with these art rock pioneers. She can sound much sweeter when the music calls for it. Fred Frith’s guitar is outstanding, and the rhythm section of John Greaves (bass) and Chris Cutler (drums) handles the jagged arrangements (there are no grooves here) forcefully. Even after 25 years, this album sounds fresh and alive.
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more