In Praise of Learning
With Tim Hodgkinson, Fred Frith, John Greaves, Chris Cutler, Dagmar Krause, Peter Blegvad, Anthony Moore and Lindsay Cooper
Henry Cow were a legendary force in music in the 70's, the first band to sign to the fledgling Virgin label, and along with Soft Machine and Hatfield and the North, a key part of the so called 'Canterbury' rock scene. This is the third in our series of classic re-issues, following on from Leg End and Unrest, which were released last year. 'In Praise' was produced in 1975 by a new version of Henry Cow after they had merged with cult Euro-popsters Slapp Happy, and then split apart again. The process unleashed on their music the extraordinary voice of Dagmar Krause, as songs became a major component of the music for the first time.
From the opening track 'War' – a Moore/Blegvad composition covered by The Fall on the 1993 'Middle Class Revolt' album - we are thrown into a black comedy, repeated laughter in odd time signatures, and a great Mongezi Feza trumpet solo. The centrepiece of the album, Tim Hodgkinson's 'Living In the Heart of the Beast', is justly famous; its an extraordinary 20 minute epic which manages to fuse Messiaen–like organ with vast fuzz guitar tunes, complex arrangements and revolutionary lyrics.
After the parting of ways with Virgin, Cow went on to record Western Culture on their own label, and shortly afterwards the group split up. Cutler, Frith and Krause went on to record the classic Art Bears albums, and all have pursued fruitful solo careers; Frith was a key member of John Zorn's Naked City; Cutler was a long term member of Pere Ubu; Hodgkinson played with noise fanatics God; Greaves has recently recorded with Robert Wyatt; Lyndsay Cooper was co-founder of the Feminist Improsing Group and played extensively with Mike Westbrook.
This is the first time In Praise of Learning has been available on CD in the original mix, and it has been carefully re-mastered - for many years only a poorly mastered remix was available. This album is essential for fans of Henry Cow, the Canterbury/Soft Machine school, and all those interested in challenging music.
"The nation's premier avant garde outfit" - NME
"The ground Henry Cow covered is still very much uncharted territory" - THE WIRE
"Takes innovations of Zappa and Soft Machine to spectacular extremes" - ROLLING STONE