Henry Cow's third album, originally released in 1975, found them expanded to an eight-piece ensemble after a guest session on another group's record. Henry Cow absorbed Slapp Happy into their lineup after appearing on Slapp Happy's "Desperate Straights" album. It was a tenuous relationship (lasting only long enough for this release, and with Slapp Happy crumbling after Dagmar Krause decided to stay on with Henry Cow), but one that produced some stunning results. Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad's "War" has enormous proportion and power that would have been beyond the scope of a relatively quiet trio. The sheer ambition of this work is bracing. Intricately composed and arranged pieces, rife with lyrics that meld poetry with politics, give way to extended improvisations. While that had always been the Henry Cow recipe, it was never given such dramatic sweep. No one has ever, before or since, sounded like this incarnation of Henry Cow.
Henry Cow's politics were as radical as their music, and this was never more explicit than on this album. The trademark chainmail sock was deep red, and the cover was adorned with a quote from the left wing film maker John Grierson - 'Art is not a mirror, it is a hammer'. The titles of the two instrumentals also explicitly refer to the band's left wing politics; "Beginning: The Long March" is a reference to the Chinese Revolution, while "Morning Star" is the name of the daily paper published by the Communist Party of Great Britain.
Among their contemporaries, only Matching Mole ever released an album as explicitly political as this with 'Little Red Record'. Whether you agree with their politics or not, music as passionate and committed as this is all too rare, and in the prog field it is almost unprecedented. Listen and be amazed.
|Living In The Heart Of The Beast||15:18|
|Beginning: The Long March||6:20|
|Beautiful As The Moon- Terrible As An Army With Banners||6:55|
Henry Cow - In Praise Of Learning (1975)
(ca. 192 kbps, cover art included)