John Greaves / Peter Blegvad / Lisa Herman

Kew. Rhone.

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An unfortunately neglected masterpiece of '70s progressive rock, the first extended collaboration by John Greaves and Peter Blegvad (formerly of Henry Cow and Slapp Happy, respectively) is a brilliant amalgam of Slapp Happy's skewed pop sense, the collective improvisation approach of Henry Cow, the sly wit of the Canterbury prog rock scene, and (most fruitfully) Carla Bley's inimitably skewed progressive jazz. Although Bley's contributions are purely instrumental and vocal (the album was written entirely by Greaves and Blegvad), songs like the rushing, choral "Twenty-Two Proverbs" sound heavily influenced by her early-'70s work with Paul Haines and Michael Mantler (who engineered this album; there is no producer credit). Most of the lead vocals are taken by Lisa Herman, whose lovely, clear voice delivers Blegvad's playful, often surreal lyrics (filled with anagrams, palindromes, and other verbal games) in a tone that suggests a deeper emotional core to songs that might otherwise have been merely clever. One of the most satisfying albums that any of the principals have been involved with, Kew. Rhone. is a challenging but surprisingly accessible album that rewards as much attention as the listener offers it.

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