Henry Cow

In Praise of Learning

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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.

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