Political astuteness aside, Henry Cow's Leg End is simply a busy musical trip, comprised of snaking rhythms, unorthodox time signatures, and incongruous waves of multiple instruments that actually culminate in some appealing yet complex progressive rock. Here, on the band's debut, both Fred Frith and woodwind man Geoff Leigh hold nothing back, creating eclectic, avant garde-styled jazz movements without any sense of direction, or so it may seem at first, but paying close attention to Henry Cow's musical wallowing results in some first-rate instrumental fusion, albeit a little too abstract at times. Through tracks like "Amygdala," "Teenbeat," and "The Tenth Chaffinch," it's simply creativity run amok, instilling the free-spiritedness of the late '60s into this, a 1974 album. The techniques are difficult to follow, but the stewing that emerges between the piano, guitar, flute, and percussion is so animated and colorful, it actually sounds pleasant as a whole. Chris Cutler lends his uncommitted, self-governing brand of drumming to the album to help culminate the frenzy, and Leigh's tenor flute does add some extraordinary musical fabric to each of the album's ten cuts. "Nine Funerals of the Citizen King" is one of the easiest pieces to listen to, while the short but amiable "Bellycan" is an excerpt removed from the group's work with the Greasy Truckers, performed a year earlier. In 1974, Henry Cow released Unrest, which contains the same vigor and spontaneity as Leg End, only it didn't receive the same amount of attention. Shortly after, they united with Dagmar Krause and the rest of Slapp Happy to further their unconventional route.
AllMusic Review by Mike DeGagne