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In praise of learning

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD
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Editorial Reviews

Third in Re-releases of Henry Cow. on CD for the First Timewith the Originl Mix and Re-Mastered.

Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: East Side Digital
  • ASIN: B000000PLN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #845,365 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on November 8, 2002
Format: Audio CD
The third album in their �sock� trilogy (see the cover art for LEG END and UNREST), IN PRAISE OF LEARNING shows Henry Cow, having merged with their (then-) labelmates on Virgin, Slapp Happy, evolved into a band whose music and politics had become one. In press releases, interviews, and the scarce lyrics contained in earlier works (�Nine funerals of the citizen king�, on LEG END), their left-wing views had been hinted at � and those who knew the band and how they worked were aware of these beliefs as well � on this recording, this philosophy takes center stage, with lyrics that leave little doubt as to where the authors stand, delivered with a vengeance by the amazing voice of Dagmar Krause.
The album kicks off nicely with �War (Energy enslaved)�, written by Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad (two-thirds of Slapp Happy) � it�s a scathing myth-like tale of the birth and appearance of War on Earth. The powerful lyrics remind the listener that, while War make fight on both sides of conflicts, invoked by varying causes and ideologies, and might employ assorted tools and techniques over the course of history, her purpose and deliverance have always been death and destruction. The next piece, the Tim Hodgkinson opus �Living in the heart of the beast�, takes the band�s revolutionary philosophy and message further � it�s a history lesson as well as a rallying cry, and the final section, with Fred Frith�s guitar taking the lead, is one of the most powerful pieces of music I�ve ever heard. From the final section: �Now is the time to begin to determine directions, refuse to admit the existence of destiny�s rule�� The other vocal selection (from the original album) is �Beautiful as the moon � terrible as an army with banners�, a group composition with lyrics by Chris Cutler.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "undeletablearchive" on December 7, 1999
Format: Audio CD
A big problem in rock which purports to be revolutionary has been the mismatch between form and content. Thus, the Sex Pistols set lyrics calling for anarchy against pedestrian overdriven pub-rock, while Genesis and King Crimson subverted a new and galvanising musical adventurousness with surfeits of Carrollesque whimsy. On In Praise of Learning - the greatest progressive rock record and the highlight of Virgin's radical early roster - there is cross-catalysis between form and content which makes the record a holistic, totally original and unflawed sound-drama. Bitter, elegant lyrics about war and oppression motivate a rich, complex music full of stasis, pileup and recurrence as if to reflect the total experience of living under capitalism. Elsewhere, in a socialist realist tradition, the group deconstructs itself, revealing its music hesitantly bolting its tropes and textures together bottom-up in a series of three improvisations. In Praise of Learning is totally unique in the history of rock, more serious, possibly, than anything else you will hear, moving and electrifying, strange, and sadly, an unnoticed revolution.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hank Napkin on August 10, 2004
Format: Audio CD
That any music by Henry Cow is out of stock is understandable, but unforgivable. Enough to know about the sacrifice these artists made for their art, and enough to know that in an industry increasingly obsessed with predictable product there is less and less and soon even less room for music that actually says something. In this case, something important.

Amid the complexities of the early 1970s, when some musicians took on some very thorny issues, none proved more dangerous than Henry Cow. With Slapp Happy on board -- for this album at least -- a curiously refined social commentary emerged. If there ever was a proletarian art, this was it. And, as we've been told, art is not a mirror, it is a hammer. Few records can hit as hard as "In praise of learning".

Get your hands on a copy. Listen to it, learn it. Then consider the social and political climate of the Vietnam era, and consider the world today.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 2, 1999
Format: Audio CD
If you have never heard of Henry Cow, prepare to be moved. This album is about twenty years old, but it is a true example of the power of unconvential music and the power it has when not compromised and diluted by the major-mass-market-blood-sucking record companies. Listen to the lyrics by vocalist Dagmar Krause and I assure you that you will be amazed. Forget the adolescent rant of Alanis Morrisette. Forget Marilyn Manson. Forget Courtney Love. Dagmar Rules! If you are not afraid to explore musical boundaries of the avant garde check out Henry Cow and anything by a band called "Art Bears" They are the same line up as Henry Cow, yet different. They Rock.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on July 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The previous Henry Cow / Slapp Happy collaboration, _Desperate Straits_, seemed at its root more of a Slapp Happy album with masterful, yet peripheral, contributions from Cow's personnel. _In Praise of Learning_, on the other hand, is very much a Cow album. Like the previous Cow LP, _Unrest_, _In Praise of Learning_ balances the album with compositional brilliance and very effective improvised experiments. In many ways it is not musically so different from _Unrest_, but for the contributions of their fellows in Slapp Happy. This involvement makes _In Praise of Learning_ one of rock-in-opposition's monolithic works, wonderful even if ultimately not the best of Henry Cow's releases. The lyrical and instrumental imagery is powerful and the music is unforgettable.

Perhaps most crucial here is the introduction of a "real" singer, Dagmar Krause, who is more than a mere conduit for the group's callow Marxist philosophy. Hers is some of the best voice work ever put to tape. Listen only to the opening track, "War", one of the all-time great opening songs, an awesome sort-of-art-punk classic. Dagmar's aggressive vocal lines are propelled on a piano-and-bass vamp scattered with bursts of horn, and sick instrumental jazzy interludes. Without a doubt the best prog song ever under two-and-a-half minutes long. "Living in the Heart of the Beast" is the definitive RIO epic, the vocals would steal the show but Hodgkinson's composition is to this day exemplary for its field. It is perfect from beginning to end, from its searing Frithian opening, to its beautiful violin solos, its brutal middle section of angular riffs and tone rows, to its triumphant crescendo finale. It is tough, dissonant, and sinewy but never noisy or pretentious, it is simply thrilling epic music.
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