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Western Culture Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, March 12, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Main tracks: 1. Industry 2. The Decay of Cities 3. On the Raft 4. Falling Away 5. Gretels Tale 6. Look Back 7. 1/2 the Sky Additional tracks: 8. viva Pa Ubu 9. Look Back 10. Slice

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Industry
  2. The Decay Of Cities
  3. On The Raft
  4. Falling Away
  5. Gretel's Tale
  6. Look Back
  7. Half The Sky
  8. Viva Pa Ubu
  9. Look Back (Alt)
  10. Slice

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 12, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: East Side Digital
  • ASIN: B00006310N
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,791 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on February 12, 2004
Format: Audio CD
...the way only Henry Cow could do it.
After Henry Cow's _In Praise of Learning_, the situation in the band was getting a little divisive. Lindsay Cooper and Tom Hodgkinson wanted to compose longer instrumental pieces, while Chris Cutler and Fred Frith wanted to focus on more song-oriented music. Unfortunately, they couldn't come to an agreement so Frith, Cutler, and Dagmar Krause released their song-based material as the first Art Bears album, _Hopes and Fears_, while Hodgkinson and Cooper's work was released as the final Henry Cow album, _Western Culture_.
And let me tell you, it's fookin' brilliant. _Western Culture_ is pretty much entirely composed, with only sporadic glimpses of the band's previous affinities towards improvisation. Hodgkinson and Cooper each compose one side of the album (1 and 2, respectively -- BUT, they both wrote "1/2 the Sky"), and while they are distinctly different, it all ties together nicely because of the consistent harmonic quality and dense, tight arrangements. Best of all, this music, while very strange and complex, is also very moving and evocative, all the while deploying twisted, angular melodies, intense textural colors, dissonant harmonic language, and shifty motivic processes. This is also the most 'classical' sounding of their catalogue, probably because of the emphasis on wind instruments. Hodgkinson's pieces are gritty and atonal, complex and energetic. The organ outburst opening "Industry" takes off with Cutler's drumming unpredictably shifting accents.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By evenmoregeneric on December 4, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Henry Cow, of indescribable sonic manifestations and fairly obvoius leftist political leanings have recorded the soundtrack for the industrial revolution's theoretic suicide. This is the sound of what a handful a ridiculously talented hippies thought our future would come to. Too bad nobody is playing rock (and this is rock) anywhere near this precisely anymore.
This purely instrumental album is fairly prototypical henry cow (the non-vocals brand), yet, in my opinion, is the best written and performed of any of their recordings. It starts out with one of the most bombastic HC songs recorded (especially for the non-vocal era, they tend to rock it out a little more consistently on later/con vox recodings.), but for the most part, the tension in this album is communcated through compositional inference, rather than volume.
If you're like me, you find the sweet spot of this album comes in the second half, where the songs seems to take better advantage of the band as a whole, and feature some fairly awe inspiring interplay.
If you like your rock abstract, and played with fairly devious technical sensibilities this is it. If you want vocals, or something to seduce your partner to, you might wanna look elsewhere. Unless you wanna bump uglies in 13/8.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey J.Park VINE VOICE on May 22, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Apparently not interested in re-treading the same ground over and over again "to earn their pensions", this 1978 album would be Henry Cow's last before disbanding later in 1978.

The core musicians on this album include excellent drummer and bandleader Chris Cutler (who also plays electrified drums, "noise", piano, and trumpet); Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe, soprano saxophone, and soprano recorder); Tim Hodgkinson (organ, alto saxophone, clarinet, and Hawaiian guitar); and Fred Frith (electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, banjo, and soprano saxophone). Other musicians that play on the album include Georgie Born (electric bass); Anne-Marie Roelofs (trombone and violin); and Irene Schweitzer (piano).

The seven tracks on the album are divided into two larger works including History and Prospects (Tracks 1-3) and Day by Day (Tracks 4-7). The three additional tracks include one taken from the Dagmar Krause (vocalist) period (Viva pa Ubu), an alternate take of Look Back, and an outtake from the 1978 Western Culture sessions. The three additional tracks are excellent.

Like all of their albums, the music on Western Culture is highly disciplined yet is almost anarchic at points. This strain of progressive rock is also extremely complex, atonal, jagged, and at times, quite abrasive - yet buried in there are moments of calm and deep reflection. I personally find the combination pretty exciting. Along with standard rock instruments (including incredible drumming by Chris Cutler) woodwinds are featured prominently, and the arrangements are dense and angular. In general, the compositions are essentially a whirlwind of sound that fuses elements of "post-war" classical, jazz, free jazz, and rock.

All in all, this is not a listening experience for the faint of heart. This is extremely challenging music that is also extremely rewarding. Highly recommended along with Unrest (1974) and In Praise of Learning (1975).
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Format: Vinyl
Although previous works by this band could be more appreciated by 'prog' music fans, to me this is like the final accomplished sound/concept they were looking for. The sound each member in the band has is finally 'THE sound' individually(sometimes played in a virtuoso manner) and as a whole in the band. In other words, a completely original band sound and concept. You can hear,for example, that Frith is a much better player at this stage, has a completely original sound in perfect harmony with the other instruments, and a very idiosyncratic way of playing his guitar.

On top of that, for any RIO, Canterbury Prog, Zappa or 20th century music lover, this is a dream come true! The compositions are top notch. Creative and well executed. So if you are into plain rock, straight pop or other 'simple' kind of music, (more rhythm based music) stay away. The music of Henry Cow is music that HAS Melody , HAS Harmony and ROCKS, but it has other things too which might be complex to some one who has not been exposed to the genres mentioned previously. Give it a try with open ears and you will see this has much more groove than people say it lacks.

Why the 'almost did not happen' title? Well, this album got recorded when members of the bands were already in other projects (such as Art Bears) thus the absence of vocals and only 2 composers contribute to the whole album.
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