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In Praise of Learning

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 19, 2008
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. War
  2. Living in the Heart of the Beast
  3. Beginning: The Long March
  4. Beautiful as the Moon-Terrible as the Army With Banners
  5. Morning Sart
  6. Lovers of Gold


Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 19, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rer USA
  • ASIN: B00004SV74
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,517 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Henry Cow Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If there is one song that has haunted me doggedly for 25 years now it's Henry Cow's "War" with Dagmar's opening plea: "Tell of the birth, tell how War appeared on earth". It's dark mythology of abattoirs and stacked bones clocks in as short as a pop song, and is so tightly structured that it plays like a Top 40 hit from Hell. "They gut huts with gusto, pillage villages with verve, War does what she has to, people get what they deserve". It just rolls around the mind and off the tongue so nicely! The rest of the CD is equally powerful. Slapp Happy integrated into Henry Cow for this lp, and it is the marriage of the catchy tune and the funereal dirge. Dagmar's voice, the intricate playing (piano, organ, clarinet, Frith's guitar and Cutler's drums, bassoon, oboe, xylophone, clarinet, piano, sax, trumpet, and assorted electronics, etc.) and the lyrics all form an experience guaranteed like no other. "Violence completes the partial mind." Dungeon muzak, baby. Lick your fingers when your done.
In Praise of Learning is one of those gems you really owe it to yourself to experience. Right up there with Court of the Crimson King for groundbreaking and unique prog rock that won't let you go. If your idea of a chick singer with desperate & deranged vocals and a moody band is Portishead, wise up. Henry Cow/Slapp Happy w/ Dagmar at the helm make Portishead sound like a panty-waist garage band that can't muster inspiration nor cull up an urge. In Praise of Learning is as Beautiful as the Moon, as Terrible as an Army with Banners. Indeed. Buy it while this edition is still available.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
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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Format: Audio CD
and that one song would be the 15 minute "Living in the Heart of the Beast".

Talk about INCREDIBLE! That song is mind-blowing to me on several unexplainable levels. The female lead singer almost sounds like a witch when she sings, and her lyrics... my goodness. Who in the WORLD wrote those lyrics?

And the thing that amazes me the most- the way she takes her amazing vocal range and constantly jumps around over the course of several different vocal melodies for nearly 15 minutes, ALL of the vocal melodies on the same level of brilliance.

"Living in the Heart of the Beast" is the strangest, craziest, most brilliant song I've ever heard. I feel extremely confident about this too.

It's like, you already have a winning epic track because you have a female lead singer who's entirely creepy and sings like she's going to cast a spell on you at any moment just by listening to her range alone (not to mention she tends to shift the mood of the song into something dangerous and haunting, like someone trying to bring a dead spirit back to life- seriously, an amazingly creepy voice she was gifted with).

Then the music that's playing directly behind the female singer is EXTREMELY bizarre and quite similar to a mid 70's King Crimson or Gentle Giant album. But there's something about this epic track that's just entirely mysterious, adventurous, EVIL...and reminds me of... *something* I can't explain. It's a 15 minute ride that's great to experience time and time again.

I admit, it took me almost two hours of listening to this 15 minute track over and over until I eventually got into SOME of it (trust me, the lead singers voice will rub you the wrong way until you get used to it.
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Format: Audio CD
A bit of a patchy album, this. War is a good piece of music marred by seriously awful lyrics (Peter Blegvad having a very "off" day - fortunately a rare occurance), and the live version of "Beautiful as the Moon...." (Concerts) beats the crap out of the studio version. However, the sublime "Living in the Heart of the Beast" is in itself perfect justification for giving this record four stars. A dense, moody piece, fantastically arranged, with a staggering performance from Dagmar Krause and some outstanding playing from Fred Frith. Possibly the most accesible thing Tim Hodgkinson ever wrote.
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Format: Audio CD
3 1/2

Influential avant-rockers fall squarely between stimulatingly off-kilter and obnoxiously untraditional, with a morbid sense of informed composition ensuring listeners see the former more clearly.
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