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Skeleton Crew

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Skeleton Crew was a two-album project from ex-Henry Cow alternative guitarist Fred Frith and experimental Bay Area cellist and multi-instrumentalist Tom Cora. Formed as a duo, the two (occasionally augmented by Zeena Parkins on keyboards and harp) toured extensively with a combination of experimental rock, noise, and folk music, even playing one concert of nothing but Eastern European folk tunes. On stage, both musicians operated drums with their feet, while busying their hands with various stringed instruments, professional or homemade. Tape cut ups were also part of the performance, mostly samples pertaining to America's increasing military world role (this was during the height of the Reagan era). On record — the group signed to Rift Records — the visuals aren't there, but the musical invention is. Holed up in a wintry Switzerland for both sessions, they recorded Learn to Talk (1984) and Country of Blinds (1986), the latter featuring Zeena Parkins and produced by Henry Cow's Tim Hodgkinson. It is rumored that there was enough material for a third album, but it never materialized. (A royalty-free sample album did, however, "for use in your own art work" — the cost was "only" $100). Both original albums were repackaged later as one CD. Cora died in 1998.

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