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Cheap At Half the Price

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Album Review

After over two decades of being in print only intermittently thanks to Ralph Records' ever-changing distribution systems, Fred Frith's 1983 masterpiece Cheap at Half the Price was finally reissued in 2005 by Chris Cutler's Recommended Records as part of an overall overhaul of Frith's sometimes confusing solo catalog. The charmingly homemade-sounding Cheap at Half the Price, Frith's first experiment with home recording on a four-track recorder, sounds like it was about equally inspired by the Residents and New Jersey-based cult hero R. Stevie Moore: the aggressively childlike "Cap the Knife" in particular has the Residents' peculiarly antic quality, and Frith's strained, oddly high-pitched vocals — which were heard for the first time on this album — occasionally recall Moore's signature falsetto. An odd combination of sunny-sounding pop songs with disquietingly cynical lyrics (a mix best heard on the Robert Wyatt-like "Too Much Too Little"), Cheap at Half the Price is a perfect introduction to Frith for those who might find his more staid instrumental records a harder row to hoe. This Recommended reissue features different cover art and drops two inessential tracks, "True Love" and "Person to Person," that were added to the original East Side Digital CD release.

Customer Reviews


Utter Crap

Great Album

I don't have the digital download, but I have the vinyl, I spin this album a lot. If you wondered what it would sound like if Henry Cow and The Residents and a jam session, this is what it would sound like. The Song "Evolution" is what I personally believe is the best song on the album.


Born: February 17, 1949 in Heathfield, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

In the '60s and '70s, much (if not most) contemporary improvisation was jazz-based. That began to change in the '80s, when a significant number of rock musicians began exploring the possibilities of free improvisation and new classical forms. Fred Frith is one of the more prominent. Co-founder of the underground British band Henry Cow in 1968, composer/improviser/guitarist Frith moved to the U.S. in the late '70s, where he began associations with such New York-based experimental musicians as cellist...
Full Bio