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In Praise of Learning (Original Mix)

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Album Review

A team-up with Slapp Happy may seem an obvious meeting of minds in 2000, but not at the time (1975) when all they really shared was a Marxist outlook and a record label (Virgin). The two bands had already recorded Desperate Straights, which focused more on songs and Dagmar Krause's vocals. Here, Krause gets one good song, the terrific Kurt Weill-esque "War" (subsequently covered by the Fall many years later), which leads off the album. "Living in the Heart of the Beast" takes up the rest of side one, and in long form Kraus seems lost. There's some free noise on side two, and it's a bit of a waste seeing Mongezi Feza among others play on the album. The best thing to take away from this meeting is that it went on to produce Art Bears, News From Babel, and several other groups made up from this spectacular personnel.

Customer Reviews

An Incredible Turn of Events...

Given the messy duress this record was made under, it is rather amazing. This was a departure for both bands, and they landed on their feet. "Living in the Heart of the Beast" will make you want to become a communist, and "Beginning..." has one of the most harrowing and gorgeous openings of any track I've ever heard. "War" is a concise masterpiece, but please don't disregard the rest of this great album. Of course, this would all pale at the release of "Western Culture", their subsequent and final record.

The best track is its shortest

"War" is a great song that should have been on their previous collaboration, "Desparate Straights". After this, Henry Cow is the dominant force. Slappy's Peter Blegvad had been kicked out of the band in the middle of production, and Anthony Moore left not long after. "Beautiful as the Moon..." does have its good moments, but "Beginning-" is an irritating Marxist screed that doesn't know when to quit.


Formed: 1968 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Englan

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '60s, '70s

The progressive rock genre spawned many groups that became top-grossing arena acts -- Pink Floyd and Genesis are two -- as well as many who progressed right into obscurity. Henry Cow were one of the best known and most widely traveled English bands of the progressive era (though only a cult favorite in the U.S. and actually more popular in Continental Europe than in their home country), and their music has aged amazingly well over the ensuing decades due to the group's diverse influences (Oliver...
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In Praise of Learning (Original Mix), Henry Cow
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