Exposé Online banner

Henry Cow — In Praise of Learning (Original Mix)
(ReR Megacorp ReR HC3, 1975/2000, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01

In Praise of Learning (Original Mix) Cover art

For readers familiar with In Praise of Learning I need say no more than, “Here it is, come and get it.” This release captures all the wonderful strangeness of the original in pristine digital clarity. So if you’re like me, and looking to get some of your old vinyl favorites on CD, wait no longer for Henry Cow. For readers unfamiliar with the album, it’s a little harder to decide what to say. This loose band of musical and political radicals produced some of the most original music of the rock era. Their uncompromising approach to music brooked no bending to commerciality or accessibility. The lyrics read like modern poetry, without many rhymes, though with much reason (no “ooh, baby, baby”); the music features no catchy themes you’re likely to find yourself humming (though that first part of “War” ends up going through my head a lot: “Tell of the birth, tell how war appeared on Earth”). Sure, Dagmar’s voice can be a little grating (OK, a lot grating), but there’s a reason for everything with these art rock pioneers. She can sound much sweeter when the music calls for it. Fred Frith’s guitar is outstanding, and the rhythm section of John Greaves (bass) and Chris Cutler (drums) handles the jagged arrangements (there are no grooves here) forcefully. Even after 25 years, this album sounds fresh and alive.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 20, 2000 releases, 1975 recordings

Related artist(s): Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, Tim Hodgkinson, Geoff Leigh, John Greaves, Henry Cow

Latest news

2017-04-16
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more

2017-04-16
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more

2017-02-20
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more

2017-01-31
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more

2017-01-30
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mujician - Poem about the Hero – Despite a feel more reminiscent of the free-jazz of the mid-60s than of the 90s, Mujician's second all-instrumental release is a refreshing addition to the archives of improvised music. Featuring...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues