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Henry Cow - The Henry Cow Legend [Aka: Legend or Leg End] CD (album) cover


Henry Cow



4.14 | 221 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A Legendary Record?

Henry Cow's debut, Legend (or Leg End), is the first 'RIO' album I own. However, as for what 'RIO' stands for, 'Rock in Opposition', I have to concur with Robert (Epignosis) that this sounds much more like a band that plays eclectic prog rather than avant-garde.

If I had to sum-up in a couple of words what this album sounds like, it would be the following: a jazzy group (there's really no 'rock' elements whatsoever) that sometimes gets into free jazz grounds, featuring the quirkiness and complexity of Gentle Giant. Yes, that would be it, and as you should figure out with that short summary, this album is indeed not an album for any Prog listener, though I think any Eclectic Prog fan with a slight appreciation to jazz should be able to get into this.

The band right from the start, with 'Nirvana for Mice', engages you completely with their originality and clever songwriting. It has it all: the jazz prominence with the sax and the kick-ass rhythm section, the occasional quirkiness and the brilliant composition overall. After that, Henry Cow is still able to surprise you with their originality and complexity, mainly with the magnificent 'Amygdala' which is like those gentler tunes by Gentle Giant which are done beautifully and still offer a lot musically, the Zappa-esque 'Teenbeat Reprise' with some really fine guitar playing by Fred Frith, and finally the Canterburish, vocal-focused 'Nine Funerals of the Citizen King'.

Unfortunately Legend does have some few flaws, like the free-jazz/experimental tune 'Teenbeat Introduction' which simply has no coherence, although for some that may be something good, and the badly done, 'Bellycan', with its electronic sound being out-of-place in this rather jazzy-sounding album, it's a pity because I do hear some good ideas behind the mess that that tune is. However, taking in consideration that this is a debut album, those flaws are more than acceptable considering the maturity and quality of the rest of the album.

Overall, an excellent Prog record that standouts mainly for its original playing and composition style. I highly recommend this to all fans of Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, quirky jazz rock and of Eclectic Prog in general.

The Quiet One | 4/5 |


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