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Skeleton Crew


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Skeleton Crew The Country Of Blinds album cover
3.25 | 17 ratings | 2 reviews | 24% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Country of Blinds (4:13)
2. The Border (3:31)
3. The Hand that Bites (5:35)
4. Dead Sheep (3:23)
5. Bingo (3:38)
6. Man or Monkey (2:32)
7. Foot in Hole (3:09)
8. Hot Field (2:37)
9. The Birds of Japan (4:04)
10. You May Find a Bed (6:16)

Total Time: 39:25

Line-up / Musicians

- Fred Frith / guitar, 6-string bass, violin, home-mades, drums, singing
- Tom Cora / cello, bass, accordion, drums, contraptions, singing - Zeena Parkins / organ, electric harp, accordion, drums, singing

Releases information

Rift Records (USA)
RecRec Switzerland (Europe)

Thanks to syzygy for the addition
and to ProgLucky for the last updates
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SKELETON CREW The Country Of Blinds ratings distribution

(17 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

SKELETON CREW The Country Of Blinds reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Syzygy
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When Skeleton Crew expanded from a duo to a trio, they didn't do anything obvious like hiring a drummer - instead, they added a third one man/woman band to the proceedings. Dave Newhouse of the Muffins joined for a while, and subsequently the third Skeleton was Zeena Parkins (News From Babel, Bjork and many other collaborations) on harp, accordion, organ, vocals and more drums. The result was another fine album of off kilter RIO songs and strangeness.

The Country Of The Blinds is in the same style as Learn To Talk, but there are a number of interesting contrasts. The expanded line up makes for a fuller sound, although things are no smoother than previously; Fred Frith remains the principal vocalist, but there are far more harmonies and shared vocals this time around; and the use of tapes has been abandoned. Overall there seems to be less raw spontanaeity than on the previous outing, but the material is stronger musically and lyrically. Fred Frith's guitar is less prominent, but this album contains his best violin work since Art Bears' debut album. Zeena Parkins adds some superb Sun Ra style organ to the proceedings, and her electric harp is played off against the strings to superb effect. Tom Cora is as inventive as ever on cello and bass, and also adds some demented accordion to the mix. The drumming is as powerful and unpredictable as previously - on Man Or Monkey they manage to sound like a RIO version of King Crimson's double trio line up with only half the number of musicians. Other stand out tracks are The Border, an almost normal song structure subverted by some impossible drumming and a brilliant call and response vocal arrangement, and the comparatively lengthy You May Find A Bed, where Fred Frith finally cuts loose with some lead guitar. The latter track also boasts some wonderful lyrics with echoes of Robert Wyatt's Dada inspired ramblings - 'There is no convenient time to break your leg' observes Fred Frith, and makes the same comment about (among other things), starving, having a flat tyre and having a child. Both Skeleton Crew albums contain some superb lyrics, but it is on Country Of The Blinds that lyrics and music really complement each other to near perfection. The instrumental interludes are also spellbinding; at times it seems impossible that three human beings are producing this noise in real time, but live recordings show that they could and did.

Skeleton Crew broke up after this album, Fred Frith remarking that they were starting to sound like a normal rock and roll band. This remark should be taken with a pinch of salt, unless your defintion of normal rock and roll is The Magic Band and Pere Ubu, but there is a grain of truth in it. While in many ways stronger than the debut album, Country of the Blinds doesn't have quite the same manic energy and inventiveness as Learn To Talk. It's still a brilliant slice of 80s RIO/Avant prog, however, and is strongly recommended to lovers of the off beat and bizarre.

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2.5 stars really!!

The second album of Skeleton Crew, Country Of Blinds (also recorded in Switzerland produced by another Henry Cow alumni Hodgkinson) is certainly even less accessible than its predecessor and it announces it right from the bat with the opening title track (and later Man Or Monkey) that is purposely sabotaged by tampering with the tapes. Parkins' presence does not calm Frith and Cora either, but this album is slightly easier on the ears sometimes because it is less sung (but when it is it still sounds like Damo-Belew) and gets more often into grooves (Border, Hand That Bites), giving you the chance to get used to the general weirdness. However Parkins' accordion does get on my nerves (all accordions do), and with the strangeitude of the songwriting, the whole thing is a little too much for me. There is also a fairly evident feel of 80's "funk feel" into the music as it reminds me a bit of Talking Heads and Belew-era Crimson, mostly through Frith's guitar parts.

Both albums got released as a 2 on 1 Cd, with a few tracks missing, which is probably a rather good deal if you're into this stuff. Please read the separate album entry's reviews just in case I am not convincing enough into avoiding this band. Generally I am normally fully appreciative of Henry Cow alumni project (from Massacre to News From Babel), but I must say that Frith's Skeleton Crew and Cutler's German adventures of Cassiber are both a little too much for this writer's sanity.

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