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Henry Fool

Crossover Prog

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Henry Fool Men Singing album cover
3.79 | 90 ratings | 7 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Everyone In Sweden (13.53)
2. Man Singing (6.44)
3. My Favourite Zombie Dream (6.25)
4. Chic Hippo (13.24)

Line-up / Musicians

Michael Bearpark - Guitar
Stephen Bennett - Keyboards
Andrew Booker - Drums
Tim Bowness - Guitar
Peter Chilvers - Bass
Myke Clifford - Saxophone, Flute
Jarrod Gosling - Keyboards, Glockenspiel

Phil Manzanera - Guitar (tracks 1 and 2)
Steve Bingham - Violin (track 4)

Releases information

Release on Kscope label

Thanks to psarros for the addition
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HENRY FOOL Men Singing ratings distribution

(90 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

HENRY FOOL Men Singing reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The 2001 Henry Fool debut album was a quirky ride to say the least, featuring some zany arrangements delving into experimental zones of sonic conflict, a modern equivalent of Random Hold or even Quiet Sun, strangely both having Roxy Music's legendary Phil Manzanera as main artistic vehicle. So it will come as no surprise that the man is finally present on a couple of tracks on this the sophomore album, in a style reminiscent of his recent 'Firebird VII' release back in 2008. Once again, the musicians are led by bassist Peter Chilvers, keyboardist Steve Bennett, ex No Man axeman Michael Bearpark and reedman Myke Clifford, as well as Tim Bowness on vocals and guitars. Well Bowness is back but no microphone for him, as this is an all-instrumental affair, adding drummer Andrew Booker and keys guy Jarrod Gosling (no relation to Ryan). There are 4 tracks on this short release, evenly timed as two 13 minute + jobs and two 6 minute and such pieces.

So what is it like, you ask? A smoother, more groovy set of tunes, very British, very quirky once again, with loads of stellar interplay, a serious dedication to modern atmospherics colliding with a resilient Canterbury tinge whilst dabbling unashamed in sonic lunacy. 'Everyone in Sweden' is a near 14 minute frolic, immediately catchy a la Soft Machine, with loads of assorted keys rippling through the bass/drum shuffle, flashy Manzanera riffs cleverly overlaying the auditory carpet. You have it all eddying nicely with churning organ, whistling synths, tingling piano, brooding mellotron walls and some sexy saxophone blurts, dedicated to send you into buzzland. Simply sensational progressive rock and classic British jazz-rock coalescing into a tremendous swirl of creative sound and blessed fury. The bass in particular does some dazzling settlings of account with Clifford's squawking brass arsenal, Bennett and Gosling laying down some nasty symphonic bliss, recalling at times, old and early instrumental King Crimson (led by the mighty Mel Collins). It is becoming increasingly rare to find a track that can alternate pace and mood with such seeming ease, creating dense atmospherics that are most inspiring. The effect is a curious mixture of avant-garde and old school, expertly played and brilliantly arranged. Manzanera's distinct guitar rasp adorns the title track. Intensely luxuriant, almost menacing 'Men Signing' has a more cinematographic feel, with the mellotron front and center, coerced by a pulsating beat and slashed by a Manzanera special, full of astute guitar sounds and ingenious timbres, delivered with such methodical grace and effortless precision. The track literally cooks with fervent urgency and electric dedication. So you wonder about Brit humour? Well it's still alive and well if one glances at the next two titles 'My Favorite Zombie' and the longer 'Chic Hippo'. The first is a stranger piece, led as it is by an insistent and omnipresent mellotron, a twofold guitar attack from Bearpark and Bowness, a gruesome bass pounding display and some confused drumming, all establishing a slightly schizoid sagacity of imbalance. It's hard edged in an unconventional sense, truly unsettling! 'Chic Hippo' is a portlier piece led by a scouring violin courtesy of Steve Bingham, as Chilvers burps with authority, aided by Booker's two-fisted slam and percussive genius. The trumpet squeezes out demonic restraint, with buzzsaw guitars mowing down the guilty. When an e-piano flutter enters the ring, things just get kookier, almost dissonant and nearly weird by previous standards, with echoes of grand musical schemes painting the air. Again quite experimental and 'recherché', the boys are seeking out dense pastures and infusing with brilliant musings in enticing the listener into their world of 'singing men'.

Fans of the afore-mentioned bands will flock to this mellotron and sax mixture, in my mind a clear step-up from their debut, which was highly regarded by prog fans. Subtle and deranged sounds from clearly imaginative artists certainly deserve our attention and applause. Bloody marvelous!

5 Male vocalists

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I have been LOVING this album since I first heard it about a month ago and moreso now that I own it, BUT I will/can not in good conscious give it a five star rating for two major resaons: it's brevity and it's lack of vocals. Though I cherish and relish instrumental music, it takes an extraordinary product for me to rate an entirely instrumental album with a full five stars cuz it is my opinion (though I am not consistent with this principle and, therefore, guilty of hypocrisy) that the 'guts' it takes to add vocals and lyrics to music is part of the 'risk' involved in making progressive rock what it is. Also, though, yes, the "classics" of the pre-CD era of music recording were 'limited' (ask Todd Rundgren about the 'limitations' of the vinyl medium) to 35 to 42 minutes of music, today's artists are not and, I believe, should do the consumer/listener the courtesy of labeling a product that contains less than 40 minutes of music as an EP (though I have bought a few EP's that have contained over 50 or 60 minutes of music, so that designation can be irregular, inconsistent and, therefore, misleading). But these nitpicking complaints aside, let me say that this album contains five interesting, enjoyable, upbeat, well-composed and well-performed songs; it is an album that I have happily returned to over and over without disappointment. This surprises me a bit because It is rare that the full presence of saxophone is well received by me, but it works on this album. Men Singing is, indeed, in my humble opinion, an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.
Review by Second Life Syndrome
2 stars I guess I'm in a mood tonight. I'm in the mood to review some of the albums from 2013 that I really haven't liked. Henry Fool's "Men Singing" is one of these, especially since its title is ironic in the fact that there is absolutely no singing here. Sigh.

Another album that promises a good variety of instruments, "Men Singing" doesn't utilize any of these elements to any effect. I was especially underwhelmed by the strangely discordant sax. It just feels out of place among the very low key sounds being generated here. Repetitive and ungraceful, the music seems to hover in one spot with random flute or sax passages creating most of the variation. Now, don't get me wrong, the sax and especially the flute are beautiful. I just don't think they are used well.

This is one of those albums where NOTHING HAPPENS. You will wait an entire song expecting some kind of climax or some sort of soul to present itself, but the same plodding music plays over and over until it just ends suddenly. The track "Man Singing" is a good example of this. It goes on and on, and just when you think something is going to happen, nothing does. The entire album goes on at this pace, and you start to glance at your watch to see how long it's been.

Overall, this album is pretty. It's capable, and some people might enjoy it. However, I really find nothing here at all. There is some much potential energy that is just never released, and so much potential for excellence that is never revealed. It's sad really, as I kinda like the zany tone and the mix is good. I just wish something would happen to make this music interesting in the slightest.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. I was such a big fan of HENRY FOOL's debut album, but to be honest I felt that after all of these years this was one of those "one and done" projects. Thankfully I was wrong. So 12 years later the boys are back with almost the same lineup. Fudge Smith has been replaced on drums by the very capable Andrew Booker, plus we get I MONSTER's Jarrod Gosling adding mellotron, while ROXY MUSIC's Phil Manzanera adds guitar on two of the four tracks. I should mention that Jarrod also mixed this recording while Stephen Bennett and Tim Bowness produced and arranged it. The music here is similar to the debut as we get that dreamy, atmospheric mood much of the time with those jazzy excursions helped by Myke Clifford's sax. The differences are for one that this is an all-instrumental album this time with NO-MAN's Tim Bowness sticking to his guitar work, plus the tracks are much longer when compared to the debut.

"Everyone In Sweden" is the almost 14 minute opener. Man every note seems to be carefully thought out as I listen to the intricate sounds that come and go. The bass is prominant as are the keyboards early on. Love when it turns more dynamic 2 minutes in and especially the sax that follows. A calm after 4 minutes with deep sounds and spacey keys then it kicks back in. Nice ! It settles back again with sax coming in then another calm before 7 minutes as it turns spacey and atmospheric.Some cool sounding sax 9 minutes in as the dreamy mood continues. Guitar and flute before 11 minutes as the song continues to drift along. It ends with electronics. "Man Singing" opens in a relaxed manner with flute and a beat with spacey keys and inventive guitar sounds from Manzanera. Mellotron joins in as well. Yeah this sounds really good. It's building but thankfully the same soundscape continues. So good. Check out the mellotron before 5 minutes and the flute that follows. It calms right down to end it with sounds that echo bringing PORCUPINE TREE to mind.

"My Favourite Zombie Dream" is my favourite. I adore the sound here with those distorted deep bass sounds and the mellotron waves flowing beautifully across the spacey soundscape. I'd love to have this dream. Oh man ! Check out the guitar from Bowness 3 1/2 minutes in. Some nice drum work follows. "Chic Hippo" is the over 13 minute closer. Stephen Bennett is credited with playing Miles Davis and Terry Riley impressions on his keyboards and Steve Bingham adds violin on this track. Great start with the upfront bass, a beat, mellotron and spacey sound as the violin joins in. A calm 2 minutes in as bass and drums only lead then the sax joins in with some distortion coming from somewhere else. The tempo picks up some as mellotron choirs kick in. It's brighter before 4 1/2 minutes as sounds echo in the background. Lots of electronics here too. I feel like i'm in this loop that won't quit and I don't want it to stop either. Things change some before 7 minutes and I really like the distorted guitar after 9 minutes that comes and goes the rest of the way along with the sax.

Without question this will be near the top of my list of favourite albums for 2013. I've read so many glowing reviews for this one and you can add mine to the list.

Review by admireArt
4 stars Far less modest than the previous 12 years ago, first release!

This album "Men Singing" by HENRY FOOL, their second release, has all kind of ratings, with their respective reviews, bashing it or loving it. So, it all comes down to what kind of MUSIC you like in this Prog universe.

To measure it up to expectations, is kind of selling it unwisely. Therefore just to point out where this big "All Star Band" (with guest stars included!) heads on music wise, I will point out some referentials.

For starters no vocalist! (no Tim Bowness' singing, he just plays guitar). The sound flows between Post/Math Rock and (Post?) Space/Psychedelia. It is tainted all the way with very colorful electronics. The structures (songs) are creative and dynamic. The added touches of a Mel Collins (no, he is not on this one!) kind of like wind player, sets it sometimes close to modern Prog/Jazz/Rock moments, therefore also near the King's territories. But the effectiveness of the song writing never stays too much in one single place or style, thereby it is no big deal!

The electric guitar is also the great thrill on this album, it is the setting tone to the four songs. It ranges from wild fuzz distortion to creative and "sparkling" electric arpeggios! The synths cover the whole environments with I repeat, highly ctreative electronics and symphonic strings (simmultaneously sometimes), therefore it is also matches with the Symphonic prog tagging.

Its highlights have to do more with music composition, than with "arena" band strategies of grandeure, although it does not lack that kind of intensity ("My Favourite Zombie Dream", track 3, is a good example of this).

It all comes to what kind of Prog music you like!

I myself, having no complaints (besides the Mel Collins sound alike), have had a really delightful time listening to it. It is so well written and diverse, that it never stops showing some new colors in each playing! And I will surely repeat the experience again. In addition it is completely "instrumental" which always adds up points in my account!

****4 "creative, colorful, hypnotic, unpretentious" PA stars.

Review by Progfan97402
5 stars I wasn't aware of Henry Fool first time around when their debut surfaced around 2001. I have later known about Tim Bowness from his involvement with Steven Wilson in No-Man, the project Steven Wilson started in the late '80s that he was to take seriously and to have Porcupine Tree become the joke project. Ironic how the joke project became his most recognized and (eventually) commercially successful outfit.

About 12 years pass and a new Henry Fool album. Tim Bowness gets some help from Jarrod Goslin of I Monster, Skywatchers, and Regal Worm, and none other than Phil Manzanera, amongst others. Given the fame and success of Roxy Music, it's a miracle someone on the level of Phi Manzanera would appear on a Henry Fool CD. While their debut had many vocal cuts, this one is an all-instrumental eclectic prog album. This is a wonderful prog rock CD all the way, with a more retro '70s vibe, helps that a '70s rock veteran helps, not to mention Jarrod Gosling's love of all things analog, including the Mellotron, which he uses rather nicely. It's a bit hard to describe this. Some of my favorite parts include the flute on "Everyone From Sweden", the nice spacy synth atmosphere of "Man Singing". "My Favourite Zombie Dream" has a bit of a King Crimson thing going on, same for "Chic Hippo" but there's also a trumpet solo. Fans of crossover prog might stick with the debut CD, but those into eclectic prog should give Men Singing a try. I also love that this CD has none of that annoying "loudness wars". I do not like have the instruments being mixed in so loud that they threaten to drown themselves out (metal acts are most guilty of that, but I realize that metal groups always wanted to be as loud of possible, and even neo-prog acts, just to sound more "contemporary"). You get none of that here, making it easy on the ears. Another thing I greatly appreciate is the CD is not much longer than 40 minutes, enough to fit on a single LP (it's also available on LP), so sitting through it is no problem. I am glad that in 2013 that prog like this is still being made.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Men singing? Unfortunately not; I miss a lot on this record. Henry Fool, considered a crossover band, is in my opinion rather an eclectic band or an avant-garde band. Does it make the music more interesting? Absolutely not! First I was honoured to see my country's name in the first track's ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#1064215) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Monday, October 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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