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Henry Cow - In Praise of Learning CD (album) cover


Henry Cow



3.95 | 228 ratings

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4 stars My Favourite Cow.

This album is different from other Henry Cow albums in having Dagmar Krause provide vocals, while other members of Slapp Happy also contributed (Slapp Happy agreed to join/'merge' with Henry Cow for this album and their tour, with Henry Cow contributing to Slapp Happy's album Desperate Straights. Dagmar Krause would for a while join Henry Cow as a full member). In Praise of Learning thus feels very different, with the emphasis for the first time on singing and words. While I love instrumental music, I think it works very well here, and pushes the quality here above the rest of the Cow discography. Dagmar Krause's singing style is very unique, simultaneously grating and beautiful. But regardless of what one thinks, you can't help but listen to her. The album is anchored by two of Cow's very best compositions, Tim Hodgkinson's "Living in the Heart of the Beast" and "Beautiful as the Moon, Terrible as an Army with Banners" written by Fred Frith and Chris Cutler. These take up the vast majority of the album. In between these epics are shorter pieces. The opening track, "War" (written by Slap Happy members Anthony Moore and Peter Blegvad) is fantastic, a proto-punk RIO anti-war anthem. Awesome song. Unfortunately, neither Henry Cow, nor even Slapp Happy, would ever create another track with the same punch. The two remaining tracks, "The Long March" and "Morning Star" seem more like filler, but in fact are also quite unique innovative pieces, rounding out (and in the case of "Morning Star" closing) the album. Even to this day, I don't think there is anything quite like this album. I wholeheartedly recommend it. I give it 8.8 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to high 4 PA stars. Their best work.

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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