Henry Cow formed in 1968 around guitarist Fred Frith and keyboardist/horn player Tim Hodgkinson. Part of the avant-jazz Canterbury (both a location and a genre) school of Prog, they became known for their bizarre, angular free-jazz compositions - honking and tooting in the best Ornette Coleman tradition - along with the... difficult... vocal stylings of Dagmar Krause.
Their debut album, Legend (1973), set the tone for the brave musical experimentation on the rest of their albums up through their swan song, 1979's Western Culture LP, after which the members went their separate ways, with Fred Frith and drummer Chris Cutler maintaining the highest creative profile in latter years--in the Art Bears (with Krause) and later in News From Babel (with contributions from Robert Wyatt); Frith also did a bit of time in Bill Laswell's Material, and formed the Prog supergroup Massacre as a Material offshoot. Dagmar Krause also appeared recently on the Lost in the Stars Kurt Weill tribute LP.
Henry Cow has been described as "Art Rock", with a capital "A-R", but the most telling critique of their music may be the following: "Wow, there's a lot going on here. Everyone solos at once." Take that observation and run with it!
The Prog Rock Corner selection for 8/25/96 was "Beautiful As the Moon - Terrible As An Army With Banners" from Henry Cow's 1975 LP, In Praise of Learning, a collaboration with fellow avant-garde conspirators Slapp Happy.
Prog Rock Corner Index
Our impression of "Beautiful As the Moon...":
Noisy (but certainly not "noise rock"), discordant, and not for feeble-hearted Prog fans. Dagmar Krause's vocals make you, umm, sit up and take notice...
Find out more about Henry Cow:
Please report any problems or concerns regarding this site to the webmaster.
This document last modified