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Check out these rare 1967 Velvet Underground covers from Dutch kids and U.S. soldiers in Vietnam!
06.12.2014
08:17 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Velvet Underground
Riats
Electrical Banana

ngyhfijgu
 
It’s truly amazing to think that somehow a few eager rock ‘n’ rollers, living in the Netherlands in the ‘60s, getting whatever US and UK records they could get their hands on, wind up with the first Velvets LP, grouping it in with The Beatles, Stones, Monkees, and Lovin’ Spoonful albums that they got that day. And when it was time to go for broke and make their own first record, what did they do? That’s right, pick 2 songs off that weird banana record! Think about that thought process—they didn’t pick 2 songs from 2 different bands, or one original song with a cover song on the flip side like every other band, they covered two Velvets songs! I can’t wrap my head around this. These Dutch kids saw, in 1967, what the rest of the world took about 25 years to notice. The band is called The Riats. What could the name mean? Stair backwards? Misspelling of Riots? Rats? We probably will never know.

When I first found this years ago it just about melted my mind with questions that are still unanswered. The band made several 45’s and an LP, none anything much to speak of. This is pretty great though. Take away the Velvet Underground’s mystique, vibe, danger, art, even their sunglasses, and what do you have? This solid beat dancer! Organ-dominated, with a pounding production and a great guitar solo. Phonetic babbling a go-go, lord knows they had no idea what they were saying. But “Run Run Run” is really great. The B side, a somber, sorta clunky run through of “Sunday Morning,” could be anybody making any record in 1967, but my mind is SO etched with wondering what this meant to them, and what it means to me personally that it still screws me up a bit hearing it. I really wish there was an interview from ‘67 where these guys explain why they made this 45. It’s pretty odd for a band to basically do a tribute to a totally unknown band. Especially THAT band.

Enjoy the unbelievable: The Riats, “Run, Run, Run”/“Sunday Morning,” Omega Records, 1967 (Sadly I can’t find “Sunday Morning” anywhere on the internet).
 

 
Similar but even more incredible is the saga of The Electrical Banana.
 
fgfhrtvd
 
In March of 1966 Dean Kohler, then of The Satellites, was drafted, and his rock ‘n’ roll dreams were put aside…for a few minutes! Dean’s amazing story, including his Vietnam sojourn, is way too much to go into here, but please check his website here, or check out his book Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldier: A Memoir. In a nutshell, he taught a buddy to play bass on the bottom four strings of a guitar supplied by their ship’s chaplain during a 28-day boat ride across the ocean. Along with roughly three thousand men were guitars, amps, and drums. Together with a drummer and another guitarist (the aspiring bass player was not quite ready), Dean’s thrown-together threesome played for “all aboard” on Christmas Day 1966.

Upon landing, Dean and the shy bassist formed The Electrical Banana. They were originally The Swinging Banana in homage to Portsmouth’s Swinging Machine (the most revered and feared band of Dean’s hometown), but after thinking about it for a quick minute they nixed the name for obvious reasons! With matching banana yellow uniforms, Vietnamese guitars and a bamboo stalk for a mic stand, the guys were in business, playing at servicemen’s clubs in the off time from their rigorous regular schedules as MP’s. Remarkably, and mostly due to their conceptual banana fever, someone got ahold of and gave Dean the first Velvet Underground LP (with the Warhol banana cover, of course) within a month of its release. The band promptly snagged “There She Goes Again” for their repertoire and even recorded it live in the middle of Vietnam about a month later, along with Dean’s fine jangler “She’s Gone” (also on the compilation LP mentioned below).

In the best sense of American musical spirit and ingenuity, the band threw down pallets, pitched a tent, dragged over a gas-powered generator, hooked everything up and voila! Not only was it recorded, but released (sort of) in the form of ten acetates with individual custom labels crediting “The Banana,” with a copy of the finished product going to all involved. Again, given the decades it took for the Velvet Underground to receive their due respect and rewards, it’s almost impossible to conceive of the true story I just told, that a band recorded a Velvets cover in the middle of a Vietnam jungle in a gas-powered recording studio straight out of Gilligan’s Island, around ONE MONTH after the Velvets debut release!! Talk about being ahead of their time—woah.
 

 
The two Electrical Banana tracks, along with music by The Satellites, The Swinging Machine, and many more can be heard on the compilation Aliens, Psychos and Wild Things (Rare & Unissued Virginia Garage 1964-1967) on the greatest record label in the world, Norton Records. Check out their website.
 
fgtyjveurt
 
Big thanks to Simon Trent whose liner notes I used (liberally) to write the Electrical Banana story.
 

Posted by Howie Pyro | Discussion
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Ian Curtis’ original handwritten lyrics for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’
06.12.2014
07:44 am

Topics:
History
Music

Tags:
Joy Division
Ian Curtis


 
After Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” surfaced in a Joy Division/New Order exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, images of the wrinkled 35-year-old sheet of notebook paper have been making fairly brisk rounds of Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. It’s not hard to understand why. The single was released very shortly after Curtis’ suicide, which transformed the song into an instant self-elegy for both Curtis and the beloved band. The title, in fact, is literally Curtis’ epitaph.
 

 

 
But even if Curtis had decided not to end his life that day in 1980, and Joy Division had continued, doesn’t it seem likely that it would have remained their signature song anyway? It has an intrinsic and enduring melancholy beauty that surely resonates even with listeners who know nothing of the song’s tragic connections, and its lyrics, though highly literate, still touch the universal. From coffeehouses to arena stage, it’s easily Joy Division’s most covered song. Here’s a roundup of several artists trying their hand.
 

David Gahan of Depeche Mode
 

Nouvelle Vague
 

Probably my favorite despite my growing weariness of ukuleles—Evelyn Evelyn
 

Swans
 

José González of Junip
 

Atoms For Peace
 

And of course, Joy Division‘s original.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Germs drummer Don Bolles is selling off his old punk flyers
06.11.2014
03:03 pm

Topics:
Advertising
History
Music
Punk

Tags:
Germs
Don Bolles

Don Bolles
Butthole Surfers, Descendents, Big Boys, 1982
 
Don Bolles, drummer from the legendary LA punk band The Germs is selling off some choice ephemera over at punkflyer.com. Some of the best things have been sold, but there’s plenty left. Seventy-five bucks isn’t a terrible price for an original Black Flag flyer, right?

These lineups are enough to make my head spin: Black Flag/Bangles/Redd Kross on the same bill? Butthole Surfers/Descendents/Big Boys? Shiiiit.

Plus, Bolles says that he’ll be “adding more flyers on a daily basis,” so by all means, check the listing again and see what’s popped up since your last visit.
 
Don Bolles
Consumers, 1978
 
Don Bolles
The Fall, The Dull, Silver Chalice, Geza X, 1980
 
Don Bolles
The Feelies, Human Hands, 1981
 
Don Bolles
Circle Jerks, Stingers, Rhino 39, Runs, 1981
 
Don Bolles
Wasted Youth, 1983
 
Don Bolles
Black Flag, Redd Kross, Bangles, 1983
 
Don Bolles
45 Grave, Bad Religion, Pandoras, 1984
 
Don Bolles
“What is 45 Grave?” booklet, 1984
 
Don Bolles
Sonic Youth press kit, 1988
 
The Germs, live at the Whiskey, 1979:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Incredible unpublished 1995 interview with Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna
06.11.2014
09:42 am

Topics:
Feminism
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Riot Grrrl
Zines
Kathleen Hanna

kathleen h singing
 
I stumbled across a box of old correspondence recently and found a few forgotten letters from Kathleen Hanna, singer for Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and The Julie Ruin, from almost two decades ago. I vaguely remember sending her an embarrassing number of interview questions for a fly-by-night zine and, to my shock, she responded. She typed a lot of her answers on an honest-to-God typewriter. Unfortunately the zine stopped being produced and this interview didn’t see the light of day…until now.

Kathleen’s support for aspiring young female writers and musicians cannot be overstated. She was the riot grrrl movement’s big sister, muse, and fairy godmother. Bikini Kill wasn’t exactly raking in a ton of money, but she still bought zines from riot grrrls all over the world.

Not only that, she was amazing at introducing girls and building a support network. She asked me to suss out a nearby midwestern college town’s LGBT community for a dyke friend of hers who was moving there to teach at a small conservative university with no out faculty members or LGBT student organizations whatsoever. How could I say “No” to the amazing Kathleen? I was pregnant, prostrate with endless, debilitating morning sickness, unable to look at a computer screen without throwing up, but you bet your ass I still called around, researched, and compiled twenty pages of notes for her to pass along to her professor friend.
 
kathleen zine
 

Q: What was the best show you’ve ever played? What was the worst? And why?

Kathleen Hanna: BEST SHOWS ARE ALWAYS IN MINOT because the kids are spazzy and don’t care about cool….also some of our first shows in Olympia meant a lot to me just because we met w/so much opposition and our friends supported us…...oh yeah, our show in Richmond about a year ½ ago where my sister sang rebel girl & demirep with us and when the bass amp broke she did an acapella medley of songs we used to sing a long to (like on the family record player) and it just about broke my heart. My sister is actually an amazing singer and performer, Imean, I always knew she could sing, cuz we learned together by mimicing records, but I didn’t know what a performer she was till that nite.

Q: What was the stupidest remark any music store clerk has ever made to you?

KH: Okay, both these come from the same guy. 1. I was asking if I could sell my fanzine/writing thing and he said he wouldn’t sell it cuz it didn’t have anything to do with music and I should come back after I write something about my groupie experiences or something. 2. After living in the same town for like 7 years and being in tons of bands, putting on shows, putting out writing, etc….the same guy comes up to me when I’m reading a comic book in his store (incidentally he sold the comic book even thouggh IT had nothing [to] do with music) and starts telling me what a great guy the dude who made the comic is and he used to be in this local band blah blah blah, what he didn’t know is I wrote the comic I was looking at and went out with the dude (asshole) he was talking about for like two years. Duh.

Q: Do you think that there are more or fewer young women these days who fall into the “I’m not a feminist, but…” category than there were five years ago? Why?

KH: I really don’t know, I can’t answer that one.
 
bikinikill
 

Q: What are your thoughts on the following feminist theorists and writers:

a) Andrea Dworkin

KH:  saw her give a lecture. Went up and told her I felt erased by everything she said because I “am a feminist AND a sex worker”. She totally condescended to me and told me i’d pay for what I’d done for the rest of my life. She also lied and said that COYOTE, an organization by and for women who work as prostitutes was not happeneing at all anymore and trashed its founder, Margo St.James, and acted like there were No organizations by and for sex workers in existence (which is and was a total fucking lie) She also believes (or at least she did at this lecture a few years back) that feminists should work with law enforcement agencies which is just fucking stewpid…..and was in support of a bill/legislation (it passed) in WA state that made it so all sex workers (dancers/models/and other legal sex work situations and women who’d been arrested for prostitution) have to register with the police and pay a $75 dollar liscensing fee(obviously this is for legal sex professions) and get fingerprinted.  THIS IS TOTALLY FUCKED UP AND CLASSIST and bogus because it makes it so poor women have to come up with the same 75 dollars as middle class/rich ones would PLUS if you are in a jam because of domestic violence, or whatever and you need a job that pays cash quick, like dancing, say but they make you pay this fee…I mean, who can afford it. I could go on and on. My main problem is that she thinks she can speak for all of us (sex workers and women in general) and she can’t. She’s also totally mean. BUT some of her writing is interesting even though shes full of shit.

b) Germaine Greer

KH: I know about her but am not really familiar with her work.

c) Susan Faludi

KH: I liked backlash, it was sorta like pulp novel reading for feminist theory heads and seemed good, just in general, but I already knew sexism existed.

d) Mary Daly

KH: Shes like an ecofeminist and that shit scares me. I’m sure I’ll read her someday but I really hate the idea that women are more nurturing/close to the earth than men or something…...I think its stewpid and strategically flawed.

e) Naomi Wolf

KH: I read The Beauty Myth, and while it was interesting on some levels, like the idea of beauty being “the third shift” for women, I hated how she kept playing white women against Men and Women of Color, like how she’d be all like (this is not a direct quote) “No employer would expect an African American to do blah blah blah, so why do they expect women to do blah blah blah…” I mean, that shits just stewpid cuz Naomi Wolf doesn’t know jack about whatever any individual African American male OR female has to deal with in terms of employment, and also she would act like all women are white over and over and over and, well, it just so annoying and dumb that I stopped reading it, so whatever.

f) bell hooks

KH: I think bell hooks is one of the most important and creative scholars around. I’ve read almost all her stuff and cant wait till she puts out some fiction ( maybe she has and I don’t know?) Anyways, yeah, I could go on and on. I like studying her writing style because it seems really fluid and effortless even though she is explaining very difficult/complex ideas that are operating on several different levels, usually in a way that both academics and non-academics can understand.
 
kathleenint
 
Q: What do you think of the anti-feminist writers such as Christina Hoff Sommers and Paglia?

KH: I haven’t read them because I don’t feel like it. I have heard stories though and it makes me think that, you know, while some of their ideas maybe interesting, MEN tend to tokenize any woman who says anything that sounds at all, even remotely anti-feminist, and then this whole duality thing starts happening where no one really pays attention to their work anymore. Men just use Them to make women who disagree with them feel like shit…….and then certain feminists dismiss them altogether as male identified. Actually, I think that whole phenomenon is probably more interesting then some of these ladies ideas, but I don’t know, like I said I haven’t read them. I’d like to see more writing by feminists about Tokenization, specifically how it functions in different feminist contexts.

Q: What is your opinion of misogynist FEMALE musicians who insist on bashing other women and not supporting them?

KH: Courtney is boring. I am not interested in her.

Q: What is your favorite piece of musical equipment?

KH: My mouth.

Q: Last two books read?

KH: BE MY BABY by Ronnie Spector. Baudellair Live, Interviews with Baud. edited by Mike Gane

More delightfully outspoken opinions from Hanna, including what rock star might be a candidate for getting “beaten senseless with a brick” after the jump…..

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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Nick Cave talks songwriting, Hell-fire and redemption but tells no jokes


 
Nick Cave lost his innocence watching Johnny Cash sing. He was about nine or ten years of age, living with his librarian mother and teacher father in rural Wangaratta, in Victoria, Australia. Cave didn’t know much about rock ‘n’ roll, but watching Johnny Cash sing on TV, he suddenly realized:
 

...that music could be an evil thing, a beautiful, evil thing.

For me it was very much the way he began the show. He’d have his back to you in silhouette, dressed all in black, and he’d swing around and say “Hi, I’m Johnny Cash”. There was something that struck me about him, and about the way my parents shifted around uncomfortably.

 
After joining the school choir, Cave harbored his own ambitions for a career in music. His first major success came with The Birthday Party, five chaotic individuals in search of a tune, where Cave unleashed his own “evil thing,” a vision of hell, fueled by drink, drugs, and his constant reading of the Hell-fire and damnation of the Old Testament.
 

The brutality of the Old Testament inspired me, the stories and grand gestures. I wrote that stuff up and it influenced the way I saw the world. What I’m trying to say is I didn’t walk around in a rage thinking God is a hateful god. I was influenced by looking at the Bible, and it suited me in my life vision at the time to see things in that way. .... After a while I started to feel a little kinder and warmer to the world, and at the same time started to read the New Testament.

 
Cave was smart enough to know this “solipsism of youth” couldn’t last, and after the band split he returned to home. After a few months, fellow Birthday Party musician, Mick Harvey, suggested they form a band, and so was born Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds.

While we wait for the full release of the biographical drama-documentary on Nick Cave, 20,000 Days on Earth, this edition of Melvyn Bragg’s The South Bank from 2003, presents a revealing portrait of the singer, poet, author, actor, and screenwriter. Cave discusses his influences (from Cash and John Lee Hooker to Nina Simone), inspirations for songs, the key moments in his life, and the importance of being a writer.

The Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds tour of the US and Canada starts this month, details here.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Violent Femmes, live at the Hacienda, 1983 and 1984
06.11.2014
07:48 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Violent Femmes
Hacienda
Cherry Red


 
Cherry Red Records’ generous YouTube channel holds a lot of treasures, but the offerings that have been hogging my attention lately are the handful of Violent Femmes concert clips. Culled from two shows at the legendary Hacienda in Manchester UK, they capture the band at the early height of their powers, when they were touring the material from their first two albums, the immortal self-titled debut full of wrist-slitter singalongs, and the astonishing southern gothic masterpiece Hallowed Ground, which remains the best thing they’ve ever released.
 

 
Despite the austere shooting and thin sound, these clips still compellingly capture a lot of the band’s early angst, though as you’ll see, the ‘83 stuff (the first three seen here) is better than the ‘84. “Add it Up,” especially, absolutely kills. The two entire shows were released on the 2007 DVD Violent Femmes—Live at the Hacienda, but the Cherry Red web site no longer lists it.
 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Never-before-seen’ 1972 Miles Davis acetate from Columbia Recording Studios available on eBay
06.11.2014
06:34 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis

Miles Davis
 
A strange and marvelous item popped up on eBay recently—as of Wednesday, June 11, the auction in question, posted by reputable eBay user carolinasoul, has four days and change to go. As of this writing, the price is at $315, for which you will receive “one jaw-droppingly special piece, a likely one-of-a-kind Miles Davis acetate.” According to the handwritten label, the material was recorded on December 28, 1972.

The two sides—you can’t even say “side A” and “side B” in a situation like this—are 14:40 and 5:40 in length. According to carolinasoul, “We’ve identified the 14:40 side as a take of the track that would eventually become ‘Billy Preston’ on Get Up With It.” Davis’ 1974 album was the trumpeter’s last studio album before his “retirement” in the mid-1970s.

The material on the 5:40 side has yet to be identified.
 
Miles Davis
 
Here are the snippets of material carolinasoul posted as a sample:
 
Excerpt #1 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #2 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #3 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #4 of the 14:40 side:

 
Excerpt #1 of the 5:40 side:

 
Excerpt #2 of the 5:40 side:

 
Miles Davis
 
This is one of those auctions where it’s hard to believe that “No questions or answers have been posted about this item.”
 
Miles Davis, “Billy Preston”:

 


Thanks to Lawrence Daniel Caswell!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Eerie avant-garde noise duo The Garden drone into your brain with new video for ‘Crystal Clear’
06.10.2014
12:19 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
The Garden
Burger Records


The two have modeled for Saint Laurent. Because look at them.
 
Remember a post I did way back on eerie avant-garde two-piece, The Garden? Comprised of now-20-year-old identical twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, whom I likened to two “little twin baby Richard Hells?” Well they’re about to release three 7-inches through the wonderful folks at Burger Records, and they have a new music video out for “Crystal Clear.”

The Orange, California, pair’s debut album The Life and Times of a Paperclip came out less than a year ago, but their murky, spastic sounds immediately garnered attention from unexpected sources. Hedi Slimane, creative director for Saint Laurent (Yves Saint Laurent’s ready-to-wear line), hired the two to walk the runway in a Paris menswear show. Though they’re usually a little more thrift store than high fashion, they look like actual runway models. (Fletcher is also known for wearing women’s clothes and make-up, to lovely effect.)

They work a kind of deconstructed early goth sound, and the video is all abduction, abuse, and alienation. I suggest you start smoking now and lose yourself in the sort of arty ominousness that makes you wish you looked good in heavy eye-liner. It should be noted that The New York Times recently did a feature on Burger Records—let’s hope it’s the beginning of a new upswing in boutique labels pushing weird bands doing weird DIY shit. 
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Black Flag is for the children!
06.10.2014
10:58 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Black Flag
Greg Ginn
Mike Vallely


 
Increasingly notorious and tedious Black Flag honcho Greg Ginn may have found a redemptive moment to counter his ongoing quest to debase the name of his second greatest contribution to the world (the greatest being SST records, in case you actually had to ask). At the end of last week, the news began to spread that the band, now made up of Ginn and former pro skater Mike Vallely, will perform a “stripped-down” show of Black Flag songs—for kids.
 

 
The all-ages (duh) show is on Tuesday, June 17, at 6 pm, at Reggie’s in Chicago, and I really wish I could be there! Imagine relatively quiet, kid-friendly versions of “Rise Above,” “TV Party,” “Black Coffee,” “Police Story,” “Slip It In”… well, I guess probably not those last two. Who knows, maybe in bare-bones form, the piss-poor, Black-Flag-in-name-only dross from last year’s reunion abortion What the… might not totally suck.

Here’s some live footage of Black Flag when they mattered, a late Rollins-era performance from the Michigan cable program Back Porch Video.
 


 
Previously:
What the… Ron Reyes out of reconstituted Black Flag

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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‘Living in the Heart of the Beast’: Experimental Marxist prog-rock greats Henry Cow on Swiss TV 1976
06.10.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Henry Cow


 
Henry Cow was one of the most distinctive (okay, difficult) of England’s ‘70s prog-rock groups. They are impossible to categorize and are totally an acquired taste, but once you “get” their music, you come to see how Henry Cow fills in several boxes of the “everything that can possibly be done with the popular music artform” grid all on their lonesome.

For about three years in the late ‘70s, I saw the same Henry Cow album, In Praise of Learning, sitting pricey and unsold in the “Imports” bin of a Musicland store in a St. Clairsville, Ohio shopping mall, where artists like X-Ray Spex, Renaissance, Suzi Quatro, New York Dolls, King Crimson, the Velvet Underground, Fairport Convention, The Damned, Tangerine Dream, Nektar, Klaus Schulze, John Cale, The Stooges, Gentle Giant, Magma, Gong, and The Sweet were all placed in the context of a catchall “foreign music”/out of print in America/expensive category. “Imports” covered a lot of musical territory, even bringing In Praise of Learning to a town where not one person cared.

There was a quote on the back, from the Scottish filmmaker who coined the term “documentary,” John Grierson: “Art is not a mirror – it is a hammer.” The lyrics seemed smart and mysterious, and I wanted to understand them.

One of the clerks there told me, “If you’re into groups like Genesis and Yes, Henry Cow is supposed to be like a weirder version of that.” I don’t think he’d ever heard them either—the record was still sealed—but that was sort of their reputation.

Despite the fact that I loathed both Yes and Genesis, it was that quote, “Art is not a mirror – it is a hammer” that eventually made me so curious about what was going on in the mysterious grooves of that record, that I finally succumbed and bought it. I think I paid $12 for it at a time when domestic LPs cost around $5.98 list.

I fucking hated it. The cool Marxist lyrics aside, it did nothing for me, but then again, I doubt that the band members of Henry Cow were sitting around in 1975 thinking “Hmmm, you know, how do make our unorthodox, experimental music appeal to a teenage dickhead living in rural West Virginia?”

It would take several years, in fact, before I ever listened to In Praise of Learning again, after those first few bewildered spins, and then I began to appreciate the sheer bloody-mindedness of what these musicians were trying to do. Eventually I got really obsessed by it, especially the song performed in the clip below.

It’s not an album I pull out often, but I do like it enough to buy it on CD. Would I ever, say, decide to listen to In Praise of Learning in the car? Well, no. If you ask me, the way to appreciate Henry Cow, if you are approaching this work for the first time, is to look at them as a group of Marxist poets creating together. It’s certainly musical, but there is an “extra-musical” component that I appreciate about In Praise of Learning, especially in the epic polemic, “Living in the Heart of the Beast,” with lyrics by Tim Hodgkinson:

Situation that rules your world (despite all you’ve said)
I would strike against it but the rule displaces…

There I burn in my own lights fuelled with flags torn out
of books, and histories of marching together…
United with heroes, we were the rage, the fire.
But I was given a different destiny - knotted in closer despair.
Calling to heroes do you have to speak that way all the time ?
Tales told by idiots in paperbacks; a play of forms
to spite my fabulous need to fight and live.

We exchange words, coins, movements - paralysed in loops
of care that we hoped could knot a world still.
Sere words, toothless, ruined now, bulldozed into brimming pits
- who has used them how? Grammar book that lies wasted :
conflux of voices rising to meet, and fall,
empty, divided, other…

Clutching at sleeves the wordless man exposes his failure :
smiling, he hurls a wine glass, describing his sadness twisted
into mere form : shattered in a glass, he’s changed…
How dare he seize the life before him and discompound it in
sulphurous confusion and give it to the air?
He’s rushing to find where there’s a word of liquid syntax
- signs let slip in a flash : “clothes of chaos are my rage !”
he shrieks in tatters, hunting the eye of his own storm.

We were born to serve you all our bloody lives
labouring tongues we give rise to soft lies :
disguised metaphors that keep us in a vast inverted silliness
twice edged with fear.
Twilight signs decompose us
High in offices we stared into the turning wheel of cities
dense and ravelled close yet separate : planned to kill all encoutner.
Intricate we saw your state at work its shapes
abstracted from all human intent. With our history’s fire
we shall harrow your signs.

Now is the time to begin to go forward - advance from despair,
the darkness of solitary men - who are chained in a market they
cannot control - in the name of a freedom that hangs like a pall
on our cities. And their towers of silence we shall destroy.

Now is the time to begin to determine directions, refuse to admit
the existence of destiny’s rule. We shall seize from all heroes and
merchants our labour, our lives, and our practice of history : this,
our choice, defines the truth of all that we do.

Seize on the words that oppose us with alien force; they’re enslaved
by the power of capital’s kings who reduce them to coinage and
hollow exchange in the struggle to hold us, they’re bitterly
outlasting… Time to sweep them down from power
- deeds renew words.

Dare to take sides in the fight for freedom that is common cause
let us All be as strong and as resolute. We’re in the midst of
a universe turning in turmoil; of classes and armies of thought
making war - their contradictions clash and echo through time.

Below, Henry Cow: Georgie Born – bass guitar, cello; Lindsay Cooper – bassoon, oboe, recorder, sopranino saxophone, piccolo, piano; Chris Cutler – drums; Fred Frith – guitar, violin, xylophone, piano, tubular bells; Tim Hodgkinson – organ, alto saxophone, clarinet; Dagmar Krause – voice—performing “Living in the Heart of the Beast” in Vevey, Switzerland for the Swiss TV program Kaleidospop on August 25, 1976. The entire 75-minute concert can be found on Henry Cow’s 40th Anniversary Box Set.

Stay with it. Some of you might not be able to take it, but if you can go with it, by the end it will make total sense. Fred Frith’s guitar solo in the latter half is utterly mind-blowing.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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