Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Henry Cow ~ Concerts (remastered)

ReR are planning to re-issue Henry Cow’sConcerts” album in September. This has been remastered by Bob Drake and is effectively the first domestic (UK) release for this on CD. The only other version I am aware of was on the US East Side Digital label a number of years back.

Concerts” was the first Henry Cow album I had heard and is possibly the best showcase for what the band were about. Combining structured and improvisional material, this was uncompromising stuff. Originally a double album, the first side was a BBC session and is some of the best studio performances the bad ever did. A superb medley of material from their earlier albums plus an excellent cover of Bill McCormick’sGloria Gloom”.

For me the highlight of the album will always be the live version of “Ruins”. This knocks spots off the studio version and the guitar solo by Fred Frith is absolutely incredible. This is not what is expected from a rock guitar solo, no flashy technique or super fast playing. Instead Frith delivers a solo which is brilliantly intuitive, controlled and thoroughly original, inventive and thrilling. Never been bettered.

There are also some very good live tracks with Robert Wyatt including “Bad Alchemy” (originally from “Desperate Straights” another great recent Bob Drake remaster) and “Little Red Riding Hood Hits the Road from Wyatt’s classic “Rock Bottom”.

The other pieces on the album are very good improvisational pieces, though the side long piece “Oslo” does require “patience” or is that tests ones “patience”!

Check out Bob Drake’s diary entry for 4th April ( for the low down on how 30 seconds of the only master tape in existence got skrunched! Ouch!!


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