Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Another cool LP on Caroline that features Lindsay Cooper is "Henry Cow: Concerts"

I've just been totally adoring Side 1, which is a BBC Session of some sort from about 1975: wonderfully tight, of course, and also beautifully recorded. That's not to dis the rawer-sounding live material featuring Robert Wyatt and so forth, but this section is tightening my boots nicely right now. This is one of the joys of blogging: revisiting stuff and renewing my own enjoyment, maybe seeing some colours and connections that I didn't spot ten years ago or whatever.

Anyway, there's a great Lindsay moment a few minutes into the first section which starts with "Beautiful as the Moon; Terrible as an Army with Banners" (Only Henry Cow could have semi-colons in their song titles...) : Dagmar Krause is singing this Brecht type thing in her crisp, clipped German accent accompanied by a piano, bass-guitar & drums and it sounds soooo cliched and small town theatre 70's arts-group, almost amateurish, the first half-dozen times you play it...then the weird chord changes really start to get under your skin and you suddenly find yourself doing a Re-Wind, Selecta! With each play the song gradually grows into something more stirring and uplifting (inna downbeat way), and you find yourself getting more and more fascinated with her accent, particularly the way she says "Vorld" instead of "World" (Hey, maybe that's why I like The Cheeky Girls...fuck it, yeah, it's the accent...), and you suddenly realise how truly sexy revolution can be, and you get an uncontrollable urge to march on a major Bastion of Kapital, but there's not a Starbucks in Yeovil so you just end up grabbing a pocket edition of Iron in the Soul and sitting in Coffee Republic...sorry, Cafe Nero. (Cafe Nero: what the fuck's that about? A cafe themed around violins, insanity and burning cities...hey, maybe it's a Henry Cow Theme Cafe: a Marxist-Prog Cafe with pictures of Lenin (and an Engels' Feminist Swimsuit Special featuring Mr. A) on the wall...Fair Trade fairy cakes...Prolitariate Walnut Slices)

Yeah, so anyway, the Lindsay moment comes after the end of Dagmar's turn, when John Greaves take the music up a couple of notches (always loved his bass playing; nice tone and twang to it; the way it twists and turns and not just for the sake of it...Kew Rhone, his solo LP is still an unfathomable mystery to me...), then Lindsay comes in on oboe in perfect pitch with Tim Hodgkinson's organ and it's so unexpected and utterly fucking Nang after all the stiff teutonic singing stuff. And then: Fred Frith comes in on top of them a few seconds later and his guitar-tone is so modulated and creamy (yet stiff), very Fripp-like, but not. It's like progressive layers of geological tone are being dumped on to the track: sonic strata, frequency accretions... Frith plays with the timbre; makes the guitar flutter and trill and it's utterly fabulous to listen to, but, meanwhile, Lindsay's been doing this weird Escher-like chord progression thing with Hodgkinson that seems to step its way endlessly upwards without ever getting anywhere, like an army slowly storming heaven via the back staircase. It's great.

And then it all breaks down into this Mothers-of-Invention type controlled collapse (Like on The Mothers' "One Size Fits All", but without the joyful "On Ruth! On Ruth! Hurh-huh! That's Ruth!" bit. And, yeah, I fancied Ruth Underwood for at least three days too. Fancying a classically-trained female percussionist: how twisted is that?) before it pulls itself together and trundles off somewhere else with Lindsay playing syncopated bass-parts on bassoon that sound like a three-wheeled Tesco trolley going round and round in clunky circles in the car-park. Where the music goes after that isn't important; what really matters is that wonderful, unexpected moment of transition where the music does something totally magical and transformational. Like a miniature revolution.

And that was my Lindsay moment: Tomorrow, something else, some other memory or moment will no doubt temporarily obsess me, possess me and animate me. And what that might be won't matter either.

Because after that, there will always be something else.


At 6:56 am, Blogger Psychbloke said...

Other than Brecht and The Cheeky Girls I have never heard of any of these people...but hey, 'Escher-Like chord progression".....what a turn of phrase!

At 12:17 pm, Blogger farmer glitch said...

got a pile of old David Thomas solo lps sitting here beside me - all featuring fine playing from Lindsay Cooper ... turntable has blown a fuse - but from memory (not played the things for at least a decade) - 'More Places Forever (Rough Trade - Rough 80, 1985) is a damn lovely record - featuring Cris Cutler and Tony Maimone the soon to be reformed Pere Ubu alongside Mr. Thomas...

'Variations on a Theme' (Rough 60) - is a bit looser to these ears - but features the man (not the one with a van thank god) - Richard Thompson in fine form ...

'Winter Comes Home' is a live lp from 83 with only Cutler, Cooper and Thomas performing somewhat stripped down versions of Pere Ubu tracks from the classic Art of Walking and Bailing Man sets ... does not really do it for me this one - but has some nice `basson, onoe and sax playing form ms.cooper throughout....

now off to buy a fuese so ~I can hear these things again !

At 8:46 pm, Blogger kek-w said...

Ahhh: Lindsay, Chris Cutler and the cuddly David Thomas: a match made in heaven!


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