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Hello there- First it was the Soft Machine. i was 16. Boom. Out of the blue, i saw the first album cover and bought it out of curiosity. No idea why...but it was that life-altering purchase. Cut to abotu 5 years later, i finally get the three classic Henry Cow albums. My goddess...It seems you are at once both repulsed and in praise of this band. I would go with the more positive impulse...they are proficient, challenging, audacious, powerful, political, playful, serious...i agree with what you say for the most part. As for meaning, i believe like all masterpieces, ambiguity plays an essential role. A natural response to the unknown is rage, jokes, and disapproval. I think their form is important to recognize, as well as content- "how" they are doing it just as much as "what". As for emotionless- i've been moved plenty by them (hey, they recognize emotions- track 2 on Legend, "amygdala"= the center of the brain that deals with emotions!) I think that there is a hollowing feeling when listening to them for me, because of the tense imagery they evoke (urban decay, war, etc). I'm sure you know that other groups have done alot more than "repeat a complex theme", especially during this self-indulgent time, without explaining themselves. These mothers are the toughest bunch of simultaneusly soloing outlaws i've heard, and i'll stick to 'em! This is proto-soundtrack-for-ecological-disaster-documentary music, preceeding the qatsi-trilogy work by Philip Glass and groups like Godspeedyou!blackemperor by decades. Also, their second effort, Unrest, is in dire need of a review!
Mark Champion <Mark.Champion@utsa.edu> (29.07.2005)
Hi from Texas, George . . . Not that it will change your mind or anything, but you seem to have gotten hold of the first CD version of LegEnd which is a remix of the original Virgin Records LP release and hence very different-sounding from the original. Having been used to the LP version, this one sounded to me like a mess until I got used to it; the extra track added nothing to that impression (still doesn't). Anyway, if you can get the second reissue you will hear the album as it originally was (ie, not all echoey and smooth-sounding). Not that I'll blame you if you don't - - guess you either like the Cow or you don't.
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