Other Sellers on Amazon
Add to Basket
& FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Sold by: skyvo-direct
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Image Unavailable

Image not available for
  • Sorry, this item is not available in
  • Image not available

Western Culture CD

Price: £13.15 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
Only 2 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
11 new from £12.65

Amazon's Henry Cow Store

Visit Amazon's Henry Cow Store
for all the music, discussions, and more.

Frequently Bought Together

Western Culture + Desperate Straights + In Praise Of Learning
Price For All Three: £44.45

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Audio CD (28 Jan. 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Rer Megacorp
  • ASIN: B00005UPOK
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,661 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Industry
2. The Decay Of Cities
3. On The Raft
4. Falling Away
5. Gretel's Tale
6. Look Back
7. Half The Sky
8. Untitled Track
9. Viva Pa Ubu
10. Look Back (Alt)
11. Slice

Product Description

BBC Review

While most 70s progressive rockers had their noses stuck deep in the works of Herman Hesse or Tolkien and spent their time copping licks from Ravel or Mussorgsky, the members of Henry Cow were reading Marx, Mao and Walter Benjamin and preferred Varese, Cage or Sun Ra for inspiration. One of the first signings to Virgin records in 1973, the Cow were responsible for some of the most dazzlingly complex rock ever recorded, merging British psychedelia, free improvisation and modern classical with a healthy dose of revolutionary polemic. The band gained a reputation for immense seriousness depite their occasional sly Dadaist humour, though to be fair there pobably weren't many fart jokes in the Henry Cow tour bus.

Western Culture was recorded in 1978 some time after their difficult split with Virgin, and was made in the knowledge that the group was to fold afterwards (a previous attempt at recording had failed a few months earlier). Though these were obviously tricky times for all concerned, you wouldn't know it from the music on this CD, which is some of their finest and dispatched with awesome precision and economy.

Compositional duties are split between saxophonist/keyboardist Tim Hodgkinson and bassoonist Lindsay Cooper (possibly the only ever fulltime bassoonist in a rock band). Their dense, cerebral compositions are restless, angular affairs with nervy, timeshifting rhythmic dexterity from drummer Chris Cutler (who has to be one of the finest, most inventive drummers this country has ever produced) and guitarist Fred Frith (doubling on bass). Frith is superb, switching from fuzzed out, oblique rockisms to querulous Derek Bailey acoustic scrabble ("The Decay of Cities") and occupying a few thousand points inbetween. There are no pointless displays of prog virtuosity though; despite the sometimes bewildering complexity of the music, not a note is wasted throughout.

Guest pianist Irene Schweizer provides a spot of free jazz fire on Coopers doleful "Gretel's Tale", while Anne Marie Roeloffs's trombone and violin add extra textural grit. The most affecting track is "Half the Sky", where lush chords underpin Friths Frippish glides and Hodgkinsons chattering alto sax, eventually breaking out into an almost klezmer-esque melody over Cutler's tumbling percussives. Three extra tracks round off this long unavailable re-issue including "Viva Pa Ubu" (featuring former vocalist Dagmar Krause, here uncredited) and the all too short cut and thrust of "Slice". Exhausting, sometimes jaw droppingly gorgeous and occasionally very scary, Western Culture is a fitting testament to possibly the most progressive of all English rock bands. Bless 'em. --Peter Marsh

Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Ed Varese on 14 Aug. 2005
Format: Audio CD
This is a stupendous and solid work From Henry Cow. It presents us with a blitz of musical artistry. Good tunes, mind altering arrangements and twisted aural soundscapes all the way. Fred Frith stands out for me, with a broad showcase of his highly original guitar style.
Overall an intense and sometimes difficult but well paced and expertly deployed album. A perfect adjunct to "LegEnd"
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
artistic marriage of rock, modernist classical, jazz... 12 Feb. 2004
By Lord Chimp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
...the way only Henry Cow could do it.
After Henry Cow's _In Praise of Learning_, the situation in the band was getting a little divisive. Lindsay Cooper and Tom Hodgkinson wanted to compose longer instrumental pieces, while Chris Cutler and Fred Frith wanted to focus on more song-oriented music. Unfortunately, they couldn't come to an agreement so Frith, Cutler, and Dagmar Krause released their song-based material as the first Art Bears album, _Hopes and Fears_, while Hodgkinson and Cooper's work was released as the final Henry Cow album, _Western Culture_.
And let me tell you, it's fookin' brilliant. _Western Culture_ is pretty much entirely composed, with only sporadic glimpses of the band's previous affinities towards improvisation. Hodgkinson and Cooper each compose one side of the album (1 and 2, respectively -- BUT, they both wrote "1/2 the Sky"), and while they are distinctly different, it all ties together nicely because of the consistent harmonic quality and dense, tight arrangements. Best of all, this music, while very strange and complex, is also very moving and evocative, all the while deploying twisted, angular melodies, intense textural colors, dissonant harmonic language, and shifty motivic processes. This is also the most 'classical' sounding of their catalogue, probably because of the emphasis on wind instruments. Hodgkinson's pieces are gritty and atonal, complex and energetic. The organ outburst opening "Industry" takes off with Cutler's drumming unpredictably shifting accents. "The Decay of Cities" begins quite beautifully, with an unusually tuned acoustic guitar and melancholy trombone extending into catchy, danceable melodies, then strains of clattering noise split by a four-note arpeggio played on different instruments, then to scratching violin, and eventually resolving itself with the a rearrangement of the early motif. Cooper's pieces embrace Eastern European folk traditions with astute modernism, like Stravinsky, although some of the most revelatory moments bring out jazz idioms, like the percussive avant-jazz piano in "Gretel's Tale" or the chirping free saxophone over falling, dense, slowly-moving organ chords on "1/2 the Sky", which creates a very ominous sound. Cooper also provides "Look Back", a short, melancholy chamber piece for strings, woodwinds, and bass guitar, and in contrast to the album's prickly music, this is quite lyrical and beautiful (wish it was longer...). "Falling Away" is an aggressive rocker with an intricate folk melody and a churning rhythmic undercurrent. The music deconstructs in the middle, building towards its joyous apogee with its return to main melody at the end -- one of my favorite Henry Cow moments. Chris Cutler's drumming is at its finest here.
Definitely check this one out. This is Henry Cow's swansong, a tremendously rewarding album that still ranks as one of the most compositionally sophisticated 'rock' albums ever. This is one of those albums that I could listen to every day for the rest of my life and not get bored of it. It is intellectually satisfying, eminently listenable (in MY opinion, anyway; looks like some of the other reviewers disagree), and gives me a feeling like no other CD.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Makes me wanna run away to a rock camp commune. 4 Dec. 2000
By evenmoregeneric - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Henry Cow, of indescribable sonic manifestations and fairly obvoius leftist political leanings have recorded the soundtrack for the industrial revolution's theoretic suicide. This is the sound of what a handful a ridiculously talented hippies thought our future would come to. Too bad nobody is playing rock (and this is rock) anywhere near this precisely anymore.
This purely instrumental album is fairly prototypical henry cow (the non-vocals brand), yet, in my opinion, is the best written and performed of any of their recordings. It starts out with one of the most bombastic HC songs recorded (especially for the non-vocal era, they tend to rock it out a little more consistently on later/con vox recodings.), but for the most part, the tension in this album is communcated through compositional inference, rather than volume.
If you're like me, you find the sweet spot of this album comes in the second half, where the songs seems to take better advantage of the band as a whole, and feature some fairly awe inspiring interplay.
If you like your rock abstract, and played with fairly devious technical sensibilities this is it. If you want vocals, or something to seduce your partner to, you might wanna look elsewhere. Unless you wanna bump uglies in 13/8.
A remarkable and final album by Henry Cow 23 May 2006
By Jeffrey J.Park - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Apparently not interested in re-treading the same ground over and over again "to earn their pensions", this 1978 album would be Henry Cow's last before disbanding later in 1978.

The core musicians on this album include excellent drummer and bandleader Chris Cutler (who also plays electrified drums, "noise", piano, and trumpet); Lindsay Cooper (bassoon, oboe, soprano saxophone, and soprano recorder); Tim Hodgkinson (organ, alto saxophone, clarinet, and Hawaiian guitar); and Fred Frith (electric and acoustic guitars, electric bass, banjo, and soprano saxophone). Other musicians that play on the album include Georgie Born (electric bass); Anne-Marie Roelofs (trombone and violin); and Irene Schweitzer (piano).

The seven tracks on the album are divided into two larger works including History and Prospects (Tracks 1-3) and Day by Day (Tracks 4-7). The three additional tracks include one taken from the Dagmar Krause (vocalist) period (Viva pa Ubu), an alternate take of Look Back, and an outtake from the 1978 Western Culture sessions. The three additional tracks are excellent.

Like all of their albums, the music on Western Culture is highly disciplined yet is almost anarchic at points. This strain of progressive rock is also extremely complex, atonal, jagged, and at times, quite abrasive - yet buried in there are moments of calm and deep reflection. I personally find the combination pretty exciting. Along with standard rock instruments (including incredible drumming by Chris Cutler) woodwinds are featured prominently, and the arrangements are dense and angular. In general, the compositions are essentially a whirlwind of sound that fuses elements of "post-war" classical, jazz, free jazz, and rock.

All in all, this is not a listening experience for the faint of heart. This is extremely challenging music that is also extremely rewarding. Highly recommended along with Unrest (1974) and In Praise of Learning (1975).
The Finest Henry Cow 24 Mar. 2008
By dazamaru - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For me, this is the most focused and cohesive Henry Cow album yet. Not much filler here, this one is far more composed than their previous works.

The final chapter to the band (unless there's more in the vault, Chris Cutler), the Cow, in their own style piece well-formed themes and rhythmic variations into a seamless work of art. Im gushing here, because this is the album I would have liked to create, to summarize the jarring inequities of Western Culture.

If you like earlier HCow, without the long improvs and dangling cacaphony, this is the piece for you. This one seems totally composed. And for once, the final mix is elegant. You can actually hear a balance in tones and colors.

For those just starting to listen to this band...this is the place.
when beauty strikes 14 April 2006
By J. Gustavson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This last studio recording with Henry Cow deserves far more attention then it usually gets. The arrangements are absolutely awesome. For the untamed ear it may sound quite much like the earlier HC albums like "Leg End" or "Unrest", but the close sensible ear will hear that Western Culture has actually evolved quite far from these as to structure and composition. It is almost "classical" (in the sense of Schoenberg at his best, Wolff, and even the chamber pieces of Hindemith) in its density and at points its even get there literally. This is really an outstanding piece of Henry Cow way ahead of its time but also with classical roots that brings you the timeless universality that makes it ever dynamic.
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Look for similar items by category