47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 1999
Of all the different groups playing what was then known as "progressive rock", Henry Cow were one of the most daring and original. This, their first album, consists of dense and challenging music, varying from highly intricate composed pieces ("Nirvana for mice", "Teanbeat") somewhat reminiscent of Frank Zappa's "The Grand Wazoo" but without the frivolity, to totally improvised pieces ("Teanbeat introduction" and "The tenth chaffinch"). Mostly instrumental (the exception being the witty "9 funerals of the Citizen King"), this is serious music, performed by phenomenal musicians (notably Fred Frith on guitar, violin, viola and piano and the sublime Chris Cutler on drums) and completely lacking in the pretentiousness which so frequently marrs music from this period. Definitely not easy listening, but an album that repays the work you have to put into it tenfold (I bought my first copy of it in 1974 and it remains one of my most played albums).
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2004
A truely amazing piece of work for a group who have remained relatively unknown for such a long period of time. Fred Frith is an incredible guitarist - this music is confident, intelligent and on first hearing sounds de-ranged - it grows on you, and there are many new things to hear every time.
As a big fan of progressive rock myself, this album is a very refreshing change from the pomp and self-indulgence of some of the late prog era music (although if you can play coherently for a 30 minute hammond solo, why not!!!). Non of the music on this album is of that length, and is not self indulgent - it is excellent but not for normal people who like commercial sounds. Freaks only. Buy it, enjoy it, don't give a copy to your commrades, make them buy it for themselves.
This album will probably appeal to any fan of Zappa, Beefheart, King Crimson, very early Pink Floyd (pre dark-side). PS title taken from "The Rotters Club" book by Jonathan Coe (writting about Henry Cow) - a must for all nostalgic memoirs of the seventies.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 May 2009
"LEG END" 1973 by HENRY COW is a contempory progressive jazz rock album of improvisional excellence. The musicianship is magnificent, "Nirvana for Mice" is a great opener which sounds Canterbury Scene-ish, "Amygdala" and "Extract from: With the Yellow Half-Moon and Blue Star" would give King Crimson a real run for their money, "Teenbeat Introduction" is extremely eclectic which flows into "Teenbeat" a strange and menacing composition, and "Teenbeat Reprise" just rocks, a Trilogy Triumph, "The Tenth Chaffinch" is an odyssey through nature of way-out soundscapes, then we come to the albums finale "Nine Funerals of the Citizen King" what a wonderful way to finish the album at times almost Gentle Giant-esque, but like all the album completly original. "LEG END" by HENRY COW is an album of infinate quality, progessive music at it's peak, an amazing piece of work in which the listener has to open up to, the rewards will out-weigh the patience. "LEG END the LEGEND" never has there been a truer phrase. Brilliant Stuff.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I bought this on a whim. Sometimes whims can be good an sometimes, well...
This recording for me is pure gold with extra gold. I have heard the name of Henry Cow but as usual, in musical terms anyway, I come late to the party. This time about forty years too late. It is not often that one feels compelled to listen to a new purchase twice through but I can honestly say that probably twice was not enough to so enjoy the complexity and musicianship of this record. I started thinking, on hearing the recording the first time, that there was perhaps more than a nod in the direction of Zappa but then as the record went on it was obvious that yes there were musical acknowledgments as it were - but there always are - but these had been absorbed and assimilated into something new and dynamically different. This record wouldn't stand a chance today maybe but then it may not have on its release. All I can say that it does the business for me. It puts more well known jazz/rock (which in a way does disservice to Henry Cow) in the shade. I hope my future purchases of Henry Cow's oeuvre stand up to this amazing record.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2008
I've never heard anything like this. Really incredible. An almost entirely instrumental album (with the exception of the masterpiece nine funerals of the citizen king, which contains very skilled vocals indeed) which displays a wealth of intelligence.
Beware: not for normal idiots who like commercial music. Only for freaks hehe.
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2000
It is music which engages and envelopes. It works on many levels. It is so full of music that it repays countless listenings. Essential.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2008
This reminds me of those 70's detective tv movies, where the weird and wacky soundtrack jived and jostled all over the place then Peter Falk would solve the most unlikely of murders, besieged it seemed, by belligerent superiors and zany camera angles.
The celluloid connection is important in my little world. If a music is 'cinematic,' it goes up a notch in my estimation. If it's vast and complex (like Thomas Leer) or dynamic and sexy (like Dollar) the stars on this antiquated review points system are dripping atop each other like so many clicking poker chips.
Music should be about surprises, about little sound-deceits that play quick tricks with the ear. Startle the brain, stimulate, give pleasure (so much music is designed to do the opposite), be fun!
I love surprises. Count those stars and you'll see just how much 'Leg End' is the desired artifact. I spend lots of time seeking out this type of stuff. Challenging-in-a-good-sense. Talented people who don't think banging things constitutes 'art', and scoff derisorily at the simpletons who do (there's loads).
I can't work out whether Henry Cow are snobs looking down their noses or lads having a laugh. Either is fine. The music at the end of whatever process they're employing is outstanding in every sense; the only validation they achieve. A deserved vindication.
I'm not as converse with some of this stuff as I'd like to think. It's a misnomer of sorts, this reviewing thing. There's only so much to say, only so much emotion energized by the surging brass and blistering percussion.
I'm staggered as to how good this is: from a sympathetic position anyway, I got myself further and further embroiled in it with each delirious spin. What kind of people make a marvelous music like this then call themselves Henry Cow? A decent vorticist would be in raptures.
Is it rock or jazz or what, I hear you ask ? There is no answer to that.
If you need to ask, you may also need to ask if you really think Henry Cow are for you.
Too radical, too revolutionary.
And fun(ny!). I've decided Henry Cow are neither snobs nor lay-a-bouts; they occupy a middle ground, bound to other musics only by huge swathes of time and distance. On the middle, but pushed so far forward as to become existential. A music which throbs with this much originality, warmth and humour, doesn't belong with the plebs and charlatans you usually find festering under the 'experimental' umbrella (more like a toadstool actually (chortle!).
And the socks? Your guess is as good as mine on that one. Something about the state of the cosmos or a laundry reminder maybe.
Nice pattern though...(!)