on 24 January 2007
This is, unlike the first reviewer's belief, one of the great albums of jazz/rock experimentation. Fred Frith's guitar is challenging and thrilling. As the quote on the album states - Art is not a mirror, art is a hammer. Slapp Happy brought the vocals of Dagmar to this album and she is at her best on War. The music as well as the vocals scream an anti-war message of pure outrage. Get this and open your ears - at a time when music was either bland and poppy or overburdened with stadium sized pretention this is uncompromising and toughminded.
on 16 September 2014
I have all three of the Henry Cow sock albums on vinyl, the first two bought when they came out in the 70s. I acquired In Praise of learning about 4 years ago and find it hard to get into. The first two albums I find very accessible but I have always liked quirky. This album is much harder going. I do like Dagmar's voice and I also like Slapp Happy's Casablanca Moon but this .... well good as it may be I find it rather turgid to listen to. I have it on my turntable now as I write this. For me Legend and Unrest are much better, experimentation but also no where near as dark.
on 8 February 2007
If you like ' hunky Dory ' ' the white album ' , 'troutmask replica' , 'rock and roll animal ' , 'let it bleed' and any english or german underground , you will really enjoy this brilliant recording .
Fresh as a daisy in 2007 . Never bettered IMO ..
on 6 February 2006
There's no two ways about it Henry Cow were dreadful, and they ruined Slapp Happy who couldn't have been more different. Slapp Happy were a bright eccentric pop band with lots of pretty tunes; Henry Cow couldn't care less about tunes - and probrably weren't able to write them anyway. So best give this one a miss, if you liked Slapp Happy.
But you if liked Henry Cow then this might be Henry Cow's best album because Dagmar's singing is so powerful, but not in the slightest bit lovely.
The only Blegvad/Moore (Slapp Happy songwriters) track on it is War, which is excellent and totally frightening, but nothing like their previous stuff, which was gorgeous. If you love Dagmar's voice, you might get somethging out of it, but this is not her pretty style, it's her alto ego.
I liked Desperate Straights a lot (an album that came out at roughly the same time time as In Praise Of Learning and was a proper Slapp Happy album), but I think it would have been a whole better without Henry Cow supporting them, the only consolation was Chris Cutler's wonderful drumming.
I'm sorry to be so bitter, but I really liked Slapp Happy; the Henry Cow adventure basically finished them off, it could have been so much better without them. I always been dissapointed, still, the reissues, and later albums have made it up to some degree. I hope there is another Slapp Happy album soon.
I was probably rather harsh on Henry Cow. Certainly not one of my favourite bands but they did have some new ideas and where trying out different things that may have influenced other bands. One of my favourite bands is Broadcast who use a monolithic sound like builings crashing into each other in the background, which for me, is a bit reminiscent of Henry Cow. But Braodcast do this weirdness with really good pop tunes (like Slapp Happy did). Heny Cow were more of a kind of jazz rock experimentation which really wasn't for me, so I apoligise to devoted fans.