Art Bears – The World As It Is Today (1981)


“If you thought Henry Cow was a pretty political band to start with, you may be even more taken aback by the Art Bears, which was put together following Henry Cow‘s demise by former Cows Chris Cutler (percussion), Fred Frith (guitar, violin), and Dagmar Krause (voice). On The World As It Is Today and its predecessor, Winter Songs, the Art Bears move away from the long-form art rock of Henry Cow and get much, much more politically explicit: song titles like ‘The Song of the Dignity of Labour Under Capital’ and ‘The Song of Investment Capital Overseas’ almost sound like Monty Python gags today, but if any humor was intended it was clearly meant to be mordant. Frankly, the lyrics are so overwrought and portentous that it’s hard to take them seriously. But the music is something else again. Cutler and Frith are natural collaborators; Cutler‘s drumming always rides a very fine line between the scattershot and the funky, while Frith bounces his horror-show guitar noise and carnival piano off of Cutler‘s grooves with manic abandon and fearsome inventiveness. And Krause‘s singing is just as inventive; she whoops, croons and screams her way through the density of Cutler‘s lyrics without a hesitation or misstep. Easy listening it isn’t, but it’s sure worth hearing. Frith fans, in particular, should consider this album a must-own.”
allmusic
W – On The World As It Is Today
Genius
YouTube: The world as it is today 31:24

Recommended Records Sampler (1982)


Wikpedia – “The Recommended Records Sampler is a sampler double album by various artists released by English independent record label Recommended Records on LP in 1982. It contains tracks by musicians and groups on the Recommended Records catalogue at the time. This sampler differed from the traditional record label sampler in that all the pieces here were newly recorded by the artists and, at the time, had never been released elsewhere. (Many of the tracks were later re-released on the artists’ own albums.) In 1985 Recommended Records launched the RēR Quarterly, a ‘quarterly’ sound-magazine, which continued this approach of releasing previously unreleased work on a compilation album.”
Wikipedia
Die Or D.I.Y.?
YouTube: Recommended Records Sampler

Art Bears – Winter Songs (1979)


“In the ‘70s, the collaborative spirit seemed to have swept through the British art rock scene. Countless performers comingled on each other’s albums and, in a variety of configurations, explored similar sonic territory. This spirit of creative collaboration was perhaps most highly concentrated around the virtually unclassifiable music of Henry Cow. Serving as the nexus of a wildly experimental scene and seeing a virtual who’s-who of the avant-garde wing of British art rock, Henry Cow’s influence and ideals spread quickly during the decade in which they existed, each member popping up here and there on other artists’ albums before striking out on their own. One such collaboration subsequently morphed into one of the decade’s great art rock supergroups. As Henry Cow as a band was on its last legs, guitarist Fred Frith and percussionist Chris Cutler began working with Slapp Happy vocalist Dagmar Krause. The trio had worked together from 1975’s Desperate Straights on through the dissolution of Henry Cow prior to coming out under the Art Bears moniker in 1978 with their politically-charged brand of avant-garde art rock on Hopes & Fears. Within the span of four years the group released three albums before going their separate ways. The middle of which, Winter Songs, is often overlooked in favor of the more esoteric work bookending this collection of Medieval noise folk experimentation. …”
Rediscover: Art Bears: Winter Songs
W – Winter Songs
allmusuc (Audio)
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YouTube: Winter Songs (Full Album) 45:53

Concerts – Henry Cow (1975)


Concerts is a live double album by English avant-rock group Henry Cow, recorded at concerts in London, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway between September 1974 and October 1975. Sides one and two of the LP record consist of composed material while sides three and four contain improvised pieces. The album includes Henry Cow’s last John Peel Session, recorded in September 1975 and extracts from a concert with Robert Wyatt at the New London Theatre in May 1975. ‘Groningen’ (recorded in September 1974) is part of an instrumental suite where the band improvised around fragments of an early version of Tim Hodgkinson‘s ‘Living in the Heart of the Beast‘ from In Praise of Learning (1975). Another performance of this suite (in full) later appeared in Halsteren on Volume 2: 1974–5 of The 40th Anniversary Henry Cow Box Set (2009). …”
Wikipedia
BBC Review
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YouTube: Beautiful as the Moon; Terrible as an Army with Banners / Nirvana for Mice / Ottawa Song / Gloria Gloom (Video)
YouTube: Concerts 11 videos

Gravity – Fred Frith (1980)


Gravity is a 1980 solo album by English guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith from Henry Cow and Art Bears. It was Frith’s second solo album and his first since the demise of Henry Cow in 1978. It was originally released in the United States on LP record on The Residents‘s Ralph record label and was the first of three solo albums Frith made for the label. Gravity was recorded in Sweden, the United States and Switzerland and featured Frith with Swedish Rock in Opposition group Samla Mammas Manna on one side of the LP, and Frith with United States progressive rock group The Muffins on the other side. Additional musicians included Marc Hollander from Aksak Maboul and Chris Cutler from Henry Cow. Gravity has been described as an avant-garde ‘dance’ record that draws on rhythm and dance from folk music across the world. AllMusic called it one of the most important experimental guitar titles from Fred Frith. …”
Wikipedia
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Gravity [Full Album] 1:09:37

Hopes and Fears – Art Bears (1978)


“Hopes and Fears is the debut album by the English avant-rock group Art Bears. It comprises tracks by Henry Cow, Art Bears’s predecessor, recorded at Sunrise Studios, Kirchberg in Switzerland in January 1978, and tracks by Art Bears, recorded at Kaleidophon Studios in London in March 1978. Hopes and Fears began as a Henry Cow album, but after the first recording sessions in Switzerland, some of the members of the band were unhappy about the predominance of song-oriented material. As a compromise it was agreed that two albums would be made: the songs would be released by Fred Frith, Chris Cutler and Dagmar Krause as Art Bears, and the instrumental compositions would be released later by Henry Cow. The newly formed Art Bears recorded four more tracks in London to complete Hopes and Fears, which was released in May 1978. …”
Wikipedia
Genius (Audio)
Discogs
YouTube: Hopes and Fears 48:32