1975, Music

Desperate Straights (1975) by Slapp Happy and Henry Cow

Slapp Happy is one of those bands I read about a lot and then listened to and was kind of disappointed by. But then I guess I mustered some enthusiasm because my review of another album of theirs is positive. Henry Cow, on the other hand, I used to absolutely love. It’s an odd match, for sure, but I guess it made sense to them at the time.

It actually serves Henry Cow well to work with actual songwriters. Henry Cow’s biggest issue, at least in terms of getting more fans, is a lack of any kind of conventional songs. And though the songs here are hardly conventional, they are much, much more conventional than your average Henry Cow song. Given that Moore didn’t write all these songs it’s remarkable that there is so much consistency in the material, especially given the reputation of Henry Cow in this regard.

I generally prefer Henry Cow, in terms of the music I listen to, but the more I listen to this the more I think I like this compared to Slapp Happy by themselves. Though Moore is a sophisticated composer, he’s also a little too subtle or me. And the addition of madcap ideas from the various members of Henry Cow and the guest musicians from the avant prog/jazz fusion world. And for those who find Krause’s voice hard to get used to I’d say that music feels a little more appropriate to her unique voice than the more traditional Slapp Happy stuff.

One nitpick: I’m pretty sure all 7 musicians don’t perform on each song. It’s a silly thing to think about yet, here I am, thinking about it. The title track, for example, has very few instruments on it given that this is supposed to be a collaboration between a trio and a quartet. What were the rest of them doing?

8/10 I guess, for its sheer uniqueness

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