When Henry Cow fell apart in the summer of 1978, the main players in the band dispersed. Fred Frith left England to settle in NYC for a good number of years, getting involved the then just beginning to evolve ‘downtown’ sound, recording three excellent and high-profile albums for Ralph Records, forming first Massacre and then Skeleton Crew. Chris Cutler formed the Art Bears and also was an important member of Cassiber. Lindsay Cooper and Georgie Born did a lot of musical improvising and John Greaves had already begun his solo career.
So, a lot of great projects from all of these musicians. But for me, possibly the best, and certainly most unexpected and most radical of all the immediate offshoots of Henry Cow was Tim Hodginson’s band The Work. Abandoning keyboards and teaching himself to play ‘flat guitar’ (Hawaiian-style guitar played flat on the lap with a slide) and still playing reeds, but also adding vocals for the first time, the legend at the time about the band was that he found 3 non-musicians and taught them how to play from scratch, ala the Magic Band (not true for The Work and also a not-true legend for the Magic Band). While this was not the case, the music was so amazing and mostly so idiosyncratic and just plain WEIRD that it was easy to believe this ‘urban myth’.
After making one studio album falling apart in 1982, the band reformed with all four original members in 1989 and made two more albums released in the group’s lifetime. This was their last release and may be my favorite; although it isn’t as obviously unworldly as “Slow Crimes”, it’s still pretty damn whacked, even if it does so in a more low-key way. I don’t think the remastering is such an improvement that you need to buy this if you already own it, but it’s been unavailable for a very long time and if you don’t own this and you like ‘difficult rock music’, baby, this is the motherlode!