Associate Professor Benjamin Piekut’s Henry Cow: The World Is a Problem was among Duke University Press’s five bestselling titles in 2019. The book details the flood of experimental music discourse and practice into popular culture in the late 1960s by way of the British rock band and several of its associates, including Slapp Happy, Faust, Robert Wyatt, Virgin Records, Music for Socialism, Rock in Opposition, and the Feminist Improvising Group. The study also analyzes Henry Cow’s evolving cultural politics and position on the British left. Reviewed favorably in the rock and jazz press, Henry Cow was described by one critic as “a remarkable project: compelling, unique and requiring considerable powers of concentration and assiduousness—somewhat like the band themselves,” and was named to critic Richie Unterberger’s list of best rock books of 2019.
After the book’s publication in late September, Ben held a series of launch events in New York City (Blank Forms/Emily Harvey Foundation, with George E. Lewis), London (Cafe OTO, with David Toop [pictured above]), Milan (Standards, with Franco Fabbri), Rome (Blutopia, with Alessandro Achilli), and Cologne (A-musik, with Bastian Tebarth). Excerpts have appeared in Point of Departure and Literary Hub.
A longer article about Henry Cow appeared in the Cornell Chronicle in 2019.