1/  Kick the Can (part 1)                      (Frith)                       2.19
  2/  Carnival On Wall Street                    (Frith)                       2.51
  3/  Ahead In the Sand                          (Frith)                       3.16
  4/  Laughing Matter/Esperanza                  (Frith)                       7.47
  5/  Women Speak To Men; Men Speak To Women     (Frith,Curran)                5.39
  6/  A Spit In the Ocean                        (Frith)                       2.17
  7/  Navajo                                     (Frith)                       3.05
  8/  Balance                                    (Frith)                       5.04
  9/  Saving Grace                               (Frith)                       1.57
  10/ Speechless                                 (Frith)                       3.05
  11/ Conversations With White Arc               (Frith,Laswell)               1.14
  12/ Domaine De Planousset                      (Frith)                       2.59
  13/ Kick the Can (part 2)                      (Frith)                       2.14
  14/ The Entire Works of Henry Cow              (Frith)                       1.00
  15/ So schnell ich                             (Frith)                       3.25
  16/ I'm Still Here and I Know What Time It Is  (Frith)                       1.06
  17/ No More War                                (Frith,Gore)                  4.46
  18/ Typical American Family                    (Frith)                       1.01
  19/ Dig                                        (Frith)                       3.07

          Recorded at Studio Sunrise, Kirchberg, Switzerland, July/August 1980
          Additional recording on tracks 1-5 at Studio Freeson, Pujaut, France
          Tracks 6,7,9 & 11 recorded live at CBGB, New York City, April 1980; 6,7,9
            subsequently altered and added to in Switzerland
          Track 15 recorded live at Rue Dunois, Paris in 1981 and at home in New York
          Engineers in Switzerland : Etienne Conod and R. Vogel
          Track 14 collated at Pass, NYC and KUNM, Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1980
          Track 15 engineer in France : Jean-Marc Foussat
          Track 19 mixed at Studio Dig, Tokyo, February 1985
          Produced by Fred Frith
          Mastered by Paul Zinman at New York Digital
Fred Frith: voice, guitar, violin, mellotron, bass (1,8,10,13), drums (7,8), keyboards (15), drill (16), drum (16), extraneous elements (17), tape manipulation (17), body parts (18), home-mades (18), forgery (19); Tina Curran: unusual edits, recorders, bass (7,12), voice (16); Roger Kent Parsons: bagpipes (4); Steve Buchanan: snake sax (7); George Cartwright: alto sax (6,7,9); Mars Williams: baritone sax (6,7,9); ETRON FOU LELOUBLAN (1,2,3,4,5) - Guigou Chenevier: drums, tenor sax/ voice (3); Margot Mathieu : soprano & tenor saxes, voice (3); Ferdinand Richard : bass, guimbarde, voice; Jo Thirion: organ, harmonium; MASSACRE (6,7,9,11,15) - Bill Laswell: bass; Fred Maher: drums; HENRY COW (14) - Dagmar Krause, Lindsay Cooper, Chris Cutler, Tim Hodgkinson, Geoff Leigh, John Greaves, Anthony Moore, Peter Blegvad; Steve Gore (17): bass, keyboards; Steve Kretzmer: drums (17); Tenko & Keiji Haino: voice (19); Ken-ichi Takeda: taisho koto (19); Chie Mukai: kokyu (19); Masami Shinoda: alto sax (19); Tetsuto Koyama : bass (19); Miyamoto: drums (19).

          1981 - Ralph Records (USA), FF 8106 (Vinyl)
          1990 - T.E.C. Tones, FF-8106 (Vinyl)
          1991 - ReR Megacorp/Fred Records (UK), ReR/FRO 04 (CD)
          1991 - RecRec Music (Switzerland), ReCDec 902 (CD)
Note: The vinyl versions only contain tracks 1-13.


This one of the most important guitar-based, experimental guitar titles from the avant-guitarist and founding Henry Cow member Fred Frith. Frith's second solo album, Speechless, includes appearances by Estron Fou Leloublan, Massacre, and Bill Laswell. This is a studio Frankenstein of live clips and found sounds. While Frith states attests to the occurrence of many "happy accidents," the album comes across confidently and more often more coherent than merely challenging. Six bonus tracks appear on this CD version. This is often cited as Frith's best solo record and its inspired manipulations hold up under repeated scrutiny. There is a bit of European folk influence here, too, but not as obvious as on Gravity.

4 stars out of 5

Thomas Schulte (courtesy of theAll Music Guide website)