Lindsay Cooper – Rags

Lindsay Cooper - Rags LP front cover
Lindsay Cooper - Rags LP back cover
Lindsay Cooper - Rags LP side 2

Having played with British bands Comus and Henry Cow during the 1970s, bassoonist, composer and songwriter Lindsay Cooper, born 1951 (more info here), was used to communal music activities and LP-cum-political-tract releases when she co-founded the Feminist Improvising Group (FIG) in 1977 with Maggie Nicols (of Centipede fame). Her first solo LP, Rags, published 1980, was the soundtrack to The Song of the Shirt, a 1979 Feminist/Marxist film by Sue Clayton and Jonathan Curling. The musicians are members of FIG (Lindsay Cooper, Sally Potter, Georgie Born) plus Frith and Cutler from Henry Cow and Phil Minton from the Mike Westbrook Band. Self-published in 1980 in the UK through small label Arcades, Rags was recorded and engineered by Dave Vorhaus at his own Kaleidophon studio, the usual White Noise recording facility.

Lindsay Cooper♫ As expected by anyone familiar with other Rock In Opposition discs, Rags is a mix of progressive-folk, workers’ songs and 20th century chamber music. What it lacks in communal chutzpah compared to the above-mentioned big bands is more than compensated by a more personal, delicate and chamber-like music idiom. The music is entirely written for small ensembles in which piano, bassoon or guitar lead the melody, while Sally Potter and Phil Minton alternate on vocals. A few tracks are entirely played on wind instruments by Cooper in re-recording. The beautiful last track, The Song of the Shirt, reminds both Hanns Eisler’s Die Mutter and French chanson réaliste.

The 20pp booklet includes many b&w collages by Linn MacRitchie as well as historical research on 19th century’s working classes by Sue Clayton and Jonathan Curling. As a whole, Rags is a wonderful concept album, politically comparable to the Red Krayola and Art & Language collaborations (ever wondered what Red stands for in Red Krayola?).

01 The Exhibition Of Fashions (1:30)
02 Lots Of Larks + General Strike (2:59)
03 Woman’s Wrongs I (3:35)
04 Woman’s Wrongs II (3:06)
05 The Charter (1:41)
06 Parliament Catch (1:28)
07 Woman’s Wrongs III (2:31)
08 Film Music (4:21)
09 Prostitution Song (2:22)
10 1848 + The Chartist Anthem (3:13)
11 Cholera (2:48)
12 Stitch Goes The Needle (2:34)
13 A Young Lady’s Vision (1:24)
14 Pin Money (:54)
15 Woman’s Wrong IV (3:49)
16 The Song Of The Shirt (5:01)

Total time 43:10
LP released by Arcades, UK, 1980


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12 Responses to “Lindsay Cooper – Rags”

  1. 1 icastico March 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    I love bassoon. (^_^)

  2. 2 jim knox March 27, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    thanks as always. georgina born’s book on ircam is quite fascinating; recommended if you aren’t already familiar with it. enjoy your day!

  3. 3 continuo March 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you both for your comments.
    I’m not familiar with the book you mention, Jim. Will try and get my hands on a copy if I can.

  4. 4 March 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm


    Just a quick word to let you know that you are featured in our blogroll on Radio.Video.Jazz

    Please check our site. If you like our work, do link back to us.

    If you feel like contributing, let us know.

    A lot of thanks.

    The Radio.Video.Jazz Team

  5. 5 Ben March 28, 2011 at 3:51 am

    Thanks for this, and for all the amazing shares lately!

  6. 6 continuo March 28, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Hi, Ben. Glad you enjoy the music here. Thanks for dropping by.

  7. 7 øשlqæda March 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

    what a surprise. merci m. contiiiinuuuoooo

  8. 8 continuo March 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Accurate comment, Owl. It is indeed unusual for a RIO LP and in Lindsay Cooper’s discography as well.

  9. 9 Joaquín Mendoza Sebastián March 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    because of you I’m gonna need a new hard disk =P

    are you a composer? music lover? both?..not everyone has musical tastes so diverse as you


  10. 10 continuo March 30, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Hi, Joaquín. Actually, this blog is also a way to educate myself and broaden my musical tastes even more. I wouldn’t do it for the sake of free music alone.
    Thanks for your comment.

  11. 11 robert wyatt May 30, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    hello Lindsay

    just spoke on phone,and looked you up on this rather

    twenty-first century device. Don’t know if you get to see this,but,just in case,
    I simply want to say: thanks for the happy memories,and
    lots of Love

    from an old comrade

    Robert [Wyatt]

  12. 12 continuo May 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    If she ever reads this message, chances are Lindsay will be moved to tears, Robert.

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