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Robert Fripp


Review by Steve Alspach

Robert Fripp's first solo album (not counting the side projects with Brian Eno) was considered "A Day in the Life" for the 1970s. Fripp proves himself to be the "21st Century Schizoid Man" because this album runs the gamut from harsh metal to more ambient dreamscapes. He brings in some interesting vocalists as Terre Roche, Daryl Hall, Peter Hammill, and Peter Gabriel (okay, Gabriel was an obvious choice.)

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
This is a short piece. "I'd like to play some of my new things which I think could be commercial." You then hear some random chords on a voice mellotron, followed by a phone ringing. The phone picks up and it's... 
You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette
Fripp and Daryl Hall sound like Jerry Lee Lewis backed up by the Ramones. This is a full-throttle blues workout.
This would have fit quite well on King Crimson's Red album. Narada Michael Walden's drumming helps propel this metal stomper. Fripp plays in a 7/4 figure through the main riffs, but the middle section is quite complicated, taking on that Philip Glass-like complexity that would be explored in King Crimson's "Discipline" album.
Here we get more of the heavy metal stuff. If Fripp wanted anguish in his vocals, he couldn't have picked a better candidate than Peter Hammill. Hammill is at his most Richard III with his anguished vocals. This one may set some sort of record for the fastest fadeout of a song.
North Star
It appears that "Matte Kudasai," from the aforementioned Discipline album, came out of "North Star." After the franticism of the previous three songs, this is a welcome relief. Daryl Hall's vocals seem to be very informal and considerably improvised.
Peter Hammill returns, sounding anywhere from a Sam Spade-like character to his more accustomed strained tenor.
The intro shows Fripp's considerable flat-picking skills. "NY3" pre-dates Byrne-Eno's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" by using "found" vocals - in this case, an argument in the apartment next door to where Fripp was living. The intensity of the music matches the intensity of the fight, and at 2.16, "NY3" packs a punch that will make the listener shudder when it's over.
Almost a folk song, this track pairs Terre Roche with Fripp's restrained chordal work (think "Book of Saturday") along with some Frippertronic effects.
The version on Peter Gabriel's "nail scratch" album had Peter Gabriel repeating "Exposure" in a low monotone over a swampy groove. This version couldn't be more different. Though the arrangement is pretty much the same, Terre Roche blows out her vocal cords on this screamfest. Sound bites from W.G Bennett, a disciple of Gurdjieff and influence on Fripp, are peppered throughout.
Haagen Two
This has a thumping, downward spiral of a riff, interspersed with little sound bits, random vocals, and laughing.
Urban Landscape
This is a piece of Frippertronics, guitar lines building on each other to construct a drawn-out chord pattern. The tones build a tense, dissonant chord.
I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough Of You
Hammill and Roche spar on vocals and sound like R.D. Laing writing a script for "The Bickersons" on this powerhouse.
First Inaugural Address to the IACE Sherborne House
Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, Fripp gotta take a tape of a forty-minute speech by W.G. Bennett and condense it to three seconds. The result sounds like a badly scratched record.
Water Music I
More layered Frippertronics, but unlike "Urban Landscape," this is much more languid. Bennett makes another appearance, predicting another "ice age" that would produce flooding in much of the world. "This could happen in forty years, or quicker."
Here Comes the Flood
Peter Gabriel sings and plays piano on his own composition, and Fripp lies in the background. This tune made its debut on Gabriel's first album, but this version, with the sparse arrangement, adds by subtraction. 
Water Music II
Ambient minimalism at its, well, most ambient and minimal. Fripp's guitar loops make for a very slow, dreamy piece.
"So the whole story is complete untrue. A big hoax. Heh heh heh." The last half of the quote is repeated a few times, the phone hangs up, and we hear footsteps leaving.
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