Between the impact of the COVID pandemic since 2020, and in the eight year-long tenure of King Crimson
's final lineup, which toured between 2014 and 2021, there's been a lot revealed about its sole remaining founding member, guitarist/keyboardist Robert Fripp.
Since 2012, the more than five-decade history of King Crimson, live and in the studio, has been painstakingly and exhaustively documented in a series of large multimedia box sets and smaller, more price-friendly editions of key material, often containing new stereo and surround sound mixes, in both CD quality and/or high resolution audio, all released by Panegyric Recordings. Beginning with 2012's Larks' Tongues In Aspic (40th Anniversary Series Box)
and concluding with 2019's Heaven & Earth: Live And In The Studio 1997-2008
and 2020's The Complete 1969 Recordings
, every Crimson lineup from 1969 through 2008 has been covered in extensive and, in most cases, remarkable, revelatory detail.
Additionally, a series of "official bootleg" soundboard recordings and fully produced audio/video CD/Blu Ray/DVD live releases, beginning with 2015's EP-length Live at the Orpheum
and concluding with 2021's Music Is Our Friend: Live In Washington And Albany, 2021
, have documented King Crimson's final incarnation through its best medium: live performance.
Few (if any) groups' histories have been so thoroughly presented, and with the gradual release of complete session reels now beginning to see the light of day, even more disclosures appear to be on the horizon. Complete sessions from King Crimson's first four albums, from 1969's In the Court of the Crimson King
(Panegyric Recordings) through 1971's Islands
(Panegyric Recordings) are already available, with more to come in order to, as the band's website explains, "satisfy recent changes to copyright laws: All recordings must be released within the fiftieth year of their recording in order to continue to enjoy copyright protection."
With King Crimson now as fully covered as humanly possible, DGM Live and Panegyric Recordings are now looking to fill in the gaps between that longstanding band's varied incarnations. With Fripp the only constant throughout the decades, it seems that the best place to start is with the considerable work upon which he embarked after dissolving what, at the time (and even now), has been considered by many to be Crimson's best lineup, though its final incarnation is, for many, giving that group a run for its money. While the 1973/74 lineup was responsible for a potent run of studio-cum-live albumsall originally released on Island Records but since reissued in definitive editions by Panegyric Recordingsfrom 1973's Larks' Tongues in Aspic
through to 1974's Red
, and 1975's more decidedly live USA
, King Crimson's final three- drummer incarnation is now rightly regarded as its most inimitable, significant and exploratory.
And so, Exposures
: the largest Crimson-related box set to date. This massive 32-disc box set documents the germination of a number of Fripp projects, long and, in some cases, short-lived. At the very core of almost everything covered during this time is the guitarist's exploration of Frippertronics, both as a solo vehicle and, as "applied Frippertronics, a means of pre-midi/pre-guitar synth investigation of the guitar as orchestra. In Panegyric Recordings head Declan Colgan's "Notes from a Compiler," also included in Exposures
50-page booklet, he notes:
"The Tape Loop is the start point. The Tape Loop is the start point. The Tape Loop..."
Despite many other recordings under his name in the ensuing decades, the aptly titled Exposures
, in its thorough documentation of Fripp's groundbreaking work between 1977 and 1983, also revolves considerably around Fripp's only "proper" solo recording, 1979's Exposure
, and his extensive live Frippertronics work from 1978 through 1983. Including a seemingly infinite number of live performances included, mostly in high resolution format on Blu Ray but with a choice selection also present on CD and DVD, Exposures
also presents Fripp's booty-shaking dance band, The League of Gentlemen, in addition to another group responsive for the "Under Heavy Manners" part of 1980's God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and, most notably, Discotronics
, which at a time when most "serious" musicians were asserting, most vehemently, that "disco sucks," demonstrated a far more open-minded Fripp than anyone familiar with his prior Crimson work might well have imagined.
It's important to also note that, in addition to a multitude of projects and activities occupying Fripp during the period 1977-1983 covered by Exposures
, it was also during this time that a new King Crimson was minted. More, perhaps, than at any other time in Fripp's career to this point, his development was far from linear. In fact, it's hard to imagine an artist covering so many musical areas, crossing so many musical boundaries and evolving so rapidly. If Robert Fripp can, indeed, be considered the Miles Davis
of the art rock world for his relentless drive for reinvention and stylistic refreshment, it was during this key period when this comparison was well and truly birthed.
With so much material, including six versions of the Exposure
album and hours upon hours of live Frippertronics recordings, new mixes and original masters of commercial recordings released during the six-year timeframe of 1977 through 1983, there's plenty of opportunity for comparison and contrast. For those less interested in such minutiae, smaller one or two-disc subsets (this time not just on CD or CD/DVD-A but, in some cases, also on vinyl) are also being issued to document key takeaways from the Exposures
What's In the Box?
Containing more than a whopping three days of music, Exposures
is only dwarfed, in terms of hours of content, by the King Crimson Heaven & Earth
box, which covered 1997 through 2008. Still, Exposures
trumps Heaven & Earth
with the amount of previously unreleased material, and in any format. That said, with multiple versions of certain releases, seemingly countless Frippertronics live performances and more, the question begs, as it did with many of the other Crimson mega-box sets: is this really necessary? For the casual listener, the answer is likely a hard no
, and for them the smaller, more affordable vinyl, CD and CD/DVD-A releases provide an opportunity to explore the material from this period without taking a complete, deep dive. But for the committed fan who wants to experience Fripp's fuller evolution over a six-year period, where he went from progressive rock forefather to broader art-rock mover and shaker, the answer is a most definite yes
The box set opens with four full CDs, totalling over four and a half hours, of previously unreleased Frippertronics/Loops ranging from home recordings to studio sessions, including loops that would ultimately be used, albeit minimally and low in the mix, on Brian Eno and David Byrne's similarly groundbreaking My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Thirteen minutes of "applied Frippertronics" loops used behind the Exposure
song "Breathless," are also included. It may seem like a lot, but it's a revelation to hear Fripp gradually explore the potential of Frippertronicsa seemingly simple but nevertheless innovative pairing of two Revox tape recorders that allowed the guitarist to create repetitive and continually additive improvised loops of musical fragments, over which he could further improvise in real time. Hearing the underlying loops is evocative; experiencing applied Frippertronics on their own makes their use on subsequent songs and albums even more provocative. And if the applied Frippertronics are revealing, they also often stand on their own as appealing listens in their own right. Exposure
's original 1979 First Edition
, where many of Daryl Hall's vocals were replaced (and for reasons that will be explained later, further bolstering Fripp's distaste for the state of the music industry), is not only presented in remastered form on CD and in an LPCM Stereo 24/48 stereo version on Blu Ray. The subsequently released Second Edition
, issued six years later, is a revised 1983 remix that's also included, but only on Blu Ray in LPCM 24/96 Stereo.
The Third Edition
, prepared for the 2006 double-disc reissue of Exposure
(DGM Live) along with a 2005 remaster of the First Edition
, restores three Daryl Hall vocal performances to the 1983 mix but with a then-new 2005 remaster. Some additional bonus material is featured, including the loops used behind the collaborative Gabriel/Fripp title track that would not only appear on the guitarist's record, but also on the singer's Fripp-produced second album, Peter Gabriel
(Charisma, 1978), commonly known as "Scratch"
. This can be found on CD, in 24/48 stereo on DVD and on Blu Ray in LPCM Stereo 24/48.
If that weren't enough, four additional versions of Exposure
are also included in the Exposures
box, lending even more credence to the plurality of its title.
The vocals on the First
editions of Exposure
were shared by Daryl Hall, former Van der Graaf Generator
vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Peter Hammill
and, from alternative folk group The Roches (whose first and third albums were produced by Fripp), singer Terre Roche. A previously unreleased 1978 version of the album, utilizing the original title Last Of The Great New York Heartthrobs
, is also included, featuring vocals solely by Hall, in addition to alternate takes and rough mixes from those same sessions. This version can be found, in 24/96 stereo on DVD, and LPCM Stereo 24/96 on Blu Ray.
New 2021 stereo and surround sound Fourth
mixes, created from the original multitrack tapes by longtime Crimson remix engineer Steven Wilson
, employ the same vocals as on the First
editions of Exposure
, along with more bonus tracks featuring vocals by Hall and Roche. This is found on CD and, in 24/96 stereo and DTS Digital Surround 5.1 on DVD and, on Blu Ray, in LPCM Stereo 24/96, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Atmos.
A new, previously unreleased Wilson mix from the multitracks that employs a previously unused title idea, Breathless or How I Gradually Internalised The Social Reality Of Manhattan Until It Seemed To Be A Very Reasonable Way Of Life
and track sequence that mirrors the previously unreleased Last Of The Great New York Heartthrobs
, also includes the 30-minute bonus track, "Loops for Married Men," included for but never used by The Roches on the band's Fripp-produced, self-titled 1982 Warner Bros. debut. This can be found on CD and, in LPCM Stereo 24/96, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Atmos, on Blu Ray as well.
More than 130 live Frippertronics performances, from between 1978 and 1983, are included in 24/48 high-resolution stereo on two of the four Blu Ray discs included in the Exposures
box, with a handful of these shows (thirteen total, across five CDs) also reproduced on CD for the first time. These performances, in some ways, set the stage for some of the band work to come. Liner notes by Al Okada, "Confessions of a Frippertronics Collector" illuminate the differences between improvised master loops and improvised solos layered atop them, and the challenges of bringing the two together so that listeners can experience what those in the various audiences did across the years 1978 to 1983.
Two albums from 1980 and 1981, God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and Let the Power Fall
respectively, represent Fripp's first commercially released forays into solo Frippertronics without Eno's involvement. The Exposures
version of the solo Frippertronics album Let the Power Fall
also comes with three bonus tracks: a single edit and two alternate mixes of the album-opening "1984," the latter two based upon the first few notes of the British National Anthem "God Save the Queen," with the entire album remastered by Crimson producer/engineer/manager David Singleton on CD and in Stereo 24/96 and DTS Digital Surround Quad/4.1 on DVD and LPCM Stereo 24/96 and DTS-HD Master audio Quad/4.1 on Blu Ray.
The first side of the original vinyl God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
consists of three solo Frippertronics performances, in this case remastered by Singleton as per Let the Power Fall
(but in LPCM Stereo 24/192 on the Blu Ray), and with the title track again extrapolating on the British National Anthem before being subsequently repurposed, in 1986, on the League of Crafty Guitarist
album as "The New World." The second vinyl side, Under Heavy Manners
, teams Fripp with Talking Heads singer David Byrne, bassist Buster Jones (Talking Heads, Albert King, Gang of Four, Chris Spedding) and drummer Paul Duskin (Jimmy Webb) for a side of largely instrumental, groove-laden material. The Exposures
version of God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
also includes "God Save the King," a 13-minute track first released on the 1985 anthology album of the same name, which collects the Fripp/Byrne/Jones/Duskin group together with a collection of League of Gentlemen tracks (recorded at Arny's Shack in 1980) as well as a previously unreleased 15-minute jam, "Music on Hold." Discotronics/Under Heavy Manners2022 Mixes
extends God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
by a full CD, with a series of extended and full-length versions of material and more, all previously unreleased and mixed by Steven Wilson from the original multitracks. Under Heavy Management/Eurotronics
, another previously unreleased Wilson concoction, creates further variations on music from the time. While these are included as two separate CDs in the box, the material is further broken out on Blu Ray (for the most part in LPCM Stereo 24/96, in some cases DTS-HD Master Audio Quad/4.1, and in fewer cases still in Dolby Atmos) into separate Frippertronics, Discotronics and Eurotronics components that bring original and additional material together in a more logical fashion.
A live League of Gentlemen show, recorded at the Paradise Club in Boston in June 1980, provides a relatively early window into this band's ability to also take Fripp's music and turn it from "serious" listening to dance music. Culled from a band live cassette recording, it's amongst the lowest fidelity of all the music in the box, along with the 1978 New York City Frippertronics shows at The Kitchen and the 1996 live bootleg compilation, Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx
, and yet they all remain absolutely listenable, thanks to Alex R. Mundy, Robert Fripp and David Singleton's superb audio restoration of the various elements.
There is no original mix of the sole League of Gentlemen studio album, 1981's The League of Gentlemen
. Instead, only Steven Wilson's new stereo, surround and Dolby Atmos mixes are featured in the Exposures
box set, with his stereo mix and bonus/alternate takes on CD. Stereo 24/96 and DTS Digital Surround 5.1 mixes can be found on DVD but with no bonus/alternate takes, while the Blu Ray contains LPCM Stereo 24/96, DTS-HD Master audio 5.1 and Dolby Atmos of the remixed album, along with bonus/alternate takes (but only in LPCM Stereo 24/96).
The original master of God Save the Queen
is only available on Blu Ray in LPCM Stereo 16/48 resolution (likely due to space on the medium).
Two CDs contain two May 2, 1978 Frippertronics shows at New York's The Kitchen, which represent the first two live performances of Frippertronics ever, and which can also be found on one of the two Blu Rays containing the live Frippertronics show. Two additional shows from Copenhagen and Paris on May 18 and 23 1979 respectively, are collected onto a single CD, while a complete performance from Le Pretzel Enchainé in Montréal, Canada on August 19, 1979 is also featured on another CD.
Additionally, another CD collects eleven performances culled from a two-day, four-show run at New York's Washington Square Church in August, 1981. These are mixed from the original multitrack tapes by David Singleton and, in addition to appearing on CD, are also available on DVD in Stereo 24/48 and DTS Digital Surround Quad/4.1 on DVD and in LPCM Stereo 24/48 and DTS-HD Master Audio/Quad 4.1 on Blu Ray. This Singleton Frippertronics version of his King Crimson AttackaThtak
collection, found in the Heaven & Earth
box, is also being issued separately as a CD/DVD set and two-LP vinyl release, with the entire eight-show Washington Square Church run available, in its entirety, on the two live Frippertronics Blu Rays in LPCM Stereo 24/48.
Finally, four CDs contain, what Peter Gabriel might have called "Flotsam and Jetsam." The first, Resplendent in Divergence
, presents "a selection of Frippertronics which appeared individually and/or in small groups in various other locations as individual tracks on later albums, compilations, singles."
Two further CDs hold sessions, jams and rehearsals that predated Exposure
and also foreshadowed, directly or indirectly, material from that album as well as music that ultimately led to the band Discipline in 1980, which would soon after be renamed King Crimson and would ultimately release the band's first album of the new decade, Discipline
(Panegyric Recordings, 1981).
's 32nd CD contains a sonically upgraded audience bootleg of a a September, 1980 performance by the League of Gentlemen at Royal Exeter, Bournemouth, as well as an additional four tracks recorded at Arny's Shack, sent to the BBC for broadcast by John Peel, along with a 12-minute band rehearsal also sent to Peel, the lot broadcast in November, 1980.
Unlike some Crimson box sets, almost the entirety of Exposures
' CD content is also available in higher resolutions on the Blu Ray discs and, in some cases, on the DVDs as well. Exposures
also contains, in addition to contributions from Declan Colgan, Al Okada, David Singleton and Robert Fripp in its ever-informative 50-page booklet, extensive notes by Crimson scribe/biographer Sid Smith. The booklet also includes a complete list of Fripp's musical activities between 1975 and 1983, including Fripp & Eno, along with Frippertronics and League of Gentlemen tour dates in addition to recording session dates ranging from Peter Gabriel
), Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs
, to sessions for David Bowie ("Heroes"
and Scary Monsters
). A Saturday Night Live
appearance is notated ... even a Hall & Oates show where Fripp made a guest appearance to perform on Exposure
's New Wave- driven "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette."
The booklet also contains edited excerpts from Fripp's diary, taken from a 1980 issue of Sound International
, as well Al Okada's "Confessions of a Frippertronics Collector, which both explains the process of Frippertronics in more detail, and how each live performance was unique, despite some utilizing the same foundational tape loops. It also explains how Okada's collecting of live audience recordings would ultimately be turned over to DGM Live, the result being the hours and hours of live Frippertronics shows included in the Exposures
box. And for those who think otherwise, Declan Colgan's "Notes from a Compiler" provides an eye-opening window into just how challenging putting together a box set of this size and scope can be, in addition to further details.
But the most important aspect of the booklet is Smith's cogent deconstruction, for someone ostensibly taking a break from the music industry, of an artist who was more engaged in making music than he had, perhaps, been up to this point in his career.
includes a variety of memorabilia, including tickets, posters, press releases and more.
But if Exposures
is centered largely around Fripp's evolution of Frippertronics, both solo and applied, it also revolves, most significantly, around the many versions of Exposure
, the guitarist's sole "proper" solo album to date. Exposure
was described, by The Wire
magazine in 1998, as "the Sgt Pepper
of avant punk," rendering crystal clear the changes that Fripp underwent as a result of his self-imposed walk-away from the music industry. From Smith's liners:
...only Exposure offers any serious insight into the man himself. Returning to music after a four-year break studying with Gurdjieff disciple J.G. Bennett, Fripp's psyche had veered from frustrated hostility to enigmatic good humour, and his first solo album captures every aspect of a many-sided personality."
Has Fripp Really Changed?
Fripp's reputation over the decades might, for some, have varied considerably. Certainly, many assumptions have been drawn by purported fans, based on everything from personal biases to an inability to appreciate the guitarist's sometimes dry-as-a-bone British wit.
Insofar as any who hasn't met the man or engaged in any detailed discussions with him, there are nevertheless some aspects to Fripp's character that can be surmised, from his actions over the decades, from his social media presence and, now, from some revelations contained in the Exposures
box set, whose name now takes on multiple meanings, just as the album upon which it is based did when first released in 1979.
When examining the final Crimson lineup, one for which there seemed to be little to none of the sturm und drang
that defined and rendered, for Fripp, virtually every lineup which came before a considerably less pleasant experience, it would seem that the guitarist has, indeed, evolved both as a musician and, in particular, as a human being, something that hopefully applies to all but is not necessarily so. But what has become clear as Fripp has revealed more of himself, at least to some extent, in recent years, is that the fundamental values which define him today are not all that different from those which characterized him nearly half a century ago.
Fripp may have philosophically and summarily rejected the music industry with the dissolution of King Crimson in late 1974, but the ensuing years that drew him towards the end of the '70s found the intrepid guitarist/composer/producer perhaps busier than he'd ever been. As Smith explains in his Exposures
"With Eno he recorded the influential Evening Star and played a short European tour. He spent ten months in Sherborne House in Gloucestershire on a spiritual retreat; went out on the road with Peter Gabriel and produced the singer's second solo album; produced Daryl Hall's debut solo album, Sacred Songs; recorded and played live with Blondie; took part in numerous benefit concerts and one-off appearances as part of New York's vibrant New Wave scene; recorded with David Bowie in Berlin, coming up with the soaring, yearning melody that opens the classic 'Heroes'; laid down guitar for Talking Heads; appeared on public panel discussions with luminaries such as Philip Glass; produced and appeared on alt-folk trio The Roches' Warner Bros debut album, and made another set of scorching transformative guitar contributions to Bowie's Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).
"That's a pretty busy schedule by anybody's standards but when you add the activities under his own name, that personal calendar really begins to fill up. There were over 70 Frippertonics gigswhere, as a small, intelligent, mobile unit, he performed with a guitar and two Revox tape recorders in cafes, record shops, shopping malls, company offices, theatres, planetariums, arts centres and other non-traditional venues in Europe and North America in 1978 and 1979. Then in 1980 he formed his own avant-pop combo, The League Of Gentlemen, with whom he urged punters to dance during nearly all of their 77 gigs. By the time the dust settled on 1981, Fripp had released God Save The Queen/Under Heavy Manners, Let The Power Fall and The League Of Gentlemen. And before those three, there was Exposure, his first solo record, released in 1979 and described by The Wire magazine in 1998 as 'the Sgt. Pepper of avant punk.'"
The majority of this work took place following Fripp's relocation, from England, to the vibrant, fast-paced and artistically multimedia-oriented city of New York in 1977.
But has the fundamental Fripp really changed in the ensuing decades? The wittier Fripp who has continued his largely outrageously funny "Sunday Lunch" videos with wife Toyah Wilcox, and the egalitarian Fripp who spent literally hundreds of thousands of pounds to regain the rights to Crimson's music (and that of other Fripp-related projects) may seem to have changed little, other than that he is wearing his personality a little more visibly on his sleeve, especially for those fans who have loved his work as a musician but (unfairly) held him at somewhat less regard when it came to his personality.
Indeed, the "crotchety" Fripp who has so rightly rankled at those in the audience who seem to believe that a concert ticket includes the entitlement to record and photograph said performances existed then and continues to exist now (and, for any who possess sensitivity to the challenge of musicians playing in distracting environs, with absolute justification). This, despite (a) a notation on every concert ticket indicating otherwise; (b) for those who didn't read the back of their ticket, the presence of huge signs gracing the stage of every Crimson performance from 2014-2021 before each set, making the exact same sentiment crystal clear; and (c) notwithstanding his jovially articulated pre-show voice announcement asking the audience to "experience King Crimson through your eyes and your ears."
As Smith describes, in reference to gigs as early as those with The League of Gentlemen, Fripp encounteredand dealt withthose in the audience who, even in the days before the existence of smart phones, tablets and portable audio/video recorders, already believed that a ticket to a performance entitled them to other rights:
"At some shows, flash photography would get in the way of the performance, causing Fripp on more than one occasion to remonstrate with punters. 'There is a tradition in rock music that one should not listen to the music but try to photograph it. That this has some validity in some traditions, I understand, but not in this,' he said on their first show in continental Europe. "So, for those who've come along to steal a little from the air, I ask you not to. There are very good reasons which we'd probably waste our time to talk about now. But to those of you who've bought cameras along I ask you to please put them away.'"
Of course, re-entering the world of live performance, especially for someone with Fripp's reputation with King Crimson, also meant that there were other issues with which to deal. Fortunately, there was a solution:
"Sometimes there would be shouts for Crimson numbers and the shadow of Fripp's old band had a habit of making itself known, much to the irritation of the other members [in the League of Gentlemen]. In small clubs and even smaller dressing rooms the tiny confines were crowded with well-wishers, people in search of a good time and, with grim inevitability, men cornering Fripp to engage him in a fervent discussion of philosophical issues. [Organist Barry] Andrews: 'Robert's connection with Crimson conjured up a lot of boring fuckers in the dressing roomall very earnest, geeky blokes. It even got to Robert, who was single at the time and up for some action, that, instead of basking in the oestro-waves of well-deserved post-show girly adulation, he was being cornered by yet another sweaty bloke asking for some spiritual or musical guidance. [Drummer] Johnny [Toobad] said that if Fripp wanted to get rid of these Seekers-After-Knowledge he could try pretending to sell them heroin. Gamely, Robert did exactly that. His performance as a drug dealer was less than convincing, "Would you like to buy some smack? It's really good stuff"but it certainly did the trick.'"
The How and Why of Frippertronics
But it was in the midst of Fripp's Le Pretzel Enchainé
Frippertronics performance in Montreal on August 9, 1979 where, beyond describing the technological definition of the how
of Frippertronics, the guitarist went into significant detail as to the why
of Frippertronics. It's as compelling a reason to cease working within the confines of the music industry machine as any. As Fripp said to his audience:
"Frippertonics is my attempt to promote human contact on the performance situation in three stages.
"Firstly, to reduce the scale of the event to where we can see each other and touch each other and, this evening, without air conditioning here in the studio, probably also smell each other. This is an intimate gathering.
"King Crimson were playing in Italy at the Palazzo Dello Sport in Rome in 1973, to 15,000 very enthusiastic Italian King Crimson supporters who, following our set and one encore, began to tear out the power cables and destroy the Palazzo Dello Sport as their expression that they wished us to return to play. We received a message from the promoter, and from the State Police, "please, please King Crimson, will you return and play since we neither wish to machine gun 15,000 people or attempt to club them unconscious.
"For those of you who may have heard of the famous Lou Reed concert in 1975 in Italy, in fact, the police did a remarkably good job of clubbing unconscious as many people in that audience as possible. So this was not a situation which we were prepared to ignore. Of course we happily returned to the stage, plugged in to play, 15,000 very angry King Cimson supporters became very happy King Crimson supporters until, when we began to perform, there was, of course, no power because they had pulled out the power cables.
"At this point a young man, seeing vistas even beyond the beyond, followed me onstage. Since this was not a situation which was allowed, the promoter's muscular young assistant hit him very hard and very quickly, and his blood hit the stage before he did. As a further background to this event we had played to 200 Maoists who had walked through a glass wall a little earlier in the evening to demonstrate the fundamental proposition that music is for the people and therefore free. King Crimson had also discovered a ticket scam to defraud us of a percentage of our royalties, which upset the promoter and a number of his ticket receivers.
"This is a background to that particular event. There we were, bleeding hippy onstage, irate promoter, irate ticket receivers, 200 Maoists and 15,000 very disturbed King Crimson fans and no power. This is a creative situation, a creative opportunity I do not wish again. I suggest that some relationships are governed by size.
"The second reason for Frippertronics is involved with the idea of active listening. That when we go along to a concert and see our fave rave onstage, King Turkey, elaborately decked out in either soft leather trousers or perhaps satin trousers, silk shirts and the like, we have difficultly, perhaps, in getting involved in this performance and we don't expect that we should have to. We've paid our money to come along, and let King Turkey onstage do the entertaining. In my experience, something very remarkable becomes possible if we use our ears, and this is not easy. It requires an act of attention, especially in situations where music is unfamiliar and, perhaps, boring, and Frippertronics I think falls within both those categories.
"But in my experience, and this is not a theoretical construct, if I listen to what I'm doing and you listen to what I'm doing then we manage to get away from this idea that in some way the performer is a special person, and something remarkable can take place.
"And the third reason is this idea of the vampiric relationship between audience and performer. That it's so difficult for us to externalize our different values. For example, here in this situation I'm on a stage, the implication is therefore that I am above you. This is a tangible expression of a peculiar internal structure we have. I think, along with you, abandon this notion that in any way I'm this special person. So, here we have Frippertronics."
This is why, despite releasing Exposures
in 1979, Fripp eschewed the normal music industry habit of extensively touring the album and, instead, hit the road with a pair of Revox reel-to-reel tape recorders, one technician/road manager and himself, the embodiment of his then newly minted philosophy of the "small, independent, mobile and intelligent unit," one which played to audiences ranging from 12 to 250 rather than the many thousands to which King Crimson often played. The remuneration may have been considerably less, but the rewards exponentially greater.
As Smith describes, of Fripp's love of the intimacy of Frippertronics shows:
"Fripp recalls that [management company/record label] EG's Mark Fenwick was concerned that 'the audience would see that the emperor has no clothes,' not really grasping that this was really Fripp's point. 'Right, so they see the emperor has no clothes. The emperor is saying, "but I have no clothes." So what is left? Music, in that moment. And something becomes possible. For me, to actually be able to look people in the eyes and play a note and have a question and the people who would come along and sit on the floor, most of them actually had authentic questions about their musical experience. And it's so easy to overlook the power that music has even today, controlled as it is by the industry. It was astonishing to be able to make direct one-to-one contact with nice, good, honest people right in front. It was stunning. I loved it, that immediate content. Get the fucking management out of the way.'"
This was part of what Fripp called The Drive to 1981
, which was described by Smith as:
Fripp's means of imposing his will on the chaotic and arbitrary environment in which he operated. If he was back in the industry, it was on his terms. For him there seemed to be as much a moral as a practical imperative. [Fripp:] "A campaign on three levels: first, in the marketplace but not governed by the values of the marketplace; second, as a means of examining and presenting a number of ideas which are close to my heart; and third, as a personal discipline."
Later in the same notes, Smith articulates:
"In Fripp's model there were three categoriesor 'divisions'of making music. Frippertronics basked in the third division, representing research and development, he said'interesting ideas and civilised lifestyle, but you won't earn a living. Second division will earn you a living if you graft and you can get professionally respectable, but you won't change the world." [Smith, describing the music of The League of. Gentlemen:] The League hovered precariously between the two, but several pieces in their repertoire bristled with the sizzling lines of percolating guitar Fripp was clearly itching to take further in the first division. Within the heat of the gig it was common for them to hurtle from dissonant and explosive to simplistic and ethereal in seconds. Though sometimes lacking subtlety, the melodic heavy lifting alternating between the front and back lines was crucial to the development of Fripp's next step."
Distancing From the Music Industry and the Prog Rock Albatross
Disgusted and fed up with the lifestyle and machinations imposed by the music industry at the time, Fripp had, upon dissolving King Crimson in the fall of 1974, felt the need to withdraw from it entirely. For the first part of his time post-Crim, he entered a self-imposed spiritual retreat where he began to more seriously pursue his studies of the work of renegade mystic and spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff (1866/1877-1949), through studies with J.G. Bennett (1897- 1974). Unbeknownst to his band mates, Fripp had already begun these studies during his time in Crimson, studies which would ultimately have a direct impact upon his life and career from that time forward.
This isn't to suggest, however, that Fripp had withdrawn entirely from music; just that he had withdrawn from the music industry
. Beyond continuing to expand upon his Frippertronics work with former Roxy Music synthesist and producer Brian Eno
first experienced on 1973's groundbreaking (No Pussyfooting)
(Panegyric Recordings) and the even more mature Evening Star
(Panegyric Recordings, 1975), Fripp had begun to find ways, beyond being used as standalone works of music, to embed these tape loop- driven works into other pieces, calling them "applied Frippertronics."
Fripp began to reenter the world of music in the studio, participating on and/or producing albums by David Bowie
, Daryl Hall
and Peter Gabriel
(even touring with the former Genesis
singer as "Dusty Rhodes," but performing invisibly behind a curtain, though it was impossible to disguise his style of playing).
It was, however, Fripp's decision to relocate from a more low-key, pastorale life in Wimborne, a market town in Dorset in South West England, to the relentlessly fast-paced life of New York City, which marked a major change, one that would soon become evident in his music as well. Not only was Fripp spiritually revived and reinvigorated through his studies but, by exposing himself to an entirely different culture, he was able to refresh himself musically, opening himself up to possibilities far beyond the reductionist definition of "progressive rock" that had, by the time Crimson disbanded in 1974, become such a weighty albatross around the guitarist's neck. "So I set off with no intention of ever returning to England," Fripp is cited as saying in Smith's Exposures
liners, "but not really with any idea of what I was going to do other than it was not going to be in the music industry."
Beyond the music industry itself, Fripp was also less than enamored with his experiences working in group contexts. So much so, in fact, that when he formed the less than virtuosic League of Gentlemen towards the end of the '70s, a group where the guitarist's instrumental mastery was so clearly significantly above the rest of his band mates, this was his assessment:
Every group I've belonged to has been at least as disparate but this is the only one which lacks brutality and malice amongst its members. My frustration at the lack of experience is balanced by good hearts."
In fact, it's remarkable that, of all the King Crimson lineups over more than 50 years, Fripp reserved a particular comment only for the final seven/eight-piece incarnation. From an April, 2019 Rolling Stone
magazine article by Hank Shteamer:
"Within the octet itself, all is unusually harmonious. 'There have been prima donnas within King Crimson, and that can be a bit difficult,' Fripp says. 'And if you have two prima donnas in the same band, that can be very difficult. And in this King Crimson, there are eight men, and no one is a prima donna.'"
That said, it can become an intriguing exercise to experience two different people recall the same event in such diametrically opposed fashions. An encounter that Fripp experienced with former King Crimson co-founder, the now-late bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, who had gone on to far greater success with Emerson, Lake & Palmer
but who had also, by this time, completely bought into the "legend in his own mind" ethos, speaks volumes. ELP was playing three nights at Madison Square Gardens, and Fripp decided to go along to see what his former band mate was up to. As Smith describes:
"Although ELP was the complete antithesis, both musically and ideologically, to Fripp's new scene, the guitarist went to see the band and was able to go backstage before the band went on. Lake recalled seeing his former band mate for the first time since leaving Crimson in 1970. [Lake:] 'And as I'm walking past this barrier I see Robert and I was shocked. So I asked him what he was doing there and said to the roadie, "Get him out of the crowd and get him back into the dressing room and look after him." So up we go on the stage and we play the show.'
"As Lake remembered, after the show the pair agreed to go out to eat. 'So we went off in the limo and we're going down the road and I said to him, "You know, Robert, one day we ought to get our guitars out and play together again. It's been so long since we did that.' And he said, "I don't think so." So I said to the driver, "Just pull over on the left here," opened the fucking door and told him to leg it. I said "Out you go" and I dropped him off. I thought, why was he like that? It must have been jealousy. There was ELP selling out three nights at Madison Square Garden and you couldn't get arrested in King Crimson at that time.'"
Fripp's recollection was altogether different:
"I went to all three of the MSG shows. I believe I went backstage every evening. After the final show there was a visit to a restaurant for the band and entourage, to which I was invited. Greg was vibrating with various suits and, at the end of the evening, sat me down to talk with him. Greg presented, in strong terms, the idea of a KC69 reformation." Leaving the restaurant in the limousine with Fripp sitting next to the driver and Lake in the back, the pair journeyed to Fripp's home. Fripp recalls the conversation as the car stopped to let him out. Lake asked Fripp what he thought about a KC69 reunion. Fripp avoided a direct answer by asking Lake to give him a call. 'So that's it? You want me to call you?' asked Lake. Fripp replied: 'You already know my answer.' A perplexed Lake asked 'You mean no?,' to which Fripp replied 'That's right.' Lake's limo drove off into the night. It would be several years before the pair talked or met again."
If anything, such an occurrence clarified Fripp's newfound sense of purpose, and why his move to New York City and such a different artistic community was such a fruitful pursuit. As Smith further recounts:
"Even after all these were, it's obvious that Robert realised the relaxed atmosphere of the arts milieu where the visual and conceptual arts, fashion, poetry and music intersected (...) the path he'd taken had given him time out of their dusty and a position as a maverick outsider, free to come and go as instinct and necessity dictated, with more freedom than he'd known since becoming a professional musician. At this point, Fripp was about as far removed from the worlds inhabited by ELP, UK or Genesis as it was possible to be."
He may not have been within the music industry or any particular musical genre, but Fripp soon made some significant musical friends in New York City, including Chris Stein and Deborah Harry of Blondie. As Smith writes:
"Saying yes to things as a policy decision led him into all kinds of new situations, he [Fripp] recalls. 'Another of the wonderful things I did with Chris and Debbie was at Irving Plaza for some festival or another, Debbie on drums, Chris on guitar with an octave device so he was bass guitar and me on guitar. And what I was doing was these howling noises with fuzz, turning the bottom string down low and pressing the string behind the nut so it produced these huge trumpeting sounds which was a technique I used on "Requiem" on [King Crimson's] Beat in 1982, actually enacted as part of a trio with Chris and Debbie at Irving Plaza some three-odd years before. The point is we were wild. Here's Debbie, a huge star, playing drums in this mad trio at Irving Plaza playing improvised music. This was the zeitgeist.'"
But beyond these events, life-changing studies and musical growth, there were other characteristics that defined a guitarist who was had just entered his thirties when he relocated to New York. From the liner notes, a number of specific occurrences defined the egalitarian approach Fripp took to making music with others, a pathway that would become further cemented with the creation of Discipline Global Mobile, the independent label first formed by Fripp and Singleton in 1992.
When Peter Hammill was recruited to replace Daryl Hall's vocals on Exposure
's aggressively angular "Disengage":
"Fripp was so impressed that he gave the singer [Hammill] a cowriting credit. 'That was super-generous of Robert [says Hammill]. If it was writing, it was writing in the moment, obviously, because it was a purely improvised performance, as far as the singing goes. Robert said afterwards that that performance had fundamentally changed the track so much that he felt it was worth a writing credit.'"
That said, Fripp was already used to working in a reciprocal environment, as Declan Colgan describes in his "Notes from a Compiler":
"The Lost in the Bush of Ghosts loops on disc four were recorded for the Brian Eno and David Byrne album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, for the track "Regiment." EG management, to both Robert and Brian and on whose label the album would appear in many countries, wanted to charge Brian for Robert's contribution. Robert refused to charge Brian for any contribution he might make to the albumalthough one of the pieces was, apparently, used quite low in the final mix. Robert is credited as a co-arranger of the track on later CD reissues."
Even more significant was, however, Fripp's handling of the recording of The League of Gentlemen
, for whom this was Sara Lee's first recording. In most cases where the ostensible leader possessed far greater cachet than the rest of his band mates, compensation would be meted out accordingly. But as Smith recalls of the bassist, who would go on to greater commercial success in the B-52s, the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco:
"As the band finished the recording, Lee recalls Fripp handing out forms to document the royalties paid on compositional credits. 'He asked us to write a percentage amount that reflected the amount we thought we'd helped compose next to each title. I mean a lot of what we did kind of came from jams that we'd done but it was really Robert's thing. I just assumed that this is what happened after you'd finished recording an album, that everybody did this. Of course, it was the first and only time it ever happened,' she laughs. 'That was incredibly fair of him, I thought.'"
And so, in many ways, Robert Fripp circa mid-'70s has evolved in the ensuing years. Still, a clear line can still be drawn, both from the core values and personality quirks/eccentricities that have made him as much a fascinating character over the decades, and as his significant and inimitable role as music re-imaginer/re-inventor.
Post-Crimson: Frippertronics and the MOR Trilogy
By the time the '70s-era King Crimson dissolved in September 1974, Fripp had already been exploring the significant potential of Frippertronics. Beyond his work with Brian Eno, the guitarist had been working on the concept alone, creating a variety of loops that could be used both as the foundation for real-time soloing in performance and as the basis for applied Frippertronics.
But first, an explanation of what Frippertronics is, from a technological perspective. Utilizing two Revox A77 reel-to-reel tape machines (and Frippertronics cannot be created on just any pair of reel to reel tape decks), but with the tape being fed from one machine through to the other and back, Fripp was able to create real-time looping, building layers from the ground up and sometimes starting with nothing more than a single, sustaining note, as can be heard on CD1's "Major Loops I." Long before today's digital technology made it such an easy thing to accomplish (and, even so, given the analogue nature of Frippertronics, not precisely reproducible with today's devices), this was no small accomplishment. And with the tape being constantly read and played back on two different sets of tape heads, Fripp was able, in the case of "Major Loops I," to continue inserting additional sustaining notes, until a chordal cloud was built, initially celestial in complexion but soon thereafter turning somewhat darker. And all of this within just a couple of minutes.
A two-note figure is then inserted, and then harmonized, with additional thematic fragments layered over top as the piece becomes paradoxically more complex and more tranquil. It's within the unique nature of Frippertronics that the guitarist found a means to turn six strings into a virtual (and literal) orchestra. Though it's a shame that excerpts from the album could not be included in the box set (likely for contractual reasons), Sid Smith explains in his liners that "Without Tears," from Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs
(RCA, 1980), may be one of the very the best early examples of applied Frippertronics.
Beginning as simply a song for piano and voice, "Without Tears" also demonstrates why Fripp described Hall, in the 1999 Buddha Records reissue of Sacred Songs
, as having:
..."the best pipes of anyone I've ever worked with, at any time. He moved effortlessly through the idioms he knew, and then out the other side to those he didn't. He improvised as easily as any instrumentalist I've ever met, and better than most. This singer was a dream." Sacred Songs
demonstrates a far greater compositional, instrumental and vocal range than the singer's concurrent work with the increasingly commercially successful and more radio-friendly duo Hall & Oates. But it's about halfway through the pastoral "Beyond Tears" that the guitarist's applied Frippertronics enter, truly elevating the song into the stratosphere. While his use of Frippertronics has been more dominant at times, here it moves in and out of the mix, from subtle augmentation to more paramount significance.
Fripp recognized Hall's inimitable talent at a time when many did not, further noting in the Sacred Songs
"But a singer is always a problem. This is because a singer has a manager, and a manager draws his income from the commercial success of his artists. In Daryl's case, 25% of gross income."
Worse, still, as Smith recounts:
"The worries of RCA executives that Fripp was a malign influence on Hall found an echo in the offices of Atlantic, who feared Fripp's approach wouldn't yield hits."
Oh, to have been able to operate outside the confines of such a reductionist, confining industry.
Having met in Toronto in 1974, and despite declining Hall & Oates' offer to produce the duo's next album the following year as it would have compromised Fripp's retreat to more fully study and adopt Gurdjieff and Bennett's teachings into his life, by the time 1977 rolled around the guitarist had relocated to the USA and agreed to produce Hall's first solo album.
Recorded and mixed by the end of August, 1977, Sacred Songs
would become the first of a planned Fripp-produced "MOR trilogy" that would also include Peter Gabriel's second album, recorded and mixed between November 1977 and February 1978, and Exposure
, recorded and mixed between June 1977 and January 1979. That Sacred Songs
was the first recorded in the trilogy but last released was simply a matter of the very music industry from which Fripp was trying to distance himself, and why, perhaps, he begins Exposure
with "Preface," which opens with a fabricated (or not) conversation with a record executive, where Brian Eno says:
"Can I play you some of the new things I've been doing, which I think could be commercial?"
This, before a massively overdubbed series of wordless vocals by Hall straddle the line between unequivocally consonant beauty and (equally beautiful) György Ligeti-informed microtonality.
But back to Frippertronics. Exposures
' first four CDs contain home and studio Frippertronics master loop recordings (some recorded after Fripp had relocated to New York City), ranging from under two to over seventy minutes in length. Some were used as applied Frippertronics, like the five- part "Lost in the Bush of Ghosts" series already described, even though the track on which these particular loops were eventually used lasted just a little over four minutes, and Fripp's loops were so deeply buried in the mix that it's difficult to actually hear them.
Buried, as Fripp's work was, in the mix of Lost in the Bush of Ghosts
' "Regiment," which also includes a number of foreshadowing samples in the days before MIDI made such things both easier and de rigueur
, it's a challenge to determine which of the guitarist's loop(s) were actually used, but an educated guess might be "Lost in the Bush of Ghosts II," if only because it's in the same key. Still, despite there being over 22 minutes of potential applied Frippertronics included in the Exposures
box that were barely used on the groove-laden "Regiment," it was a track also featuring Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz and Michael "Busta Cherry" Jones, the bassist who would also ultimately appear on the group portions of Fripp's God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and associated bonus material in the Exposures
Despite My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
being initially met with mixed reviews, it has finally become accepted, especially with Nonesuch Records' expanded edition released in 2006, as the masterpiece it always was. Fripp's master loops were, however, first released in a standalone format by DGM Live as the downloadable Music For Blue Rocks I to V (Dec 20, 1979)
It's a little easier to hear the section taken from a 12-minute master loop used on the Exposures
song "Breathless," in particular around the eleven-minute mark. It's at that point that the loop modulates, as does the instrumental on Exposure
at roughly three minutes in, a song that represents a clear evolution over and development on the title track to King Crimson's Red
(Panegyric Recordings, 1974).
Fifty minutes of master loops recorded for the Gabriel/Fripp title track to Exposure
are also included. The song also appeared on Peter Gabriel's second album, but with Gabriel singing rather than either Terre Roche or Daryl Hall. Gabriel's version is included here as a bonus track on the Exposure Third Edition, Plus
CD, DVD and Blu Ray. Again, the portion used, in particular the hammer- on that becomes harmonized and then the foundation for a repeated, low register, two-note ascending figure can be found at various points throughout the two master loop recordings, though where Fripp takes them and other ideas is far more expansive than those used on the finished track.
The inclusion of the Peter Gabriel
version of "Exposure" serves another purpose. Paired with the paradoxically celestial Frippertronics track "Urban Landscapes" and more aggressive vocal track "NYCNY," both taken from Sacred Songs
and placed alongside an early mix of the Gabriel-sung but Frippertronics-laden "Here Comes the Flood," these four songs provide a brief but very open window into how Fripp's MOR trilogy might well have sounded, had the albums been released in closer to proper chronological order.
What is, perhaps, most surprising about these master loops is how far-reaching they are, from gentle tranquility to harsh angularity. In some ways they are not just important as some of the earliest Fripp recordings that led to his work in the ensuing years, both exploring Frippertronics on their own and as applied Frippertronics to be used to orchestrate other songs. Beyond that, their inclusion in Exposures
goes beyond historical significance, allowing them to function equally well as standalone pieces of music.
But as already asserted, Exposures
may appear to revolve around the Exposure
album and its many iterations, but it's really Frippertronics which are the cornerstone and fundamental premise of the box set.
Beyond the many live Frippertronics performances, documented across two Blu Ray discs, spanning over five years, more than 125 performances and two days of music, a series of specific performances have also been extracted and released separately on CD, some also as standalone CD, CD/DVD and/or LP reissues.
Two shows at New York's The Kitchen, in February 1978 provided Fripp's newly adopted hometown a chance to experience Frippertronics in performance for the very first time, with a second show added due to unexpectedly high demand (and The Kitchen's relatively small capacity of just 250 seats). A series of loops in the 70+ minute first show demonstrate the breadth possible with just one guitar and two tape recorders. With loops ranging from roughly seven minutes to over 26, it's "Loop IV" that reveals the most during the first show, as the loop is created initially on its own, but then used as the foundation for Fripp's real-time soloing over it. Transformative, transubstantial and trace- inducing, it's easy to imagine the near-hypnotic impact of these performances, even at a distance of nearly 45 years.
Two performances, one from Wintegarden in Copenhagen 15 months later and another from Polydor in Paris less than a week after that (but still relatively early on in the presentation of Frippertronics as a live performance vehicle) suggest further evolution. The two "Green Music for Libraries" undergo different evolutions across their respective 14 and 23 minute durations. But they, along with the four-part, 41- minute "Music for Journalists" from Paris, both demonstrate that the improvisational nature of Frippertronics means that their live performances can vary widely in terms of time, with the two Kitchen performances running over 70 minutes each, but these two running between just 37 and 41.
If they are live performances, they nevertheless employ devices already developed in the earlier master loops found on the Exposures
set's first few CDs. Just as the hammer-ons explored in "Major Loops I" on CD1 would be the foundation for the applied Frippertronics on the title track to Exposure
, and just as Fripp's unusual staccato phrases act as foundations for some of the "Lost in the Bush of Ghosts" loops, along with oscillator-driven tonalities and warmer-toned build-ups of layers in others, the loops in Copenhagen and Paris explore many other musical devices and conceits, many of which Fripp was innovating from the ground up and for the very first time.
At the same time, however, Fripp takes ideas from earlier Frippertronics and extrapolates them further, as with the hammer-ons near the end of "Green Music for Libraries I," which are used in a far denser fashion, and the near-white noise experimentations, six minutes into "Green Music for Libraries II," which are also found forty-plus minutes into "Major Loops III," the hour-long exploration found on Exposures
' third CD.
Fripp's ability to draw unusual sonics from his guitar rig, at a time when technology was far more limited, is also quite remarkable. Utilizing his by-then signature sustaining tone, but with oscillating filters lending them considerably altered sonics, Fripp also takes advantage of the intrinsic characteristic of running two tape recorders together to allow certain figures and music fragments to fade into quieter segments, as he does on Paris' "Music for Journalists II," to create an unusual form of calming quietude. He also explores various forms of modality, as he does during "Music for Journalists III," with a Phrygian figure that would ultimately be used in a the group piece, "Funky Frippertronics," from Steven Wilson's Under Heavy Manners/Eurotronics
The 73-minute August 19, 1979 performance at Le Pretzel en Chainé in Montréal, Canada, is an even more expansive Frippertronics set where, in addition to explaining the "why" of Frippertronics documented earlier in this piece, also explains the "how." After a five-minute "Loop IV," where Fripp employs his sustaining tone to layer note-upon-note, he goes on to explain:
"Because of the technique, the fashion in which this is recorded, and I should like to make a public acknowledgement of my debt to my friend Brian Eno for introducing me to this technique, at the end of this particular pass, the guitar is recorded on one track. Now, simply by recording sound-on-sound, we can listen back to what has just been recorded in stereo and this gives me, then, the facility to play on top of it. So, once more while I just reset the programming [followed by a brief silence]. If we would agree with my friend Brian Eno, that repetition is a form of change, then this might be, a second time, a completely different listening experience."
Following a five-minute expansion on the previously recorded loop, with a solo layered on top, called "Loop and Solo IV The Product of Us All," which is, indeed, a different experience that builds to a climactic crescendo before slowly fading to black, Fripp concludes by saying:
"That was the product of us all. Now I shall pull out of the past a Frippertronics piece recorded in exactly the same way, with one guitar improvised, a performance in Berkley about two weeks ago. This is, in fact, a response to a gentleman who shouted out as I came on. "Star Spangled Banner," he said. I replied that I seemed to recall there's another guitarist played that tune [Jimi Hendrix, having been playing the American national anthem live since April, 1968, but his best known performance from his show at Woodstock in August, 1969], and nevertheless ventured, in that context, since Hendrix was American and I was English, to do a set of variations on "God Save the Queen," and in fact the Frippertronics loop is based on the opening four or five notes of "God Save the Queen." This is presumably Fripp's punk approach; the Sex Pistols had theirs, this is mine."
And so it becomes clear that Fripp saved many of the Frippertronics tape loops that he created in live performance as improvised pieces, only to reuse them in later performances as the foundation for further soloing but also for use on subsequent recordings, like, indeed, "God Save the Queen," from God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
. But furthermore, if Fripp drew upon his many Frippertronics performances for God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
, he also used live recordings for the full-on Frippertronics album Let the Power Fall
It's also important to note that, as Colgan elucidates, both to explain the process and to describe how the original Frippertronics tapes were treated in their compilation on Exposures
The Revox reel to reels both had varispeed functions which Robert utilised at various point. (The master tape for Let the Power Fall comes with a series of instructions for desired decreases or increases in speed of individual tracks). Some pieces appear in slightly different speeds in different places. Some loops start in mono, on one side only, before graduating to stereo and/or a more central position. Occasional thumps, buzzes, clicks and other audio artefacts appear on various Frippertronics recordings. While all of the Frippertronics recordings have been carefully assembled and mastered, removal of such occasional artefacts would also involve removing some of the associated music and represent unnecessary interventions into the intent of the original performance. Only those which damage or intrude too far into the audio have been edited out.
This renders the previously unreleased Washington Square Church, August 1981
Frippertronics album, taken from the four August 1981 shows that were part of a larger six-night/eight-show run at New York's Washington Square Church, another document of Frippertronics as a live improvisation vehicle for the guitarist, but this time with the additional benefit of exploring the myriad of possibilities that an informed engineer/producer like David Singleton might accomplish, were he to treat the source material as just that: source material. The set of 11 pieces also differs from Let the Power Fall
in that, to at least some extent, the "where" of these recordings was not just known but documented, augmenting the already articulated "how" and "why." Let the Power Fall
, available in a new remaster on CD as well as stereo 24/96 and DTS Digital Surround Quad/4.1 on DVD and LPCM Stereo 24/192 And DTS-HD Master Quad/4.1 on Blu Ray, and from the opening "1984" (following God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
' "1983," one of the more fascinating aspects to Frippertronics becomes immediately clear. Because the tape loop continues to feed from one machine to the other and back, musical fragments introduced that are initially fundamental and dominant ultimately fade as new ones are introduced. But because this is a gradual process, it creates a kind of symphonic ambience where, in particular, longer pieces seem to possess multiple movements.
No doubt this ultimately was by design as Fripp became increasingly comfortable with the process, but it means that "1984" moves from an initial three-note ascending pattern to a five-note one, with the final note of the three-note phrase repeated twice more, creating a 4/4 pattern over which the guitarist begins to layer additional melodic fragments. As early passages fade in the mix, new ideas are introduced that become more dominant, causing the 12-minute piece to become increasingly dense, the entire piece gradually coming down in dynamics and dominated by an ascending four-note pattern that ends in a gradually harmonized descending glissando which, itself, slowly turns into the dominant phrase as it, in turns, begins to fade and Fripp lets the entire piece, with its many components, slowly fade to black.
Providing a "blow by blow" description of every piece on Let the Power Fall
would be pointless, as the key takeaway is that Fripp experiments with both the capacity to build loops and a variety of different guitar techniques that might seem irrelevant on their own but, when used in the context of Frippertronics, become significant innovations in their own right. But what's equally important is that all of the pieces were recorded on tour between April and August 1979. And what's important about having access to the original live performances from various locations and dates is that individual Frippertronics performances, while not always the case, do often explore a similar premises. And so, while each one ultimately goes to very different places, and despite "Music for Palaces I" and "Music for Palaces IV" being very different at the May 27, 1979 show at Theatre le Palace in Paris, "Music for Palaces II" and "Music for Palaces III" begin with the same sustaining note, though each piece is harmonized differently as it slowly begins to evolve.
This suggests that Fripp, at least some of the time, has certain ideas in mind when he improvises at a particular show. He also takes loops recorded in other locations (or even from the same show) and uses them as a foundation over which he can solo, such as at the Record Revolution in Cleveland, USA on June 14, 1979, where "Music for Revolutions I" is presented as the Frippertronics loop alone and in two additional iterations with different solos, "Origination" and "Playback." Or at Washington Square Church on July 29 (before the Washington Square Church
was recorded a few days later in August), where a test loop from July 27 is used as a basis for soloing on July 29.
It's a remarkable feat to know which loops might be grist for reuse in subsequent performances, but this is just one more reason why having as many Frippertronics performances as there are in the Exposures
box is so important: they reveal the multifaceted creative process of Frippertronics as guitar orchestra.
Meanwhile, David Singleton's mix and master of Washington Square Church, August 1981
presents eleven different Frippertronics performances from the second half of Fripp's eight-show run at the New York venue, and also demonstrate just how much latitude there is for an engineer/producer to take original material and reshape it. "Loop IV and Solo III," from the August 2 afternoon show, is used to create Washington Square Church, August 1981
's "Washington Square III," an easy find because their lengths are almost identical.
Still, Singleton takes considerable liberties with the original Frippertronics loop (that would have been digitized and fed into something like ProTools in order to mix it and apply additional potential processing). The first and most obvious change is in the stereo panning of the Frippertronics loop. On the original recording, the panning is much more dramatic, from right to left, while in Singletons mix it's reversed and generally softer, positioned to create a more three-dimensional space, while Fripp's soloing is given a more dominant position in the mix.
On the other hand, "Loop II," from the August 1 evening show, is used for Washington Square Church, August 1981
's "Washington Square VIII," with the mix adjusted for a more expansive feel and a solo "flown in" from a different recording, possibly pitch- shifted/quantized to match the key of the Frippertronics loop. Not unlike Singleton's work with the mid-'90s Double Trio and ATTAKcATHRAK (The Vicar's THRAK)
, from THRAK Box: Live And Studio Recordings 1994-1997
and constructed from a series of live improvisations, Washington Square Church, August 1981
feels very much like a similar production, where Frippertronics and solos are the grist for something entirely different.
The Drive to 1981 Exposures
is, at its core, based on four key foundations:
1. Frippertronics, which forms the primary cornerstone for almost everything else in the box;
2. Commercial Frippertronics and associated group albums including Let the Power Fall
, God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and the God Save the King
compilation, along with new concoctions including Discotronics
and Washington Square Church, August 1981
3. The League of Gentlemen; and
4. The album Exposure
, and its multiple variants, from rough mixes to new stereo, surround and Dolby Atmos mixes, as well as rehearsal jams and explorations of album material from 1977 through 1978 and on both sides of the Atlantic.
All of these various activities formed Fripp's The Drive to 1981
, which would ultimately lead to the formation of a new King Crimson, though that act was initially more driven by EG Management than by Fripp himself. It would appear that The Drive to 1981
was more about Fripp's evolution as a musician and, through his studies of Gurdjieff with J.G. Bennett, a person who was not particularly interested in returning to the less-than-enjoyable experiences as part of the larger music machine. That Fripp ultimately did
return to that machine in his various tours with subsequent King Crimson lineups and other projects resulted in the creation of some groundbreaking music, but at the expense of truly enjoying the process. It was only with the formation of the final seven (and, briefly, eight)-piece Crimson lineup from 2014-2021 that Fripp managed to find a way to tour in a way that was actually enjoyable, and with a group of musicians that avoided any of the drama/melodrama that seemed to plague earlier lineups.
But after the whirlwind of activity in 1977/78, and armed with ideas that would ultimately surface on Exposure
and beyond, an ever-forward thinking Fripp devised the plan that would occupy the next three years of his life. As Smith recounts:
"In September 1978 Fripp launched a manifesto that would guide the next phase of his career. The Drive To 1981 was Fripp's means of imposing his will on the chaotic and arbitrary environment in which he operated. If he was back in the industry, it was on his terms. For him there seemed to be as much a moral as a practical imperative: 'A campaign on three levels; first, in the marketplace but not governed by the values of the marketplace; second, as a means of examining and presenting a number of ideas which are close to my heart; third, as a personal discipline.'
"After making a solo record, the conventional step was to play some shows and promote the hell out of the thing. Fripp put a tour together but as a 'small independent mobile unit,' taking two Revoxes and a driver/road manager out to play Frippertronics, not only subverting the usual tour process but, appropriately enough given the album title, leaving himself truly exposed. There was nowhere to hide. With music pared back to its very essence, it was a direct form of expression built for active listening by audiences ranging in size from 12 to 250."
The Frippertronics tours and recordings were met largely with critical acclaim, but the invasive nature of management once again began to rear its ugly head. As Smith describes:
"Melody Maker's Allan Jones lauded the Frippertronics pieces but somewhat prophetically concluded: 'It's to Under Heavy Manners that one eventually looks for a key to Fripp's musical future. He, as much as anyone, needs someone to force an entry into areas he's not fully able to unlock himself. Under Heavy Manners suggests he's looking in the right directions.'
"But EG Management had something different in mind and, at a meeting in early 1980, he was told he should do what he 'did best'- -that is, play in a band. There was little doubt in Fripp's mind that the band his management had in mind was King Crimson. The guitarist remained doubtful. 'In my own personal process, this was firstly too soon for me to form a band. Secondly, were I to accept their encouragement (which I did), the kind of band I was interested in bore no relationship to anything EG could conceive.' Paddy Spinks, employed at the time by EG as a tour manager for various acts, recalls the overly optimistic view managers Sam Alder and Mark Fenwick had in respect of the guitarist. 'Ultimately, I think EG were realistic about the kind of thing they wanted Robert to do but there was always the hope that one day Fripp would go "OK let's do it" and make something that was out-and-out commercial. There was always hope but it was unrealistic hope. The potential was there, though, to rekindle the Crimson fanbase and to build on it.'"
And, indeed, Fripp would form a new "first division" rock band in the late autumn of 1980, albeit originally under the moniker "Discipline" and with little to connect it to King Crimson of old. This new quartet included Crimson alum, drummer Bill Bruford
, relatively newfound musical collaborator Tony Levin, whom Fripp later said would have been his first and only choice had he known the bassist/Chapman Stick player was available, and guitarist/vocalist/lyricist Adrian Belew
, who had experienced his own whirlwind of activity in the past few years as a member of bands by artists including Frank Zappa
, David Bowie
and Talking Heads (along with its offshoot, Tom Tom Club). The group debuted at Bath's Moles Club in April, 1981, and from the opening notes of the set's knotty, gamelan-informed instrumental, "Discipline," it was clear that whatever genetics connected this band to '70s King Crimson were less than obvious. Still, a few months later the band opted for the moniker King Crimson, having recorded its debut studio album, Discipline
, in May and June of that year, and releasing the album on September 22, 1981. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fripp had made the decision to rejoin the music industry, ostensibly on his own terms. Still, this new King Crimson was as informed by the New Wave concerns, and more complex compositional constructs introduced on Exposures
, and God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and The League of Gentlemen
, the former recorded between July and December 1979 and released in January 1980, the latter recorded between July and December 1980 (during its brief existence from March to December of the same year) and released in February 1981, just seven months before the emergence of the new Crimson. With two guitarists in Crimson for the first time, Discipline
also demonstrated a new-found interest in knottily interlocking guitar parts that involved mixed meters, with "Frame By Frame" being a good example, with the two guitarists initially playing the same single-note pattern in unison, but diverging when one of them dropped a single note and so only met up with the other guitarist a considerable number of bars later, creating a wonderful sense of tension and release, all within the context of a singable, eminently melodic pop song bolstered by some of Belew's most outrageous guitar sonics.
Still, even though this new edition of King Crimson was significantly distanced from the "progressive rock" categorization of its '70s predecessors, it forced the resumption of that weighty albatross on the band and its subsequent incarnations, which the band continued to struggle with and fight right through to its final lineup in 2021. And any who saw the band between 1980 and 2008 saw that, while the band continued to push envelopes and stretch musical boundaries, Fripp seemed increasingly unhappy to be there. Watching the various video releases of King Crimson between 1981 and 2003 and it becomes clear that the guitarist was both increasingly satisfied, if not to hide behind a curtain à la Dusty Rhodes, then to remain with as little lighting on him as possible and, if feasible, as far off to the side of the stage as he could be. This in direct contrast to the final touring years of King Crimson from 2014-2021 where, on a stage without spotlights and with no light show of any kind per se
, Fripp, for the first time in so many years, not only engaged in eye contact with his band mates, but with his audience as well, and with more smiles in a single live performance than might be found across any Crimson tour in previous years. This was, in a nutshell, a Fripp who had finally become happy to be where he was, and happy to be playing with those onstage with him.
It was a joy to see.
But before King Crimson reformed in the fall of 1980 as Discipline, and subsequently as King Crimson just a few months later, it was also clear that Fripp's move to New York, his work as a producer, as a guest and his position as bandleader (of sortsat the very least, band initiator and general mover and shaker) kept him very happy indeed.
First came the short-lived trio with bassist Buster Jones and drummer Paul Duskin, who played on the Under Heavy Manners
side of God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
, as well as on the Steven Wilson constructed/produced Discotronics/Under Heavy Manners
and Under Heavy Management/Eurotronics
. Talking Heads vocalist David Byrne also appeared on the sole vocal track, "Under Heavy Manners." Fripp describes Byrne as returning the favor of his guesting as guitarist on the Afro-centric opening track to Talking Heads' first collaboration with producer Brian Eno, Fear for Music
"It's possible to imagine "Under Heavy Manners" as a precursor to King Crimson's 'Elephant Talk,' a song where words or phrases are declaimed. In this instance the words were found in Vladimir Lossky's [1994 book,] The Mystical Theology of The Eastern Church (SVC Press, 2002), a book Fripp had read on holiday in Cyprus. Working quickly as ever, Fripp gave Byrne those words on a sheet plus the phrase 'Bells, I can hear bells.' 'The bells you can hear are those of Wimborne Minster directly opposite from World Headquarters that I recorded on the same Sony mono cassette machine that I recorded all the various indiscretions,' recalls Fripp. 'I said to David, "Is there any way of singing that you would like to do and have never, never done?," And David said, "I'd like to sing very low" and he began singing, but it was so low you couldn't actually hear the articulation. So we settled for something higher.'"
If "Under Heavy Manners" begins with a simple, three-note Frippertonics loop that gradually evolves over its five-minute runtime, with the entry of Jones's popping bass lines and Dustin's backbeat-driven groove it becomes clear that Fripp is aiming for something he'd never done before: dance music. As the groove builds and Byrne continues to inject increasingly extreme interpretations of Lossky's words, with decisively dense layers of Frippertronics, the song builds to a climactic stop, with Byrne concluding the song by repeating, after what appears to be Fripp instructing everything to "stop": "I am resplendent in divergence," followed by Fripp's instruction to "continue," as the trio moves into the 12+ minute "The Zero of the Signified."
Again driven by Jones and Dustin's up-tempo pulse, Fripp's rapidly picked, repetitive single-note lines presage '80s King Crimson, but without a second guitarist and only Frippertronics layered underneath, a much cleaner delivery. Fripp's single-note lines modulate, even though Jones does not, and the Frippertronics become increasingly compact until about seven minutes in, when the rhythm section fades out, leaving Fripp's harmonized single-note lines, and Frippertronics where harmonized lines build, only to gliss downwards and ultimately fade, as the piece becomes more ambient in nature, even though its demand to be heard is contrary to ambient music's core premise.
Bonus tracks on God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
include "God Save the King," a slightly longer version of "The Zero of the Signified," with Fripp overdubbing a searing, sustained solo over his repetitive single-note lines. Again, with Frippertronics also entering, this time around the three-minute mark, the piece once again builds in intensity until roughly seven minutes in, when once again Jones and Dustin disappear from the mix and the piece turns into a pure Frippertronics piece, with Fripp soloing over the clouds and cushions of sound with a scorching solo that moves comfortably from consonance to dissonance and back again, ending with descending Frippertronics glissandi and some truly scorched-earth guitar improvisations.
"Music on Hold," the other bonus track on God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
, is a Jones-driven piece of popping bass funk, with Fripp soloing over the Jones/Dustin groove with his sustaining tone as he explores its many possibilities with rapid-fire lines that are ultimately doubled, the guitarist overdubbing a second layer of improvisational mania. The 15-minute piece, ultimately infused with Frippertronics, is, for a purported jam track, one with a semblance of form, even as Fripp repeats a melodic phrase more than once throughout, even as it turns more assertive still. Discotronics/Under Heavy Manners
opens with a version of "Under Heavy Manners" that's twice as long as the original, but simply extends its basic form straight through to the ending, which this time eschews the "stop" and "I am resplendent in divergence" coda.
A four-minute band version of the thirteen-and-a-half minute Frippertronics piece from God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
, "1983," follows, layering Jones and Dustin's irrepressible groove underneath Fripp's work, while an 18-minute version of "The Zero of the Signified (Extended)" simply explores the nearly 13-minute original, bringing little more to the table beyond it being a longer, repetitive dance track. "Water Music II (Full Length Version)" gives Fripp the chance to explore the coda to Exposure
's "Here Comes the Flood" at slightly more than double the original length, while a "Discotronics" version of "Under Heavy Manners," at roughly the same length as the original, is mixed with the bass and, in particular, the drums even more forward in the mix, with a curious melodic figure dropping twice in around the three-minute mark before disappearing, never to appear again.
Once again, a "stop," followed by repeated "I am resplendent in divergence" and "continue" into a version of "The Zero of the Signified" that's only half a minute longer than the original, again places bass and drums more upfront in the mix, with Fripp's rapid-fire single note lines paradoxically more buried in the mix, as his searing, sustained solo from "ˇThe Zero of the Signified (Extended)" is injected. A shorter version of "Music on Hold (Jam)" closes Discotronics/Under Heavy Manners
, again with bass, drums and Fripp's soloing high in the mix, even with the track cut by over six minutes. Clearly the whole idea of Discotronics/Under Heavy Manners
is to present much of the same music as on God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
, but mixed to be even more booty-shaking. Under Heavy Management/Eurotronics
takes much of the same music, in different forms, to create a more atmospheric album. The opening "Funky Frippertronics" is, indeed, funky, with Fripp adding chunky, wah-driven rhythm guitar chords to the Frippertronics first heard on the May 23, 1979 Polydor, Paris Frippertronics track "Music for Journalists III." Running for nearly 12 minutes, the track is as trance-inducing as it is groove-laden. "Feel II" takes the pulse first heard on "Bass and Drum Groove," from the More Blasts, More Blasms (Sessions, Jams and Rehearsals)
CD, originally with bassist John Wetton
and drummer Phil Collins and recorded at New York's The Hit Factory in 1978, but also including Fripp's overdriven guitar chords mirroring Wetton's bass line.
"Spanish Landscape" is another look at the basic form behind "Funky Frippertronics," but this time in even more ambient space (and despite the drum groove), while "AAII" is an instrumental look at Exposure
's "Disengage," but with, er, more balls. "Urban Landscapes," on the other hand, takes the gentle Frippertronics version on Exposure
and, with bass, drums and Fripp's wah-driven chords added, becomes something altogether funkier. "Step 'n' Fetch It" is an extrapolation on "North-ish Star II," from More Blasts, More Blasms (Sessions, Jams and Rehearsals)
, again recorded at the Hit Factory but with Tony Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta in place this time. "Morning" combines Frippertronics and jangling guitar chords, a 12-minute Fripp excursion that doesn't seem to appear in any other form in the box set. "Music on Hold (Frippertronics Version)" is a six-minute version that blends Frippertronics and solo guitar but, without the bass and drum groove, is largely unrecognizable.
"Seascape," "Italian Afternoon" and "Water Music (Extended)" are Frippertronics/solo guitar pieces that flip the script on God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and make Under Heavy Management/Eurotronics
begin with group pieces and end with Frippertronics. Of the three, "Italian Afternoon" stands out if only because it's a rare opportunity for Fripp to deliver a form-based piece, improvised or not, that could have easily been turned into a ballad with its lovely chord changes and shimmering tone. As ever, Fripp's reach is far, and if he doesn't resort to beautiful balladry often, when he does he demonstrates that he's as untouchable in appealing simplicity as he is in more decided complexity.
The League of Gentlemen
Nearly five hours of League of Gentlemen music (and of varying fidelity) provide more hard media content than has ever before been released. A complete second show at Boston's Paradise Club from June 26, 1980 presents 74 minutes of prime League of Gentlemen from one of the earliest available live recordings by a band described by Fripp as "second wave dance band with the emphasis on spirit rather than competence." Alongside Fripp and keyboardist Barry Andrews, the band also featured bassist Sara Lee and drummer Johnny Elichaoff (aka Johnny Toobad), who remained the band's drummer until November 22, 1980, when he was fired by Fripp for his increasing heroine abuse, and replaced by Kevin Wilkinson (later of China Crisis and Squeeze). All but two tracks are sourced from a band live cassette recording, with the final two on the CD from a rehearsal recording, so the fidelity is far from excellent but, cleaned up as best as possible by Alex R. Mundy, sounds as good as they're likely ever to sound and are certainly more than listenable.
The only earlier recording is the bootleg-sourced Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx
, released by DGM Live in 1996 and largely sourced from two nights at Toronto's El Mocambo club recorded a little over a week later on June 17-18, as well as one night the following month at Harpo's in Detroit, on July 10, 1980
These live recordings provide an interesting window into Fripp's pre-'80s Crimson development, with the League of Gentlemen most decidedly a dance band but, on tracks like "Trap," foreshadowing a portion of the title track to Discipline
. The League of Gentlemen also featured Fripp using the new Roland guitar synthesizer that would also become a significant color of '80s-era Crimson.
Repetition is certainly the name of the game, with Lee and Toobad providing a rock-steady backdrop for Fripp's sometimes complex lines, which intersect quirkily with Andrews, whose sometimes cheesy organ tone lent the whole thing, beyond the recording itself, a kind of fascinating low-fi vibe. But perhaps the most vivid takeaway from these recordings is, for an artist who had come up playing in theatres and arenas in the '70s, and very small venues for Frippertronics in the purview of this Exposures
set, just how gritty and grimy these recordings feel
. Smoke-filled, no doubt, and packed to the rafters, these performances sure feel filled with a kind of excitement that really can only happen in small, packed-to-the-hilt clubs.
A series of tracks laid down at Arny's Shack in Dorset for use by John Peel's BBC Radio show on November 17, 1980 are also included on Exposures
' final CD, with recordings from the September 21, 1980 audience bootleg also included as the latest recordings from the band before it dissolved in December, 1980, two months before its sole studio recording, The League of Gentlemen
, was released.
It's surprising just how forward-thinking Fripp is with his less than technically masterful band mates. This may be nowhere near King Crimson, nowhere near the music on Exposure
and nowhere near anything else Fripp had done previously, perhaps barring some of the music made with Jones and Duskin on God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners
and the assorted add-ons included in this box set. Still, there's no denying Fripp's still-searching approach to playing music in any context. It may be singable and melodic, but just as his playing on David Bowie's song "Heroes" remains something nobody else could have delivered, his work with League of Gentlemen is equally incomparable. It also may be less complex, but when the band breaks down just past halfway through "Dislocated," with Fripp strumming furiously à la Islands
's "The Sailors Tale," a curiously minimalist passage, bolstered by Lee's bass line and Andrews' repetitive electric piano phrase, finds Fripp contributing a brief tritone passage that is certainly reminiscent of Starless and Bible Black
's career-defining "Fracture." And when the band returns, Fripp resumes his searing, sustaining tone for a curious solo that simply couldn't have been played by anyone but him.
The songs are all relatively short, ranging from a little over two minutes to just past the five-minute mark, and yet they possess a complexity, over a danceable backdrop, that makes The League of Gentlemen another special band in Fripp's career. The fundamental melody of "Mirror Man" also references "Fracture," albeit again in a simple fashion, though between its reiterations Fripp delivers some remarkably rapid- fire lines that may have gone over the heads of some of the people in the audience who were more accustomed to bands capable of just a handful of chords and a similarly restrictive series of melodic ideas. And yet, this is music that has undeniable appeal, based on both the audience response and the clear excitement being generated. It's hard to know what King Crimson fans would have made of this, but looking at this music decades later, it's as fitting in Fripp's overall musical milieu as anything else he's done.
Just listening to the brief keyboards/guitar duo "Untitled" and it's easy to see the track being somehow repurposed for a later Crimson. And Fripp's ascending iterations on "Ooh! Mr. Fripp" possess something of Discipline
's "Frame by Frame," albeit without the interlocking guitar parts.
Lee and Toobad may, in particular, have been relatively rudimentary players, but they were nevertheless capable of contributing thundering, rock-steady grooves, with the two players wonderfully locked-in together. "Inductive Resonance," played twice during the Boston set, may be a somewhat altered blues taken at a light speed new wave clip, but Fripp's ability to viscerally bend a note down
when most guitarists would bend up
makes its main melody irresistible, while the band's take on"Disengage" is significantly different to that heard on Exposure
The League of Gentlemen may well have been a "second wave dance band with the emphasis on spirit rather than competence," but beyond the spirit it possessed in spades, it was a new wave dance band that was unique from any other at the time. Wilson's 2021 stereo and surround mixes of the band's lone studio album (along with five alternate takes) is certainly as clean and clear as it will ever sound, but in some ways it misses the grittiness, the grime and the visceral energy of the live performances. There are some bands that truly belong on stage and, as good as The League of Gentlemen
is, it really does seem true for this band. Even more so, it's a band that belongs in the kind of dirty, scummy and smoke-filled club that so many bands, especially during the 1970s and in cities ranging from Ottawa and Montreal to Boston, New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere, spent considerable time eking out a meagre living. It's hard to know what Fripp got paid for his League of Gentlemen tours, and he likely earned more than some of the acts who kicked it in the same venues, but it's likely that this was the time when the guitarist was more interested in pursuing music and avoiding the machinery of the industry with a band who, as he put it, hovered precariously between "interesting ideas and civilised lifestyle, but you won't earn a living" and those that will ..."earn you a living if you graft and you can get professionally respectable, but you won't change the world."
Still, The League of Gentlemen, positioned between Exposure
and the next King Crimson incarnation, is a band that has, perhaps, been unfairly overlooked over time in Fripp's career and, consequently, is importantly positioned as a part of his work during the period covered by Exposures
And, Finally: Exposure
Which brings us to the final, major component of Exposures
: six different versions of Robert Fripp's as-yet only "proper" solo album, though "conventional" is certainly a term to be used very loosely. Exposure
, irrespective of the version, may possess some radio-friendly elements for the time but more so, it's an album as eclectic, as eccentric, as musically far-reaching and unmistakably reflective of Robert Fripp's time away from the music industry and lessons learned from his relocation from the generally pastoral environs of Wimborne to the faster paced, artistically expansive city of New York. As Fripp explains to Smith in the Exposures
"'So, there I was in Fripp World Headquarters, the Quarter Jack, Wimborne, looking at the Minster and figuring what do I do? So, I figured, where can I go to accelerate my life? I knew that London worked at three times the speed of Wimborne. I knew that New York worked at three times the speed of London. So one year in New York would equate to nine years in Wimborne or, as it turned out, three years in New York would equate to 27 years in Wimborne.' 'New York had the juice,' he says. From around 1975 to '82/'83, he believes, there was a remarkable explosion of creativity comparable to that in London in the '60s. But now London was not the place for him. The difference, he says, was between being seen as a "progressive rock" musician, only fit to be spat upon, or being seen in a different light in New Yorkas somebody who had worked with Brian Eno and David Bowie. In New York, he wasn't, to borrow a phrase coined much later in his career, prog rock pond scum to quite the same degree. New York was a remarkably welcoming and accepting place."
As as has already been documented at great length in this article, Fripp not only found himself operating at a remarkable musical pace, he also found himself welcomed by musicians by whom he may well have been surprised to have been so well-adopted, had it been a consideration prior to his move. It's proof that the albatross of being a "prog rock" forefather, as Fripp most certainly was when he first emerged with King Crimson in 1969, needn't have been a permanent one. Just as Peter Hammill was openly accepted by artists as surprising as the Sex Pistols'/Public Image Ltd. 's Johnny Lydon and many others because, while he may have participated in complex compositional works with Van Der Graaf Generator, that band's raw, unfettered energy and sheer operatic power distanced it from classic, self-important progressive rock bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who had, by the time Fripp moved to New York, already begun to implode on their own egos.
And perhaps this is one of the characteristics that allowed Fripp such immediate acceptance with the New York scene that included Blondie, Talking Heads, Television and others. Fripp may have been a most masterful guitarist by the time he was living in New York, but if he demonstrated any ego at all it was with the prog rock intelligentsia, and not with those bands with whom he began to associate. It's hard to imagine anyone from ELP playing with the members of The League of Gentlemen, but it's clear that Fripp valued spirit and idiosyncrasy over skill, and instinct and heart over aptitude and formal training. After all, the members of the League of Gentlemen may well have been less than adequate when compared to the many players with whom Fripp associated during the '60s and early '70s, but they nevertheless introduced music that ultimately led to some of the '80s King Crimson's best work. Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
's intended original title, contains early takes and mixes of material that would end up on the record, though in a different running order, and as a previously unreleased early version of Exposure
. Daryl Hall sings all the vocal tracks on this version of the album, delivering a less visceral (but still gritty enough) vocal turn on the New Wave blues "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette," following the same album-opener, "Preface." Following Brian Eno's suggestion that someone take a listen to "Some of the new things I've been doing, which I think could be commercial," followed by Hall's layers of wordless vocals, moving from consonance to angular microtonality only to stop, with Peter Gabriel then injecting, "actually I don't want to start like that, sorry...and again," followed by a "three, four" count-in, a ringing telephone, the sound of a door creaking open and a series of footsteps moving across the stereo image with the phone continuing to ring until a series of eighth-note power chords begin strumming at a rapid pace on one side of the stereo image, segueing into a second, much louder track of the same chords on the other channel as "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette" begins.
Co-written by Fripp and Hall, Fripp's lyrics reflect a deeper intelligence and more inescapable wit that had already begun to infuse itself into New Wave, differentiating itself from the more simplistic music and words of Punk:
"You burn me up I'm a cigarette
You hold my hand I begin to sweat
You make me nervous
Ooh I'm nervous
It must be real bad karma
For this to be my dharma
You burn me up I'm a cigarette
Life with you is a loser's bet
You make me crazy
Ooh I'm going crazy
Your therapeutic antics
Well they really make me frantic
Strategic interaction irreducible fraction
Terminal inaction and a bitter hostile faction
I'm getting anxious
Transactional diseases are the only thing that pleases
You burn me up I'm a cigarette.
Demanding my attention which you're not gonna get
What did the sage mean?
What had the sage seen?
Musical elation is my only consolation
Strategic interaction terminal inaction
A bitter hostile faction irreducible fraction
Transactional diseases are the only thing that pleases
All this within a mere three minutes and 38 seconds from the album's opening.
The balladic. "North Star" comes next, a lovely ballad featuring gentle accompaniment from fellow Peter Gabriel touring guitarist Sid McGinnis on pedal steel and former Genesis band mate, drummer Phil Collins, along with Tony Levin's call-and-response bass lines to Fripp's shimmering chords and Eno's soft synthesizer. The song, also sung by Hall, demonstrates the eclectic nature of Exposure
, as it moves on to "Disengage."
Opening with a combination of low register Frippertronics and some more difficult-to-discern spoken word (Edie Fripp's "Indiscretions"), the song quickly turns more aggressive, with an underlying riff that foreshadows mid-'90s Crimson and "VROOOM," as Hall delivers Joanne Walton's more oblique lyrics with a kind of reckless abandon that seems atypical for the white soul singer:
"Mrs Marion is strict with her servant
Behind locked doors over coffee they speak They speak to my sister my parents
And I'm trying hard not to shriek
She decodes my secrets my fragments
I'd create any betrayal for their sake
She asks me to wait in the hallway
Where I'm doing my best not to shake
Muttering words to her for convenience
I start to head for the door
Mrs Marion screams over my shoulder
Walking out's just another metaphor
Again, driven by Tony Levin and Phil Collins, with Barry Andrew contributing organ and Fripp's overdriven guitar dovetailing with Levin's similarly overdriven bass lines, it's another song that runs less than three minutes in length, a significant difference between '70s Crimson-era Fripp and the far more concise late '70s Fripp. But it also demonstrates the early but close musical partnership being forged between Fripp and the bassist, whose distinctive idiosyncrasies are already become most apparent.
"I Smile Like Chicago" (later just titled "Chicago") is another song delivered with a surprisingly visceral nature by Hall, with the singer also adding piano to Fripp's guitar and Frippertronics, both of which drive an altered blues where Levin and drummer Jerry Marotta provide the pulse.
The title track follows, its groove more potent than with the version found on Peter Gabriel
), as Frippertronics dominate and introduce a track that begins with J.G. Bennett's repeated phrase "It is impossible to achieve the aim without suffering," as Levin and Mayotte join together for a slow, greasy groove bolstered by Fripp and McGinnis' electric guitars, while Fripp and Brian Eno repeat the spoken letters of the word "Exposure," albeit rendering "Ex" as a single letter.
Over one of Exposure
's longest tracks at just over four minutes, Hall sings the word "Exposure" as he employees an increasingly visceral approach and, halfway through, J.G. Bennett's spoken word reappears over Fripp and Eno's spoken letters. While much of the instrumentation remains in Peter Gabriel's version of the track, with the former Genesis singer providing the vocals and both Bennett's spoken word and Fripp and Eno's spoken letters removed, Gabriel's version assumes a very different complexion.
"NY3" introduces some of Fripp's knottiest single-note lines of the album yet, leading into another kind of altered blues with Fripp's rapid-fire lines intersecting with Narada Michael Walden's frenetic kit work. While it bears similarities to the ultimate Exposure
track "NYNYNY," the lyrics are very different, omitting the call-and response in which Peter Hammill and Terre Roche would engage with Fripp's lyrics that reflect a more aggressive family argument, from a Fripp recording of an actual family argument from the apartment next door to his (then) home in Hell's Kitchen:
"Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Well get out there's the door
Well get out there's the door
Well get out there's the door
Well get out there's the door
Father: It is not your house
It is not your house
It is not your house
It is not your house
It is not your house Mother: And you're a cocaine sniffer
And you're a cocaine sniffer
And you're a cocaine sniffer
And you're a cocaine sniffer
Don't you call me a slut
Mother: You're carrying a baby
You don't know whether it's a n***** a s*** or a white baby
You've got to go for an abortion baby
I never had to
Father: No way never
Mother: You're carrying a baby
You don't know whether it's a n***** a s*** or a white baby
You've got to go for an abortion baby
I never had to
Father: No way never
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Father: Your house
Daughter: My house
Well get out there's the door"
That Fripp has proven himself a surprisingly capable lyricist on many of Exposure
's tracks, especially given his lack of contributions to either the King Crimson lineups that came before or after, begs the question why he didn't continue to write lyrics for his music when Crimson reformed? Certainly they are more direct and less eminently poetic than those that came from Peter Sinfield, Richard Palmer- James or Adrian Belew to follow, but they fit the music extremely well. The question of what he might have contributed had he continued along this path remains unanswered to this day.
"Häaden Two" is a quirky instrumental where bits of spoken word, culled from Monty Python Flying Circus
' "Flying Sheep Sketch" and featuring the late Graham Chapman, are inserted but played in reverse. An additional moment of levity comes when what sounds like Brian Eno says: "incredibly abysmal pathetic chord sequence," in response to Fripp's jaggedly angular lines. Even at what sounds like its darkest, Exposure
is still self-effacing enough to pull the piss out of itself. Later, in a momentary pause, Eno injects "Have I got time for one more piano version or....," subsequently followed by what sounds like a recording of J.G. Bennett saying "If you know you have an unpleasant nature and dislike people, this is no obstacle to work." As the piece appears to come to an end, some final spoken words add: "It was an incredible little piece, very very impressed by it," followed by Fripp exclaiming "how wonderful." Eno then says "It just has none of the qualities of your work that I find interesting," with a verbal clip from Bennett adding "More good advice could hardly be packed into one sentence than that is there." A woman then enters with "Both those things weren't true, that's definitely true," followed by hysterical laughter as the piece comes to a close.
"Mary," sung by Hall, is a spare voice and electric guitar duet, but without the Frippertronics that would ultimately end up on subsequent versions, as the album moves on to its longest track, the aggressive instrumental "Breathless," which combines overdriven, "Red"- like, guitar chords and more angular Fripprertronics, the entire nearly five-minute piece bolstered by Tony Levin and Narada Michael Walden.
At this point in time, Walden had been playing in the second, larger incarnation of guitarist John McLaughlin
's Mahavishnu Orchestra
, though he would soon move on to greater fame and fortune as a record producer, composer and keyboardist for a broad range of artists including Aretha Franklin
, Jeff Beck
, Lionel Ritchie, Whitney Houston, Hall & Oates, The Pointer Sisters and Barbra Streisand
, amongst many others. But here he was still largely playing the role of virtuosic drummer, and his work here is as good, if not better, then his Mahavishnu Orchestra work if only because it's more concise.
Hall returns on vocals for another version of "NY3," before a brief bit of noise titled "First Inaugural Address to the IU.A.C.E. Sherborne House" leads into "Water Music I," a lovely Frippertronics miniature that acts as a segue into Peter Gabriel's guest appearance on Exposure
with the science fiction-centered "Here Comes the Flood." While that song originality appeared on Gabriel's first solo album, 1977's Peter Gabriel
), its more produced nature pales in comparison to the sparer version on Exposure
(and which Gabriel would adopt for subsequent live performance). Combining Brian Eno's synthesizer, Frippertronics and Gabriel's piano and voice, it's a far more effective version of a song that foreshadowed the effects of climate change by more than a few decades.
Ending on a fading series of Frippertronics, the longer "Water Music II" begins to draw Exposure
to its inevitable conclusion, as the 43-second "Postscript" ends the album with some additional spoken word: "So the whole story is completely untrue...a big hoax...," followed by laughter. "A big hoax...[laughter]" then pans to the right channel as it's also sonically altered to sound like it's been transferred to a telephone, where it's repeated again, finally followed by the phone hanging up. Then, and just as took place in the "Preface," footsteps walk across the stereo landscape, a creaky door closes...and that's the end of Exposure
, at least the first, previously unreleased version, with Daryl Hall singing the entire album, as Fripp had originally intended, barring Gabriel's guest appearance on "Here Comes the Flood."
Unfortunately (but only perhaps) because of management issues with Hall, which prohibited the singer from appearing on the entire album, Fripp had to look for alternative vocalists on what was to be the first released mix of Exposure
, issued in 1979. Truthfully, he couldn't have made better decisions than retaining Hall for "You Burn Me Up I"m a Cigarette" and "North Star," while recruiting Peter Hammill to sing "Disengage," "Chicago," NY3," and a track that had not shown up on the early rough mix version of Exposure
, the dryly titled, metal-tinged "I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough of You," on which Hammill shares the vocals with Terre Roche, who also sings alongside Hammill on "NY3," in addition to her solo vocals on "Mary" and "Exposure."
Beyond the early mixes and takes of Exposure
shaped into Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
, the disc also includes a dozen bonus tracks, totalling over 33 minutes. Amongst them, "Exposure. II" eliminates the spoken word, replaced by Ian McDonald's tasteful flute work, while "Exposure IV" features both saxophonist Tim Capello and, to a lesser extent, McDonald. An alternate take of "NY3" sports a very different vocal from Hall, and omits some of Fripp's overdubbed guitar work. An alternate take of "You Burn Me Up" omits Hall's piano, while a somewhat shorter, alternate version of "Disengage" enters later than the earlier take, omitting the low-register Frippertronics.
Capello also appears on an alternate version of "Mary," where he improvises over Fripp and Hall's guitar vocal duet, while a revised mix of "Mary (Take 26)" brings Frippertronics back to the fore in a more dominant fashion. Two different alternates of "North Star" are also included, one lending more dominance to McGinnis' pedal steel guitar. Exposure First Edition
presents the 2005 remaster of the album's original 1979 release, along with nearly 26 minutes of loops used to orchestrate "Here Comes the Flood." Beyond the altered running order, the master is cleaner than that on Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
(though the previously unreleased Daryl Hall vocal version of the album certainly sounds clean enough, and Steven Wilson's 2021 remix of this previously unreleased album sounds even better on Blu Ray and in LPCM Stereo 24/96, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Atmos). But Exposure First Edition
is also, most significantly, nearly three minutes longer, with the addition of the heavily riff-driven "I May Not Have Had Enough Of Me But I've Had Enough Of You," where Barry Andrews' organ adds color to the Frippertronics, which provide a mid-song dramatic break, and where Peter Hammill's over-the-top delivery of its similarly exaggerated lyrics are shared with Terre Roche throughout:
"That is the way it is because it is that way
It is that way in that it is the way it is
the way that it is that way that is the way it is
In the way that that is the way that is the way it is that is it is the way
Or, that it is that way is the way it is
The way it is that is the way it is
That it is the way it is is because it is that way
Or that it is the way that it is is the way that it is that
That is the way that it is the way that it is is the way that it's that way
I may not have enough of me but I've had enough of you
That is the way it is because it is that way
It is that way in that it is the way it is
In the way that it is that way that is the way it is
In the way that that is the way that is the way it is that is the way
Or, that it is that way is the way it is
The way it is that is the way it is"
In many ways, despite Hall's voice on Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
justifying Fripp's avowed confidence in his abilities to sing just about anything placed in front of him, Exposure First Edition
nevertheless works better with the three vocalists because the songs on which they sing just seem better suited to them. There's nothing wrong with Hall's delivery on "Disengage," for example, but Hammill's melodramatic extremes simply suit the musical and lyrical content better, as he moves from falsetto shrieks and low register growls to visceral screams. Similarly, Hall sings "Mary" with appropriate gentility, but Roche's female voice seems a better fit. Exposure Second Edition
only appears on Blu Ray, like the original Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
in LPCM 24/96 resolution, and is the original 1983 mix by Fripp and Brad Davies that ultimately appears as Exposure Third Edition
, but before the 2005 remaster and three Daryl Hall vocals restored to ""Disengage," "Chicago," and "NY3" (again, with lyrics different from those sung by Hammill and Roche). As with Exposure First Edition
, Roche sings (or, perhaps better said, screams
) on "Exposure." Roche is, once again, used for "Mary," while Hammill and Roche are again employed on "I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough of You."
In many ways, then, Exposure Third Edition
seems the best, most balanced selection of vocalists for the album, with the possible exception of "Disengage," which really does benefit from Hammill's exaggerated, near-histrionic delivery, and "NY3," which still feels better suited to the extravagant delivery from Hammill and Roche as a team.
What does become apparent, when comparing Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
with Exposure First Edition
, Exposure Second Edition
and Exposure Third Edition
is that, beyond the addition of "I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough of You" pulling the album up dynamically before the gentler closing of "Water Music I," "Here Comes the Flood" and "Water Music II," the track sequencing works far better as well. Placing the gentler "North Star" between "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette" and "Disengage" on Last of the Great New York Heartthrobs
breaks the flow too early, whereas the triple punch of "You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette," "Breathless" and "Disengage" builds the album to an early climax before the first respite of "North Star" on the three editions of Exposure
Along with Breathless or How I Gradually Internalised The Social Reality Of Manhattan Until It Seemed To Be A Very Reasonable Way Of Life
(another unused title idea for Exposure
) two additional versions of Exposure
represent Steven Wilson's new 2021 stereo and surround mixes of Exposure First Edition
and Exposure Third Edition
, with respect to who is singing on what track. Both are available on CD, with only the Fourth Edition
on DVD in Stereo 24/96 and DTS Digital Surround 5.1, and both Editions on Blu Ray in LPCM Stereo 24/96. DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Atmos. As ever with Wilson's mixes, the delineation between instruments and vocals is far clearer/cleaner, the dynamic ranger broader and the overall sound just that much better and more appealing, whether it's Hammill's high octane delivery of "Disengage" or expressive singing of "Chicago," Roche's piercing screams on "Exposure" or soft delivery of "Mary," or Hall's blending of natural and falsetto vocals on "North Star" or punk attitude on "You Burn Me Up I'm A Cigarette."
All in all, Exposure
receives multiple versions with multiple upgrades on multiple media, making their inclusion one of Exposures
' many raisons d'être
. And despite a few alternate titles, at the end of the day Exposure
is truly the best title for Fripp's first and, so far, only "proper" solo album. More than any album he's done before or after (with the possible exception of King Crimson's Lizard
(Panegyric, 1970), which was as close to a Fripp solo album as he'd made during his 1970s King Crimson years), it reveals more about Fripp the musician than any other recording he'd made before... or since, for that matter. From pre-metal Crimson-esque instrumentals ("Breathless") and evolutions over these ideas ("Disengage," "Häaden Two," "NY3") to new wave/punk songs ("You Burn Me Up I'm a Cigarette," "I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I've Had Enough of You") and celestial Frippertronics, both solo and applied ("Water Music I," "Here Comes the Flood," "Water Music II"), Exposure
paints the broadest possible picture of Fripp the ever-evolving musician.
Fripp has continued to evolve and develop new musical ideas in the ensuing decades, of course, but it may not be an exaggeration to suggest that he would never again grow in such rapid and great leaps and bounds as he did during Exposures
' timeframe of 1977 through 1983. If Exposures
demonstrates anything, it's that the period from the end of '70s-era King Crimson through to the beginning of the '80s incarnation (and, with Exposures
' Frippertronics shows extending through to 1983, further still) was one of deep personal and musical change for an artist who has, in the ensuing decades, proven himself to be a rarity in the music world, especially one largely tied to the "commercial" art rock world. Fripp has not only demonstrated an unparalleled egalitarian approach to music making with others, he's also shown himself as an artist who never sits still, and who is constantly looking for new means of expression, whether it be through technological advancements or ideas that simply don't appear to occur to many others, if any.
Fripp is a singular artist with a philosophy that puts him at odds with the music industry at large, and yet he has managed to generally do things on his own terms, even if it's sometimes taken years to realize. The end result is an artist who has been able to follow his muse without compromise, and that places him in a very rarefied strata, indeed.
Since the timeframe covered by Exposures
, there has been plenty more to come with various King Crimson incarnations and Fripp's evolution of Frippertronics, with the advent of sampling and MIDI technology, into Soundscapes. Perhaps the next box set might be one that explores his many Soundscapes recordings and live performances (again, both solo and applied), and also in collaboration with other artists like flautist/saxophonist Theo Travis
and Crim-to-be Jakko M. Jakszyk
But for now, with Exposures
, there's music a-plenty, and a bevy of revelations both musical and otherwise that may surprise even the most committed Fripp fan. It's a box set that demands a lot of time to absorb and assess, with Declan Colgan's final words as perhaps the best way to conclude:
Fine as it may be to offer the hints above about how/why some of the music is presented, it's really much better listened to than written about. There are thirty two discs to select from. Please:
Robert Fripp: guitar, Frippertronics, spoken letters (CD5#6, CD5#16, CD6#9, CD7#9, CD7#23, CD7#25, CD8#9, CD8#22);
Brian Eno: indiscretions (CD5#1, CD5#13, CD6#1, CD6#17, CD7#1, CD7#17, CD8#1, CD8#17), synthesizer (CD5#3, CD5#12, CD6#5, CD6#15, CD7#5, CD7#15, CD7#23, CD7#25, CD8#5, CD8#16), spoken letters (CD5#6, CD5#16, CD6#9, CD7#9, CD8#9, CD8#22);
Peter Gabriel: indiscretions (CD5#1, CD6#1, CD7#1, CD8#1); piano and vocal (CD5#12, CD6#15, CD7#15, CD17#23, CD17#26, CD8#14);
Daryl Hall: choir (CD5#1, CD6#1, CD7#1, CD8#1), vocal (CD5#2-7, CD5#9, CD5#11, CD5#18-25, CD5#27-28, CD6#2, CD6#5, CD6#17, CD7#2, CD7#5-7, CD7#18-22, CD17# 25, CD8#2, CD8#5, CD8#8-9, CD8#18-22), piano (CD5#2, CD5#5, CD6#2, CD6#6, CD7#2, CD7#6, CD8#2, CD8#6);
Tony Levin: bass (CD5#2-3, CD5#4-8, CD5#10, CD5#16-17, CD6#2-7, CD6#9-10, CD6#12, CD7#2-7, CD7#9-10, CD7#12, CD7#18, CD7#20-23, CD7#25, CD8#2-7, CD8#9-11, CD8#18-20, CD8#22-23, CD30#1-16, CD30#18-20, CD31#7-19, CD31#21-26);
Jerry Marotta: drums (CD5#2, CD5#5-6, CD5#8, CD6#2, CD6#6, CD6#9-10, CD7#2, CD7#6, CD7#9-10, CD7#18, CD7#21, CD7#23, CD8#2, CD8#6, CD8#9-10, CD8#19, CD8#22-23, CD9#1, CD9#4-5, CD9#7, CD30#1, CD30#4, CD30#8-9, CD30#14-15, CD30#18-19, CD31#8-10, CD31#17-19, CD31#23-25);
Narada Michael Walden: drums (CD5#7, CD5#10, CD5#17, CD6#3, CD6#7, CD6#12, CD7#3, CD7#7, CD7#12, CD7#22, CD7#25, CD8#3, CD8#7, CD8#12, CD8#20, CD9#6, CD9#9, CD30#2-3, CD30#5-8, CD30#10-11, CD30#16, C30#20, CD31#7, CD31#11-13, CD31#21-22, CD31#26);
Phil Collins: drums (CD5#3-4, CD6#4-5, CD7#4-5, CD7#30, CD8#4-5, CD8#18, CD9#2-3, CD30#12-13, CD31#1-6, CD31#14-16, CD31#20);
Peter Hammill: vocal (CD6#4, CD6#6-7, CD6#12, CD7#12, CD8#4, CD8#6, CD8#11, CD9#4, CD9#6);
Edie Fripp: indiscretions (CD5#4, CD6#4, CD7#4, CD7#20, CD8#4, CD8#6-7, CD8#18);
Terre Roche: vocal (CD5#5, CD6#7-9, CD6#12, CD7#8-9, CD7#12, CD8#7, CD8#11, CD8#23);
John Wetton: bass (CD31#1, CD31#3-6, CD31#20);
Sid McGinnis: guitar (CD30#18, CD31#23), pedal steel (CD5#3, CD5#16CD6#5, CD7#5, CD8#5), rhythm guitar (CD5#6, CD6#9, CD7#9, CD7#19, CD7#23, CD7#25, CD8#9, CD8#22);
Ian McDonald: flute (CD5#6, CD5#15, CD5#22, CD8#9, CD30#18);
Tim Cappello: saxophone (CD5#6, CD5#9, CD5#19, CD5#22, CD8#8-9, CD31#23);
Barry Andrews: organ (CD5#4, CD6#4, CD6#7, CD6#12, CD7#4, CD7#12, CD7#20, CD8#4, CD8#11, CD8#18); keyboards (CD17-19, CD32);
Sara Lee: bass (CD17-19, CD32);
Johnny Toobad: drums (CD32);
J.G. Bennett: taped voice (CD5#12, CD6#13, CD7#13, CD8#12;
Buster Jones: bass (CD14#4-7, CD15#1-3, CD15#5–7, CD16#1-7);
Paul Duskin: drums (CD14#4-7, CD15#1-3, CD15#5–7, CD16#1-7);
David Byrne: vocal (CD14#4, CD15#5);
Kevin WIlkinson: drums (CD17-19);
Danielle Dax: vocal (CD19#2).