Thursday, February 2, 2012

Frippin' Out Part 2 - After Crimson

Robert Fripp disbanded King Crimson the first time in 1974 after making an ambient record with Brian Eno called No Pussyfooting. I have to assume the name of said record is in reference to Eno and Fripp's serious appetite for groupie strange. No shit. Check out this excerpt from a 1973 column in the NME by Ian MacDonald (who was in KC and fucking FOREIGNER!).

Excerpt from Robert Fripp: The Sexual Athlete

"What was the best lay you ever had?"

Fripp stroked his chin, reflectively. "There are about four chicks involved in that – not, in this case, simultaneously. I have to admit. However, return with me if you will to my earliest days as a rock musician. I used to get complaints from Greg (Lake). Not directly, but I used to hear about them.

"You see, we shared this flat which was basically one room divided into two by a thin cardboard screen. It was, as you can imagine, not fit to live in. Anyway, Greg used to complain about the gasps and screams coming from my side of the partition and, I must admit, his women used to get on my nerves too. No comment on Gregory, just his women – but I decided to move out.

"The ensuing period of my homelessness in 1969 was one of the most rewarding of my life. I was continually thrown on the mercies and generosities of tender maidens. Oh those lovely situations. It was quite awful in one way – but quite beautiful in another."


"Of course, when one is young one has all these delusions of being the great stud and one is not interested in a harmonious relationship of giving and taking. But, I'm happy to say, those days for me are now long past and I have spent many fulfilling hours, even on this very lawn upon which I now recline, not only copulating but involved in various other activities.

"In fact I was lying here naked one day, a young lady in attendance, when my next-door neighbour, the chairman of the Rural District Council, popped his head over yonder hedge to inform me that I had Dutch Elm Disease.

"But America is the place for numbers really. We've just done all the sunshine areas. Now sunshine, what ever it does to anyone else, has the most alarming repercussions within me. Things happen to my body. I undergo chemical changes.

"I find myself drooling, my tongue hanging out, my mouth snapping together involuntarily, twitchings – obsessive thoughts – the lewd imagination develops.

"In fact, I've never seen so many delightful young bodies, both quantity and quality, within such a short space of time as the last month in America. I was overwhelmed. By the end of the tour, I came back unfit for anything, completely exhausted on every level of my being. Oh! Oh!

"Nowadays I say to the rest of the lads: Take my name off the list, lads, put me on the reserve list – only to be called up in dire emergency. Then, after an afternoon in the sun by a swimming-pool with all these young bodies hanging in and out of bikinis, I say: Lads, you've got to put me back on the list. And I'll be called up to action. Oh! Oh! The battles that are fought throughout the Holiday-Inns of America! Delightful."


AND ENO? What of the man that the groupies of three continents have come to know as The Refreshing Experience?

"Yes," nods Fripp, his glazed expression returning. "We're both incorrigible womanizers, both wonderful examples of young Taurian virility. It may interest you to see a certain picture which will be the cover for our joint recording effort, The Transcendental Music Corporation, featuring us both in a state of undress.

"We were intending to have with us certain similarly unclad females – but, on reflection, decided that this was but a feeble excuse to gaze upon the works of the creator made manifest in the flesh.

"So we decided that it was a far nicer idea to have Eno and myself in the nude as a small way of saying thank you to those ladies who have done what they can in the past to enable us to develop as men – and, hopefully, as an invitation to all those ladies in the future who'd like to help us develop even further."

Sheesh. Only a dandy UK bro could talk about getting poon in such a dull flowery way!

So Eno and Fripp fuck lots of groupies, do lots of drugs, invent crazy tape looping machines and create a method of sound manipulation now known as Frippertronics that is so important to the evolution of electronic and ambient music that it, yes, has it's own Wiki page.

Bob breaks down Frippertronics

Eno and Fripp release one more ambient album called Evening Sun that is really good and you should listen to it. 1977 was a big year as Fripp then moves to New York's Hells Kitchen, starts hanging with the punx, plays guitar on Bowie's Heroes to much acclaim, and produces and plays on albums for Peter Gabriel and Daryl Hall. Yes, that Daryl Hall. From the Oates and Hall Rock n Soul Revue. These two albums along with his own solo release "Exposure" have come to be known as "The NYC Trilogy" and it's some of my favorite music ever made. Especially Hall's Sacred Songs so let's talk about that first.


First, It should be known that this album was recorded in 1977 but not released until 1980 due to RCA claiming it being "not commercial." Sacred Songs starts normal enough. Glammy 70s soul in the style of Bowie with those signature Hall & Oates harmonies that we all have grown up to love (or hate) so well. But something really weird happens halfway through track 3. The album is not normal anymore. Something alien occurs. Something takes it over and brings it to some other-worldly level of heaviness, beauty and weird that is ultra rare in music nowadays. Was it due to the undeniable influence majik and the occult had on the recording and writing process?

From Wiki:

Both the lyrics and musical sounds of Sacred Songs reflected Hall's personal philosophy. The lyrical content alludes to some of Hall's interests in esoteric magic (or "magick" as it is sometimes spelled). Rock music author Timothy White interviewed Hall for the book Rock Lives. In that interview Hall indicated that in 1974 he began a serious study of esoteric spirituality reading books on topics like the cabala, the ancient Celts, and the traditions of the Druids. He also became interested in the life and beliefs of Aleister Crowley. Crowley coined the concept of Thelema, magick concerned with harnessing the power of the imagination and willpower to effect changes in consciousness and in the material universe. For example the album track "Without Tears" is based on Crowley's book Magick Without Tears (published in 1973).

Fripp shared similar interests in mysticism; he had studied with John G. Bennett, a disciple of G. I. Gurdjieff.

These dudes were really mucking about with the majik for this album and it shows.


Peter Gabriel's 1978 self-titled second album, known to fans as "Scratch," was considered the second part of the trilogy. With its heavy use of Fippertronics throughout, the album finds the former Genesis front man finding his way to that dark, paranoid sound he mindfucked us with throughout the 80s. Highly underrated and unpopular among the public, the record has a super raw production style in the vein of King Crimson's Red but with Larry Fast playing wacked out synths. Gabriel himself has dismissed the album as dry and unimaginative but I beg to differ. Lots of jams on this sucka.


Part three is Fripp's own 1979 solo album Exposure. This monster is essential in any progger dork's library. Featuring Hall and Gabriel on vocals (PG's version of Here Comes The Flood on here is absolutely fucking beautiful) as well as Van Der Graaf Generator's Peter Hamill. I've included the original demos too. Lucky you! Sonically brutal and gorgeous at the same time, Exposure has some songs that could be found on the previous albums of the trilogy but with "improved" production and performance.

PG destroy's on the 1979 Kate Bush Christmas Special


Oh! Legendary noize terrorist Genesis P-Orridge is going to be on Illogical Contraption tomorrow night! Check out Cobra's in-depth write up on Gen here. I'll be taping an interview with her tomorrow afternoon so if you have any questions you want me to ask post them in the comments please!

Listen live tomorrow night 10pm-Midnight Pacific time on in studio 1a! Or grab the podcast on iTunes.


Anonymous said...

Daryl Hall is de debil! I know he sodomized Oates on a daily basis. Then he made him do yard work.

The Thing That Should Not Be said...

Cory, thanks for doing these posts - some of my favourite music EVER is contained within.
I'd thought about doing something similar after the Eno posts but, quite frankly, I couldn't be fucking bothered.

You're so damn right about the NYC Trilogy - Fripp also referred to it is his 'AOR trilogy' - being essential. I urge everyone who thinks they may dig it to go get it.
You may, or may not, be interested to know that as part of my debut solo live performance in a couple of weeks, I'll be covering Here Comes The Flood in my own inimitable fashion. Hopefully I'll be able to post a video or some audio here so you can witness it in all of its glory....or its embarassing failure (delete as epplicable).

Steven said...

Never heard that Daryl Hall album before. Freaky.
Much obliged.

Elisa said...

Being a big fan, I enjoyed both these posts on Messrs Fripp, Eno, et al. I'm kind of in shock over Bob's sexual prowess. It's always the calm, quiet ones, isn't it?

stargraves said...

Ah - I forgot to check in to here for a while and I miss a namecheck for Van Der Graaf and Peter Hammill!

Bloody typical!

mrmuzak said...

Heya. I just wanted to mention that the Ian MacDonald who interviewed Fripp is a different person from Ian McDonald who was in Crimson and ... Foreigner. Note that the musician is McDonald, while the journalist is MacDonald. (There was/is a journalist named Andy Gill who I thought, for a while, was Andy Gill from Gang of Four. Nope.)

(The liner notes of Exposure thank "Ian MacDonald" along with John Wetton and two other musicians who "do not appear but who helped determine the final shape" of the album. The 2006 remix/remaster corrects this to "McDonald" in the booklet [although the text on the sleeve wasn't altered].)

As for the title (No Pussyfooting): I believe that the title refers to the quick, no-nonsense way that Fripp and Eno recorded "The Heavenly Music Corporation": Eno invited Fripp to his house to show him the two-Revox delay system, and asked Fripp to bring his guitar. What ended up being released as "The Heavenly Music Corporation" was recorded that same evening.

The reason I think that this is reflected in the title is that somewhere I read an interview with Fripp--or possibly one of his articles for Musician magazine in the 1980s or Guitar Player in the 1990s--where Fripp was talking about why there were such long gaps of time between Peter Gabriel albums being released. Fripp talked about how Gabriel is a perfectionist and always second-guesses himself, and how it's difficult for Gabriel to declare that a particular song is finished, because he's always wondering if there's something else he can do with it. Fripp described this as Peter Gabriel "pussyfooting" (or "pussyfooting around") in the studio.

"Pussyfooting" obviously isn't a word that you commonly hear nowadays (I'm in my 40s, and I remember hearing people say it when I was a kid, though). The pussy in question is a hairy one--with four legs and a tail. (Meow.) The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition: "To speak or act with excessive caution; to behave in a hesitant, non-committal, or evasive manner."

So... that's how I came to the conclusion that the title (No Pussyfooting) refers to the way Fripp and Eno improvised directly to tape with no fuss or bother over retakes or overdubs: They just went ahead and did it.

Of course, I could be totally wrong: I've had hypotheses that seemed even more watertight than this that ended up being completely untrue. I wish I could find the source where Fripp uses the term "pussyfooting," though.

And I'm afraid that I don't have any bright ideas as to why the title is in parenthesis. Maybe Eno pulled an Oblique Strategies card and it said, "Make it parenthetical."

Pffft. I dunno.

If anyone has actually read this far down: Thanks. I appreciate it.

That's all.

Anonymous said...

Fripp is a overrated piss ant his early albums with giles and king crimson are ace but he thinks too highly of himself he's a peculiar individual but great guitarist and the little toad bastard gets laid more then me. Exposure was a crappy album to introduce people to gurdeff's and bennett's creepy cult. No pussyfooting was horrible it was a joke on the music industry. Rock in opposition type crap it was like metal machine music a waste of time drone like notes, wind on water was a bit better though more thought in that.

Anonymous said...


nice read. however, all links are dead...i would really like to listen to hall's sacred sogs...ay chance of a re-up?