Robert Fripp: Exposure (1979)

A fascinating album from a towering figure.  Robert Fripp, of course, was the founding guitarist of King Crimson, leading various iterations of that band from '68-'74 when it was the epitome of progressive rock, and then again intermittently (and in various configurations) since '81.  (BTW, I recently wrote-up my Top 10 Crimson songs for online publication Toppermost.)  Between those eras, however, Fripp was a hired gun, lending his guitars and production duties to a diverse assortment of artists.  

On his own and in collaboration with Brian Eno, he released various ambient, experimental albums, utilizing hypnotic tape loops of guitar drones (nicknamed Frippertronics); he also lent guitars to a number of songs on Eno's mid-70s run of phenomenal solo albums.  (This period of Eno's music was the subject of my other Toppermost contribution.)  He produced the first solo album by Daryl Hall (and I say, as someone with absolutely no use for Hall & Oates, that it's a wonderful record); the first spectacular album by folk-singing sisters the Roches (where he played less of an obvious role, though he did have some subtle Frippertronics lurking in the background); and the second Peter Gabriel solo LP. He worked with David Bowie and Talking Heads, and played some guitar on a Blondie track.

1979's Exposure includes some of his collaborative work with Hall, Gabriel, and Terre Roche, among others, as well as additional solo material.  It ranges from soothing ambient music to grating metallic post-prog to good ol' rock & roll.  Hall's vocals enliven several tracks, like the lovely "North Star" and the unlikely Chuck Berry-styled rave-up "You Burn Me Up I'm A Cigarette" (Hall had recorded vocals for additional tracks, but his record company wouldn't allow Fripp to use them all; the deluxe CD version, streaming on Spotify, includes some alternate versions with Hall's vocals).  Terry Roche sings the sweet ballad "Mary."  The album is highlighted by a drop-dead gorgeous version of "Here Comes The Flood," a fantastic (yet arguably a bit bombastic) track from Gabriel's first solo album, reduced here to just Gabriel's voice and piano shaded by Fripp's guitar loops.

The album also has a reworking of the title track, sung by Gabriel on his Fripp-produced second solo album, but sung here (a bit gratingly, unfortunately) by Roche; but the (better) version with Hall's vocals appears as a bonus track at the end of the CD reissue. 

Here's the Fripp/Gabriel version of "Flood," and damn it's a motherf*cker...
 And here's a little "North Star":
While Fripp long resisted streaming music, the album recently became available on Spotify; give it a listen.
Meanwhile, I had created my own personal Fripp collaborations mix, which includes some of the Exposure highlights while adding in much of his work from this period with Bowie, Eno, Gabriel, and Talking Heads.  I think it came out particularly great.  (Alas, much of Fripp's work still doesn't stream, so I had to omit a few tracks from my mix when recreating this on Spotify, but it's still pretty awesome.)

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