ROBERT FRIPP

"Exposure" (BMG/Robert Fripp; 2006/ 1985 / 1983)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Most of us know of Robert Fripp from his extraordinary musical exploits as guitarist for King Crimson and various artists of significant stature (David Bowie and Peter Gabriel are two that come to mind). Apparently, Robert Fripp started his solo career with “Exposure” which was intended as the third piece of a trilogy which included Daryl Hall’s “Sacred Songs” and Peter Gabriel’s second solo album.

“Exposure” has been released as a 2-CD reissue in 2006. Originally released in 1983 and updated in 1985 the “Exposure” 2006 re-issue captures both versions of the disc with proper re-mastering technology. While it is easy to understand the long delay for the re-issue there's no escaping the fact that, for whatever reason, I somehow never managed to know of its existence ... until now.

It doesn’t take long when reviewing Fripp’s musical career to come to the conclusion that he is truly a visionary and a progressive of the highest order. In fact, when I was younger and trying to understand his artistry, I simply couldn’t make heads or tails of his work with the seminal progressive rock band King Crimson – I hadn’t the experience and knowledge to truly appreciate it.

A couple of decades later I am better able to appreciate the post-punk sound, style, and effort that is “Exposure.” For “Exposure” Robert Fripp enlisted his fellow musician friends to create a truly progressive masterpiece. “Exposure” is an expansive collection of a variety of songs that use the creative wellspring that developed after the ephemeral supernova that was punk. Intended as an autobiography of sorts, Robert Fripp and his merry band of musical pranksters vary moods and styles like the day is long.

As one might expect, “Exposure” shifts radically from track to track. This is disconcerting at first, but the performances are stellar and are easily absorbed by the listener. Various spoken word bits and instrumental interludes break up the album and makes it seem as though it lacks cohesion, but it’s actually what makes “Exposure” exude charm, daring, and confidence. 

The main songs on “Exposure” feature a host of tracks of high quality. My comments refer to the original 1983 version and are only a select few based solely on my personal preferences; without a doubt another reviewer could easily come up with an entirely unique set of selected songs and opinions. The quasi-punk rave up “You Burn Me Up I’m A Cigarette” allows you to hear the normally soulful Daryl Hall with a frantic, energetic vocal delivery like you’ve never heard. “Breathless” is a staggering instrumental that you’d probably expect to here on a guitar hero’s solo effort, but is the only guitar driven instrumental here. “North Star” features Daryl Hall as you’d expect him to sound – channeling Detroit through the gritty streets of New York. “NY3” essentially captures a domestic dispute and all the negative energy that comes with it. Frippertronics, Fripp’s wildly inventive guitar technique, are found on a trio of diverse song including the title track, “Haaden Two,” and “Urban Landscape.” “Here Comes The Flood” is a pensive number that eschews guitar for Fripp’s unique Frippertronic sounds and Peter Gabriel’s piano and desperate voice. 

The 1985 version of “Exposure” features pretty much the same songs albeit with a different re-mix and an occasional alternate vocal performance. The bonus tracks are the same tracks as found on either version of “Exposure” but mostly including Daryl Hall in alternate versions not included on the original releases. I’ll leave it up to Fripp fanatics to debate the merits of the remix and alternate vocal performances. However, I highly respect the effort for the alternate version especially since something of this quality comes closer to the main artist’s original musical vision.

If you’ve made it this far I’ll leave you with one last thought: Highly Recommended.

“Exposure” was produced by Robert Fripp. 

Robert Fripp is joined by Daryl Hall (vocals, piano), Tony Levin (bass), Jerry Marotta (drums), Narada Michael Waldon (drums), Phil Collins (drums), Brian Eno (synthesizers and vocals), Sid McGinnis (pedal steel and guitar), Peter Hammill (vocals), Terre Roche (vocals), Barry Andrews (organ), J.G. Bennett (vocals), and Peter Gabriel (vocals and piano). 

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

 

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Copyright © 2006 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05 Mar 2017 12:56:13 -0500 .