[Review] Robert Fripp: Exposure (1979)

A remarkable musical travelogue that reflects his recent work with David Bowie, Darryl Hall, Peter Gabriel, The Roches and Brian Eno.

Kronomyth 3.0: The exploding head of Robert Fripp.

Robert Fripp notes on Exposure that the album was “originally conceived as the third part of an MOR trilogy,” his work on Peter Gabriel II and Darryl Hall’s Sacred Songs being the first two parts. While Exposure is Fripp’s most commercially successful solo album, actually charting in the US and UK, it’s certainly not a case of pandering to commercial tastes. Drawn from some wildly (dare I say, resplendently) divergent recording sessions between 1977 and 1979, this collection ranges from the soothing ambient sounds of Frippertronics to violent rock songs recorded with Van der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill.

The intent of Exposure, apparently, is to show off Fripp’s range as an artist. The result is an album of extremes. Individually, many of the songs are terrific: a test run for the King Crimson reboot (“Breathless”) featuring Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta, a tighter version of “Exposure” featuring the vocal extremes of Terre Roche and Brian Eno, Hall’s perversely inverted rock & roll performance on “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette.” Collectively, it’s like having your brain in a washing machine that cycles endlessly between spin and rinse.

Hidden in the margins of Exposure are references to the work of spiritualist John G. Bennett, whose International Academy for Continuous Education Fripp had attended in the mid Seventies. (Bennett’s mentor, Shivapuri Baba, is also quoted on the album.) Other interesting contributors are the poet Joanna Walton, founder of the Women’s Free Arts Alliance and, sadly, a victim of the Lockerbie plane crash some years later, and Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill, who was brought in to “replace” Darryl Hall when contractual issues prevented Hall from singing more than two songs on Exposure.

Along with The League of Gentlemen, Exposure is a good place for curious King Crimson fans to start in Fripp’s discography, as it comes closest to re-creating the frenetic arrangements and dark energy of that band. It remains a fine sampler of Fripp’s musical interests during his band’s hibernation, but a cogent argument for MOR acceptance it isn’t.

Original elpee version

A1. Preface (1:15)
A2. Your Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette (Robert Fripp/Daryl Hall) (2:22)
A3. Breathless (4:36)
A4. Disengage (Robert Fripp/Peter Hammill/Joanna Walton) (2:47)
A5. North Star (Robert Fripp/Daryl Hall/Joanna Walton) (3:08)
A6. Chicago (Robert Fripp/Daryl Hall/Joanna Walton) (2:12)
A7. NY3 (2:16)
A8. Mary (Robert Fripp/Daryl Hall/Joanna Walton) (2:06)
B1. Exposure (Robert Fripp/Peter Gabriel) (4:25)
B2. Haaden Two (1:53)
B3. Urban Landscape (2:35)
B4. I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I’ve Had Enough of You (Robert Fripp/Joanna Walton) (3:40)
B5. First Inaugural Address to I.A.C.E. Sherborne House (J.G. Bennett) (0:03)
B6. Water Music I (Robert Fripp/J.G. Bennett) (1:27)
B7. Here Comes the Flood (Peter Gabriel) (3:54)
B8. Water Music II (6:10)
B9. Postscript (0:37)

Songs written by Robert Fripp unless noted.

The Players

Robert Fripp with Barry Andrews, Shivapuri Baba (voice), J.G. Bennett (voice), Phil Collins, Brian Eno, Mrs. Edith Fripp (voice), Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall, Peter Hammill, Mrs. Evelyn Harris (voice), Tony Levin, Jrery Marotta, Sid McGinnis, Terre Roche, Narada Michael Walden. Produced by Robert Fripp; engineered by Robert Fripp, Ed Sprigg, Steve Short (B1/B7) and Jim Bonneford (B9).

The Pictures

Design and photography by Chris Stein. VTR images by Amos Poe. Typography by Cream.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in May 1979* in the UK (EG, EGLP 101), the US and Canada (Polydor, PD-1-6201), Germany and the Netherlands (EG, 2302 092) and Japan (EG, MPF-1239) with lyrics innersleeve and postcard or map/photo. (*First appeared in 5/26/79 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in July 1985 in the US (EG, EGLP/EGMC 41).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc on April 10, 1991 in the US (Caroline, 1557).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in Germany (Virgin, 787 209).

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