Exposure September 19, 2006
Written by Francis
In 1978, I worked in a record store in Sarasota, Florida. I spent hours on the floor alphabetizing vinyl and praying that the Bee Gees, and their hell-spawn disco music, would fade into a quick and shallow grave.
Unbeknownst to our customers, a savage war of greed raged within the halls of the record companies. They were planning the death of rock and roll. Of particular interest to our record buyer, who was from New York City, and myself was the fate of the rumored collaboration between Daryl Hall and Robert Fripp.
Originally, I had grown up in Philadelphia listening to the classic Abandoned Luncheonette album by Daryl Hall and John Oates. Their next LP, War Babies, was a 180-degree change in direction for the blue-eyed Philly soul boys. H & O’s label, Atlantic Records, didn’t care much for the result, so Hall & Oates found themselves moving to RCA where they produced two monster singles; Sarah Smile and Rich Girl were both chart toppers in the late seventies. They had reached #1 and became pop idols, but the ultra-talented Daryl Hall secretly yearned acceptance as a serious musician.
At about the same time, Robert Fripp, the venerated anchor and guitarist of King Crimson, arrived in NYCNY. He had experienced his share of being screwed by his band’s label, EG Records and retired the fifth incarnation of Crimso in 1974 swearing never to return to the record industry. In his own words, he’d seen a terrifying vision of the future. Nevertheless, return he did, and he did it with an intellectual vengeance that would provoke the record bosses to stall the release of any of Fripp’s music for almost three years.
The album in question here is Exposure. It was, this reviewer believes, the first album to pioneer rock and roll music as media. It contained a message still causing a profound ripple in the 21st century.
Fripp was called out of retirement in 1977 by David Bowie to play the burning lead guitar on Bowie’s Low album; made in Berlin, it featured old friend Brian Eno. Eno, who also recorded with Roxy Music on EG and understood how record company management was exploiting the artists.
Somehow inspired to travel to America, Fripp and Eno would land in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen and bring together a very distinguished group of musicians to create Exposure. Among them was Daryl Hall who, looking to launch a solo project after ten years with John Oates, found a kindred soul in the veteran of the rock wars: Robert Fripp. The idea arrived to create a trilogy. Fripp and Hall along with Peter Gabriel, who was on his second outing after exiting Genesis, planned to release three albums simultaneously.
Back at the record store, the blurbs in the music trade magazines and the rumors of this momentous collaboration fascinated the record buyer and me. We waited for the record company reps to arrive with vital news. We wondered how in the world Daryl Hall and Robert Fripp could possibly sound together. We knew the resulting music would be far from Top 40. Would anyone hear it?
The same question must have been running through the mind of Hall & Oates’ manager, Tommy Mottola. Today he is the president of Sony Entertainment. Mottola was out keep his source of income away from Fripp and return him to the side of John Oates, where they could resume cranking out the singles. Hall & Oates were still under contract with RCA and it was clear the record company wanted another Rich Girl, not some avant-garde, proto-punk heavy metal.
Mottola and RCA succeeded in suppressing tapes from both Hall’s album, Sacred Songs (reissued in 1999 on CD by Buddha Records), while Exposure was to have all but two of Hall’s vocal tracks replaced by other vocalists.
The Peter Gabriel album, simply entitled Peter Gabriel, contained only one song common to Exposure. Released on vinyl by Atlantic Records, the album failed to chart.
Now, reissued after nearly thirty years, Exposure is a two-disc set, with the original Daryl Hall vocals returned to their rightful place. The new album is a combination of Hall’s inspired singing and Fripp’s fierce guitar work, contrasted by the fluid atmospheric ambient tape loop technique, Frippertronics.
The album opens with a tentative sounding Fripp introducing his new work as “…possibly commercial”. A phone rings and Daryl Hall screams, “… you burn me up I’m a cigarette/ you hold my hand and I begin to sweat ”, through the receiver, with a primal ferocity unknown to the Nubian fans of Sarah Smile.
The music continues, alternating between some of the hardest rock energy ever recorded and the hypnotic ambiance of Fripp’s Frippertronics. The singing by Daryl Hall on the lovely and lonely North Star is delicate and direct. The title track has Fripp and Eno quietly spelling, x-s-p-o-s-u-r-e-x-s-p-o-s-u-r repeatedly, in the background. Originally sung by Hall, it was later rerecorded with Terre Roche, who executes some of the best screams put on record.
Exposure brims with brilliant performances and inspired playing from musicians who have gone on to beat the record bosses at their own game. Yet, the most astounding revelation is not the restored Daryl Hall vocals or how the other players involved went on to the BIG TIME.
The key is the flowing intro to the previously mentioned track, Here Comes the Flood by Peter Gabriel. Fripp threaded a speech by scientist JG Bennett into the waves of his ambient guitar sounds. It appears only on Exposure, not Peter Gabriel II. What is the most thought provoking about the strange introduction to this soaring and beautiful music is, if you listen, Bennett is predicting Global Warming twenty-eight years ago!
Is it possible that the record bosses would have had us dance like mindless marionettes to 120 BPM disco, while they aimed to destroy rock ‘n’ roll? The record store was never the same after all this went down. It is quite likely this record is a long-awaited victory along the way to solving a vast puzzle.
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WGTB was Georgetown University’s radio station located in the heart of Washington D.C. NOT NYC !
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Posted by: eeklair
WGTB was Georgetown Universities’ radio station. THis is Washington DC, Not NYC.
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I’m a bass player, and I’ve studied a lot of Wetton (mostly his 73’ -78’ work) and I can tell you for sure that is Wetton’s bass playing on Disengage. There are a couple of distinctive things, such as the Read more
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I thought I knew a lot about KC history, especially the Wetton/Bruford years. But I had no idea that Wetton played with Fripp at all after Red, much less on a demo for Read more
|Awesome Wed., Jul 20, 2011|
Posted by: boobuns
Oh bliss! Aural ecstacy!
I feel like a flippin’ kid in a frippin’ candy store.
Thank you ever so much Robert, and DGM Live staff.
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Thre is any doubt out there where are the genius ?? Raw sessions like this pretty much confirm how talented the musicians are
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This, without a doubt, is absolutely essential listening. One of the very best downloads to date. The quality of the music & musicianship and the sheer rawness found here almost instantly makes one forget this recording is Read more
|Breathtaking Mon., Jul 18, 2011|
Posted by: myshadow
Beyond a doubt, this has to be the most amazing release since The Asbury Park gig. Which has now been eclipsed.
What I have heard so far is absolutely breath taking.
This is raw Red Mark Read more
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