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Let The Power Saw
This discussion has reminded me of my initial reaction to the LTPF
album many years ago( when vinyl was the best format available).
I had started listening to Fripp in the mid 70's and first saw him with
Peter Gabriel in spring of 1977 (where he played mostly offstage ,
billed as Dusty Roads). As an aspiring guitarist myself the blistering
shredfest of fierce exactitude that typified the usual R.F. solo was of
supreme importance in my musical listening pursuits. The consequent
Frippertronics tour of 1979 was a hard one to access for me, though I
spoke with people who had seen the record store appearances and a
hotel room show even. Robert even appeared on The Midnight Special
thanking the producers in a short prologue and then dedicating the loop
piece he was to do, in the name of "hazard". Needless to say the style
in which he would construct a loop and then solo over it was becoming
standard, in as much as this music could be refered to as that.
My next opportunity to see him was summer of 1980 with the League of
Gentleman tour(opening band Gaga w/ Adrian Belew), still in my mind
some of his most earnest live guitar work to date(the studio album was
listless, the more recent live CD release captures the spirit much
Anyway by the time LTPF was released in 1981, I was jonesing to hear
those gigs I had missed in 1979. Imagine my surprise when the album
only contained the audio from the tape loops themselves, not a solo to
be found. The logistics of the tour were articulated in a series of
Fripp wrote for Musician magazine so I really shoudn't have been
surprised by the fact that the reel to reel loop tapes were the only
"official" record of the event( it was him and a driver, thatwas it).
I was bummed....until one day I was listening to the album at my soon
to be wife's house, when the Deadheads next door fired up their radial
power saw. BINGO! It was the perfect counterpoint (my wife agrees and
she is usually more melodically inclined). Ever since that day I have
been unable to listen to the album without the subconscious aural
image of a power saw ripping through the loops. This question of what
people expect to hear when they purchase R.F.'s work is ongoing to
this day, whether it be live or a recording there are "unsettled" ears
appraising his playing or his balance in the mix. If you want to hear
him shred on disc I would recommend the aforementioned live
League of Gentlemen CD or the live Sylvian/Fripp Band CD "Damage"
(the latter features Soundscapes also). For my money the most
dissapointing work in public release by Fripp is the Soundscapes Live
in Argentina CD....don't get me started.