Ok, another slow-off-the-mark posting by yours truly on this month's re-issue par excellence - Bob Fripp's awesome, mighty and totally unclassifiable Exposure.
For so many years the fading memory of my vinyl copy along with a useless CD edition made me feel that this snapshot of everything good about the early 80s post punk NY scene was somehow only good in parts. EBP used to shake his head in disbelief when I, a fully paid-up member of the 'Deify Fripp' brigade, used to talk sniffily about this as 'not his best'. How wrong I was. Hats, scarves and indeed any other outer garments off to Simon Heyworth. The sound on this two-cd special edition is unbelievably good. Finally we get to hear what old Mr Wimborne was actually trying to do.
Except, of course, that I've already called this album 'unclassifiable', which means it not only makes unbelievable leaps in style and pace, but that it contains hybrids for which there are no names. Sure, you get the early Frippertronics (at their utter peak on the quite mesmerisingly bleak "Urban Landscape") along with a series of wryly amusing audio verite clips by Fripp, Brian Eno, J G Bennett and Fripp's mum. But the transitional nature of the work allows elements to creep in that the modern-day composer wouldn't ever sanction (one suspects). This is most apparent in the choice of drummers. Narada Michael Walden and Jerry Marotta's looser styles mean that proto Crim tracks such as "Häaden Two" or "Breathless" come across as punk-prog fusion. Mahavishnu Pistols, if you will. I also LOVE the fact that Tony Levin plays just like John Wetton on this album!
Elsewhere it's the vocalists who push this anomalous document into unfamiliar waters. We can finally compare both Daryl Hall and Peter Hammill's efforts on the same tracks and it's a complete tie imho. Both are on peak form. Mind you, Hall's rendition of "North Star" is peerless. Better than its close cousin "Matte Kudesai"? You decide, dear reader.
Overall the best thing about Exposure is that it allowed Fripp to be HUMOROUS and self-deprecating, removing a lot of the more pretentious overtones that blight his reputation with non-believers. OK it was part of his mysterious 'drive to 1981', but this is the sound of a man who'd been through the music industry ringer and come out as a human being.
Anyway, I'd like to apologise to EBP, Robert and everyone else for so horribly getting it wrong for all these years. The shame of it...