The ‘Spill Challenge – Touched By Bob


So, this week’s ‘Spill Challenge is all about the Wizard of Wimborne, Robert Fripp.

Apart from being the sole constant in the ever-changing kaleidoscope that is King Crimson, Fripp has contributed his guitar work to albums by many varied artists as a session player, recorded collaborative albums with others and produced a fair number of albums too.

The constant factor here is that everything either features Fripp as a musician or producer or has ex-Crimson members performing on the tracks on offer.

The rules are the same as always, select the one that appeals least and consign it to the dustbin of history.

So, to the music.

1) David Bowie – Up The Hill Backwards. Fripp had previously worked with Bowie on “Heroes” and this track is from “Scary Monsters”, probably Bowies last truly great album. Fripp plays on several tracks, and this one has some typically angular and spiky work.
2) Peter Gabriel – Fear Is The Mother Of Violence. Gabriel’s second solo album after leaving Genesis was produced by Fripp and also features him playing guitar on some tracks. A deceptive ballad, with a rather unsettling feel.
3) Van Der Graaf Generator – The Emperor In His War Room. VDGG were never an easy listen for many people and notably didn’t really go in for guitar solos, although Peter Hammill did play a bit of acoustic guitar. Anyway, here Fripp contributes some trademark sustain-driven electric guitar work.
4) 21st Century Schizoid Band – I Talk To The Wind. The band is made up from former Crimson members and occasionally tours playing classic Crimson tunes. This is from Crimson’s groundbreaking first album, “In The Court Of The Crimson King”.
5) David Sylvian – Wave. One of Fripp’s more interesting and enduring partnerships in the 1980s and 90s was with ex-Japan frontman David Sylvian. Fripp wanted him to join a reformed Crimson in around 1991, but it never happened. This track is from Sylvian’s earlier solo album, “Gone To Earth” and features Fripp’s distinctive sustained guitar and elements of Frippertronics.
6) McDonald and Giles – Flight Of The Ibis. After quitting King Crimson, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles released an eponymous album in 1971. This ethereal track is similar to “Cadence and Cascade” from Crimson’s second album, “In The Wake Of Poseidon”.
7) Daryl Hall – Something in 4/4 Time. Daryl Hall’s first solo album, “Sacred Songs”, was produced by Fripp, who also played on it. At the time, in 1977, Hall was enjoying a lot of success with John Oates as Hall and Oates and, fearing that this allegedly uncommercial solo record might impact on his success, Hall’s record label refused to release the album and it was shelved and only released three years later.
8) Judy Dyble – Dreamtime. Judy Dyble was the original female singer in Fairport Convention. She was also, for a time involved with the precursor to King Crimson, Giles, Giles and Fripp. She gave up the music business in the 1970s and only began perfonming and recording again in 1994. This track is taken from her 2009 album, Talking with Strangers, and features Crimsonites Ian McDonald and Pat Mastelotto.
9) Peter Hammill – Child. This track is from Hammill’s 1971 debut solo album, “Fool’s Mate”. The album is made up from material that Hammill felt wasn’t really suitable for VDGG but features all the band’s members as well as Fripp and several others.
10) Robert Fripp – North Star. From Fripp’s 1979 solo album “Exposure”. This features the vocal talents of Daryl Hall, again something that Hall’s record label wasn’t too pleased about. There are different versions of the album, with some songs rerecorded with other singers replacing Hall, notably Peter Hammill and Peter Gabriel, but both are available as a double CD.
11) King Crimson – Exiles. Finally, to round off, we have the Mighty Crim itself, recorded live in 1974 in Providence, Rhode Island and issued on the live 4-CD box set “The Great Deceiver”. This was arguably Crimson’s greatest line-up, with David Cross, John Wetton and Bill Bruford joining Fripp for some truly incandescent virtuoso playing.

It is grey, damp, melancholy, let’s think of better times ahead

There isn’t really a theme to this particular playlist, except perhaps that all the tracks I’ve chosen have a certain quality that reflects my state of mind at the moment.

There is a kind of otherworldliness about many of these, tinged with maybe a dash of melancholy, distance or maybe detachment from the day-to-day dullness of grey, dismal February.

I’ve tried to make the playlist a kind of voyage, starting out with a dash of experimentation that flows into Jerry Garcia’s achingly beautiful “The Wheel”, via some old and new psychedelia, a dash of a Fripp and Travis soundscape, a leavening of classically lovely female singing and finally coming home again, via post-rock, to a place of aching beauty again.

The photograph that heads up this playlist is one of my own. It is the Ch√Ęteau de Sercy in the southern part of Burgundy, just north of Cluny. I have no particular reason to post it, except that it is a lovely place and the sky is blue in the picture.

We all need a bit of blue in our skies at this time of year. I think that February is the worst month of the year, but hopefully this playlist ends on an fairly uplifting and optimistic note and leads the way to a happy 2011 for all of us ‘Spillers and our loved ones.

Anyway, now for the music;

1. Jerry Garcia – The Wheel
2. Moby Grape – Looper
3. Mazzy Star – Look Down From The Bridge
4. Warpaint – Warpaint
5. Robert Fripp and Theo Travis – Moonchild
6. It’s A Beautiful Day – Bombay Calling
7. Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan – Black Mountain
8. Sandy Denny – I’m A Dreamer
9. Mogwai – Like Herod
10. Sigur Ros – Agaetis Byrjun