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Cute Couple Alert: King Crimson’s Robert Fripp & Toyah Willcox on ‘All Star Mr & Mrs’
09:59 am


Robert Fripp
Toyah Willcox

They’d only just met a second time in 1985, but within a week, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp asked singer/actress Toyah Willcox to marry him. They did so on Robert’s 40th birthday in 1986, when the pint-sized “force of nature,” to hear him describe his wife, was 28.

That they are still very happily wed decades later—and the fact that they’re both famous, of course—qualified them for an appearance on All Star Mr & Mrs, the ITV game show where celeb couples compete for charity. In this episode, which aired on May 8th, 2013, Toyah and her crafty guitarist hubby squared off against BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan and her husband, and EastEnders actor Jake Wood—who is best known on these shores as the voice of the GEICO gecko—and his wife.

I can’t imagine that this was Fripp’s idea, but it’s absolutely adorable that he went along with it. Who would have thought the fiercely intellectual Robert Fripp could be this… cute???


His adoring wife, obviously. This IS cute, make no mistake about it, and it shows a side of Robert Fripp—quite a big part of his personality, I’d say, from the looks of things here—that few outside of his immediate circle are likely to have seen before.

The clip, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
New Wave: Debbie Harry wanted to remake Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Alphaville’ with Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp as Lemmy Caution and Debbie Harry as Natacha von Braun

I recently came across the following entry from an issue of Radio Times dating from April 1979, describing an upcoming edition of a BBC 1 radio show called “Roundtable”:

Debbie Harry joins Kid Jensen to review the week’s new records.

Ultra blonde, ultra bombshell Debbie Harry is turning her thoughts to the big screen. She is thinking of starring with Robert Fripp (who used to be in King Crimson) in a remake of Alphaville, a 1966 film by Jean-Luc Godard. Blondie are recording their fourth album, tentatively called Eat the Beat.

Wait, what? Debbie Harry and Robert Fripp, to appear in a remake of Godard’s Alphaville??

It’s all true.

If you want the TL;DR version of this post, it goes like this: Around 1979 Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were interested in remaking Jean-Luc Godard’s futuristic 1966 movie Alphaville. Amos Poe was going to direct it, and there are images from a screen test that featured Harry and Fripp in character, images that were leaked to the press at the time.

The rest of this post is basically just regurgitating the little scraps of evidence I was able to cull together from scouring Google for information, all of which is still pretty interesting and corroborates that last paragraph.

Anna Karina and Eddie Constantine in Godard’s Alphaville
Amos Poe was going to direct the movie. He was part of the NYC underground filmmaking scene in the 1970s, having directed, with Ivan Kral, The Blank Generation as well as a 1978 feature starring Debbie Harry called The Foreigner. Poe was also involved with Chris Stein’s legendary public-access show TV Party.

On the obsessive King Crimson fan site DGM Live there appears a puzzling entry in “Robert Fripp’s Diary” for the date January 8, 2000. It’s puzzling in that it’s ostensibly something that Fripp wrote but he lapses into a kind of Variety promotional-speak that includes a sarcastic, unflattering reference about Fripp himself. Wait, here, just read it:

Several Blockbuster videos are waiting for return. One of them is “Dead Weekend”, chosen as an accompaniment to brain-death & psyche-dribbling earlier this week. Several surprises accompanied its opening credits. Co-producer Amos Poe. Story by Amos Poe. Directed by Amos Poe. Co-starring (with Stephen Baldwin) David Rasche.

In 1978 Amos Poe was to direct the remake of Godard’s “Alphaville” starring Debbie Harry as Natasha von Braun, Anna Karina (?) in the original film. The detective Lemmy Caution was originally played by Eddie Constantine. For the remake, Debbie’s co-star was to be—yo! wait for this one—an English guitarist almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies. The film was never made, but the stills from his screen-test were fabbo to the max. One of them even appeared on the front page of Melody Maker in December 1978.

If that isn’t enough of Fripp’s NY history to bore you senseless, wait about.

David Rasche is a superb actor whose break came in a Broadway play “Shadowbox” around 1977/8. He played “Sledgehammer” in the cod tv-policier series, and showed up in various films such as “Cobra” (he dies quickly & unpleasantly) & “An Innocent Man” (with Tom Selleck) as the bent cop who frames Tom & sent down F. Murray Abram (?). David & I were both in a Transactional Analysis group in NYC during 1977. A very good man, and one who holds my respect.

With this card, six degrees can now carry me anywhere in the world at all.

If it really was written in 2000 by Fripp, then at a minimum we can say that he’s got a wicked sense of humor, no? Apparently he takes his reputation as being “almost universally disliked by his former band-buddies” at least somewhat in stride…..

[Update: A commenter on Facebook points out that DGM is the label Fripp and others founded in 1992, which certainly suggests that the diary entry is kosher.]

Fripp points out that a still from a screen test involving the two co-stars appeared on the cover of Melody Maker in 1978, and that’s perfectly true. The date was December 23, 1978, and the cover looked like this:

Victor Bockris’ book With William Burroughs: A Report from the Bunker contains the following story:

Debbie recalled that when she and Chris met Goddard [sic] to discuss remaking Alphaville he had pretended that he could not speak English and said through an interpreter, “Why do you want to do this movie? You’re crazy!”

So apparently Godard tried to persuade them not to make the movie. I’m guessing it wasn’t his influence that caused the movie not to be made.

In Lester Bangs’ 1980 book Blondie (yes, Bangs wrote a book all about Blondie) we fnd this tidbit: “When Debbie and Chris were on WPIX’s ‘Radio, Radio’ show in Manhattan (in Feb. 1980), a fan phoned in to ask, ‘Is Alphaville complete?’” Thus proving that more or less regular people were following the Alphaville story and wanted updates.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Robert Fripp demonstrates Frippertronics on ‘The Midnight Special,’ 1979

On October 5th, 1979, King Crimson leader and sometime Brian Eno collaborator Robert Fripp made a demonstration performance of his “Frippertonics” system of live instrument looping on NBC’s late-night music series The Midnight Special. The song he performed was “The New World,” which would eventually appear on the 1986 LP Robert Fripp and the League of Crafty Guitarists: Live. Amusingly and somewhat puzzlingly, the entry for the broadcast misidentifies the song as “musical experiment (possibly titled ‘God Save the Queen’),” citing a slightly later song which sounds absolutely nothing like “The New World.”

Frippertronics was a form of tape delay, not terribly complicated to set up but which could lead to richly layered and complex results, wherein two reel-to-reel machines recorded and played back loops of live guitar back and forth between one another. The length of the delay was dependent on the distance between the two tape machines, and the system created much longer echoes and decays than were possible with electronic delay units at the time, though Electro Harmonix made a valiant effort. (If you click on that link, you’ll notice that the ad’s small print actually calls the unit a “Fripp-in-the-Box!” I hope they at least gave him a free one.) Fripp explained the system in this truly fantastic interview—seriously, read the whole thing if you have some time—with the Canadian journalist Ron Gaskin, published just a couple of months before the Midnight Special appearance:

RG: Could you simply explain the process of Frippertronics?

RF: Yes. I record on the left machine, the guitar is recorded on the left machine, the signal passes along the tape to the right machine where it’s played back to the left machine and recorded a second time.


RF: The signal recorded the second time passes along the tape to the right machine where it’s played back a second time and recorded a third.

RG: And at what point is it released into the room?

RF: Oh, straightaway. Unless, what I could do if I wanted to be crafty, would be to build up a chord which no one could hear and then turn the chord on, but, in fact, that doesn’t happen. I’ve only done that, I think, on a couple of occasions. You hear it happening.


Lovely, was that not? I love Fripp’s commendation of the show’s bravery for having him on to experiment for broadcast. While the four-minute duration was generous by television standards, that was less than half of the piece as it was eventually released. Here’s the version from on the League of Crafty Guitarists’ album, with a nice slideshow that even purloins some of the Midnight Special footage.

Previous Frippery on Dangerous Minds
Legendary Fripp & Eno concert from 1975 will finally see official release
Heavenly Noise: Robert Fripp gently deconstructs ‘Silent Night’

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Legendary Fripp & Eno concert from 1975 will finally see official release
10:34 am


Brian Eno
Robert Fripp
Malcom LeGrice

Robert Fripp’s web presence, Discipline Global Mobile, has announced that an oft-bootlegged Fripp/Brian Eno show recorded in Paris in 1975 has been mixed and mastered to the best possible quality, and pre-orders are now being taken by Amazon, Inner Knot (US), and Burning Shed (UK/Europe).

Hearing the tapes in fully restored audio quality, it’s easy to understand why it attracts such reverence now and perhaps, why the shows attracted such hostility then. No Roxy Music hits, No King Crimson riffs, just a duo sitting in near darkness with a reel to reel tape recorder, improvising over the pre-recorded loops with a filmed background projection. Replace the reel to reel machine with a couple of laptops/iPads/sequencers and the core of much current live performance from electronica to hip-hop was there some thirty years in advance. At the time, audiences responded to such a glimpse of the future with booing, walkouts and general confusion.

Thanks to the discovery and restoration of the original backing tapes, it was possible - with much painstaking restoration work by Alex Mundy at DGM - to isolate, de-noise and match the live elements from the performance tapes to the studio loops to produce the final recording.


An article by Frippertonics archivist Allan Okada (OK, you know, “Dangerous Minds Contributor” is a damn cool title, I won’t lie, but “Frippertronics Archivist” sounds like a mighty sweet gig, too…) describes the concert itself thusly:

Fripp just recently disbanded King Crimson at a point which many would describe as their artistic pinnacle. Eno also recently parted ways with Roxy Music at a similar juncture and then aborted his first and only extensive solo tour after only a handful of shows, due to a collapsed lung. Fripp & Eno live in concert? What would they do? All the shows in Spain and France were, not surprisingly, accompanied with unrealistic fan expectations, hoping for a presentation of ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ combined with ‘Baby’s on Fire’ perhaps? What this audience got was something entirely different. The programme was largely improvised and totally instrumental. Adding to the event’s unorthodoxy was the absence of all conventional stage lighting. The sole illumination was provided by Malcolm LeGrice’s colour saturated and looped short film ‘Berlin Horse’ projected behind the two shadowy figures on stage, visually mimicking the music. The result was an unprecedented live performance format, years ahead of its time. It was also mind-boggling to most of the unsuspecting 1975 audience, yielding wildly different reactions. Reportedly about half the shows on this tour were also plagued with some sort of major technical hazard, stemming from the venue, the PA or the duo’s stage equipment. In Saint-Étienne, the audience went as far as booing the duo off the stage! Fortunately for us here, this Paris Olympia performance was technically flawless and from a musical standpoint, incredibly inspired.

You can judge the show’s level of inspiration yourself—as mentioned above, bootlegs have been around forever, and they are of course on YouTube. See what you think.

The trance continues after the jump.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
King Crimson: Incredibly heavy, yet somehow still gravity-defying live set from 1974
05:11 pm


Robert Fripp
King Crimson
prog rock

As there is precious little live footage of the pre-80s incarnations of King Crimson—Beat Club, the poor quality fragment from Hyde Park in 1969 and the Central Park 1974 clip, not much—this extended 29-minute set from France’s Melody television show is a treasure (even with all of those goofy video effects, in fact, I think they enhance it nicely).

The line-up is Bill Bruford, John Wetton, David Cross and Robert Fripp.

1 - Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part II
2 - The Night Watch
3 - Lament
4 - Starless

Larks’ Tongues here is frighteningly good.

The quality is great, but it’s even better on the deluxe 40th Anniversary Series edition of Red that came out in 2009. That release, with Steve Wilson’s insane 5.1 surround mix of the album (done with Robert Fripp’s participation), sounds like a jet plane lifting off inside your living room skull. Red happens to be one of the heaviest rock albums of all time. Crank it up loud enough and the sonic power of that album can blow you away like a feather in the wind. Most King Crimson albums I find to be a bit spotty (some of them are really spotty, in fact) but when they lock into a serious groove, like on Red’s unfuckingbelievable title cut, well it’s awe-inspiring.

If you haven’t heard the Steve Wilson 5.1 surround treatment of the classic King Crimson albums and you’ve got a 5.1 set up for TV and gaming, they are simply superb. I recommend starting with the first King Crimson album, In the Court of the Crimson King, because it’s a great—indeed the perfect—place to start anyway, plus Wilson did such a crazy good job with it. Ditto with Lizard. Hell, I never even liked that album, but in Wilson’s mix the “rock band as symphony” aspect of the work is teased out nicely and envelops you like you’re standing inside of a large (and especially complex) audio equivalent of an Alexander Calder mobile.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Happy Birthday Robert Fripp!
03:08 pm


Robert Fripp

King Crimson’s Robert Fripp turns 67 today, just one day after his frequent collaborator Brian Eno became an OAP. They both look great for their age.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
In the Court of the Crimson King: Intelligent BBC documentary about Robert Fripp

Dislocated: Robert Fripp & The League of Gentlemen

Fripp and Eno: The Heavenly Music Corporation

Below, Robert Fripp demonstrates Frippertronics in 1979:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
In the Court of the Crimson King: Intelligent BBC documentary about Robert Fripp
03:29 pm


Robert Fripp
King Crimson

Contemplative 1985 BBC doc about Robert Fripp, who gives the cameras a real glimpse into his life in Wimborne—we even get to meet his mother—his career as a constantly traveling musician and his reasons for leaving King Crimson (and his worldly possessions) behind in the mid-1970s to study the work of philosopher JG Bennett.

Fripp also discusses working with David Bowie, living in NYC and having brunch with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. Musically, he’s seen playing with Andy Summers and doing a solo Frippertronics piece.


Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Drive to 1981: Robert Fripp’s art-rock classic ‘Exposure’

In 1977, King Crimson founder Robert Fripp—who left the world of music in 1974 when he dissolved the group—moved to NYC’s Hell’s Kitchen (later the Bowery) and immersed himself in the city’s punk and “new wave” music scene. Inspired by New York’s frantic energy and wanting to combine the new sounds he was hearing with “Frippertronics,” the droning tape loop system he had developed with Eno, the final product was his solo record, Exposure.

The ambitious Exposure is one of the ultimate art-rock documents of late 70s New York, a classic album that sadly seems to have fallen through the cracks for many music fans. It’s a brilliant and underrated missing link between what was to become King Crimson’s next incarnation, the “Berlin trilogy” of David Bowie and Brian Eno (and indeed Fripp and Eno’s own collaborations), Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and believe it or not, Hall and Oates!

That’s right Exposure was meant to be seen as the third part of a loose trilogy that included Daryl Hall’s Sacred Songs and Peter Gabriel’s second album (both produced by Fripp). Daryl Hall’s management threw a wrench in the works, concerned that Hall’s decidedly more esoteric solo material might confuse his fan-base expecting catchy, “blue-eyed soul” AM radio-friendly pop tunes and that this would harm his commercial appeal. Additionally, they insisted that Fripp’s own Exposure album be credited as a Fripp/Hall collaboration. As a result, Fripp used just two of Hall’s performances on the album, recording new vocals by Terre Roche and Van Der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill.

Sacred Songs didn’t come out until 1980 and sold respectably well. Both albums include the snarling buzz-saw rave-up, “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette.”:

The first voice you hear in the “Preface” is Eno’s and the voice before the phone starts ringing is Peter Gabriel’s. The vocal however, is obviously Daryl Hall, but not as we’re used to hearing him. Fripp later described Hall as the best singer he’d ever worked with and compared his musical creativity to David Bowie’s. High praise indeed.

Another highlight on Exposure is Peter Gabriel’s amazing performance of his “Here Comes the Flood,” perhaps the best version of the many he has recorded: Gabriel disliked the orchestral arrangements for the song on his first album, considering it over-produced. He did a different version on Kate Bush’s Christmas TV special in 1979 and still another on on his Shaking the Tree greatest hits collection. The rendition heard on Exposure is sparse, haunting and moving. I think it’s one of his single greatest vocal performances. Eno, Fripp and Gabriel are the only musicians on this track:

In 1985, a remixed “definitive edition” of Exposure was released and finally, in 2006, a remastered 2 CD set came out on Fripp’s own label with the original 1979 album and a second disc containing yet a third version of Exposure with bonus tracks including the Daryl Hall vocals as originally intended.
Below, a promotional video for Exposure. Not a lot happens here, but in the context of 1979, this would have seemed absolutely futuristic. I’m assuming that this was shot by Amos Poe (director of Glenn O’Brien’s cable access show TV Party) or else Blondie’s Chris Stein:

After the jump, Robert Fripp being interviewed Wayne’s World-style on NY cable access in 1979.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Read vintage issues of ‘Synapse the Electronic Magazine’ in their entirety

Summer 1978: Read this issue in its entirety here.
Holy cow! What a goldmine! Someone wonderful uploaded all the 70s issues of Synapse Magazine for your reading pleasure. Seriously, if you’re an electronic music buff, be prepared to spend days soaking it all up!

January/February 1979: Read this issue in its entirety here.

Summer 1979: Read this issue in its entirety here.
More issues of Synapse Magazine after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King
11:50 pm


Robert Fripp
King Crimson

Over the weekend, I picked up a copy of the 5:1 surround mix of King Crimson’s classic 1974 album, Red, but I didn’t have a chance to listen to it properly until this afternoon. And when I say properly, I mean loudly, as Red happens to be one of the heaviest rock albums of all time. Crank it up loud enough—as I did today—and it feels like a jumbo jet is taking off inside your skull. The sonic power of that album can blow you away like a feather in the wind at top volume. Most King Crimson albums I find to be a bit spotty (some of them are really spotty, in fact) but when they lock into a serious groove, like on Red’s title cut, it’s an awe inspiring thing to listen to.

This new surround version, mixed from the original multi-source mixdown tapes by Porcupine Tree’s Steve WIlson (with Robert Fripp’s participation) tends to put the listener in the middle of the mix, that is to say, it sounds like you are standing in the room as they are playing. I find that this approach worked great on Wilson’s redo of In the Court of the Crimson King in 5:1, but with Red, the violent onslaught of Fripp’s buzzsaw guitar riffs sounds emasculated somewhat (when compared to the familiar stereo version) unless the album is played at an almost ear-splitting volume. Me, I’m happy to oblige. Listen to it as loud as fuck and it sounds wonderful. I suppose that was the point. Who’s going slap on Red to listen at a background volume anyway?

There’s not much by way of film footage of pre-80s incarnation of King Crimson. As in nearly none. I did find two amazing clips, though. First an intense run-through of Lark’s Tongue in Aspic on what appears to be Germany’s Beat Club show.

Below, a 1973 performance in New York’s Central Park of Easy Money:

(Incidentally, the new leaked Kanye West single, Power, samples King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Dislocated: Robert Fripp & The League of Gentlemen
12:37 pm


Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp doing what he does best—tearing it the fuck up—with his “punk” combo, The League of Gentlemen. The Disinformation logo was inspired by this album cover (which was done by Danielle Dax).

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment