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1980 July Cream Terry Riley Robert Fripp review

Bobby Go Loop-de-Loop, Terry Go Loop-de-Li
Michael Davis
Creem, July 1980

Robert Fripp
God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners


Terry Riley
Shri Camel


1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. 1-2-3- Ommmm.

The repetition of a musical phrase does strange things to the human mind and body. You know what happens when your favorite songs head into the chorus or main riff; you tap your foot harder or get up and dance or sing along or get so “into it” that you knock over your beer mug and generally make an ass out of yourself. But repetition of a pattern which gradually changes over an extended period of time can have the opposite effect, calming you down and relaxing you, Strange, right?

Now Fripp is aware of the way both kinds of repetition work. King Crimson’s early classic, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” was constructed around one of the heaviest riffs ever devised and as early as 1972, Fripp and Eno were working with tape loops, recording their duo LP’s, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star, and evolving the technique that Robert now calls “Frippertronics,” and features on his new album. Without going into all the details, the technique involves recording sounds on a single tape loop going through two Revox tape machines; controlled properly, the patterns generated can sound very pleasing.

As you might have figured from the album’s dual title, Fripp presents his music here in two different contexts. Side one was originally to be called Discotronics; funky bass and drum parts were overdubbed onto loops generated in live performances. “Under Heavy Manners” also features uncredited contributions by head Talker David Byrne, applying some radical vocal phrasing to Fripp’s shopping list of “isms.” It’s as interesting as the following “The Zero Of The Signified” is dull. True, you can dance to it but big deal, you can dance to a lot of things, from eggbeaters to washing machines (if you think pogoing to the Ramones at 78 r.p.m. is the ultimate, try getting down to a spin cycle).

Side A consists of pure Frippertronics and works a lot better. Blending together brief melodic fragments with his own patented fuzztone drones, he comes up with a music that is both technological and mechanical on one hand, yet individualistic and personal on the other. I’ll admit that I prefer his collaborations with Eno because of the richer mixture of sounds but there’s definitely something to be said for this singular approach. Actually, this album would probably have had a lot more impact on me had it not coincided with the latest release by a real master of this sort of thing.

That man is Terry Riley. Back in the 60’s, Riley was a musical pioneer, drawing from the Western classical tradition, jazz improvisers like John Coltrane, and Eastern sources to create long, drawn-out works based on repeated, over-lapping melodies. He wasn’t alone in the field—working along similar lines were La Monte Young, Philip Glass and Steve Reich—but Riley was the most influential of the bunch, partly because his music had a lighter, more attractive air to it and partly because his records, In C and Rainbow In Curved Air, were released on Columbia, making them widely available. And I mean influential in the rock sphere as well as elsewhere; his mark is felt in the work of Eno, Cluster, and the sequencer-dependent electronic bands as well as mainstreamers like The Who – Townshend’s intro to “Baba O’Riley” is a direct nod to the man.

Shri Camel is Riley’s first American release in over ten years and is somewhat more Eastern-tinged than his earlier work, hardly a surprising development since he’s spend much of the past decade studying Indian ragas. It’s also one of the few records of recent years that has totally amazed me. On a technical level, I don’t understand at all how he can get so many sounds out of his modified organ at the same time, even with the digital delay units hooks up.

But on a more subjective level, this music simply gets me high; it’s buoyant, shifting textures bring out feelings of wonder and joy that rock hasn’t been able to inspire in me in a long time. My favorite rock ‘n’ roll at the moment — Jam, Clash, Lydia Lunch — is tough stuff, music that acknowledges the difficult choices that each of us has to make to keep ourselves together as Western Civilization goes through another cycle of (probably violent) change. Shri Camel floats above it all, a shining cloud dispensing hope that somehow all the contradictions can be solved and we can all eventually live in…

Harmony? I dunno. This repetition stuff can make you think weird thoughts. Whew.


Found this clipping in my files after a move. I was already a fan of Robert Fripp, reading this Terry Riley review (and the one in the NY Times) got me interested in Terry and microtones.


13903299_10208773200900449_850516844019938816_nAfternoon, Easter Sunday 2017…I’m sitting at my desk scrolling through Facebook and I see a nice photo of Allan Holdsworth sitting on the floor with his two daughters and a granddaughter, holding his guitars. Sweet, then I’m totally shocked to find Louise Holdsworth letting us know Allan passed away, only 70.

Like many other guitarists of my generation, when I first heard Allan, I knew he was different. He redefined what a guitar sounded like, magic chords shimmering with electricity and solo lines snaking away from already ambiguous harmony.

One post high school week, both the Bruford and UK albums showed up at the local record store and since I was keeping track of Bill Bruford’s band hopping after leaving both Yes and King Crimson…these were mandatory purchases.  Holdsworth’s fast lines were already legend to some, but suburban David hadn’t heard them yet…this was outta sight, guitar far removed from the blues rock of my early teen years. Eventually I became familiar with his earlier music, appearances  on albums by Tony Williams, Soft Machine and others.

Eventually the new IOU album with it’s black cover also showed up and introduced us to another new sound, his fresh intuitive harmony…many of his chords a stretch from what most guitarists could reach. I’d never heard anything like it before.

By the time I got to hear the Bruford band in Asbury Park at the Fast Lane, Holdsworth was outta the group, replaced by John Clark. Finally I caught Allan at the Bottom Line, NYC. He was talking to someone in front of the stage before the show, so I shook his hand and asked for an autograph. His hand was shaking, possibly nerves. The next time I heard him in NY, the applause was so loud, the band couldn’t hear themselves…lost their groove for a few moments during the opening composition.

One band I caught at the Ritz, NYC featured Allan with Stanley Clarke, Randy Brecker and Steve Smith, apparently an unrecorded supergroup. Another time at Rutgers, with a Q&A before the show…students asking silly questions, Allan showing off his Synthaxe.

In the early ’90s, I was running around the NAMM show in Anaheim, Ca, taking care of business and noticed Allan sitting at the Carvin booth, signing autographs. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop and chat, even though he couldn’t have possibly remembered me.

A radical, brilliant, humble musician passing away far before his time.

Berlin, Stewart, Bruford and Holdsworth

The ultimate progrock band, Bruford: Jeff Berlin, Dave Stewart, Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth.

Albums never released on CD…

John Abercrombie has been on innumerable sessions over the years, many of them have never been released on CD. Straight Flight (JAM 5001) aka Direct Flight (DSP-5015) was recorded in March 1979 with the same rhythm section – George Mraz (bass), Peter Donald (drums) – that appear on his ECM quartet albums from that period. Straight Flight gives us to an excellent chance to hear Abercrombie playing standards during that time. I’ve never seen a copy, but I’ve been told there were many copies in the discount bins when it went out of print.

The First Quartet box on ECM includes Beirach on piano.

Beautiful Friendship (Concord CJ 243) by Canadian bassist Don Thompson features Abercrombie (guitar) and Michael Smith (drums). Dave Holland fills in on bass when Thompson plays piano.

John Abercrombie Trio

Straight Flight (JAM 5001)

In Your Own Sweet Way
My Foolish Heart

Bessie’s Blues
There Is No Greater Love 
Beautiful Love 

John Abercrombie – guitars
George Mraz – bass
Peter Donald – drums

Don Thompson

Beautiful Friendship (Concord CJ 243)

Even Steven

My One and Only Love

Blues for Jim-San

I’ve Never Been in Love Before

For Scott La Faro

A Beautiful Friendship

Ease It


Don Thompson – bass, piano
John Abercrombie – guitars

Michael Smith – drums
Dave Holland – bass

Folks, Marco Oppedisano is from Brooklyn and he writes guitar music. Listen:

recorded in December 2016 by the Quarto Ensamble.

Marco Oppedisano

Quarto Ensamble

Score and parts are available for purchase/streaming at:
Music by Marco Oppedisano
Out Your Ear (ASCAP)

Two very out of print albums on ECM records, probably never released on CD. Maybe some kind of re-release is in order?

ECM 1206
David Samuels – vibraphone, marimba
Paul McCandless – oboe, english horn, soprano saxophone
David Darling – cello
Ratzo Harris – upright bass
Michael DiPasqua – drums, percussion
Double Image – Dawn
ECM 1146
David Samuels – vibraphone, marimba
David Friedman – vibraphone, marimba
Harvie Swartz – bass
Michael DiPasqua – drums, percussion
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