Perfect Sound Forever

Robert Fripp- Guitar Gawd

by Mark S. Tucker
(July 2005)

Ever come away from one of these ceaseless magazine "polls" extolling who is and who isn't amongst the august, who does and does not populate the halls of the gods of the fretburners? I have and am rarely much satisfied except to note they all strive to serve the status quo and milk market demands rather than any real addressing of artists deserving of tributization by dint of unique creativity. No matter how many bones are tossed, one feels ill-served by such smorgasbords of rather naked attempts at label suck-up-ery.

The very function, as it appears in rack rags, is really just a silent reach towards the wallets of the readers rather than a gatherum appraisal of artistic virtue. Like beer-hall conversation - minus the beer, minus the hall, and minus fellow beaker lifters - it's a divertessement, no matter how much or how little insight is tendered (usually: none). Everyone reads them, we all somewhat like them, and it's pleasant to see some artists who give so much pleasure in turn receive homage. However, how many of those chartings have left out the world's greatest living guitarist, Robert Fripp?

99% of them, and that's what frosts we who cherish music above ledger sheets. How on earth can any knowledgeable critic list more than 30 guitarists and not include Fripp??? It beggars the imagination. You'd think these scribes would be a trifle more careful to protect ill-deserved reps by erecting at least an illusion of thought. Hardly. Let's, then, open a series of rectifications, first with a long argument for so bold a claim: Fripp as the greatest axehandler on the planet.

For openers, he himself would laugh the suggestion off, but so what? We, his audience, could care less, having overwhelming proof to support the contention. From this, we re-establish what it means to be the best, this time from a critical stance, not the stroke-the-advertisers toady mode Rolling Stone and ilk adopt. After Fripp, we'll induct many other progrockers, as they've been unjustly sidelined. It has been, the tacit consciousness goes, tacky for respectable crits (an oxymoron) to throw in with a genre fawned upon by so many sub-anthropoids, Trekkies, dimbulbs and fat-farm rejects. Very well, point taken.

But I'll remind all and sundry that there's no justification in judging any music by the lamentable underside of its audience. Therefore, having some form of aesthetic yardstick, exercising a degree of non-consumption-based judgment, and viewing the whole spectrum of what it means to be a truly exemplary player, rather than polling which mohawked schmuck sold how many CD's to what segment of MTV pinheads in a given year, let's look at art, not money or the critic's fragile ego, and certainly not the flak job crits grease the machine wit (hoping to snag a slot somewhere beneath its wheels).

The approach will be to inspect history, not just the latest product any label pleased itself to release to the lumpenproletariat, nor even just whatever zenith any of these gents may have attained. Greatness isn't measured in temporary faddism, flukes, or momentary inspirations soon lost- it's found in consistency over time, with demonstrations of constant excellence. This means the usual three-sentence paragraph devoted to each player, actually just an excuse to run away from the discursive necessities inherent in such a task, will not appear here. Instead, convincing evidence must sway the jury into enlightenment... which will then go forth to raze the houses of the unholy.

In other words: bring me the head of Jann Wenner.

The Crimson King

Robert Fripp came to light in the proto-Crimson hodge-podge of Giles, Giles, and Fripp, two-thirds of which would soon shed its cocoon and form the baseline for one the most powerful groups (certainly the most leviathan progrock ensemble) ever to tread a stage or indite vinyl - or the aluminoplastique currently raping the public. From the the very beginning, pristine playing was dauntingly evident in the clean jazzy style he moded from. GG&F employed a variety of approaches: jazz, folk, rock, cabaret, light semi-classical, etc., but seemed to be reaching for the sort of prog-pop confectionation that World of Oz and some of the fruitier intelligent ensembles around that time were affecting. The sole G,G&F LP came and went without mention in 1968, so who would've guessed that, in a matter of one very slim year, they'd reincarnate as King Crimson, with a ferocity that would leave the most accomplished rockers in the world gasping. After all, no less an authority than Pete Townshend unabashedly hyped their debut prolifically in print to all who'd listen or read. That same LP, decades later, has yet to be equaled despite numerous attempts.

In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) showed a band so leoninely capable and brain-meltingly abstract that it sold like hotcakes. Fripp's lightning-fast double-picking and deadly accuracy, not to mention the ingenuity and complexity of his runs, chord progressions, and change-ups, sent out a signal: Page, Clapton, Beck, and the royal peerage had company. Beyond that, his dominance in the composing process was unmistakable and would remain so as members splintered off and failed to distinguish themselves to any appreciable outside capacity... not for lack of trying. King Crimson always was and always will be Robert Fripp and Robert Fripp only; to think otherwise waxeth foolish.

On that first LP, he flailed out crunching power chords ("21st Century Schizoid Man"), crazy jazz riffs (ditto), exceedingly delicate spacey atonalities ("Moonchild"), as well as broad sympathies to balladry ("I Talk to the Wind"). The album was irreducibly solid and nailed the still-forming progrock movement to its definitive base. The Moody Blues and Pink Floyd, who'd laid the groundwork, had no choice but to yield room on the bus.

Each succeeding LP featured at least one highly unusual innovative aspect and usually several. In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) showcased a take on Holst's "Mars" interpolated with a number of Frippian asides. Unfortunately, like Jimmy Page's absenture of blues writers' credits from the songs he stole on Zeppelin LP's, Fripp failed to make even a passing reference to the great composer and later re-issuances have consistently failed to rectify the omission - not the fairest of actions from a man who consistently hypes ethicality as a burning passion (like most, his seems to derive from concerns only for his own treatment, generated through a history of past injuries under EG Records, while others' quibbles are apparently their own business). That song, "Devil's Triangle," was a unique blend of the avant-garde, extreme prog, neoclassical, and film scoring, with as radical a pounding of the mellotron as had been heard. It reunited founding member Mike Giles with brother Peter and GG&F were together again on very different terrain. As with the debut, Fripp was all over the place.

Lizard (1970) followed and boasted an incredible suite, the title cut, one of the most exquisite prog tunes ever written and a prime assertion for the contention that a portion of the prog catalogue must be included in the ranks of neoclassical works. It also contained a haunting central lead-line which seared the brain, in part deriving from Fripp's use not only of cheap-shit distortion devices of his own jury-rigged design, but also a volume pedal, a tool rarely employed by anyone, anywhere, at any time. With the two outboards, he described an already tricky vocabulary in hues shaded so subtly that the passages remain singular and vastly understudied. Players nowadays pin the volume to 11 and leave it there until the set's over; few understand the subtleties involved in a full range of volume shifts and dynamics; almost none compose for it, rarely even Satriani.

Islands (1971), the next spawn, was stuffed to the gills with elements of what had come before but was, overall, parsecs removed from the group's preponderant sturm und drang. Most striking was Fripp's only true classical piece, "Song of the Gulls," a Pachelbellian/Faurevian number, entrancing and never quite duplicated elsewhere in rock, at least in terms of resonant simplicity, beauty, and authenticity. "The Letters" included a bizarre harmonic match-up between him and the horns, in which the guitar interleaved perfectly and sounded as made of brass. It also contained one of the most brilliant passages of amalgamated voice and music, when, after a layback, Boz Burrell leapt back into the tune with a dramatically piercing "Impaled on nails of ice" line veneered atop glacial instrumentation - a brief poetic moment of a caliber experienced all too rarely in any genre, matched only by Peter Gabriel's exquisite twisting of a line in "Supper's Ready": "In blood, he's writing the lyrics of a brand new tune." You have to hear both to appreciate the uniqueness, print alone will never do justice.

Earthbound (1972) came out, a live jazz-rock blowout reviled by proggers but a landmark nonetheless. The quartet's intensity and improvisational prowess were riveting and one of the few places we'd ever have a chance to understand just how fine a sax player Mel Collins really could be. Side one's a rendition of three KC classics while the flipside touts two long improvs, the latter of which, "Groon," ends with a short but unearthly and shattering quotation from the solo in "Lizard," literally the most fascinating and commanding riff Fripp would ever spit out, quintessentially demon-haunted, sounding like a hellish lift from The Exorcist, hair-raising and spine-chilling. Regardless, throughout the LP, his playing is top drawer and inimitable.

Lark's Tongue in Aspic (1973) threw the spotlight more firmly on Bill Bruford and David Cross but Fripp was to begin a series of experimentations on the far shores of guitar possibilities, explorations that would usher in a new era of his importance to the instrument and to music in general, leading to, along with Eno on similar grounds, and often in collaborations, an influence far wider than writers know how to understand. At the close of "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, Part 1," Fripp switches from insistent chords underpinning Cross' variations to pair up with John Wetton's bass in an upwelling drone new to stringed music-making. Even now, many years later, it's unclear precisely how he's doing it, but the sound is utterly unique. One of Fripp's most singular talents has always been the formulation of constantly innovative tweaks, in a questing spirit that would become a primary reason for the Eno collabs which would eventuate.

Lark's Tongue also boasts unbelievably pristine composing and arranging. KC fanatics almost come to blows over the subject of which LP is the prime object of worship: the debut, Lark's Tongue, or Red? The precious few Lizard partisans are exempted from these quibbles but the furor is a cogent one: each release is monstrously superb, the very foundation - again, along with the Moodies and Floydians - of progressive rock.

Starless and Bible Black (1974) restored a lot of the delicacies from the pre-"Groon" work, chalked up another atonal ramble (the title song), and then unleashed a powerhouse that commenced in the curious use of a constantly repeated single-note/two-note single-string/two-string motif. What would have been terminally boring in other hands proved narratively tense and attractive, leading into a descending stormfront and hurricane gales, the sort of thing that would be repeated in Red, KC's secondmost-favored LP.

Red (1974) issued and took everyone's head off. The equal of Lark's Tongue, it blew the doors out and juggernauted in a lament-laden tour de force. The LP contained nothing but perfection and one would be hard-put to decide which song was the best. "One More Red Nightmare," with its mind-blowing horn arrangement and laser pace, featuring mainstay Mel Collins with returning alums Mark Charig, Ian McDonald, and Robin Miller, who'd been variously present in the first four LPs, kicks the daylights out of its brethren pounders, but it's ever a matter of six-of-one/half-a-dozen-of-the-other, isn't it? The title song has, however, over time, proven to be the group's ultimate signature, even more so than "21st Century Schizoid Man," and the LP was the heaviest thing they'd ever do. Fripp pulls out all the stops and demonstrates demonic fury, as well sardonicism and broad eclectics, in everything, sheer sublimeness not least amongst myriad virtues.

USA (1975) was next, the first live LP to show up in America (Earthbound never released here) and a disappointing one... not in the music as such but in the album's brevity. It should have been a two-fer; Crimson's live work has always deserved at least that much. With the surfeit Yes presented in their triple-epic years before (Yessongs), USA became a bummer to eager expectations. Nonetheless, it was snapped up by loyalists and shined in at least one respect: the instrumental jam "Asbury Park," a demonstration of what one received improvisatorily in concert that was not heard otherwise on vinyl.

As was always the case with Crimson, due to Fripp's eccentricities (bizarre temper included), the rumor was, straight on the heels of each and every LP, as it had always been, that KC had broken up. In fact, they again indeed had, this time "for good," with Fripp making the usual and expected crypto-dramatic pseudo-philosophical statements. Fans were devastated, It would be a long six years before KC would emerge once more.

But re-form they did, putting out yet another landmark, the vastly-underrated Discipline (1981), a drastic far remove from Red but also a fascinating wrinkle in the group's history. Following years of study in Gurdjieffian spirituality, including work with J.G. Bennett (whom Bill Nelson, in his own bizarre works, would include vocal snippets of), Fripp had adopted a gamelon-ish way with the guitar, now utilizing complex interlocking repeating patterns in an almost serial-minimal approach. The difficulty and precision involved were so upleveled that they immediately became the word about town. Once again, all Fripp had to do was put his fingers to a guitar and magic rang forth. To this day, not many have dared to emulate what he did in this format: the slightest mistake becomes glaring, practically shouting out; only mastery sees a musician through recitals of his material. Gone were the meta-psychedelic brilliances, replaced by a dazzling, almost Carnatic, profundity, a composing and playing ability on the order of John McLaughlin or Philip Glass. In fact, most of what would have been Fripp's former domain, solos and odd embellishments, were now new Crimsonite Adrian Belew's, who'd shown verve and acumen with Talking Heads, Zappa, and others (and who would issue one great solo LP, then dink out prolifically, like ex-Redhead John Wetton).

Sad to say, though, this LP paradoxically heralded the crest of a very long wave, the end of the curve just before the slow decline of King Crimson. Fripp seemed less on fire, more his own group's sideman, content to retire into an elder statesman status... much deserved, one rushes to point out, but disappointing withal. Beat (1982) continued nicely upon Discipline, but Three of a Perfect Pair (1983), the third in a surprisingly steady group's incarnation, was just too insipid, dissipated, and semi-New Age wanky. His later work with ProjeKct followed an even more shocking dissolution. However, to speak in its favor, the LP is quite tolerable if one absents one's knowledge of the past. Overall, the impression of Belew having had far too generous a hand in the writing becomes evident. From a new unknown group, Perfect Pair would perhaps be faintly pleasing if unremarkable, but not from KC. It centers in percussion, ever a Frippian concern, and stringed airiness and also debuts the third installment in the Lark's Tongue intermittant series, a welcome bonus, even as relatively weak as this segment was.

And weakness would continue to mainly typify the KC output from this point on, no matter how heavy or light the compositions were nor what few bona fides were thrown in elsewise.

Thrak (1995) was presaged by a pre-release, Vroom (1994). Marillion and other prog bands had been playing the "release a billion different single configurations" game, afterwards finally selling the true release to slavering fans. Fripp decided it wasn't a bad way to flog product several times and followed suit, thus Vroom quickly became a premature afterthought. Thrak opened hearteningly with the "Red" styled "Vrooom" (see how these things work?), stoking hopes that the old days were on the ascendent again. A glance at the schedule informed differently, though, with six of the fifteen songs clocking in at 3:00 or less, two at under and just over one minute.

One song was a ruefully playful self-reflection: "Dinosaur." Fripp & Co. understood that they and their music were aging rapidly and were determined to overcome entropy while admitting to at least a grudging recognition of the condition. Muscularity bulked up and remained throughout the CD, threatening at times to break the wall between the present and history, but the writing wasn't quite up to it. Didn't matter- Thrakk was more than enough to sate the legions, sold well, and revivified the unit once again. Without doubt, another nice uptick after Discipline but lacking the sinew of the earlier magnum opii. Belew was in top form balladically, with "One Time" as gauzily soporific as "Matte Kudasai," and his playing complemented Fripp's new wonts, which were recessing him ever further into the background. As a follow-on to Discipline, with Red side tonics, it was hard to complain. It was also the last time the group would attain to this height in the studio...

...but not in concert. Crimson blew the doors out one last time in the magnificent B'Boom (1995), which clearly showed that complete senescence was yet to come. The document covered a gig stand in Argentina (the Latin countries have always been particularly kind to the Crimso incarnations), a series of several nights in various locations. This was a Crimson never before quite seen. Though performing a 2-CD roster of old and new favorites, the elan present was of an otherwordly quality, most graphically illustrated in the take on Red. Hearing it, one would suppose it had actually been written for the double-trio format, what with the added dimensions and ameliorations. Bruford, with Mastellotto nailing down the bedrock, has one of his best chances ever to throw in Jaime Muir-isms and does so, while the two guitars of Fripp and Belew wail, cry, pound, and shimmer. Even for the rock-solid long-timer audient, the version sends shivers up the spine and sings like none previously. Beside the studio original, this is the definitive live take. Here, too, "One Time" transcends its plaintive mellifluity to become eerie. B'Boom also presented a perhaps problematic aside: in and of themselves, had the Thrak explosions lacked anything? Not really, except that one could tell they were meant to step into Lark's Tongue and Red boots... except that someone had misplaced the shoe-horn. Here, KC jumps in more violently, again with Muir-isms never otherwise written. The renditions come damn close to classicality. As a polished unit, Crimson had never been tighter - more creative in the old days, perhaps, but not as polished and seamless. B'Boom rapidly rose in esteem.

Thus, it was hardly surprising that the experiment would be repeated in 1996's THRaKaTTaK (what? Magma meets Anthony Braxton in KC?), which starts out with a crushing version of "THRAK" but quickly subsides into the pastelline "Fearless and the Highly THRaKked," a sobriquet prophesying a spate of nauseatingly coy Fripperistic titlings, as witness the next song: "Mother, Hold the Candle Steady While I Shave the Chicken's Lip."

Oh, the merriment, oh the guffaws!

During "Fearless," an improv, (Keith) Tippettry is attempted, not badly, and a very distinct post-"Groon" avant-jazz segment bulks up, to collapse into noodling, segueing into "Chicken," which wanders around for a while before becoming a promising metalline array of insistent backchords and lurches. Just as the spirit rises to meet it, the piece collapses, a blueprint for how Crimson would thenceforward conduct itself.

At some point, Fripp must have realized that no one was going to be very pleased with a group offering sixty minutes of tossing itself whiffle balls, knocking them six inches with plastic bats and calling that progressive music, so a lame "Talking Drum" toss-off is inserted into "The Slaughter of the Innocents," then quickly kicked to the curb. "This Night Wounds Time" has frantic menacing mid- and tail-sections that are more a mess than improv. A reprise of "THRAK" is dragged in, to close the set out. Why? Well, the audience, now deeply asleep, had to be awakened. The money was in the bank, it was time for the group to move on to its next fleecing. THRaKaTTaK was the worst Crimson product to date, even worse than Perfect Pair, which now seemed erudite in comparison.

The ConstruKtion of Light (2000) appeared four years later, the band now reduced to a foursome, the CD carrying a dorked-out tag-line sticker:

"King Crimson is older and smaller, and continues to reinvent its wheel. When a new wheel appears, we stand back and look at it: We have a new wheel." -Robert Fripp

Whew!, Heh-veeee!!! Spinoza's not sweating in his grave, as far as any can determine. About the best that might be tendered in its defense is that Light's better than its predecessor. The songs are actually songs, the group isn't just playing with itself, but the assemblage is mushy, clunky, and generally on par with Perfect Pair again quality-wise, a rehash of every insipid thing they'd done for a decade. Was Belew trying to re-make King Crimson into a progressive Bears? It seemed so.

A remake of "Fracture" is presented, "FraKctured," playing off the original, pretty nicely actually, and the last installment of the "Lark's Tongue" series, "Part IV," also satisfying, is laid out, leading into a surprisingly heady "Coda: I Have A Dream." A tack-on, a longish tune by a Fripp side project (ProjeKct X), completes ConstruKction and is one of the ensemble's better pieces, completely in line with "FraKctured" and "Part IV" here. The rest of the CD's a wasteland of tepid and plodding tunehalfsmithery. The fact that the dinosaur had to cast a long line back to the Permian period to revivify itself, to relegitimize the name, is telling. The fire was gone, mere sparks remained, though neurons occasionally fired correctly, which seemed to at least justify touring to a new generation that doted on plainly reductionistic metal... just as happy, as we have seen, with concurrent feeble attempts by newbies puzzlingly labelled 'neoprog,' a pejorative coined by a savage appraiser and turned into noodle soup by the rank and file of hack prog crits. At this point, KC was survivng on an archaeological rep alone.

Of side note has been the flood of catalgue-spanning live issuances - via a now-defunct Collector's Club, box sets, and label releases - not to mention anthologies, which are great introductions for new listeners while the live compilations are treasures for the fen, particularly as they moslty concern themselves with old recordings.

Let's now turn to Fripp's side-work, which is prolific, though we'll only be hitting the high points.

In '73, he teamed with Roxy's departed brainiac, glam-twist Brian Eno, and recorded No Pussyfooting, yet another benchmark. The centerpiece is the self-styled 'Frippertronic' technique, involving two modifed Revox tape recorders capturing the guitar's signal, making loops, and repeating them endlessly until switched out for other lines. Over these, the guitarist floats eerie semi-angelic/quasi-demonic lines and, on side two, Eno jumps in with a VCS3. The choicest of the two side-long cuts is "The Heavenly Music Organization," dense as a London fog, and hypnotizing. It kicked off a lot of outside interest, as groups and individuals commenced creating similar comps (Sensation's Fix paid Fripp direct tribute regarding this, as did Richard Pinhas and a few others). It's rarely noted, though, that "Heavenly" had obscured roots in Terry Riley - a listen to both reveals the cross-current, though the relation is distant enough to prove elusive.

The reverse side, "Swatstika Girls," is jagged and abrasive, a venting of tension and aggression, but still engrossing. Where "Heavenly" is mostly Fripp, "Swatstika" is chiefly Eno, with an interest in harshness that would surface again much later but which also provided immediate fodder for every independent artsy-fartsy dipshit with a cheap Casio and a Radio Shack cassette recorder. Following "Swatstika," the age of indie, amateur, kitchen-closet regurgitation began, wherein anyone who could get mommy to purchase him a synth commenced issuing avalanches of noodling and pastiching, 99.9% of which were catatonically dreadful.

Evening Star (1975) succeeded No Pussyfooting and employed the same techniques, this time more refinedly and with a subtler approach to composition. It clearly proved that New Age had its genesis in prog, as had disco (!). The most scintillating element in the LP was again Fripp's. The kickstart to the title track rumbles like a 747 on take-off, then lifts into the air, becoming a bowed violin on a lark's flight in sweet and pure tones before warping into the player's trademark vocabulary. Volume again plays a major part in the lines, which fade and swell as a disarmingly discerned portraiture dictates. It's here also that Eno gives away what will become the first ingredient in his forthcoming gigantically influential Music for Airports (to appear in '79): a gentle Satie-esque stepped piano calmly struck in soft tones.

There's another extremely clever device awaiting, though. In the same song, Fripp hangs unlimited sustain drone notes in the air, one after another, creating a constancy of odd layered lead lines that become a five-string chord by default. Eno, not to be outdone, proceeds to preview Discreet Music (released later the same year), here as "Wind on Wind." The flipsided "An Index of Metals" comes nowhere near the clangor of the earlier "Swatstika Girls," seeming to be an extract for a foreign sci-fi flick: Stalkers or Solaris perhaps, maybe Alphaville. For Fripp, it's a cold half-hour and presages what Soleilmoon and other labels would come to specialize in, also much closer to what he'd later do in solo releases.

Eno decided the solo trot was for him and hired Fripp in for guitar spots through a succession of LP's. This is where Robert's burningest rock solo ever would appear, on the startling "Baby's on Fire," carried by Here Come the Warm Jets (1973), Brian's initiation while still glamming his considerable cerebellum out. No one was quite prepared for the over-the-top performance by Crimso's honcho. The dropped-in middle eight was as if lifted from a Van Halen LP and dragged through the arty mist of the maestro's techniques and voicing. It remains a subject of awe and reverence among Fripp-o-philes, now with hushed tones of reference to Steve Tibbetts' "Dzogchen Dogs." Amongst hard-core cognoscenti, however, the imputation is eschewn. As Tibbett's canine opus didn't bark out until over two decades later, the comparison is considered rude and inacademic by Fripp maniacs of good breeding and, it is rumored, by the Queen Mum herself.

Much occurred in later Enoidal slabs, as well as in Fripp's own early quartet of solos (Exposure et al) and the League of Gentlemen (basically: toned-down King Crimson with female membership), but also during adventures with Peter Gabriel, Blondie, Hall & Oates, gaggles of others, and a very subtly tripped-out presence in David Bowie's "Heroes": Fripp's contribution was an infinite sustain that completely made the song. Robert, to the side, had been releasing a series of interesting Frippertronic CD's, but soon after also revamped his failed, goofy-ass, semi-discoid New Wave stuff, which had been utterly wretched bricks in teched-up drag.

True to his unpredictable nature, though, he assembled the Robert Fripp String Quartet, a five-guitar band (Trey Gunn on bass, Fripp and three others on guitars), which issued exquisite compositions and at least one bootleg video which is a must-see (Live in Japan, of a November 1992 gig). For sheer technical wizardy, this group was one of the better guitar ensembles ever presented to the public, in a vein with the DiMeola, McLaughlin, DeLucia LP's, though, as one would expect, certainly not as laser-focused on speed, slightly hamstrung by the brevity of the songs, which would have been far more fascinating as extended opuses.

But, good and bad alike, Robert Fripp has shown, over and over, for more than thirty-five years, what a drop-dead, full-on, multi-faceted genius he is. His only real sin has been constantly remaining true to himself, refusing to transmorph into a Hollywood scarecrow or dumb down to LCD. He is an odd duck, and nothing shows this more than all the pretentious horseshit he drivels onto his blog, but who gives three fat damns about that? What does it have to do with the music? He has every talent any player has, times ten (save maybe for the narrow category of numbing uber-speed a la Petrucci or DiMeola), misses no bases, has invented more tricks and oblique strategies than any five other players combined, and continues to inspire musicians around the globe (ask Satriani why he grabbed Chuckles for G3), not merely through recorded examples but also via continuous-education classes conducted with uncertain frequency.

For all the above, and enough other accomplishments to double the print space already hogged up here, Robert Fripp is the Dark King God of Guitar and forever shall be. Let Rolling Stone and Spin laud Prince and Johnny Ramone; some of us have more than two brain cells to rub together, we know what the hell is what.

But Fripp's not the only guy relegated to obscurity through the dim merits of the average crit's inability to devise coherent thinking on the subject, there are numerous others. These will be covered in future Installments: Steve Hackett, John Lees, Kazumi Watanabe, Buck Dharma, Jan Akkerman, Steve Khan, Gary Green, Ralph Towner, et al.

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