30 March 2012

Robert Fripp - 1980 - God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners

Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5

I have a pretty weird perception of Robert Fripp. He most certainly ranks among my favorite guitarists, but I'm not into that much of his main project King Crimson, and even his solo albums tend to sound a bit spotty to me ("Exposure, " anyone?). The gold to my ears is when he's working with Eno, or Bowie, or the Talking Heads (whose leader David Byrne also appears here for one shining track). So, I find this amazing album to be Fripp's shining solo journey into transcendental sound. Much of the album revolves around Fripp's meditative, ambient Frippertronic guitar sound, but there are a couple of serious art rock ringers rearing their heads at the end.

Side one of the LP is completely devoted to deep space guitar explorations. You'll never remember what "Red Two Scorer," "God Save the Queen," or "1983" sound like, but you may very well dig the sonic journey anyhoo. It's of note that each track comes across a bit more menacing than the one before it.

Now I heard a Talking Heads song on the radio about ten years ago that completely blew my young, eggshell mind. I went on a hunt to find the damn thing, and even bought the Talking Heads horrific "Naked" album, hoping it would be there. Turns out that it's not actually a Talking Heads track, and in fact appears on this album as "Under Heavy Manners." David Byrne guest in a long, strange rant about '-isms' and jizm. His band was originally called the Artistics, which many people tweaked to the Autistics, due to Byrne's freaky stage manner. Anyway, this track has me thinking that maybe that name wasn't a joke. Closing out the set is "The Zero of the Signified," which hits us up with seven minutes of afro-beat groovin', followed by another wall of ambient Frippertronics.

I think this album has been greatly obscured by the dust storms of time, but it really does present Robert Fripp at his best, with a fine chaser of David Byrne at his most freaky-spastic. Give it a listen.

Hawkwind -1975 - Warrior at the Edge of Time

Quality: 5 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.75 out of 5

I'd put this album up as the moment when Hawkwind were directly bathed by the cosmic rays of the celestial one-mind. Y'know, we need a good sci-fi way to call this their best album. Everything we need for prime Hawkwind is present and accounted for. Long-winded, psychedelic heavy metal anthems? Check. Weird, rambling Michael Moorcock spoken interludes? Check. Insane 70's analog synthesizers screamin? Check. Lemmy? Check. Yeah, in many ways Hawkwind was (or is, really) the real life Spinal Tap, but that equates to nothing but awesome on this platter.

Some of Hawkwind's most impressive, epic astral clouds of rawk show up on this record. "Assult and Battery" and "The Golden Void" sort of blur together into one heavy metal epic. "Mangu" and "Spiral Galaxy 28948" also pack in the Hawkwind punch in its pure, iconic form. The thing that really gets my groovy prog blood racing, though, are the sci-fi interludes from the amazingly named Michael Moorcock (aw ladies, you've gotta meet Moorcock backstage). I'd be perfectly happy to play you the trio of "The Wizard Blew His Horn," "Standing at the Edge," and "Warriors" until you COMPLETELY understand reality, or your brain falls out. Whichever happens first. At the end of the disc, we get a fun seven minute preview of Motorhead as "Kings of Speed" rock pretty wildly, and then we're treated to an outtake of Lemny black leather-howling called "Motorhead." Of course, he would soon leave the group via the drug ejector seat and form the real Motorhead. The only tune that doesn't really do it for me here is the acoustic-tinged psych ballad "The Demented Man." Hawkwind really shouldn't touch acoustic guitars.

This album is pretty much a psychedelic beacon standing tall amongst the wasteland of the mid-70's. Yeah, Hawkwind sound sort of ranks with the contemporary dinosaur band, but they rock it out in such a deranged manner that their hawk spirit is more one with the punk rockers. Anyway, this is an absolute psychedelic heavy metal masterpiece.