Four out of three music bloggers agree that you can’t go wrong listening to Daryl Hall, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp or David Bowie. I agree that all three four of these artists are worth some time on the turntable, and that is what I did today. I started with a purchase of Sacred Songs by Daryl Hall; I didn’t have it in the library. I spent the next 47 minutes getting acquainted with this album. Next up were Peter Gabriel and 42 minutes of reacquainting myself with an album that was in the library and had seen more than a few spins around the spindle. I had listened to Exposure by Fripp recently, so I passed it over and jumped to Heroes by Bowie, which did not materialize from the library, so I had to stream it. A stop in Record Collectors Paradise will hopefully remedy this situation.
Sacred Songs was recorded at The Hit Factory in August 1977 and released in March 1980. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Songs.
Exposure was recorded June 1977–January 1979 and released June 1979
Scratch was recorded November 1977 – February 1978 and released 2 June 1978
See the thread running through all four of these albums? Yes, you are correct, they were all recorded in 1977. The release dates are scattered a bit more, and I will address that as we go along. Originally, Fripp envisioned a simultaneous trilogy of albums comprising Daryl Hall‘s Sacred Songs, Fripp’s solo album Exposure and Peter Gabriel’s second album aka Scratch, both of which Fripp contributed to and produced. I am adding a fourth album that I think deserves to be a part of this trilogy, David Bowie’s album Heroes recorded July–August 1977 and released on 14 October in 1977.
Let’s flesh this out then, shall we? We can start with Daryl Hall and his first solo album Sacred Songs. Hall and Fripp had dissolved their previous musical ventures, Hall & Oates and King Crimson, respectively. While he was writing songs for the album Hall recruited Fripp who was also working on a solo album. Fripp ended up producing Halls album as well as doing guitar work on it. Hall wrote all the songs on Sacred Songs except Urban Landscape. Urban Landscape was a solo written and performed by Fripp featuring a ‘Frippertronics‘ solo), and “NYCNY” for which Fripp wrote the music and Hall the lyrics. “NYNCY” also appeared on Fripp’s album Exposure as “I May Not Have Had Enough of Me, but I’ve Had Enough of You” albeit with different lyrics.
There are a few other names that we should remember, Tony Levin playing bass on “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette”, Jerry Marotta handled the drums on “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette.”and Brian Eno playing synthesizer on “North Star.”
Despite being recorded in August of 1977, the album was not released until March of 1980. The recording company that Daryl Hall worked with was RCA, and they didn’t think Sacred Songs was commercial enough and might turn off the fan base that he had developed through Hall & Oats, so they shelved it. Pissed off at RCA Hall and Fripp gave away tapes of the album to music journalists and disc jockeys who gave it some air time which spurred his fans to start a letter-writing blitz directed at RCA. The album was eventually released in 1980 and went to #58 on the Billboard Pop charts without a hit single.
Meanwhile, Fripp was working on Exposure, his debut solo album, which was recorded in June of 1977 and released in June of 1979. Once again, we see a gap between the recording date and the release date, and once again it was Halls record label that held it up. They wanted him to have equal credit as Fripp due to Hall doing almost all of the vocals and once again RCA feared it would damage his commercial appeal. In the end, Fripp reworked the album and only used Halls vocals on two tracks and used Peter Hammill and Terre Roche for vocals on the remainder of the tracks.
Fripp’s original vision of a trilogy did not work out as intended although all the albums were eventually released. From Exposure the track “Urban Landscape” also appears on the Hall album Sacred Songs, as does “NYCNY”, on Exposure as “I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I’ve Had Enough of You”, with different lyrics written by Hall. The Gabriel record also features a version of “Exposure”. “Here Comes the Flood” had previously appeared with a prog-rock arrangement on Gabriel’s first album, but Gabriel disliked the production, and created a simpler rendition of the song for Exposure.
Remember those names I told you to take note of, Tony Levin and Brian Eno. Well, they are on Exposure at well, Levin is the master of the bass guitar and Eno contributed synthesizer on several of the tracks. Jerry Marotta does drums on a couple of tracks, and Phil Collins from the band Genesis plays the drums on two tracks. Peter Gabriel who left Genesis in August 1975 to pursue a solo career did vocals and piano on “Here Comes the Flood” as well as voice on “Preface.”
Speaking of Peter Gabriel, the third album in this list is Peter Gabriel’s second album, Scratch, produced by no other than Robert Fripp. Most online music outlets refer to the album as Peter Gabriel 2: Scratch. The name Scratch is a reference to the front album cover designed by Hipgnosis that appears to show Peter Gabriel making scratch marks. Other musicians that contributed to this album are Tony Levin on bass and Jerry Marotta on drums. Fripp played guitar and ‘Frippertronics‘ on the track “Exposure” which is co-written by Peter Gabriel and Fripp and appears on both the Exposure and Scratch albums.
I would venture to add a fourth album to the trilogy, an album that is, in fact, a part of another trilogy. “Heroes” is the 12th studio album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released on 14 October 1977 by RCA Records. It was the second instalment of his “Berlin Trilogy” recorded with collaborator Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, following Low (released earlier that year) and preceding Lodger (1979). Of the three albums, it was the only one wholly recorded in Berlin. “Heroes” continued the ambient experiments of its predecessor, albeit with more pop elements and passionate performances, and featured contributions from King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Brian Eno contributed synthesisers, keyboards, guitar treatments. Tony Visconti was on percussion, backing vocals, and was the producer.
So, in conclusion, Robert Fripp started with a grand vision of a trilogy of albums. That never really worked out, although we did get three good albums out of the deal. I added a fourth. What comes after a trilogy? Usually a disappointment, there are plenty of good trilogies, but very, very few good fourth parts… 😉
I stole that last sentence from Quora. I hope you enjoyed this musical exploration as much as I did. I listened to a lot of really good music, not just the four primary cuts but the rabbit trails such as the music of the Roche sisters. Take the time to explore and enjoy the music along the way. Happy listening and play safe.