Robert Fripp is performing tonight with Slow Music at the Triple Door (he's also playing at Washington Hall May 25 with the League of Crafty Guitarists). In honor of this occasion, here are seven of his most memorable moments on record, as recollected by me in the last couple of hours. Your mileage may vary; if so, vent in the comments.
“King’s Lead Hat” (from Brian Eno’s 1977 album Before and After Science): Fripp takes a solo in Brian Eno’s hardest-rocking composition that never fails to set my eyeballs rolling around their sockets in ecstasy. The whole tune’s amazing, but when that Fripp steps into the spotlight at 3:16, it’s like he’s captured the god particle and is letting it bubble up to a heaven I don’t believe in. (Did you know that “King’s Lead Hat” is an anagram for “Talking Heads”? You are obligated by law to mention this factoid anytime you listen to this song in company.)
“St. Elmo’s Fire” (from Brian Eno’s 1975 album Another Green World): One of Fripp’s most emotionally fraught and frilly guitar parts; it’s seriously balletic and beautiful. (Could’ve easily put “I’ll Come Running” here, too.)
“‘Heroes’” (from David Bowie’s 1977 album "Heroes"): An obvious choice, but fug it. Fripp’s eloquent ebow’d cry carries one of the most poignant, sway-inducing songs in creation.
“Breathless” (from Fripp’s 1979 album Exposure): This cut sounds like a sideways homage to Bob’s own menacing King Crimson classic, “Red.” The world can’t have enough songs that sound like “Red,” if you ask me.
“An Index of Metals” (from 1975’s Evening Star): Fripp’s had a lot of hypnotic and ominous peaks in his long career, but this 28-minute zoner is probably the ultimate. A deep contrast from the placidity of Evening Star’s first side.
“Swastika Girls” (from Fripp & Eno’s 1973’s [No Pussyfooting]): This is OCD looping madness, toggling repeatedly between nerve-fraying shrieks and calming tintinnabulation. Play this simultaneously with “An Index of Metals” for a very highbrow bout of disorientation.
“The Zero of the Signified” (from Fripp’s 1980 album God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners): Recalls “An Index of Metals” with its wayward emergency siren wails and air of imminent disaster. Put it on at a party and watch everyone's expressions crash to the floor. [To hear "Signified," go to around the 36-minute mark of this clip.]