Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Musical Interlude

This is King Crimson playing The Sheltering Sky live - arguably my favorite tune off of Discipline.

Adrian Belew, one of the guitarists with King Crimson around that time, recently turned 50. Belew was everywhere back then it seemed. Not only did he have a steady gig with King Crimson, but he was very much in demand as a sessions musician, and embarked on a very ambitious solo career. As I've said many times, there was plenty to dislike about 1980s pop culture, but there were some genuinely creative artists as well - some of whom had access to large audiences. Belew was one of them, and his influence will be felt for some time to come. Here's a video of "Big Electric Cat" from his first solo album, Lone Rhino:

Since I've linked to a King Crimson video before, here is a reprise of what I said about the band's early 1980s lineup:
I'm sure fans of King Crimson's earlier recordings must have had no idea what hit them when the band started recording again in the early 1980s. For the rest of us, the albums that came out of that period, Discipline, Beat, and Three of a Perfect Pair were a breath of fresh air. I would have most likely encountered the tunes from these albums initially thanks to a friend who had installed a killer stereo system in his Ford Pinto - he'd pop in those cassettes along with contemporary solo recordings that Adrian Belew (guitarist and vocalist for King Crimson) had led. In a way, I'd already developed some familiarity with each of these musicians from other songs and recordings I'd either already acquired (with not much in the way of dinero, not too many of those), or simply heard on the radio (much more likely). Belew appeared on some tracks for David Bowie's Lodger album, Fripp had also made some appearances on Bowie's late 1970s recordings (Low and Heroes), Tony Levin's bass work anchored anything Peter Gabriel recorded during the period, and Bill Bruford had drummed for Yes (you couldn't grow up in 1970s suburbia without having encountered a few Yes tunes, it seemed). Combined, these cats were easily on par with, if not surpassing, similar outfits such as Talking Heads - very angular, funky, off-kilter music with vocals by Belew that seemed somewhat reminiscent of David Byrne's.

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