Welcome to the release of a re-release. Robert Fripp originated in one of the great art-rock bands of all time, King Crimson. While known for his eccentric-sounding arrangements, he has a streak of pop sensibility that went to good use in the early ’80s post-punk scene. His first solo album Exposure came out in 1979 as vinyl fell before the digital onslaught of Compact Discs. That album was remastered to CD in 1983, and has been released a third time here as a 2-disc set. You get the 1983 CD, plus a new re-remastered version with extra tracks featuring vocals by Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall, Brian Eno and others. The differences between the 17 original cuts and the remasters are subtle, and I leave searching for them as an exercise for the graduate student. The rest of us can pick one disc and just listen to it with no loss of pleasure.
Some of these cuts stand up very well; the rocking “You Burn Me Up I’m A Cigarette” is not only danceable, but hummable. Following it is the rather annoying “Breathless,” which I find a bit long on the jarring guitar notes. After this bipolar opening, we enter a world of tracks that are standoff-ish at first, but have enough depth to grow on you with repeated listening. Title track “Exposure” mixes scratchy ’50s film audio with howling female vocals and a throbbing drum and guitar beat, making you think of a weird performance art piece, before performance art got the bad name it sports today. Scattered among the cuts are odd soundscapes with bizarre names, arty songs with sardonic takes on the environment, and the wonderful ballad “Before The Flood” with vocals by Peter Gabriel.
Exposure is a pleasantly challenging disc, and if you’re a Fripp fan, I’m sure there’s a copy lurking around your CD player already. This pair of discs may give you some new insight into his work, or you could use them to subvert or convert your friends who might need a dose of art rock.