It’s 1981 and, after a seven year hiatus, Robert Fripp has decided to reboot the monster known as King Crimson. The new album is called Discipline and it’s clear from the opening seconds of the first track Elephant Talk that it’s all for the good. Tight and modern as the album title suggests, but also dangerous and beautiful in a primal, wild animal sort of way. Special thanks to new guy Adrian Belew‘s guitar athletics. And his vocals aren’t bad either. Not exactly rapping on Elephant Talk. Not singing either. Just arguing, agreeing, babbling, bantering, ballyhooing, chattering, chit-chatting, diatribing … and so on. Which is rather what the world sounded like in those days. As it still does.
(photo found at Youtube)
It’s 1981 and King Crimson main man Robert Fripp has reformed the band (after better part of seven years in the wilderness) with a whole new sound and Discipline, and the result is thundering (to put it mildly). Thela Hun Gingeet translates as Heat In The Jungle and it concerns an experience that Adrian Belew (the new guy) had while out for a walk with a tape recorder in the still rather mean streets of NYC. Word is, it actually caused stereo systems to catch fire back in the day.
“Any history of 1980s rock-pop-whatever that does not give Laurie Anderson her own chapter is wrong, and that accounts for most of them. Mister Heartbreak was her second proper album and it started strong with Sharkey’s Day, which I’m guessing is some kind of reference to the Burt Reynolds movie Sharky’s Machine that I never saw. But he was a cop and no doubt macho with corruption involved, and darkness all around. Temper of the times. Or maybe Sharkey’s Day has nothing to do with any of that. Maybe Ms. Anderson just saw the poster at some point, and something about it spoke to her – Burt Reynolds and his moustache and gun riding high at the box office, and everything that had to say about a culture. Where do you go from there?” (Philip Random)
“In which Jean-Michel Jarre offers up an epic smorgasbord of what were then very “now” techno-possibilities. I personally had little time for his earlier stuff (cosmic lite, to put it bluntly, though millions seemed to disagree with me). But with hip names like Laurie Anderson and Adrian Belew on board for Zoolook, it was hard to ignore, and a darned good thing, because the whole album really goes places, lead off track Ethnicolor in particular. Samples before we called them that, great crescendos and unearthly howls. The future definitely sounded cool, and ambitious.” (Philip Random)
As the story goes, Robert Fripp shut down the original King Crimson in 1974, claiming an overall disgust with the way the music industry world was going in those days. Of course, it could be argued that was version seven anyway, so many members having already come and gone from the Crimson court since 1969. But the intervening silence was inarguable. Nothing until 1981 when a fresh line-up kicked into gear with a whole new Discipline, which was maybe starting to lose some of its freshness come 1984’s Three of a Perfect Pair. But not on Side Two. Not Industry. That was what the world actually sounded like in 1984. Everything grinding, droning, hissing, giving off toxic vapors, finally erupting with savage urgency.
Adrian Belew was the guitar phenom of the late 70s, early 80s – started with Zappa, got snagged by Bowie, moved through Talking Heads, then straight to the front of the great King Crimson resurgence of 1981. A solo album was inevitable but ultimately (inevitably) disappointing. Which doesn’t mean he didn’t leave us with at least one monster party track, the Big Electric Cat that was the cool DJ’s best friend for a good long while. “Just slap it on and watch the room go off. Even the frat boys seemed to dig it.” (Philip Random)
Jerry Harrison being the other guy from the Talking Heads (also the Modern Lovers, it’s worth noting), Worlds in Collision being one of those tracks that employs whatever means are necessary (including big mutant funk, Adrian Belew’s fully animalized guitar, even a little Adolph H railing on about blood and soil and whatever) to drive home its point. Which is yes, we’re in trouble, all of us, every living thing really, this Apocalypse being not a thing that’s coming but a thing that’s here, on top of us, all around us, even inside us, and it’s not going away, such is the wild, weird, stretched-out historical moment into which were born. Just don’t stop dancing.