Wednesday, May 12, 1999

Art-of-Fact

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 1999 at 12:00 AM

What is it that (Paul) Simon sez? "One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor?"

Well, this little artifact was recorded in 1977 (originally released in 1980), and whether or not it’s an exciting project is open to debate. For one thing, the record was produced by King Crimson’s Robert Fripp and pointed towards the eccentric guitarist’s metamorphosis from prog rock recluse to punk-pop auteur. Daryl Hall, on the other hand, was already a popular crooner with Hall & Oates and searching for credibility in the world of "serious" musicians. Sacred Songs also arrived during the dawning of Manhattan’s New Wave explosion and exhibits that genre’s influence quite proudly. Just as Fripp’s mid-’70s conspirator Brian Eno had established himself as a entrepreneurial producer with young New Wavers like the Talking Heads and Devo, Fripp endeavored to remake Daryl Hall in his own art-punk image.

What does it end up sounding like? Well, mostly like David Bowie, the third key member of the Fripp-Eno axis. While Hall’s passionate, blue-eyed soul vocal style is clearly more flexible than Bowie’s theatrical yelp, Fripp’s arrangements occasionally overwhelm Hall, with the singer sounding as if he’s struggling for control on the upbeat numbers. If Hall’s songwriting has difficulty sustaining Fripp’s heavy production, he is able to excel on atmospheric ballads such as "The Farther Away I Am."

With bonus tracks from Hall’s work on Fripp’s first solo album and a new remastering job by Fripp himself, this is a collector’s item for both Crimson freaks and Hall & Oates fans. Everyone else should just move right along.

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