The folks at ReR Megacorp and Cuneiform have been nice enough to release on CD this 1980 solo album from legendary Henry Cow guitarist Fred Frith. While the guitarist claimed to want to move away from the complex and avant-garde nature of Henry Cow's Canterbury influenced music, Gravity comes across mighty intricate indeed, as well as being a bouncy and accessible affair to boot.
Those expecting a Frith guitar onslaught here will be surprised, as Fred enlisted many musicians who contributed mandolin, keyboards, sax and woodwinds, recorder, violin, bass, and various percussion. All this variance gives the songs a very cultural and ethnic flair, that is highly melodic and dare I say, danceable! Frith does manage many occassions where he interjects his distorted, jagged guitar lines, as on the bouncy and all too quick "Norrgarden Nyvla." Many tracks highlight great unison guitar/violin/piano lines, with a very upbeat rhythm section behind it. For the fusion freaks, there is lots of cool sax bursts courtesy of Marc Hollander throughout the CD. In fact, one of the beauties here is that so many different genre's are represented, sometimes within each song, which keeps the listener constantly guessing what will come next. Frith may start out a tune with a metallic guitar blast or shrill violin charge, as on "What a Dilemma", which hints at noise and dissonant art forms, before the track seques into a funky jazz groove. The mix of complex and simplistic song structures is utterly fascinating at times. It's important to note as well that the second half of the CD features the talents of The Muffins, a great progressive rock, jazz fusion band from Baltimore, who Frith was a great supporter of.
Any Henry Cow fan, or lover of quality instrumental progressive rock or fusion deserves to give this a listen. Fred Frith is a very overlooked and important member of rock guitar history, and this solo release a perfect example of his skills and songwriting abilities.
1. The Boy Beats the Rams — 4:59
2. Spring Any Day Now — 3:08
3. Don't Cry for Me — 3:32
4. Hands of the Juggler — 5:37
5. Norrgarden Nyvla — 2:57
6. Year of the Monkey — 4:17
7. What a Dilemma — 3:14
8. Crack in the Concrete — 1:26
9. Come Across — 2:50
10. Dancing in the Street/My Enemy is a Bad Man — 4:47
11. Slap Dance — 2:34
12. A Career in Real Estate — 4:47
13. Dancing in Rockville, Maryland — 2:56