After rehearsals in New York with John Wetton and Michael Walden in 1977 had finished, Robert Fripp continued to work on and refine material for what would become Exposure with Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta. Having worked with the pair previously with Peter Gabriel in both the studio and on stage the previous year, there’s an easy fluency between the players here. That could of course also be the result of the material here being more formed and developed than the previous Exposure rehearsals. While some of these pieces are familiar we get to hear them in either their raw state such as the new-to-these-ears Slow Stomp, or, as in the case of You Burn Me Up, moving towards a finished form that’s instantly recognisable.
Unique among Middle Eastern artists, El Din is a Nubian oud player and singer from the Sudan who studied his craft in Cairo, and fashioned the oud–normally used for accompaniment or in ensembles–into a solo instrument, combining Nubian and Arabic musical gestures. Eclipse–produced by Grateful Dead drummer and world-music champion Mickey Hart–exploits elastic rhythms and repetitive motifs in moody, majestic pieces like "Helalisa," the lovelorn song of an Egyptian field hand, and "Your Love Is Ever Young," inspired by Egypt's late queen of song, Um Kalthoum. Fans of Turkish oud masters (like the great Udi Hrant) will find El Din's penetrating tone and attack familiar, though his arrangements and vocal accompaniments are a different beast altogether, producing an evocative, melancholy music that draws on several traditions simultaneously.
Essential: A masterpiece of progressive rock music.
1978's HEAVY HORSES, as many fans will agree, was the last truly great album from Ian Anderson and company, and remains one that I play more often than many other Tull efforts. Track for track, like the massive equines of its title, HEAVY HORSES stands head and shoulders above its lesser brethren that followed. To further extend the metaphor, some of the later entries may well run faster, but they just can't match the pull and staying power of this very strong – but often gentle – and beautiful beast of noble lineage.