Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Fred Frith - Guitar Solos (1974)

Solo debut from guitar/prepared-guitar legend Fred Frith, who'd go on to become an institution in the British (and worldwide) avant-garde, playing on hundreds of records.  Back in 1974, when he was a member of Rock In Opposition pioneers Henry Cow, Frith stepped into the studio alone for four days and recorded Guitar Solos - no overdubs, and only a couple of vague ideas with which to shape these eight improvised pieces.

After a short bouncy introduction, the album moves into more muted, atmospheric territory with the hovering-UFO feel of Glass c/w Steel.  The overall mood of the album largely stays there, bar two brief outings for the fuzz pedal.  If I had to pick favourites on this great little record, they're both in its second half - Hollow Music, perhaps the most recognisable as an instrumental guitar piece with lots of nice harmonics; and the epic closer, No Birds.  Over 12 minutes, a shimmering halo of sound builds up into a great atmospheric space, as Frith uses two guitars laid side by side, using his bespoke extra pickups and an echo unit to make it sound so unique.
CD reissue cover


  1. A favorite for over 40 years. Sadly, every CD reissue I've ever encountered sounds like a fifth generation taped copy. If you ever come across the original Lp, you'll be amazed at how much clearer and cleaner it sounds, particularly Not Forgotten and Hollow Music.

    1. Interesting - and this CD is on Frith's own label, you'd think he'd have wanted it to sound as good as possible. Might not have had access to first-gen tapes any more, or something like that.

  2. My guess is the masters are lost. Some Caroline pressings could be noisy but that's better than tape fog. I bought the first reissue on East Side Digital, which was even worse. The one on Fred Records is better.

  3. thanks for this. wow i wonder if my cassette of the orig lp will sound better
    still would like a digital for walking purposes, anyone know if fred is still at mills college?
    thanks for all the diverse wonders at the goose