My old blogging buddy Johnny Bacardi was on Facebook, and I could see that he was on Spotify, one of those online music channels. He was listening to a song called ‘North Star’ by Robert Fripp [LISTEN], a founder of my favorite “progressive rock” band, King Crimson. The vocal, though, was, unmistakably, by Daryl Hall of the very successful singing duo Hall & Oates.
This got me to wonder what the relationship was between that song and the Daryl Hall solo album Sacred Songs, produced by Fripp, an LP which I own and love.
Sacred Songs has a complicated history. From the Wikipedia, and confirmed in the liner notes of the CD: “Sacred Songs was recorded in a rather short span of three weeks [in 1977]. Most of the songs were initially recorded with Hall singing and playing piano alongside Fripp’s guitar work, followed by overdubs by Hall & Oates’ regular touring band…
“Fripp and Hall gave the album to RCA officials. Though still relatively pop-oriented, Sacred Songs was very different from Hall & Oates, and fearing the album might be unsuccessful and alienate Hall’s mainstream fans, the company shelved the record, and release was postponed indefinitely.” This, of course, ticked them off greatly, and so they “passed tapes… to music journalists and disc jockeys” to pressure the label to release the album, which they finally did, a couple years later.
Meanwhile, Fripp’s solo debut, Exposure, had a bunch of Hall vocals as well. “However due to pressure from RCA and Hall’s management this was cut back to just two songs on the final release (‘You Burn Me up I’m a Cigarette’ and [the aforementioned] ‘North Star’).” These two songs now appear on the CD version of the Sacred Songs album.
“Upon release, Sacred Songs sold fairly well, peaking at #58 on the Billboard Pop Albums chart; however, there was no hit single from the record. It has since come to be regarded as a high point in the careers of both Hall and Fripp.”
There were two obvious candidates for a single, the first two songs on the album, the title track and Something in 4/4 Time [LISTEN]. When I got out this album, I loved it all over again. Oddly, I’ve recently had it stuck in my mind that some a capella group ought to cover 4/4 Time, complete with that Frippertronics in the bridge.
Listen to 30 seconds of each track of the original album HERE.
Watch the 62nd episode of Live from Daryl’s House, in which Daryl and the group Minus the Bear perform NYCNY from the Sacred Songs album.