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David Royko Psy.D

Robert Fripp's guitar solo on Eno's "Baby's On Fire"

In the category of Great Electric Guitar Solos I Never Get Tired Of: Robert Fripp, Baby's On Fire (Eno). Brian Eno made a batch of albums in the 1970s after leaving Roxy Music, four in a rock vein (1975's 'Discreet Music' is an amazing and powerful masterpiece, maybe his greatest, but is ambient music made up exclusively of tape loops and stands far apart from the others and points to where he was heading). Though 'Before and After Science' (1977) is decent enough, the other three are some of my favorite progressive rock albums: 'Here Come The Warm Jets' (1974), 'Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)' (also 1974), and 'Another Green World' (1975). They aren't like Fripp's King Crimson albums, or Yes, Genesis, ELP, Frank Zappa, Gentle Giant, or other virtuosic prog rock bands (and I love them all), but more "conceptual" art rock discs of the British, art-school-drop-out variety, almost anti-virtuosic despite using all-stars like Phil Collins and Phil Manzanera. But there are still some amazing instrumental flights of fancy. "Baby's On Fire" is a typically twisted Eno classic (Baby's on fire; better throw her in the water; Look at her laughing; like a heifer to the slaughter), and my overall favorite version is on the album, '801 Live,' a great LP by a band that existed for only a couple of gigs. But Eno's studio recording (on the '... Warm Jets' disc) has Robert Fripp's solo. Fripp was biding his time between the 1974 break-up of King Crimson and the 1981 re-forming of King Crimson, including various guest shots for people like David Bowie and Eno. This three-minute solo is one stunning example, a creative, searing and perfect instance of what jazz writer Whitney Balliett called "the sound of surprise."