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Robert Fripp & Brian Eno - BBC November 1973

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Scan submitted/created by [steve23yh]
HQ Scans:
Publisher: CD-R
Reference :
Date :
Made In :UK
Quality :EX (9½/10)
Booklet & packaging :Single-fold inlay card
Total duration: 33:50

Grand avant garde experiment or total fake?

What is reasonably clear is that there was a session on Top Gear on Radio One, broadcast on 18th December (sic) 1973. If nothing else, the grand achievement was to play two tracks of ambient music, almost 20 minutes long, on national radio!

It's famous as the session where the album No Pussyfooting was simply played backwards. What do the experts say?

According to the cogeco.ca Fripp specialists site:

"A bootleg recording has been widely circulating claiming to be a recording of Fripp & Eno live on John Peel’s infamous Top Gear show for the BBC. Anyone who has heard it knows that it is simply a replaying of a large portion of both sides of ‘NO PUSSYFOOTING’ IN REVERSE OR BACKWARDS.

Strangely, however it is not fraudulent as described in an interview given by Brian Eno himself to Radio 1's “Keeping It Peel” broadcasts to mark the first anniversary of John Peel's death.

He commented briefly over "The Big Ship" :

"When I first started making music, it was John Peel's shows that inspired me. And then when I did make music, it was John Peel who played it first on the radio. So I have to thank him for my career. I also have to thank him for playing a whole album of mine backwards on the air once ... it was pretty abstract music, but all the same, John, I can't understand how anybody could make that kind of mistake ! Anyway it's all forgiven now and we still love you and we still miss you."

This must be in reference to this broadcast as it is too much of a coincidence to be anything else. I suppose in the days of reel-to-reel tapes, it was possible to make an error of this nature. It is also possible that it was intentionally played backwards by John Peel as the reverse replay is not without it’s own merits."

According to Big-O, when listing the bootleg:

"The money on the table is that this "session" never existed and that John Peel was in on the joke. Apparently, someone thought it would be a lark to just reverse the flow of the No Pussyfooting album and have Peel introduce them as the "tracks" from the said album. Some Eno fans swear that this session was just the LP played backwards. If that's true it's still worth listening as Eno and Fripp were trying to get the three-minute pop music fan to think deeper into sound and the ambience it created. It takes an open mind to allow for such experiments on national radio. You just won't hear anything like this today. There's still NOTHING ON THE RADIO."

And a further entry is:

"Fripp & Eno Remastered
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Sep 27, 2007

As you can see from his latest updated diary, Robert is busy remastering a couple of Fripp and Eno classics, No Pussyfooting and Evening Star.

In the diary Robert says “Now, onto backwards versions, as originally featured on John Peel. I returned to Thornhill Cottage, Holt, late one evening, switched on John Peel’s radio show, and came in near the end of Swastika Girls – played backwards! I leave it to The Sidney Smith to tell the full story. Anyway, today – we are formally preparing a re-mastered backwards version.”

Over the years a lot of rumours have circulated about an infamous Fripp and Eno session – I’ve heard tell that bootlegs of this event used to trade for huge sums of money. Of course it wasn’t a studio session at all. As was common practice in those days, albums were often supplied in reel to reel tapes as well as vinyl. Whether it was someone from the record company who’d wound the reel off the wrong way, or a chilled out Peel who’d threaded it up back to front, the entire album was played backwards on the 18th December 1973.

The incident even gets a mention in Peel’s posthumously published biog, Margrave of the Marshes.

"(Peel) realised that no-one at the station actually listened to the show...This first became apparent to him when no-one complained about the various cock-ups he made. Later in his career John would become notorious for these spontaneous errors; there was one infamous occasion in 1973 when he played tracks from Robert Fripp and Brian Eno’s No Pussyfooting backwards, though only Eno called to point out this mistake."

Never mind going backwards - can anyone else recall playing No Pussyfooting at 16 rpm? My recollections of this exciting sonic event (no, really!) are up on the blog today."

I backmasked the recordings. They still sound backmasked (and unfortunately my copy of No Pussyfooting's in the loft, so I couldn't readily compare!). So they may be simply the album reversed or they could be reworkings with more backmasking. They may have been a practical joke and John Peel may or may not have been in on it. Either way, a grand gesture and an interesting bootleg. The boot includes Peel's links at the end of each track.

Core collection    Track identified    Version validated    Lyrics available    Version details available    Audio excerpt available    Participants list available   
The Heavenly Music Corporation(Fripp/Eno)
?? Nov 1973
18 Dec 1973
King Crimson, Brian Eno
Swastick Girls(Fripp/Eno)
?? Nov 1973
18 Dec 1973
King Crimson, Brian Eno
Core collection    Track identified    Version validated    Lyrics available    Version details available    Audio excerpt available    Participants list available   

Song Song Studio chat Studio chat
TV/Radio chat/jingle TV/Radio chat/jingle Interview Interview
Cover by another artist Cover by another artist Film Music/Orchestral Film music/orchestral
Concert intro/announcement Concert intro/announcement Advertising Advertising
Song by another artist Song by another artist Medley title Medley title
Book chapter Book chapter
Other type of track Other


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Filename: fripp-eno-bbc
Originally filled by: steve23yh
Date of creation: 21 Nov 2007 01:05:47
Last filled by: steve23yh
Last Revision Date : 21 Nov 2007 01:18:20
Online on : 21 Nov 2007
Type of media: Bootleg CD-R

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