Tuesday 14 September 1999

The DGM Guestbook is vibrating

14.35 The DGM Guestbook is vibrating away. Various comments in response:

1. The Virgin webcast.

Questions were selected by Virgin. I expressed a willingness to answer any question which was presented.

2. "Lizard". At the end of the remastering process, I found myself strangely attracted to several / many parts of the album. But where it fails for me is in the inability of the (attractive, beguiling, amusing, peculiar, wobbly) parts to express the sense of a coherent whole.

When Simon (demon mastering engineer) & I parted, he kindly expressed support for the albums we'd been working on, with the exception of "Lizard" which was (exact word escapes me, but this is close enough...) awful. He then said, but it "wasn't (Robert's) fault". Robert replied: "If it wasn't my fault, then whose was it?".

I am not (as is said) "identified" with "Lizard". I listen to the work of these young men, 3 decades ago, with the same robust good humour I extend to the work of any young men at any period. Why remaster it given that I have unpleasant memories of the recording process? Because I feel an ongoing responsibility:

i) I was partly/largely responsible for what I'm listening to today;
ii) People continue to put their hard-earned pay on the counter to buy the album. If we accept their money, they deserve to have the best available format we can present to them in return.

But, I would have thought this so obvious that the question be unnecessary.

3. Peter Sinfield.

Peter is an intelligent & experienced man whose opinion is worthy of consideration. Clearly, our relationship continues to hold some heat for Peter. Certainly, more for Peter than for me. This parallels the feelings which Gordon Haskell also held towards me until (I believe) quite recently, and which were not reciprocated. I make no comment on the content of Peter's criticisms which he is, after all, well qualified to make. Perhaps relevant, given the remastering presently underway, is the light that Peter's postings throw on the quality of our working relationship during 1970/71 & its eventual breakdown.

Ian McDonald was a much more suitable writing partner for Peter than I was ever able to become. This is (for me) one of the tragedies of the first Crimson's collapse which, at the time, broke my heart. As I have grown older, and experienced greater losses than this, I have learnt to accept what cannot be undone and - a prime key within any practice which seeks engagement with others - to turn loss around. How may loss become gain?

Which associatively leads to two non-Guestbook related comments& then back in again:

1. The collapse of EG was the worst professional situation of my life. It also provided the impetus to begin the second half of my professional life with the energy & commitment which I brought to the first half. If EG had continued to control my affairs neither DGM nor the Collectors' Club would have appeared.

2. SG Alder Esq., the "Good Guy" "renowned for his probity and sound business practices", has changed his name.

Perhaps several visitors may remember the EG saga and SG Alder Esq.'s part within it? In short, during 1989/90 £4 million was leant by EG Music to Athol & Co., a company under the common control of Mr. Alder & his partner MA Fenwick Esq. (now out of the music business and in his family firm of Fenwick's). Then, on January 1st. 1991 the EG Music Group were unable to pay royalties (I'm not sure which "sound business practice" this is filed under).

Last Friday I received a letter from The British Phonographic Institute inviting me to a charity dinner honouring John Barry. At the bottom of the letter was the letter "heading" which alphabetically listed the names of the BPI board. The first among them was "Sam Alder". This is rather like the guitarist in King Crimson becoming "Bob Fripp". Mr. Alder was always professionally "SG Alder" & signed his letters accordingly. Why the name change? My sense is this:

i) "SG Alder" is a professional name, which presents to the world the idendity/persona of a professional man (a chartered accountant).
ii) "Sam Alder" is a friendly and approachable name, the name of a friendly and approachable man.

So, I conclude that how Mr. Alder sees himself, and/or how he wishes to be seen by the world, has changed.

This segues back to two (recent) topics on the Guestbook: naming & Peter Sinfield.

The name "Bobby Fripp" changed to "Bob Fripp" when that irritating little man left Broadstone Primary School for Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Wimborne in 1957 at the age of 11. On record sleeves I adopted "Robert Fripp" from 1968 onwards, but among personal & professional friends I remained "Bob". The first time I adopted & used the name "Robert" was for the telephone call to Peter in December 1971 (upon Crimson's return from touring in the US) to say I was unable to continue working with him. As I said "Hello Peter, it's Robert", I heard myself (as it were, unintentionally) adopting a different name. Peter, I believe, also noted this and (David Enthoven told me shortly afterwards) commented on it.

So, what transition did that indicate I wonder?

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