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FRITH, FRED: Cheap at half the price
Fred's third LP for Ralph Records, back in 1983, was a collection of four-track home studio songs (and a couple of instrumental pieces) in which Fred played all the instruments (exceptions: two bass cameos from Tina Curran and Bill Laswell, and some great drum samples from Hans Bruinnsson). Causing raised eyebrows at the time (from, as Fred calls them 'progressive music snobs' - of which I guess I was one) for its apparent simplicity and departure from what was then thought of as Fred Style, this work has matured with age and perspective and no longer seems (to this former critic) to stand outside the oeuvre, but rather to exemplify a persistent strand within it. Echoes appear in many later works. In context it's a record that makes sense - what was all the fuss about? - and it has become a record that's refreshing to listen to. And political - political and personal. In fact, as well as being a very rewarding, darkish, toe-tapper of a record, it seems also to have tapped an important biographical moment. There are some great guitar sounds, production ideas and of course the expected exemplary playing of everything, all the time. A good argument for reissues. Very nicely re-mastered, and in a nice new package.