Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spoken Word: Thela Hun Ginjeet

King Crimson: Thela Hun Ginjeet

Just a quick second post before this theme is over. As a prog-rock fan in the late 70’s, I was familiar with King Crimson, in general, but not with an enormous amount of their music. The band was rarely, if ever, heard on the radio in New York, and if it was, they probably played “21st Century Schizoid Man.”

I have a very strong memory from 1980, when one of my tasks at WPRB was to go to the post office and pick up the mail, which included all of the records that the station was sent by the record labels. I remember walking toward the station and opening a package from WEA Music and seeing The Talking Heads’ Remain in Light album. I had read about the record and put it on the turntable in our office as soon as I could. I was blown away by how revolutionary it sounded to my ears; the polyrhythms and odd sounds that made it seem like something completely new. Yet it was also still a Talking Heads album. Among other things, though, it featured a new guitar sound, provided by Adrian Belew, who I had never heard of. “Remain in Light” is still probably one of my Desert Island Discs.

The next year, the word started to filter out about a new King Crimson album that would feature Robert Fripp, who was a legend, Bill Bruford, my favorite drummer, Tony Levin, who I hadn’t heard of, and Belew. When I first heard Discipline, I was again blown away. There were some similarities to Remain in Light—the rhythms, Belew’s guitar playing, and his very David Byrne influenced vocals. It was a record that was liked by the prog-rockers and the new wavers, and by those of us who liked both. We played the crap out of that record, and I got to see them on campus in March, 1982 (and maybe also at Rutgers a month earlier, but I don’t specifically recall.)

“Thela Hun Ginjeet” (an anagram for Heat in the Jungle), is a typically dense King Crimson song, with Fripp's and Belew’s complex guitar playing over Bruford’s busy drumming and Levin’s solid bass (or Chapman Stick?). During the song, while the music continues, there is an extended recording of Belew telling a story about being confronted by dangerous people with guns during a walk around London. He returned to the studio and told the story, which was surreptitiously recorded and then added to the track. There is something so real and immediate about Belew’s fear of being in a “dangerous place,” and his relief when they finally leave him alone, that elevates the song.

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