Daryl Hall worked with Robert Fripp on the incandescently experimental and unrepentantly uncommercial sacred thoughts and profane sounds of his solo debut, much to the chagrin of his record label. Just as his star was beginning to rise with Hall and Oates hitting big with singles like "Sara Smile", "She's Gone", and "Rich Girl"; Hall began recording a solo album with King Crimson's Robert Fripp, who had taken a break from the music business. The project was conceived by Fripp as part of a trilogy with Peter Gabriel's self titled second album and Fripp's own solo debut. Hall reveals: "I met Robert through a friend in about 1974, and we became friends right away. We have a lot of the same interests, and we just got along. I was first starting to spend a lot of time in England then, so I would stay at his house, and he used to stay at my house, and all that. We were really good friends. And then he went away to Gurdjieff Camp, and I was the only person in the outside world he was communicating with...He decided he was going to follow the teachings of [G. I.] Gurdjieff, which is basically like the boot camp of the mind. And so I was sort of his touch with some form of reality. And after he came through that period, he wanted to reenter the music world, because he had stepped away. And so he and I got together, and we said, let's do some projects. And we got Peter Gabriel and various other people, Pete Hammill, and the Roches-- we had a loose-knit group of people, and I did my album, Sacred Songs, and then we did Exposure, and I'm trying to think what happened after that-- well then he did the Peter Gabriel album [II aka Scratch]. But the Exposure album was the second collaboration with me, and I was supposed to be the singer on that whole album. Because he did my album, I did his album. [But] I was with RCA at the time, and they balked. They wouldn't allow my vocals to be put on his records. All the vocals you hear on Exposure are completely my ideas that were as best as could be done copied by other people, except for two or three songs. And that was really disheartening. That's when I completely fell out of love with the music business. Robert and I did as best we could through all that, but I think we made some really interesting music. I think taking somebody who comes from my background, and taking somebody who comes from his musical background, and putting them together, is a very interesting idea ... to try and take two soulful sounds from two different cultures, and put them together, and form a third kind of music. And that was the idea. Simple as that. I mean, there was no-- well, I won't say there was no conceptual thought, because there was a lot of conceptual thought. But there was no thought beyond that. We were just going to do what came natural to us. Either I would write the words with Robert or he had his girlfriend at the time who was writing some lyrics, and we would just come up with some lyrics, he would put a track together, and I would just sing. Everything was first takes. Everything was spontaneous. And that's how we dealt with it...Soul music is totally non-intellectual, and I say that in the artistic sense. You don't think. There's no thought process. It's soul, it comes straight from the heart and the brain right out through the mouth without any thought. I've always been a spontaneous singer. And all the stuff that you hear on the end of the songs, what they call the ad libs-- that just comes out of my head. That's not thought out at all. I have the verses and the choruses and then after that it's total improvisation...I see what musicians do, especially singers, as a primal thing. It comes from howling around the campfire. Everybody was sitting around whatever, in the earliest of early times-- pre-literate times, how's that? Pre-conscious times. And pre-sentient times. And somebody would be the guy that would start the howling. And that's what I do."
'Sacred Songs' features Daryl Hall on vocals, keyboards, synthesizer, and Mandar; Robert Fripp on guitar and 'Frippertronics' electronics; Caleb Quaye on guitar; Kenny Passarelli on bass guitar; and Roger Pope on drums; with Charles DeChant on saxophone and backing vocals; David Kent on backing vocals; Tony Levin on bass; Jerry Marotta on drums; Brian Eno on synthesizer; Sid McGinnis on pedal steel guitar; and Phil Collins on drums. The sessions were produced and mastered by Robert Fripp, engineered by Ed Sprigg with assistant Engineer Ted Spencer and project coordinators: Arlessa Barnes, Lisa Butler, Glenn Delgado, Christina DeSimone, Robin Diamond, Felicia Gearhart, Laura Gregory, Jeremy Holiday, Robin Manning, Ed Osborne, Larry Parra, Bruce Pollock, Dana Renert, Catherine Seligman, and Steve Strauss. It would take three years before RCA finally agreed to release the album, souring plans for further collaboration: "Robert...got very burned by this all. We had a very close relationship, and my manager at the time, Tommy Mottola, came into it, and Robert got really hurt by it. I mean, when you get into a relationship or a collaboration with a musician, it's almost like a romantic relationship. And that's the best way I could put it. You get into somebody's heart. And Robert I think had visions that he was going to steal me away from John [Oates]. [laughs] I'm not saying this in a gay way. And I think that he thought that we were going to work together. That was never my intention, and because of all the difficulties we had, that was his response to all that. I understand where he's coming from. That was his way of spraying out his frustration."
'Sacred Songs' floundered at number ninety-three in Canada and fifty-three in the US.
"Babs and Babs"
"The Farther Away I Am"
All songs written by Daryl Hall except as noted.
"Sacred Songs" – 3:14
"Something in 4/4 Time" – 4:22
"Babs and Babs" – 7:41
"Urban Landscape" (Robert Fripp) – 2:29
"NYCNY" (Fripp, Hall) – 4:33
"The Farther Away I Am" – 2:52
"Why Was It So Easy" – 5:27
"Don't Leave Me Alone with Her" – 6:22
"Survive" – 6:37
"Without Tears" – 2:47
"You Burn Me up I'm a Cigarette" (Fripp, Hall) – 2:20
"North Star" (Fripp, Hall, Joanna Walton) – 3:10