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Fred Frith - Cheap at Half the Price CD (album) cover


Fred Frith


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5 stars This cd is rapidly becoming one of my favorites. The remaster version of this 1983 album is excellent quality. Frith sounds as bright and fresh on guitar as ever. As always, Friths mastery of MANY instruments keeps the album diverse and interesting all the way through 15 tracks. This album is certainly not to be overlooked. While maintaining a certain strangeness and complexity, the album is so smooth that it should be accessible and enjoyable to a large audience of prog fans, yet it's variety will make good many repeated listens. In many ways, this album is reminiscent of a work by the Resident's: short clever songs, exellent musicianship yet not pretentious and lyrically very light and jovial with strong social undertones. If you're looking for a place to start into Frith's catalogue, I highly recommend this album.
Report this review (#106481)
Posted Sunday, January 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Cheap at Half the Price is the third solo album by Fred Frith, it is preceded by the brilliant world music influenced first album Gravity, and the more avant-garde sophomore effort Speechless. Cheap, just like Gravity, turns to Eastern Europe and the Middle East for musical inspiration, but unfortunately Cheap is not nearly as successful as Gravity. The difference between the two albums is that Gravity is mostly instrumental, but Cheap is made up of odd world/avant/pop songs that often feature Frith's 'quirky' vocals, and that is a problem.

Fred Frith cannot sing. I think he knows this but assumes that since this is avant-garde rock his clever socio-political insights will be good enough to pull things off. The truth is Frith's music sounds so much better when he stays instrumental, which is proven on this album by the several instrumental songs on side two. The other problem with Cheap is that a lot of the songs were built from pre-recorded drum tracks that repeat the same pattern (some of these drum patterns also show up on other Frith albums). Once again Gravity was much better because the songs were performed by live musicians playing creative arrangements that included a lot of rhythmic variations.

This album is OK, but Frith is capable of much better.

Report this review (#175094)
Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars I think I paid full price for this.

The first CD release of this didn't come out until 1991. The original LP came out in the 1980's.

Recorded at home on a four track using his own instruments with pre recorded 15 second drum patterns from actual artists. A Casio 101? It's cheesy, but it works. Frith sings and more than a few of the songs are of a left political bent lyrically, which I happen to like.

There's a couple of bonus tracks put in amongst the original album tracks. Frith decided on his latest re-releases not to include the bonus tracks. Damn shame. I really love the first one, True Love, "You broke the glasses, you broke the plates, you said I don't want your money I don't want your money" The second one Person To Person fit in well as well as the first one.

Just keep in mind that some clouds may not have a silver lining, but this one does or does it?

Report this review (#445065)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permalink

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