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David Cross

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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David Cross Exiles album cover
3.65 | 61 ratings | 12 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Exiles (8:57)
2. Tonk (3:44)
3. Slippy slide (4:02)
4. Duo (6:51)
5. This is your life (4:40)
6. Fast (5:38)
7. Troppo (8:44)
8. Here (10:51)

Total Time: 53:27

Line-up / Musicians

- David Cross / violins

- John Wetton / vocals (1,5)
- Peter Hammill / vocals (2,7)
- Peter Claridge / guitar (1,2,7)
- Paul Clark / guitar (1,3,5,6,8)
- Robert Fripp / guitar (2,4,7)
- Dave Kendal / keyboards (1,2,7)
- Pete McPhail / soprano sax (1,8), flute (8)
- Mick Paul / bass, guitar (5)
- Dan Maurer / drums, programming (5)

Releases information

CD Red Hot Records ‎- CDR 109 (1997, UK)

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DAVID CROSS Exiles ratings distribution

(61 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

DAVID CROSS Exiles reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Greger
4 stars This is the new album by KING CRIMSON violinist David CROSS. The album features many great legendary guest musicians such as Robert FRIPP, Peter HAMMILL and John WETTON. With that line-up you can't complain. All of them are among the best on their instrument. My favourite tracks on the album are "Exiles" (a new version of that classic KING CRIMSON song), "Fast", "Tonk" and "Troppo". "Fast" is a superb instrumental song where the violin is duelling with the guitar. David CROSS is a magnificent violin player and composer and he is giving the music that extra taste of something special. Many of the tracks are breathing KING CRIMSON, which isn't that surprising with so many KING CRIMSON members participating. Everybody knows what a good guitar player Robert FRIPP are, but here you also got one hell of a guitar player in Paul Clark. He's got a very wild approach to his guitar and makes the music sparkling with life. This album is as good as many of the KING CRIMSON albums. A must have for any fan of KING CRIMSON, and a very good buy for all other true progressive rock fans out there. Recommended.

Review by loserboy
4 stars Now talk about a superb offering or what! This is pure magic and will certainly keep your toes tapping all night. David CROSS has lined up some truely amazing guest to help on this album...John WETTON, Robert FRIPP and Peter HAMMILLl to name a few. "Exiles" generally speaking explores the heavier side of prog, but is not prog metal in anyway. "Exiles" is very close in feeling to KING CRIMSON's "THRAK". David and team get into some truely amazing jams here which will leave you speachless! As you would expect the cd is laced with a fair amount of electric violin playing which creates very warm tones to the mood and works very well with the heavier guitar acid laced solos. Essential material!
Review by Prognut
4 stars Sweet mother of God!!!! What a release... I probably cannot be better critic than James, before me! I have been trying to get it for quite some time and took me a while to get a hand on it, but finally arrived, and I could not wait to write a brief review during only my first spin, just amazing stuff here If you do not have it and you want it...Order the CD thru David Cross website (Noisy records) at:

I promise, you will not be disappointed!! Heavy Prog Rock with a slight Fusion touch here and there...Essential, period!!!!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having been terrified with "Testing to Destruction" album, I continued my venture with David Cross and purchased this album. I did not really expect much actually as the album name borrowed from King Crimson's repertoire. That meant I should not expect something unique like previous album. I was right in terms of the music in which this one is more Crimsonisque than "Testing To Destruction" but I was wrong having perceived that this album is less superior than previous. It's another excellent album by David Cross who has been best known as the violinist for the 1972-1974 incarnation of KING CRIMSON which produced such classics as "Larks' Tongues In Apsic" and "Red".

Only two musicians from previous album that he still kept with this album: Paul Clark (guitar) and Dan Maurer (drums) and he put other well-known musicians from King Crimson: Robert Fripp, John Wetton and also Van der Graff Generator's vocalist / songwriter: Peter Hammill.

The album starts with an ambient and spacey opening in which by itself does not seem to be an improvised introduction to King Crimson's legendary track "Exiles" (8:57) - newly arranged by David Cross. The rhythm section has been rearranged with an orchestration and the tempo is much upbeat than the original version. Violin solo is really stunning. With Wetton on vocal it rekindles our memories back to the early days of King Crimson. Acoustic guitar work during quieter passage is really good. Paul Clark gives his excellent guitar solo at the ending part continued with electric violin work. It's an excellent composition.

Second track "Tonk" (3:44) is faster in tempo compared to previous one with heavy metal riffs. Peter Hammill voice is almost unrecognized as he sings with high register notes. Fripp work is very obvious and this track is very close with Crimson music with hard driving rhythm. "Slippy Slide" (4:02) continues the music with a hard driving rhythm combining great violin solo, guitar riffs and soprano sax. "Duo" (6:51) is a relatively long track that explores violin solo augmented with keyboard and Fripp's guitar. At first listen, it did not impress me but it grew slightly especially as a break after three upbeat tracks. "This is Your Life" (4:40) is a unique track that features Wetton on vocals augmented with acoustic guitar and violin. The music seems like using a drum loop / programming.

"Fast" (5:38) is an excellent track that features rough-edge guitar work, inventive bass lines, violin and excellent drumming. The music flows brilliantly with an energetic tempo combining symphonic sound through programming and added with Paul Clark's stunning guitar work. It rocks man! It's one of my favorite track - I really like it, especially the combination of bass solo and violin work. "Troppo" (8:44) is another interesting track that features high register notes voice by Peter Hammill. There is a bit of avant-garde music touch with this track. Musically this track is different than any King Crimson's song. The bass guitar work is excellent. Robert Fripp and Paul Clark give their guitar works here - and the guitar sounds are rough here - but it's really good. The drumming is like Brufford's style. Overall it's a great track.

"Here" (10:51) concludes the album with an excellent combination of guitar riffs, violin solo, guitar solo augmented with inventive bass lines and powerful drumming. With this duration, you can enjoy the full stream of stunning guitar and violin solos. Orchestration is also added here. Some transition pieces with soprano sax, violin and flute works give the jazzy nuance of this track. At the end of the track Cross adds good choirs to end up the song.

Overall, it's an excellent album that any prog lover should own the CD. The virtuosities of the contributing musicians combined with beautifully crafted composition has resulted an excellent album. Unfortunately the production quality is not as good as "Testing To Destruction", but it's still okay to many ears, I think. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars For me, David Cross had dropped off the planet in the 70's. I was totally unaware that he was still active on the prog scene. The shock was to find that the music he was creating was powerful, exciting and not just a rehash of old glories. After being turned onto David Cross, I immediately snatched up the two latest releases; EXILES and the stunning, CLOSER TO SKIN.

EXILES is a mix of the new and old. It kicks off with an updated and modern sounding re- recording of the King Crimson title piece, Exiles. Complete with John Wetton on vocals! Funny that Mr Cross didn't use Robert Fripp on the track, since the guitarist appears on three other tracks. This version of Exiles is less frantic, more polished. John Wetton appears on one other track, This is Your Life. The tune sounds more like a Wetton solo tune, with very little violin to point to the band leader.

Peter Hammill guests on two tracks, Tonk and Troppo. Tonk sounds like a missing track from Larks Tongue. Hammill's voice is shrill and angry, while Fripp and Cross trades scorching leads. Troppo may be the most interesting track on the disc. Over eight minutes of shifting textures, keyboard driven passages and perky percussives.

Slippy Slide is a rambunctious instrumental, with guest saxaphonist, Pete McPhail, who also makes an appearance on Here. The tune ends with a round of Wetton's vocals from This is You Life. Duo is a Frippertronic/Cross ambient piece. Soundscapes and violins. Fast is just that, a tune played with a fair amount of speed and power.

All-in-all, a mighty fine disc and a must have for mid 70's Crimson fans.

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Obviously most persons' attraction for this album is the Crimson alumni guest list, and this proghead finally remembered reserving this album from the library after having heard a few times at the album's release, back in 97. I had no lasting memory from the album, which did not augur well for itself. And indeed, my memory was fairly accurate, as this album had most elements to be a killer, but turned out like a St-Elmo's fire: ephemeral and doomed to extinguish itself if it was not for some tracks that do

I remember not being impressed by the album's title and artwork, and truth be told, my initial feeling proved rather correct. The artwork proved impersonal and one of the typical "solo" album that flood the markets, and basing the title on one of the Crimson tracks hinted at its weakness. Indeed after a very tedious (and extended) remake of Exiles (Cross's best moments in Crimson) with ex-mate Wetton singing, this cover could simply not match the original and therefore it was doomed even before the first note was recorded. Of course with Fripp and Hammill participating in Tonk, the album is bound to have some highs as well, but the track is little more than an average Crimson clone of Red. The instrumental Slippy Slide is rather interesting with its slightly ethnic (Arab with both the sax and violin) feel and semi-jazz-rock feel, while the needlessly- long, dispensable and spooky ambient Cakes. Trouble really starts with the atrocious This Is Your Life (lyrically penned by Sinfield), which is an awful 80's soft-rock made-for- radio track, where even Wetton does not dare sounding like himself. Another instrumental track alternates between softer jazz-rock passages and loud Crimsonic crunches and Fast becoming one of the album's highlights. Picture a bit Colosseum II.

Troppo is another Hammill and Fripp intervention, and rather different of the other, where Fripp's guitar is inspired and the track is long an diversified and ends up as the album's second highlight. The album closes on another jazz-rock instrumental track, this time closer to XXXX's more aerial moments with a 3-ton guitar oscillating between Fripp and Satriani and ending in a weird a cappela outro.

Well, given the stars hanging around the album's sessions and the scattered Crimson ashes, this album is bound to be in Crimson aficionados' collection, but it is certainly not an essential part of it. And no part at all of this Crimson fan!! Still a fairly worthy album, though.

Review by TGM: Orb
3 stars Review 57, Exiles, David Cross, 1997


This album, though my only experience of David Cross post the legendary 1973-4 King Crimson, suggests a musician who has moved, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, with the times, while retaining his basic interests. Though neither as eclectic or balanced as the superb Larks' Tongues In Aspic and Starless And Bible Black albums which this violinist is mainly known for, Exiles shows many merits, and has, sometimes effectively, and sometimes less effectively, challenged my own preconceptions and ideas. Improvisation meets carefully arranged pieces with good effect, and the overall quality is fairly strong. It's a shame that a weak ending brings down the album slightly.

The basic band is technically competent, though Cross's violin and Pete McPhail's soprano sax are really the only inherently interesting parts of it, with the background violin we see in Starless And Bible Black as the most prominent style. The other playing is usually good, occasionally very good, but sometimes a little too conventional for my taste. Of prime importance to many who might be tempted by the album is the luxurious guest list, featuring one lyric by Peter Sinfield as well as adequate David Cross/band ones, and, probably of more interest, guitar from Robert Fripp, and vocals by Peter Hammill and John Wetton. Naturally, these three guests do fill their places at least capably, and John Wetton especially is a standout vocalist.

The take on Exiles will no doubt be controversial for many classic prog fans. As it is one of my favourite tracks off my favourite album, I am one of those fans. Initially, I was utterly bamboozled by the dancey synth on the opener and saddened by the absence of Bill Bruford, though the very neat incorporations of piano, slippery acoustics and more rock-based content did impress me from the start. The twists are evident, and it's clearly putting a very different stamp on a classic piece and producing a real cover rather than simply a re-performance. David Cross's connection with the piece is evident from his own alterations on the violin as well as the general calibre of the cover, and the slightly clearer Wetton vocal delivery does a world of good for Richard Palmer-James' excellent lyrical content. Not a case of being better or worse than the original, but a case of being different, challenging and interesting in its own right, and of being strong enough to let me overcome my prejudice against the trancy introduction/conclusion of the rendition.

Tonk features Peter Hammill's vocal, growling, ferocious and threatening with a couple of clever eclectic touches. Behind the rather generic metallic riff, David Cross and Robert Fripp strike ferociously with screechy violin and chaotic Fripp guitar parts. Not instant love, for me, but once I began to look at the leads more closely, it became much more satisfying and enjoyable.

The instrumental Slippy Slide, aside from featuring an odd treble-riff thing with violin and two guitars, I think, is mostly of interest for Pete McPhail's fluid soprano sax soloing, with a convincing verve, even in the fairly heavy context of the piece. The percussion part is cleverly handled, and has a fairly nice elephantine sound to it. Overall, a very energetic and high quality piece of work.

Cakes, a, no doubt improvised, piece featuring only Cross's violin and Fripp's lush soundscapes (on guitar, supposedly). Interesting as the contrast between the very chaotic, splintering violin and the reverent, haunting keys is, I really have an issue getting any imagery or concept from the long, developing piece until about the fifth or sixth minute. A highly avant-garde piece of work, with some very odd violin choices, but still not fully satisfying for me.

This Is Your Life features Sinfieldian lyrics, which are justified if only for the line 'Rainbows Are Made Out Of Tears' and a vaguely worldy sound to the percussion. Besides a sublime Wetton vocal performance, which carries the cryptic lyrics nicely, it features excellent background violin, clever additions from keys and guitars, as well as a very nice bass rhythm. The 'tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor...' a theme which will recur at the album's end is included towards the piece's conclusion. A highly original piece of work, much as it may not be the average progger's cup of Earl Grey.

The metallic opening of Fast gives way to an Arabic-feel thick violin, and fast bass, which then switches back to the quick metal piece. This pattern of various interludes followed by the metallic theme is repeated mainly throughout. Aside from the excellent fast-paced violin soloing and the neatness with which the sections merge there's not that much to commend the piece for. Solid, but too easily forgotten.

Troppo features another Hammill performance, equally good in quality, though this time substituting confusion for threat of Tonk, and complimented by an 'oh-oh' effect. This time the bass is spotlighted in the vocal sections, while some excellent dark keys and guitar (which turns out to be Fripp, looking at the booklet) come to the forefront of the instrumental section. A dark, effective and potent piece with killer percussion.

Hero concludes the album, with a largely improvisational feel. Hugely explosive guitar features, as does some more normal sax-work. The piece builds up gradually, with some reminding themes, solid playing and some very strong soloing, but it is not entirely convincing in the way it does this. The drumming feels a little bland, and the coda at the end simply doesn't give the unified/concept feel it was meant to provide. Long, meandering, and only hitting its target of creating a scenic feel on occasion.

So, experimental and powerful at times, and with plenty of integrity and an overall consistency. However, the album is probably not essential for those who are not fans of David Cross or especially fixated on the album's three guests. It is good in most parts, but would have been more pleasing to me with a little more focus on the themes of the improvisations. Not bad at all, and I look forward to discovering more of David Cross's discography. Recommended to anyone interested in seeing a well-incorporated violin in a variety of contexts. Worthy of a place in the collection of most fans of 73-4 Crimson.

Favourite Song: Tonk

Rating: Three Stars, certainly good

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars David Cross was of course the violinist for KING CRIMSON on the "Larks Tongues In Aspic", "Starless And Bible Black" and "Red" albums. A couple of things surprised me about this album, first of all how heavy it is at times recalling those three KING CRIMSON albums I already mentioned. Second is that David Cross doesn't dominate the sound here, in fact I know people who have complained at how little violin there is on here. Guests include Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, John Wetton among others.

"Exiles" is of course that classic KING CRIMSON track we all love. A spacey, electronic intro gives way to the music after 1 1/2 minutes. It still doesn't sound like "Exiles" until before 2 1/2 minutes. John Wetton then comes in vocally and I like the guitar that follows after 3 minutes and later after 6 minutes where it sounds even better. So uplifting. Violin follows. It ends as it began. "Tonk" opens with a nice heavy KING CRIMSON-like soundscape. Peter Hammill comes in vocally not really sounding like himself at all. More high pitched. Fripp is offering up some angular solos. Cross is content here to let Fripp and Hammill take the spotlight. "Slippy Slide" opens with tribal-like drumming as the violin lights it up. Sax follows. This is heavy stuff. "Duo" is the Cross and Frpp show as we get smothered in atmosphere from those Frippertroncs as violin comes in slowly. It all turns more powerful as contrasts continue. The atmosphere is so strong it's hard to breathe. Incredible track. "This Is Your Life" puts the focus on the lyrics that Peter Sinfield wrote, while John Wetton sings them. A laid back tune.

"Fast" is just that,a fast instrumental with in your face guitar, chunky bass and scorching violin. An excellent rhythm section on this one. Ripping guitar too. An outstanding instrumental. "Troppo" features Fripp and Hammill once again. It's experimental to start then the vocal melodies come in followed by vocals. This pattern continues. Heaviness comes and goes as well. The guitar during the prolonged instrumental section is outstanding. "Here" opens with piano, sax and drums. Flute too on this one. I like how mellow it is then it kicks in before 4 minutes. The guitar is on fire 5 1/2 minutes in as they hit us with all they got. A killer instrumental. It settles back after 7 1/2 minutes but the heavness isn't finished just yet.

A must for KING CRIMSON fans in my opinion.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Tonk

This solo album by ex-King Crimson man David Cross is named after the King Crimson song Exiles which originally appeared on 1973's Larks' Tongues In Aspic to which Cross contributed. The version featured here as the opening track is a new studio recording of the song in a different arrangement with original vocalist John Wetton guesting. It sounds fantastic! Also Robert Fripp guests here on three tracks, two of which also features Peter Hammill from Van Der Graaf Generator on vocals. This is an interesting combination of talents with Tonk being the strongest of these in 1970's King Crimson heavy style.

Slippery Slope is an instrumental Jazz-Rock/Fusion number more in line with what was found on some previous David Cross albums. Not bad at all but considerably less King Crimson-like. Cakes is another track that features Fripp and this time it is an ambient instrumental. Not my cup of tea but it would have been quite acceptable considered as an interlude if it had only been shorter, but about halfway through it tends to get boring. Wetton's voice returns for This Is Your Life, a Pop Rock song that would not have been out of place on one of Wetton's lesser solo records but which sounds rather odd in the present context. Fast and Troppo (the other Fripp/Hammill combination) pick things up again somewhat and the closer Hero can be said to combine all of the elements mentioned above.

Overall, Exiles is a rather strange mix of Heavy Prog, Jazz-Rock/Fusion and Pop Rock. Several good moments, but not the best place to start with David Cross. I recommend to begin with the live album Alive In The Underworld which provides a good overview of Cross' career featuring songs from his four most recent solo albums including the present one plus three classic King Crimson numbers. Also the more recent studio album Closer Than Skin is recommended over Exiles.

Latest members reviews

4 stars First very Krimsonic and high quality prog album by Cross as far as I am concerned. Previous efforts had some bright moments but further away from KC and also a couple of tedious 80's songs. Thankfully, Cross never entered a commercial or sell-out path following and followed his current music p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2591831) | Posted by sgtpepper | Friday, September 3, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Mostly quite good but ultimately far from essential. Truthfully this album turned out to be pretty much how I expect it to be. This album came to my attention because of the two Peter Hammill vocals, and that's actually the main reason for me to keep it. The two PH vocals, particularly "Tonk", ... (read more)

Report this review (#1824281) | Posted by AndreasGHB | Friday, November 17, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I wonder why David Cross is labelled as a jazz rock/fusion musician here. I can only imagine how many potential fans of his solo work (which has almost nothing to do with that genre, unlike King Crimson circa 1973), have closed the musician's section right away after seeing this nonsensical statemen ... (read more)

Report this review (#1566049) | Posted by Progresearcher | Monday, May 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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