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Robert Fripp - The League of Gentlemen CD (album) cover

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

2.67 | 26 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
1 stars This is not Fripp’s best effort nor his most memorable, despite a fairly extensive promotional effort by Polydor and recognition from industry magazines like Rolling Stone and Trouser Press. The heavy dance theme and cheesy spoken-word discourses about modern music detract from Fripp’s decent guitar, although admittedly even that is sub-par compared to anything he’d done previously.

Part of the problem was timing of course. The early eighties were marked (or marred depending on your viewpoint) by a number of major label efforts to revive a lagging record industry by resurrecting early seventies prog gods and repackaging them as some sort of new-wave hipsters. The results were mixed but usually weak. Asia, GTR, the bandana/Miami Vice version of Yes, Genesis, Kansas (with John Elephante), the Moody Blues, Vangelis and Saga (among many others) all found themselves trussed up in parachute pants and pretentious poses backed by young musicians with frizzed-up hair and Flashdance moves. Fripp was unfortunately no exception. In this case the backing came primarily from XTC keyboardist Barry Andrews, Gang of Four bassist Sara Lee and China Crisis drummer the late Kevin Wilkinson. So really when you consider that lineup Fripp’s League of Gentlemen may have even been one of the more egregious examples of a respected progger going over to the pop dark-side.

There’s nothing on this album to praise really. I didn’t like it when it came out and I don’t like it now. I wouldn’t even still own it were it not for a habit of rarely getting rid of music. As I recall the album did fairly well on the pop charts back in 1981, but I suspect mostly because younger fans bought it for its B52s-like danceability and the primitive art-looking cover (kind of like Trio’s first album or most of the punk albums that came out around the same time). The music itself was a disappointment.

Basically this is forty minutes or so of backbeat, a thudding and unimaginative bass line, dance riffs on organ delivered by Wilkinson, and Fripp’s rather out-of-place guitar work. Like I said, comparisons to the B52s are valid, and considering the keyboardist I suppose comparisons to XTC wouldn’t be out of line either. There’s really nothing redeeming to say about this album, and while I’d be tempted to give it two stars since there are probably some fans who consider it worthy, this is really a poor and heavily commercial effort by a talented artist who should have known better, even in 1981. One star and not recommended.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 1/5 |

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