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Robert Fripp - God Save the Queen / Under Heavy Manners CD (album) cover

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN / UNDER HEAVY MANNERS

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

2.87 | 29 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars As the 80s approached Robert Fripp found himself purposefully trying to distance himself from the grandiose music he had created in the early to mid-70s. Big progressive rock productions were passe and Fripp was trying to attach himself to the more cutting edge art-rock and new wave bands that were emerging in the late 70s. Minimalism was also a big influence during this period. Composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass were enjoying almost rock star status and pop artists such as Devo and Talking Heads were enjoying huge popularity with their minimalist influenced rock.

There was a lot of "buzz" surrounding this release even before it came out. In interviews Fripp hinted at a new lean and intelligent approach to rock that would take him into the brave new world of the 80s. When I first heard this record in 1980 I thought Robert had succeeded in combining Gamelan influenced minimalism with new wave rock and had created a blueprint for many bands to follow. Unfortunately, listening to this record again many years later I find it has not aged well. This record is a good example of the trap you set for yourself when you follow the newest trends too closely, your work ends up being too easily identified with the time period in which it came out.

Side one consists of three ambient instrumentals that feature Fripp's tape looped guitar recording technique known as Frippertronics. The first track, Red Two Scorer is nice enough, but things start to get boring soon after that. Without Eno around to help with production and "treatments", Fripp's guitar sounds stale after a while.

Side two consists of two rock songs that introduce Fripp's new 80s style. The basic idea behind these two songs is not bad, a simple rock beat overlaid with interlocking complicated guitar parts, but there are drawbacks to these songs that undermine the whole project. The first problem is the plodding rhythm section. Surely Fripp could have gotten better musicians, but I guess he thought these guys made him sound more "punk".

Another big problem is that there is no attention to sound texture or production. Music that is repetitive like this really needs some depth and color or it becomes boring quickly. In the hands of a team like Eno and Manzenera this same material would have been a lot more interesting. Finally, the bad icing on the bad cake is the voice of David Byrne on the song Under Heavy Manners. When this record was released Byrne was considered very nouveau hip and it certainly made Robert's record seem more relevant to have him on board. Unfortunately this would be another case of 'trying too hard to be hip' having a bad effect in the long run. They might as well have had Pee Wee Herman do the vocals because nothing says 80s like David Byrne, at the peak of his career, getting away with being totally full of himself and blabbering some pretentious fake madness with that "voice" of his. It has been a long time since anyone has encouraged him to be that self-indulgent.

Fripp tried too hard to be contemporary on this one, and ironically enough that is what makes it sound anachronistic today. It also doesn't help that the production is so flat and unimaginative, this album's blend of ambient and minimalistic styles could have really blossomed under the guidance of a skilled producer

js (Easy Money) | 2/5 |

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