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

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN

Robert Fripp

 

Eclectic Prog

2.67 | 24 ratings

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js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars It might be hard to understand what Fripp was trying to achieve on this release unless you understand some of the influences surrounding him at the time. The League of Gentlemen was put together to play tours in 1980 when Fripp was out to prove he could cut it in the new lean post-punk new wave scene. At this time the scene in New York was a big influence on not only Fripp, but other progressive rockers eager to change such as Bowie, Eno, Andy Mackay and Peter Gabriel.

Seminal artsy NY punk bands such as The Contortions and Eight-Eyed Spy had broken up and some of the more musically talented members of these bands were forming new bands that drew a lot of their musical influences from the past. Guitarists such as Robert Quine and Jody Harris began to show a lot of interest in 50s and 60s guitar instrumentals in a variety of styles including lounge exotica, surf, and hot rod music. I think this post-punk guitar instrumental scene had a big influence on Fripp when he made this record. I don't think money was a motivating factor on this project. If Robert wanted to make money all he had to do was hire some big name musicians and slap the name King Crimson on the project and he would be back in the big leagues, which is exactly what he did when he finally got bored with this project.

If you listen to this record as a Fripp-riffs meets surf, crossed with lounge exotica and infused with punk energy, then at least six of the songs aren't too bad. They could have been better if the rhythm section had been a little less clumsy and more time had been put into the production, but I think that is part of the "punk" sound Fripp was going for here.

There are also three really nice short minimalist electronic pieces that are somewhat similar to 60s Terry Riley. These pieces also add to the whole retro-exotic sound. The big drawback on the album though are the snippets of spoken word nonsense. At least three songs are totally ruined because of the "vocals" that were placed in the mix. These vocals consist of a mix of quotes from J.G. Bennett, punk girls talking trash, gratuitous sex noises and cliché announcer type voices.

This record would have been a lot better if Fripp had not been so self-conscious about his past as a 70s rock dinosaur and hired top notch musicians and producers as he was about to do with the newly reformed King Crimson. The six songs on this album that display Fripp's take on 60s guitar instrumentals are really a lot of fun and rate up there with any of his best stuff. I noticed on the album notes that this band played at some fairly rough clubs including the Mud Club in New York. I wonder if Robert enjoyed his year of "slumming it" before retreating back to the regal Court of the Crimson King.

js (Easy Money) | 3/5 |

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