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

THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN

Robert Fripp

Eclectic Prog


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3 stars This album is not one of the best made by Mr. Fripp but there are a few songs totally unforgettable.

Follwing the classic Fripp style, at first sight looks very repetitive and even bored, with constant and minimalist guitar loops. But there is some enchanting taste in every song maybe because not even Fripp takes seriously this release. And here is the most fascinating attarctive of the album because almost all the time sounds FUNNY.. and I'm not joking.

Anyway, I told you there is a few great songs in this album: "Inductive Resonance", "Heptaparaparshinokh", "Eye Needles", "Cognitive Dissonance" and "H.G. Wells" all of them full of the unique Fripp guitar style with harmonic drum bases maybe announcing the sound of 80's King Crimson...

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#77183)
Posted Thursday, May 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
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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

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#160012)
Posted Sunday, January 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
js (Easy Money)
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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.

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Send comments to js (Easy Money) (BETA) | Report this review (#161410)
Posted Saturday, February 09, 2008 | Review Permalink
Evolver
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Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars In the late seventies, I just about worshipped Robert Fripp. As he was the only consistent member of the world's greatest progressive rock band, he was essentially THE crimson king. Then something went wrong. He broke up King Crimson, audaciously declared all prog bands "dinosaurs", released one great solo album, and then under the guise of some flaky philosopy (that I actually paid to hear him describe - but I presume most of the crowd, like myself, wanted to hear him shred on his guitar), deconstructed his music into odd, but essentially boring disco and even more boring soundscapes.

Then, in 1981, he toured with this band, The League Of Gentlemen. The music is a vague precursor to the "Discipline" band, with Fripp playing guitar patterns similar to what he did with that incarnation of King Crimson. However, as good as his playing was, the rest of the band, a punk/new wave combo, just didn't have the ability to keep up with Fripp being Fripp.

The album is interesting, as you get to hear Fripp play his oddly tuned guitar exercises, and even sometimes shred over these simplistic rhythms and chords.

At least he was heading in the right direction.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#442182)
Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2011 | Review Permalink

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