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Giles Giles & Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp CD (album) cover


Giles Giles & Fripp


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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

Many Crimson fans have a hard time appreciating the genesis of their favorite band , mostly because of the silly but yet so British humour present. Yes , some of those tracks are silly tid-bits , odd ditties but no more than Gong or even early Genesis (Harrold the Barrel or Willow Farm).

And if you do forget the rather silly story line of the conceptual first side of the album , you will find many elements already present in the future Crimson. The opening track has got that special Giles drumming we all love , Mellotrons are used on another track etc....

But the highlight for many will be Suite No.1 , which I find interesting but no more. I reserve most of my applause for the closing track, Erudite Eyes with again stupendous drumming and great guitar works. Erudite Eyes and North Meadows are book-ending this corrct album is a very superb fashion.

Report this review (#41680)
Posted Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sometimes, historical interest outweighs "progressiveness" in terms of an album's value. I would not sell this album or "From Genesis to Revelation". And, since I enjoy guileless British pop music from the 60's, I would like this album even without the Crimson connection. Whimsical and low-key are the watchwords here. Incidentally, one of the bonus tracks, "Under The Sky", is completely different from the stellar version found on Pete Sinfield's "Still", and the songwriting credits there are obviously wrong. If you're a big fan of "Still", you'll want to hear this version. I agree with most reviews I've seen: the Fripp guitar pieces are the best things on the album, and are worth the price, unless you get "gouged".
Report this review (#44043)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars So what if this is very far from 'the court of the Crimson King' in musical style? Surely a Crimson fan can be quite disappointed with this album, but taken as it is, it's very charming, intellectual, tongue-in-cheek pop album of the sixties. Songs are about two minutes long and they can be compared to some BEATLES tunes like 'When I'm 64', 'Martha My Dear', etc, or to other sixties bands with an innovative playing like Beach Boys or Manfred Mann.

The simple songs of A-side are all part of 'The Saga of Rodney Toady' (by Fripp) that has narration between the songs. It's about a fat and ugly boy of fat and ugly parents who advice him to find a fat and ugly girl to marry. Monty Python -type of silly English humour... or actually more naive and less obviuosly trying to make one laugh; like a bit weird children's book!

There are, however, things beyond the simplicity and childishness. You don't HAVE to be a Crimsonist to enjoy Michael Giles' great drumming or Fripp's guitar, but it makes it more interesting to listen to it as the pre-stage of that legendary band.

Report this review (#55016)
Posted Monday, November 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having discovered the amazing development of Giles, Giles & Fripp leading to the formation of King Crimson, I do think that "The Cheerful Insanity" is an essential. Not only is the music very well played, and of excellent lusicianship, but the mode of the music is highly thoughtful, humorous and perfec original representations of innovative psychadelic/ British prog rock mainstays in the repertoire of timeless rock.

Amongst the entire album, which is thoroughly well organized, the cuts, "Under the Sky", "She is Loaded", and "The Elephant Song" provide fine examples of complex musicianship, dreamy psychadelia, cockney humor, and independently glorious tracks. I had only wished that their earlier version of King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind" would have appeared on this highly enjoyable album as well.

Report this review (#70489)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars At some point tracking down this album is going to prove practically irresistible to every King Crimson fan. A psych-era album featuring three future King Crimson members including the meister himself, Mr Fripp, has to be of interest, surely. And it is. The bulk of the album has very little to do with progressive rock, and you probably have to be a fan of "silly" psych albums like The Small Faces' Ogden's Nut Gone Flake and Pink Floyd's Piper At The Gates Of Dawn to appreciate this album on its own terms, but even allowing for that, there are two impressive tracks which while not exactly pointing the way forward, show that even at this early stage, Fripp and co could make beautiful music.

One main element that defines the album is the quirky narrative that links the songs. The first half of the album focuses on Rodney Toady a fat, ugly misfit, while the latter part deals with Just George, another dysfunctional character. However, understanding the narrative passages is scarcely key to enjoying the album, and in truth they are quite annoying.

As for the songs themselves, they are generally a tamer (but not necessarily poor) version of the sort of stuff that early Floyd was doing. North Meadow and Newly-Weds is pastoral psych with the former song containing some nice fluid jazz guitar lines from Fripp. One In A Million is very English music hall psych ... the sort of track done not just by Floyd, but by the Beatles and The Kinks as well. After a while the novelty wears off as the songs get weaker ... Digging My Lawn, Little Children (the female vocals are particularly twee), etc are pretty weak efforts ... but then there is a big twist towards the end ... because after picking up a little thanks to the absurd, subtly biting Elephant Song ... the album is saved by its two closing tracks, Suite No 1 and Erudite Eyes.

Suite No 1 is a delicate classical instrumental, with an opening that rides on some great high speed playing by Fripp and the accompanying pianist. It then segues into a melancholy segment (with quite possibly the first strains of mellotron making an appearance), before some more classical (this time tinged with flamenco/jazz) comes in. In some ways this is one of Fripp's most impressive guitar performances ever ... which is really saying something!

Erudite Eyes on the other hand is a wild folk/jazz exploration, with an intriguing melody giving way to some stunning psychedelic double-tracked guitar lead work, as the dust settles, both Fripp and Peter Giles on bass begin some really exciting atmospheric improvisations, which gives the piece a really daring quality.

The bulk of this album isn't remotely original, and as such can be put aside quite easily, but I'm sure that Suite No 1 and Erudite Eyes are essential songs for the committed KC fan to hear ... not because the roots of the great band can be heard here, but because we get to hear some quality progressive music that sounds very different from the varied stuff that King Crimson put out. The CD release has some bonus tracks that include an early and quite pleasing version of the Pete Sinfield composition Under The Sky, which simply adds to the curiousity value. ... 57% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#71737)
Posted Sunday, March 12, 2006 | Review Permalink

Well what could i say about this album other than it seems to be the root of all the moody blues and pink floyd not to mention crimson and even renaissance music that came later you can definately hear elements of the crafty guitar work fripp would make famous later

the baroque folk jazz rock fusion artrock hybrid that would later develope into king crimson even such classics as groon and i talk to the wind

a must have for prog fans and king crimson fans everywere

yours truly a pleasant symmetry

Report this review (#92758)
Posted Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This quirky, idiosyncratic, folky collection of whimsical little ditties represents the genesis of an embryonic King Crimson. For those used to the mellotron and woodwind-laden first two King Crimson recordings, this recording, which on initial release sold about 600 copies will present a significant and rude shock. Not to worry, none of the music is particularly memorable, so the risk of having flashbacks from the trauma is relatively small. Musicality is more than evident though stilted in comparison with King Crimson output. The lightweight and offbeat lyrics come off more as humor than anything else, and as such, it is frequently difficult to take this recording seriously. This recording is primarily of interest to King Crimson fans and to music historians, but it certainly not either groundbreaking or even excellent. It rates somewhere between two and three stars, probably closer to the former.
Report this review (#155300)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Loons in (Short) Loon Pants

This is much better than anyone could reasonably expect given how hopelessly dated the production is and how irredeemably 'twee' some of the ideas are behind the flimsy Saga of Rodney Toady and Just George

At its lowest ebb, it comes across as almost a hippy take on Flanders and Swann meet the Goons, while at others, the mood takes a darker turn and some real pathos is evident. Unfortunately, these moments are too infrequent for Giles, Giles and Fripp to sustain and the remainder is a mildly diverting but whimsical collection of 60's pop songs.

If the album has any enduring value, it is probably only as a fascinating document of the types of influences and inputs that would be assimilated from the youthful heir that was later crowned King Crimson.

Fripp's previous stint in a Bournemouth dance band is evident here and it may be quite startling for many progheads to hear him 'vamp' along like an old jazz pro on these numbers. He also reveals a fondness for guitarist Wes Montgomery and mimics perfectly the latter's use of 'octave' soloing.

A track by track analysis would be unwarranted but some of the following are certainly worth hearing at least once:

Call Tomorrow - Somewhat sombre in tone where the trio drop their 'wacky' guise for once and present us with an angular melody that undergoes some arresting harmonic changes redolent of liturgy as conceived by a pious Syd Barrett.

The Crukster - Nascent Frippertronics over which a discomfiting narrative, completely at odds with the rest of the album, and reminiscent of the delivery in Procul Harum's In held T'was I is recited.

A bright colour will cover that pain till silence is sent and then once again you can hear Hell's heat

Thursday Morning - This is my favourite song on the album but no, it ain't gonna give In the Court of the Crimson King any sleepless nights, but is clearly the most fully developed and successful tune on the record.

How Do They Know? - notable if only for the appearance of the same melodic fragment being used on the McDonald & Giles album where it's called Tomorrow's People

'Suite No 1' - Some incredibly rapidfire picking from Bob, which echoes (somewhat tenuously I admit) Fracture from Starless and Bible Black This is what 'Django Reinhardt plays the music of King Crimson' may have approximated.

Erudite Eyes - Harmless enough 60's styled pop tune with a medieval tinge not really worthy of closer inspection until it mutates without warning into a very interesting and spacey 'freeform improv' section where if my ears do not betray me, Fripp's inimitable thick fuzzy liquorice tone can be clearly heard for the first time.

If The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp had been edited to remove the excruciating and puerile dialogue that intersperses the tracks, this may have rewarded repeated listens, but in its present form Moonchild is still but a sparkle in Robert's eye.

Report this review (#170161)
Posted Wednesday, May 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars Do not go into this album with the idea that this is King Crimson. Despite Mr. Fripp and the Giles brothers, this bears very little resemblance to the music of the Crimson King. The first clue, in all of the photos on this album, Fripp is (gasp!) smiling.

A friend of mine once said that the one common aspect of all of the early music from the great proggers of the seventies is silliness. This is true of The Nice, early Pink Floyd, and even band's like Tomorrow (Steve Howe's pre-Yes group). But few were as silly as Giles, Giles & Fripp.

The songs are all short, mostly under three minutes, and are not bad, for sixties psychedelia. Fripp plays mostly jazzy sounding riffs, only breaking out on the classical sounding Suite No. 1. The songs are divided into two groups, each strung together by some Monty Python- esque spoken word sections (remember the Gumby sketches?).

All-in-all, this is not an amazing album, but certainly a welcome part of my collection.

Report this review (#259484)
Posted Tuesday, January 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Compeetly into King Crimson since the mid 70's, and knowing about this album for 25 years, i was very exited about getting it when i finaly got it by postorder sometime in the late 90's. I was expecting something in the line of "In The Wake Of Poseidon" i guess.

My disapointment was allmost physical, while i listened trough the hole thing. This was absolutely nothing like King Crimson, and the CD was hidden on the shelf for a few years. The album is very 60's, silly beat music, with silly songs, was the first impression. And very english too, reminding you of Monty Pytons flying Circus.

After a few years the shock was slowly lifting, and i started listning to the project, with a more open mind. Finding infact quite a few nice moments in there, and now its become an album i do infact like to give a go, when Im in that mood, where I want something light and diffrent, from whats normaly detonating out of my loudspeakers. Its relaxing, its Jazz'y, it hold infact some rather complex instrumentations, and its not all that badly made.

But still if you are looking for those fenomenal guitar solo's, those huge arrangements with a classical touch, the precision and complexity in composition quality that you find on "In The Court Of The Crimson King" this is not where to look for it at all. And you will be as disapointed as i was 10 years ago.

Mainly due to the fact that this is not a prog. album im split between 1 star - Only for completionists, and 2 stars Collectors/fans only. I think any Fripp collector, should have this album, on the other hand if you are "only" a Crimson collector, other Fripp recordings might easily come before this one. I'll give it 2 stars, it is an ok album, seen in the context of 60's recordings, and the Psychedelic sounds of the time, and it is experimental in its own wierd way. But i would go with only 1,75 if i could.

Report this review (#276679)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Once upon a time, before the days of King Crimson, Robert Fripp and original KC drummer Michael Giles were part of a trio (with Giles' brother, Peter) called, appropriately, Giles, Giles and Fripp. Their one and only album, reviewed here, sold a very very small number of copies, and it is definitely quite true that the only reason I should know of its existence is that all of its members would eventually play for the mighty Crim. Despite that, though, it's amazingly enjoyable, and definitely not a chore to sit through or to review.

The greatest thing about this album is that, whereas Crimson albums wouldn't have anything resembling a "national identity," this album is so thoroughly British in so many places that I can't help but grin. First, I must point out that, thanks to this album, I can never ever hold any malice towards Robert Fripp again, if only because nobody who can deliver such a hilarious spoken piece as "The Saga of Rodney Toady" deserves anybody's hatred. This is BRILLIANT straight-faced British humor, and Fripp's delivery is simply perfect as perfect can be - I can't imagine anybody else saying "Rodney's mother was fat and ugly, and Rodney's father was even .... fat-and-uglier" or anything along those lines and doing it better than good ole Robert does here. God Bless Robert Fripp.

The rest of the album, with the exception of a LAME repeated spoken partner to "Rodney Toady," entitled "Just George," is basically a ton of Kinks-style Brit Pop crossed with some jazz ideas and the occasional bit of Moody-Bluesian balladry. Some bits of Crimsonian elements creep in here and there (some of the vocal harmonies in "North Meadow," the brass riff in "Elephant Song," the dissonant guitar lines of "The Crukster," the bits of classical influence in "Suite No. 1"), but for the most part this is just really solid, slightly tweaked pop with elements of music hall. For a Crimson fan, I guess that wouldn't necessarily be the best news, but for somebody like me, who likes the concurrent Kinks albums (not to mention that I consider Between the Buttons one of the best pop albums ever), it's cause to pump my arms up a couple of inches and utter a quiet "woo hoo." Some songs are better than others, to be sure, but after thinking about this album again, I'm quite sure that I won't be able to get the melodies to "One in a Million," "How Do They Know?," "North Meadow" and "Thursday Morning" out of my head for quite a while.

So yeah, even though it's kinda hard to give this an extensive review, this is one of the most worthwhile historical curiousities I've come across in a long time. There's tons of interesting, tweaked and hilarious bits to dig out while listening throughout, and if it weren't for all these ridiculous "Just George" bits, this would have a chance to take quite a significant place in my collection. As is, it's still freakin' amusing.

Report this review (#280081)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Admirers of Syd Barrett and the more pastoral side of early Floyd will like this. Unfortunately it's not as strange or acid drenched but retains a certain British quirkiness throughout. The songs are sursprisingly catchy and remind me of Bowie's first album from '67.

The Saga of Rodney Toad, which appears more or less at the end of each tune was a terrible artistic decision. You can forget anything you've heard about Monty Python humour. This is straight from the mouth of an eight year old child. It's infantile and uninspired spoken by an uncharismatic Pete Giles. Thankfully the tunes more than make up for this blunder, but still relegates 'The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp' to a three star rating, rather than the four it truly deserved.

King Crimson fans are advised to steer well clear. Although even at the age of 22, Fripp had a superb set of guitar playing fingers on him.

There's also the unlikeliest of bonuses with a smiling Robert Fripp on the front cover, which is something I never thought I'd see! Do you think his face shattered into 1000 pieces immediately afterwards?

Report this review (#300340)
Posted Friday, September 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars An appropriately named album indeed.

Sort of Monty Python meets King Crimson, even though it predates both by a little.

Out of the two albums that serve as parts of an early Crimson sandwich, this one I like the best (the other one being McDonald And Giles), probably due to the presence of Mr. Fripp. His signature style is pretty well developed at this point. There is a heavy '60's flavor to some of the music that might be off-putting to some, particularly when compared to In The Court Of The Crimson King, which I find has a certain timeless quality to it. So, dated perhaps, but after getting big into KC, this was a nice discovery.

If you don't believe humor belongs in music, then you might want to avoid this one. You will want to check this out if you are interested in hearing something that is foundational to King Crimson.

"And then once again you can hear hell's heat."

Rounding up.

Report this review (#417861)
Posted Friday, March 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I think that the main importance of this album is really of being an immediate antecedent to the formation of King Crimson, but the musical styles of both bands are really very different, because this band was really a strange mixture of Jazz and Rock sounds with bizarre lyrics talking about some strange characters with a good dose of British humour. So, sometimes it is difficult to understand the humour of some of the lyrics being very British in sense. But anyway this album has some funny moments and very good musical performances by a trio of very good musicians. It still has some very good Prog related arrangements and particularly Michael Giles shines in his drums playing, while Robert Fripp`s guitar playing is more oriented to Jazz than to Rock, and the same could be said about Peter Giles`s bass guitar playing. Anyway, with this strange mixture of musical styles and comedy lyrics it is not really hard to understand why this album and this band didn`t have success then. But even in the present, this album is not a very interesting listening, apart from the historical interest and curiosity. Maybe the Britsh fans of King Crimson could be now be more interested in this album and in this band, but for the other fans of King Crimson it could be more of a collector`s interest.
Report this review (#1079611)
Posted Thursday, November 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars GILES, GILES and FRIPP were brothers Michael Giles and Peter Giles and Robert Fripp. Presumably, they were lacking inspiration in coming up with an original name for the group, so they used their own names for the bandname, which unfortunately ended up sounding like a city firm of legal eagles. They formed in Bournemouth, Dorset in 1967, when King Crimson was just a twinkle in Robert Fripp's eye. The line-up featured Michael Giles on drums and vocals, Peter Giles on bass and vocals and Robert Fripp on guitar. Their peculiar brand of music can best be described as Psychedelic Pop. Their one and only studio album "The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp" (1968) sold poorly on its initial release, but it's now gaining some well-deserved recognition, thanks to the Internet. There were plans for a second album with Judy Dyble (of Fairport Convention) on vocals, but sadly, the album never came to fruition. A compilation album of 1968 demo sessions was released in 2001 as "The Brondesbury Tapes." Robert Fripp & Michael Giles wisely decided to change the name of their firm of solicitors after the release of their sole studio album, when King Crimson emerged to take the prog world by storm. Let's step into the cheerfully insane world of Giles, Giles & Fripp now and give the 13 songs on their 1968 studio album a listen.

It's an album of two halves, with "The Saga of Rodney Toady" occupying the whole of Side One and "Just George" taking up Side Two. The opening song "North Meadow" is nice and cheerful, but definitely not insane. It's just a bright and bubbly, fizzy Pop song that's as refreshing as a glass of lemonade. It also sounds very English in a quaint late-1960's way, with guitar maestro Robert Fripp providing some intricate Jazzy flourishes. There's some cheerful insanity in the opening to the second song "Newly-Weds" with a spoken word introduction to "The Saga of Rodney Toady", featuring some very silly Monty Python- type voices. As for the music, "Newly Weds" sounds as quirky and offbeat as some of Syd Barrett's weird and wonderful Psychedelic Pop excursions with early Pink Floyd, such as "See Emily Play" or "Arnold Layne", for instance. The cheerfully insane spoken word Python-esque intros are a recurring feature of most of the songs on the album and "One in a Million" starts the same way. The music is another cheap and cheerful Pop song to while away a warm and pleasant day spent in an English country garden. It's time to take a pew for the next song "Call Tomorrow", because the music has a rather dour and mournful air to it, with the organist conjuring up an image of a solemn occasion in church. You can really dig the next song though, "Digging My Lawn", because it's a groovy Jazz number, featuring some lovely laid-back drumming and playfully light keyboard and guitar accompaniment. It sounds like the kind of groovy 1960's song you might hear featured in an Austin Powers movie. Next up is "Little Children", a lovely honey-sweet Pop song, featuring some truly gorgeous vocal harmonising from the all-female vocal trio, The Breakaways. It's the highlight of the album so far. Coming along now is the discordant "The Crukster", which is not really a song at all as it's a spoken word poem which has a slightly unsettling and menacing edge to it. The closing song on Side One "Thursday Morning" sounds very Beatle-esque, which is always a good thing in a 1960's Pop album. It's very reminiscent of some of the Beatles' sadder songs, such as "Eleanor Rigby" or "Hey Jude".

Side Two opens cheerfully with "How Do They Know", an upbeat and Jazzy Pop song guaranteed to brighten up the dullest of days, and there's more cheerful insanity on the way with the spoken word "Elephant Song", which is more of a frivolous childrens' novelty song than a serious piece of music. It's time to rub some suntan lotion in now for our next song because "The Sun is Shining". It's a charming song with old-fashioned music hall appeal, featuring the lovely three-part girls choir The Breakaways adding some delightful harmonies to this playful little ditty. We're taking flight next with the classically- inspired "Suite No. 1", which sounds like a Jazzed-up version of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble Bee. The music has the same kind of manic intensity to it. Finally, we come to the last song on the album "Erudite Eyes", which sounds like a pastiche of the Olde Englishe song "Greensleeves" in the opening, but then quickly transposes into a Jazzy Psych-Pop jam session with all of the musicians going off on an improvisational free-for-all.

This late-1960's novelty album of cheerfully insane English Pop songs won't be to everyone's taste. The album is very much of its time and it's not likely to appeal to Prog-Rock fans generally, because it's not Progressive and it's not Rock. It's more of a curiosity item for inquisitive King Crimson fans who are interested to hear the early musical frivolity and Frippery that Robert Fripp got up to before he ventured forth into the Court of the Crimson King.

Report this review (#2305824)
Posted Friday, January 10, 2020 | Review Permalink

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