The League of Gentlemen (album)
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|the League of Gentlemen|
|Studio album by Robert Fripp|
|Recorded||Jul 1980 – Dec 1980|
|Genre||Post-punk, new wave|
|Label||EG Records (United Kingdom)|
|Robert Fripp chronology|
An audio sample from "Trap"
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The League of Gentlemen is a recorded music album by Robert Fripp. The music on the album was performed by members of a band which toured Europe and North America throughout 1980 under the name of 'The League of Gentlemen'. The album was released in the UK in 1981 in vinyl format on the Editions EG label. It has never been reissued on CD.
The album emerged at the extreme tail-end of the Post-punk/New wave period in UK music just as the scene was evolving into more diverse musical ideas which eventually gave birth to 'alternative rock'.
It was released in the same month as the NME and Rough Trade combined to release a mail-order compilation of the music of the UK Post-punk/New wave scene. This, now classic, compilation was released in the form of the C81 promotional cassette tape and effectively marked the end of the scene it celebrated and the start of the 'Indie' period.
So the 'League of Gentlemen' was released at a cultural cusp. The band had been positioned by Fripp himself as a "new wave instrumental dance band" which would suggest that he considered the music produced by the band to be 'New wave' in character. Commentators have pointed to the rawness of the production as significant in so far as this approach had been popular among producers of post-punk/New wave recordings of the time.
It may be that Robert Fripp was seeking to make his music fit to the prevailing 'alternative' style of the time or it may simply be a reflection of the speed with which the record was recorded and released at the end of an exhausting tour. Whatever the motivation or the underlying reasons the music seems to fit well with the Post-punk scene, a feeling which is only re-inforced by the socio-political messaging laid over the tracks in the form of vocal samples. The musical backbone of the album is the spiky and complex interaction between guitar and keyboards and the repetitive and gradually developing nature of the melodic themes to which the bass and drums provide an easy to dance to 4/4 beat (Fripp stated repeatedly that the League of Gentlemen was a dance band, and at gigs a section of empty floor space was sometimes reserved so that audience members had an area in which to dance).
The album sleevenotes state that 'The League of Gentlemen' played a total of 77 gigs during 1980 and includes a full list of all these gigs starting at Moles, Bath on 10 April 1980 and finishing at the School of Economics, London on 29 November 1980.
The tour was split into three discernible parts;
- Part 1: 10 April to 1 June – UK and Europe
- Part 2: 14 June to 22 July – North America
- Part 3: 10 September to 29 November – UK
Drummer Jonny Toobad left the band during Part 3 of the tour in Manchester on 22 November and was replaced for the remaining dates by Kevin Wilkinson.
Recording and release
The album was recorded in at least two (possibly three) separate session sequences. One (or two) with Jonny Toobad on drums and another with Kevin Wilkinson on drums.
Given the tour dates above, the departure date of Toobad and the stated commitment (on the album sleeve) to work together between the following dates;
- Period 1: 19 March to 22 July
- Period 2: 8 to 24 September
- Period 3: 10 November to 4 December
Then we can deduce that;
- The first sequence of recording sessions may have begun in early June during the break between Parts 1 and 2 of the tour,
- A second sequence may also have book-ended the September dates of Part 3 of the tour,
- The final sequence of recording sessions must have occurred after the tour had concluded.
The album was then released in February 1981 in the UK, Japan, France and the USA as well as Germany and Italy.
The album was produced by Robert Fripp and engineered by Tony Arnold at 'Arny's Shack' studio in Parkstone, Dorset, England.
All the tracks are titled in upper case on the album sleeve and on the record label itself. Roman numerals are used for each side and for all part numbering of tracks.
Side I (EGED 9A)
- INDISCREET I (1.47)
- INDUCTIVE RESONANCE (4.35)†
- MINOR MAN (3.45)†
- HEPTAPARAPARSHINOKH (2.03)†
- DISLOCATED (4.35)†
- PARETO OPTIMUM I (2.07)
- EYE NEEDLES (3.12)†
- INDISCREET II (2.35)
Side II (EGED 9B)
- PARETO OPTIMUM II (1.27)
- COGNITIVE DISSONANCE (3.38)†
- HG WELLS (3.25)†
- TRAP (4.45)†
- OCHRE (3.07)
- INDISCREET III (1.26)
- The run-out groove on this side bears the message "THE NEXT STEP IS DISCIPLINE" – this was a reference to Fripp's next project which was a new band called Discipline. The band was announced in the British music press and they played some gigs and started recording before Robert Fripp, as he later reported to journalists, was driving home, listening to a tape of the new band, and found "..the presence of King Crimson sitting next to me..." So Discipline became the new incarnation of King Crimson, while Discipline remained as the album title only.
All songs above are credited as being by Robert Fripp except those marked † which are credited as being by 'The League of Gentlemen'.
The primary performances on the album are credited to;
- Barry Andrews - organ
- Robert Fripp - guitar
- Sara Lee - bass guitar
- Jonny Toobad (Johnny Elichaoff) - drums (on HEPTAPARAPARSHINOKH and DISLOCATED)
- Kevin Wilkinson - drums (all other tracks)
Also credited are;
- Danielle Dax (courtesy of the Lemon Kittens) – for "Hamsprachtmuzic" (i.e. vocal stylings) on the track 'MINOR MAN' and for the album sleeve front cover.
- J.G.Bennett (courtesy of Elizabeth Bennett) – for "Extracts from the Sherbourne House talks" – vocal samples used at various points on the album.
- Marjori – for the Photo of the League taken at Gramercy Park, New York, during July 1980 which appears on the reverse of the album sleeve.
- Rob O'Connor – for "Cover Glue".
- Paddy Spinks – for "Strategic Interaction".
In addition Robert Christgau claims to recognise uncredited 'spoken overlays' (or samples as we would now call them) by Karen Durbin, Chip Stern, Terre Roche, Richard Goldstein and Ellen Willis but does not state who he thinks is responsible for any specific instance.
The various uncredited spoken overlays on the album occur mainly on the tracks INDISCREET I, II and III. The compilation of these 'indiscretions' is credited to Robert Fripp.
They may be classified by their location in the running order of the album, the distinct voices heard and the following opening phrases or sounds;
- "This is addressed to people who have the intention to work" – Voice 1
- "Rock and roll is about fucking" – Voice 2 and Voice 3
- "That is the possibility that we should explore" – Voice 1
- "Can you tell me about your first experience of a nuclear explosion" – Voice 4
- - Sound of female groaning (evoking orgasmic ecstasy) –
- - Sound of air-raid siren followed by applause –
- "There are people who want to know more" – Voice 1
- "This is not a record which is out to showcase a guitar player" – Voice 5
- "How do I dance to this music?" – Voice 2 and Voice 3
- "Then what am I to do about it?" – Voice 1
- "Don't dance with your feet" – Voice 2 and Voice 6
- Features more of the above with emphasis on Voices 2 and 3 extemporising on the subject of rock music. Also included is the complete non-sequitur "I'd like to spend about 100m a year on sewers" and the observation "This country's going down the well" probably sampled from TV or radio. Voice 5 also gets an airing on the subject of Charlie Christian's guitar sound.
- Features extended excerpts about change from J.G. Bennett's 1972 lecture entitled "Concern for the Future".
- Features a number of clips of Voice 5 criticising the League of Gentlemen's music and making unfavourable comparisons with a Talking Heads record and a live performance by Television. These comments are interspersed with samples from TV and radio presumably chosen to signify that the opinions of Voice 5 are held to be of questionable value, e.g. "Why should we put up with this nonsense" and "I think it stinks".
Key to voices:
- Voice 1: J.G.Bennett
- Voice 2: Terre Roche
- Voice 3: Maggie Roche
- Voice 4: Sue Lawley (taken from the programme Nationwide)
- Voice 5: Unknown Male
- Voice 6: Unknown Female
- "Robert Fripp – Chapter 8". Progressiveears.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- Ruhlmann, W. (2011). "The League of Gentlemen – Robert Fripp & the League of Gentlemen | AllMusic". allmusic.com. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- Christgau, R. (2011). "Robert Christgau: CG: robert fripp". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 26 July 2011.
- Editions EG – Catalogue number EGED 9 – 1981 EG Records Ltd.
- "Robert Fripp Discography: Major Collaborations and Productions". Elephant-talk.com. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Robert Fripp". Dgmlive.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "CG: robert fripp". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 27 February 2012.