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February 18, 2007

Under Heavy Manners

Of the various projects and ensembles that Robert Fripp has been involved with over the years, my favorite is his short-lived band The League of Gentlemen, which released just one album, back in 1981. Part of the soundtrack of my first year away from home. Only part of it is available on CD (along with tracks from other projects, including "Under Heavy Manners," one of the "Frippertronics" pieces). But Fripp released a sort of authorized bootleg live album from the League called Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx in the mid-1990s. It took me a while to track the latter down -- and not just because of the spelling -- but it was definitely worth the trouble.

The compositions were all instrumentals, with Fripp playing intricate, fractured, eloquent guitar lines over a really tight rhythm section that included Sara Lee, who later played bass for Gang of Four. Sort of a brainy dance band.

As it turns out, there is some footage of the League performing in 1980. And despite one visitor's protest when I put up a YouTube video earlier, I'm going to do so again now, because hell, it is my blog, after all:

Posted by smclemee at February 18, 2007 3:51 PM


May I respectfully say I think you mean League of Crafty Guitarists, not League of Gentlemen.

Spot on, re: the music.

Posted by: bdr at February 20, 2007 9:37 AM

No, those are completely different groups. The League of Crafty Guitarists is the name Fripp uses for his more recent "guitar orchestra" project. The League of Gentlemen was his band in 1979-80. If you follow the link, you'll find that name is given on the cover of the album they recorded at the time.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at February 20, 2007 9:59 AM

I stand corrected.

There was also League of Crafty Guitarists, and then the comedy troupe League of Gentlemen, but you are right.


Posted by: bdr at February 20, 2007 10:44 AM

When I saw him in Detroit, he said to the audience in a quiet moment, "That's good! You're thinking while you're dancing." We were flattered.

Posted by: Tony Nassar at February 22, 2007 11:43 PM

Wow, thanks Scott - I had no idea about this stuff. Sounds like he was spending some time in New York. You don't know if Fripp was hanging out with Eno when he was working with DNA and the Contortions, do you?

Posted by: Scott at February 24, 2007 1:20 AM

Right, he was. Check out Fripp's "Exposure," from sometime in the late 1970s, which I think of as his New York album. And Fripp plays guitar on the Talking Heads' "Fear of Music," produced by Eno.

Posted by: Scott McLemee at February 24, 2007 6:41 AM

Thanks, I will - I've been wanting to hear some new stuff from that era.

Posted by: Scott at February 24, 2007 5:18 PM

Fripp also played Ramones covers with Blondie (& is on Parallel Lines, as everyone no doubt already knew).

There are some distinctly odd things about that clip—aside from the fact that it exists at all, though I don't know when he became camera-shy: Fripp audibly goofs pretty early on, and towards the end he's standing up while playing.

Posted by: ben wolfson at February 25, 2007 11:17 PM

I think I may have seen these guys live in Dallas about 25 years ago. It was some non-Crimson incarnation of Robert Fripp. They played two sets at a large club. After set one I discovered I had locked my keys in my car, so we saw the second set. Afterwards we broke the window.

Ah, those halcyon days.

I always liked the first incarnation of the 1970's "Larks Tongues in Aspic" Crimson. It had that crazy second drummer who used a chain and always ended up with blood on his face. Good times.

Posted by: Don Kenner at February 28, 2007 2:20 PM

Yeah - the Lark's/Starless/Red trilogy will always be nearest and dearest to me. At a recent Bruford clinic my god was sayin how Muir put red liquid capsules in his mouth, and at one point was inches away from braining Fripp with a huge, swinging chain.

I like in "U.H.M." when some girl - not Sara Lee - is reading aloud something about "....electric anal retentives...." and then breaks out in laughter.

Posted by: danzigintherain at January 5, 2008 2:21 PM