The League of Gentlemen (album) - Cultural Context

Cultural Context

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 a utilitarian (or simply uninspired) backdrop.

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