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Genre: Psychedelic Pop, Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion
Number Of Tracks: 13
This record is definitely another intellectual piece for a listener with an ear for a classical folk jazz taste with some outsider hints as being too "nerdy" to be rockstars but it's just progressive rockers living in a time when bubblegum pop was still thriving, they just didn't fit in.
The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp
Oliver_White3, on june 05, 2014 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The pre-King Crimson aggregate involves the talents of Michael Giles (drums/vocals), Peter Giles (bass/vocals), and Robert Fripp (guitar/vocals) accompanied by a plethora of studio musicians - most notably keyboardist Nicky Hopkins and backing vocalists The Breakaways. By any standards "The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp" is one of the more eclectic albums to have been issued during the psychedelic rock movement of the late '60s. There are also some bonus tracks featured on this CD reissue included "Under the Sky" which appears on "The Brondesbury Tapes." This was originally pressed in late 1968 specifically targeted at the progressive rock market released on Dream records. The album wasn't a success commercially but I think it remains to be a display of more underrated talent and great classical jazz Britain pop/rock with some psychedelic hints thrown in and a sort of pre progressive King Crimson album. Heard throughout are impeccable guitar compositions and works by Robert Fripp who would later on be the sole remaining member of King Crimson, being the driving force behind Crimson, that consistency throughout his career is evident from the beginning here.
There are 13 tracks originally on the album with the original record album was divided into two sections: "The Saga of Rodney Toady" and "Just George," which were named after the respective spoken word pieces that link the musical works on the A- and B-sides. There is some nice mellotron workings on here, this isn't as good as say "Caravan" or "The Moody Blues" but it is still just as good of an album all around, it just doesn't have a solid progressive theme and variation, it has hints and mixtures of everything with impressive free flow intricate drumming and unique rhythms seemingly impossible from Michael Giles, there is a sudden implosion amongst the whole band within the next year with "In The Court of the Crimson King" of course but you can definitely hear the hints of things to come in Giles' complex rhythms that pulsate in such a unique fashion nobody has been able to imitate and Robert Fripp's incredible fret work throughout. // 10
Lyrics: Drawing upon jazz folk, classical, pop, and even sacred music in the track "Call Tomorrow," each track brings a fresh listening experience of a great unique talent. "North Meadow" opens the album with some really impressive guitar playing and some nice calming mellow lyrics. Other times there is a playful sense to the album with "The Saga of Rodney Toady," along with some humorous sad sensations in "Call Tomorrow." "Digging My Lawn" ventures more into these comical assertions coming from the band portraying a strange and funny song with mellow jazz improv throughout. Peter Giles really gives some good bass riffs on here with interesting note bending techniques and possible vocal assistance more often on here for backing vocals.
There are some definitely strange lyrics in here, not going to lie, just the most nonsensical and most likely for humorous measure but another attribute that makes this album so strange and on the outsider boundaries of just strange like this belongs on a Zappa label but it's even more than that because there is some brilliant composing here and great musicianship without doubt. "The Elephant Song" definitely gives that sense of odd humor with a bunch of rambling senseless or seemingly senseless lyrics that are just weird but lyrics like that can be overlooked by the sheer genius and professionalism in the organization of this album. I think it is most certainly a brilliant piece of pre progressive psych folk jazz fusion type of music in it's most early stages, this would be like the embryo similar to Genesis' album "From Genesis to Revelation" (1969) as a band that is still more than adequate but are finding themselves. "The Sun Is Shining" is definitely a dated English pop track, it's insane how these guys can get from this to their next album with additional members, I think the members added themselves helped collaborate more with each other to change direction, but on another note it is quite believable that this is the same group with the same potential because the instrumentation on here are just perfect. "Newly Weds" kind of shows a more psychedelic guitar work style of Fripp during this era as it was a very common genre and newly formed, the sliding effect on there really is the key element to that and gives the track a "trippy" feel about the vibes of marriage.
Something like "Suite no. 1" gives more of an idea of the kind of skill and prowess there is here from a legendary guitarist. There is some soft dreamy mellotron and humming vocal choir type music on here for sure but the way its done is so strange it almost does feel progressive. It's just there is so much going on here on this album right now with those classical UK music stylings jazz, folk and slight psych avant-garde that all just fuses together but the main genre here is just classical/jazz English music. Fripp's ethereal lyrics for "Under the Sky" beg the question why he chose not to continue honing his formidable verbal skills and vivid imagery. Strangely enough there is nice use of Fripp's ahead of its time distortion techniques on the soloing used for the "Erudite Eyes" jam which is still soft but you can hear the effect he uses on his guitar close to the type of "21st Century Schizoid Man" and some progressive soloing and improvisational jamming, definitely a skilled band stuck in a standard pop mainstream world soon to do some groundbreaking stuff. // 9
Overall Impression: This is a good piece of Robert Fripp's beginnings and is close resemblance to Igginbottom's Wrench (1969) with a jazz prog rock type of hint and Holdsworth's first band as this is Fripp's. That would be a closer album in likeliness. It is a bit out of place in some areas and a complete transformation would undergo this band but there is some stunning songwriting and beautiful composition work like on "Little Children" with a type of innocence, this is more of a light side and brighter sounding jazz folk sunnier King Crimson trio. This was definitely released with the intentions of some mainstream success however it didn't make it, I think there is some time of editing from hearing "The Brondesbury Tapes," they change their sound a lot and compromise for a mainstream sound with something more complex and trying to form it into something mainstream somehow but it doesn't work.
This record is definitely another intellectual piece for a listener with an ear for a classical folk jazz taste with some outsider hints as being too "nerdy" to be rockstars but it's just progressive rockers living in a time when bubblegum pop was still thriving, they just didn't fit in. So this album features some really solid takes and performances in immaculate sound seemingly perfect like a Robert Fripp type of English sound with nice orchestration touches on here with tracks like "Thursday Morning" and something like "The Cruckster" with a bit of an avant-garde style; Fripp sort of showing his mixture of tastes with classical/avant garde jazz hints with a folk/brit pop theme going on. "How Do They Know" has more of an outsider feel in music and separates them with that Zappa kind of unique comical merging with jazz rock/soft rock psych then going into a chorus with a funny voice then "George" plays as another strange track of odd quirky humor. It's all blended and well calculated for a bit of a laugh here and there along with some nice classical leaned jazz rock I would say among all the mixture in here.
there is a tremendous amount to enjoy on "The Cheerful Insanity of..." for those whose expectations are not of King Crimson, but rather of lighthearted and decidedly folksy English tales such as "Erudite Eyes." "The Brondesbury Tapes" is a more raw and free form sound from this trio along with Judy Dyble vocals and Ian McDonald on saxophone. This does go somewhat for the mainstream but is nothing like anything of the time because of the experimental hints here and instrumentation that leads to something that sounds King Crimson but for the most part remains in a transitional phase. Even when the group tries something mainstream it doesn't work out, I think "She's Loaded" at least had some potential as a 45rpm. single. Even though this may not all be your bag it is definitely a good listen to show what music of the time sounded like and how there is a difference with some bands like these guys that had a real unique talent and focused on less popular complex traditional music like folk and jazz, but would become more important in jazz fusion and psych progressive rock later on.
In a sense beyond some dated parts like the lyrics and standard English influence on here there is quite a bit of unique creativity on here and it makes this album brilliant and somehow its own psychedelic quirky effort on its own with unique styles. There is a beautiful high quality take of "Under the Sky" on here I really loved with some nice acoustic guitar that Robert Fripp plays so beautifully. There is a lot of artistic unique expressions on here with ambitious young talents that had their own vision, particularly Michael Giles and Robert Fripp but some nice Ian McDonald flute solos on that track too. I digress though, this LP remains to be a relic of how bands transition and changed sometimes to become something less mainstream and unique like the masterpiece King Crimson debut would be made much in the vain of all this work because the change in direction away from mundane boring pop/rock worked out into something so amazing and one of a kind, so this is really important history of King Crimson right here. These guys were so young with so much talent and lovely melodies and creativity. // 10