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King Crimson

  • In The Court Of The Crimson King,
  • In The Wake Of Poseidon,
  • Lizard,
  • Islands,
  • Larks Tongues In Aspic,
  • Starless And Bible Black,
  • Red,
  • Discipline,
  • Beat,

  • Album Reviews |

    King Crimson

    In The Court Of The Crimson King( 1969 )
    21st Century Schizoid Man / I Talk To The Wind / Epitaph / Moonchild / The Court Of The Crimson King

    King Crimson were born out of the trio Giles, Giles and Fripp. They lost Peter Giles during the early process of making this record, but did gain vocalist/bassist Gregg Lake to join the also newly arrived Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield. A selection of fairly non-standard instrumentation ( for the time ) and production tricks are partly responsible for this records stature to date. This became a hugely influential release in helping along the budding progressive rock movement. For some, it came to define the movement, if not giving birth to it exactly - at the very least - raising, bathing, changing and feeding it. The songs aren't half bad either.... '21st Century Schizoid Man' kicks things off of course. I say of course, one listen to the song and you'll know why. An effect on the vocals produces a slightly mettallic sound which only adds to the fury of the whole thing. The way saxophones are used along with a superlative rhythm section performance ensures that this is a track that rocks. It rocks! The vocals continue to shout and holler, adding fury to the performance. Its breathless and those saxophones really are well integrated into the overall performance. Its some way to open any album, let alone a debut. After this excitement we have the quiet but quite beautiful 'I Talk To The Wind'. The lyrics may seem dated to some, but as sung, they sure sound beautiful. The musical track flows through the air dreamily, and somewhat appropriately. Wonderful flute work is noticeable - and its complete. Listen, listen again. The contrast between the feel of this song and the opener is immense, showcasing the diverse talents within the ranks of King Crimson at this stage.

    Almost every song here has a different musical hook. 'Epitaph' has washes of mellow keyboards, great noticeable drum work and a reasonably soulful vocal performance. The song reaches up in the middle section ( around the 3:45 mark ) and then drops out again to reveal beautiful folk style guitar work before the keyboards and drums kick back in. Of the five songs here 'Moonchild' is the only one that doesn't quite seem natural or seemless. The opening of the song is pretty enough but then almost everything disappears and we are left with nine ( count em, nine! ) minutes of nothing at all bar a few atmospherics. It's something of a shame as the closing track is stupendous! The keyboard feel is shared with 'Epitaph' but even more impressive here. The harmony vocals combined with the mellotron sound is just so spine chilling and beautiful. I could listen to this repeating section over and over. The lyrics and vocals are merely excellent. What can you say? Towards the end the track drops out and you assume we are done. Half a minute of virtual silence before the track reprises itself to end. Its a damn fine song and a great close to a mighty album. The first two tracks are classics, no doubt about it. The title song is impressive and 'Epitaph' is hardly lack-lustre! No, its not perfect, but then, what is? Four of the five tracks are brilliant and that's more than enough to be able to recommend this whole-heartedly.

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    Possibly the album the started the whole Progressive Rock Scene. The title track is great, haunting, eerie, "Schizoid Man" is also great, and so is "Epitaph" but the quieter numbers just don't do it. But how do you spell 'boring' ? "Moonchild" ! Robert fripp is great, but not as great as he would later become.

    bassplayeredd eddie123zeppelin@hotmail.com
    excellent review here, I can't imagine what this album must have sounded like in 69, it still sounds great today. Anyway i agree, all the songs are great except for "moonchild" i skip it every time. 9/10

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    In The Wake Of Poseidon( 1970 )
    Peace : A Beginning / Pictures Of A City / Cadence And Cascade / In The Wake Of Poseidon / Peace : A Theme / Cat Food / The Devils Triangle / Peace : An End

    Right, let's try and work this out. Ian McDonald left. Mike Giles left. Greg Lake, the groups lead vocalist left! Leaving the group with? One original playing member, Robert Fripp of course! How a group with only one original member ( OK, two - lyricist Pete Sinfeld still contributed ) managed to finish this record at all, beggars belief. We do get contributions from all the previous line-up bar Ian McDonald who left too early to have recorded anything for this. A few other session guys contributed to fill out the album - and there you go. So, does the record suffer from all this turmoil? Not as much as you'd expect, actually. Bob Fripp asserts his importance, the three part 'Peace' is a piece of nothing ( ha ha! ) - but that apart. Yeah, a decent enough record! We open with 'Peace - A Beginning' which is a little vocal interlude to lead into the storming 'Pictures Of A City'. 'Pictures Of A City' begins very '21st Century Schizoid Man' and seems a logical follow-up to said song. Things take a twist around the three and half minute mark where the song turns all 'batman' on us - a very cartoony, if impressively played instrumental sequence that just leaves you thinking 'what the fuck?'. The segment lasts for a minute or so to lead into virtual silence. In fact, this is a far more 'schizoid' song than '21st Century Schizoid Man' was! After far too long a sequence of silence the guitars return and things swing back to how the song begun. It's very unsettling and strange. It isn't at all smooth, perhaps it wasn't meant to be, but it certainly isn't perfect. 'Cadence And Cascade' features the vocal 'talents' of a certain Gordon Haskell and tries to match the beauty of 'I Talk To The Wind' but fails to do so. It's still quite nice I suppose with its little Piano rolls and all.

    The title track is this albums undoubted highlight for me. Gorgeously haunting mellotron, a very real atmosphere about the whole song, with it's mysterious lyrics and great Greg Lake vocal performance. 'Peace - A Theme' is the most enjoyable of the three 'peace' interludes' being just Fripp playing guitar quite attractively. 'Cat Food' beggars belief! And, funnily enough, I have a cat right by my hands as i'm trying to type this review. She keeps rubbing her head against my hands making typing very difficult indeed! She doesn't seem to paying much attention to King Crimsons bizarre attempt to make the pop charts. Yes, 'Cat Food' was indeed released as a single, and sunk without trace. It's quite funky though, and one of my favourite tracks from this album. 'The Devils Triangle' stretches out over three parts and amounts to eleven minutes of music. The first minute and half is very silent, mellotron enters, military drums..... Sorry, hang on......... Right, let's continue. With all the carry on with my cat, i've failed to notice that nearly four minutes have passed and nothing at all has happened. Hmmm, eleven and a half minutes of military drums and awful sounding keyboards/mellotron amid weird noises and a complete lack of melody. Congratulations, guys!

    'Peace ' re-appears to end the record. The inclusion of 'Cat Food', 'The Devils Triangle' and the three 'Peace' songs draw little comparison with anything from the groups previous work - the rest of 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' sounds much like a continuation of 'In The Court...' and ultimately, is a fine enough thing.

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    Phantom Gtowner phantomgtowner@hotmail.com
    Not nearly as consistently beautiful as "In The Court Of The Crimson King". But still it's chock full of creative motivation and effort even if it is maybe a tad ostentatious.

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    Lizard 7 ( 1970 )
    Cirkus / Indoor Games / Happy Family / Lady Of The Dancing Water / Lizard: Prince Rupert Awake....

    Further lineup changes confuse matters. Gordon Haskell signs on as permanent vocalist, only to leave right after this album. In fact, he didn't even complete all his parts on this album, Yes vocalist Jon Anderson sings some of the parts on the closing song, and I like the fact that he does. His voice is unmistakable, and apparently he was asked to join on full time, but he politely declined favouring his role in Yes instead. Good job, too I say. I love Yes, no offence to Robert Fripp intended, of course. I like King Crimson too, more so now that i'm acquainted with this album, actually. Not that's it's an especially great album, it isn't. It's a very confused sounding album by a band splintered due to lineup changes and unsure of a direction to take. So, they experiment with Jazz/Rock fusion, experiment, full stop. They don't always sound together, performance wise this record pales in comparison with the best moments from either of the first two albums. But, the experimental nature, a very quirky experimental nature, does have a charm all of it's own. Charm probably isn't a correct word to use in relation to this record, but goddamit, I quite, fairly, a little.... really enjoy listening to this. The opening 'Cirkus' has mellotron, weird sounds, trumpet flowing over the top. Nonsensical lyrics sung with deep import and meaning anyway. The lyrics are like that all over the album. I'm glad that I can't actually make many of them out. The music often threatens to drown out the vocals altogether. Nearly the only time the vocals clearly rise above the music to provide something of their own is when Jon Anderson sings his parts in the closing song. Ah, yes, it's true. No pun intended. Or, possibly, even made.

    'Indoor Games' is Jazzy, taking its cue from King Crimson of the first two albums, but the music is disconnected. Both this and the following 'Happy Family' sound like someone has taken a knife to the master tapes of the first two King Crimson albums, thrown all the pieces up in the air and randomly stuck them back together again, with little thought as to how the pieces connect to each other. But, it's an interesting approach, at least, it sounds interesting to me. 'Happy Family' reminds me of 'Cat Food' a little, but this is far more 'out there' than even 'Cat Food' was. The vocals here have been treated with a variety of effects, and poor old Gordon Haskell sounds better under a weight of studio effects than he does singing in his 'normal' voice. No, i'm not a fan of his. Sorry about that, all you Gordon Haskell fans out there! He does okay on the sweet and heavily featuring flute ballad 'Lady Of The Dancing Water'. Or maybe it was somebody else? I guess it was him. Lineup changes confuse me. I'm not a King Crimson 'student', by any means. I'll learn as I go along, I expect. What I learn from the closing song I'm not sure, but it sounds good. This twenty three minute long piece goes all over the place, as the album as a whole does. Spooky strange sci-fi noises, quiet moments, loud moments. And, Jon Anderson too. Piano, trumpet and everything ends rather anti-climatically, just stops. The song goes into a void, doesn't mean anything at all from the sound of it and neither does the album as a whole. But, 'Lizard' is interesting, very strange, not especially a record anybody is able to 'grab hold' of. But, it has a charm, you see! Relatively speaking, of course.

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This album isn't as bad as some people say it is. I must admit, though, it took me a little while to get into it. Sure, Gordon Haskell isn't the greatest KC singer, but the music arrangements are good. And the lyrics are some of the wackiest that Peter Sinfield ever wrote for King Crimson. The cover is pretty cool, too. Jon Anderson (from Yes) even contributes a guest vocal on "Prince Rupert Awakes". "Cirkus" is a pretty cool opener. Another cool thing is that a VCS3 synth distorts Gordon Haskell's voice on "Happy Family". "Lizard" is a pretty good side-long song, but it gets a bit boring in the middle. Best songs: "Cirkus", "Indoor Games", "Happy Family" and "Lizard". Worst song: "Lady of the Dancing Water". 7/10

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    Islands 4 ( 1971 )
    Formentera Lady / Sailor's Tale / The Letters / Ladies of the Road / Prelude: Song of the Gulls / Islands

    The vocals are incredibly weak here, sung by one Boz Burrell, a guy who went off to form Bad Company playing bass only, not singing vocals, as he does here. The opening 'Formentera Lady' is folky, crass, silly, basic, stupid. It's incredibly banal, albeit dressed up in King Crimson Robert Fripp all so serious colours. It's a bunch of shite. Although Bob Fripp was a very talented guitar player, he did like his avant garde and his did like his music as art and he did like to think what he was doing was intelligent. The main achievement produced by 'Formentera Lady' is to make a bunch of decent musicians sound like they'd never played before in their entire lives. The song drags on for an awfully long ten minutes. Awfully long, because absolutely nothing happens. Well, bar a gently repeating bass motif and light vocals - nothing happens. 'Sailor's Tale' is a lot better in that it sounds like King Crimson. Sounds like the same band that produced 'In The Wake Of Poisedon' or 'In The Court Of'. Well, more or less. What it actually sounds like is that Robert Fripp was a guitarist ten years ahead of his time. Although, don't get me wrong. Far from sounding technically amazing, he sounds like a punk/new wave guitarist, like he's suddenly joined XTC ten years too early. Other points in the song, the swirling mellotron, reminds of earlier King Crimson. The bass and drums lock together in jazz/rock fusion and all is well. Only seven and a half minutes of avant-garde this time around. Yeah, that's 'Sailor's Life'.

    'The Letters' has the all important King Crimson jazz sound in places, in other places descending into near total silence. Hey, groovy! 'Ladies Of The Road' sounds like Frank Zappa's 'Mothers Of Invention' farting over a talented bass players nose whilst, somebody they've just dragged off the street attempts to sing whilst tied down by his ankles by Robert Fripp. Still, nice Beatles style harmonies come in later during the song, so that's alright then. The final two songs by pass softly, gently. Inoffensively. The best thing you can say about them is that they are inoffensive. As for 'Islands', it's a complete waste of tape, more or less. The innate talent and vision of Bob Fripp shines through in places, but the album is a mess. Whilst contemporaries of King Crimson, such as Genesis and Yes were getting better and better and better, King Crimson were descending into near total decline. Of course, what happened next was inexcusable!<

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    I agree - I also give "Islands" a 4/10. It's KC's most pastoral album. And Boz isn't THAT bad of a singer - certainly better than Gordon Haskell. "Formentera Lady" isn't that bad. It's alright but not bad. "Sailors Tale" is the best thing on the album. In the middle, Fripp plays a guitar that sounds like an electric banjo. I kid you not. "The Letters" goes from almost whispering to crunching drums and guitars. "Ladies of the Road" is musically okay, but the lyrics are awful. "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" is nothing special at all. As for the title track, I also agree - it is a "waste of tape".

    David von Hagen djvonhagen@aol.com
    How can "Islands", the best of the first four albums, get such a bad review. It's the only time that Pete Sinfield kept his pretentions in check and actually created a couple of decent lyrics ("Islands" in particular). It's the only one that doesn't feature a kitsch spotty nerd angst anthem ("In the Wake of Poseidon" and "Epitaph" being the best examples)and it features possibly the best thing Robert Fripp ever did - "Sailor's Tale". "Islands" to me is the most complete and impressive King Crimson collection and, in particular, leaves out the Genesis/Moody Blues/ELP/Gentle Giant pretension that, unfortunately, KC spawned. Worse, they never came anywhere close again - "No Pussyfooting" being the only thing RF has done of any worth since

    Ron rupertbear68@yahoo.co.uk
    Love the site and normally agree with both your ratings and comments. However, with "Islands" I have to disagree. I'd give it 8/10, it being one of my all time favourite albums - although I no longer have the vinyl edition I do have the HDCD version and this manages to bring out colours not found elsewhere. "Ladies Of The Road" contains one of Rock's dirtiest sax breaks and should have been released as a single. I've enjoyed listening to King Crimson since seeing them play in Hyde Park at the Rolling Stones concert in July 1969, oddly enough a gig that also featured another of my favourite bands - Pete Brown's Battered Ornaments. I also love the way the album ENDS with Fripp giving instructions to the orchestra and the sound of them tuning up ready to record what has just finished!! lol!! These two longish orchestral pieces being some of Crimso's best work (and FAR better than Zappa's attempts). "Larks' Tongues..." and "Red", of course, I'd rate as 10/10 each. Anyway! all the best and a very Happy 2006!!

    toams tollorente@hotmail.com
    The song Island is one of the best songs King Crimson ever made, and so is Formentera; thatīs my opinion. Genesis I havenīt heard much (and what iīve heard hasnīt impressed me much) and Yes has itīs great album-masterpiece Close to the edge, the rest of itīs work cannot be compaired to this record (Island). We definately donīt have the same taste.

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    Larks Tongues In Aspic 8 ( 1973 )
    Larks Tongues In Aspic I / Book Of Saturday / Exiles / Easy Money / The Talking Drum / Larks Tongues In Aspic II

    Line-up changes, line-up changes. Well, in this case, the changes were nothing but positive. John Wetton ( most famously ex-family ) and Bill Bruford ( most famously ex-yes ) step up to join Bob Fripp in his pursuit of 'something or other'. That's the best way to describe it, really. Ably abetted by assorted sundry - out pops 'Larks Tongues In Aspic', easily the most enjoyable King Crimson record since their debut offering. The material here isn't always as good as the playing - much of the material here had origins in the line-up that recorded 'Islands', after all. Still, add in two muscians both of more than capable pedigree and you have something. John Wetton was a versatile, reliable and at times powerful, bass player. Bob Fripp was still developing as a muscian himself. Bill Bruford, with his jazz leanings and amazing power and actual way with melody - quite rare for a drummer - the icing on the cake. Much icing, delicious icing. Bill Bruford will always be mostly associated with his time spent with Yes, but his work with King Crimson during this era is perhaps the best work of his career. Bill Bruford suited King Crimson, it's as simple as that. Bill Bruford brings something special to this record, something in particular that perhaps no other drummer around at the time would have been able to bring. Playing with Yes had certainly expanded his horizons as a player, he left Yes to expland them further. Being part of the King Crimson collective certainly enabled him to do that.

    The opening 'part one' is very avant-garde in the manner that Bob Fripp had been starting to pursue with seemingly ever greater vigour, it would seem. Thirteen and a half minutes of music that comes alive with the almightiest of scary riffs near the four minute mark. Violin punctuates the track most effectively, adding to the horror-show nature of the piece. The drums are simply stupendous, so powerful all of a sudden. During his early days with Yes, Bill played a lot 'more' drums that perhaps he did later during the likes of 'Close To The Edge'. Come his time with King Crimson, he was able and encouraged to play whatever he liked. Added to his indisputable mastery of the drums, one of the very best drummers around at the time - this produces something very special throughout the vast majority of this opening track. As a song, it's a dog. As an artistic, avant-garde piece of 'art', it's saved by the playing of Fripp and Bruford, in particular. Not to forget John Wetton, however. Aside these two maestro's, he conducts himself brilliantly, with some stupendous parts of his own at times. Listening to a track almost purely to appreciate the musicianship isn't something I ever used to do, but with playing as awesome sounding as this - whatever the actual track/piece is like in terms of structure, etc - almost doesn't matter.

    A word about the vocals. John doesn't do as good as job as original vocalist Gregg Lake, but he certainly sounds better than the other guys after Gregg Lake. Still, we move on. Some sweet melodies during parts of both 'Book Of Saturday' and 'Exiles'. 'Easy Money' which follows, almost manages to be funky. It actually grinds in places, quite something. Perhaps the vocals are a little strained during 'Easy Money', not entirely the best vocal performance the song demanded, but it's not bad, or anything. Anyway, one problem with this album, which I hinted at earlier. Something like 'The Talking Drum' ends up impressing through the sheer joy to be had at beholding the muscianship. Ultimately however - with musicians of lesser calibre, the material or ideas alone certainly wouldn't be enough on their own. Lending to my theory the material itself isn't exactly strong here. Still, the closing 'Part Two' opens all scary as hell, includes some quite frankly astonishing guitar, drum and percussion work - and leaves you breathless and slightly impressed.

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    This is my favourite King Crimson album. Robert Fripp presents his best playing up till that time (1973), he really came along since IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING. David Cross is a great violin, viola and mellotron player. Very melodic yet intense. The same can be said for John Wetton's bass playing. He has a great melodic sense, yet still can play with a dynamic intensity. His was (arguably) the best singer for KC since Greg Lake, with his rough, but sincere vocals. Jamie Muir, who was only with KC for this album, adds an eccentric element to the music, with his "percussion and allsorts". While all the members of the 1973-74 incarnation of KC were excellent musicians, I think that Bill Bruford really had his moment to shine here. He was really allowed to branch out in this recording versus his work with Yes. While his drumming for Yes was still very good, his drumming for KC was, IMHO, more adventurous and inventive. The begining of "Larks ! Tonuges In Aspic Part One" gives me shivers everytime I hear it. And that slow gradual buildup is full of tension until it reaches that stomping and crunching guitar riff. There's wonderful violin work by David Cross later on in the track. "Book of Saturday" is a wonderful short ballad with nice guitar accompaniment, with pleasant vocals by John Wetton. There's also backwards guitar (or is it violin?) parts inbetween. Just lovely stuff. The begining of "Exiles" (my favourite KC ballad) is really creepy with all these low noises, until it leads into the main melody, with weeping violin, and keening vocals by Wetton. Then capping it off, there's lovely soaring guitar solo by Fripp. "Easy Money" is sort of similar to "Ladies of the Road", but about 10 times better. Great extra percussives from Jamie Muir. They were kind of distracting at first, but I got used to them. After the verses and chorus, there's a gradual build up with Fripp meticulously soloing until the! y go back to the verses again, all ending with maniacal laughter fading into wind. I think they should've cut about a minute off of the beging of "Talking Drum", becauase it's very quiet anyway. Good bass work, and David Cross's violin and Robert Fripp's guitar work is very good. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part Two" has a great main riff, and an ascending violin and guitar melody. And all the thrashing and crashing of percussives by Bill Bruford and Jamie Muir lay the ground work for this climactic ending to a great album. 9/10

    scottiebass scottiebass2112@wmconnect.com
    In an interview (on the "YESYEARS" documentary), Bill Bruford mentioned about hearing of a spot opening for a drummer in Crimson. When he confronted Robert Fripp and told him he was interested, Robert paused for a few seconds, and replied with "...I think you're about ready now, Bill..." (Great riview pieces, by the way !)

    Usivius usivius@hotmail.com
    Yep, the album that marked the new Crimso. It is fantastic in its power. All musicians playing their parts with full gusto that could not be repeated on later albums with this line-up.

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    Starless And Bible Black 7 ( 1974 )
    The Great Deceiver / Lament / We'll Let You Know / The Night Watch / Trio / The Mincer / Starless And Bible Black / Fracture

    'The Great Deceiver' is immense. It's the sound of King Crimson in full effect, the nastiest and most exhilarating they'd sounded since '20 Century Schizoid Man', and in terms of energy, it exceeds even that. This is real jazz-rock fusion, taken to a limit, taken by a band immersed in both music forms but not sure which side of the fence they lay - thus resulting in a perfect meld. Albeit, a perfect meld with punk-rock like energy, plus beautiful passages of string sections and quieter moments. Dynamics! Reading the music press lately, you'd think rock dynamics were invented by either The Pixies or Nirvana. There is much to be found in these unfashionable prog-rock acts with silly hair, that reigned supreme during the early to mid-seventies. Apart from, King Crimson never did reign supreme. Whilst a band like Yes became huge commercially, King Crimson remained a cult, elitist, due to the uncompromising approach of their leader, Robert Fripp. Oh, his guitar all through the later half of 'The Great Deceiver' just destroys me. It's just so wonderful, so spiralling and twisting and doing all sorts of things a guitar shouldn't, whilst the vocalist is bellowing powerfully out. Your attention goes to both - your attention is fully attended! 'Lament' also has some powerful moments, big meaty bass lines, wonderful drumming courtesy of my personal 'dream team' drummer, Bill Bruford.

    'We'll Let You Know' is also the name of a Morrissey song. I dedicate the fact that i'm now fully appreciating prog-rock, and not just indie-rock, to one George Starostin, whom i've never name-dropped in a review before, because it's gay to do so, but there you are. Still, after these first three fully interesting and exciting songs, the album loses its way. Of the remaining songs, 'Trio' is quite clearly something that resembles Bob Fripp not knowing how to write actual songs. This is something this reviewer has long suspected. The man has obvious talent, but writing songs isn't one of them. Oh well, there are beautiful sections to 'Trio'. Yet, try playing them on an acoustic guitar. Try letting the structure and the melody hold sway on their own. Try playing the song purely on a flute, or a banjo. Any truly GOOD compostion will withstand any treatment. The beauty of this era of King Crimson is that they'd developed such a good band, the three of them, John Wetton, Bob Fripp and the almighty god-like Bill Bruford. The quality of the band were key - they could improvise. They do an awful lot of that across this album. An album that after the first three songs, does remain interesting, yet lacks structure. There is avant-garde, and art - and then there is pure experimentation. I'm not sure 'Starless And Bible Black' always keeps itself the right side of the line. Having said that, I do like listening to this album, from time to time. Sometimes.

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    Dave Ellis crel74@hotmail.com
    I really appreciate your excellent website and rreviews, but how you can ignore the wonderful Night Watch on this album is unbelievable! PS, great review of Dylan's Desire.

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    Red 9 ( 1974 )
    Red / Fallen Angel / One More Red Knightmare / Providence / Starless

    A band in their death-throes, Mr Fripp would declare King Crimson 'permanently' disbanded following the release of this LP. Although that wasn't to be - this would have been an absolutely blinding swan-song. Occasional critiscms i've made of the band in the past, that their compositions aren't always so well rounded or structured, are largely redundant criticsms when it comes to this particular album. We've a new twist on the classic King Crimson sound. A metallic and aggressive and downright exhilaratingly scary sound. That's 'Red'. Agressive, without having to resort to any obvious tricks that 'agressive' bands usually do resort to. The horror and the agression here comes through with the playing of course, but also the production, the mixing. The way the vocals sound so desperate at times, like the vocalist was acually in his death-throes and not just this particular incarnation of the band. Bill Bruford and John Wetton both sound amazing throughout, Fripp does stellar things and assorted side-members ( past and present ) also make contributions. The whole is one of the most satifying King Crimson albums imaginable. We're straight into this one, no messing around. The title track and album opener is one of those things that even upon a first virgin listen, just grabs you by the throat and attempts to strangle you into submission. As for 'Fallen Angel', well. Firstly, it's proper. Not a very scientific description, I realise. Secondly? Well, the sax work, the guitars, the drums. The way the song moves from section to section. The vocals full of desperation. The way the song is both sad and exhilarating at the time time. Both scary, and beautiful. It's an amazing piece of work.

    For fans of the more experimental, avant-garde King Crimson, the eight minute long 'Providence' instrumental should serve them well. I dig the jazzy, messy way the last two or so minutes of the song develop whilst also including genuine heavy metal bass amidst other spiralling and exciting guitar work. 'One More Red Nightmare' begins as friend of the title tracks, we've variations, vocals, absolutely spellbinding cymbal work. The way this piece switches between the instrumental sections back into the vocal sections, then after a couple of minutes develops into something else entirely. It's anything but boring, it's everything music should be, almost. Daring, cutting-edge, surprising, beautiful, etc, etc. The brass sounds amazing, the guitar does this thing, what can I say? It just switches so many times, plays so many different melodic sections. The rhythm section keep everything locked and solid, improvising around a particular theme. All this and more, as the closing 'Starless' manages to be a truly impressive multi-part epic with passages of beauty, passages of avant-garde mixed with a little healthy dose of jazz. The album finishes and you're left breathless. It's too intense an album to put back on the stereo straight away, it's emotionally draining in a good way. So many emotions are felt whilst listening. Recommended? Well, but of course.

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    Nathan Schulz TheIronChefPresident@gmail.com
    What a coincidence! The day you review this album is also the first day that I've ever heard it. Let's just say I'm spellbound. Definitely my new favorite Crimson album, with songs that deserve their length and always keep my attention. And the heaviness! Fripp finally remembers he's a guitarist and puts those mellotrons on the backburner.

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    Discipline( 1980 )
    Elephant talk / Frame by frame / Matte Kudasai / Indiscipline / Thela Hun Ginjeet / The sheltering sky / Discipline

    You disappear just as prog undergoes a major traumatic slaughtering at the hands of the critics. Well, actually, KC released their last studio album in 1974, the last year of the golden age of progressive rock. Robert Fripp in the six years away from King Crimson released some solo works, but far more importantly, became a much in demand session player for the artful and hip likes of David Bowie and Brian Eno. Thus ensuring there was interest and critical kindness for any new King Crimson work, provided it sounded upto date, of course. Robert Fripp was also involved with Talking Heads, as was a former Zappa sideman, Adrian Belew. So, what better than to relaunch King Crimson with trusted, good old Bill Bruford on drums, and Adrian Belew on vocals/guitar providing just the right mix of the sublime and the ridiculous? Must have learnt that from Mr Frank Zappa. Oh, and a seriously good bass player, Tony Levin. And, which precious few other bands from the prog-era and genre had done, actually sound so bang upto date that it was almost supernatural? The sound of opener 'Elephant Talk' will immediately remind a listener of Talking Heads. But, that makes you wonder who was responsible for whom, since both Fripp and Belew played major roles in helping develop the sound of Talking Heads? Plus, I adore the contribution vocally and lyrically of Adrian Belew throughout 'Elephant Talk' and much else of this album besides. 'Elephant Talk' is just mighty. It's funky, groovy, stupid and silly and also, played fantastically well. Major props to Bill Bruford, a stupendous drummer, for so embracing the idea of an electronic drum kit able to produce all sorts of sounds. Sounds? African influences, all sorts of things pop up throughout this LP. Oh, another stupid, sublime and silly Belew vocal number arrives with 'Thela Hun Ginjeet', so exhilarating! None of the ponderous seriousness that marred certain King Crimson material of the past. Oh, and check those drums!

    Guitar is present on the album, too. Just thought i'd mention that as I go on about the song 'Indiscipline', the sound of old King Crimson. Spiralling guitar, absolutely mighty drum work, a brilliant bass figure that repeats and adds much scariness and tension. A mid-section to the track that reveals all the avant-garde natures of 'classic' King Crimson, another switch to stupendous jazz/prog/rock plus typically perverse vocal/lyrical contributions from Adrian Belew. I like it lots. 'The Sheltering Sky' is an interesting piece. Guitar, synths, modern ambient sounds. A huge collation of influences that still manages to remind one of the avant-jazz sound of King Crimson of old. All in all, 'Discipline' the album is one of the most succesful comeback albums of all time, as far as i'm concerned. The sound and production was right on the cutting edge. The addition of Belew and Levin was inspired. Another era of King Crimson was launched!

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    Readers Comments

    Neil steed_and_peel@iprimus.com.au
    Nice review! I would have gone so far as to give this a 9.5 tho'. There is some seriously good stuff on this album - seaming nicely over in different ways from Fripp's solo works. Also Indiscipline for me is an echo from past Crim indulgences - it exists mainly as a sort of opposite to the 'new stuff' as done on the title track - 'Discipline' - which is not tape-looped either. 'Indiscipline' is a farewell to the past. And yes Bruford shows just why he is one of the greatest of all modern drummers - and why the latest Crim efforts sound so pale sans Bruford...

    spartacus weaselsrippedmydrums@yahoo.com
    a truly stupendous album! it starts off strong with a little elephant talk, and just keeps gettin better. the sheltering sky is just 8 and a half minutes of pure calming psychedelic music. indiscipline has got to have some of the most bizarre lyrics i have ever heard. amazing lyrics...but very different. nonetheless, bruford proves to everyone that he is still one of the best prog drummers out there. an all around great album

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    Beat 8 ( 1982 )
    Neal and Jack and Me / Heartbeat / Sartori in Tangier / Waiting Man / Neurotica / Two Hands / The Howler / Requiem

    King Crimson returns with an album that is a chum of 'Discipline', a close cousin if you will. 'Beat' consequently turns up at all the right parties but never manages to draw the crowds in the same agreeably diverting way. So, we get those modern, contemporary and offbeat bass lines. We get state of the art 80s production values. We get vocals that sound a bit like David Byrne from 'Talking Heads'. We get another class in how prog could successfully enter a new decade with its dignity intact. 'Waiting Man' is a song that benefits from travelling yet taut keyboard lines, almost tribal drums and also a fascination with rhythm. 'Neal and Jack and Me' plays the same role played by 'Elephant Talk' on 'Discipline'. It gets the juices flowing with stretched vocal sounds, a tight rhythm section and sterling guitar work. It's a song with wheels, a song that drives with the roof of the car drawn back so the wind can mess up your hair. We have a few songs that genuinely sound charming, almost in an adult pop way, but with credibility. This isn't to say 'Two Hands' and 'Heartbeat' sound like Phil Collins fronted Genesis, rather they both bring to mind feeling and can be listened to over and over. 'Two Hands' is full of gentle guitar lines slowly sweeping back and forth in a very 80s indie fashion. 'Heartbeat' is the pop ballad of the two, giving the Rabin fronted Yes a run for their money in the catchy electro pop stakes. 'Heartbeat' is just so well formed, a perfectly baked cake with corners and rises and falls all where they should be.

    I mentioned 'Beat' doesn't 'draw the crowds' in quite the same manner that 'Discipline' manages to do. Well, I just don't think that the sound King Crimson entered the decade with sounds quite so striking second time around. The album doesn't veer as wildly from left to right, rather ploughing strongly forwards, yet without providing too many surprises along the way. What it does however, it does very well. Let's just say that 'Beat' is 'Discipline's' elder, more sensible close cousin and be done with it. You wanted to know about further highlights and low-lights though, didn't you? Yes, the closing six minute 'Requiem' is a little unfocused. Yes, 'Neurotica' is an exhilarating track that literally blows whistles at you. 'Neurotica' is the old King Crimson of the black and white 60s coloured in and spruced up for the 80s. It works for me and should do for you, as well.

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    this page last updated 20/01/08

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