George Starostin's Reviews



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Derrick Stuart <> (15.07.2000)

Okay, I thought I could use unwanted space and list all of the lineup changes.

The first King Crimson Lineup (1969): Robert Fripp-Guitar, Ian McDonald-Keyboards,Woodwinds, Greg Lake- Bass and Vocals, Michael Giles- Drums, Peter Sinfield- Lyrics. Ian McDonald left in 1969. The second lineup(1970): Robert Fripp-Guitar and Mellotron, Mel Collins- Sax and Flute, Greg Lake-Vocals, Peter Giles- Bass, Michael Giles-Drums, Peter Sinfield-Lyrics. Giles and Lake left in 1970. The third lineup, mid 1970: Robert Fripp- Guitar, Mellotron, Organ, Synthesizer, Mel Collins- Sax and Flute, Gordon Haskell- Bass and Vocals, Andy McCullouch- Drums, Peter Sinfield- Lyrics, Pictures and Synthesizer. McCullouch and Haskell left in late 1970. The fourth lineup began in 1971: Robert Fripp- Guitar, Mellotron, Electronics, Mel Collins- Saxes, Flute and Mellotron, Boz Burrel- Bass and Vocals, Ian Wallace- Drums, Peter Sinfield- Lyrics, Pictures, and Synthesizer. Sinfield left in December 1971. In late spring of 1972, everyone except Fripp left. Fifth Lineup began in late 1972: Robert Fripp- Guitar,Mellotron, and Electric Piano, David Cross- Keyboards, Mellotron, Viola, and Violin, John Wetton- Bass and Vocals, Bill Bruford- Drums and Jamie Muir- Percussion. In 1973, Muir left to become a Buddhist Monk. David Cross left in 1974. The band broke up in late 1974. In 1981, Fripp reformed King Crimson: Robert Fripp- Guitar, Adrian Belew- Guitar and Vocals, Tony Levin- Bass and Stick, Bill Bruford- Drums. The band broke up in 1984. Fripp reformed the group again in 1994: Robert Fripp- Guitar, Mellotron and Soundscapes, Adrian Belew- Guitar and Vocals, Tony Levin- Stick, Trey Gunn-Bass and Stick, Bill Bruford- Drums, Pat Malessto- Drums. The band broke up in 1996, Belew, Gunn and Fripp continued on the ProjeKcts. Bruford and Levin left in 1997. In 2000 the group reformed without Levin and Bruford, they released The ConstruKction of Light and toured Europe, they are touring North America in the fall.

TitanObel <> (26.07.2000)


i have to say that I wonder that you like King Crimson, when it's your opinion that "Walking on air" is their best song on the Thrak-Album... I think this is the worst song on the whole album!

It's too untypical for King Crimson, in Germany we call such songs "schnulzig", which means something like "boring" ;-)

P.S. Red is a good album, especially the song "Starless"!; but this album lies far behind the Lark's t... and Starless and bible black and Discipline-Album. If it's really your opinion what you've written about Red then perhabs you should listen to other bands than King Crimson (I like them not because of their simple tunes, therfore I have albums of Aerosmith, Sex Pistols, Deep Purple...;-)

Roger Groves <> (15.01.2001)

It is always unfortunate when people comment (critically or otherwise) on the quality of anything, when they have restricted perspective on how and why certain things have come about and indeed what exactly it is that is being attempted.

You would do well to visit and learn some background philosophy and politics, in addition to the location of 'Fripp's Company' as you so inelegantly put it.

The surprise is that, for someone supposedly so knowledgeable and well informed about your subject, you have not been there before.

Rip VanWinkle <> (10.08.2001)

Correct me if i`m mistaken, but it really seems to me that you listened to KC 70s albums just from one point of view - from accordance (or similarity, don`t know how to express) to the very 1st Crimson`69. Time after time i noticed the remarks like `Oh, you know, that`s a cool rocking theme, but, of course, it`s not Schizoid Man!` or `You see, that`s a pretty good & BOMBASTIC ballad, but - no, no, it`s not Epitaph at all!`

And that`s exactly so. The only album one can compare with the 1st, is the 2nd, Poseidon, because they`re almost similar, except for `Piece`themes & `CatFood` (&, perhaps, `The Devil`s Triangle`? although it can be called the analogue of `The Dream`&`The Illusion`).

All the other KCr 70s albums lie far away from the 1st & the 2nd ones. Fripp, as far as i understand this monstrous dinosaur of prog, was (& is) a quite experimental, wise & sufficient guy. After Poseidon he made ABSOLUTE changes in his band`s conception, which are so hard to dig in. Maybe, the main point is not to compare these things to 'SchizoidMan' & 'Epitaph'. To do that is, say, to search in every next Sean Connery`s role the similarity to James Bond. The review on the film `The First Knight` would be written in a such way:`Well, Sean`s acting is real good, as ever, but, you see, that`s not Agent 007 anymore!` Or i can make an example with our actor Tikhonov & his best role of standartenfuhrer Stirlitz, no matter.

The excellent objective review on The Cheerful Insanity of Giles,Giles&Frip` proves that it`s quite possible to look at Fripp`s experiences from another point of view.

So... Sorry if i didn`t get your point on KC, but, you know, it seemed to me like that!

Ben Kramer <> (25.12.2001)

Ok, I don't know a lot about these guys other than the fact that In the Court is one of my favorite prog albums. I'm just writing an assessment of the concert I saw on the 14th of December 2001. They played in a nice little theater called the Beacon in New York City. I was quite disappointed actually. First of all, there is no such thing as King Crimson anymore. Its more like Adrian Belew with studio musicians doing 90's King Crimson material. Because of my lack of knowledge of the band, I knew none of the songs. I know they did the opener off of Red, 'Red', but that's all I could tell you. The major problem was the awful sound system. The volume was turned up so loud that you couldn't make out the majority of the notes. Also, there was next to no vocals and when the instrumental parts couldn't be deciphered and there are no lyrics, it can lead to a pretty boring listen. They did an encore (I should say he) which is a song I am not familiar with which lasted 25 minutes making their overall show about 90 minutes. Oh well. However, the evening wasn't a total disappointment because the opening act was awesome. John Paul Jones and band performed for an hour and it was great. At first they sounded like a metal band but they transformed into a musical phenomenon. They did a few Zeppelin songs including 'Levy' (instrumental), 'That's the Way', 'Since I've Been Loving You' (instrumental) and a couple others. Jones played an awesome guitar. He also had something that looked like an electric ukulele and he played some type of table guitar as well. The drummer was amazing as well (He was the same guy who played with Adrian Belew during the second part of the concert). He was energetic and charismatic as well. He looked like he was having a lot of fun. So aside from the marijuana smoke and King Crimson boring me for a lot of their performance, the night turned out all right. I'd give it a 7/10 overall, but some parts felt like a 9/10 and some like a 4/10, very inconsistent, but overall, it was enjoyable.

Mattias Lundberg <> (30.01.2002)

I have to agree with Mr. van Winkle above; George, you are indeed mistaken in taking an artist's first seminal work and judging all her/his later achievements on its standards. I really think your attempted objectivity, as regards to historical importance, is a very good thing and a necessity for the rating on your (brilliant) page. However, not everyone is able to buy a band's complete output under a short period of time. Due to financial and practical (growing up in a small, desolate town with no record shop in the pre-internet ages) reasons I had to slowly build up my record collection. Records are like friends; some of them we have known for a long time and they will always be our friends whatever happens. New acquaintances can surpass them, but we have to get to know these first. There may be objectively better albums/individuals out there, but since we don't know them they can't be our friends. Friends don't have to be uniform, nay! diversity is better; I love In the wake of Poseidon, Lizard' and Islands all the same, but I don't compare them on an artistic level, that would be like comparing the personalities of three good friends. Everyone who have heard K.C. will approach an unknown album by the group with some presuppositions of how it ought to sound. This is unavoidable and undermine all possibilities of artistic objectivity. But we must, impossible though it is, try to listen to new music as if it was the first music we ever heard, and this before we start pondering on its historical importance.

[Special author note: as good as that argument is, unfortunately, I seriously doubt I would have liked Lizard better had it been my first exposure to King Crimson. And the band's four albums are not as incomparable as they're made to seem here.]


Richard C. Dickison <> (17.05.99)

Well are we being just a little reverential? Hmmmm, well I guess I get to play the bastard then.

Now it is true this here is the begining kids, the one,(pause) the only (drum roll please) start of all things progressive. But like all starts this things been re-done to greater effect elsewhere, oooooh, boy did I just piss some people off..

Let's see, I think Black Sabbath or Led Zepplin stole 'Twentith Century', Genesis based their whole career on 'In The Court', and The Moody Blues took off with 'Epitath'. Robert Fripp went on to base the rest of his career replaying 'Moonchild'. Yes heard 'Mirrors' and has'nt had an original idea since, well you know the rest.

I know I'm being a smartass but this stuff gets far too serious to progressive rock fans even if they have a reason.

I just pulled my copy of the official Fripp approved remastered CD out yesterday and listened. Maybe I'm getting tired but it does not seem to be aging as well as say some of the Yes or Genesis music that came out only 4 years later. Maybe because it was more Jazz oriented and the others more classical, or the keyboards which always were the weakest part, anyway it really is a classic for which the rest merely followed. Sort of like Pet Sounds if you want to really understand progressive music you have to educate yourself about where it came from, even if other bands may have expanded or gone beyond the original. So before you go acting like your superior because you like Camel, (oh my), or some other (exotic) european prog band pull this one out and listen real close, it was all done and over before they even got there fool!

Mike DeFabio <> (03.06.99)

I don't get it. Yes, it's a good album, but I hardly think it's their best. Now, that's just me. I also was disappointed by Blonde On Blonde and Born In The USA. So yeah, by all means, get it, whoever is reading this that doesn't have it. It's great. I just don't agree with the majority on this one.

John McFerrin <> (17.08.99)

I am NOT a King Crimson fan. My brother has repeatedly tried to saturate me with Red, Discipline, Larks' Tounges, etc. but all he's managed is to freak me out. Regardless, however, I gotta admit that this is one hell of an album. 'Epitaph' is probably my favorite on the whole thing, with that killer chorus, but '21st' is unquestionably the best. And I gotta concur on the title track; beautiful use of the mellotron, with a harmony style that the Moodies ripped off shamelessly on 'My Song,' and the wonderfully wierdo lyrics.

'Talk to the Wind' is alright, though I gotta admit that it bores me a bit. And 'Moonchild' is awful, but that's ok, I can just skip it, especially since the 'copy' I have is actually an MP3'd copy of my brother's CD (gotta love playlists). Anyways, the odd tracks on this album are the probably the only KC tracks in the whole universe that I like, and they're so unbelievably good that I have no choice but to give it a 10.

Nick Karn <> (26.10.99)

I agree with your opinions on this album, but I hate "Moonchild" with a passion, and even though the other 4 tracks are amazing, endless amounts of awful keyboard noise that might as well have been done by little children messing around in the studio automatically excludes this from getting a 10, which is a shame, cause it would be one of my favorite albums of all time otherwise. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is as phenomenal a start as any to a band's career. What an unbelievable edge and insane middle part! "I Talk To The Wind" and "Epitaph", meanwhile, are more amazing in beauty than progressiveness - the former actually owes its' emotion to not only the melody, but Greg Lake's dry and unemotional vocals here helping it out, while the later could go on forever for all I care - enough said!

The title track, though, just might be my favorite on the whole album, with the cartoonish lyrics, unreal chorus, unexpected uplifting ending and atmosphere giving it considerable depth. I don't know exactly what images it conjures up in my mind, but it's definitely something special, like this whole album minus that "Moonchild" shite. An easy 9.

George Bruner <> (03.12.99)

In your review of this recording you asked "I wonder who is the 'Crimson King?'". The Crimson King appears on other KC recordings as "Great Deceiver" and "Fallen Angel". Now do you know?

Rich Bunnell <> (05.03.2000)

Very, very, VERY good album! A ten for sure, and that's even counting "Moonchild." It's not a great song of course, but the Mellotron "jamming" doesn't exactly hurt my ears or anything-- it's just there. Very pleasant. Plus, the other four songs rule, the best of course being the abrasive, stomping "21st Century Schizoid Man" and the title track. Yee gawrsh, I'm good at adding generic opinions to the rating pool. Also, "I Talk To The Wind" has a completely lovely melody. That little subtle keyboard riff during the chorus just completely makes the song.

Ben Greenstein <> (19.05.2000)

Grrr.... this album is so overrated. I don't see how anyone can give such a good score to an album when about 1/3 of it is dumb noodling that everyone can live without (except for Rich, it seems - I'm still trying to figure out his reasons for liking it). It's hideous - not even a jam, because the whole band isn't playing. Just one guy messing. Hell, I can have that anytime I want, and it would be fun because I'D be the one playing it! The other songs, sadly, aren't too good either. "Schizoid Man" and the title track are pretty cool, but "I Talk To The Wind" is sort of weak, and "Epitaph" would function much better as a sub-part of the song "In The Court..." Hey, for that matter, why are these songs all considered multi-part, when they're just very repetitive? I want to give this album a seven, just to be fair, but if I'm going to be honest with myself, it deserves nothing more than a six.

Bob Josef <> (11.09.2000)

One incredible album. I'm not that familiar with KC's other work, overall, but judging on the later tracks I've heard, it's hard to imagine that any of the other albums could improve on this. What's interesting is that King Crimson is actually a BAND here, as opposed to the Robert Fripp Show that it became rather quickly. The sound is really that of a collective working almost perfectly in balance and in sync, with McDonald the real star here. One story on the breakup was that McDonald and Giles left because they felt that the band was more Fripp than them, but McDonald's keyboards, wind instruments (sax on the break of "Schizoid," George, not mellotron) and songwriting are really the center of the band's sound. Lake's vocals are awesome, and "Schizoid" is the only time his "scary" voice was convincing. Giles' is a very agile, versatile drummer (should have been mixed more forward in the sound, though).

I, of course, must agree with those that say that "Moonchild" is a horrible self-indulgence. Those random noises are actually vibes, not keyboard, but it doesn't matter -- it's still ridiculous. Evidently, they had to prove that they were hip, cool avant-garde improvisational jazz cats or something, but this hardly shows the musicianship needed to back up such pretensions!

I have to object vociferously to Richard's comment that the Moody Blues took Crimson's sound and ran with it. The Moodies had at LEAST two, and probably three, albums out before this was even recorded. They were already pioneering the mellotron/flute/orchestral thing before the Giles, Giles and Fripp trio were doing their silly British pop album. If anything, it was the opposite -- one of KC's starting points was obviously Days of Future Passed. The fact that they took it in a much darker direction and eventually abandoned altogether is beside the point.

By the way, another story on the breakup (according to Fripp, anyway) is that it happened because two band members "fell in love." With each other?

jeffrey b.good <> (06.10.2000)

I really like "Moonchild", and I think it's the best song on the album. And after it comes magical "In the court", as a reward for listening all this. And the first side is great too, though I think, that "21st century.." is overrated. Anyway, the best way to start listening rock music

Kevin Baker <> (17.12.2000)

Generally speaking, I am not too crazy abot prog rock.  I like the occasional song by Yes or Genesis, but thats about it, unless you count Jethro Tull.  Then, I heard the majority of this album.  Wow.  WOW!!!!!  This is one of the most gratifying listening experiences I have, well for lack of a better word, experienced.  This may be because due to the "tender mercies" of Napster, I haven't heard 'Moonchild', but if other comments on that song hold true, I'm probably all the better for it.  The album starts off perfectly- '21st Century Schizoid Man' is a dizzying, gut-wrenching soundtrack to an Orwellian nightmare.  The vocal part is the piece de resistance; how they managed to get the vocals so digitally inhumanized still seems amazing, even in this technological age we live in.  Plus, the screeching guitar creates a sound perhaps like a neurosurgeon screaming for more, or is it an innocent being raped with napalm fire?  In a complete 180, we have 'Epitaph'.  This song's general atmosphere is so...........gorgeous.  Very moving, and I do agree---the vocals are indeed the most impressive on the album.  The of course, the title track---for me, it always conjours up a wintery kingdom either on the verge of tragedy or in the aftermath of tragedy.  Perhaps it is the Fire Witch behind it.  At any rate, the lyrics are, if not meaningful, at least entertaining.  My personal favorite of all these is 'I Talk To The Wind'.  Woodwinds always seem to grab me, and this is no exception.  Plus, its shorter than the rest--I don't have any problem whatsoever with a lengthy song assuming it warrants length, but 'I Talk To The Wind' is just perfect in length for its lyrics and sound.  Too much and it would be boring, too little and it would be....well, I'm not sure what.  All in all (from what I've heard anyways), a beautiful collection of songs, and the highest point ever in the history of progressive rock.

Philip Maddox <> (10.01.2001)

I finally got this a couple of weeks back, and I'm not nearly as impressed as everyone else. This is one of the defining albums of symphonic prog, but I feel that Tull, Yes, and Genesis all did similar stuff more convincingly than Crimson does here. This isn't bad, of course - 4 of the tunes are all good - none of them blow me away, but they're all quite good. "Epitaph" is probably my favorite - quite pretty indeed, though the pretty flute of "Wind" and the ominous, garbled "21st Century Schizoid Man" aren't far behind. "Moonchild" is absolutely hideous, though - it starts out nice but unremarkable, and then plows into 10 minutes of atonal jamming. Atonal jamming is ok for a couple of minutes, or if there's a lot of weird, complicated stuff to keep it interesting (see SOME Frank Zappa, but certainly not all), but this is just one guy dicking around, and it completely sucks. And when that's the longest song on a record, some punishment must be applied, so I'd grant this an EXTREMELY low 7. I need to get some more Crimson, but this record seems unbelievably overrated.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

'Epitaph' is the one that touches my soul more than anything else here, probably because I assosciate with the lyrics. I'm a paranoid guy so I often "fear tomorrow I'll be crying". And while I don't usually dig Peter Sinfield's lyrics as meaningful (though they usually are entertaining), I feel that '21st Century Schizoid Man' gets it right. "Paranoia's poison door", "Innocents raped with napalm fire", etc. Concise yet very vivid, and that conveys the meaning of the song far more than any slab of rhetoric.

<> (23.02.2001)

["Mirrors"]: I think you will find the instrumental section here displays McDonalds skill on the reeds rather than the mellotron.

Kevin Baker <> (05.03.2001)

Well, I finally got this puppy on CD.  So I finally got to hear 'Moonchild'.  My verdict---the sung section is fantastic, maybe my favorite part of the album.  The jamming is fine for the 1st 5 minutes or so, but it really is overkill.  Shame they ruined what started out as such a beautiful song.

Brian D. Sittinger <> (12.07.2001)

My introduction to King Crimson (not A Young Person's ... never mind! ). "21st Century Schizoid Man" definitely took a few listens to get into. But, it now works, despite how noisy it can get. A most memorable riff to boot! The remainder of songs remind me of Moody Blues territory, and henced clicked more quickly (except for the last half of "Moonchild", which goes nowhere fast!). Very well-crafted songs. "Epitaph" has such resonance to it it is almost scary: great vocals from Lake nice Guitar lines, and of course, the Mellotron! "In the Court in the Crimson King" has a great sense of grandeur; very well "orchestrated". It will probably be a while before I even try to fill the gap between this record and Lark's Tongue in Aspic. 9 out of 10.

Jeremy Olson <> (06.11.2001)

I'll be honest: when I first heard this album, I was unimpressed. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is, of course, an amazing song, and I can say nothing more that hasn't been said already about this musical triumph. But the other stuff? I was crushed! I expected everything to sound like "Schizoid Man"! Luckily, I was smart enough to keep listening, over and over. And I realized my disappointment was baseless. This album is amazing. "Epitaph" is simply beautiful; Greg Lake's vocals sound perfect, and they are a perfect fit with the lyrics. Robert Fripp gets such a great sound out of his guitar in the opening seconds, and it sets the scene perfectly. It's such a sharp contrast from the Hendrix-like craziness in "Schizoid Man". "I Talk To The Wind" is a great song, very mellow and soothing; I don't dig the lyrics much, and I just don't like the drumming (it's little things that get on the nerves of a drummer such as myself). The title track is great, too; I love the whole "medieval" feeling I get from the music and the lyrics...I can imagine myself in the Court, watching the puppets dance...but if I could, I'd chop out some of the lengthier instrumental sections. It drags just a bit for my tastes. And lastly, "Moonchild" sucks. It is boring, hideously over-long, and seems dated to my ears. Fripp and Co. could have created a masterpiece had they put "Mars", or even "A Man, A City" in place of "Moonchild". As it is, I couldn't justify a 10, but I do agree this album deserves a 9/13

Mattias Lundberg <> (11.02.2002)

I've ventured on these criticisms because it seems to be an article of faith among Crimsonians to accept it as flawless. '21st Century Schizoid Man', 'Talk to the wind'(my favourite on the album) and 'The Court of the Crimson King' are all very strong tracks, although the latter could have been better planned out. It suffers from what Mahler called 'infantile repetition', that is, ideas are repeated in a non-structural way; you cannot juxtapose units that big (verse+refrain) to each other without further variation, it just doesn't work. If you can sense the form of a prog movement the first time you hear it, you can't get that other-worldly feeling, and after that you never will (with that particular movement), even though you eventually might love it on other aesthetical grounds. 'Epitaph' is, in my opinion, the most overrated song in the world of prog. It is marred by that typical Crimson Mk1 (69-71) problem: there is no unification of the through-composed and impromptu parts of the song. The track is basically a blown-up three-minute song interspersed with freer sections which are unrelated to the 'actual song'. With most of KC:s early stuff we can easily deduce the 'actual song' from an extended movement. This is not, in my opinion, the way to get that vision of grandeur, although it obviously work for a lot of other people (congratulations!). 'Moonchild', again, comprise some impromptu filler and it comes through as badly sequenced (although I cannot come up with any suggestion where on the album it should have been instead), but on the whole I think I prefer it to 'Epitaph'. I don't think In the Court of the Crimson King is the seminal prog album par excellence. I just can't find any early 70s band that reveal any direct KC influences, and the fact that Fripp might have spurred other bands to create their own, idiosyncratic, albums is of little account; these bands might as well have been spurred by Beatles or LedZep. And the album IS heavily overrated (which is fair enough, because it was an early and impressive prog achievement). I think the greatness of the album is that it triumphs over its weaknesses and comes out as a great album, albeit not the best ever released by KC.

Akis Katsman <> (31.05.2003)

This album is the ultimate masterpiece, especially if we take into granted that it came in 1969. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is my favourite prog song of ALL-TIME!! Just listen to the solos! It rocks hard! "I Talk To The Wind" is beautiful as a white puppy, "Epitaph" is THE epic song, gotta love the mellotron and the lyrics, "Moonchild" starts good but then drags down for too long (should have been shortened a bit), and finally, there is the title track, one of the best songs ever, not in prog-rock, but in music overall. Amazing. Even better than the fantastic "Epitaph", it clocks over nine minutes. Please buy this album. Also, the cover art is excellent. I'd give it a high 9 (not a 10, because I find "Moonchild" boring). A milestone in 20th century music.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (08.07.2006)

I've got a mate who did a degree at Oxford and a PHD at Cambridge and he spends half his life researching the new testament, trying to work out the exact chronology of when the various entries were written and where and how and he absolutely loves it and he'll argue day and night about things that in reality can never really be verified because at the time, in the first century, the when and where wasn't important. Men just wrote letters or narratives and their aim was to get what they saw as the truth across. My mate and I have argued for many years about the relevance of it all coz it's unimportant in my opinion. I don't really care if Mark was written before Matthew or whether Romans came before or after 2nd Corinthians or whatever. But I do understand and appreciate where he's coming from and I tend to apply the same kind of mind to alot of relatively recent history, especially in popular music. Maybe I'm just an info junkie but I do, as a side interest, love to put things in what I see as their place coz I find that developments and progressions can roughly be traced. I just happen to find that kind of thing interesting. But part of it is that so often, I find that so many elements of history are revised and flagged up in a way that is romantic and inaccurate. Now, one can only relate to the degree of info and knowledge that one has and that's one of the reasons this site is so fascinating, there are so many differing perspectives and the reviewer and all the contributors add little bits of info and thoughts that help to build a bigger and ever expanding picture.

I'm hardly a researcher but I do like to look into things and I think a case could be made that the true progenitors of progressive rock were the Beatles and possibly 'Pet Sounds' era Beach Boys {that's not to say they were prog bands, but more of that later} and that by 1969 alot of rock was being termed progressive. I marvel at the way terminology originates, develops, changes and where it ends up........what was originally thought of as 'progressive' is not always what we have come to understand as 'prog'. I read in a TV guide, of all places, a quote from Ian Anderson in which he defended progressive rock and said that prog really was an attempt to find a new way of expanding the composition, sound and language of rock and it's harmonic content and not remaining stuck in blues based structures or something like that. In that regard, the Beatles, even as far back as 1963's DON'T BOTHER ME and 1964's I CALL YOUR NAME {with it's revolutionary - for a White British band - ska step middle 8} were some way ahead of the game, though unconsciously at this point. From '65 onwards their rock was progressive - in ideal. On the other hand, John Wetton saw progressive as a reaction to the early 60s bands and their Beatlesque neatness and for him it was a marriage of classical and blues. And in truth, different players within the story have different views on who influenced them and what was and wasn't progressive, some embracing, some totally distancing themselves {like Robert Fripp}.There was just so much going on that by late '66 and '67 popular music was splintering in many different directions with so many differing influences and cross fertilizations and experiments. There was by '67/68 already a distinction being made between pop and rock and within rock progressive was a way of separating serious 'underground' music in an increasingly album dominated market from what was now being seen as the lighter stuff of rock { which is why the Beatles were never termed 'progressive'....they dabbled in every sphere and their competitors like the Stones and the Who were thought of as heavier, straightforward - and more ballsy - rock}. What we now think of as prog was called 'techno', 'pomp', 'symphonic' or 'flash' rock until well into the 70s and interestingly that is the term that was often applied to Yes and ELP. As we know, terms, language and genres evolve and among the acts that were termed 'progressive' in the late 60s are Spooky Tooth, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac, Family, Ten Years After, The Nice, the Incredible string band, Pink Floyd, Barclay James Harvest, the Pretty Things, Santana, the Steve Miller Band and The Nazz {with Todd Rundgren}, not to mention many obscure and long forgotten ones {like the Third ear band, the Edgar Broughton band, Love sculpture, Andwella's Dream, Egg, Rare Bird} while the Moody Blues, Procul Harum and the Zombies {in their last album} were sort of pointing the way. So King Crimson came into a scene that wasn't rigidly defined as it would be by the mid 70s, Crimson themselves being described after early gigs as a combo of Family, the Moody Blues and the Pretty Things rolled into one. And it's no wonder that this album, of which Pete Townshend it was 'an uncanny masterpiece, that kind of intensity is music, not rock', blew so many away at the time of it's release. To be fair, lots of albums did, but so what ? It was such a musically fertile period, for it to be held in such high regard amongst all the competition of '69 and even up to the present day, even to the extent that books are written claiming that this is where prog starts, well, that alone tells you something. And it is a wonderful album, especially for it's time. But it's by no means flawless and to be honest, it requires some effort to really get into. Ian McDonald, in the run up to recording the album, recalls spending alot of time listening to A SALTY DOG by Procul Harum {with Pete Sinfield on board as a non playing member of the band, Harum were a part blueprint of Crimson} and ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM by the Moody Blues and taking note of how they composed and produced but Michael Giles was also adamant that Crimson were not going to be just another Moody Blues and they abandoned their initial recordings coz they felt that the producer, Tony Clarke, was trying to turn them into just that. And it's that desire to play for themselves with no regard for public taste that eventually produced this album {and I guess always ensured that there would always be a revolving door in this band}. 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN was one heck of a way to open an album back in 1969. I find it to be a really shrewd fusion of hard rock and jazz musically, and protest lyrically. The way the bass is played in the opening riff - brought in by Greg Lake, to which McDonald added those crucial last three chords - reminds me of the way Geezer Butler so often was to play with Black Sabbath in future years {interestingly, both Lake and Butler were really guitarists who turned to bass because there were already lead guitarists in the band} and the distorted vocal really adds a certain menace to a lyric that could have been penned by George Harrison {think of a cross between 'Piggies' and 'Within you, without you'} but is more growly. And although there are two cute solos {on guitar and sax} that punctuate the centre section, there is an economy about them that's impressive, almost as though they were determined not to put in a single note that didn't need to be there. Some of the dynamics and unison playing are breathtaking, few in rock at the time would have attempted something that complicated, that fast. Both in the writing and the playing it was a true group effort. I've long felt that heavy metal, progressive rock and jazz rock fusion are relatives, cut from the same cloth and as far as I can determine, this is one of the first {and few} examples of an actual hybrid of all three from '69. It's worthy of all the plaudits it's gotten down the years.

One of the fascinating aspects of the evolution of 60s music on both sides of the Atlantic is that folk wasn't abandoned, despite the derision of folk purists. That's where I think their supposed intelligence and intellectualism is shown to be a straitjacket - less discriminating rockers were able to like folk as well as other forms and once again, it's fusion with rock made for some outstanding sounds and songs. And rather different too......while Dylan took the folk rock hybrid one way, bands like Crimson came from the other direction so their folky rock excursions, like I TALK TO THE WIND are of a completely different ethos. This charming song is so English and shows another side to the band. Coming straight after that mesmeric opener it's something of a shock, in the space of two songs, they've covered five genres ! I used to think the lyrics were irrelevant and rubbish coz Pete Sinfield inspires either fury or a resigned tolerance among Crimsonites, but actually, they're quite good, even if they sound a bit forced in some of the rhymes. A teacher had said of him in an earlier school report that he should neaten up his handwriting because "examiners will not bother to decipher his often very interesting work". Prophetic ? The overall sound is very pastoral {as it was known in those days} with McDonald's flutes {he felt that he should've played guitar on this too}, Giles' drumming and Lake's singing being the standouts, especially the former two in the instrumental playout. That said, I'm quite disappointed with Michael Giles as a drummer. Having read in my teens that he was "the drummer extraordinaire", I see no evidence of this on the album. He's at best competent. And he wasn't at all happy with the drum sound on the album. And shock ! Horror ! I don't like EPITAPH ! Well hang me, whip me, flog me, shoot me ! I'm not saying it ain't a good song and maybe more and I'm not even saying it's overated, but it does not move me in any way. Greg Lake makes an interesting observation about his singing here; he says that whenever he hears it, he thinks of all the tricks and techniques he learned about singing after he left the band and thinks EPITAPH sounds naive. One of the major components of embryonic progressive rock was without a doubt psychedelia, both in sound and definitely lyrically. Those surrealistic mystical ramblings that first appeared with Bob Dylan were moved on a hundredfold by virtually every lyricist through '67/'68, whether or not they had imbibed LSD. I think the LSD laden lyrics of psychedelia hung together better and seemed to make more sense because at that point, notions of straight thinking {and the language that accompanied it} were being broken down and being replaced by the sort of I AM THE WALRUS type of sense where you could sort of get it without having to actually understand the words. Later on 'prog' became infamous for lyrics that were in many instances impossible to penetrate or even relate to in the way you could with lyrics that were there more for their sounds than meaning. Fortunately at the time of this album, lyrics still had a poetic heart running through them {well, alot of them did !} and Pete Sinfield, for all his hippy lifestyle by night, was a poet. An odd writer in some ways, he had a background that was twenty years ahead of it's time {he claims his mum was a bohemian, bisexual non conformist}, more a product of the kind of society the hippies hoped to foist on everyone else, than what was around in postwar England. For him, much of his writing wasn't sort of 'hippy crap', but very real and drenched in possibility, all of which makes a song like MOONCHILD different from alot of the dreamy, flowery lyrics of the period, many of which were couched in acid realized fantasies, rather than situations one had lived through. Like many of those that have given their opinions on the album, I too have mixed emotions about this song. I love the first part, the guitar from Fripp is my favourite on the album, it's anonymous but vital, and the sparse drumming is lovely, with cute little percussive touches here and there, plus Greg Lake's vocal is wonderful. The second bit, the improvisation, isn't something that has enough interest in it to keep me listening for the rest of my life. I appreciate what McDonald, Giles and Fripp were trying to do {and also, they were lacking in material but didn't want to put out an album that only lasted thirty or so minutes} and the jazz love of the latter two {and the fact that they were impressed with the British free jazz scene} came to the fore, but IMHO it wasn't successful. Probably great to play, the most significant thing about it is that when Fripp included MOONCHILD on one of the boxed sets 22 years on, he cuts the track at the improvisation....... Rolling Stone magazine trashed the album for having such a mixture of styles {so much for free thinking coupled with artistic freedom} but I think it's very diversity is so fresh. THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is my fave on the album, a majestic piece of writing, singing, playing, improvising......and stealing ! McDonald freely admits to ripping off bits by the Godfather of soul, James Brown, and Rimsky-Korsakov {from 'Scheherazade'}. Mind you, I'd never have guessed. It had actually started off as a thing that Pete Sinfield wrote on an acoustic guitar as a country and western number before McDonald changed the melody and gave the song some real shape. It's medieval darkness is appropriate and wonderfully realized, there's not a thing that I don't love about this song and Michael Giles turns in, for me, his best performance on the album. The riff is fantastic and that eerie mellotron pretty much defines the sound of what I consider to be one of the greatest musical instruments ever invented. It may have been heavy, unreliable and cumbersome, but when it worked, it had more expression than it's younger but more versatile brother, the synthesizer. The mellotron was the Abel killed by the synth's Cain. Remaining biblical for a moment, the Crimson King was a metaphor for Beelzebub, in itself a biblical metaphor for the devil, though it means 'Lord of the dung heep' or to put it in another way, 'the master of shit'. So I guess the court of the crimson king can be seen as hell or the underworld or some such place. It does seem borne out by the cover {though the cover reminds me of the agonized voices at the end of ECHOES on Pink Floyd's MEDDLE}. It's one of rock's most iconic and memorable. It's actually a self portrait of the artist, Barry Godber, who died of a heart attack the next year. Crimson kept dying too, but like the one who fought and beat the real crimson king, they kept on rising......


Bob Josef <> (01.12.2000)

The sound quality isn't too, too bad for a 1969 live album, and it really conveys how exciting the original band must have been live. An unfortunate loss when they broke up. Still, one should definitely get the first two studio records before moving on to this.

Nick <> (28.03.2001)

Dear George,

you might be interested to know that the spanish guitar line you refer to is actually a sample from the mellotron, obviously common to the model used by both KC and the Beatles.

It is found in between songs rather than within one, though without going back and listening to the album I'm not sure where. Julian Cope used it via his mellotron and was apparently going to be sued by Apple even though the sample is by no means Beatle property. It can be heard on the Beatles white album directly directly preceding Bungalow Bill

Jeremy Olson <> (19.11.2001)

Excessive is a good word for this release: way too much duplication for my tastes! But it does give a good picture of the mini-evolution King Crimson Mark 1 went through during their brief existance. A few months makes a big difference in a few spots: the BBC songs sound far less tight and fluent than the Fillmore show on Disk 2 (at least to my ears). I far prefer Disk 2; "Schizoid Man" is far more crunchier, and "Drop In' beats the hell out of the "Mantra/Capricorn" medley on Disk 1. This show was truly one hell of a farewell! Oh, to have been there and see it live....but I digress. "A Man, A City", while inferior to "Pictures Of A City", is great in it's own way, with some GREAT sax work all over the place; it just plain rocks! "Epitaph", all 3 of 'em, is gorgeous as usual...but do we really need 3 versions? There is such a thing as too much beauty! I got a good deal on this when I bought it, otherwise I wouldn't have spent the money. As great as the performances are, this collections is quite excessive. Give me Disk 2 on it's own, we have an automatic 10. As it is with the 2 disks, I guess a 7/11 works, but it comes close to getting a 6/10 IMHO (thanks to the excessive duplication)


Ben Greenstein <> (19.05.2000)

Same as the debut, and I was never a fan to begin with. I hate this early stuff. Almost every song sounds like a ripoff from the first album, with only "Pictures Of A City" being at all memorable. "Cadence And Cascade" is boring (which is quite a feat for such a short song), and the title track is a TOTAL rehash of the much better "Epitaph." Same chords, similar melody. I really, really like "Cat Food," though, probably because it's got the only original ideas on the whole album. I give it a five.

Rich Bunnell <> (27.08.2000)

I do agree with most people that it was kind of dumb for Fripp to repeat the last album so obviously, and indeed most of the melodies aren't as memorable as before, but this album still has two things going for it. First, the production values are way up, so it's like hearing the In The Court songs with fuller, shinier production. Second and lastly, the band, in producing a copy of the debut, luckily didn't produce a carbon copy of "Moonchild"(which, though pleasant background "music," is a real chore on headphones). In its place is the awesome noise epic "The Devil's Triangle," which just keeps getting cooler and cooler and cooler until exploding in an outright orgasm of improvisational noise. "Pictures Of A City" is a fuzzy "Schizoid Man" update which really works, the three "Peace" interludes are charmingly inoffensive, and "Cat Food" has to be one of the coolest songs ever written. It's hard to believe that the song is from 1970 -- it sounds like some experimental new wave single! Sort of. Anyway, it isn't an across-the-board classic like the debut, but it's still worthy of the nine that you gave it. If you like the debut, you'll like this album, because it's pretty much the same thing with better production and a really awesome single.

Bob Josef <> (29.11.2000)

I gave this album a try after reading your review. As expected, most of it is Robert Fripp redoes In the Court as a solo album. But give the guy a break.. what else could he do? There was no "King Crimson" at this point -- his band feel apart around him, he faced a multi-album contract and touring commitments. That the album turned out to be as good as it is no small feat.

Even so, one missed the "band consciousness," so to speak, of the first record. Lake and Michael Giles, for all practical purposes, are merely session men here, just like everyone else. The atmospheres Fripp creates are very intriguing and hypnotic, although chopping the last 3 1/2 minutes off of "The Devil's Triangle" wouldn't hurt. On the other hand, there is nothing here which is as useless as the "Moonchild" coda, either. "Cat Food" sort of grew on me after a while -- it is quite a departure from anything on The Court and it's hard to imagine what they were thinking when they released it as the first follow-up single. "Cadence and Cascade" and the "Peace" tracks indicate a beautiful acoustic melodicism which I doubt Fripp maintained after this album.

What surprises me the most is how much I dislike Sinfield's lyrics here. On the debut, at least the title and the lyrics of each of the songs set a mood("Epitaph":war; "Schizoid Man": madness; "Talk to the Wind": alienation, etc.) that the listener could identify with. "Pictures of a City" does conjure images of an urban wasteland, but the rest of the lyrics are sheer gibberish -- and this is coming from a major prog-rock fan who usually gets off on such stuff. There's not even a hint of structure that even Yes' most pretentious lyrics have. What do the lyrics of the title track have to do with the song title? Even Lake's emotional singing doesn't fool me to thinking that these are totally random. Even his ELP lyrics were better than these.

Jeremy Olson <> (19.11.2001)

Very very interesting stuff here (for better, and worse). All I will say about "Cadence And Cascade" is that the song BORES me to tears and Gordon Haskell...who thell is Gordon Haskell? Where did they find this guy, and why of all people have him replace Greg Lake? Bad move! There are a few real gems on here, but I do disagree that this album is Most Underrated. "Pictures Of A City" is amazing, a true classic which alone earns this album 2 points (IMHO). "Cat Food" is WEIRD, I went as far as to dismiss it when I first heard it. Mistake! The more I hear it, the more it grows on me. I just don't see how it fits in; it doesn't sound like the other stuff at all! Then again, that's what makes it: the random piano bursts are such a change from the careful, calculated music on the rest of the's almost as if the boys were having some fun in the studio, and came up wth this. It's really good! But the rest does nothing for me! I prefer the Epitaph versions of "Mars" over "The Devil's Triangle" anyday (in fact, I actually prefer the original Holst over all of these, but if I have to hear Holst with guitar, it better be Fripp playing it!) The other stuff isn't bad, but I can really do without it. I don't rate this one higher then a 6/10; that's 2 for "Pictures Of A City", 2 for "Cat Food", 1/2 for "The Devil's Triangle", and 1 1/2 for the fact that the band continued to exist after losing McDonald (and the drummer who was no big loss anyways). Thank you for not disappearing!

Mattias Lundberg <> (06.03.2002)

Very formulaic, as you say. Can you imagine what K.C. would have sounded like had never McDonald been a band member ? Would this have been a very good (since it wouldn't have a formula) or a really bad (if the formula is what saves the album in the first place) album ? I think the difference between McDonald and Collins is what makes this and the following albums sound more jazzy than In the court...; Collins could replace the saxes and flutes, but never the bassoon playing that really made the debut sound symphonic. Haskell is typecasted as a Lake replacement and this, of course, is also formulaic. 'Cat food' is the weak song here, but perhaps it's just overshadowed by not having the monolithic formulae of all other tracks. If we shall compare the albums, (it's your page after all) I think this one is slightly stronger. 'Pictures of a city' - '21 century...':1-1, 'Cadence and cascade'-'Talk to the wind':1-1, 'In the wake...'-'Epitaph':1-0, 'The devils triangle'-'Moonchild':1-0, Reduce a point for 'Cat food' and add one for 'In the court...' and the 'Peace' suite. ERGO: In the wake of Poseidon - In then court of the Crimson King: 4-3.

Brian D. Sittinger <> (04.03.2003)

The very first time I heard this album, I thought it was a cheap rip-off of in the Court of the Crimson King (no need to list the correspondences again...). Then, pulling this out a year later, I'm glad to say I'm wrong. Only the tilte track still irks me in the xerox department (a somewhat spastic attempt to regain the majesty at the beginning of "Epitaph"), although most of the music otherwise is still quite neat. If anything, one hears a lot more of Fripp on this album, especially with the acoustic guitar. And, it goes without saying the songs are jazzier this time around, too. It's the 'newer' songs where this album really gets interesting: the catchy yet dissonant "Cat Food" and the very creepy "Devil's Triangle". I even hear a quote from the previous album (the "aah's") toward the end of the later song. Overall, this gains an 8(12) from me, dragged down due to the "Peace" pieces.


Mike DeFabio <> (03.06.99)

HEY! I happen to BE that diehard prog worshipper that feeds daily on listening to "Karn Evil 9" and "Close To The Edge," and I STILL hate this album. Gordon Haskell's voice just really BUGS ME RRRRRR! Which is really sad, since most of the songs on side one COULD have been great, had they still had Greg Lake at this point. I personally think 'Indoor Games' is the best song on here.

The entire second side is just junk. Not even Jon Anderson can save 'Prince Rupert Awakes'. That's just a BAD SONG. "Stake a lizard by the throat." Yeah, I think I will, how about THIS LIZARD, RIGHT HERE IN MY CD PLAYER, EH?

The second side's only redeeming quality is "Big Top." Go ahead and laugh at me, but to me that song just sounds downright sinister. Listen to it sometime, if you bought this album and waited too long to return it. Doesn't it sound just a little... TOO happy? Something's just.. not right... Anyway, don't buy it.

Ben Greenstein <> (19.05.2000)

At least they're doing something new again. It's not very good, though, but it is entirely pleasant to listen to. "Prince Rupert Awakes" and "Indoor Games" are pretty catchy, and the other songs don't really offend me at all. I could give this a six. Gordy's voice really sucks, though - I never thought I'd be able to say that I was GLAD to hear Jon Anderson's voice on a record!

Rich Bunnell <> (08.10.2000)

Definitely a falloff from the first two excellent albums, though I wouldn't rate it as low as a four. I can easily pin this album down to three distinct problems:

1) Gordie's voice, while tolerable, is completely emotionless compared to Greg's.

2) The songs don't even really jam - they just RAMBLE.

3) The synth sound in a couple of songs is REALLY annoying. That one that pops up near the end of "Indoor Games" sounds like it came from one of those kids "Play-It-Again" toys, and I know, because I had one. I hear that note and expect to hear "PRESS A NOTE TO PICK A SONG. NOW, PLAY ALONG."

That said, it's not that bad of an album. Melodically, "Cirkus" and "Indoor Games" are fine and dandy, and I actually like most of the "Lizard" suite (though admittedly, "Prince Rupert Awakes" is far better than anything that comes after it). But most of the album sounds like Fripp's attempting to try new things without really knowing where to go. "Happy Family," for one, tries to strike an ominous synth vibe, but eventually you notice that the song doesn't really have a melody -- just that vibe. I'd give the album a six.

John McFerrin <> (01.03.2001)

This album out and out BLOWS. How on EARTH can you mention _Yes_ in the same sentence as this garbage??!!! At least Jon's voice, even if you hate it, can boast some ethereal beauty, while Gordon just sounds like he has a frog in his throat the whole time. And the songs .... oh man. What. The. Hell.

For the record, count me in as another person who, if forced to, could subsist on a diet of 'Close to the Edge' and 'KE9' but still hates this album. I give it a _2_ ('Prince Rupert Awakes' is kinda catchy).

Rip VanWinkle <> (10.08.2001)

So, then they came with Lizard (which is, together with Islands, highly underratted in your reviews!). "Happy Family", for example, is known not only because of the weakest Haskell vocals, but for the funny text about the-one-well-known-and-almost-notorious-band, which came to its end right in 1970.

"Happy family, pale applause, each to his revolving (NB!) doors Silas searching, Rufus neat, Jonah caustic, Jude so sweet Let their sergeant mirror spin, if we lose, the barbers win Happy family, one hand clap, four went on but none came back".

Note: Silas-George, Rufus-Ringo, Jonah-John, Jude-Paul (also see the book "Russificated King Crimson" by V.Kalnitzky, SPb.,2000). Maybe, these a-la-nursery rhymes-verses hardly combine with the overcomplicated avantguarde music structures, but, anyway, that`s so funny experience! And how can you deny the classic Fripp rhyff on it!? It comes absolutely out of the song rhythm pattern & seems like the horse`5th leg during the 1st listening, but if you understand the musical idea, this process becomes more pleasant.

The 2nd highly underrated thing on Lizard is `Lizard` itself. Well, i can say that the problem of 20-minute songs-suites is QUITE, EXTREMELY interesting for music lovers, i even offer to make something like a conference on such thing, something like replies on your essays, which i happened to see on your site (but didn`t read it yet:-(( ).

Alright, these 20- or almost so-minutes works are the very significant, special feature of 70s prog rock. And to like them or to dislike them is only to one`s tastes. What real, objeKctive criterions can be found in studying of this subjeKct? i`m afraid there are only subjeKctive ones. You like, say, `Halleluwah` very much & so do i. You hate that ThraKattacK stuff, so do i. You consider `Supper`s Ready` to be one of the best 20-minutes suite & i`m very very far from it. And i`m fond of `Atom Heart Mother`, `Meurglys III`, `Heavenly Music Corporation` & `Lizard` instead. WHY? Not so easy to explain. Speaking of `Lizard`, i can say that firstly, when i didn`t have the song titles, i considered it to be 3 different compositions (a-b, c, d). When i discovered that it`s the one theme, i was greatly amazed & amuzed, but it didn`t make any difference for me. The music themes RULE!

a. Prince Rupert Awakes. Maybe a bit poppy tune, especially that "la-la-las" in the end, but!.. the faKct is that we don`t keep the 1st & the 2nd KC in mind. Jon Anderson fits in here very well; some say that this vocal part was his best work in prog rock... :-))

b. Bolero-The Peacock`s Tale. Probably the best quintessential mix of classic, jazz & rock music the human being ever did on earth. If you ever will listen to it once more, you must recognize the dialogue of instruments & the dialogue of musical themes, which happen simultaneously. The first & the last themes are the one: they make conceptual circle. The instruments are talking with each other, teasing each other `round, developing the themes from simple to improvizationally complicated; classic bolero rhythm steadily supports them on the background, and, thanks to it, all these different-styles-melodies are not messing in senseless atonal jamming, but create the whole beautiful picture of incredible musical dialogues. Give yourself one more chance to catch this unusual various-coloured peacock by the tail!

c. The Battle of Glass Tears. One of the most sinister, ominous & awful musical pieces i ever heard (together with `Careful With That Axe Eugene` & `The Devil`s Triangle`). Maybe, too long to be a gem, but it has its mood & charaKcter.

d. Big Top. Just a finale of the whole album, circling the main theme (idea) of Cirkus, the absurd of life.

Mattias Lundberg <> (06.03.2002)

You're all pretty harsh on poor Haskell, he's not that bad. In a way I prefer him to Lake, because of he can sound animated without screaming, whereas Lake either screams or sings with his usual stoical pompousness. I do think 'The lady of the dancing water' is just as good as 'Talk to the wind' and 'Cadence and cascade', but just to set the pendulum right - you slagged it off - I'll say it's better ! I love the mechanical picking of Fripp and the trombone playing, and Haskell pulls it off very competently. And we've had this discussion before; they do not, and could not, rip any classical composer off (if they did, it probably wouldn't sound that inane). They're just playing around with stuff that they think are classical, and K.C. failed more blatantly in this essai than did any other early prog band, basically because none of them had any significant musical training.

Mike&Mary <> (30.04.2002)

This is my favorite Crimson album! I'm anxious that someone may be misled by the reviews so let me say that there is absolutely no other recording like this one. If Atom-Heart-Mother is your favorite PinkFloyd you just may find this one a treasure!

Keith Hart <>(03.12.2002)

I beg you all to reconsider. I bought this album 23 year ago, on import, cost me an arm and a leg and infuriated me with its dis-jointed cacophony. I referred to it as Crimson's "cuttlery down a fire escape" album. I know consider it to be their most accomplished and satisfying journey. After Fripp was abandonned by McDonald, and was faced with last-time-ever performances by the Giles's and Lake - Poseidon comes out a satisfying poorer cousin to Court. But Lizard is a bold new statement. Unconventionally arranged - what is first sour to the ear becomes a series of brilliantly complex and balanced patterns. Haskall's voice has little of Lake's operatic emotionality, but is mesmerizing nonetheless as the tired dreamer trapped in a world of Sinfield's surreal whimsy. The busy-busy drumming is exceptional and second only to Wyatt's in "Moon in June". Musically it is a far greater arranging feat than any of their later work, and achieves the Crimson hallmark of violence and alienation with more grace then their power-chord approach on Larks and Starless where the guitar emerges as the dominant voice. On Lizard everyone speaks, like a crowded market place, Fripp's guitar carries only a few main themes as in "Prince Rupert's Lament" where it aches, at other times he is far in the background, often comically. The session players are fully committed, and while the lyrics are typically pretentious, they are also deliciously caustic and affectingly odd in Haskell's throat. The music pretends at nothing. This is Fripp's most complicated and concentrated composition with instrumentation of every colour. His pallette is never richer. His attempt on Islands to score a piece is "Song of the Gulls" which, by comparison is self-conscious and trite. That band was no patch on this one - "Sailor's Tale" aside. Fripp was also more successful training Haskell to play the bass. May this album rise from the dungeon of 4!

A. Filatov <> (11.03.2004)

Oh George,I just can't believe my eyes, you really gave Lizard a 4? In general I do enjoy your site and your style of reviewing but the time has come for us to part ways - I really appreciated your thrashing of Yes and to a lesser extent - Black Sabbath, but concerning Lizard I must disagree with you completely. OK, not so completely - Sinfield's lyrics to title song are abominable, even Russian band called DDT, whose lyrics I tend to despice, can do and actually does better. And Gordon Haskell can't sing - I can only admit it.

Lizard is surely the closest KC ever came to Canterbury scene and I am becoming really mad when everybody attacks Canterbury scene - maybe it's some kind of obsession, I really don't know. And I can't understand your attitude towards 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family'. Maybe they are not strong melodically, but can you show me a piece of avantgarde jazz that is so? Perhaps, you just don't like jazz and because of it you bash such music mercilessly...

As for me, I consider both these songs rather solid, maybe even as solid as anything composed by Henry Cow and National Health and it says a lot IMHO. So, let's get to the title suite. First of all, my friend who is the conservatory graduate and can be called the connoisseur of classical music rejected your idea of Lizard's main theme being ripped off. He, as well as myself, was adored by the main theme developing throughout the first half of the suite. 'Bolero - The Peacock's Tale' is anything but pointless noodling or uninspired jam. It's a well-written and beautiful piece music and jazz variations towards the end make it even better and more original. I surely can live without 'The Last Skirmish', but it's not atrocious - it's just not up to the album's very high standards. 'Prince Rupert's Lament' and 'Big Top' are neither masterpieces nor bullshit. 'Cirkus' (Oh, I was so angry that I managed to forget about it) is eerily beautiful, lyrics, especially in comparison to Lizard's, are quite strong too.

As a conclusion I want to say - I just can't understand your position. Perhaps this album somehow ruined your personal life or when you were 3 years old you were scared to death by the cover? You seem to be biased against it, George

P.S. - this album has really nothing in common with Close To The Edge or Tales From Topographic Oceans. Don't rate Canterbury music so goddamned low:-)


Joel Larsson <> (02.10.2000)

Hey, don't like this record, eh? Well, I thought that you liked when rock is shuffled into classic music, so what's wrong with this one? I consider this record equal to Starless and Bible black, and then remember that I like SABB as much as I like Red.

And finally, I love Red. All of this three albums have their weak points, "Providence" on Red, "The Mincer" (which should really good with more of Wetton's vocals), and "Trio" on SABB, and "Formentera Lady" or "Sailor's Tale" (I mean the long one of them, some confusing information is on the back of my record). And I rewrites my oppostition: Raise the ratings of this one and SABB!! (Never!! - G.S.)

Eric X Kuns <> (09.01.2001)

I remember when I picked up this album at a used record store at the same time I picked up a Gentle Giant compilation. Both records were in pretty crappy condition, but listenable. I put them on my equally crappy inherited turntable and couldn't tell when the records switched, they were both so repugnant. I think the saxophone on side one of Islands made me nauseous. They were horrible. They were so horrible that the next morning I had to listen to them again just to re-appreciate how truly execrable they were. Only, on the second listen I could actually tell the records apart. On another listen they started sounding better, interesting. Soon I became a Gentle Giant junky, but I think I got rid of my copy of Islands when I later discovered the first two Crimson albums, with Greg Lake which, I liked much more (though now I find those particularly bombastic). Only after eventually getting Lizard (and liking it) did I try to listen to Islands again. Well, I learned to like 'Formentera Lady/Sailor's Tale' quite a bit. In contradiction to all the other commentators on your site, those are my favorite songs on the album. I particularly like the StarTreck like vocals, the introductory viola, lyrics like "where Spanish lizards runs", and the Fripp wild-ass guitar solo. Maybe I hated the music so much that it opened my at-that-time young mind to loving it.

Rip VanWinkle <> (10.08.2001)

Islands is highly underrated, too. We mustn`t forget here that this album was made by practically ANOTHER band! The same men were only Fripp&Sinfield (and Tippett, if i`m not mistaken). So, i think, they did not want to create something like `SchiziodMan` or `I Talk To The Wind". Perhaps, they searched for the new forms of expressing their ideas. And they succeeded!

`Formentera Lady`, for the fresh listening, is not a Crimsonish composition at all! That`s what i said to myself for the 1st time. And for the 2nd, and the 3rd. But then i found that this awful avantguardistic mess has its melodical & rhythmical sides; and after `The Peacock`s Tale` it was not a hard thing to do.

`Sailor`s Tale` is classic. i don`t know how to say it more certainly, but it`s classic. It begins with the grooovy rhythm played by Ian Wallace on the ride cymbal, Boz adds his bass, then insane Fripp appears, and after that we can hear abso-FUCKING-lutely mad saxophone of Mel Collins; and all this nightmare happens according to that groooviest Wallace rhythm (if you didn`t ever try to play drums, you can`t even imagine, what the musician feels listening to such a crrrrazy thing!). Then a pause & a change of tune, a hard slow trip-hoppish rhythm with unbelievable guitar accords & a magic sea strings (or mellotron?) background. (And if to make the rough comparisons, is `Sailor`s Life` by Fairport Convention, with its wild psychedelic/country/folk instrumental part better than Bobby Fripp`s one?

Liljana <> (18.02.2002)

Ok, George, let me explain you one thing about 20st century music. Some musicians have discovered and cultivated idea of "atonal" musical ideas, ideas which are not ruled by melody - those ideas are mostly based on dissonance and other weird stuff of a kind - so, you may like this way of composing, or you may dislike it, but - as a reviewer - you have to RESPECT it, and rate it in the context of it's own dissonant/amelodic/atonal rules. So, cut the crap, and stop shitting on every amelodic album on the face of earth. Rather learn something about this musical direction, and then review albums of a kind. By the way: no hard feelings, I think your reviews are tons of fun.

[Special author note: let's see now... what if my position is - "atonal" musical ideas are essentially the product of people who are so bored with traditional musical forms that they're willing to sacrifice melodicity and emotional resonance in favour of something that'd be simply "completely different"? Because, after all, it is melodicity and emotional resonance that I really value, and it's hard for me to respect forms of music that do not place the emphasis on these categories. And thus, no matter how much I learn about this musical direction, I feel I'll have problems with changing the tone on here anyway. But just for the record, I think you have a good point there.]

Mattias Lundberg <> (12.03.2002)

Oh, how underrated is not this album ? I think it is at least as good as any of the previous ones. I read somewhere that Boz didn't play bass at all when he joined Crimson, so Fripp had to teach him the basics in between recording sessions. This is a good example of Fripp's megalomania but it works very well, I think. Prog is a genre that often fail on account of conflict of minds, and if some band members having their parts composed for them is likely to increase the balance in this conflict. Boz's playing on 'Sailor's tale' is quite impressive if you consider that he wasn't really a bass player at that time. He's a good singer as well, listen to the power of "Impaled with nails of ice..." in 'The letters' and "Like maroon-glaced fish-bones..." in 'Ladies of the road'. Throughout this album, Sinfield's lyrics are much better than usual and the lyrics to 'Islands' could stand alone as a masterpiece (I know that almost everyone will disagree with me on that one). I think 'Prelude - song of the gulls' is the weakest track, the only things that capture my mind are the last two cadences, which seem sort of inspired. 'Formentera lady' is absolutely gorgeous. As so many other early K.C. songs it's based on a 12-bar blues pattern, although it hardly comes across as a blues song. I don't think that this album fits comfortably in neither the first nor the second period, it stands alone. It is definitely not a transitional album - Lark's tongue... has a completely new starting point. If I would be kind to 'Prelude - song of the gulls' I would say that this is the first and only K.C. album to be virtually free of filler.

Akis Katsman <> (31.05.2003)

I have mixed feelings about this one. I got it after In The Court Of The Crimson King, and I was disappointed a little. I mean, I like most songs here, but I can't stand the singer! He's one of the worst singers I've ever heard (apart from Punk and Metal singers). Sometimes I can't even hear him, he's often whispering instead of singing! "Formentera Lady" is somewhat good, but it's too long and it's ruined by the poor vocals. Next is "Sailor's Tale", a cool kick-ass instrumental. Gotta love Fripp's guitar here, and the sax too. "The Letters" is not bad, but the vocals are horrible again. And the sax solo is somewhat pointless. Then comes "Ladies Of The Road". Most fans like it, but I think it's the worst song of the album, with horrible vocals and HORRIBLE lyrics. Blah. The good saxophone solo doesn't save it. "Prelude: Song Of The Gulls" is next, a great classical-influenced instrumental. Although a bit simple, it's excellent. After this, comes the title track, in my opinion the best song in the album. It's a quiet, relaxing track with an amazing saxophone solo at the end. Also, the singing somewhat matches the song here (it's not bad). Not a bad album, but not great (except for the title track). I'd give it a 6, maybe a low 7 if I get over the mediocre singing. If you are new to King Crimson, buy the debut first, not this. I warned you, right?

Oh, I almost forgot. A minute or two after the last song, there is Fripp talking to the others in the studio or something like that. If I guessed right, it's a rehearsal for "Song Of The Gulls". If I didn't, I'm sorry.

Jason Saenz <> (09.07.2004)

This is one of the best "experimental" albums that KCrimso has ever put out. The opening song really makes your mind drift off and sometimes it's hard to really concentrate on the songs but I guess thats the whole idea, trippy and hypnotic. Fripp is really coming through with his ideas and even though his ideas are somewhat clumsy, I do have to pay credit for using some excellent instruments, this is one of KC most underrated and forgotten albums.


<> (12.02.2000)

I love this album. The version of '21st Century Schizoid Man' is easily one of the best they've ever done. 'Peoria' is interesting...... and probably the closest that KC ever got to blues. 'The Sailor's Tale' would be superior to the studio version if only it were the entire piece. The title track is awesome, the second half especially. It features some of Fripp's best playing as a guitarist. 'Groon' is my favourite track on the album. The sound quality isn't that bad, but perhaps I am comparing it to bootlegs?

Derrick Stuart <> (15.07.2000)

This album was recorded in the back of a van, on a pocket tape recorder on a performance in the pouring rain. That is what the jacket said. I like this album, but think they could've found better performances, or made it a two LP set. There were better recordings around. I love this album, but is they had included a 2nd LP of other stuff they did on the tour, "Cirkus, "Pictures Of A City", anything from Lizard, Posedion or In the Court, this album would've had better success and be on CD today

Jeremy Olson <> (06.11.2001)

I don't ever have any plan to buy this CD (not that I could ever find it anyways), based solely on your review (see the impact you have on my listening habits?). I did, however, manage to download the version of "21st Century Schizoid Man", and I WAS BLOWN AWAY! This is indeed the definative live version of this song (I have 7 other live versions, ranging from 1969 to 1996, and no others come close). Getting beyond the obvious mixing problems (I don't enjoy getting to hear every one of Andy Wallace's bass drum kicks at all), this song includes some of the greatest Fripp guitar work I've ever heard. Fripp easily beats the hell out of all those other early 1970's guitar gods on this song (and I mean you, Mr. Spirit-Ripping-Off Jimmy Page!) And just when you think it's over, in comes the sax. Wow...hooray for Mel Collins! The sax solo section is like the cold shower after the marathon workout section of Fripp's solo. Why didn't they think to include a nice sax solo in the studio version? Oh well. Since he is at the forefront of the horrible mix, Andy Wallace comes through good on the drums, and he's a pretty decent player (but not even in the same league as God, I mean, Bill Bruford). Boz's screechy vocals sound alright, the weirdness of the distortion seems to fit in well with the overall crappiness of the recording. I would gladly pay for this album just to hear this version...but since I already have the song downloaded, I'll just save my money for the new Rush album!

Wojciech Bobilewicz <> (28.10.2002)

I guess when you listen to an album in 20-year intervals you can't really say you know it. Which is good, because I can look at Earthbound with a fresh look (or shall I say, I can hear it with a fresh ear?).

As fate had it, last time I listened to the album was on the radio, in the early '80s, when it was possible - at least in Poland - to broadcast whole albums at a time and when a full discography of an artist or artists (each and every official album ever recorded) was something more of a norm than an uncommon and unthinkable thing.

At that time, I utterly disliked Earthbound for both its sound and musical quality, considering it to be totally unworthy of a band such as King Crimson. But I guess I've changed my mind, or have simply grown up. Today, having listened to the record for the first time since 1982 or 1983, I have a different idea: guess what, it's not that bad, after all!

Sure, the sound is disgraceful and makes one really wonder why the band (or the label) ever decided to publicise such audibly crappy material. It is possibly one of the reasons why - contrary to what many people say - I consider Earthbound's "21st Century Schizoid Man" to be a complete flop. Throughout the piece I had a feeling of being inserted almost by force in some hellish machine of sorts, with nothing but droning, incoherent guitar riffs intermingling with sax, bass, drums - one huge wall of sound that I personally would be scared to approach lest it would fall on me and make me deaf accidentally.

But then again, is it all the fault of the sound? I am afraid it is rather an immense feeling of personal and musical incoherence, rather than that of the sound quality, that permeates through this rendition of "Schizoid Man". No, I'd much rather listen to any bootlegged version of this piece than the official Earthbound version.

Oddly enough, why critics and listeners alike shower "Peoria" with so much cynical or contemptuous remarks is beyond my understanding. Obviously this is not THE King Crimson we grew to like, accept and admire, and this is not the tune easily associated with what we can expect of, say, In the Court of the Crimson King or Islands, but, hey, don't we know by now that KC does not equal constant? We have had a symphonic/classical rock outfit, we had an experimental, free-form band, a jazz-rock band, a progressive band, in recent years even a band verging on some cold, post-industrial, post-modern sound collages where any remnants of the melodic line have been dropped altogether. Why not funk or jazz-funk? My big plus to "Peoria".

Just why Fripp decided to skip "Formentera Lady" (which gives its successor on Islands an appropriate flavour, climate and ambience) and only include "The Sailor's Tale" is, likewise, beyond my grasp. The "Tale", without "Formenterra Lady" is like having your dessert without having tasted the main course. Worse, 'cause on Earthbound the dessert seems to be a bit stale. I guess the only explanation is that back then, in 1972, there was hardly a way of cramming 60 minutes of music on one cheap vinyl long-play (and that's approximately how long the album would have to last after the inclusion of the live version of "Formentera Lady").

Where Earthbound strikes me as best, and certainly worth its price, is in the last track, "Groon". Despite jazzy/funky influences being there again (or because of it), the piece has its kick, its power, its stamina which no doubt is mainly the merit of Wallace, though the last few bars' guitar riff brings Fripp back to full light and full glory.

Overall, sound quality aside, it's not such a bad album at all, though certainly its light fades considerably when compared to such gems as both the former (and later) studio albums, and King Crimson's live masterpiece - USA.

Alexander Zaitsev <> (08.06.2003)

This is the only record in my relatively large CD collection, that I loathe.I mean, Earthbound is not music at all. It's noise, moreover it's dumb and pointless noise. The definite version of 'Schizoid man'?? Where? I've listened to it five times today, I got a headache and I still can't find a single merit of this version. The man who invented grindcore must have listened to Earthbound before doing it. I really pity you, George, 'cause you had to listen to this trash. I give it a big fat 0.

P.S. Did I say that David Live (yuck!) was worse? David Live is a masterpiece when compared to absolute rubbish like Earthbound.


Mike DeFabio <> (03.06.99)

Very very good, but you have to be in the mood for an absence of structure. LOTS of improv here. But the guitars are real crunchy, so that makes up for it. 'LTIA 2' is, indeed, the best song.

Joel Larsson <> (30.11.2000)

A quite good album, with guitar riffs that might make the Black Sab's themselves green of jealousy. 'Lark's tongues in aspic part one' (hey, where did they get the songtitle from?) has got an even more heavy and crunchy riff than Part Two, therefore i prefer the first one.

The other songs don't have a climax, their sound isn't changing much from the beginning to the end of the songs. This little but important thing is the only reason why I agree with the 9.

Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

Very good, this is where the band's "great" period begins for me. This album, in particular, sounds really ahead of it's time - using the same overdrive guitar tones that are overused in heavy music these days, and combining them with jazz and classical influences. Very cool. "Easy Money" doesn't define the sound of the album at all, but it's still my favourite song by this band ever. Dark, groovy, perfect. Now we know where Pink Floyd got all their ideas, don't we? The rest of the album is really good, too. A nine.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

My least favorite song on this album is the opening track, it just is too scattered to ever really congeal into something memorable. 'Easy Money', though, I think is more than just a crappy stab at bleak social commentary. Lines like "Your admirers in the street/Got to hoot and stamp their feet/in the heat from your physique/as you twinkle by in moccasin sneakers" strike me as very funny and yet as razor sharp. I've always kind of taken this as a snipe at fellow prog-rockers like Yes and ELP -- I can well imagine Jon Anderson "twinkling by in moccasin sneakers" pretending to be some sort of magical fairy creature from the land of elves, or something.

Rich Bunnell <> (17.03.2001)

This album sounds like Fripp, at the end of his creative rope, took another listen to "21st Century Schizoid Man," and once the song got to the chaotic jam at the end, he snapped his fingers and said "I've GOT IT! I'll start making entire SONGS that sound like this!" The two loud and instrumental title tracks are brilliant, mixing short sections of light tribal noise with longer sections of loud, crunching guitar frenzy, and somehow all of this endless, unrelenting wankery WORKS. Definitely a limited path for Fripp to take, but an interesting and fascinating one while it lasted. The actual songs are generally very good too, strangely because of their gorgeous vocal melodies, something Fripp isn't exactly known for. I just can't get into "Easy Money," though - the chanting that opens it makes it seem like the rest of the song is going to be really good, but thereafter the song turns into a plodding, empty half-groove that every so often inflames with bursts of half-hearted intensity that sound awkward at best. Still, I give the album a very high 8/10. Fans of Crimson are not urged to pass this up, but then again, they probably already have the album.

<> (10.04.2001)

One of the three most essential progressive rock albums of all time. I consider Lark's Tongues In Aspic to be part of the Holy Trinity of Prog-Rock, along with ELP's Brain Salad Surgery and Yes's The Yes Album. It's probably my favorite King Crimson album... I like it even more than In The Court, believe it or not. While the title song of In The Court will probably always be their ultimate masterpiece, much of that album drags -- "Moonchild" and "I Talk To The Wind" tend to put me to sleep. But nothing on Lark's Tongues In Aspic drags. Every song on here has something interesting to offer. "Book of Saturdays" is probably the weakest track on here (AWESOME name for a song though), and even this song is well-crafted and highly listenable. "Exiles" is great stuff, especially that creepy beginning which I can't quite find the words to describe. To me it sounds like a sequel to "Epitaph," but perhaps better. "Easy Money" is a little less interesting, but then there's nothing really wrong with it, either. On the other hand, "The Talking Drum" is one of the most unsettling songs I've ever heard... if you think stuff like Black Sabbath or Blue Oyster Cult is 'evil' music, you really ought to hear "The Talking Drum" at least once. Without a single word, it manages to sound more deeply sinister than any ten heavy metal songs. The way it builds from almost nothing, up and up with inhuman patience, growing more and more malevolent until it finally explodes into that abrupt, screaming climax... it's the kind of music you really could imagine hearing in Hell. Possibly the most evil-sounding song I've ever heard, and a true masterpiece. Hands down the best thing on the album.

And the title song "Lark's Tongues In Aspic," which is split into two parts, is one of the most exciting prog-rock epics ever (it's funny how so many King Crimson songs can have no lyrics, yet still seem like "epics"). The first part is the more restrained of the two, concentrating more on wild variations of mood and abrupt shifts of instruments, the volume going from almost too low to be heard to nearly earsplitting by turns. The second part is the more consistently louder and bolder of the two, with a heavy-metallish crunch to it, although far more complex and professional than your average heavy metal, of course. The interplay of the guitar and bass in itself is fantastic. And the way it climaxes with every instrument on the album, and then slowly winds down to that last note which seems like it takes eons to finally fade... it's just perfect. Perfect.

I have to give this album a 10. A low 10, but a 10 nonetheless. I have no choice.

John McFerrin <> (17.04.2001)

Damn good album, this is. The instrumental breaks sometimes meander a bit too much for me ('Exiles' is interrupted _way_ too much for my tastes), but within the purely instrumental pieces, the themes are just totally fab. I'd give the album a 12.

Oh, and I like the comment about 'Talking Drum' being the type of music one would hear in hell, as my brother and I came to a similar conclusion - 'TD' is the music one hears on the elevator down to hell, the screech at the end is the doors opening, and 'Larks 2' is what we hear when we meet Beelzebub himself and start getting roasted.

<> (17.05.2001)

I said that "The Talking Drum" was the best thing on here hands down, didn't I? Whoops, heh heh. Now that I've been listening to this c.d. more, I'm actually growing partial to "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part II." It is truly an amazing song. It intrigues me a little more each time I play it. I don't know if I'd say 'LTIA2' is actually BETTER than 'TD', but I'm prepared to say it's at least equal in brilliance. I do think "The Talking Drum" is still probably the ultimate "evil" song (did I mention how much I like the ominous "buzzing-of-flies" effect in 'TD' in my last letter? Very infernal sounding ... and Beelzebub was the Lord of Flies, after all). However, 'LTIA2' is much more complex instrumentally, and unlike 'TD' it doesn't build slowly from a quiet beginning and suck you in slowly over several minutes. Quite to the contrary, 'LTIA2' grabs you right from the start and doesn't let you go until the blistering finale. Not as malevolent sounding as 'TD' (though the tittering "larks" in the middle, if indeed they are larks, are pretty unsettling ... since when do larks laugh!?! creepy stuff). But overall, 'LTIA2' is quite unlike anything I've ever heard, in prog rock or anywhere else. It's like a law unto itself. If I sat here and told you everything I liked about the song, I'd still be sitting here typing tomorrow morning, so I'm gonna wrap this up by saying if you don't own Lark's Tongues In Aspic, you should. King Crimson never topped it and never will.

Oh yeah, my compliments to John McFerrin on the whole "elevator to Hell/doors open/meet Beelzebub" idea for the two songs. I never thought of it like that, but now that you mention it, it does seem to fit. Very cool theory.

Brian D. Sittinger <> (12.07.2001)

Lark's Tongue in Aspic. Hmm... Highly recommended by a friend of mine for mid-70's King Crimson. However, the first few times I heard this, either the songs seemed underdone ( the endless percussion at the beginning of "LTIA I", the first singing section of "Easy Money"), or noisy and chatoic ("LTIA I and II"), end of "Talking Drum")!! I did not see the attraction with this album. Then, ...

The structures of these songs all of a sudden became clearer!! Still a bit noisy and chaotic (most of it makes sense, though I still have to turn the volume down for the screeches at the end of "Talking Drum" and the worse-than-Jack Benny violins in "LTIA II." This is probably the album which made my family think my taste of music went completely over the edge!!), but made more sense in context.

'LTIA I' still meanders quite a bit, but features another HEAVY Fripp riff, along with great playing throughout the song. Tons of mood contrasts! The next two songs I find not too memorable. Then comes "Easy Money", with great intro riff, sarcastic lyrics which sometimes makes sense, ang a great middle to final jam (a crescendo?). Finally, we have "The Talking Drum" and "LTIA II", which I have nothing intelligent to add, but the analogy of hell in the above reader's comments being right on. Yet another great prog-metal (if a good description) riff. Imagine cardio-kickboxers (Tae-Bo, etc) working out to this! (Being an instructor at a martial arts school, I get sick of the disco/dance retreads in the most insultingly simple fast 4/4 (if not simpler: 2/2??) beat imaginable. Needless to say, they would be (1) freaked out, not knowing how to move, or (2) moving ever so hilariously to this crunchy riff!) Enough rambling for now.

A high 8 out of 10 (Improvements possible in the future!) (P.S. Bill Bruford has already evolved from Close to the Edge!!)

Mattias Lundberg <> (13.03.2002)

Let me start with two pointless facta of the anecdotal kind: The title of this album was suggested by Muir. Apparantly Fripp and Wetton were discussing different suggestions and turned to Muir, asking him what he thought the title should be whereupon he replied: "Why, 'Lark's tongues in aspic' I say!". The other story is a quote by Wetton; allegedly he had been hoping to join the Islands K.C. line-up, but he later dismissed that album as 'an airy-fairy piece of nonsense' (later adapted as a paraphrase title on an Enid album). Now onto the album itself: A nice one, indeed, but it appears to be slightly overrated among Crimsonians. Wetton is a good singer, but his singing on this album is not making him justice and on the transition section of 'Book of Saturday' he actually sounds rather awful. On the whole I prefer the three songs proper to the instrumental tracks (although I naturally love these as well) the latter of course being the most historically important. It is interesting to note how Bruford adapted a Giles/McCulloch drumming -style and -sound. It is like if he was eager to blend in and play some 'authentic' K.C. Compare his playing on 'Exiles' with that on 'Close to the edge' and you'll see what I mean. Well, he soon stopped doing that and started bashing the funky stuff that he became known for. Muir was the one that introduced him to the 'metal sheet' percussion, and as this was carried on the two subsequent albums, Muir's importance in thess matters have not been widely acknowledged.

Sergio E. Bath <> (17.12.2003)

'Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part I' opens the album on a high note: the haunting percussion, Fripp's roaring guitar tone and David Cross' pleasant (not distorted, as in the beginning of 'Formentera Lady') violin create a, well, 'melody' that you can be entertained by while doing something useful like playing Doom or picking your nose...


Please note that the opening sequence on Formentary Lady is played on a harmonium and not on a violin.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (29.07.2006)

This is a cracking effort that like alot of King Crimson albums takes some patience and effort to get into, or at least it did for me. It's very mature, adventurous jazz/rock, but a different slant on the jazz rock fusion idea, and there only in part. It seems to me that in 21st CENTURY SCHIZOID MAN on the debut LP lay the seeds that came to fruition here. That was an interesting progressive fusing of jazz and heavy rock and here in some of the numbers, that's taken to fascinating places. I don't know if Fripp and Bruford ever listened to Lifetime {among their ranks at this time were Tony Williams, John McLaughlin and Jack Bruce} but they did a great heavy metal/jazz fusion track called "Vuelta Abajo" on the TURN IT OVER album that kind of suggests that ideas were being tossed to and fro {heavy metallic jazz ?} and were being expanded on by this incarnation of Crimson. And when one considers that McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra were the high priests of fusion by '73 with a sound that was louder and just as, if not more, guitar crunching than Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Budgie, Nazareth, Montrose and a host of others, plus the wild, savage guitar histrionics of the normally acoustic and sensitive Bill Connors on the hard rocking fusion classic by Return To Forever, HYMN OF THE SEVENTH GALAXY, maybe some of the sound of this LP is not such a shock. Bruford was one of those drummers that regarded himself as a jazz drummer and whenever interviewed, always seems to me to have a secret contempt for rock; Fripp's liking for improvisation was well known. Incorporating David Cross into the band was, I reckon, a subconscious {or maybe it was deliberate} reaction to Jerry Goodman's stunning violining on Mahavishnu's immense debut, INNER MOUNTING FLAME. That album showed what was possible with a violin within a heavier rocking context and Cross himself had certainly been listening to Goodman's stellar work {as well as Jean-Luc Ponty the French fusion violinist, and the ancient Black American, Papa John Creech}. Cross burns some serious horse hair on LARK'S TONGUE. And John Wetton is so close to Greg Lake, they hail from the same region in South West England, they were singer-bassists and songwriters......he may as well have been him ! Just joking, I think Wetton was the superior athlete, but I have much more of his work. He also played violin and actually did some duets with Cross, when Crimson played live but he dropped it when some of the band he played with, Family, were less than complimentary ! Although Bruford is often seen as the man who did the creative rounds with the big prog bands, actually Wetton had an equally impressive track record, having played in Family and Mogul Thrash {which he formed with ex-Colosseum guitarist, James Litherland}. Jamie Muir had been watching Crimson from their first incarnation and he had been knocking about, playing with various musos on the British avant garde jazz scene, but like many of his generation, was sufficiently open minded to flexibly adapt. He tended to be not so much song orientated and thought of Crimson as a rock band "with more than three brain cells". He was a good drummer but percussion was his speciality and he had a profound impact on Bill Bruford who had to adjust his style more than anyone else to Muir. The phrase "lark's tongue in aspic" was Muir's vivid description of the new music that Crimson were coming out with. It was kind of new, Fripp, having been heading that way for a while, didn't feel that the previous incarnation could do it, not so much musically, but conceptually....... Although there are qualities that put it into the prog category as well as the fusion category, there is a sense in which the music is damn hard to pigeonhole, so expansive is it. It literally flies all over the place. BOOK OF SATURDAY for example is simply mellow, with it's understated guitar and lovely vocal. It's almost as though they set out to write a lethargic piece - except that so much was improvised, it's hard to know what was written and what wasn't. I like the way the backwards guitar suddenly snakes in, sounding rather similar to Cross's violin. It's hardly a song to get the heart racing and in terms of speed and dynamics neither is EXILES. But the latter's utter beauty does set my heart racing, it conveys yearning so well, this song about the possibility of never returning to one's homeland. It's brilliantly sung though the delicious backing vocals surpass even that, despite being extremely sparse. The bass and drums lock together as close to conventional as this rhythm section of progressive 'journeymen' get and Wettons fluid bass is a joy. The real highlight however {Wetton also plays piano and Cross, the flute, though both are uncredited} is David Cross's violin. This is without a doubt one of the most moving pieces of violin that I've ever heard and the way it's dominant theme weaves in and out and in counterpoint with Fripp is tear-worthy. The bit where the violin leads into the backing vocals going 'aaaahhhh...' followed by Fripp's lovely mellow acoustic guitar figure, all the while being shadowed by cross's flute is my single favourite King Crimson moment. I'm sure this is the same violin playing David Cross who turned up many years later in the weird avant garde band Low Flying Aircraft, who did a brilliant, accessibly weird self titled album and I think Cross's contribution to music in general and Crimson in particular, has been drastically undervalued. His mellotron playing on this album is underrated too. But if he never played another note, I would still revere him for EXILES. A grand classic, singable and yet in no way trite, I'm not at all exaggerating when I say I could do a four hour journey and listen to it all the way. EASY MONEY is a track that is easy to miss at first, I didn't really take to it but I'm glad I persevered. It's surprizingly ploddy for this lot, but that's really deceptive coz it jumps in and out of a weird time signature, especially noticeable in the verse that comes after the long instrumental segment. And what a segment, Fripp, Wetton and Bruford dance in bizarre spaces and Jamie Muir demonstrates, not for the first time, how a thoughtful percussionist can enhance a piece without necesarilly playing any kind of a time keeping or even rhythmic role. But he's not just there for the noises and neither is he on parts one and two of the title track. Both pieces are killers, prog, heavy metal, funk, jazz and nearly unfathomable time signatures, avant garde percussive sounds, fizzy fuzzy guitars and booming, swimming bass, clanking clonking drums, tension building violins, screechy violins that my nerves can't take, screechy violin solos that my being can't be without, ensemble soloing, mad jams that don't go in any particular direction, yet are so dynamic and arrestingly interesting, insane melodies, lovely non melodies, riffing that any heavy rocker would be proud of.....WHOOSH !! The only piece I don't like is THE TALKING DRUM, but that's okay coz once I'd gotten used to the other songs there was more than enough to savour. It's still a mystery why in their first six years every incarnation of the band fell apart; they all did so for a combination of reasons but perhaps a clue can be gleaned in the fact that Fripp's conclusion of this startling piece of artistic creativity is that the execution of the ideas on this album never matched up to the ideas themselves. Fortunately, I'm not privy to those ideas so I can dig it purely on grounds of musical love.


Brian Sittinger <> (27.08.2002)

Not as bad as one may think! Sure, there's many SABB jams here, but don't seem so bad this time (maybe the live setting? And, they still aren't that good). "20th Century Schizoid Man" doesn't have as great of a solo as before. Otherwise, pretty good. "Exiles" comes across quite well this time. And, "Talking Drum/LTA 2" is well-done in concert. 7 out of 10.


Duane Zarakov <> (09.06.2000)

...literary trivia dept. - the title,by the way,is from Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood".(Maybe you already know that)

Joel Larsson <> (16.09.2000)

I've rode this review and just can't blieve it. How could you give this record a rating of 5 and 8!? This is a strange record, but it is one of their more rocky albums and probably the best record to start listen to K C with. It has a real charmer with "Great Deciever", which may give you patience enough to play the record over again and then you have got some new favourites with "We'll let you know", "Lament", "Fracture" and "The night watch". I think that "Trio", "The mincer" and the title of the album may be a bit boring, but hey, raise the rating to at least 7 or 8.

Paul Walker <> (10.12.2000)

Don't be so harsh on 'Fracture' - it's not the awful jam that 'We'll Let You Know', 'Starless and Bible Black', and 'Providence' are - it's actually quite structured, but at the same time flexible, giving the impression of an aimless 'sound collage' but it's actually nearer the prog-jam of 'Starless' off Red. That's why King Crimson could be so compelling in all their faceless magnificence, Fripp was aware of the unpredictability of live performances and sought to meld that into their albums, unlike the mathematical precision of Yes or late era Pink Floyd. I like this song a lot, and considering it's 12 minutes of the album, I'd up the mark to a 6 or 7, although no further than that.

Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

Completely with you on this one, except that I don't even like "The Great Deciever" much. It can't decide whether it's an expirimental beat poem, a heavy violin number, or a bouncy pop song, and the contrast just doesn't gel well with me. "Lament" is lame, too, and almost all of the instrumentals are throwaways for me. "The Night Watch" is a great song, though, and "Fracture" is actually decent at times.... a 3/10, though.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

Not their best. Indeed, nothing here really touches my soul save for the last few minutes of 'Fracture', which I never tire of listening to. When that track comes on there is no doodling or FPS-ing going on, its me and the stereo. 'Lament' and 'The Great Deceiver' are ok, though I don't like the lyrics to 'Deceiver'. Though an athiest, I generally am not a big fan of religious commentary in music.

Rip VanWinkle <> (10.08.2001)

By the way, `Fracture` for me is not an atonal mess at all, it has a solid structure, a pack of excellent melodies, it has its atmosphere & mood, it has the rises & the falls (sinusoida!), and, of course, it has an unbelievable coda, the top, the climax, which beats all breath out of your lungs! And the instrumental parts!.. Fripp`s playing is also breath-taking, so many guitarists tried to repeat it!... And Wetton`s part, so incredible, which has quite parallel way to the main theme leading by David Cross!.. Well, i stop myself. The rest is silence.

Anyway, it`s to one`s tastes to like or to hate it. I LIKE IT! `The more i look at it, the more i like it. I do think it`s good!`

Brian D. Sittinger <> (08.08.2001)

I finally mustered up the patience to listen to this album, and I have to agree with your overall assessment on this album. Perhaps I have slightly different takes on some of the songs. One, despite the beginning of "The Great Deceiver", the rest of the song does absolutely nothing for me. I might dare to say that it may be bad! I've listened to this song just about as many times as when I was letting Lark's Tongue in Aspic grow on me, and ... still no change in impression. "Lament" starts out promising, and then the abrupt change in music... Ouch!! In short, the disorganization that worked on the previous album just does not click nearly as well here!! "The Night Watch", "Trio" are actually decent, and with a few edits, "Fracture" can actually be pretty good. Finally, the other songs remind me of the atonal jams we all know and love, as only King Crimson can do them... . In short, I have VERY mixed feelings toward this album, even after all this time. Low 5 out of 10.

Jeremy Olson <> (07.11.2001)

The Fripp/Wetton/Cross/Bruford Crimson is my favorite formation of the group by far. But I still find it hard to believe they were responsible for this mediocre album. IMHO, half of this album is great (well, at least good), and the other half....well, does nothing for me. First off, I love "The Great Deciever". I only bought the CD for that song, so I could listen to it in my headphones and drum along to it. What a great song! That opening barrage of sound is one of the most powerful moments on a KC album: what a way to lead off! It is a bit misleading, compared to the rest of the album, but it takea away nothing from the song at all. "Lament" is another great song, even though I am definately in the minority in this opinion. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it rocks, and features some nice Fripp guitar work. I know I'll be flamed for this, but I like "We'll Let You Know"! It's not that shitty! It's short, so it's not a sprawling borefest like "Fracture"; and it does get into a nice groove (too close to the end, unfortunately). Whenever John Wetton gets to show off his nice fuzzy bass, it's always a plus for me (as he does on this one). Then theres "The Night Watch", closing out the good songs. And it is a good one! Nice and relaxing, with lots of subdued (but no less powerful) drum and guitar lines than on, say "The Great Deciever". David Cross throwns in some nice goodies in this one as well. Of course, thats just 4 of 8 songs...the rest of the album blows. I can't stand "Trio" at all. It's far too classical for my tastes, but I will admit they do pull it off alright. "The Mincer" isn't horrible, but it's very dull. It never goes anywhere at all, it just keeps playing off the same murkiness for 6 or so minutes...luckily the tape ran out during recording, or this one might have gotten stretched out to 10 or more minutes! Whew! Lastly, "Fracture" and "SABB" might as well be one song. I can't tell any real difference between the two. It's not that they are that bad, I just can't get into them. It is far too much wanking to take in one sitting; I enjoy a nice KC jam, as long as they can spice it up enough so I can remember it in my head after repeated listens. I cannot do this with either "Fracture" or "SABB". I agree with a rating of 4/8 on this one, but it's a low 4/8 to me, quite close to a 3/7. C'mon guys, you could have done far better that this.

Mattias Lundberg <> (13.03.2002)

I agree with my compatriot above; it is actually rather a good introduction to the K.C. catalog. 'The great deceiver' and 'The nightwatch' are brilliant as songs, showcasing Fripp's guitar style and two stereotypical over-all moods of the band. I love 'We'll let you know', "ill-planned" indeed, or rather 'un-planned' - it's one of the most interesting pieces of popular music I've ever heard, since it relies totally on collective improvisation, which is never as formulaic in rock as in jazz music. It's almost as if Bruford was told: 'you're not allowed to start a groove, but when we've got something going, feel free to slam in.' The live atmosphere makes such a difference on an album, as Zappa later would discover. I don't like the 'battle of the albums' concept, but if I'd have to pick a favourite among the four original K.C. mkIII releases, it'd have to be this one.

Jean Casavant <> (15.10.2002)

Really I admire your site and I need it! So I won't be biting your hand. But 'Fracture' is actually not an atonal piece of Music. It's built on the whole tone scale. For me it's the greatest Masterpiece using that scale. I don't pretend to have heard everything of course, but I have never heard anything that comes close to it. I re-listened to it in September 2002, almost 30 years after hearing it for the first time and it has not aged. Most music ages afer a year or two. This piece will standout forever. The kids that listened to it with me and the old buddies were all completely thrilled just like I was almost 30 years ago. This is heaven for the heart of a Musician.

Keep It Up!

Kretschel Klaus <> (24.03.2003)

The first King Crimson song I ever heard was "The 21st Century's Schizoid Man" short after release of the album. I still hear the DJ 's comment (and will never forget it): "Only the first song of the album has the power and fascination of their live shows...". I was used to Beatles, Stones, Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and I didn't like it. Today I rate it as one of the best pieces of music written in the 20th century, but the rest of the album is a little boring to me, no more than a 9 on your scale.

It took nearly 10 years that I got to know the next album of King Crimson which was Starless and Bible Black and I loved it from the very start - except for the first song ("The great Deceiver"). This one is only conventional, everlasting "cigarettes icecream"-noise to me. But the rest, not emotional??? Being in the right mood, I can hear it again and again. Of course, you cannot hear it as background, you need to concentrate on the music. And just yesterday evening I again heard it twice...

To come to an end: I also love Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which you rate highest. But compared to Starless and Bible Black ALL Beatles songs are simply trivial.


Mike DeFabio <> (03.06.99)

THIS is their best. This was grunge before grunge was invented. Nirvana wanted to be mid-seventies King Crimson SO BAD. 'Starless' is just amazing.

(More than half a year later:)

Okay, so it's not really that grungey. Not very grungey at all, actually. Just really good loud prog rock. But I do remember reading somewhere that this album influenced Nirvana in some way. And maybe it did. I don't see much of a similarity anymore since I've come to discover that Nirvana were actually a really good band, but anyway.

Your review was spot on except for the part about 'Providence'. It is the weakest spot on the album, but I kinda like it. It's spooky. Real spooky. I wouldn't want to listen to a whole album of it, but it hardly overstays its welcome in the course of its eight or so minutes. So I'd give this album a 13. There.

Duane Zarakov <> (09.06.2000)

Re: Mike DeFabio's Red/Nirvana comparison,dunno.But the 1 modern group that I'd percieve the most obvious fingerprints of Fripp/Wetton/Bruford on, 's gotta be SLINT,right?

Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

May be the band's best album. May not be. Either way, it's impressive - it sounds really professional and very tightly arranged instead of just a bunch of avant garde jamming. "Starless" is the best song they ever did this side of "Easy Money" (or it may be better, I can't decide), and the other songs are all good as well. I don't even mind the jam, because it's only one track out of five, and it has a nice buildup. I give this one a 10/10.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

'Fallen Angel' is wonderfully poignant and meaningful, detailing the narrator's loss of his brother. 'Starless' is a great song, I agree with you there, but it is better than great. For me, it is the best Crim song ever, for three reasons: 1) it is catchy, ok? 2) the musicianship is astounding and yet they manage to keep it all glued together 3) it is an incredibly powerful song. This song makes me cry on a regular basis. It just reminds me of so many sad and horrible things that go on in the world, but unlike a relation or litany of those things, the abstract emotion itself, without specifics, is ten times more powerful. There is never any nose-picking or Doom-playing when 'Starless' plays. Like 'Fracture' before it, it is me and the stereo.

Joel Larsson <> (17.02.2001)

An excellent one! This is the album that got me into prog. When I was making an order from the Net, I suddenly realised that King Crimson might be good, therefore I bought one, this one! Well, I had my cousin at home when I listened through the albums that arrived the day before. We were younger then, so we loved HM. I recieved albums with Black Sabbath and Thin Lizzy at that moment, too, and after hearing them we felt quite upwards. And we put on this album and the heavy title song came upon us. We wasn't that impressed by the rest of the album, but when the cousin wen't home I put on this one again, and how I love it today! Well, in fact, I became bored by 'Red' after a while, and I'm still bothered by 'Providence'. But 'Red' is very, very good song at all, which I discovered later. And the other three songs on here are good enough to be classics, at least 'Fallen angel' and 'Starless.' Well I love this album, and I'll give it a 10 even if 'Providence' takes up too much time. Think if the part of 'Providence' that really rocks were cut out into a 4-minute song and the empty space were filled with some great moments from SABB, this album would become one of the most classic of all times!

Brian D. Sittinger <> (12.07.2001)

The scond album I bought from this King Crimson lineup! (I also have Starless and ... , but I'm still assessing how inferior it is to this album and Lark's Tongue in Aspic) This is more straightforward (less chaotic) than Lark's Tongue in Aspic. "Providence" is the only clear stinker; if they could have taken the few moments of coherence in it and develop it into something more meaningful! Well, "Red" is an agressive opener, great riff and drumming aplenty. "Fallen Angel" is okay, though the brass solo can get a bit overbearing. "One Mor Red Nightmare" is a clever song, good structure, Fripp's guitar "humming" along with John Wetton, comprehendible lyrics. Finally, "Starless", a song that never gets dull. Emotional guitar lines from Fripp (among his most memorable? Hackett memorable? Not a bad thing at all!), more mellotron lines, great setup of the atmosphere of hopelessness. As for the last half, simple, but very engaging crescendo, then semi-chatic yet very tasteful and fast-paced instrumental, crashing into the final closing sax lines reprising Fripp's intro. lines. Before I forget, great quasi-lead bass lines from Wetton throughout Red. This song has to be in my top two or three King Crimson songs. A definite 9 out of 10!!

Mattias Lundberg <> (13.03.2002)

I think the notion that this is where the penny finally dropped for the MkIII line-up arise from the fact that it's down to the trio it originally should have been. Fripp had his vision of a 'small, intelligent unit', so I think Lark's tongue... should have been as solid as this one had they not had two other musicians involved. Dropping one of them per album was probably quite a good idea, at least now we're provided with three very different albums. As for this one, I think it's great. I agree with most of you on 'Providence', it's a nice improvisation but it hasn't got the nerve of similar tracks on SABB. 'Red' and 'One more red nightmare' are accessible metallic prog at its best. I've always thought that the tritone (the dissonant interval you can hear in Fripp's principal riff on 'Red') was a sort of concept for this album, since it's featured in different ways on all the songs; sounding simultaneously ('Red'), as a melody (the riff of 'One more red nightmare' and the middle section of 'Starless') or as a bass line (in 'Fallen angel'). I don't know if this was a deliberate unification or if Fripp just was really into tritones at the moment, but it's quite interesting since it's a sort of concept album anyway - this 'the futility of righteousness' thing. And, of course, the tritone as the 'diabolus in musica' links up with the name King Crimson and with their whole image as 'occult proggers'. I don't know.... 'Starless' has to be be my album favourite, even if several other songs are equally good, it's the most substantial track of the MkIII line-up. It's got an arch-form, if you think about it: Intro - guitar-line (A) - verses (B) - development of a fragment of A in the repeated bass line (C) - return of B - return of A - Outro. Now don't let anybody say that you don't listen to sonatas if you're a Crimson fan !!

Michael Danehy <> (29.03.2003)

OK, I dig the Red album but I think that it is a bit overrated. Yes it's one of their most consistent efforts and yes I generally prefer it to Lark's Tongues in Aspic but die-hard fans tend to praise this while ignoring some glaring flaws.

1.) The songs are too long and have a minimum of musical ideas. Eg., the title track is basically a couple riffs repeated ad nauseum interrupted by a generic mellotron passage. I imagine that this song gets so much praise due to its dark and scary sound yet couldn't it have been shorter? Is it really musically more diverse and interesting than "Siberian Khatru" by Yes? A song that you basically rejected because it supposedly doesn't have enough ideas?

2.) The endless jamming on "One More Red Nightmare" gets on my nerves. While I love the riff, the funky verses, and the gloomy-doomy feel of the song, they could have trimmed the ending jam. It's just too repetitive. I guess it's an atmosphere thing, you either get it or don't. Usually I don't.

3.) "Providence" sucks. OK, this is a usual complaint but it still holds. "Providence" does suck.

In defense of Red, I have to point out that "Starless" is in my opinion a candidate for best progressive rock song of all time. Perfect atmosphere, playing, and that coda knocks me out every time. "Fallen Angel" is just awesome too. Overall I'd give this album a 12/15 for those two songs and highlites of the other songs.

Jason Saenz <> (08.07.2004)

Now I know where Tool got some influences from, but Tool doesnt come near being good as King Crimson. I don't think this album is overrated, it's just a different (and really good one!) side of KCrimson, you can't compare this album with Islands wich is totally different, heck! this even sounds different from it's so called "twin" album LTIA. This is just a good example of how heavy metal should be, melodic and angry, clean and loud.


Brian Sittinger <> (31.01.2003)

Finally, I got my hands on this album! Well, it's a new reissued copy, imported from Holland. And, my copy has a few additional cuts: "Fracture" (could be worse),"Starless" (horray), and coming before 'LTA 2', "Walk On, No Pussyfooting" (short, but pleasant). And overall, I see this as a step or two better than "The Night Watch".

"21st Century Schizoid Man" has its crunch and wild solos back, "Exiles" sounds even a bit more majestic, "Easy Money" has a different, but decent improv. section (and, for some reason, it gets faded out!). "LTA 2" comes off extra crunchy after a quiet intro (nice contrast). "Ashbury Park" is actually a decent jam, for it actually has a decent foundation under which Fripp can solo. However, it does drag a bit at the end though. FInally, this "Starless" is an interesting counterpart to its "Red" counterpart, because the violins play the intro guitar lines, the lyrics are different (if not a bit muffled), and Fripp plays all the sax lines in the last third of the song, making for a different, yet still very powerful ending: 8(11), maybe even a 12 on a good day, if it weren't for those SABB tracks.

steve conrad <> (20.02.2006)

Unless I'm very much mistaken, David Cross doesn't actually play much on USA. His place is taken by overdubs from Eddy Jobson, who has also worked with Zappa, UK and others. This could explain why the violin playing doesn't suck.

A relistening of the some of the other archival live stuff where Cross is present will illustrate the simple fact that he just plain can't play the violin. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the fast unison riffs on schizoid man where Cross can't even approximate the licks.

On USA, there's no such problem. Afterall, if Jobson can play his way through Zappa's Live In New York, he shouldn't have too much of a time with the King Crimson song list.

Mark Thakkar <> (01.04.2006)

At the beginning of your review of King Crimson's "USA", you say "it seems to be currently out of print and I don't know if it will ever reappear, what with all these innumerable releases from the vaults". Its being out of print has annoyed me for ages, but here's an update: it's just been reissued in the UK. (See e.g. .)


No reader comments yet.


Rich Bunnell <> (05.03.2000)

Sorry to be so blatant, but this album, for the most part, bores the living CRAP out of me. It certainly has its plusses-- "Elephant Talk" is hilarious, "Frame By Frame" is fast-paced and ear-catching, and "Thela Hun Gingeet" is really interesting, but the rest of the album is either utterly unlistenable ("Indiscipline") or boring, generic world beat muzak (the last two instrumental tracks and "Matte Kudasai"). Plus, the whole -sound- of the album is so cold, mechanical, and soulless that it makes it really hard to sit through. I do like Fripp's guitar tone (though it's barely even there) and Belew, in my mind, is the best thing the album has going for it-- though he's completely and obviously impersonating David Byrne, he doesn't do it in a really distracting way and he throws in a couple of really funny lines to the songs ("I repeat myself when I'm distressed I repeat myself when I'm distressed!"). Nevertheless, I just can't say that I find this incarnation of King Crimson to be anywhere near as interesting and tuneful as their original incarnation. I don't understand at all why some rate this so highly. It's sort of like the first side of Talking Heads' Remain In Light, only the world beat influences are made a lot more obvious, and much, much duller. I'd only give it a five.

Ben Greenstein <> (19.05.2000)

What in Nougat is Rich talking about? This is a good album! A really good one! Better than that early shite, at any rate. Even though they simply rip off the Talking Heads, the ripoffs are good! Damn good! "Elephant Talk" and the title track are hard NOT to "get jiggy" to. "Frame By Frame" even sounds sort of like XTC, and "Matte Kudasai" sounds like kd lang (no joke!). I'd give this a ten, but keep in mind that my "band rating" for King Crimson would certainly not be a three. A two, maybe, and only that high because of this album.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

This took some getting used to. Not really a soul-toucher here, either, though the closest is probably 'Thela Hun Ginjeet'. Perhaps I appreciate it more because I'm a half-hour away from the Bronx. Not at all a bad album, I like it and appreciate it, but it doesn't reach inside and grab me like so many other Crimson works.

John McFerrin <> (23.02.2001)

Wow, that was a bit of a jump there [this refers to my upgrading of the album from an 11 to a 13 - G.S.]. I do mostly agree, though. When my brother was first trying to get my into KC (and failing miserably), this album just seemed so ... so .... something. I mean, what in the hell were they trying to give me here?

Eventually, though, it finally grew on me. I really love every single song on here, which I never thought I'd say. I'd probably give it a 12, but that's a _hell_ of a lot higher than I thought I'd ever give it, and a 13 isn't out of the realm of possibility when I get around to reviewing this band.

Ugh, it's weird. So many KC fans annoy me to death, Robert Fripp displays far too much contempt for those who listen to his music, and they put out crappy albums left and right. And yet .... they keep putting out friggin' awesome albums here and there, just enough to make it so that I'd have no choice to give them a 4 as well. I would love so much to be able to give them a 3 on my site when I get around to them, but my conscience would kick my ass, because I objectively know they deserve a 4. Dammit!

Mattias Lundberg <> (13.03.2002)

An American in King Crimson ?!? Blasphemy !! No, rather a healthy infusion and a face for the band - something they had never had up 'til then. I think I have to quote the very guy: "I like it !". This album is such a perfect cocktail of world music, phase music (here introduced to stay in K.C.) and original ideas that I had to submit to it even in the days when I was hyper-allergic to 80s sounds. In fact, it was probably albums like this one that got me converted to 80s music, so that I gradually could appreciate more and more reverberated mechanics in all their digital excess. The tracks are very equal on this one - and indeed on the two following albums - even if they are but seldom totally top-notch. It's the kind of album that once you know it by heart, you can put it one once a year and say: 'Yep. It's still a great album', but you probably wouldn't think that if you had to listen to it everyday, or every week. I guess you could say that your rating criterium 'resonance' is not very high on this album but never mind, I welcome a bit of shallowness from these guys with my whole heart. It still can't make up for the over ten years of heavy pompousness that was their career thus far. 'Frame by Frame' is my favourite song - brilliant song and brilliant Chapman's stick by Levin.

James Hitt, Jr. <> (24.08.2002)

Wowie zowie, I've really grown to love this album. Before I ever really started enjoying their 80's period studio albums, I was already thoroughly ensnared by the purely stunning Absent Lovers live album. The studio stuff just seemed kinda thin when put next to A.L. But gradually I came to love the studio albums just as much, Discipline in particular. Great musicianship, remarkably clean, yet crisp, and clear guitar tones, and mighty fine production. I'd have to state "The Sheltering Sky" as my favorite, a perfect diamond among already flawless gems. Maybe not the album's "typical" track, but one hell of an atmospheric and abstract yet purely beautiful piece of music.

Brian Sittinger <> (27.08.2002)

Very much so indeed. Compared to Absent Lovers, these songs may seem a bit sterile, though very well-performed. And, they're deceptively complex! I get quite amused from Belew's various guitar sound effects (trumpeting on "Elephant Talk", birds on "Matte Kudesai"), as well as his narratives ("Thela Hun Ginjeet", "Indisipline"). And, the songs themselves are solid throughout. "Matte Kudesai" is a very pretty balllad, who cares about the "yuppie" element? "Indiscipline" serves its purpose well, and yet doesn't hurt my ears. "Discipline" is fascinating in hearing the intertwining guitars weave their magic. "The Sheltering Sky" is a nice, slowly evolving instrumental, even if it's a bit long. 9 out of 10.

steve conrad <> (20.02.2006)

The repeated references to Discipline being a bit of a Talking Heads rip off seem a little misinformed to me. Both Belew and Fripp had contributed a lot of guitar playing to Talking Heads albums prior to this album. Belew does the fantastic solo on Remain In Light's The Great Curve (1980), and Fripp does the Crimsonesque repetitive arpeggio guitar parts on Fear Of Music (1979) as just a couple of examples.

Admittedly, Belew's voice is a little Byrnesque on Discipline but he had been hanging out with these guys quite a lot prior to joining KC. Not that his voice is all that limited. On Zappa's Sheik Yerbouti he sings a couple of pretty happening numbers - 'City of Tiny Lights' and 'Jones Crusher', as well as doing the Bob Dylan impersonation on 'Flakes', cheezy harp playing and all.

By the way, to correct one minor factual error, it's Belew and not Fripp who does the elephant sounds on 'Elephant Talk'.


Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

I actually really like this one, almost as much as it's predessescor. "Neal And Jack And Me" is a really great song, and a perfect way to begin an album - although "Neurotica" would have made a great opener, too. The ballads are great, too - "Waiting Man" and "Two Hands" - just gorgeous. There's a bad jam at the end, though, and parts of it sound a little fake - still a 9/10, though

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

I think this album is the ultimate refutation of KC as a band creating 'meaningless' and 'soulless' music. 'Waiting Man' takes some getting used to, though I will tell you, having been a 'Waiting Man' more than once, Belew's lyrics are not erratic, they are right on target. And the subtle catchiness that hits in spots keeps the track from becoming boring, but also prevents it from being overworked -- if you try too hard, sometimes you obscure what it is you're trying to get at. 'Neal And Jack And Me', for me has Belew's best KC lyrics, they read like genuine poetry and also evoke an atmosphere of alienness and, well, of being absent that speaks volumes. And Neal is Neal Cassidy, Jack is Jack Kerouac. 'Two Hands' is wonderfully sad -- it seems very sentimental and lovey-dovey at first, but in the end it always seems very solemn and sad. Neurotica again grabs me because I really get that big-city-this-is-what-life-is-like-there sort of feeling from it. I'll meet halfway on 'Requiem', though, it has never done anything particularly thrilling for me.


Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

Hmmmm.... some good pop songs and a lot of the jamming that I really don't like too much. And "Dig Me," which is terrible. But the pop songs are really good - title track, "Heartbeat," and "Model Man" being my faves. And the closing instrumental is really good. So I'll give this one a 7/10. It's a little redundant if you have the other albums, but that is its only flaw.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

My least favorite 80's KC album. 'Industry' grabs me the way 'Fracture' and 'Starless' do, and 'Sleepless' and 'Three of A Perfect Pair' are memorable tunes, but most of the rest just floats away. It is ok while I listen, but I don't find myself humming 'Nuages' and getting teary-eyed the way I might with, say, any of the other songs I've pointed out here as my picks.

Luke Redgen <> (14.04.2003)

'Three Of A Perfect Pair's lyrics meaningless? I must protest Sir, this song means a lot to me for one personal reason or another, but thanks to that I can translate for you. Surely, we have the situation of a menage-a-trois gone wrong, or perhaps simply a couple where the female is chronically depressed and schziophrenic, and the male is argumentative and possibly abusive. So "Three Of A Perfect Pair" either means the third (making it not so perfect) is basically the problems with the depressive wife and abusive husband, therefore an ironic title, orrr, the third in the menage-a-trois who basically keeps things running and narrates this tale through the song, and is therefore more clever still, in my humble opinion of course ;)

Bob Josef <> (27.10.2003)

The only thing I knew from this lineup was "Heartbeat," which believe it or not, I got sick of because of too much airplay! So, I didn't have really high hopes for this album. But it really is surprisingly good. The group's musicianship is unbelievable -- I usually would hate a jam like "Industry," but I can really get into hearing Bruford's drumming on that, for example. "Lark's Tongue.." is indeed a great reminder of older Crimson. Belew obviously learned a great deal from his time as a Talking Heads sideman --a lot of this sounds like KC doing Fear of Music. Not that that's bad-KC with actual hooks is fairly scarce! I think another key to the album's listenability is that the tracks don't go on too long. Someone (a record company guy?) must have told the guys to tone down the endless noodling that weighs down some of their other work. As a result, one can just revel in the sound and the skill of the band. I now wish I could have caught this tour live!

I'd also like my two cents concerning the title track. The key is to look up the meaning of the pretentious, but oh-so-cool, word "cyclothymic." It's an outdated term for what is now termed bipolar disorder, or manic depression. So, the "pair" is a couple, while the "three" is the guy, and the girl at her "manic" and her "depressed" phases. The song is about mental illness disrupting a relationship, basically. I like it when rock musicians give us something intelligent.


Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

Perfect collection. The songs are all great, and even the jams come to life live. 10/10!

John McFerrin <> (01.01.2000)

I gave my brother this one for Christmas in '99, took a few listens with him, and realized that I loved it. The only bad thing I can say about it is that the songs here are so good that when I heard some of them in their studio versions, I was sorely disappointed in that many just didn't measure up to their live counterparts.

And EASY 10/10, and the best introduction to King Crimson out there.

James Hitt, Jr. <> (30.01.2002)

Truly this is one of, no, THE best and most professional sounding live album that I have ever heard. I bought it because George spoke so highly of it. I didn't own any live Krimson, and I still hadn't really gotten into the "new wave" incarnation of them. It took a couple of listens to break through that shell though, and goddamnit, what an amazing album!! It fully draws the listener in with its pounding beats and the absolute wall of sound that the band creates. I have yet to grow tired of listening to this album.

It is difficult to put my love of this album in words, so I won't try any further. It is true what George said, that you won't believe it until you've heard it, but Absent Lovers is simply a mind-blowing album.

Brian Sittinger <> (27.08.2002)

What a concert! All those 80's tracks come to life, especially "Elephant Talk". "Thela Hun Ginjeet" and "Indiscipline". "Red" loses a bit of the 'grunginess' I liked in the original version, but "LTA 2" rules, being played FASTER, without losing its intensity! Just a few instrumentals 'mar' this album: "Entry of the Crims", "Industry". A solid 9 out of 10.

NEO <NEO@MPOWERCOM.NET> (13.09.2003)


<> (21.10.2003)

Cruel hard masterpiece. If my mood becomes bad, I sometimes take this concert and listen it in a row from the second song to the end. It works! Absent Lovers simply throws out of my mind all depressive thoughts and fills it incredible amount of energy. Drums of 'Indiscipline' are fantastic (Bill Bruford the best drummer I ever heard) and 'Discipline' is among my favourite guitar works. Simply breathtaking record.

Ilya Nemetz <> (27.04.2004)

As if all of its innumerable assets weren't enough, Absent Lovers happens to be that extremely rare case of critical consensus between fandom and artists (one of them, at least). Said Bill Bruford: "Given that I'm not much in love with anything I've done, I'll grudgingly admit that a couple of albums a decade, irrespective of my particular contribution, seem to have "legs", and some sort of coherency in their vision which enables them to stand apart from their contemporaries. Close to the Edge from Yes,and King Crimson's Red in the 70s, and Discipline and Absent Lovers in the 80s, are perhaps somesuch."


No reader comments yet.


Ben Greenstein <> (15.12.2000)

I think this is one of their best! They've modernized their sound a little, and they don't have as much as that wierd sci-fi guitar interplay like on albums past, but the "double trio" is really cool, and a lot of the songs are just great. "Inner Garden" is gorgeous, as is "Walking On Air," and "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" is a wonderful rocker. I give this one a 9/10.

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

'B'Boom' is a lousy song, but 'One Time', 'Inner Garden I and II' and the 'Vroom/Marine475' and 'Vroom Vroom/Coda:VroomVroom' pairings really pull me along with them, not just musically, but emotionally -- I contort as the guitars contort, etc. As with 'Starless', I'm usually utterly entrenched in the music and not heeding anything else. I think 'One Time' says a lot about hope, and the 'Inner Garden' pieces speak to the listener about not just loneliness, but even the dangers of too much introspection. King Crimson makes music that often concerns itself with detailing what it means to be alive, and as such, they touch my soul on a level that nary anyone save Sun Ra or Richard Thompson can.

<> (12.06.2002)

Well, it's been about a year since the last comment on THRAK was posted, but what the hell. May as well toss my two cents in.

I had serious reservations about this album at first, and decided to give it a try when I found it in the slightly scratched section of my used place for $6. 9 times out of 10, "slightly scratched" doesn't mean a damn thing; I've got two albums where it actually does something. This is one of them, unfortunately... near the beginning of "VROOOM VROOOM", it skips back to near the end of "SSEDD" (but goes through smoothly the second time around). The other is ELP's Welcome Back My Friends..., and it's at the start of "Karn Evil 9", if you were wondering. No biggie.

But back from my tangent: I had heard from the couple people I talked to that this album sucks, and is split pretty evently into unlistenable noisy improvs and bland pop songs. I got it, put it in my CD player not expecting much, and pressed play. I was blown away. "Pleasant surprise" doesn't begin to describe it. On this album, King Crimson managed to fuse their mid-70s experimental dicking around with their 80s pop sensibilities, with a 90s finish. It works, and it works well. The first two tracks are powerful, loose yet focused, and is reminiscent of "The Talking Drum" or the like. FYI, "Marine 475" is the part with the chanting, while the music around it is building up into a glorious swirling head. "Dinosaur" and "Walking on Air" are throwbacks to the 80s. "Dinosaur" works, but "Walking on Air"... ugh. It's got a nice, laid-back, dreamy vibe, but Islands did that better and was a lot more interesting for it. I've got to disagree with you on the "B'Boom> THRAK" issue. "B'Boom" reminds me a lot of the "Drums" parts at Grateful Dead shows; it's got that cool polyrhythm going with some dissonant, sort of ambient effects swirling around and building up steam and tension until the guitars hit in "THRAK" and blows the whole thing to pieces. This is generally dismissed as noisy and aimless, but I love it (and then again, so was the 1812 Overture). The "Inner Garden" tracks explore that "Walking on Air" vibe a bit more, with a bit better results. Still, there's not enough substance for them to stand out at all, but at least they're quick; a nice break in between the longer, noisier songs. "People" and "SSEDD" are another two of my favorites, and are more 80s throwbacks. Finally, that brings us to "VROOOM VROOOM", which isn't all that much different from "VROOOM". But still, I liked the first, so why shouldn't I like the second? The only tracks that totally pass me by are the "Radios", for obvious reasons.

I've listened to this album about 8-10 times through since I got it. I love it. To me, it combines the best of both worlds; whereas Starless and Bible Black is nonstop improv and Discipline is nonstop quirky pop, THRAK does a great job of splicing them together, so I don't get sick of it by the end. This one's right up there with Larks' Tongues and Red in my book. Even the lethargic crap doesn't drag down the good stuff. Hey, there's about the same great to shit ratio as In the Court, at any rate! My rating: 8/10 (12 on your scale), MAYBE a low 9 if I'm feeling really good that day. This one's found a pretty permanent spot in my rotation.


Ilya Nemetz <> (27.04.2004)

While by no means as brilliant as either Absent Lovers or VROOOM VROOOM, B'boom is a decent live album in its own right. Similarly to VROOOM VROOOM, the second CD here is considerably weaker than the first one, though, obviously, for altogether different reason: the band just got tired, I guess. That said, there are some wonderful live renditions on this record, namely... well, truth be told, all of the first CD qualifies, but were I to pick one track, it would probably be 'Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream'. All in all, the first disc brings it up to a low 12 for me.


John McFerrin <> (17.06.2000)

Just a note - this is actually a collection of Thrak-based improvisations taken from various shows on that tour (according to my brother, that is).

And I hate it hate it hate it. I don't much like pure improvised music to begin with, and I firmly believe that trying to have improvisation with any more than three people can only lead to a total disaster. Like this crap. Occasionally, somebody gets into a decent groove, but then somebody ruins it like when Bruford randomly starts playng the marimbas.

I also find it interesting that Fripp said something to the effect of, "This album is what our full shows would sound like if we didn't know that the audience would kill us afterwards."

Adrian Loder <> (01.02.2001)

I have to side with you here. It isn't utter crap, but the majority of the improvs really don't amount to much. I think the double trio setup probably was not too conducive to improvisation.

Roger Shannon <> (17.08.2003)

My god if all their shows sounded like this their own instruments would surely leap up and kill them. But having a song called 'Mother Hold The Candle Steady While I Shave The Chicken's Lip' surely makes up for it! cheers

Ilya Nemetz <> (12.03.2004)

Perhaps I am ‘fearless and highly THRaKKed’, indeed… Anyway, beg your pardon, but I do feel poor THRaKaTTaK gets discriminated here. My reference is primarily to your surprising decision to rate THRaKaTTaK regularly as opposed to highly appropriate ‘this is not music’ category you reserve for other ‘masterpieces’ of similar nature. Why on earth Eno’s Neroli and Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy simply (and quite respectably, mind you) ‘are not music’, while Fripp et al. ‘have gone so berserk that they thought they could get away with anything by the time, even such a monster’?! Perhaps I just fail to see some cardinal difference between those records and THRaKaTTaK? That may well be, of course. Nevertheless, at the moment I think it’s kind of… unfair, George. You know what I mean.

[Special author note: There's absolutely nothing unfair here. THRaKaTTaK is comprised of pieces of actual live musical performances, dynamic in nature and style and closest in essence to 'avantgarde jazz', which is quite rate-able. Albums like Neroli and Lumpy Gravy are surrealistic extra-musical opera that are defined by their own context.]

Randy <> (12.11.2005)

Wow! I have started reading through all of the reviews on ET, and I love to see the passion that people have for their music, positive or negative. The ones that are most enjoyable, though, are reviews of CDs like this. There is no grey area at all, everybody seems to love it or hate it. But isn't that what music is for? To stir the soul? Would you rather that it is boring and forgettable? To me it seems that Crimson is out to make a statement with its music - you can love it or hate it, but when it is present you must respond, it's not something you can just ignore.

THRaKaTTaK is not for "true" fans of KC, anybody who is truly touched by any of their music is a "true" fan. However, it is a CD that was released for fans of the adventurous, improvisational side of the band. Mr. Fripp seems to delight in the reactions (by fans or otherwise) to the decisions that KC makes. Just check out his diaries while they were making ConstruKction of Light.

THRaKaTTaK is a CD of some very intense improvs, that can be difficult to take in one sitting. In Eric Tamm's book, I believe he was talking about Exposure, he said that sometimes when he puts on the record to listen to it, he wonders if he is up to the challenge. A friend of mine says that THRaKaTTaK is that way for him. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that these are the improv sections of several shows strung together. Because of the nonlinear structure, plus the fact that you have 6 people playing at once, you may find it easier to follow by playing each improv sandwiched between THRAK and THRAK reprise, the way it would have been played at the concert.

This particular Crim covers rhythmic territory to a somewhat greater extent than the more melodic improvs from the Starless era. This is not to say that it is not melodic, but the structure is different. In the 70's lineups, Robert played the part of the "lead guitarist" and played great sustaining, linear, melodic solos. In the early 80's, well represented on the League of Gentlemen as well as his role in the Discipline era, he took a different approach, laying down a musical carpet of arpeggios for the others to play. The other side of this is the washes of soundscapes that he can add. Other times he just flies through unusual melodic territory, fast and furious. Add two drummers to the mix, and the alternative rhythms of two bass/stick players with Ade wailing on top and it can generate some very interesting "noise."

The one thing that happens quite frequently in improvisational music is the tendency for it to get louder or more dense when there are more people. Not necessarily in volume, just more space being taken up. For those who have requested that they play Trio again, you have to remember that it too was an improv, not a composed piece of music (although they revisited the theme several times). It is rare indeed for pieces like Trio to emerge, and unfortunately you can't just make it happen - it comes of its own accord. But there are some beautiful quiet passages, along with the all-out assault that can be expected.

Each of the players has their moments to shine, both in the group context, and also in some of the quieter portions. Overall I think it is a great representation of what this KC could sound like when given the freedom to let go and just play. Other good examples, and perhaps better starting points for the collective improv beginner are the two KCCC CDs of the VROOOM rehearsals and the Nashville Rehearsals. Shorter pieces, many with fewer than all 6 people. They also tend to not be quite as loud (maybe I mean full) because they are playing in a studio environment, vs. a live performance at gig level in front of 1500+ screaming fans. The ProjeKct 2 Space Groove vs. Live Groove is another good example.

So, heed the warning on the label, but if you like your music adventurous, dense and sometimes very loud, check this out. If you are not sure if you are up for this type of challenge yet, then work your way towards it with some of the other archival releases.

Until the Great Deceiver set, this side of KC was a secret of those lucky enough to go to the shows (I was too young to see any incarnation before the 90's). I for one am glad that Robert listened to the fans and made this material available, it's part of what makes each show truly unique.


Ilya Nemetz <> (14.03.2004)

Am I to pioneer the VROOOM VROOOM reader comments section?! Quite surprising, I'd say, but never mind.

Personally, I tend towards considering VROOOM VROOOM disc one the best Crimson live record ever (sic!), Absent Lovers included. Every track is a standout. The thunderous opening triad of VROOOM VROOOM-Coda: Marine 475-Dinosaur is performed with truly inhuman zeal and exclusively crimsonian perfection. Next, we have two excellent pairs of B'Boom-THRAK and The Talking Drum-LTIA2; both are among the best renditions (LTIA2 is simply the best, it's just... well, indescribable). Then, there's that great rocking version of 'Neurotica' (one that made me appreciate the song I wasn't particulary fond of before), brilliant drum duel 'Prism', flawlessly performed good old war-horse 'Red', and 'Biker Babes Of The Rio Grande', a moment of relaxation before the thunderstorm of '21st Century Schizoid Man'. Now, I can't agree with your statement that 'it's [not] one of the best versions I've ever heard'. It may be true from a purely vocal viewpoint, but I have to stress that instrumentally, it is the best, indeed.

Overall band sound, being as aggressive as Absent Lovers' one, is, at the same time, more refined and sophisticated (a sextet is much more flexible than a quartet, after all).

Unfortunately, this splendid record is ruined, to a certain degree, by disc two, where the 'double trio' loosens its grip considerably. I mean, disc two is not bad at all, it has its high points ('People', 'One Time', and, of course, 'Walking on Air'). The main problem with disc two, as I see it, is it's extremely inconsistent in comparison with its nearly perfect predecessor.

Grand total: a very high 13 (if we postulate Absent Lovers is a 14, that is).


James Hitt, Jr. <> (26.05.2002)

Since someone has yet to write a comment about this album, I figured I would give it a shot. The Construkction of Light can be a tough nut to crack. This was one of the two first King Crimson albums I bought, the other being In the Court of the Crimson King. The difference in styles was obvious, but I wasn't exactly surprised about that though. The Construkction of Light is certainly a feast for those into exploring the unknown frontiers of rock music. Robert Fripp and his cohorts make amazing use of a variety of processors and loop-effects to create the sometimes almost soundscape-ish music of this album. Most of the techniques and styles on this album aren't so groundbreaking though, as they had been used on previous Krimson albums before at one time or another. This album does not really bring a new sonic discovery that is often characteristic of King Crimson work. Even much of the album's themes and lyrics are reminiscent of previous Krimson material. I do not think, however, that this is necessarily a bad thing. I have read many statements from Robert, discussing the development of some songs, namely, "Fracture." He explains the "rehashing," if you will, of old songs and ideas and themes as a reinterpretation. The band wanted to play "Fracture," but with their current line-up, it certainly wouldn't be quite right or fitting to play the song, at least in its old form. So, they took some of its musical themes and expanded or redid them, and added some new ideas. This, I think, was there intention for much of the material on the album. If one listens to it and keeps this in mind, I don't see why the references to the past (both musical and lyrical) should be a bad thing. Almost like a tribute from the new Krimson to the old.


Andrew Munkres <> (07.06.2002)

There is at least one connection between 'Tomorrow Never Knew Thela' and 'Thela Hun Ginjeet' other than the title: at 3:46, the lyric "this is a dangerous place" can be heard faintly on the left speaker.


No reader comments yet.


A.D. <> (25.05.2003)

First of all, let me congratulate you. Your site is, in my eyes, the best thing on the Internet. I have spent sleepless nights reading your reviews and enjoying them. It's always rewarding to find original opinions on one's favorite artists. But I'm not teaching you anything here, as I'm sure many people compliment you on your site. They are obviously right and I'm not any different, so I'll get to the point and try to say what I think about King Crimson's latest studio effort (which I somehow knew you were going to review around this time).

The Power to Believe (TPTB) is up there with In the Court of the Crimson King, Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Red and Discipline. It is not as radically new as some of their other stuff, but it is a culmination of many years of fruitful thinking and playing (thanks to the ProjeKcts and the stability of the current line-up).

The "songs" (i.e. tunes with lyrics other than the title-tracks) are all enjoyable listens and, in my opinion, they feature some memorable hooks. "Eyes Wide Open" is not that original, I agree, but the playing and the sounds are beautiful and dreamy in a "#9 Dream" (by John Lennon, for those who might not know of this magical song) sort of way. "Facts of Life" is incredibly catchy and sometimes reminds me of "One More Red Nightmare" because it's both heavy and funky. "Happy..." is a fun song and gives a younger face to the band and I actually think the shorter version is more effective than the EP one, but what the Hell, it's not a master-piece anyway (well, then again, maybe it is). It's just a parody that I like so much that I once used it to accompany my answering machine.

Oh, by the way, as a Crimhead for whom newness is vital to Fripp's enterprise, I don't see the problem in the fact that King Crimson are sometimes backwards-looking. This is not new, as even In The Wake of Poseidon contains a lot of Court references. Fripp just likes recycling ideas and modernising some classic tunes.

Thus, "Level 5" is "Larks' Tongues...5", EleKtrik is "Fracture 3" (n°2 obviously was 'FraKctured') and 'Dangerous Curves' is techno-sounding version of "The Devil's Triangle" which, as you mentionned, features a "Talking Drum" type of tension. These three new instrumentals kick serious ass and *are* future classics, even though I know you don't agree. They are frightening, intense, hypnotizing and, in my humble opinion, simply breathtaking. These Frippsongs make TPTB the beast that many fans consider it to be and they showcase P@ and Trey's amazing playing abilities.

As for the four title-tracks, they're fine. They might not be master-pieces, but I love listening to them and, more importantly, they are necessary to the album's coherence. Adrian Belew's use of the vocoder is surprising, but it works out ok. The third title-track is more interesting and less TD-inspired than you claim it to be, but then again, that's just my viewpoint, isn't it? This track was being played in the shop where and when I bought TPTB and some curious people were asking who this music was played by. Which proves that it's interesting. But I think it is beautiful too. In fact, I think the entire album is beautiful and that's why, subjective as I am, I would give it a 10/10.

TPTB is obviously amazingly played and brilliantly produced, but what counts here is that, as opposed to what you seem to think, I believe that King Crimson are still an adventurous unit and that almost everything in here is memorable. But I hope we can agree to disagree and avoid fighting over this. In fact I don't think that will happen, because - you might know not this - I'm a friend of yours. Indeed, being a new but genuine Blonde a Blonde fan automatically makes me your friend, if I'm not wrong. Well, anyway, friend or not, I would like to finish this comment the way I stared it by thanking you for your fantastic reviews, the quantity and quality of which make your site the best thing on the Internet. And that is a fact of life...

Kevin Walker <> (27.11.2003)

I got this album a week ago, hoping to find something of pre 75 KC that I admired so know the days when they released beautiful melodic music but with tension and power, did I find it? not on your nelly!! What I did find was another bunch of uninspired jam sessions, bordering on the avante garde, the weird and the terminally pointless..

How can this be prog ? Sure the production is faultless, as is the musicianship, but what the hell's it all about?, its just top musu's wanking, that's what it is...its easy to make 4 or 5 of these albums a year, you don't have to write anything memorable, just jam around all day with ideas and riffs..hell, its good fun!

This album reminds me of a big angry noisy machine that drones on and on and makes lots of money for somebody (Fripp??). So maybe its all worthwhile for him (them) but I see The Power To Believe as just a big con, enticing all those Crimheads (I used to be one) to believe they like this unmelodic, horrible noise.

KC are no more a force in modern progressive music. It saddens me to say this as I'm not a fan of neo prog, but most of its better than this.

Steve Hatton <> (01.04.2004)

The Power To Believe, says a big 'UP YOURS' to all the new age metalheads who think that only they can produce music of such originality. Shame is, none of them will have heard or even know of Crimson. Pity more bands like Crimson don't exist. The Power To Believe is a great Album.

Rob Hudson <> (10.09.2005)

The band, King Crimson first came to life in 1969, when they enjoyed great success with their debut album In The Court Of The Crimson King. Since then, they have released over fifty albums, gone through 10 major line-up changes, enjoyed many long sabbaticals and almost single handedly keep the term prog rock alive. Now that we are a few years into a new century, can a band so intent on pushing musical boundaries produce relevant work for our times?

The Power To Believe is their strongest album in many years but will still either provoke terms of derision or outright delight. This music is so far removed from what we get to hear on the airwaves, it provides a substantial challenge. It's hard to believe eight hands and four heads can produce such a wild mix of sounds. The band is at the cutting edge of musical technology and they mix synthetic and analogue sounds with such a sense of abandon, it's like a hard slap to the face of commercial music.

The new work is luxuriously full of ideas and benefits from one of the longest running partnerships in the band's lengthy history. The juxtaposition of the clinical accuracy of guitarist Robert Fripp and the accessible warmth of lead vocalist, lyricist and second guitarist Adrian Belew has always provided this version of the band with a wonderful balance of mad science and accessible humanity.

For those whose taste exists in the well of commerciality, it would be wise to look elsewhere but for those with a taste for the exotic and unusual, King Crimson can provide sonic thrills unmatched by just about any other band.


No reader comments yet.


Mattias Lundberg <> (18.02.2002)

Fripp's essai in cocktail-party jazz is desperately needed to give some perspective to this man. I mean, this album shows that he's got humour and lust for the small things in life, just like the rest of us. You won't find any indications of this in pre-Belew K.C., unless 'The great deceiver' or the solo from 'Sailor's tale' have you in stitches, and then you've got a very weird sense of humour. As you say, almost all the tracks on here are top-notch. I also think 'Just George' is very amusing, more so than 'Rodney Toady' actually. 'Digging my lawn' is my favourite, though: "I started to ring and I rang ninety-nine. 'Nein! you must not' she said. She was half German and half out of bed, which part was which doesn't have to be said....." Now that's Pythonesque proto-prog for you.

James Hitt, Jr. <> (26.05.2002)

The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp is just that: an artistic, yet fun, and wonderfully mad album. This record is just full of interesting melodies and cool jazzy, pop songwriting. It certainly is a far cry from the later grand pessimism of Kind Crimson, but I don't quite agree with George that it's THAT far from Krimson's sound. I suppose that is mainly due to Bob Fripp's guitar work, which I think is quite impressive on this album. Although it is rather quiet, it is certainly vital to the album's overall artsy jazz feel. Fripp's god-like guitar skills are clear even this early in his musical career. One can see the beginnings of his infamous cross-picking style on "Suite No. 1" that would resurface regularly on such tracks as "Fracture", "FraKctured" and a plethora of his works throughout his musical career. I find Fripp's songwriting on this album to be not at all bad either. Note the way the vocals and mellotron are layered together in the chorus of "Little Children" which creates a very moving and resonant effect. "Erudite Eyes" is an interesting tune with a rather medeival-madrigal-ish motif to it, that would seem to point to the later baroque/pomp of progressive rock as we know it. It is quite interesting also to see Fripp apparently showing some emotion in the album's photographs and in his narration of "The Saga of Rodney Toady."

The songwriting, mostly done by the brothers Giles, is excellent, and not much more really needs to be said about it, as George has discussed it quite thoroughly. This album is catchy as hell, and it will be more enjoyable with each listen. And, the English humor is quite in order: cheerfully insane!


Mike Healy <> (24.07.2004)

The Holy Grail for Crimson fans, especially if they like G,G&F. It's amazing how they recorded these tracks with their homemade setup and such limited track-space on the Revox recorder, and how good they sound. I guess the only things we'd need now are the TV appearance on Colour Me Pop, and the tape of when they backed Al ("Year Of The Cat") Stewart for a BBC show. Personally, I'm glad Fripp didn't have anything to do with compiling this, because either he wouldn't have released it, or he would have had only released maybe half a dozen of the tracks here or something.

The only track previously released from this collection is the second version of "I Talk To The Wind", which was exclusively on The Young Person's Guide To King Crimson, released in 1976, and never on CD (maybe in Japan for a second, but that was it).


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