King Crimson

Looks like we've got a FRIPPERLIPS in the audience!!!
*special introductory paragraph!
*In The Court Of The Crimson King
*In The Wake Of Poseidon
*Lizard
*Islands
*Earthbound
*Larks' Tongues In Aspic
*Starless And Bible Black
*USA
*Red
*Discipline
*Beat
*Three Of A Perfect Pair
*Absent Lovers: Live In Montreal 1984
*Thrak
*THRaKaTTaK
*Live At The Jazz Club
*The ConstruKction Of Light
*The Power To Believe

No, of course not. His name is Robert Fripp. Get the shit out of your ears. He may be an egotistical prick, but he's made some good music here or there. Mr. Fripp is an avante-garde guitarist who has led his main band King Crimson through a number of different types of music throughout the last three decades, from psychedelic dreampop to go-nowhere crap music to nightmarish rock to free jazz improv noodlings to tight-as-a-thistle complicated 80s guitar pop right on through to whatever the heck they're doing today, all while having no qualms replacing the entire band several times and retaining the name! Might as well, when you're Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrobert Fripp!

Reader Comments

stoo@imsa.edu (John McFerrin)
Ah, how nice it is to see KC on this page - the prog geekiness polygon is now closer to completeness.

I'm not a huge fan of these guys, by any means. However, my brother absolutely loves them, and over the years his enthusiasm has at least somewhat rubbed off on me. A little bit.

Fripp annoys me, though. My brother treats him like a god, and it's really annoying to hear him constantly quoting Robert as if it was scripture. I mean, I respect Fripp VERY much as a guitarist (he's not exactly my favorite guitarist, but in my mind he's almost undoubtedly the best and most complete guitarist on the face of the earth), but as a person ... ehn. My brother defends his often boorish behavior, saying that he is merely the latest in a long line of British eccentrics. My opinion, though, is that he has become so obsessed with pushing the boundaries of art that he's managed to pretty much lose most of what makes us human.

But many people like that. Using my brother as an example, KC appeals mostly to those who feel that the emotional resonance of music is absolutely irrelevant, that only panty-wastes would possibly care about the emotional impact of a song.

On the other hand, taken as what it is (music for the ears), it's still quite interesting at times. I can't stand their live improvs (though my brother worships them), but the compositions are often very interesting from a technical standpoint.

seraphim7s@yahoo.com (Paul Walker)
I really don't think you should let your low opinion of Fripp colour your opinion of the band's musical output. I'll take your word for it that he indeed WAS a complete asshole, but this really doesn't come across while listening to them, apart from in their aimless prog improvisations and the 'revolving door' band structure (Yes were guilty of this as well you know). All the other bands you've reviewed have been reviewed on their musical worth, why can't King Crimson?

GMCase@compuserve.com (TAD)
Mark!: It's a pleasure 2 argue w/ U a little. 1: KC & The Sunshine Band did a lot of really great, life-affirming stuff, e.g.: "Starless," "Fracture," "Frame By Frame," "Sleepless" (w/ that great Adrian Belew line about Cing submarines in his ceiling), "The Great Deceiver," "Epitaph," "Schizoid Man," etc. All lite, pleasant, early morning wake up music, I'm sure U'll agree.

2: If U've got a spare $60+, check out Fripp's 4-CD mid-70s live set, THE GREAT DECEIVER. The band w/ Bruford & Wetton was Good, & fans in2 their angrier, darker, heavier stuff will find the set well worth the $$$. "Fracture," "Larks 1 & 2," "Talking Drum," "Doctor Diamond" R all brilliant, &, most important, REALLY NOISY!

3: The 70s 2-record import YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO KC also has a lot of good stuff on it (tho not "Great Deceiver" or "Fracture") & at the time I bot it (about 1978) I thot it was the best $13 I'd ever spent on an album. Really opened my ears....

4: Bob Fripp IS a little stuck up, but on the GREAT DECEIVER set U'll hear his speaking voice. He's a little ... effeminate. Sounds like an Ivy League college English teacher. Very proper. Ever read any of his writing in Musician magazine? He Xpresses himself very clearly. Also, he sposedly sent a ton of letters to EG Records in the early 80s when they went bankrupt & took some of his $$$ down with them -- those letters would likely B real revealing. More samples of Fripp's writing R in DECEIVER, the FRAME BY FRAME box set & YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE....

Nice 2 C U reviewing again.


In The Court Of The Crimson King - Atlantic 1969.
Rating = 9

NOTE FROM 2007: I HAD ORIGINALLY GIVEN THIS ONE THE 10, BECAUSE IT'S SO FULLY REALIZED AND ALL OF THE SONGS HAVE MULTIPLE PARTS AND LA-DEE-DA, BUT AFTER YEARS OF LIVING A LIE, I'M FINALLY WILLING TO ADMIT THAT RED SIMPLY KICKS MY ASS MORE.

They certainly started on a high note! This one lil' debut release encompasses EVERY facet about King Crimson that was ever great -- the brain-screaming acid rock of "21st Century Schizoid Man," the gorgeous Moody Blues melancholia of "I Talk To The Wind," the mellotron driven nightmare vision of "Epitaph," the free jazz noodle dicking of "Moonchild," all coming together into a fitting finale with the brain-screamingly gorgeous visionary dicking of the title track. The production is strong and full of late 60s hippie darkness and depth (the fuzzed-vocals in "Schizoid" are a bit hard on the ears but that's the point - the song is supposed to wake you and shake you), the vocals are the best they would ever be on ANY King Crimson album (thank you Mr. Greg Lake before you ran off to start your OWN overblown art rock band!) and the instrumentation is endlessly interesting (harpsichord! flute! others!), all even within the context of what other bands could have easily turned into normal rock songs (KC made 'em special with the talented guitar noodlings of the ol' Fripp ship!).

Did you enjoy the way I used FOUR separate parenthetical phrases in that last sentence? What time's my hand job?

Unfortunately, two of the main reasons that this album ruled so much asp - classically trained multi-instrumentalist Ian MacDonald and drummer/arranger Michael Giles - couldn't deal with being away from home for months at a time so they quit after the band's first American tour. :7( So much for King Crimson ruling ass for much longer!

Reader Comments

richbunnell@home.com
Well, yeah, of course it's a ten. It really says something that this album manages to be so unanimously lauded even though Fripp, in all of his maniacal delusions, decided to make ten minutes of it a bunch of boring dinky keyboard noodling that doesn't go anywhere ("Moonchild"). It's because the other four tracks are genius - "Schizoid Man" is a noise-rock classic, and basically the only reason that the word "rock" is included in the term "progressive rock." "I Talk To The Wind" is probably the most beautiful song they ever made (though it's kind of hard to hear after your ears have been blown out by "Schizoid"). "Epitaph" is a smooth-playing, dramatic masterpiece. The title track is grandiose and spectacular, like so many Genesis compositions that would follow in its footsteps.

So yeah, it's a great album - but how come the songs are given multiple "parts" in the tracklisting? All of them stick to basically one melody the whole way through, and I don't hear any serious lyrical shifts in any of the songs. That's Fripp for you.

stoo@imsa.edu (John McFerrin)
First of all, the songwriting was not the product of Fripp on this album, but rather of Ian McDonald (wizard of mellotrons and winds).

And yeah, it's a friggin' fabulous album ... but Moonchild is just so dumb. Sure, all three epics are in my top ten Crimson songs (yeah, Epitaph is my favorite KC song, what's it to you), but Moonchild just sucks beyond words.

I'd give it a solid 9, but no more.

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Anybody who denies this record a 10, or at least a very high nine (I can understand that 'Moonchild' really irks people - hey, it irks ME), should simply stay away from progressive rock, as it's prog-rock epitomised. Not the first prog-rock ever made - the Nice actually beat KC to it, but arguably the genre's Sgt Pepper. As for Mike's comment: no way could the Moody Blues ever sound like that, even if they had never touched pot in all of their life. They simply didn't have the astounding chops of this band. Can you imagine Graeme Edge keeping up the tempo on 'Schizoid Man'? And if 'Schizoid Man' isn't the insane screaming evil song everybody says it is, then what IS the insane screaming evil song? Something by Slayer? The guys kicked off the song at the very top of the Sixties' recording possibilities. It's like saying that Chuck Berry's rock'n'rolls are tepid and sissy because his guitar didn't have the Ramones' chainsaw buzz sound.

seraphim7s@yahoo.com (Paul Walker)
The obvious candidate for the 10, and possibly the best prog album full stop (or 'period' as you Americans say). I agree with every word you've written here. I'm one of those rare weirdoes who enjoys 'Moonchild' all the way through.

jason_a@earthlink.net (Jason Adams)
Tend to agree with Rich here. My tolerance for noodly jams is really, really low. The title track, as well as "Schizoid" and "Wind" are grand. Thanks to mark for indicating that much of what follows isn't worth my time. Of course, Cut The Crap is the greatest album ever, so what does he know?

KillThePeasants@aol.com
You know, In the court of the crimson king is an amazing album for the beginning alone, even if you're not a huge airy soft psych fan. It's the only one by them I own and on other releases I've not found a rock based psych sound like 21st century schizoid man. This is similar to stuff I've found by Spirit or many other psych bands of the time in this respect. If anyone out there has ideas about more rock based psych stuff along the lines of Electric Prunes or early Love, or perhaps some suggested pickups for more of the same with King Crimson, email me with suggestions.

DJTEEL@prodigy.net (Dennis)
While black sabbath was one of the first of the "eeries" to record(and by far, outstanding),lets not forget that king crimson recorded in the court of the crimson king in 1969....another eerie wonder.

caseyology@aol.com
Technical note. The reason there are separate song titles (songs within songs) on this record is because in those days the artists got paid royalty rates dependent on the number of "songs" per album side. The record company was "bluffed" into paying more for less. Unfortunately this set a trend for ludicrous era to follow, when bands like Yes would- oh, hell just look at some of their song titles!

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
I may be one of the few people left alive who remember when this album came out. It was shortly after Led Zepplins first album, which was the hippest, heaviest record I ever heard up to that point. Court made that album sound like the Archies. (Really showing my age) Simply put, Court is a masterpiece. When I first heard it my reaction was; ' Well, this changes EVERYTHING!' It still holds up -- the songs, the playing, the mood, the message. Music like this comes along every 100 years or so. And yeah, Moonchild is weak. But everyhing else is raging brilliance. If you can't see that, or hear that, you just don't get it.

ian.moss@yale.edu (Ian Moss)
It's a classic, though far more reminiscent of the Moody Blues or early Pink Floyd than of later KC. "Moonchild" is not THAT bad, but because it is so far below the level of the rest of the album (and so freaking long!), it manages to drag the overall quality down quite a bit. I'm sorry, but when almost a quarter of the album sucks, it doesn't deserve a 10. Additionally, "21st Century Schizoid Man" blew me away when I first heard it, but it's not wearing on me particularly well. I still like it, but right now "Epitaph" and the title track seem like the strongest efforts to me.

I see this as a high 8.

iphinney@bmts.com (Matthew Phinney)
I found this album on vinyl at one of those old junk shops for a buck. So of course it was mauled and scratched and dusty... but what a sound! I mean... those scratches do wonders to filth up the rockers, adding cool crunch to '21st Century Schizoid Man' (referenced by Bad Religion in '21st Century Digital Boy')... and distancing the dreamier bits. This record sounds like trashing your garage then having tea in your garden, strolling into the forest and going to sleep and dreaming the answer to the question: What sort of genre cross-pollination happens through an obsession with death?

anehori@zahav.net.il (Avi Nehori)
the entire album can be described in one word "masterpiece"...

tokaham@execpc.com
Yes, congratulations, no major argument from me about your review.

gray0187@tc.umn.edu (Jon)
"The wall on which the prophets wrote is cracking at the seams." Blech.

Parts of 21st really remind me of Facelift, but it isn't weird enough to get incredibly boring in its horn-harmonies like the Softies could. The song is pretty scary for 69 in some ways, but it may be just the distorted vocals that trick me.

At times their sounds combine for a real unqiue and identifiably Crimson sound, where you don't know what instrument the attack on the riffs is coming from. This is very nice indeed.

Giles' drums aren't very scary(or good); they sound so thin and papery, and his four standard fills are so ubiquitous they get really tiresome. The contributions of McDonald and Lake are professional, if not particularly mind-blowing, and Fripp is near his least boring with this record. At least he doesn't use a single diminshed or whole tone scale inappropriately. Yick.

Yes, Moonchild is very very very very very boring and a real blemish to the album, skip it.

Uh, maybe a 9. Maybe not, though. There's a lot not to like. The geeky prog part of me says 9, ignoring Moonchild(and who doesn't).

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
A high nine for this one. It's maybe the first prog-rock album. It's maybe not. I don't care. What I know is that has "21st Century Schizoid Man", my ALL-TIME favourite prog-rock song. Amazing. Amazing. AMAZING! Especially the woodwinds! "Epitaph" and "In The Court Of The Crimson King" are great epics in its own right. I also like "I Talk To The Wind", but "Moonchild" is too long and pointless. I'm sorry Mr. Fripp, but you could record a more structured jam. All in all, a classic, not only in the progressive genre, but in music. And what a freaking cover! Brilliance. Buy it now, I said NOW!

shadow_of_man_04@hotmail.com
Yeah, I'd have to agree that this one's a 10. This was my favorite album until I heard "Red" by the same band. It's pretty much flawless, aside from the fact that the "searing" lead work by Fripp people rave about is absent. He just sustains notes forever and ever, thinking of which fret he should put his finger on next. In addition, Ian McDonald's double-tracked sax solo dangerously teeters toward "wankfest" territory. If you wanna hear Fripp and McDonald do some really ripping solos, check out the "Epitaph" boxset. People often complain about "Moonchild", but I have to say, it's fucking underrated. The supposed "wankfest" after the initial "song" is one of the coolest KC improvs ever, giving the band a chance to show off their chops (although it's a little redundant on an album overflowing with such displays). Sure, it may be unfocused, and it may turn into dissonant nonsense towards the end, but the breathtaking "call-response" interplay between instruments is one of those showy-offy things that make me feel warm and fuzzy inside (the atmosphere alone is worth it). Fripp always talks about how much better the band was live than on the albums, but tracks like "I Talk to the Wind" and "In the Court of the Crimson King" sound much better in the studio than on the live discs put out by Fripp's DGM label, especially "Wind". Not only does it have much better (read: moodier) pacing and more restrained drumming, but also beautiful flute harmonies and gentle piano chords that are absent from the live renditions heard on Fripp's "Collector's Club" releases.

I remember the first time I listened to this all the way through. It was my sophomore year, and I had just recently discovered "prog" rock. I'd been into Italian horror film soundtrack gods Goblin since I was a wee tot (12 or 13), but I was just now getting into other prog groups (usually the really heavy ones like Atomic Rooster.) Every time I brought up prog, I'd hear the name "King Crimson", and I knew my dad had one of their CD's somewhere. I grabbed it one morning before school, and it was this day I had I.S.S. (in school suspension). See, my school was not like other schools, so you got your own little isolation room to be in whenever you were punished for being a typical teen ager. I turned out the lights, closed the door, got my CD player, put on headphones, laid down, and soaked this album up like a sponge. I absolutely loved it, although it took me awhile to get into "21st Century Schizoid Man" (I never fully appreciated it until I heard it live on the "Epitaph" boxset). I must say, I had never listened to anything so INTENSELY before. I put 100% of my being into those songs, concentrating, and picking apart every song time and again throughout that day with the same intensity.

A final note: The huge, sweeping mellotron "swoosh" right before the flute solo in "Epitaph" is probably the closest thing to a musical orgasm I've ever heard. Believe that.

larrylanberg@msn.com
For me, this finely-produced debut Lp was like a glossy, shiny brand new car. (It kind of came out on the market like that, I think.) Lots of show and good initial acceleration. But after driving it just a few times, it doesn't seem to run as good anymore. No more fun...the novelty had quickly worn off. The music on this album is DEAD, in both sound and in spirit.

I believe that the best music can be listened to for years and years, with the same amount (or more) pleasure. This album could not achieve that. I can probably get more pleasure out of resurrecting Disco 45s. The title track on this album, for example, is just the same dead tones over-and-over-and-over-and-over for what, 9 minutes or more? Perhaps the frenetic instrumental portion of "21st Century..." I could maybe enjoy one or two more times. But the rest is merely decayed gloss.

benjaminsumner@gmail.com
7/10 - the best things about this LP are "21st century Schizoid man" and the amazing cover. The rest of it really sounds like it could be on "on the threshold of a dream". "moonchild" is probably my fave of the remaining tracks because it is so lo-fi and spooky. The rest really is hopelessly dated, with nothing eccentric and British like "cat food" to save it. I really think this LP holds its reputation because of the sleeve!

ddickso2@uccs.edu
Mark, I have bad news. Bad, bad, bad. I just listened to an album by Sheryl Crow, and it's phenomenal.

On to the prog! Ahhhhh, good to see someone who doesn't crap on the free jazz noodle dicking in Moonchild. I actually think it's rather soothing. Like Kind of Blue, but with a xylophone.

And the rest of this album shapes up quite nicely. One of the rare occasions where the first album of a genre is its best. The only album with five songs on it (except for Kraftwerk's Autobahn) that I would call "nearly perfect."

Man, I can't WAIT to see the look on Georgiy Sergeyevich's face when I tell him about the modern rock . . . >:( YES! That's IT!!

Me and my modern techno and trip hop beats. When the heck will I learn.

Prog is neat.

gnatman@gmail.com (Nat)
Mr. Prindle,

Just read your interview with Steve Albini and thought it a good read. I also went to your website and read many of your reviews. Good stuff! I must break away at King Crimson, however... I offer the following for "In the Court of the Crimson King":

"I once tried to listen to King Crimson. I got an LP at a library sale for 50 cents. It sounds like John McLaughlin shitting himself, but with less soul."

Flame away.

nineinchgoth@hotmail.com
Since you only give out one 10 per artist, I agree that RED clinches it. However, I would say this is easily a 10 as well. The birth of noise rock and a decidedly sinister take on "psychedelia", this album still sounds absolutely fresh and innovative. "Moonchild" could have been shorter by, say, six minutes, but still!

Add your thoughts?

In The Wake Of Poseidon - Atlantic 1970.
Rating = 4

Strangely, regardless of the fact that Ian skipped town on a pony, Lake had already announced that he was joining Emerson, Lake and Powell, and Michael Giles was only around as a session musician, most of this album sounds like it was thrown together from the debut's outtakes. The title track is a shameful ripoff of "Epitaph," "Pictures Of A City" is a laughable attempt to recreate "21st Century Schizoid Man," and "The Devil's Triangle" (otherwise a great number) goes so far as to include a sample from the previous record!!!! Plus, the hippy folksy nature of stuff like "Peace" and "Cadence And Cascade" doesn't hold up to today's scrutiny -- because nothing happens in the songs to begin with. Unless "boring" counts as an action verb these days. Only the cool jazzy "Cat Food" and the weird-as-an-Al-Yankovic-LP noise experiment "The Devil's Triangle" save this record from having its ass kicked across my apartment right now.

Well, that and my ever-increasing fear that a vengeful record will angrily roll razor-like across my throat whilst I sleep.

Reader Comments

richbunnell@home.com
Huh?? Yeah, the entire thing (besides "Cat Food" and "Devil's Triangle," which both kirk mirty arses) pretty much just retreads In The Court, but that doesn't mean it deserves a low score! The melodies are still really nice (yes, "melodies" and King Crimson. Strange, huh?) and the production values are way up from before. The acoustic songs aren't really worth hearing, but I still give it a really high eight. Just think of it as In The Court, rerecorded and remastered.

stoo@imsa.edu (John McFerrin)
I disagree. Yes, this album is "Fripp is being forced to write songs because his band is leaving him, so in order to not lose his fans he stays in the same style as before," but the songs are good! And there's no Moonchild! Every song on here (except for those stupid Peace things) is almost as good as its counterpart from the debut (even the title track), and Cat Food and DT just rule!

I'd easily give this a 9, just like its predecessor.

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
I join the common chorus of indignation here. I think Mark overreacted a bit. According to that logic, the first one or two AC/DC albums should have been given a 10, and all the others a 4 or 5 at best. Why do we have them all rated as eights or nines? I don't get the particular slamming of 'Pictures In The City', either. The song does sound like an attempt at recreating 'Schizoid Man', but it has a great jazzy groove all by itself, and is an excellent followup. Think of this album as a Magical Mystery Tour to In The Court's Sgt Pepper. That'll make you feel better. The only thing that really annoys me here are Pete Sinfield's lyrics. Somebody slap that guy for me for writing such moronic, trite, cliched crap for such a musically good record.

seraphim7s@yahoo.com (Paul Walker)
Now come on! The amount of band's that repeat themselves album after album after album on this site, and this one gets a 4??? For instance, you have no qualms about the similarities between Ride the Lightning / Master of Puppets on the Metallica page, but KC get slaughtered by the same reasoning. 'Pictures of a City' is not a laughable attempt, the middle part presages 'Starless' which you seem to like so much, so why do you hate it? And 'Cadence and Cascade' is no 'I Talk to the Wind' but it has a prettiness all of it's own. Of course, the two songs you admit to liking are indeed great. I give it an 8.

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
Obviously a copy of Court and it's very odd that it seems so deliberate. Cat Food is the best track. Devils Triangle scares the living shit out of me. Not an album I play very often.

Coltrain210@aol.com (Colby Wallace)
I think that In the Wake of POseidon, is probably the most underrated albums by King Crimson. I went through a long stage of listening to the Bruford stuff with King Crimson, but when I started listening more to the early stuff, especially In the Wake, I noticed how much I missed that sound. They had a soul, which since then King Crimson has basically lacked, Sure they pull off things that I think are great, but damn, they were so tight and soulful which the Bruford/ KC lacked a shit load of. The musicians Fripp was working with then, are overlooked by prog-snobs because they dont throw around lame time signatures, instead they can actually jam. How many times does that happen now-a-days in KC?

steve.robey@mindspring.com
I like this album a lot! Though it's uncanny how this album so closely parallels the format of the debut album. Especially the first side. Unlike many people though, I actually prefer this album to the debut. The title track is really similar to "Epitaph", but I think it's actually done better this time. "Cadence and Cascade", similarly, feels like a more mature, thoughtful version of the childish whimsy of "I Talk to the Wind" from the debut. Fun fact: Apparently, "Cadence and Cascade" was a work in progress at the time Ian McDonald left the group, and his "version" of the "Cadence and Cascade" melody shows up on his superb "McDonald and Giles" album from 1970 (with Mike Giles and guests) as "Flight of the Ibis". Both takes on this basic melody are great! Get that album if you can find it... Ian McDonald probably provided KC with the best batch of pure melodies the group has ever had (including Adrian Belew), and his songwriting skills are put to good use on that rare spinoff project (before he joined Foreigner!). So despite the state of disrepair Crimson was in at the time of Poseidon, give Fripp some credit for keeping it together enough to put out a pretty damn enjoyable album.

Adam Naworal
4 might be a little harsh, but this is definitely some kind of sophomore slump. I actually like "Cadence and Cascade", but it does seem like a variation on "I Talk To The Wind". Come to think of it, you're right, these all sound like variations on the first album's songs. "Cat Food" and "The Devil's Triangle" are the definite highlights, no question there. I'd probably give this a 6; it's too similar to IN THE COURT..., but the musicianship is still impeccable.

Add your thoughts?

Lizard - Atlantic 1971.
Rating = 4

I suppose that now is as good a time as any to go into additional detail about what this early version of the band sounded like, especially since they'd all basically quit by this point. The earliest incarnations of King Crimson had an incredibly annoying knack for going back and forth between insipid hippy folkish shit and unBELIEVably abrasive noise rock, with snares a-rat-tat-tattin', horns, saxes and flutes a-blowin' and guitar & mellotron blending together to make ugly as sin noises to scare your little puppy dog and make your Christmas tree jump out the window. The lyrics, written by hilarious comedic funnyman Jerry Seinfeld, are fantasy renaissance nonsense about jesters and kings and little boy games and whatnot along those lines. Honestly, on this one and last album, the song themes themselves are so depressingly weak, only the mid-song jam sessions make them worth listening to. Plus, there's not even any Greg Lake on this one - just a court jester named Gordon Haskell who sounds like a British kiddy show host. But wait! What light doth through yon window break? It is the East and Jon Anderson sings one of the songs!

Oh, and GG Allin takes a poop in the middle of side B.

But aside from those two guest appearances, this is some bleak British spermatozoa. And I'm not the only one who thinks so -- apparently Mr. Fripp hates this album too! Singer Gordon even hated it AT THE TIME! He was an r'n'b fan and only agreed to sing on it because Fripp was a childhood friend. But he -- quite correctly -- thought all all the songs totally blew, and quit before the next tour (as did the drummer).

At their best, early King Crimson brought together a veritable whirlwind in a teapot of swirling, maddening noise. At their worst, they were a boring pain in the ass. This album doesn't sound like a total ripoff of the last two, but it's also not very entrancing except, as I said, during the cool jam sessions that you'll find between the crappy actual songs. Just BAD classical/jazz/art rock melodies. With UGLY presentation.

And a piano!

Reader Comments

richbunnell@home.com
Okay, this one's pretty lame. It isn't even really Gord's voice (which is crap compared to Lake's, but not horrible) - it's because in attempting to do something new for once, all Fripp could think of was a bunch of lame medieval crap. Actually, it's not really medieval at all, but it certainly is lame, full of annoying, go-nowhere jams each filled with synths that sound like they came from those children's "Play-It-Along" keyboard toys. "Cirkus" is good, "Prince Rupert Awakes" is good, the rest is very much not good. A low five, at best.

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Okay, can't really disagree with this one. This is where Fripp finally veers off the edge and replaces decent melodies with dissonant crap and pseudo-medieval 'experimentation'. I can't really believe that on a King Crimson album the best track features Jon Anderson on vocals, but it is so.

palsy@netvision.net.il
this album proves that melodies arnt the most importent thing for a song. fripp could create melodies whenever he wanted, "lady of the dancing watter" (the greatest crimson song ever, except, maybe, fallen angel) proved that. instead, he decided to create the scariest fusion\rock album ever. this is what king crimson should have sound like all the time, scary and mentally unhealthy, this is what good jazz should sound like.

slayerrob@yahoo.com (Rob DelMedico)
I think it's far superior to Court of the Crimson King. Very experimental, fucked up, and AWESOME. can't beat any of the songs on there.

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
I like this album more than most of you. It may not always hit the mark, but geez, look how far they're reaching! Circus is a great cut.

tokaham@execpc.com
O.K., Mark, now you made me laugh. (Funny review) Even though I kinda like this album for its sheer pomposity, I'll always join in when we're beating up Bobby Fripp on the playground. I'm still mad at him for getting $20 from me to sit and listen to less than an hour of his corn-ridden, recycled Frippertronics shit last year in Milwaukee, and then taking audience questions afterward just so he could flaunt his mean-spirited, twittering, ass-holiness.

Sigh...sorry. I LOVE the song "Cirkus". It is so pretentious and twisted that, well, how couldn't you...? The mellotron hook (which you may have thought was combined with guitar) is so ominous, buzzy-sounding, and catchy to me that I regularly break into spontaneous mouth-mellotron performances of it. Plus the rest of the album is just so dark, precious, and stupid that ya gotta love it! Tip-Top!

openmindedonly@mail.com (Darren Finizio)
i don't understand why any critic would take apart these albums in this manner and expect to warrant any validity...don't get me wrong,i enjoy your page and like reading the reviews but i don't trust them...i'm not a huge king crimson fan but i have their album up to "red"(-"islands" which,i too,juudged out of my life:i was wrong)...king crimson are/were a highly challenging group and every time i want to challenge my ears their albums never cease to astound me...as i write this "happy family"plays from the lizard album,very interesting,the song before it "indoor games"is also quite awsome...i remember this album standing out as being one of their most crazy and psychedelic...what i find most hard to accept about king crimson is when they start to sound all soft and celtic like early genesis,but on repeated listenings they are careful about where they place these pieces and how much they give you,the soft song at the end of this album is a perfect example...king crimson are a fine fine band and as for all of this rubbish about robert fripp being this and that,how many of his critics sat down and had a meal with the man?...my impression of him is that he's commited to music with a capital m and its ashame to reduce these albums to what you reduce them to...i have "poseidon" as well and i always found it to be remarkably pleasing and only vaguely like the first album despite the popular critic line...oh wow side two of "lizard"is playing,reminds me of that late 60s english psychedelic sound crica'68 meets avante classical..i advise anyone who is approaching this group to approach with no preconceptions:your listen will be aptly rewarded as this stuff was,indeed, put together with care,intelligence and a large dose of dadaistic sensability...theres many many things going on at the same time and the way they use time itself is astounding...the dynamic changes in volume on most of these albums is also reminiscent of stravinskys famous work "rites of spring"...oh,listen to this,this album is wonderful through and through,so many moods...yes,at times grandiose like the moody blues (whose albums between 67-73 are all excellent!)...but definitely in its own world and lyrically it doesn't speak to me...but then,someday they might!...now is the end of side two:crazy and psychedelic in a way many 60s bands only hinted at...loud as all hell with so many layers of sound,then soft again...this is class "a" music which defies all styles, telling some sort of macobre story...this is the real thing.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
I think Lizard is a good album. Not their best, but sure a good one. The only problem is Haskell's voice, who sounds like he's been smoking in his entire life. "Circus", "Lady Of The Dancing Water" and "Prince Rupert Awakes" are great, among the band's best work. But you need to listen carefully to the album to appreciate it, I didn't like at first either. I would describe it as "weird jazz". A solid 7 for Lizard, although if it had a better singer I would give it more. Buy it and enjoy.

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com (Mike Noto)
How Robert Fripp managed to degenerate from "In the Court of the Crimson King" to this shit in the space of one year is anybody's guess. One widely hazarded speculation is that Bobby didn't actually do very much writing for the first Crimson album - which would explain a lot but not all of the decisions made up to 1972. Another plausible idea is that he was trying to keep a band afloat and trying to supply all the material by himself. At some level, it's understandable that he wouldn't produce manna from heaven immediately. Whatever the cause, for a while there in the early '70's Robert Fripp made some of the most bloated and insipid music a widely-respected prog band ever had the gall to release to the general public. "Lizard" is a terrific document of what could happen when panic-stricken flailing in the dark, pure untrammeled ego, and full arrangements for British free-jazz players had a three-way during the making of a bad prog-rock album in 1970. This album presents Our Boy Robby as a Serious Composer, full of overstuffed Grande Medievale Themes and neo-flamenco acoustic guitar stylings. Fripp barely plays any electric guitar on the album, instead playing enough misguided Mellotron to make Mike Pinder puke. Bobbert obviously REALLY wanted to be taken seriously here - why else would he have made Side B a 20-minute suite that leans more on reheated classical/jazz than any kind of rock?

But, unsurprisingly, his reach really, really exceeds his grasp, to the point where the entire project feels like a horrendous inversion and parody of what King Crimson had been before. The "Lizard" suite manages to rip off Miles Davis circa "Sketches of Spain" without taking a particle of the emotion/poetry/brilliance that characterized that music, and puts it together with a bunch of directionless, vaguely rock-related meandering that presumes a lot but signifies nothing beyond truly astounding amounts of posturing, pompous arrogance. This is the product of someone who was grabbing frantically at straws, all the while acting like making actual rock music was beneath him, and the product fits the personality of the time. Three of the four songs on Side A mostly have no reason to exist besides showing off how many things the musicians are capable of performing at once without any regard for taste, coherence and/or sense. You've heard of progressive rock? This is regressive - just regressive, since the writing mostly verges on infantile, and it's mostly not even rock music at all. It's just a bunch of ridiculous jam sessions that were vaguely structured into recordings that vaguely resembled songs. The fourth song is an incredibly unconvincing Grande Medievale Hippie Ballade that sounds like incidental music at your local Renaissance Faire, except that the lyrics there are generally better than Peter Sinfield's. Greg Lake has been replaced with a singer named Gordon Haskell. Haskell isn't awful, but his preferred styles of R n' B and light jazz mean that, as a singer, he was completely at odds with...well, whatever the hell Fripp thought he was trying to do here. And, man, does it show. Haskell's gritty vocal tone, stentorian, humorless delivery and ultra-British inflection make him sound like some fat idiot trying to imitate a court jester, though to be fair almost anyone would sound stupid singing over this material. Haskell also had a not-so-concealed distaste for the material, too: the end of "Indoor Games" - which the band kept on the album, for whatever godforsaken reason - is him breaking down into a hopeless fit of giggles over having to end the song with Sinfield's perfectly idiotic "Heigh-ho." The drummer who took over for Michael Giles obviously graduated from Bad Prog Drumming 101 (e.g., he feels the need to play more thin, powerless machine-gun snare fills per millisecond than anyone ever, ever should), and the saxophonist is pretty clearly just along for the ride. Put that all together with absurd examples of advanced graphomania that deserve any insult you can throw at them - they certainly don't deserve to be called lyrics - and you have what has lasted as a great example of a truly shitty album.

Yet, I still somehow enjoy a good deal of it. "Cirkus" does have a memorable theme - it sounds like Fripp's approximation of Sabbath as played on a Mellotron - and is enjoyable for what it is, though it is stuffed with a lot of jazzy rock jamming. "Happy Family" is so incredibly annoying to listen to that it actually becomes interesting, if only because you wonder how they had the patience and tolerance to play it. Whoever was meddling with Haskell's VCS3-processed voice deserves some kind of award for making the song that much more irritating. And parts of "Lizard," especially the first part with Jon Anderson's vocal, are listenable. Not even Anderson can make a line like "Stake a lizard by the throat" work, though.

"Lizard" gets a C. You should hear it if only to realize why Robert Fripp hates this period of Crimson. "Islands," unbelievably, is MUCH worse.

mossinator@hotmail.com
This one and Islands are so underrated it's ridiculous. What, you guys have never heard dissonance before? I agree, the production is kind of weird in spots (particularly at the beginning of the third track), but honestly, I was expecting this to be TERRIBLE, and it's really really not. There are a lot of horns and improvisation on the album, so I can understand why jazzphobics are not too happy about it, but it's nothing like the endless meandering that follows the first three minutes of "Moonchild" (I still don't understand how an album can be considered an "all-time classic" when a solid one-fifth of it is universally regarded as pure shit). Anyway, this one goes into the "messy but wildly underrated early prog-rock albums" file along with Islands and Yes's Time and a Word.

steve.robey@mindspring.com
The more I look back on the Crimson catalog, the more I realize that most of the time they really weren't sure where they were going. But I like it anyway! Quite a lot, actually. Though I'm not too crazy about "Islands", "Lizard" is pretty exciting in my view. Kind of in the same way as the Floyd's Atom Heart Mother album, the group really had no clear direction (and in the case of KC, not even a real full-time lineup), but they went for the gold in the weird sweepstakes and left behind a strangely intriguing album that sounds like nothing else they did before or since. Even if Bob's a tad embarrassed of this album by now, this album is a unique creature in the King Crimson catalog (which is refreshing considering how so much of their material follows a general formula). Sure it's "ugly", but it takes risks and has plenty of hair-raising moments of beauty. I love those mellotron washes in "Cirkus", that retarded laugh from Gordon Haskell at the end of "Indoor Games", the chaotic instrumental section near the end of the title suite...

benjaminsumner@gmail.com
(9/10) Wrong, wrong wrong!!! This LP is an extraordinary studio piece that is beautifully played, written and recorded. It is easily KC's most eccentric and most British LP. This stuff is as English as "Village green preservation society" or "never mind the bollocks". Mellotron fans? This one is for you!

King Crimson's best LP.

Add your thoughts?

Islands - Atlantic 1972.
Rating = 3

So you say you're a big fan of very poorly- (and slowly-) paced classical/jazz/pop that doesn't go anywhere at all? You love to hear a band that seems to have no idea what the hell it is they're trying to accomplish? Look no further, my man! My MAAAAAAY-AY-AIN man! Aside from one kickass blast jam ("Sailor's Tale") and a couple of lovely sax passages strewn throughout, this whole album is like Sominex. In some way. I think because you eat this album with water.

The singer on this one is Boz Burrell, later to join rock gods Bad Company. The guitarist is Robert Fripp but you hardly hear him anyway - he's too busy creating important piano/string/horn-buried pompous art music to bother actually playing the guitar (aside from "Sailor's Tale," of course). What was he trying to do at this point in his career???? It's not hippie music, it's not free jazz (aside from a couple of key moments), if it's meant as classical, it's worthless oversimplified classical, if it's rock, it's fucking AWFUL rock ("Ladies Of The Road" is both bland AND sexist! Much like me, except I'm bland OR sexist!). Time to call it day, ol' Fripp. You suck.

Actually, that's not fair. Robert wasn't fond of much of this record either, and acted like a total dick while touring it, finally announcing that he was breaking up the band because he'd "lost faith in the band, but not in Crimson." Fripp also likes to talk about himself in the third-person. In fact, Fripp is typing these words right now. Hi! Fripp's Fripp! Pleased to meet you!

Reader Comments

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Huh? Worse than Lizard? I don't really think so. At least this one has a number of decent actual SONGS on it. Plus, Mark forgot about 'Song Of The Gulls', which is one of the most beautiful pieces of classical-rock fusion ever performed by the band. I can see where it could have been 'lost' in amidst some more mediocrity, though. But I still rate this a couple notches above Lizard.

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
Krimsons biggest disappointment. A few nice moments, but otherwise an aimless endeavur. Well, they may have een aiming, but they missed big time,

tokaham@execpc.com
Three years after Islands came out, and late in high school when I was wandering into Crimson Mystiqueland, I plunked down my $4.50 or so for a copy of this. I was disappointed...I mean come on, listen to these dirges...

K.C. fans, especially those early cult-hungry initiates, can convince themselves that it's all good stuff. This is now likable for how bad it is (a recurring phenomenon with Crimson) as for how good. Formentera Lady reminds me of a lost afternoon at my suicidal English auntie's cottage (whom does not exist). Ladies of the Road is a highlight. Sure, it's sexist...boy that's never happened in R&R. This is a swanky guitar and sax entre with Beatles-like harmonies in refrain. Pete Sinfield's lyrics: Again so bad here that he's good. Bobby Fripp treats the dedicated to a vinyl reach-around at the end of side two by keeping the mics on while the session breaks down...stupid, pointless, and unintentionally funny.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
"Sailor's Tale" kicks arse, while "Prelude" and the title track (my personal favourite) are charming and beautiful. "Formentera Lady" is not bad, although too long and the vocals suck, "The Letters" is pointless and boring, while "Ladies Of The Road" not only bores me, but makes me want to puke. Apart from the fat saxophone, this song is shitty, especially the lyrics (the worst written by Sinfield). "Ate all the meat I gave her"? Sorry, nothing but pure shit. Anyways, If you skip the two middle tracks you have a pretty good album. I'd give Islands a high six, maybe a low 7 in a good day. But by no means a three as you give. Buy Larks Tongues In Aspic or the debut instead.

benjaminsumner@gmail.com
9/10 - with "Lizard", my fave KC LP. Really a classic. "Sailor's tale", and "Islands" are utterly exceptional, impressionistic and beautiful pieces, especially.

Add your thoughts?

Earthbound - Polydor 1972
Rating = 3

Being a born literatician, I've got a few things to say about words right now, and one of them you're not going to like. The first two are harmless, of course, just as the first two people on recorded Bible Earth (Adam and Steve) were harmless in their many, many actions of erotic sodomy on God's dollar. These two things are as follows: (A) Urban culture includes a total of 40 words, all of which are spelled wrong. (B) Overreliance on cliche'd phrases ensures that your writing isn't worth the price of admission. See? Nobody was hurt by those two comments. We all nodded our heads, refusing to utter and mutter about the nutter with the butter. See? Now that's a PERFECTLY good new cliche' that we can all enjoy together as a collective physical unit. Whenever, as happens oft in larger cities, passersby react with verbal displeasure as an insane man runs down the street rubbing a margarine-like substance all over the telephone poles and attached dogs, the most clever of the lot will now be able to whistle through his shit-eating grin, "Hey, you all! Don't utter and mutter about the nutter with the butter!" Perfection identified. A yacht shall be mine in no time as the money rolls passionately on homeward to the abode in which my belongings dwell, on account of my new cliche'.

The third thing actually has to do with this album. (C) There are two two-word phrases in the English language that were never, ever, I mean EVER intended to rest together on the same page. These words are as follows:

1. "King Crimson"

2. "Blues Rock"

Fripp knew that this line-up (Bad Company's Boz Burrell on bass and voice, accompanied by drummer Ian Wallace and saxophonist Mel Collins, both of whom would later tour with Peter Giles, Ian MacDonald and some guy from Levl 42 as the "21st Century Schizoid Band") wasn't right for King Crimson. There was no art, no vision. They were a boring blues-rock band. Maybe it was difficult to hear this side of the band on Islands, but their concerts were an entirely different ball of worms. This live LP, recorded on three nights in Feb-March 1972, showcases exactly how wanky, noisy and ass-boring the arguably worst line-up in King Crimson history could be. Luckily for all, their time on this Earth was quite brief, with Fripp dissolving the unit immediately upon the tour's completion.

I mean he literally dissolved them in a big glass of water. Most people don't realize that Mel Collins was constructed entirely out of formulated sugar, but when y

Earthbound features five tracks: one from In The Court Of The Crimson King, one from Islands, the b-side of the "Cat Food" single and two improv blues-rock jams. A full one of these tracks is good. Its name is "21st Century Schizoid Man" and it is an EXCELLENT and BLISTERING loud distorted live version. The guitar freakout solo and sax brapps wear a little tiringness, but the band is tighter than a cun's nunt for the rest of the eleven-and-a-half-minute showcase of chops. The others are built upon Boz's witless scat singing, incredibly tedious squeals of amelodic saxophone racket, Fripp trying to be Derek Clapton with his wah-wah pedal and electric blues cliches, and a drummer whose playing sounds like a bunch of shopping carts tumbling down a cliff into the ocean. Even the mix is a cocaine blow, with one component of each song always three or four times louder than the others (except in "21st Century," a monstrous performance that sounds like the band is blowing out its speakers).

Why did Robert Fripp bother bringing this proof of his 1972 lameness back into print? To appease collectors? To defeat bootleggers? To help naysayers realize that the current band's last two albums are in fact about 10 times more difficult and compelling than most of the King Crimson back catalog?

Reader Comments

thepublicimage79@hotmail.com (Mike Noto)
I was wondering when this might appear on the site. The live version of re than the studio version, and the same goes for the version of "The Sailor's Tale" (although that kickass guitar-to-banjo solo is missing), but everything else can suck Italian sausage. Boz pulls out some of the most laughable vocalizations since Shooby Taylor, except that Boz is so self-aware that it sounds completely lame instead of accidental genius, and Mr. Mel Collins' greasy strip-joint sax is a little, erm, irritating on them blooze jams you get to hear on this album. "Groon" is interesting to listen to, but a mite needless, seeing as it's 15 minutes long and Ian Wallace's processed drum solo is just about the only thing that gets my noodle going. And the aforementioned fun-kay blooze jams are worthless. The two versions of the album tracks are fantastic, but most everything else blows. I'd give it 5/10.

Add your thoughts?

Larks' Tongues In Aspic - Atlantic 1973.
Rating = 7

Mmm, I'll never forget the last time I had MY tongue in a spic. That fuckin Puerto Rican slut had the tastiest

On this album, Robert has surrounded himself with a whole new gang of noisemakers, including a zany noisemaker named Jamie Muir who bashes chains, pots and pens, bags of leaves and all sorts of silliness while former Yes GOD drummer Bill Bruford and future Asia mouthpiece John Wetton surround Robert Fripp with big loud ass-kicking whateverness. And they're GOOD!!!! They've tightened and toughened up their little pussy sound, made it kick solid rumpity, and most importantly have decided to concentrate almost completely on the cool instrumental jams that were the highlights of the last few records. For once, they actually sound like they've got a VISION in mind for the band! The only problem is that they still can't write an actual *SONG* that doesn't make you (me) want to cringe and stick your (my) fingers in your (your) ears (vagina). "Exiles" is so bad, it's like... like.... why, it's like ASIA!!! The other two "songs" suffer too, aside from the nice instrumental breaks. But at least Fripp has finally found something he's good at! Hard avant-garde improv jazz rock. THIS is where the Crimson needs to concentrate. They'll have to do it without Jamie Muir though. He abruptly quit during the next tour due to intense spiritual yearnings brought on by that same dumbass Autobiography Of A Yogi book that made Jon Anderson write Tales From Topographic Not Making Any Goddamned Sense At All. When will people finally realize that all religions - even the good ones - are an asshole?

Reader Comments

stoo@imsa.edu (John McFerrin)
Nope, a nine. And I did not like it the first few times I heard it. It sounded like a chaotic mess.

But then I listened again. And I realized one thing: the instrumentals are great, actual _songs_. They have great builds, incredible dynamics between hard and soft, actual riffs and melodies ... they rule!

And even some of the 'real' songs are nice - they sag a bit, but they're not at all bad. And even if they were, even if the album were just the three instrumentals and crap, it would still deserve an 8.

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
A nine, of course. I really don't see any problems with the actual songs on here. Why is 'Exiles' so bad? A song is bad when it has no melody. This one sure has one - I haven't heard it in at least four or five months, and I can still remember how it goes. It has that cool, romantic mellotron line it's based on, and it's actually emotionally resonant, much unlike most King Crimson output. And 'Easy Money' is also cool, rhythmic, complex, sarcastic, and catchy. Although, of course, the main accent is still on the instrumentals - the riffage on 'Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part II' is easily the most brutally powerful moment in the entire KC catalog, only rivalled by 'Schizoid Man'.

seraphim7s@yahoo.com (Paul Walker)
Ooh, I thought you'd hate this one. This is one of those albums that needs a lot of listens to be appreciated, and Fripp seems to take the 'progressive' element of prog rock literally here, pushing back all the boundaries. What do you mean by 'the other two "songs"'? I can understand if you're distinctly underwhelmed by 'Book of Saturday' but 'Easy Money' kicks asse!!! And 'Exiles' is pretty good too. I agree fully, though, that the best compositions are indeed the avant-garde hard rock stuff (both parts of the title track and the incredible crescendo: 'The Talking Drum') I'd give it a 9. Or at the very least an 8.

richbunnell@home.com
I can't believe that no one had thought of that pun yet. Actually, lots of people probably have, but they've held back out of common decency. But common decency is not a barrier to Mark Prindle, no it is not!!!

This is a very good album, perhaps a little less song-based than any earlier Crimson product, but considering the quality of Lizard, I'm not apt to complain. Plus, the lack of structure isn't a stricture (man, I'm clever); Fripp and the band don't hold back on their avant-garde tendencies this time around and the end result: two magnificent title tracks. The actual songs themselves are generally of high quality as well, though I'll be the first to admit that "Easy Money" is a bit plodding for my personal tastes. As for John Wetton,mpared to the vocalists he immediately followed, he's a godsend. I give the album a high eight.

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
A great album. Again, try to tink of what was around at the time. Hell, think of what's around now.

ian.moss@yale.edu (Ian Moss)
There is no way that this is not a 9, and a high 9 at that. "Larks' Tongues" part II gets stuck in my head all the time, although it kind of doesn't get anywhere in the end. But this is a minor complaint; it sounds like the Mahavishnu Orchestra and that can't be a bad thing. In fact, this whole album sounds a LOT like Mahavishnu (even down to "Book of Saturday") aside from the whole vocals issue. "Tongues" Part I is also impressively multifaceted and well-groomed, while "Easy Money" is just an incredible song once you get past the stupid chorus. "The Talking Drum" is quite good, but I don't understand why everyone refers to it as this incredible crescendo. It never gets all THAT loud, now does it? It sounds more like an avant-garde twist on your local Santana groove that just goes on for a while. "Exiles" is admittedly a little subpar, though it has its moments too.

Definitely a classic, and one of their most consistent albums (always an issue with the Crimson). Get it.

slb23@shaw.ca (S.B.)
When I first listened to this, it was my first experience with the 1973/1974 line-up. (I was 15 or so). The record was a bit warped on the outer edge, so I couldn't play the beginings of "Lark's Tongues In Aspic Part One" or "Easy Money". In fact, I hardly listend to either one at all. I mostly listened to the rest of the tracks. (But NOW I have the CD, so I can listen to the whole thing). The begining of "Exiles" is really eerie, but it suddenly transforms into this sad, mournful song, sort of bittersweet. The whole first half of "The Talking Drum" should've been cut out, because it's so quiet and doesn't go anywhere. "Easy Money" is good, but the middle part kind of goes no where. Jamie Muir's weird-ass percussion sounds are . . . . well . . . "weird-ass". "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part One" has a cool begining, and crunching guitar parts, and great violin work. "Part Two" scared me when I first heard it. Don't turn the volume up too loud at the end, though, in the fade out, cause it might blow your speakers.

Nine Stars.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
I have mixed feelings about this one. Yes, some of the best Fripp music are in the two parts of the title track, but the "songs" here do nothing for me. I hate "Easy Money", why this song is a fan favourite? It's so damn annoying! And Wetton's singing is awful (he sings much better in Red), especially in the otherwise good song "Exiles". And "Talking Drum", while pretty scary, it does nothing for me. I cannot see why this record is better than, say, Lizard. I'd give it a solid 7 because it was kinda "revolutionary" at that time. But I don't dig this album at all.

(later)

Please fuck my previous comment, I hadn't listen to the album much. 'The Talking Drum' is not only great, but it's also very evil-sounding! And now I like far better both 'Larks' and 'Exiles' (which, although the poor vocals, is fantastic!). I believe 'Easy Money' is the weakest track here, but it has its moments too. My only complaint is that the intro to 'Larks' pt.1 is too long. But I can stand it, since the music after the intro is mind-blowing.

I give this album a high eight and I'm proud to own it. Still, I think that Red is a better album.

sirmustapha@ig.com.br (Fernando)
Aww, a 7? I also agree with the commentators above me and give this a 9. To my ears, these songs are all good. Yes, even Exiles. I can't understand such hatred for Exiles, but hey, we all have different opinions (I hate Good Day Sunshine, after all). Book Of Saturday is normally overlooked, but it is very pleasant. And the rest? It rocks! It's so stuffed with weirdness and chaos that it's at the point of bursting! If you poke it with a stick, it explodes! The title tracks are both exciting, spooky and brilliant (love the part 2 coda. It's apocalypse in the best 21st Century Schizoid Man tradition!); Easy Money sounds cruel, and it's not because of the lyrics; and The Talking Drum is one of the most brilliant crescendos ever made! I love this record. I gave it a 9? Heck, I give it the 10!

jamesagardner@yahoo.com
By coincidence, I was listening to a lot of King Crimson around the time you put up your KC page. Very accomodating of you.

This album title is about as appealing to me as the Spanish album cover art for the Stones' Sticky Fingers; apparently the zipper cover we all are familiar with was too vulgar for the Franco regime, so it was replaced by a gut-wrenching photo of fingers protruding from a can of treacle. Yum.

So up until my recent reaquaintance with this KC music I'd always thought "Easy Money" was a pretty cool tune, all jagged and fragmented, but with that very hooky title line.

I'd never listened to the lyrics, though: something-something "judge" ... "caught me making fudge" ... it's about getting caught buggering a kid! Amazing, Mr. Fripp ... you've made severed fingers in treacle seem appealing by comparison.

Preston Camp
I'm sorry but I don't get this album at all, and this is coming from someone who love Red and Discipline, and enjoys most of In The Court.

Part One is just too weird for me. The opening riffs are neat and all, but the jam sections are just dreadful, and the quiet violin parts are boring. I do like that one part in the jamming sections where the cymbals are going: "Cha! Cha! Cha-cha! Cha! Cha-cha!" over and over again. Could you tell what part I was talking about by how I wrote that? If so I am very proud indeed! =]

The next two songs are just aweful, "Easy Money" has some cool sound effects but just drags and drags, "Talking Drum" isn't as dramatic as it should be, and "Part II" isn't as powerful as it should be. The only part I _really_ dig in the song is in the middle when the riff is punctuated by that cool bass part. But these little moments are just individual pricks of light floating amidst a sea of murk. The album as a whole sucks.

3/10

LBW, The Right Wing Liberal
The problem - (As I see it) is that you have not shaken hands with LSD. This is a possible explanation why you would diss old Frippolla. A very close friend of mine is a Crimson Kingster and insisted that I listen to several of these. I actually was impressed by Larks Tongue and Elephant Walk (Although, Fripp should ask Balking Heads for his sound back).

No, lack of psychedelics has ruined your point of view. It's that damned alcohol. The only thing I can't forgive Greggy Gutfeeled over.

Preston Camp
After I listened to this album many more times, I actually got to really liking it. In fact, it's probably my favorite King Crimson album! The first track is my favorite, the second has backwards guitar solos that actually sound good. The third has one of the best fake endings to any track I've ever heard. The fourth has one of my favorite jams ever -- I especially love how minimal the rhythm section is. Loads of space between every note at the start, until the jam builds up. I like The Talking Drum quite a bit now, and the final track is just awesome. I like John's Mcferrin's "elevator to Hell" interpretation.

Really, this is the best example of "frighteningly difficult, cold, soulless, but extremely intelligent" music that I can think of. I have to be in a very cerebral mood to listen to it, but when I am -- whoo! ;)

Alvar Aleket
Your review for Larks' is not an actual review, this album is much better than a 7.

"The only problem is that they still can't write an actual *SONG* that doesn't make you (me) want to cringe and stick your (my) fingers in your (your) ears (vagina)."

I've enjoyed all the songs, what you may refer as what I quoted I take it great in a horror musica kinda way.

Add your thoughts?

Starless And Bible Black - Atlantic 1974.
Rating = 4

Okay, for the record: A bunch of random noises played at the same time may very well constitute "avant-garde composition," but it does NOT necessarily constitute "anything at all worth listening to for any reason." They're still writing hideously bland "songs" reminiscent of early Dire Straits but without that band's natural warmth and drive, and the instrumental pieces are JUST AS DULL. I find it astonishing that people compare this shit to YES in their prime. Instrumentally and especially songwriting-wise, YES blew these dickaround kings out of the water. Most of this stuff isn't even complicated - it's just rotten! Apparently they only actually recorded about 12 minutes of studio music, and padded the rest with live improvisations from a couple of shows on the previous tour.

You know, I find it incredible that Robert Fripp has the gall to hold a high opinion of himself when his career has mostly been made up of disappointing shit-jazz efforts like this. A bunch of four-year-olds could have recorded most of this record. But they would have been smart enough to realize it was garbage, and promptly tossed it into the dustbin.

"Fracture" and "Trio" are pretty great though. So that's TWO impressive King Crimson efforts on the same album! WOW!!!!!!

Also, I would totally actually describe what "Fracture" and "Trio" sound like, but I don't really remember. I'm told that "Trio" was a live improv that Bill Bruford stayed out of, and apparently "Fracture" is one of the most difficult songs to play that they ever wrote. Fripp plays amazingly fast double-picking and the time signatures are pretty screwy. At least according to this book I'm reading. Like I said, I can't remember how the thing goes and I'll be good and goddamned if I'm going to turn off this thrashing Fairport Convention ass-kicker to give it a fair listen.

Reader Comments

errado@ruralsp.com.br (Bernardo Pacheco)
You must have listened to a different album than the one I have. Apart from "Starless and Bible Black" and "We'll Let You Know" these are all pretty songy songs, their poppiest stuff from this line up is in this album. "The Great Deceiver", "Lament", "The Night Watch" and "The Mincer" are all pretty tuneful. I'm biased to this one because it has my favourite 70's Crimson track, Fracture. I just can't explain the appeal of this one to me, but I love it. Dire Straits was a low blow.

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Can't really disagree here, although I'd give it a 5 because 'The Great Deceiver', 'Night Watch' and maybe one or two more compositions are really melodic and cool (again, I think Mark kinda missed them while concentrating on the dreck).

What annoys me most of all is just when you think King Crimson metamorphose into a great songwriting outfit, they slam you on the head with something like this - and they do it INTENTIONALLY, knowing that you will be offended! It's like a gigantic 'Fuck You, we will do whatever we will want' when you least expected it. The same thing happened in the Nineties when after their studio comeback (THRAK) and live comeback (B'BOOM) they greeted us with THRaKaTTaK. Ugh.

On the other hand, I think Mark is playing a vile trick when he says 'this is compared with Yes in their prime'. I don't know who compares THIS with Yes in their prime; I would better compare the better, more normal King Crimson albums like 'In The Court' and 'Larks' Tongues' and 'Red' with Yes in their prime. And then everybody would see that Yes can't really hold a candle to KC in their prime - because KC can be melodic, daring, innovative and unpretentious at the same time, whereas Yes at best can only be one or two of said epithets at once. And don't slam me for calling KC an 'unpretentious' band - apart from an occasional gruesome Sinfield lyrical triteness, their 'normal' music is perfectly adequate.

seraphim7s@yahoo.com (Paul Walker)
TWO impressive tracks??? What about the 'Great Deceiver', one of the best songs they've ever written! Okay, all the rotten jazz wanking drives me up the wall, but I also like 'Lament' and 'The Nightwatch' (although not that much) so I'd give it a 6.

Gomes
Hey! Fracture was the best piece on this LP! It was this period of Crimson at their absolute peak! You guys all have extremely short attention spans. Sorry you missed the point...

DAVID50TALAST@aol.com (David Scott)
Ah, yes! Track 7, Starless and Bible Black is reminiscent of a night (or was it two?) of wandering through the Mojave Desert with my head full of some rude, heavy shit. Now that I'm a survivor, I can truly appreciate going the distance again and again...Good, bad or ugly and tonight a special twist. I can see David Berne miming to the staccato drums at the end of the piece before being rescued by Fracture. Thank for the chat!

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
This album has great moments butif you're looking for"tunes" don't go past the first track.

ian.moss@aya.yale.edu (Ian Moss)
Well....it's got some potential here and there, like in the jazzy noodlings of "We'll Let You Know" and the tight crispness of "Fracture" (an overrated opus, but still good). But god, I HATE "The Night Watch!" Why do people like this song? That percussion/mellotron opening is just hideous! To me, that's the only real, real clunker on the album. Not many super-high-points, though. "Great Deceiver" is okay. The truth is, I don't know exactly how I feel about this album. I appreciate its edginess but I can't ignore that it falls short in a number of areas. It's still probably worth owning, though. I'd probably rate it a low 7.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
A little disappointing after the brilliant Larks' Tongues In Aspic, but it has its moments. 'The Great Deceiver' kicks ass, love Wetton's vocals here. However, the real gem here is 'The Night Watch', an epic ballad, my personal favourite on the album. Also, 'Lament', 'We'll Let You Know' and 'Fracture' (the last the best) have their moments. I think the other three tracks fall short, with 'Trio' being one of the most sleepy songs I've heard in my life. 7/10.

jamesagardner@yahoo.com
This one ranks up with their debut with me, not a ten, but easily an eight. One summer, staying in a haunted house on Mackinac Island, this album was our theme music and it was perfect for that atmosphere. "Great Deceiver" ranks as their eeriest classic. Give it another spin, Mark. Maybe in a haunted house.

bosc0026@tc.umn.edu (Brandon Bosch)
I too once disliked this album. I then listened to it 20 times.

I still hate "Great Deceiver", or at least the sections where Wetton sings. Is Palmer-James the psuedonym for Paul McCartney? They lyrics stink.

"Lament" is also poor, with bad lyrics.

"We'll Let You Know" sounds like a filler jam.

"Night Watch" doesn't sound all that progressive. Up to this point, the record's a bit bland.

Everything else is great. "Starlesss and Bible Black" is one of my favorite Crimson songs--you didn't even mention it. Granted, the title is crap, but the music is tense and dynamic. I think of a slowly developing tornado when I hear this song--especially when focusing on Fripp.

It's probably the best drumming Bruford's done, and Wetton's bass is pretty solid. Although he figures strongly in song writing credits, Cross seems largely absent.

The developing interplay between guitar, bass, and drums on the last four tracks make this record worth owning.

9 Stars.

steve.robey@mindspring.com
I had this on vinyl back in the 80s when I was first getting into Crimson (it was the first of about 78 "Definitive Edition" reissues - that Fripp! Will he ever be satisfried?). At the time, I loved it, but somewhere along the way I traded the vinyl in intending to get the CD but never did... until last month, that is. The latest "definitive edition" has such stellar sound quality that I can finally now hear how shitty an album this is. Imagine my shock when I braced myself for one of my childhood favorite songs ("Lament") and, upon the song finishing, I wrinkled my nose, looked into my rear view mirror, and said "Ehh? That song wouldn't earn a B-plus in a Prog 101 class. How disillusioning! Another sacred cow laid to rest. Oh, me."

On the plus side, I still do love "The Great Deceiver" - though I want to kick Richard Palmer-James for not only having a hyphenated last name, but also for writing such idiotic lyrics that only a teenage know-it-all could like. Hey! That used to be me! What a scuzzball I was. No wonder I never got any dates. And even though it's a jam that any 4 dorks could have come up with in their garage, "We'll Let You Know" at least has some sense of structure and dynamics, enough to make me like it anyway.

Back to the minus side, in list form:

"The Night Watch" - Overrated fairy tale triteness, no musical tension

"Trio" - Overrated live improv. Kudos to Bill Bruford, who not only got an equal writing credit (it's true! check the label!) but chose to stop playing when he thought to himself, "Hey! They're ripping off Spirit's instrumental "Taurus"! Screw this! I wonder if Alan White is on Jon Anderson's shit list yet? Hmm.."

"The Mincer" - More live wanking. Absolutely nothing happens for 4 and a half minutes. I never liked this one. Wretched.

"Starless and Bible Black" - halfway decent improv. But one does tire of it by now.

I haven't mentioned "Fracture" yet, but it is, in a way, a great piece of music in the "Larks Tongues" mold. Slightly overrated, but still worthy of all the accolades this version of the band gets. Check out Anekdoten, a current Swedish band. They take the best elements from this period of the band and apply it to fresh, melodic original song ideas with a modern, immediate edge, And the cello player is frickin hot!

In conclusion, "Starless and Bible Black" is the greatest album of all time. I actually like King Crimson, I was just kidding about all that stuff. Way to go, Bob!

Add your thoughts?

USA - EG 1975
Rating = 6

Man, I'm tired. You ever seen a car? You know how they have tires on them? Well, that's not what I mean. I mean exhausted. You know how cars have a pipe sticking out their ass and smoke comes out of it? Well, (a) that's no car and (b) you're in a gay bathhouse. Instead, I'm sleepy.

King Crimson at the time of the live USA recording consisted of four ladies and gentlemen. This mixed company of men and women of the male and female persuasion included violinist/Mr. Show funnyman David Cross, guitar expansionist Robert Fripp, heavy distorted bassist/vocalist John Wetton and former Yes drummer Bill Bruford. The tracks they performed on this night or nights, at least as showcased on the USA cassette tape I purchased for one dollar from a gentleman of the night way over on 10th avenue one crisp prostitutional day, include three from Larks' Tongues In Ass Pick. one each from Starless And Bibble Black and In The Quart Of The Crimson Milk, and a hot brand new improv funky bass/drum showcase entitled "Asbury Park" on account of its being performed and recorded on top of a copy of Bruce Springsteen's Greetings From Asbury Park.

Wetton's distorted bass is a total mindblowing ass-kicker, and Cross's violin and mellotron do some wonderful things as well. However, there's not a whole lot that anybody could do to make "Easy Money" and "Lament" not suck. "Exiles"? Hell, that one's even prettier than "(I Wanna) Kiss You All Over." And very few KC tracks kiKC as much serious loud asshole as "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part II" and "In The Court Of The Crimson King." But the other three improve no man's long-term memory collection of audio material. I'd almost wager, in fact, that the lub-dub one-bass-note "Easy Money" isn't even as good as the Billy Joel song of the same name. And mister if you can't shove a pen up your butt, wiggle it around on a piece of paper, and come up with a song that's better than Billy Joel, it might be time to ask yourself, "Do I have some sort of parasitical bacteria eating through my brain?"

Personally I'm more interested in studio recordings than live ones. But if you're curious to hear how "21st Century Schizoid Man" sounds like with a violin, USA is a terrific place to go for that information. I can't even keep my eyes open! I mean, I am really, REALLY tired!!!!

And work doesn't end for another SIX HOURS!!!! Aye, no es bueno! Yo me amo, Maria! Sukiyaki! Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport!

Reader Comments

AlakuljuM@ncc-sklif.ru
If I remember correctly, David Cross was no longer in the band when USA was recorded. The violin parts were overdubbed in the studio by Eddie Jobson, who was at the time in Roxy Music (later Zappa, UK, Jethro Tull ...), the more popular band also signed on EG with King Crimson. I suppose

pekkaranta@pp.inet.fi
David Cross was in the band when USA was recorded, Eddie Jobson just "fixed" some parts later in the studio.

slb23@shaw.ca (Simon B.)
First, a little story.

I first listened to USA on record in my fav. record shop a few years ago ) I thought it was good, but not good enough to pay the $7 or $8 the sticker price (plus I think it had fair-average sound quality). But then a week or two later I was kicking myself because I found out it was kinda rare to find an LP copy nowadays, and they (to my knowledge) never made it into a CD in the USA or Canada.

Fast forward a few years. In early-mid 2003 I found out that USA was re-released as a remastered edition with bonus tracks. I was excited. I got it for my birthday a few months later. (My parents ordered it from Amazon, because none of the music stores in our area carried it --- most have a very select few copies of any KC album).

And now a review of the Remastered version from 2002 w/ bonus tracks.

The booklet is interesting --- it has tons of photos, concert reviews, articles (mostly about the 'breakup' of the mighty Crimso), and press reviews for the album (about half are rather negative --- I'm surprised that Fripp included them, but I'm glad he did.)

1. "Walk On ... No Pussyfooting": typical entrance music for the begining of a KC show of 1973/1974 with shouting from the crowd (ie. "Bruford!","Fripp!" etc.) Recorded by Fripp and Eno in 1972.

2. "Larks Tongues in Aspic Part II"

This is one of the tracks that contains overdubs (or "Remix assistance") by Eddie Jobson on violin. (especially around 2:15, 3:10, among other places).

3. "Lament" begins with some girl shouting "Who made your violin?". This track contains piano overdubs by Jobson, though I can't really tell. Quite a good version of "Lament". Good bass and vocals from Wetton, and good drums/percussion from Bruford (one of my favourite drummers).

4. "Exiles". One of my favourite 73/74 KC songs. Begins with shouting from individuals in the crowd (ie. "Boogie!" and "They suck!"). This one features David Cross on violin and mellotron. Good solo by Fripp.

5. "Asbury Park". Before the track begins, someone from the crowd either shouts "Play some Eno!" or "Play some Devo!". (Though I think the first is much more likely --- I don't know my Devo too well, but i don't think they were around in 1974, but I could be wrong). This improv (named after the place it was played at) is one of KC's best improvs. It's rather short compared to the improvs on The Great Deceiver. I love the part from 0:25 -2:15 with Wetton's bass and Fripp's guitar weaving around each other with countermelodies and such. About 3/4 into (~4.25) it there is a break down, then rises back up, then stops.

6. "Easy Money". A typical rendition until it gets to the solo (which is unfortunetly faded out) which has a rather long but good build-up. Until it is faded out in mid-solo, it is as long as the average rendition of "Easy Money" (based on the lengths of the different versions in The Great Deceiver.)

7. "21st Century Schizoid Man". The only thing I don't really like about this version is Wetton's processed/distorted vocals. There is the other version of this on The Great Deceiver (from Providence) without the distorted vocals by Wetton and violin overdubs by Jobson. I much prefer that one. Nonetheless, the solos (especially by Fripp) and the stop-start section are mindblowing.

Extra Tracks (presumably from Asbury Park)

8. "Fracture". Not much to say about this one, it's basically a typical rendition. Pretty good.

9. "Starless". A particularly sad/melancholy version (especially the first 1/3 --- vocal section). My only complaint is the ~2 minutes of continuous applause at the end (spliced-together, if you listen close enough, whistles and shouts are cut off).

Overall a pretty good documentation of live KC in 74, and one of their last concerts before disbanding. 8 stars.

Add your thoughts?

* Red - Atlantic 1974. *
Rating = 10

Now see, this is what gets me. Obviously the guy CAN make a decent rock album if he tries. So why does he choose to release albums of he and his bandmates farting into tubas and scraping violins against each others' codpieces? Red is a powerful, heavy blast of melodic, creepy, mean '70s hard rock. Five songs, only ONE of which is avant-penis-caressing, and even THAT one is pretty eerie. The others darn near sting your bumblebee in the honeycomb with their midtempo anger and distortion (even the BASS is distorted!!! And this was 1974, all you Cows fans!!!!). And "Starless" has this totally killer middle part that begins with a paranoid bass line, continues with two thwicky-thwicky-thwicky guitar notes and then builds and contorts and smacks into a fiery leftwing explosion of R.O.C.K. on my T.U.R.N.T.A.(ble), much like Yes' astonishing "Awaken" would a few years later.

Yes rule, by the way. As opposed to King Crimson, who only rule once per decade if that.

Having said that, Red rules. For once (and only once) in his career, the ultimate snob afficionado bangs his head. Metal health will drive him mad.

Reader Comments

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Great album, of course, apart from 'Providence'. I don't see what makes the songs on here so much angrier than 'Schizoid Man', but they're all well-written and excellently performed. Don't know about the Nirvana influences, but it sure influenced ME to admit that KC were much more than just a fluke.

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
Brilliant. For once Fripp's smug beard/smile combination is justified.

Notice how the formula is much the same as on In The Court of The Crimson King? Well it is. And strangely, I find Providence more than a little listenable, atmospheric if you will. Starless is certainly one hell of a song to finish a career with, until you discover your 'David Gilmour' side and resurrect your moribund group to record a load of watered-down AOR, that is.

Is this what punk was so angry with? Is this really what Johnny Rotten wanted to destroy? Because no punk record, not one - ever - rocked with anything like the force and scale of Red. Stupid little genre.

greggmikolay@yahoo.com
Many years ago, a friend of mine was trying to sell me on this album after I gave up on this band looking for some better than average material from KC. Starless and Bible Black was my last attempt.....which was okay.....Years later like now, I go and start testing the waters again and saw the tracks out on the Download sites and came across this entire album. Holy hell!!! King Crimson with soul, majesty, power.....yes, if you are looking for the follow up to "Court" and the definitive KC studio album, this is it!! Amazed by the build up at the end of Starless and the rest of the album is heaven, well, err should I say hell....

Providence is actually pretty damn interesting as it builds.....amazing album, peak of his ability....and shit why Bill didn't play on Yes's albums like that....christ you are talking about a new dimension to those dry recordings.....no one really talks about Wetton much in their reviews, but that dude can play......and sing.....what bass.....this album is a great combination of all those stral arangements and flutes, and is pure art.....I wish I would have listened to my friend then....I bought around it.....stupid I was.....

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
If the first Black Sabbath album is the birth of metal (which it is) then this album is the birth of modern metal/thrash/punk/alternative music. (which it is)

ian.moss@aya.yale.edu (Ian Moss)
This may not be KC's objectively best album, but it's my favorite, if that makes any sense. Most of the songs are just riffy excuses for lots of wanky noodling over and over and over again, but for whatever reason they REALLY work. Especially in the remastered recording, in which that guitar tone could not be any more fabulous or it would be an interior decorator from Queens. Even "Providence" is bearable after the first couple of minutes. It's actually a pretty cool song, in fact. My only real complaint is that John Wetton's voice sounds like shit. I'm sorry, but that's about the worst rock voice I've heard in a while. Especially on "Starless!" Even so, a great collection of songs here. I'm not sure I can give it the 10 over Larks' Tongues, so they'll both have to settle for nines at the moment. I'm sure they can handle it.

slb23@shaw.ca (S.B.)
You're Right!

Red does RULE!!

AND it's creepy and scary as hell.

Play "red", and the middle part of "starless" all alone in the dark at night. Your nerves will not thank you.

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
If hell had a "soundtrack", it would be Red. Loud, scary and EVIL. The title track makes your average metal band sound like bubblegum pop. But the best song is "Starless"! Man, that's a song! And it has a totally awesome ending! And "Providence" is pretty good, something like "The Talking Drum" without the rhythm. All the songs here rule. The best King Crimson album, except maybe the debut. Buy it today and enjoy! But be careful, it's a tough experience. A very very high nine.

Moe Aboulkheir
a 9? even if i pretend this isnt the same band, sans orgasmic drummer, who recorded Crimson King, i cannot bear to listen to this shite. you call it "melodic, creepy, mean '70s hard rock". i listened to it twice, and the only word(?) in the that sentence that applies is "'70s". (see what i did there?). i will give it another listen.

matteaston2006@yahoo.com (Matt Easton)
Of course Red influenced Nirvana. Kurt Cobain said it was one of his favorite albums. Or did everyone already know that and they were just debating about whether or not you can actually hear traces of King Crimson in their music? Either way, just putting it out there for those people who didn't know!

prinnylaharl@hotmail.com
My favorite Crimson album ever. These guys had their ups and downs, and serious downs, but when they were up they were up. Red is an album I can listen to every day. Fripp, Wetton and Bruford somehow manage to squeeze pure fierce fiery anger out of their instruments. Every song except "Providence" is basically perfect, and even that song is one of their few wanky improvs I can actually stand due to the intensity and creepiness which work somehow. And the rest of the songs work AS ACTUAL SONGS, instead of shapeless blobs of instrumental mess like most of Starless And Bible Black. Robert Fripp might be a dick, but he can be direct and hard-hitting when he wants to be. Too bad he usually doesn't want to be like that.

zach.charland@gmail.com
My favorite album. Ever. Bar none.

Red is in my opinion one of the most frightening and satisfying records ever made. The sound is majestic, the dynamics complex but without pretension, the lyrics poingnant and dark but most of all it has raw, unbridled, even almost sexually infused rage.

Every song on here is a classic. From the start it smacks you over the head and never lets you go. It's cathartic, intelligent, and simply twisted in a way that no other Crimson album (or any other record I can think of ) is. While still being a hot, rage induced album, Red isn't an album to indulge in the then typical metal attitude of 'halloween'. This stuff is cold and dark, honest, brutal, and carefully crafted. Robert Fripp is the Hannibal Lecter of the rock scene. The guy seems all proper and educated, but when he shows his colors, he fucking shows them - without mercy. Just listen to the Projekcts and you'll see.

On a different note, it's an intensely satisfying listen. There's tremendous catharsis within each song. Great poignant jamming, even on Providence which is possibly the darkest and most frightening track on the album. Of course there's Starless, my vote for no. 1 greatest rock song of all time. No. 2 would be Voodo Child (Slight Return). It makes Stairway To Heaven look like bubble gum pop.

And also. To be blunt. This IS grunge. No matter how many times people toss around the word progressive with King Crimson, the truth is that these guys are a full blown alternative band. They've always been and they always will be. They started prog - or should I say symphonic rock, yet Fripp and co. moved on and sought to break and challenge new musical boundaries. Think of the Melvins who started the Seattle grunge sound but moved on to just the same, freak people out. The truth is, being progressive is the very heart of alternative music, it's just that big businesses lump existing musical forms into genres defined by a seminal sound. i.e: prog - KC circa 1969, Alternative - Nirvana circa In Utero. It's not that simple. Frank Zappa, Crimson, the Melvins AND Nirvana were all alternative bands because they were interested in progression and experimentation.

But anywhoo, nothing in the 1970s could match the heavyness and darkness of Red. Whether or not the Seattle sound was influenced directly by this album, it remains a fact that Crimson were the first band to make a tried and true grunge album.

Tritone, bass distortion heaven.

Add your thoughts?

Discipline - EG 1981.
Rating = 7

Seven years later, Fripp forms a new version of King Crimson and it's post-punk guitar rock! No more flutes, violins, tubas, mellotrons and avant-garde doodly-doo clomps -- this new band sounds like the Police or the Talking Heads or solo Peter Gabriel, but a bit more complex! The watery guitar lines slither, echo and repeat in weird time signatures, the bass plays wicked dub-type parts, returning drummer Bill Bruford plays funky dancey almost Caribbean-type rhythms and new co-guitarist/singer Adrian Belew talks and laughs his way through half of the album! Humor? On an important King Crimson work of art? Well, I didn't say it was funny (who besides a smug college student could actually find cleverness in the lines: "I repeat myself when under stress! I repeat myself when under stress! I repeat myself when under stress!"? Huh? Hoo?).

For some reason, this album and Larks' Tongues In Aspic have gone down in musical history as masterpieces. I don't quite buy into all that - there's simply too many songs on here that rely on the same exact formula without adding anything new to the brew. However, they are both perfectly enjoyable (and completely different) albums that you'd be happy to have in your erection.

What do you mean, it would hurt?

Exactly how small IS your penis anyway?

Reader Comments

richbunnell@home.com
I find it kind of weird that you reviewed Discipline without really mentioning any of the songs, but I guess it doesn't really matter because the album is boring as hell. Actually, it isn't really BORING, per se, but compared to what came before, the music just sounds artificial and sterile. Fripp's guitar playing is good as always, "Elephant Talk" is pretty funny, and "Frame By Frame" is really catchy, but I don't go for the rest. How could people lift an album up as one of the greatest of all time when it has an awful song like "Indiscipline" on it, or when the last two songs consist of nothing but generic flavor-of-the-month world beat noodling? I give it a five.

errado@ruralsp.com.br (Bernardo Pacheco)
The yuppie stuff at the end of the album does nothing for me, but I couldn't disagree more about the rest. Thela Hun Ginjeet is amazing, Indiscipline kicks my ass just like the heavier 70's stuff, Matte Kudasai is sort of gay but I like it,Frame by Frame is everything Rush should be, Elephant Talk is just great. The boring version of this album, in my opinion, is Don Caballero's "What Burns Never Returns".

gstarst@yahoo.com (George Starostin)
Okay, I'm gonna stand up for that one, particularly since it's one of those rare cases when I actually rate a record higher than Rich The Epitome of Unbiased Approach (together with some Roxy Music albums). Yes, the band bases this album upon the approach of the Talking Heads. Yes, Belew sounds eerily like Byrne (and sometimes like Bowie. By the way, did anyone hear the man singing 'Heroes' on the Heavy Construkction live album from the recent KC tour? It's hilarious!).

But don't you people actually hear that they DON'T REALLY PLAY like the Talking Heads? Fripp's guitar style is SIMILAR to the Heads' style, but it's not the same! It's trickier, jazzier and ever so slightly more profound. It's like an 'academic' approach to that style - it's been tamed, crossed with certain jazzzy textures and 'cleaned up' for elitist reasons. I don't want to say it's necessarily a good thing - I couldn't say which style I actually prefer. I like both.

And for the life of me, I couldn't say what makes the playing more 'artificial' than, say, the playing on Fear Of Music or Remain In Light. Maybe it's the lyrics and singing that annoys people, actually - I can understand how Belew sounds a bit 'ssterile'. But I don't think of 'Discipline' as a serious, problem-resolving sonic experiment. I think of it as a groovy, lightweight experiment. In that respect, even some of the instrumentals work. And now I'll play a Rich Bunnell myself and say this: hey all you people, lay off 'Matte Kudasai'! 'Stupid little pop song'? Why don't you say the same about the entire 1963-65 Beatles catalogue, Mike! I LOVE that goddamn song. It's got beautiful guitar sound all over it, and a gorgeous vocal melody. It's a true KC classic.

caseyology@aol.com
Not my favorite by any means. But one of the reasons that the Talking Heads sounded like they did is owed partially to the fact that Fripp played on Fear of Music and Belew on Remain in Light. KC just took what was pretty much their own playing styles on the Heads albums to another level. Adrian Belew is still a vocal rip off artist though. That's what you get for having been a sideman forever. Oh, and I still think early Talking Heads ripped off Television!

nelzon@webtv.net (Nelson Montana)
This is where I jump off. I like what this band did but it's all interchangable to me. No particular album has a definite personality. I look it this as I would a jazz artist who always does the same thing, you know what to expect, and that's fine because it's always good.

And BTW, YES may be the best combination of great compositions, innovation, musicality, musicianship, and unique individual playing styles that ever existed. They combined amazing musical depth with tremendous commercial success. (Try THAT sometime.)Close To The Edge is up there with Sgt Pepper and Court. Now they suck. Their time has come and gone.

Hey, what about Gentle Giant?

tamintom@msn.com (Tami Swanson)
C'mon , dis shit rocks!!! Super frickin' creative at a time wen all our other proggie faves were takin' a turn on the poppy crappers... thela, elephant , indiscipline.. how can one listen to them and not be moved into an etherial outer space of life???!!!!!! "7 "??????......This is 1 of the greatest releases of all time!!!!!!!!! GET OUTTA HERE and remove the earwax!!!!!!!!!!

btw... Your Ministry reviews R Great

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
Discipline is an extraordinary album. It may be not the best Crimson album, but the songs here are really cool! I dig that new wave feeling of the album. Plus it has the AMAZING instrumental "The Sheltering Sky". Essential album. 9/10

mossinator@hotmail.com
I find I have a lot of respect for this album for, well, its discipline, to state the obvious. I mean, Fripp basically sets out a pretty clear artistic agenda at the opening of this album and really sticks to it. It's quite different from their mid-'70s stuff, notably in its relative lack of improvisation, but it's worth hearing and is actually very pretty in its own way. To me, this is the most "classical" of all of the King Crimson albums I've heard. People associate them with prog-rock's classical pretentions primarily because of instrumentation, or in other words, because the mellotron which figured prominently in their first few albums sounds a hell of a lot like an orchestral string section. However, in terms of the writing, Discipline and the next two albums share a lot more characteristics of classical music, especially 20th-century classical music. I really hear the influence of Reich- and Glass-style minimalism, for example, in the homogenous guitar sounds and polyrhythms in the title track especially. There's a lot more conscious counterpoint and development of form than you see in their earlier stuff. They really are like little pieces, each of these songs, especially the instrumentals. I could see hearing something like "Discipline" (the song) on an avant-garde new music concert here in New York and not even thinking twice about it. So that's cool. I'd give it an 8.

mahavishnunjames@yahoo.com
one thing regarding nearly every one of your KC reviews-frippertronics has nothing to do with the(effect-LESS for the most part)repeating guitar lines found on the song 'discipline' that you dont like. it has nothing to do with his 'style' as you stated either. its his gay term for the looping stuff he did with eno in the 70s. its since been replaced with 'soundscapes'.

Add your thoughts?

Beat - EG 1982.
Rating = 6

Starts off sounding identical to the previous record, but then slowly reveals itself to revolve around more "serious," moody, romantic material. However, the songs still depend to a great degree on slickly produced "Frippertronics," which is Robert's asinine way of bragging that he's finally come up with an interesting guitar style. And the songs are, unfortunately, not QUITE as memorable this time around, aside from the wonderful "Waiting Man" and "Sartori In Tangier," the latter of which made my fiancee remark, "I think I'll sit here and meditate to your weird music." There's some thematic link to "the Beat Generation," but I don't see any goatees.

Let me say one thing in Robert Fripp's defense.

Nah, screw him. He's a douchebag.

Reader Comments

pedroandino@msn.com
frippertronics is a new kind of gadget or supergadget that bands like tool and nin discover what sounds like. 1982 was a shitty year cocksucking shitty soft pussies toto won ! ugh!!!!!!!!!! I like nin and the dark odd sounds! beat is like nothing you hear before and nothing more!

mossinator@hotmail.com
There's a good reason that this album doesn't have nearly as many words written about it here as Discipline -- it's not nearly as interesting. Buy Absent Lovers instead--you'll get the highlights there and they sound better live anyway.

Add your thoughts?

Three Of A Perfect Pair - EG 1984.
Rating = 6

So Robert Fripp and his League of Gentlemen were playing at Columbia University and, for his own pretentious reasons, Robert decides that his band is so unique that a concert would be incomplete without a question and answer session. So a guy stands up to ask a question about Discipline. And Robert replies, "We're not talking about Discipline tonight." So another fellow stands up and nervously asks a question that doesn't make much sense. And Robert replies snidely, "I thought this was Columbia University." I can be somewhat forgiving of overconfidence, but not when it comes from a guy who has released as much worthless shit music as Robert Fripp. That's why I've been so vocal about my disdain for him throughout these reviews. If you have any stories about Robert being a NICE man, please relate them here. I could use some nice tales to counter the ugly stories I've heard about him.

About this record: It's more experimental than the last one, with three lengthy instrumental jam thingies, none of which are anywhere near as interesting as the early Crimson's midfest noise-a-thons, but they're oky-dokey, I supposey-wosey-woo. The real treat is the cool songs, though. Not so much Frippertronics as really wild slidey guitar effects that discombobulate you over and over again as you attempt to treat them like normal '80s rock songs (which they aren't!). Take THAT, The Edge!

No no, the guitar player from U2.

Reader Comments

MyFutureIsStatic@aol.com
Regarding the assholishness of Robert Fripp, I saw King Crimson in last November on the ConstruKction of Light tour. Apparently, Frippy's testy about people photographing him, so the thuggish security at the Theater of Living Arts in Philly padded EVERYBODY down to see if they had a camera. In my pocket, I had an Altoids tin full of what one of those shows comprised of police footage on Fox recently referred to as "Christmas cheer." So the thug pads me down and asks what's in my pocket. My reply (in the most nervous, quavering voice): "Uh, Altoids." They let me through. But Robert Fripp, indirectly, almost got me arrested. That asshole.

andymania1a@yahoo.com
I was recently reading your king crimson album reviews and you stated "email me if you have any stories of fripp being nice" So i have decided to do so. I managed to meet up with him once after a show and he was the opposite of what people say he is like. He was very polite and didnt show any pretensiousness or arrogance whatsoever. Fripp is a very private person and people comment about him only from what they see or hear. Empirical data. To judge him, you would really have to personally know him. The reason he doesnt like fans to come up to him with silly questions or among other things is because its a hassle for him. Its not that he doesnt like the people, its just that hes probably exhausted after the show. About his pretentiousness, he isnt that at all. He is very modest about his playing and in an interview stated that their are many guitar players than him. He doesnt consider himself that great. Well thats my experience with him. Plus I believe that your personal opinion of Fripp shouldnt dictate the opinion of the albums, because i feel that your dislike towards robert is seeping into your album reviews. Are you always so harsh when critiqing music? classfying genres as either "gay" "pompous" "faggoty" Music is music. No matter what genre you specialize in, if you are good in it then your're good. Maybe you are doing this deliberatley to get a rise out of people. I dont know.Just curious. Thats all.

bosc0026@tc.umn.edu (Brandon Bosch)
It might be telling that this is the album that King Crimson spent the most time in the studio recording--and that it precipitated their demise.

This isn't a good album. Belew's title track is good, but the rest of his stuff is pretty bland. And his singing is quite bad this this time, a grotesque, seal sounding carictature of Byrne.

Fripp dominates the B side of the album with his most generic material. Lame 80s sounds and Belew gutiar noise make materials worse. The sound of writer's block coupled with a determination to counter Belew's pop influence.

It this wasn't enough, Bruford seems bored--even on the songs that aren't in 4/4. Tacky electronic drums don't disguise his generally pedestrian druming.

Tony Levin seems to be living among the dead on this album.

Three stars.

rkay51@hotmail.com (Ryan)
Hi Mark,

On this album I really like Man with an open heart, model man and the title track. In other words, the Belew songs (as far as I can tell). Love that Belew - his solo albums have some class songs on them, although they are unevenly distributed (Twang Bar King is half great, half not).

On the subject of Fripp being a grumpy dick, did you ever wonder how Belew, seemingly the happiest man in the world (when you see him in performances with Zappa or KC he is always smiling, laughing or clearly attempting to suppress smiles and laughs) has worked with Fripp well for over 20 years? I always though hanging around with Belew would be like going to a carnival or something, Fripp, like going to a museum of mechanics circa 1822. Opposites attract, I guess - or maybe KC pays very well! In any case, I am more a fan of KC with Belew than without, he brings so much energy and charisma to the table, he's a joy to watch.

All the best

sergioadiez@gmail.com
Hi Mark

I know this review is like 1000000 years old, so I guess the time to answer your petition has expired, but anyway, I got an interesting piece regarding Fripp not being an asshole.

Seems like the guy has toured America with the new incarnation of KC and kept a diary along the way. The curious part is he discovered one of those toy applications to make childlike looking comics out of photographs, and reported on the DGM site several days of touring using the format. The jokes are exactly what you could expect from a sophomoric british asshole.

I think the shit starts here:

http://www.dgmlive.com/diaries.htm?artist=&show=&member=3&entry=11040

Add your thoughts?

Absent Lovers: Live In Montreal 1984 - Discipline Global 1998
Rating = 8

PERIODICally, a so-so band will bring to the TABLE a double-cd full OF all THE ELEMENTS necessary to bring a Happy smile to the angriest man's face, even if He's got a Limp, Bean-shaped penis. This fine example Boasts live renditions of hits from such Classic crimsoN albums as:

-- 'Larks' TOngues': One Fuckin' song - Neat, huh? Nah. OMg, one is All I'd be able to Sit through without PiSsing all over my Clock anyway. Arrgh!

-- King Crimson's 1980's Call to arms 'DiScipline': Every song except "The Sheltering Sky" - Tits! Vagina! Crap! DaMn! Feces! Coprophile! Nipples! Cunt! Look, i'm jiZn!

-- 'Beat': Only three songs from this stopGap piece of crap. Get a clue, Robert Fripp, you Ass! Jay SeBring could write better songs than these -- and I mean AFTER the party at Oman PolansKri's! (okay, I half-assed that one) Incidentally, do you have a son that's also named Rbt.? Because if so, then that makes you Robert Fripp, Sr. You poZr!!!!!

-- John Kerry was brave to ride in that guNboat. More to the point, 'Three Of A Perfect Pair' is represented by six hoTcha songs that Rule (even though they give me diarRhea).

-- John UPdike's books about rabbits have got nothing on the Aggressive 'Red' Cd, whose title track is Included here in a Snazzy asSbiTe versIon that'll have you begging for Xena the Warrior PrinCss to -- oh no, i forgot the e! Bah, who cares. Regardless of her similar name, Lucy Lawless is no Linda LoveLaCe; take it from ol' PriNd!

Crapola, it's already almost 2 Pm and i haven't even described the Smelly music yet. You're probably wondering, "Is it Euphoric? Or does it sound like doGdoo?" Well, it's no secret that i'm not exactly butTbuddies with Mr. Fripp, but I have to admit that this double-CD is quite danDy indeed! SHow me another pEriod of King Crimson (the uTmost in boYbands) that could create haunting Luminous gamelan guitar interplay of such asHfucking beauty. Tah!

Oh Wait, I'm not done. Remember how Ossified and sterile the playing sounded on theIr 80s studio albums? Well, they've kePt the genius playing in the live setting, but Augmented it with gasHgulpingly raw guitar tones and tiTlickingly fun between-song raPbanter. Bitches might not dig the nerdiness of the band Portraits (they all looked like aging D&D fans At the time), but daRn did Fripp and his Randy crew whip up the Action That night in Montreal!

Pathetic songs? Only a coUple. For example, i know it's uNpoPular to say so, but I Am dead serious when i call "Discipline" a bland new agey saCmolester of a Frippertronics showcase. And "Heartbeat"? More like "KnoBkiss," if you ask me! Otherwise, you'll be biCflicking at your stereo all night - Especially during the gorgeous shoulda-been-an-Fm-hit ballad "Matte Kudasai," eccentric pre-Primus huMdinger "Elephant Talk," and awesome driving "Sleepless" (Nobody could resist such a helLraising eaRfucker!). GooDbye!

No hang on - not quite done again. In summation, this is one fantastic asSgrab of a live show. Bruford's electronic drums sound kinda dopey and suBhuman, but the faitHsaving weirdo guitar tones will have you flying so high, you'll poke your butt on the top of Mt. Rushmore!

As a sidenote, I'd love to see the Yankees play in Manhattan. I wish they'd hurry up and build the Darmstadtium!

Reader Comments

tvor_kage@hotmail.com
as the puerto ricans all say porque te pisaste, cangrejo! which means wow, what a hot-shit review. and by hot shit they means funny and up there with your best stuff. and also, nly a week gone by since your last update. thanks!

mossinator@hotmail.com (Ian Moss)
Ach, you beat me to the punch--and with a virtuosic effort, no less. I suck.

Well, I don't have much to add, other than to say that this was my introduction to their post-70s material, and those songs really come alive on this CD more than on their studio albums. Damn, they had a lot of energy on that tour! I'm glad you pointed out Billy's lame-as-shit-sounding drums though, they are the only bummer on an otherwise wonderful album. (clarification: the DRUMS are lame, not the DRUMMING, which is unbelievable as usual)

"Matte Kudesai," "Thela Hun Ginjeet," and "Larks Tounges Part II" are highlights for me, among many others.

csellars21@yahoo.com
This one deserves the ten. As brilliant as "Larks Tongues" & "Red" are, this album tops both of them, if not just for sheer consistency.

Add your thoughts?

Thrak - Virgin 1995.
Rating = 5

King Crimson returns for the fifty-two jillionth time to update its '80s sound into a '90s concept. More of a full-Eno U2 sound than that Talking Heads crinkle sound they had on Discipline and its ornery cousins. Same trio + a second drummer and some dude who plays a stick, which I believe is a form of tree branch that is used to bang against the side of a barn or other tree. Often a dog will be seen with one in its mouth. This dog is referred to as a "talented musician."

Oh now you want to know what the record actually sounds like, don't you? Well, it's repetitive, with lots of boring overproduced instrumental pieces, noise experiments that don't do anything, and two drummers buried billions and billions of miles in the background. But the actual written SONGS, unexpectedly enough, are pretty compelling. Pretty numbers with nice Adrian Belew overemotional vocals.

I personally don't need a slick modern-day radio-ready King Crimson in my life, and don't much care whether I ever hear this record again. However, I'm not claiming to speak for the majority of KC fans. Like I said, there are some nice songs, and couple of neat guitar things, where Robert bends the strings really majorly or plays a nice little Sting-like old-person ballad melody.

Eff Why Eye, The Crimsons returned again in 2000 with an album called something like The Construcktion Of Light that I haven't heard. They also have at least an infinite number of live albums. Please hey whoopie cat.

To all get in line! Get in line!

Reader Comments

robchaundy@yahoo.com (Robert Chaundy)
Never heard this, but I simply have to say a few words in defence of Mr Tony Levin, who is without doubt the greatest bass player ever to draw breath. I mean: Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Yes, King Crimson and Peter Gabriel? You don't see them on Michael Anthony's cv, do you? Levin is amazing. Messrs Trewavas, Myung and of course Squire are too, but he's at the top of the tree. I actually think Metallica should move heaven and earth to get him on board, if they want to have any kind of future. They should ditch waster Hammett and politely invite David Mustaine to return to the fold, too. Now THAT would be a band worth hearing. Ain't gonna happen tho'.

hderby1@home.com (Holly Derby)
Gimme a break------------there are some materstrokes on this album (not like the ones you practice, Mark!). Dinosaur, Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream, People and Vvroom are all essential Crimso. I saw the band in support of this album and they were brilliant! Far better record than Three of a Perfect Pair or even Beat.

Thrak is a almalgam of all of the Crimson before it. The song oriented compositions and the exploratory ones, done with a new found focus.

Equal parts of Fripp and Belew define the best of King Crimson, and the goal is met here. My score: 8

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
I'm sorry Mark, but I think you're so wrong about this one. This has to be my third favourite KC album, after the debut and Red. It may be not something as revolutionary as say, Larks' Tongues In Aspic but what a bunch of great songs... "Dinosaur", "Walking On Air", "People", "One Time", "Sex Eat Sleep Drink Dream"... not to mention the amazing instrumental "VROOOM VROOOM"! This album is a nine from me.

Add your thoughts?

THRaKaTTaK - DPL 1996
Rating = 3

He's trading in his Chevy for a THRaKaTTaK-aK-aK-aK-aK! You oughta know by now - that's hardly a good deal etc. Something Piano Man yeah.

I don't know how you feel about noise, but I find it noisy. I don't mind repetitive noise set to a steady 4/4 rock and roll beat so the pulse of my veins can tap a steady beat and laugh at the non-catchiness of it all, but if you just get six guys to play made-up rackety nonsense with no intention of ever coming together to form a coherent group piece, I'm like to send you soaring through a glass window to your death. And by "glass window," I do in fact mean a window located inside a drinking glass. Therefore, I recommend you be quite small so that such an act can be carried through without complications.

What, therefore, is THRaKaTTaK? One would normally turn to a music critic with such a question, but since none are available at this late hour, we'll have to make do with what we have. As such, according to my magical foot, THRaKaTTaK is a foul-smelling white cotton tube, sealed at one end, that has been obstructing my view all HEY! FUCK YOU, FOOT!

According to my magical brain, THRaKaTTaK sounds like a distorted guitar playing leads and noise, a synthesizer playing broad orchestral chords and noise, a piano playing insanely fast motifs and noise, two drummers playing assorted percussion and noise, and one would assume there's a bass in there somewhere, but I sure as rain can't hear it - maybe it's the thing making that low noise? Each individual magician contributes some extremely disorienting, strange, scary passages to the lengthy avant-garde improv, but none of them take the time or effort to complement each others' efforts at all. Different keys, speeds and moods clash with each other from start to end, resulting in a few tiny bits of accidental harmony (spiritual, not melodic) and many, many, MANY more moments of dull sameness in search of inspiration. You see, once you realize that they're never going to actually play anything together as a unit, the whole thing feels like a waste of valuable ear time. There's no payoff! As I said about one sentence ago, there are some individual moments of instrumental brilliance hidden behind all the other guys noodling around aimlessly, but it never comes together into anything and inevitably is ceased within 10 or 15 seconds. The entire work is incredibly aggressive, but its assbackwards "free jazz" attitude renders it unlistenable for all but the most fervent Frippheads.

Frippheads, Frippheads. Roly-poly Frippheads. Frippheads, Frippheads. Eat them up - Yum!

I'm serious. You'd be amazed at how tasty a bunch of smelly arrogant bald assholes with beards can be.

With the right seasoning, I mean! I wouldn't eat them PLAIN, for Christ's sake. What the hell good is a beard without a nice pat of butter?

A: NEGATIVE good!

Reader Comments

watta502@yahoo.gr (Akis Katsman)
I haven't heard the album's 'music', except for "THRAK", which is good and "Slaughter Of The Innocents", which I found it boring as hell. Never want to listen to the whole album.

Add your thoughts?

Live At The Jazz Club - DGM 1998
Rating = 7

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR
By Ervin Drake

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for Sonic Butthole Dozer
We played songs of rot
Made up on the spot
Guitars loud as peen
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year for my college band Lima
Played the biggest clubs
Improvised like schlubs
Songs? Why, we had none!
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-one, it was a very good year
It was a very good year to hear Live At The Jazz Club
Blistering guitar notes of sonic
Threatening to turn to false harmonic
Fripp, Levin, Bruford, Dunn
When I was thirty-one

But now the days are short, and I think of Robert Fripp
As a man who knows his way around the guitar like most people know their way around the block
His notes are never wrong
Even though there's not one actual "song"
Such hypnotic interplay
He was a very good lay.

I just said that to rhyme. I didn't sleep with Robert Fripp.
I didn't sleep with Robert Fripp; I just enjoyed this LP
They prove improv rock can be done well
Keys, bass and drums all loud as hell
"3ii2" is an eerie trip.
Okay, I slept with Robert Fripp.

Reader Comments

pedroandino@msn.com
very funny stuff man frank sinatra you cannot replace him anyway the shows were loud get yer ear drums!!!

Add your thoughts?

The ConstruKction Of Light - Virgin 2000.
Rating = 8

Just when you think Fripp the Shipp and the Pharoahs will never recever (no typo - RHYME, BABY!), along comes a monstrous vicious guitar assault designed to make guitar nuts like me go "HOLY SHIT! THEY'RE EACH PLAYING HALF THE MELODY!" That's the new trick this time arounds. Two guitar players, one in each speaker -- left speaker playing notes #1, 3, 5, 7, 9, etc -- right speaker playing notes #2, 4, 6, 8, etc -- so that the end result is a MELODY! Now see, my good fellow buddy Christian Smith instructed me to do this exact same trick a goodly decade ago, but even with an incredibly simple melody ("...So the Mexican Bellhop Says To the Backgammon Board....." -- you probably remember it from Yo! MTV Chit-Chats For Ten Hours), it was HARD! Think of it in your head -- start singing a simple little guitar hook, let's say "Day Tripper." Now sing JUST the odd-numbers notes in the riff. Now try to imagine playing them on a guitar, and the incredible concentration and restraint it will take to NOT hit the even numbered riffs. Now imagine a riff about 10 times faster and more complicated. There you have it! "The ConstruKction Of Lite-Brite"!

An aside: When I was a youngster, I was convinced that the Lite-Brite commercial jingle was saying, "Lite-Brite, only good things are dumb!," to which I added the line, "But it isn't good - it's FUN!" See, even at the tender age of .05, I was already a marketing executive hard at work in my crib, wearing a little suit and tie and snorting children's cocaine by the bucketful.

An aside: The album begins with the most bizarre, herky-jerky, strangely-time-signatured "blues" song you're likely to hear this side of math rock pioneer Robert Johnson. It's called "ProzaKc Blues" and it's a COMEDY! But with weird time signatures! Then it's on into wonderful guitar melodicism of the odd-even-odd-even variety discussed above until around halfway through the album when suddenly, the guitars are as distorted as a garbage disposal, chopping up guitars and beatles chords and Adrian Belew's leg and this is all PRE-WRITTEN and brilliantly played. I'm the kind of guy who hates improv, and there is close to NONE on this great CD. But yeah, it can get a bit repeTITive and holy christ are the noisy songs UGLY! (Here's my Henry Rollins '88): UGLY!!!! UGLY!!!!! UGLY!!!!! UGLY!!!!!! UGLY!!!!!!!! (Now here's my Henry Rollins '02): Okay, so I'm in this Rite-Aid buying condoms, right? And I'm with this hot chick so I'm like trying to make sure everybody SEES me buying condoms.... Oops! Pardon me one second while I speak some rhyming lines on top of this boogie rock and call it a Rollins Band album.

I'm told that this album has many critics -- I can only assume that those critics are really into the usual dicking around shit Rob usually does, because these guitar lines are REALLY complex, REALLY fast and really cool-sounding. And there's NO pop songs like on that last disaster they squeezed and shat out of a bloody ass with a painful "THRAK!" a few years earlier. No "I'm a Dinosaur - DOYEEEE!" No "Work Eat Sleep Dream Sex - DOYEEEEE!" Just wickedass fingerplicketing, darn good NOT watery mix (if you're okay with electro-drums or whatever this guy's hitting - little tootly-toot things), negligible laundry list lyrics and a song with the stupendous title "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum" DID YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE???? IT'S LIKE ON WHEEL OF FORTUNE WHEN THEY DO TWO PHRASES BUILDING OFF OF THE SAME WORD, BUT THIS TIME IT CONTINUES ALL THE WAY AROUND CAMPUS! WATCH YOUR STEP IN THE DINING HALL! oyster soup. soup kitchen. kitchen floor. floor wax. wax museum. See, with brilliance like that, it's no wonder that Robert Fripp doesn't want anyone taking pictures of him. "Hey guys - check this out. 'Get set get wet get fat get (click) AUGH!!!! THE LIGHT HAS SHOT THROUGH MY EYES INTO MY BRILLIANT BRAIN AND SHAKEN IT OFF BALANCE!!! NOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO.... WHERE WAS I???? I'VE GOT IT! LIZARD II!"

Oh wait, no, Adrian Belew wrote all the lyrics. So if I want to make fun of Fripp in THIS review, it's going to have to be on the basis of his laughably pathetic personality alone.

Which reminds me of a little joke I'm about to make up:

How many Robert Fripps does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Five! One to screw it in, one to make sure nobody takes pictures of the act, one to tell all the onlookers that they're here to talk about changing a light bulb, not Discipline and that he thought this was a university light bulb, one to perform an unlistenable 30-minute improv solo about the light bulb as a symbol of the life of man (in seven parts), and one to hold up a poster of himself and masturbate all over it.

Reader Comments

foland_ratzl@hotmail.com (Roland Fratzl)
9/10

Hey guys! Looks like our favourite avant-garde rock band is back yet again, adding another fine collection of music to their already brilliant 30-plus year career!

Man, when will these guys ever get tired of doing this? When are they ever gonna put out a pop album like Yes did in the 80's so that they can finally have a hit and earn some money for a change, like they deserve to?? It ain't gonna happen, and that's to their credit...they continue to push the boundaries, to go where no man/one has gone before!

In my opinion, Yes and King Crimson have always been the angel and devil of prog rock...Yes being the more upbeat, happy, airy-fairy, faggety one, while King Crimson has always been the darker, heavier, moodier, more experimental, and ultimately far more interesting band of the two. How can you even dispute this, Mark?? And all you other Yes freaks :P

Don't get me wrong; I like Yes. They fused rock (well, wussy rock) music with classical, and being the ambitious perfectionists that they are, they succeeded in this endeavour, at least for a couple of albums before losing their way, then selling out in a desperate bid to get going again, having a huge hit and album, then making more mediocre music before redeeming themselves somewhat recently. King Crimson on the other hand, has been a far more dynamic sonic experiment since day one, always striving to create music that has not come our way before...sometimes the attempts were less than inspired, but at least they always walked that edge, always looked for something new, always tried to evolve our modern understanding of what music is, and how it should be played. They were never, and still aren't to this very day, predictable...the only thing predictable about them is that their music is unpredictable.

This album continues in the sort of heavier, moodier vein, some of which was started on the last one, Thrak, which I might add, is a severely underrated album...that fruit who rated it a five doesn't know what he's talking about...it's easily one of their best albums...a good high eight, maybe a nine, just like this one. Adrian Belew is once again the vocalist here, as well as guitar noodler along with the ever present Bobby Fripp...everything they do is just so interesting! There was one guy who summed it up best by saying "in 12 bars of King Crimson there's more going on than in other's entire albums". On Thrak the band was a six-piece; here they've slimmed down to four. Bill Bruford left again apparently after a spat, after which he said he would never play with them again...yeah, how many times have we heard that before? Or has that chicken gone home to roost in Yes again?? HA!

stoo@imsa.edu (John McFerrin)
The following is in response to Roland Fratzl's review
I have to disagree here. STRONGLY. I was not very impressed at all by this album, and even my brother, as rabid a KC freak as there is around, was disappointed.

The only track that's truly interesting and original is the opening PRoZaK Blues (or however it's capitalized). The vocal distortion effects are fabulous, making Adrian truly sound like an old blues-singer. And the way that the drums play 5/4 then 7/4 while the bass plays 7/4 then 5/4 creates a _very_ distorting and fabulous effect.

But the rest? Blah. First of all, the lyrics on this album suck mightily (apparently even Fripp has been recorded as writing this). Second and most importantly, though, is that the rest of the album has very little original about it. LTIA 4 is nothing (and even Fripp has admitted this) a pseudo-medley of the first three LTIA's, Red, Fracture, and some other piece that fails to come to mind. Meanwhile, the intertwining guitars are the EXACT SAME STYLE as during Discipline.

In other words - where the hell is the "progression"? This album _screams_ "we've run out of ideas!" I'd _maybe_ give it a 6.

rcbmc@bentonrea.com (Frances Burger)
Interesting that Mr. Fratzl trashes on KoRn for reusing the same riffs and then gives a nine to this album, half of which is cool-but-not-outstanding and half of which is the biggest redundancy imaginable (both of those adjectives being relative to other KC, of course).

matti.alakulju@peterstar.ru
I think most readers / writers of this site (and KC section especially) agree that the bands who started their career in late sixties or early seventies have created the most interesting music in the history of rock. This KC started an entire genre with their first album. You may call that genre prog rock if you wish. You all know the biggest names within this genre.

Most bands from that era somehow declined during the eighties. The horrid experiments with doodly synth-pop by Yes or Jethro Tull or Santana are the saddest examples. But this strange bunch of outlaws called King Crimson, they never really lost their nerve, not even during their break-ups. In the beginning of nineties there were only two unpredictable "old" bands left: Zappa and KC. After Zappa died in '93 we have only KC.

I won't try to define what's good in prog rock. We all have our own opinions about it. I simply feel that King Crimson is the only band that has remained true to the spirit of good prog rock. When a new KC album is launched, you never know what it's going to be like. And that sure is a sign of good prog rock.

tamintom@msn.com (Tami Swanson)
Mark, You're Hilarious!!!!!! Reds and Discipline....... with Lark's a close third.

rehana@cwcom.net (Tom Catkins)
In regards to the "How many Fripps does it take to change a lightbulb" gag: I'd argue that it is impossible for Robert Fripp to change a bulb because doing so requires him to stand up.

Incidently, The ConstruKction Of Light sucks so hard, it reminds me of this one time I was experimenting while horny, and "accidently" trapped my penis inside a vacuum cleane-

So, yeah. Eight stars my ass, Mark.

Add your thoughts?

The Power to Believe - Sanctuary 2003.
Rating = 8

King Crimmons. I eat it, and I put it on my socks! As for the CD, it follows the last CD just as faithfully as Three Beats And A Nice Pair followed We Need Some Discipline In Here -- with further explorations of the same sonic tones and modes of _expression. In other words, lots more "Dee!" (in left speaker) "Doo!" (in right speaker) "Dah!" (in left speaker) "Doe!" (in right speaker (Repeat x5000 really fast). I'm all for tough-to-play and interesting-to-listen-to guitar lines, so once again my ears are PRICKed and not wearing MUFFs! Plus, after all these years of seething, simmering hatred, I find that I've reached a point where I absolutely love the idea of Robert Fripp. So he thinks his audience is full of morons. Well.....??? HIS AUDIENCE IS FULL OF MORONS!!! HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE KIND OF FUCKIN RETARDS THAT LISTEN TO KING CRIMSON!?!?!?!?!? (present company excluded, of course, as I only listen to them as a "well-respected highly-underpaid critic of the people" and not as a "dork loser fan with glasses.") It's not just my ripening maturity that brings about this change of heart either -- in my mind, with these last two TOUGH, INTENSE, BROODING, INTELLIGENT, DIFFICULT CDs, he has finally EARNED the right to be an asshole. You have to remember that when I initially wrote this review page, their newest release was Thrak, which I still consider to be a light-as-air sissy shitpop old person disc. So the thought of a human being acting ARROGANT about it deeply offended the quality control guy lodged in my ribcage. But CHRIST, if these last two CDs aren't the fullestly-mixed and aggressive albums King Crimson has ever done, they're a very close second to Red! Even when playing the lighter melodies on here, the tone is just SO dark! As dark as...what do you call it.... that thing that happens after the sun sets!

And in the songs where they move away from the "melody created by two guitars each playing half the melody" style/schtick, what they create is Mantastic. "The Power To Believe II" for example begins with what I think might be water drums and zither, then over the course of 8-12 minutes brings in a cool bass line, then gamelan chiming, then high effected vox, building, progressing into it ends in a POUNDING FLASH OF VIBRANT LOUD NOISE YELLING AT YOU LIKE I AM NOW!!!! OOOO, IF ONLY YOU HAD IP-OVER-WHATEVERYOUCALLIT, YOU'D GET A HELLA EARFULL!!!! People, this is EXCELLENT moodmaking! I mean like "I Talk To The Wind"-level moodmaking!

And "Facts Of Life" with its mean distorted guitar/synth blast-o-boat combination! You take the good, you take the bad, you take em both and there you have -- "Blair Naked"!

And the COMEDY SONG! King Crimson does a COMEDY SONG on here! And it is so funny, a booger will fly out your nose! I even thought so the second time I heard it! It's called "Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With" and it is musically, lyrically and vocally an on-the-nose parody of modern alternative metal. Right down to the chorus, "Now we gotta write a chorus! I guess we have to write a chorus! And then repeat the chorus! This seems as good a place as any to sing it over and over til I'm blue in the face!" Granted, they're just totally ripping off a song I wrote when I was 19, but UPDATED!!!!

I'll close this positive review with the lyrics to the song I wrote when I was 19, so you'll understand exactly how much King Crimson ripped it off. But TUPPERWARED! My song is called "The Song" and I wrote it in my Dad's shower.

No he wasn't in it at the time, you silly child molestation fans out there in the peanut gallery!

There once was a song!
It had a first verse!
With lots of words!
And some of them rhymed!

And then there was a chorus!
And suddenly the music changed!
And everybody sang along!
But only for a second!

Then there was a second verse!
With words very similar to the first!
And the music was the same as the first!
And really nothing new was added!

And then there was a chorus!
And suddenly the music changed!
And everybody sang along!
But only for a second!

Then there was a middle eight!
The music was really different!
It was quite a departure!
From what had come before!
Probably two completely different chords!
To show the band's diversity!
It was real impressive!
And then there was a guitar solo!

(guitar solo)

Then there was a third verse!
And this would be the last!
So the song would be about three minutes long!
And could be a big hit on crappy FM radio!

And then there was a chorus!
And suddenly the music changed!
And everybody sang along!
But only for a second!

Then the music would fade out and the singer would just say some stuff like "Whoo!" and "Mama!"

Did you enjoy my song? My old band Low-Maintenance Perennials recorded it, but this was before we were, oh you know... any good at all, so don't ask to hear it.

Reader Comments

Speck1106@cs.com
You are a douche.

johnhutch@gmail.com
Hell yeah, man! Glad to see you've come around. I'd have to say you're spot on about the ol' KC. Way back when, one of my old band buddies told me to check them out and was quite impressed. Discipline, I think, was the album he showed me. For some reason, they're all still obsessed with Thrak (and the song Thrakk), but I don't quite get it.

This new album, thought... hot shit, man. Hot shit. On a platter.

3dsunglasses@gmail.com
we need some discipline in here made me lol that 9.5 minute video of it on youtube FUCKING KILLS oh my word, its a shame nothing else tg has done is as good as that live performance :((((((((

i need to check out this cd, the only crimson i have heard extensively is court cause my mom gave me the vinyl...i do like the title track to discipline a lot

Add your thoughts?


Awww! Look how sad Robert Fripp is because you don't own enough King Crimson CDs! Won't you buy some here, and make him feel better?


If Jessica Tandy is your name and Mark Prindle is your game, click here for anal sex!