King Crimson


King Crimson

KING CRIMSON – In The Court of The Crimson King

KING CRIMSON – In The Wake of Poseidon



Buy the 40th anniversary 2CD sets of these four titles!  Amazing sound!!

These are the four initial works by one of the best and most important British bands of all time: King Crimson.  Start with these four and then decide if you wish to venture forth.  I can support the next phase of the band, with “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”, “Starless and Bible Black” and “Red”, but I absolutely go no further than their live album “U.S.A.” – all of their initial works were released by Island Records (UK).

Nothing I had heard previously could prepare me for “In The Court of The Crimson King” – I was about 12 years old, but I remember my reaction like it was yesterday.  Very little music that I can bring to mind even comes close to “21st Century Schizoid Man” (perhaps only Faust’s “Why Don’t You Eat Carrots?”).  For fans of the debut K.C. album, I can recommend the multiple volume set “Epitaph”, with it’s live 1969 shows.

Already splintering by 1970, I think I got “In The Wake of Poseidon” and the McDonald & Giles LP at about the same time; they remain inextricably linked, for me.  I already knew that I liked the sound of the mellotron from The Moody Blues, but “In The Wake of Poseidon” takes mellotron fandom to a whole ‘nother level.

“Lizard” is the odd man out, here.  A new lead vocalist.  Jazz musicians.  Wha…? It grew on me at the time, and I am still fond of it in 2010.  The 40th anniversary edition is super crisp, very clear – and sounds mighty, all remixed.  Definitely the “odd man out” K.C. album.

“Islands” was easier to digest when new, but, again:  A new lead vocalist.  Thank goodness for “The Sailor’s Tale”!  Hook, like and sinker – I kept my favorite British band.  I somehow missed seeing this version of K.C. play live – well, I was too young, in any event – 13 / 14 years old?

I finally got to see King Crimson play live in my hometown in June, 1973 – for “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” – it was virtually my first rock concert (I was not quite 15 years of age).  To say the least, it made quite an impression on me.  It would be at least another 6 or 7 years in my young life before I saw anything else that matched the intensity of this show (possibly Ultravox in ’78 or Magazine in ’79?).

We are lucky that Mr. Fripp is still alive and releasing archival material to the delight of fans.  You should read his blog sometime; fascinating stuff!

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4 Responses to King Crimson

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    I’ve been reading his diary since about ’97 or so. Fascinating reading, on occasion. At other times, banal. Lots of sleeping on the floor in the studio of his sanctum sanctorum… and dribbling.

    I heard ITCOTCK waaaaay late in the game, about ’78/79. But the one from the first salvo that sticks in my mind as the best is still “Lizard.” If only it were all like side one! I found side two to be a tad retro while side one was definitely moving in an exciting new direction. For years I thought “Poseidon” was a rehash of the 1st album, which leaned a little heavy on the mellotron for a far too Moody Blues sound for my tastes. I’m now okay with it. Of course, “21st Century Schizoid Man” is still the best thing they’ve ever done!

    I think of KC’s pre-split career as having three phases:
    1. In The Court Of The Crimson King
    2. In The Wake Of Poseidon
    3. Lizard

    4. Islands

    5. Lark’s Tongues In Aspic
    6. Starless + Bible Black
    7. Red

    I have never bothered with the [in sequence] live albums, though I have a LP copy of “The Young Person’s Guide To King Crimson” for the “Cat Food” single versions and the amazing booklet. I did spring for a copy of the “Nightwatchman” live set since it is the full concert from which “Starless + Bible Black” was largely recorded from and I really love that album! It vies with “Lizard” as my favorite “classic” KC album.

    I strongly dislike “Islands.” I only bought it within the last decade and immediately got rid of it, so distasteful it was to my ears! Overall, I prefer the Bruford years from the classic era. Larks/Starless/Red form an unbeatable trio for me.

    Unlike you, I have plenty of time for modern KC. I’ve seen that lineup three times. I enjoy “Discipline” as much [if not more] than “Lizard” or “Starless.”

  2. ronkanefiles says:

    The saving grace of “Islands” is “The Sailor’s Tale”. BTW, you really must hear the re-mastered 40th anniversary of “Lizard” CD / DVD set; amazing “new” sound!

  3. postpunkmonk says:

    Oh, there’s LOTS of RM CDs I should hear. The list is longer than my arm, but the money is very, very finite.

  4. Brian Ware says:

    Always loved KC but honestly don’t remember my first introduction to them. I bought “Lizard” new, so some time before that. Very fond of phase one, but I have to go with the early 70s Bruford era as my favorite. Not a big fan of “Islands” either, but that tour was my first of four times seeing them live.
    First time was a big hippie crowd – lots of dope hanging in the air – and all the more surreal by the opening acts Sweathog and Black Oak Arkansas. Second time was Larks Tongue tour in an auditorium in Daytona Beach usually known for it’s classical music shows. Much different crowd and mind blowing indeed. Probably the same tour Ron saw? Local Christian rock band opened. Third time for the SABB tour at an underadvertised show at a Jai Alai Fronton in Ocala. Maybe 150 people in attendance but again, a really intense show. Opening act Dion DeMucci on solo guitar. WTF??
    Last time was a more recent incarnation that I saw with Jim several years ago while on vacation. They played “Red”!!

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