Posts Tagged ‘In The Court Of The Crimson king’

Image result

King Crimson aren’t so much a band as a series of bands, all featuring and led by idiosyncratic guitarist Robert Fripp. With a demeanour that resembles a University professor more than a rock star, Fripp’s plotted an erratic course for his band. The group formed in London in 1968, but their ninth album, 1982’s Beat, was the first time the band’s lineup remained the same for two consecutive albums.

While the term “progressive rock” has come to mean a specific style of music that’s symphonic and complex, King Crimson’s shifting lineups, fondness for improvisation, and changes of musical direction mark them as truly progressive. This daring approach can make for some difficult listens, but makes them constantly interesting – their discography is a wild ride, especially in the early 1970s as Fripp struggled to replace the mighty lineup that created their stellar 1969 debut, In The Court of The Crimson King.

A look through King Crimson’s studio discography is absolutely huge but here are five favourite albums, but you should bear in mind that a lot of their live material is also universally acclaimed albums like Epitaph from the initial lineup or Absent Lovers from 1984 are considered key parts of their discography.

Starless and Bible Black (1974)
king-crimson-starless-and-bible-black

I actually bought this album at the time because I loved the sleeve artwork, And of all King Crimson’s line-ups, my favourites and because of John Wetton’s vocal,  the mid-1970s iterations of the band, featuring John Wetton on bass and vocals and Bill Bruford on drums. Starless and Bible Black is less coherent than the two albums that bookend it, as it’s largely formed around live improvisations, but it’s still full of highlights like the complex, heavy instrumental ‘Fracture’ and the beautiful ‘The Night Watch’.

Released in March 1974, the bulk of Starless And Bible Black is a live album with all traces of the audience skilfully removed. Coming between the startling inventions of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, and the far-reaching repercussions of Red, Starless And Bible Black is a powerful and experimental album mingling live recordings with stand-alone studio tracks. Brimming with a confidence borne out of the band’s increasing mastery of the concert platform as a basis for inspired improvisations, the sparse, pastoral beauty of Trio, the impressionistic, sombre moods of the title track, and the complex, cross-picking rhythmic brilliance of Fracture all stand testimony to the musical ESP that existed between Cross, Fripp, Wetton and Bruford. A classic and compelling blast of King Crimson as you’re likely to hear.

Discipline (1981)
king-crimson-discipline

After breaking King Crimson up in 1974, Robert Fripp rebooted the band in 1981, retaining Bill Bruford from the previous lineup, and adding guitarist and vocalist Adrian Belew and Tony Levin on Chapman Stick and bass. The new lineup’s extreme virtuosity is impressive, a unique blend of new wave, progressive rock, and world rhythms.

After seven years away from the public King Crimson returned in 1981 with a brand-new incarnation. Joining Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford are ex-Zappa/Bowie guitarist, Adrian Belew and ace session and Peter Gabriel bassist, Tony Levin. Incorporating sounds reminiscent of the resonant chimes of ancient gamelan music and the sleek, clear lines of modern minimalism,this Anglo-American combination forged a startlingly different musical vocabulary. Frame By Frame, Thela Hun Ginjeet and the album’s title track in particular, showcase Belew and Fripp’s dovetailing guitar parts and Levin and Bruford’s cyclical grooves, forming a mesmeric sound unlike anything heard before on any previous King Crimson albums. The shimmering, hypnotic textures of The Sheltering Sky and savagely raucous Indiscipline provide aleatoric counterweights to the album’s tightly-controlled complexity.

Larks Tongues in Aspic (1973)king-crimson-larks-tongues-in-aspic

After a few unconvincing albums in the early 1970s, Fripp replaced his entire band, bringing in Wetton and Bruford along with percussionist Jamie Muir and electric violinist David Cross. The record is split between complex instrumentals, like the two parts of the title track, and strong songs like ‘Exiles’ and ‘Easy Money’, featuring Wetton’s gritty vocals. King Crimson’s 1973 album marked a radical departure from everything they’d previously done. With guitarist Robert Fripp as the only survivor from the original line-up, the new line-up featuring the heat-seeking work of ex-Yes drummer Bill Bruford and the virtuoso bass work of ex-Family bassist John Wetton, who also took on vocals here, presented a breath-taking tour of killer riffs, jaw-dropping dynamics, and poignant ballads. Featuring pastoral Vaughan Williams-style interludes from violinist David Cross, this line-up also embraced a spikier sound that was both willing to rock out, as on the unhinged complexities of LTIA Pt2, as well as explore and experiment with unorthodox textures and atmospherics thanks to eccentric percussionist Jamie Muir.

In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)
king-crimson-in-the-court-of-the-crimson-king

King Crimson immediately made an impact with their debut, with Fripp sharing the limelight with Greg Lake on vocals and bass, Michael Giles on drums, and Ian McDonald on woodwinds; McDonald contributed a lot of the song-writing to the album. It’s not perfect, as ‘Moonchild’ drags, but it’s a landmark of progressive rock, effectively defining the symphonic prog genre with highlights like ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ and ‘Epitaph’. This remains King Crimson’s only gold record – they never capitalised on its success, as the initial lineup disintegrated – Lake went on to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

Described by The Who’s Pete Townshend as ‘an uncanny masterpiece’, King Crimson’s debut was released in October 1969 becoming an instant chart hit on both sides of the Atlantic – not bad for a band who only got together less than ten months earlier. 21st Century Schizoid Man showcases the band’s ability to blend music that had the brutal attack of a claw hammer yet wielded with the skilled precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Consisting of a visionary blend of gothic ruminations, anthemic Mellotron-laden grandeur, ornate arrangements and introspective folkish abstractions, the album was a huge influence on bands such as Yes and Genesis and countless other acts on the ‘70s rock scene. The albums distinctive sound is as fresh, bold and as startling as when it first appeared.

Red (1974)
king-crimson-red

Gradually whittled down to a trio over the previous couple of records, the dominant sound on Red is the hard, complex rock of the title track and ‘One More Red Nightmare’ from Wetton, Fripp, and Bruford. But it’s the majestic closing ‘Starless’ that’s the gem of King Crimson’s oeuvre, a twelve minute epic that builds to a triumphant, unforgettable climax. Starless is one of King Crimson’s most popular songs came when the view counter for the video of the song performed by the Radical Action team tipped over the 3 million mark.

The song which originally closed off the ’70s incarnation of the band was reinstated to the KC setlist in 2014, 40 years after it had last been performed, and has stayed there ever since. The version posted on the King Crimson Youtube Channel is taken from 2016’s Radical Action to Unseat the Hold of Monkey Mind. In case you’re not one of the three million people-plus to have watched it,

Recorded at the end of two lengthy tours of the USA in 1974, the final album of the 1970s finds King Crimson in an raw and uncompromising mood. Consisting of Crimson founder guitarist Robert Fripp, bassist and vocalist John Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford, the trio serve up a sound that’s metal-edged, gritty and powerful. Opening with the classic bulldozer instrumental title track, the album contains a typically eclectic mix that includes the jazzy rock of Fallen Angel, the punchy attack of One More Red Nightmare, the unsettling but dazzling near-telepathic improvisation of Providence and the stirring anthem, Starless whose opening ballad section gives way to a moving and emotional climax that is frequently cited as the ultimate King Crimson listening experience.

and here is the album version of “Starless”

 

Greg Lake performing in 1974

Greg Lake vocalist and bassist of Emerson Lake and Palmer  died yesterday (December. 7th) after what the band’s Facebook page describes as “a long and stubborn battle with cancer.” He was 69.

Greg Lake, who came to fame as the singer on King Crimson’s classic first two albums, formed ELP in 1970 with drummer Carl Palmer and keyboardist Keith Emerson from the Nice. The group went on to become one of the biggest progressive rock bands of the ’70s on the strength of their jazz and classical music-influenced compositions.

This is the second loss in a year Emerson, Lake and Palmer . Keyboard player Keith Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, in March this year after battling depression and a degenerative nerve issue which was effecting his playing .

“It is with great sadness that I must now say goodbye to my friend and fellow bandmate, Greg Lake,” Carl Palmer said in a statement. “Greg’s soaring voice and skill as a musician and songwriter will be remembered by all who knew his music and recordings he made with ELP and King Crimson. I have fond memories of those great years we had in the 1970s and many memorable shows we performed together. Having lost Keith this year as well, has made this particularly hard for all of us. As Greg sang at the end of Pictures at an Exhibition, ‘Death is life.’ His music can now live forever in the hearts of all who loved him.”

Lake became friends with King Crimson leader Robert Fripp while in school. Even though he had been playing guitar since he was 12, Fripp encouraged him to switch to bass, the instrument Lake would play for most of his career. He was in the band for only a year, recording the now classic “In The Court Of The Crimson King” 

Their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King featured such songs as 21st Century Schizoid Man.It set a standard for progressive rock and received a glowing, well-publicised testimonial from The Who’s Pete Townshend, who called it “an uncanny masterpiece”. But within a year, founding member Mike Giles quit and Lake refused to work with the band – although he stuck around long enough to sing on their second album, In The Wake Of Poseidon with King Crimson.

Image result for greg lake king crimson

While on tour with the group, Lake met Emerson, who played keyboards in one of the opening bands, the Nice. Even though Lake was more of a rock ‘n’ roll player than the classically inclined Emerson, the pair formed, along with Atomic Rooster drummer Carl Palmer,  Emerson, Lake & Palmer made their live debut at the Guildhall in Plymouth in 1970 before giving a career-making performance at the Isle of Wight Festival.what was then a sort of supergroup.

The trio released eight albums in the ’70s before breaking up at the end of the decade. They reunited for two more albums in the early ’90s. Lake and Emerson also released one album in 1986 with drummer Cozy Powell as Emerson, Lake & Powell.

Greg Lake also had some solo success, most notably with his 1975 song “I Believe in Father Christmas,” which reached No. 2 on the U.K. chart. In 1983, he joined Asia for a year, replacing John Wetton (who had replaced Lake in King Crimson a decade earlier). Over the years, he’s led the Greg Lake Band, and toured with his old ELP bandmates in different configurations.

Live From Manticore Hall Press Release

thanks to greglake.com

On this date 46 years ago King Crimson released their debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King.
In the Court of the Crimson King (subtitled An Observation by King Crimson) by the British rock group King Crimson, released on 10th October 1969. The album reached number five on the British charts,

The album is generally viewed as one of the first works to truly embody the progressive rock genre, where King Crimson largely departed from the blues influences that rock music had been founded upon and mixed together jazz and classical symphonic elements. In his 1997 book Rocking the Classics, critic and musicologist Edward Macan notes that In the Court of the Crimson King “may be the most influential progressive rock album ever released”.The Who’s Pete Townshend was quoted as calling the album “an uncanny masterpiece”. In the Q & Mojo Classic Special Edition Pink Floyd & The Story of Prog Rock, the album came fourth in its list of “40 Cosmic Rock Albums”.

The album was remastered and re-released on vinyl and CD several times during the 1980s and 1990s. All of these versions were based on tape copies that were several generations removed from the originals. The original first-generation stereo master tapes were thought to be lost, but were finally located in a storage vault in 2003. This led to a much improved remastered CD version (see below), released in 2004. Recorded at Wessex Sound Studios between 21st July and 21st August 1969.

Once again, in time for the album’s 40th anniversary, the album was re-released both on vinyl and CD with newly cut masters approved by Robert Fripp. The CD/DVD set includes a stereo and 5.1 mix done by Steven Wilson, as well as the original mix.

King Crimson made their live debut on 9th April 1969, and were on the bill for the Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in July 1969 before an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people.

Initial sessions for the album were held in early 1969 with producer Moody Blues producer Tony Clarke. After these sessions failed to work out, the group were given permission to produce the album themselves. The album was recorded on a 1″ 8 track recorder at Wessex Sound Studios in London, engineered by Robin Thompson, and assisted by Tony Page. In order to achieve the characteristic lush, orchestral sounds on the album, Ian McDonald spent many hours overdubbing layers of  Mellotron and various woodwind and reed instruments.

Some time after the album had been completed, however, it was discovered that the stereo master recorder used during the mixdown stage of the album, had incorrectly aligned recording heads. This misalignment resulted in a loss of high-frequencies and introduced some unwanted distortion. This is evident in certain parts of the album, particularly on 21st Century Schizoid Man“. Consequently, while preparing the first American release for Atlantic Records, a special copy was made from the original 2-track stereo master in an attempt to correct some of these anomalies. (The analog tape copying process usually results in generation loss). From 1969 to 2003, this second-generation “corrected” copy was the source used in the dubbing of the various sub-masters used for vinyl, cassette and CD releases over the years. The original, “first-generation” stereo masters, however, had been filed away soon after the original 1969 mixdown sessions. These tapes were considered lost until 2003.

All songs written by King Crimson, exceptI Talk to the Wind and “The Court of the Crimson King”, written by Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield:

King Crimson
  • Robert Fripp – guitars, production
  • Michael Giles – drums, percussion, backing vocals, production
  • Greg Lake – lead vocals, bass guitar, production
  • Ian McDonald – woodwinds (saxophone, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet), keyboards (mellotron, harpsichord, piano, organ), vibraphone, backing vocals, production
  • Peter Sinfield – lyrics, illumination, production