Posts Tagged ‘King Crimson’

Since 2014, King Crimson has chronicled its annual tours by releasing a Tour Box that incorporates rehearsal tracks, live performance tracks, alternate tracks, and some previously unreleased live performance tracks from the past as far back as 1969. Compiled by Sid Smith for the band, the 2Cd boxes comes filled with music, photos, tour memorabilia, notes, and a lengthy essay. This has come to be expected by fans. But 2020 was unkind to the band with its constraints. However, King Crimson is resilient and non-conforming and so a 2CD Elements 2020 is now on the calendar.

On September 4th, King Crimson will release “The Elements 2020″ over 2CDs. As with previous sets, The Elements 2020 will include live performance tracks from the past previously unreleased on CD that will include some from the distant past, some as early as 1969.

The Elements 2020 will include a 24-page booklet that will include an introduction by Robert Fripp, the expected photos and memorabilia collection, and a 2000-word essay by compiler, Sid Smith.

The Elements 2020 will be housed in a DVD-style Digipak book case. The tradition continues. for fans, this is a happy moment.

The 30th Anniversary edition of King Crimson’s “THRAK” is now available to download. Released in 1995, it features the Double Trio of Fripp, Gunn, Mastelotto, Belew, Levin & Bruford and was the first full-length King Crimson album since 1984’s Three Of A Perfect Pair. “Thrak”, was the eleventh studio album from King Crimson was released 25 years ago today. Appearing a decade after Three Of A Perfect Pair an expanded six-piece King Crimson consisting of the 80s quartet of Fripp, Belew, Levin, and Bruford augmented by Trey Gunn (touch guitar) and Pat Mastelotto (drums and percussion), reconvened and set about creating Thrak.

While I didn’t love this era of King Crimson as much as the John Wetton era there was no way I was missing out on this box set. I began buying these with “The Road To Red” and although it set me back a few hundred quid I went out and got the other three (“ITKOK”, “Larks Tongue In Aspic” and last year’s “Starless”). While the price might appear hefty on the surface, the contents are a bargain, currently this box is retailing at £95 for 12 CDs, 2 DVDs & 2 Blu Rays, you do the math, it’s a steal. At the time most fans were taken aback at the unexpected appearance of the mini-album, VROOOM. in October 1994, announcing as it did, the return of King Crimson to active service. Thrak followed in April 1995 to widespread critical acclaim.  Replete with a snarling metallic edge,the band could be heard taking a decisive leap forwards. The Double Trio, as Fripp dubbed them, deliver a brace of brand new Crimson classics, with the bulldozing riffs of VROOOM clearing the way. Dinosaur’s ironic, hook-laden choruses lurches into epic pop song territory, while the title track plunges deep into stormy, turbulent ensemble improvisation.

King Crimson has always had a habit of surprising its audiences. Since stepping off the stage at Montreal’s Le Spectrum in July 1984, Fripp, Levin, Belew, and Bruford had gone their separate ways. Although its dissolution had not been accompanied by the sombre pronouncement that King Crimson had ceased to exist forever as it had been in 1974, fans and observers could have been forgiven for assuming that there was little or no chance of King Crimson treading onto a concert stage ever again.

Onto the contents, while nowhere near as exhaustive as the Wetton era sets the emphasis hear is on quality rather than quantity.There are 3 complete live shows on CD, 2 on Blu Ray and video (an upgraded “Deja VROOOM” and an unreleased show from San Fransisco, the SF show picture quality is a long way from the rumoured HD visuals but the soundtrack is superb), an expanded version of the long out-of-print “VROOOM” EP, an audio documentary about the making of the album using outtakes from the studio session reels, the original and 2015 mixes of “Thrak” (the 5:1 mix really showcases The Double Trio as it should be heard), a CD of improvs and a CD of B-sides, outtakes and odds-and-sods.

On top of that you get a full colour book, posters, postcards and other memorabilia. Giving “Thrak” this new lease of life has really opened my eyes to what an incredible and unique album it is, I enjoyed it before but it never had the same impact on me that the likes of “Red” or “Discipline” had, now it has. King Crimson are setting the standard for this format, opening the vaults for fans in a way that no other band has, roll on the next one!

Fripp’s decision to put King Crimson back together had been made in the second half of 1990 though, as he later noted, without a clear idea of what the band would look like at that point. Clarification came two years later during the period he was working with David Sylvian.

Here’s what the Thrak Box looks like when it’s unboxed…A 16 disc limited edition box set featuring studio and live recordings – many previously unreleased – from King Crimson’s mid-1990s double trio line-up.

Highlights include a new ’21st Century stereo reimagining’ of THRAK (by Jakko Jakszyk and Robert Fripp), ATTAKcATHRAK (a David Singleton edited collection of improvs), and Max VROOOM, which sees a release for the long out of print mini-album VROOOMThe second blu-ray includes concert films, a Thrak epk and Tony Levin’s Road Movies.

Much of the material is presented in new 5.1 Surround & Hi-Resolution stereo mixes.

I came to the King Crimson party a little late in my rock fandom life. I didn’t buy Court Of the Crimson King until about six years ago, and I know this will cause some to scream .Despite that initial reaction I decided to investigate the album ‘Red’ a few years ago when I heard that it had a big influence on Kurt Cobain’s sound, now that did hit the mark and I still rate it as my favourite Crimson album. Suddenly I was looking for more King Crimson and Lark’s Tongues and Starless arrived in my collection. Also, having recently invested in a new toy to play 5.1 surround sound I was buying these CD+DVD-A versions each one impressing me both musically and in their 5.1 mixes, Steven Wilson, as usual, having done an excellent job. Then last year I thought it might be time to check out a bit of later King Crimson and decided to go for Thrak, the title just suggested it would be closer in sound to Red. Those first crashing chords to VROOOM seemed to confirm that. Another good investment I thought, that is until this summer when all of a sudden we found that a new CD DVD-A version was to be released (Along with a 16 disc box set for those with large bank accounts).

The surround sound mixes have been really impressive with all the previous Steven Wilson 5.1 mixes, Crimson are perfect for 5.1 and Mr Wilson knows just how to envelope you in their sound, but of course it’s not Steven Wilson who has mixed this album it is Robert Fripp and current guitarist and vocalist Jakko Jakszyk. It seems Wilson is not the only one who knows how to do a 5.1 mix. Fripp and Jakko have done an excellent job, of course the double trio format that Robert Fripp introduced on this album suits 5.1 perfectly with six instruments spread around your room, this is great fun. Of course it’s not just the 5.1 mix we have here but also a brand new stereo mix as well. On the previous albums I had bought in this dual format I had been unable to compare the new stereo mixes as these were the only versions I had, but for the first time with a Crimson album I can compare and contrast the new and old stereo mixes (Isn’t that supposed to be half the fun). I have to say I like this new mix, it wasn’t that I had previously thought there was anything wrong with the previous mix, but all of a sudden the two drums are brought further up in the mix and all of sudden many of the tracks become so much more interesting hearing those two drummers up front, just take a listen to VROOOM to really hear it. The whole album has an even better feel to it, whether it be the grungy guitars of VROOOM, and THRAK, Adrian Belew’s attempt at Alice Cooper style vocals on Dinosaur or his Beatlesesque vocals on Walking On Air, a track that also feels like a throwback to the first album, you do feel that the new mix has improved an already impressive album.

* CD 1 JurassiKc THRAK – an assemblage of material from the recording sessions for the album – placing the listener in the studio with the band as the material was composed and recorded including seven pieces that didn’t make it onto the final album.

* CD2: Max VROOOM – features the long-unavailable mini-album VROOOM, augmented with tracks and edits from the KC Club release: The VROOOM Sessions. All material re-compiled & remastered at DGM.

* CD3: THRAK – is the 2002 remaster of the original album

* CD4: ATTAKcATHRAK (The Vicar’s THRAK) is a sort of sequel to THRaKaTTaK insofar as it’s assembled from live improvs, but is also very different. One of David Singleton’s best pieces of production, the editing process for the new improv album provides more form and function to the material without compromising the spirit of the original improvs. Unlike THRaKaTTaK, which was based on stereo board recordings, this album is newly mixed, in both stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound, from multi-track tapes.

* CD5: THRAK – is the transformative 2015 Jakko Jakszyk/Robert Fripp remix of the original album, described by Robert Fripp as a “Re-imagining of stereo in the early 21st century.”

* CD6: Byte Size THRAK – is a compilation of singles edits, live tracks from promos, a 12″ mix edit – some of which are making their debut appearance on commercially available disc and extracts from writing sessions from the final Nashville rehearsals in 1997.

* CDs7/8: Kcensington THRAK -is a newly mixed release of the band’s London concerts in 1995. Mixed from multi-track tapes by Jakko Jakszyk, and mastered by David Singleton and Robert Fripp (“To make it rock even harder”). Other than video releases, it is also the first live show from this band available in surround sound.

* CDs 9/10: New YorKc THRAK – features a complete setlist from the 1995 run of shows in the city, some material previously released on VROOOM VROOOM (now deleted) and the KC Club release On Broadway. Drawn from multi-track tapes, mixed by Adrian Belew & Ken Latchney. All newly remastered at DGM.

* CDs 11/12: AzteKc THRAK – features a complete setlist from the Mexico City concerts in 1996 – released, in part, on VROOOM VROOOM – mixed from the original multi-tracks by Robert Fripp, R Chris Murphy and David Singleton, and recently remastered at DGM.

Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition

When it was released in spring 1974, not even the record company knew that King Crimson’s ‘Starless & Bible Black’ album was essentially a live recording. Such secrecy by the band might have resulted from knowing that record labels paid a reduced royalty rate on live albums. The truth only emerged several years after Crimson had split up.

Bassist/vocalist John Wetton was proud of the results: “For me, it shows us moving into another dimension as far as being a band is concerned. We’d found our feet; we’d been on the road for the best part of a year. We knew what we wanted to do & we were getting creative. Not only is the album chronologically the bridge between Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, & Red, but it’s also a bridge in many more ways..

in 1973 King Crimson weren’t simply touring in order to pursue rutting opportunities. There was the not inconsiderable matter of recording a follow-up to Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. The album had sold well but the band were less than happy with the results of the time they had spent during January and February in Piccadilly’s Command Studios. “Collapse Studios more like – that’s what we used to call it,” shudders Wetton.

Despite the classic nature of the material and many inventive moments peppered throughout LTIA, the Crimson camp felt that whatever magic had touched them as they played in concert during the winter of ’72, the recording of the album in the New Year had quite simply failed to capture any of that power or intensity which had moved not only the band themselves, but also many commentators and fans. Putting a brave face on their combined disappointment, by the time the album hit the shops, the quartet were already on their way around the UK, Europe and, in mid-April, the USA. The Crimson that returned to the UK in July ’73 was not only tired after notching up over 60 gigs, but also in dire need of new material to refresh the setlist and prepare for a new album.

Reconvening after a three-week holiday, spirits and tempers were frayed, rather than rested. What had been a break for some turned out to be a busman’s holiday for Robert Fripp, who emerged from his Dorset cottage with Fracture, The Night Watch and Lament.  As the group worked on the new tunes, bad tempers flashed. According to Bill Bruford, Crimson’s writing processes were exercises in “excruciating, teeth-pullingly difficult music making. The tunes Robert has written all the way through, such as Fracture, these are good, and had there been greater output from Robert, we’d have got on quicker and faster. Robert’s always done this. He’s started off these bands with one-and-a-half tunes that point the general direction, and Fracture would have been one of them.”

“I was never given the time to write,” counters Fripp. “The band had a three-and-a-half-week holiday. I had three days. I recall on another occasion saying to the band that I needed time to write, rather than just continuing to rehearse. Bill, in a schoolmasterly and rather grudging fashion, would only agree if I really would do the writing, as opposed to what he implied was goofing off.” The gnawing antipathy that became a defining characteristic of Fripp and Bruford’s subsequent professional relationship first surfaced in these rehearsal sessions, sewing the seeds of the band’s demise a year later.

Putting their differences aside, Crimson took to the road with their newly composed repertoire and their near-telepathic ability to create complex and nuanced improvisations off the top of their heads. When they played at Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, a mobile recording studio captured the band in full aleatoric flight.

Few bands of the era offered as much variety in material from night to night. King Crimson’s propensity for improvisation & fondness for playing its newest material – often unreleased on record at the time of the concerts – is legendary. Fewer bands still, whether by accident or design, recorded so many of their live shows.

Back in the UK in January 1974, and with three new tracks in the can at George Martin’s AIR Studios, the band sifted through the many live multi-tracks from the tour, choosing the best improvisations and scrupulously editing the tapes to remove any hint of audience noise or applause. It was impossible to tell what had been improvised in concert and what had been recorded in the studio.

The only songs recorded entirely in the studio were the first two tracks, “The Great Deceiver” and “Lament”. “We’ll Let You Know” was an entirely improvised piece recorded in Glasgow. “The Mincer” was another improvised piece, originally recorded in concert in Zürich but overdubbed with Wetton’s vocals in the studio ,The track was the edited-out middle section of a longer improvisation, the other parts released on The Great Deceiver as “The Law of Maximum Distress”. “Trio”, “Starless and Bible Black” and “Fracture” (the last of which Robert Fripp has cited as one of the most difficult guitar pieces he has ever played were recorded live at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Also recorded at the Concertgebouw was the introduction to “The Night Watch” (the band’s Mellotron broke down at the start of the next section, meaning that the remainder of the song needed to be recorded in the studio and dubbed in later). In all cases, live applause was removed from the recordings wherever possible (although the remains of it can be heard by an attentive listener). The complete Amsterdam Concertgebouw concert was eventually released by the band in 1997 as The Night Watch.

“Trio” was notable for being a quartet piece with only three active players – John Wetton on bass guitar, David Cross on viola and Robert Fripp on “flute” Mellotron. Bruford spent the entire piece with his drumsticks crossed over his chest, waiting for the right moment to join in but eventually realized that the improvised piece was progressing better without him. His decision not to add any percussion was seen by the rest of the band as a crucial choice, and he received co-writing credit for the piece.

When it was released in that spring, not even the record company knew that “Starless And Bible Black” was essentially a live recording. Such secrecy by the band might have resulted from knowing that record labels paid a reduced royalty rate on live albums. The truth only emerged several years after Crimson had split up.

Starless and Bible Black offers an in depth overview of one of the era’s most significant bands in its most celebrated live line-up. John Wetton is proud of the results: “For me, it shows us moving into another dimension as far as being a band is concerned. We’d found our feet; we’d been on the road for the best part of a year. We knew what we wanted to do and we were getting creative. Not only is the album chronologically the bridge between LTIA and Red, but it’s also a bridge in many more ways. We were getting more experimental, trying different recording techniques, really screwing with the system, removing applause from live tracks so they sound like studio tracks – the exact opposite of what people do today where they add applause to a studio track and pretend it’s live. We’d removed the audience because that was the only way we could get the atmosphere we were after. Before Red, we could never recreate that kind of power in the studio – it just wouldn’t happen. You’re in a sterile environment, whereas on stage you’d got all that air and people and you’d got energy.” The bassist looks back on the period in which the album was made with real affection

Autumn 1973: As King Crimson’s second lengthy US tour of that year was coming to a close, a short series of UK concerts for the end of October, followed by a more extensive European tour in November was already planned. Three of these concerts Glasgow, Zurich & Amsterdam were recorded as full multi-track recordings, with material from the Amsterdam show being used as core material for the January 1974 recording of “Starless & Bible Black”. From mid-March to the start of April, the band was on the road in Europe again, promoting the album with their final European concerts of the decade, prior to undertaking a further US tour. A number of these concerts were recorded on stereo reel to reel machines, fed directly from the signal as sent to the PA system on the night of the performance. These soundboards are often referred to as “The Blue Tapes”, named after the outer colour of the original tape boxes & are especially valued for both the quality of recording & performance.

This boxed set presents eighteen CDs of live concert performances, seven of them mixed from the 1973 multi-track tapes and a further eleven presenting the complete run of “The Blue Tapes” for the first time. CDs of the ORTF Paris TV performance & the 2011 stereo mix of Starless & Bible Black also feature. Two DVD-A discs & two Blu-Ray discs contain concert & studio recordings in stereo, quadraphonic & full 5.1 surround sound – all presented in high-resolution audio.

  • 19 CDs of live performance material.
  • 7 CDs taken from multi-track tape including 4CDs of material from the Glasgow & Zurich shows, freshly assembled & mastered in Hi-Res from the original Great Deceiver mixes by David Singleton at DGM Soundworld in 2014, the Amsterdam show The Nightwatch mixed by Steven Wilson & a previously unheard preparatory of material from the same show prepared by George Chkiantz (engineer of all live KC shows of the era & the Red album).
  • 11 CDs drawn from high quality stereo reel to reel soundboard tapes. 8 making their first appearance on CD with the remaining three re-mastered or drawn from new tape sources.
  • 1 CD presenting the performance from the ORTF Paris TV broadcast
  • CD 20 features the 2011 stereo mix of Starless & Bible Black by Steven Wilson & Robert Fripp
  • DVD-A 1 features the Starless & Bible Black album in 5.1 Surround, with new & original stereo album mixes in High Resolution Stereo plus bonus audio material.
  • DVD-A 2 features material from Mainz (mixed by David Singleton), Amsterdam (mixed by Steven Wilson) & a later show from Pittsburgh (mixed by George Chkiantz) in quadraphonic audio & High-Resolution Stereo.
  • Both DVD-A discs are region 0 playable in all areas & compatible with all DVD players & DVD Rom players

 

  • Blu-Ray Disc 1 features full lossless audio 24/192 transfers of material from the Glasgow & Zurich shows, freshly assembled & mastered from the original Great Deceiver mixes by David Singleton at DGM Soundworld in 2014 in LPCM stereo.
  • Blu-Ray Disc 1 also features the Amsterdam show The Nightwatch, mixed by Steven Wilson & the George Chkiantz preparatory mix stereo in 24/96 High-resolution stereo & a 24/96 transfer of the original David Singleton/Robert Fripp mix of The Nightwatch.
  • Blu-Ray Disc 2 features Starless & Bible Black in 5.1 Surround (DTS-HD MAS & LPCM 24/96) alongside new & original stereo masters of the album, a needledrop of an original vinyl pressing + audio extras.
  • Blu-Ray Disc 2 also features the Quad mixes of material from the Mainz, Amsterdam & Pittsburgh concerts.
  • Blu-Ray Disc 2 also features the ORTF Paris TV footage in a new hi-res transfer from the original source files.
  • Discs packaged in 8 individual 3 disc digi-packs within an album sized box
  • 3 additional bonus CDs of audio restored soundboard/bootlegs & audio curios are also included.
  • 1 further concert (bootleg quality audio) is also available via included download ticket.
  • Album sized booklet with rare/unseen photos, new sleeve notes by Sid Smith, technical notes on the recordings by David Singleton, eye-witness accounts from fans who attended the gigs + memorabilia including an album print, poster, replica concert ticket, press release with folder, photos & more besides.
  • King Crimson
    • Robert Fripp – guitar, Mellotron, devices, Hohner pianet, production
    • John Wetton – bass, vocals, production
    • Bill Bruford – drums, percussion, production
    • David Cross – violin, viola, Mellotron, Hohner pianet, production

 

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50th anniversary edition of King Crimson’s first non-album single ‘Cat Food‘. This is a four song single which features the original single version of Cat Food. A live version of the song recorded on September 14th, 2019 recorded in Toronto by the current line up. 2019 was the first live performance of the song since 1973 during the band’s Bill Bruford/David Cross/Robert Fripp/John Wetton era. It’s a really good version with Jeremy vamping on the keys and Mel blowing like a madman. Thumbs up for sure. Next up, is the 2019 alternate mix version that was put up last year during the weekly 50th Anniversary Download Series. This is it’s first vinyl appearance.

The final song is the original single b-side version of the non album song Groon. The cover is based on the original single cover, All in all, a nice release even though it’s on the short side at around 17 or so minutes.

– Expanded to a 4 track EP & issued on 10” vinyl
– Features Cat Food (single version) & Groon (original single B-side)
– Features a live version of Cat Food performed by the current line-up in Toronto in September 2019
– Included is an alternate mix of the album version of Cat Food prepared by David Singleton as part of the KC50 digital series
– Artwork derived from Peter Sinfield’s original 7” sleeve art

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Recorded in the aftermath of King Crimson’s implosion in 1969, when two of its founding members unexpectedly quit the band, “In the Wake Of Poseidon” is an eclectic and experimental mix of bone-crunching riffs, Beatles-ish pop, tender ballads, soaring mellotron-drenched anthems and inscrutable atonal episodes. Highlights include Fripp’s savage guitar throughout Pictures Of A City and Greg Lake’s stunning vocal on the title track – his last with the group before his departure to form ELP. Thanks to the success of their 1969 debut, when In The Wake Of Poseidon was released in May 1970 it peaked at No.4 in the UK charts with one journalist proclaiming “If Wagner were alive today he’d work with King Crimson.”

47 years ago this album was, King Crimson’s second album, In The Wake Of Poseidon was released. Recorded in the aftermath of King Crimson’s implosion during their US tour in 1969, In The Wake Of Poseidon is the sound of an idea that simply refused to quit in the teeth of extreme adversity and apparently insurmountable odds. Understandably, the shock departure of half of the group had dented the confidence that had characterised King Crimson’s demeanour during much of the previous 12 months. Yet in a remarkable display of personal and artistic determination, Poseidon meets the challenge of retaining and developing the fierce originality of ideas that helped fuel King Crimson’s debut album. Whilst Court Of The Crimson King had been a truly collective endeavour, it was undeniably moulded to a large degree around Ian McDonald’s writing and musicality. With Fripp now in sole command of King Crimson’s musical direction, there’s a move into harder-edged, less rock orientated territories which would be expanded upon further in later Crimson records. Despite a superficial resemblance to Court, caused largely by a decision to sequencing the tracks in a way which mirrors the dynamics of side one of Crimson’s debut, In The Wake Of Poseidon deserves to be judged on its own merits and not merely as an adjunct of its more famous predecessor.

Without a working band, Fripp asked Greg Lake, then biding his time until the newly formed ELP could start work, to stay on as guest vocalist whilst also recruiting drummer Michael Giles (along with his bass playing brother, Peter) to return as session musicians. This was a solution that was practical as it was pragmatic. Having lived and worked together as Giles, Giles & Fripp during most of 1968, the core team responsible for laying down the tracks for the album had a proven track record of working quickly and efficiently. The pressure to maintain the commercial momentum of In The Court Of The Crimson King produced a surprise single release. Cat Food (backed with Groon) was issued in March 1970 was about as far removed from the debut album as it was possible to get. The anarchic mood of the song occasioned by Keith Tippett’s freewheeling piano and Greg’s mid-song laughter (caused by Fripp dropping his trousers whilst Lake was singing) made this one of the most unlikely single releases of the year.

Despite these factors, not to mention Peter Sinfield’s satirical lyrics, King Crimson’s profile at the time was such that the band were asked to lip-sync a performance of the song for the BBC’s prime time TV show, Top of the Pops. Perhaps unsurprisingly it failed to catch the ear of mainstream pop-pickers. Nevertheless, it signalled to critics and fans that Crimson was a going concern, and just as importantly, their ability to turn heads remained undiminished.

The haunting melody of Peace – A Theme (whose music dates back to 1968) opening and closing the album, provides a delicate and simple frame into which all kinds of stunning musicianship, dramatic themes and turbulent motifs, jostle and compete for attention. Pictures of a City is brimming with numerous guitar overdubs, a tour de force of densely- wrought picking. Here Fripp gathers the implications of Schizoid Man’s fast running lines, and constructs them into hurtling force in with his trademark dexterity and love of bone-crunching power chords is brilliantly harnessed. The heavyweight nature of Pictures is enhanced still further by guest sax player Mel Collins’ additional firepower. At the time of recording, Mel was still a member of Cirkus – a band which had shared the bill with Crimson and Keith Tippett’s group as part of the Marquee’s New Directions series of gigs the previous year. His work on this track, and in particular the sublime flute on Cadence and Cascade, ensured his recruitment to a new incarnation of King Crimson.

One of the last songs to be completed in the sessions, Cadence and Cascade like POAC, dated from 1969. Substantially revised in the Poseidon sessions, it quickly becomes one of Fripp and Sinfield’s most memorable collaborations. With Lake now off to ELP, he was unavailable for the final recording and his place on this track was taken by Fripp’s old friend, Gordon Haskell. Echoing both the sombre aspect of Epitaph and the hymnal qualities of Court, In The Wake of Poseidon is nevertheless an outstanding track in its own right. Its magnificent mellotron-driven chorus, inspired acoustic guitar interventions, astonishing drumming throughout, and the fragile beauty of Libra’s Theme contained within, is one of Fripp’s most heartfelt melodies every bit as equal to the yearning romanticism found in Peacock’s Tale (Lizard), the title track from Islands and the main instrumental melody from Starless.

When the album was released in May 1970 it was well received in the press, giving rise to the classic Melody Maker headline “If Wagner were alive he’d work with King Crimson”. Thanks to an irresistible combination of anticipation sparked by the runaway success of the debut, along with an overwhelming curiosity to find out what King Crimson would do next, Poseidon actually outsold Court in the UK album charts where it reached No.4. Poseidon was one of the King Crimson albums Steven Wilson was especially looking forward to remixing for 5.1. However, he was disappointed to discover that the multi-tracks for the Devil’s Triangle no longer existed. “Because it’s a bit of a soup, being able to go in and bring out some clarity and detail might have really helped it. As with so much other Crimson stuff, it has got a sense of ‘otherness’ that transcends so many of the other experimental pieces of the same era which haven’t dated well. Harmonically it’s very bizarre but it’s also a kind of prototype of the kind of thing they would try on Lizard in terms of its density and use of free-jazz piano. So there’s basically 12 minutes in the second half of the record where we’re having to rely upon the original stereo master. I think we have to count our blessings that we’ve been able to do what we’ve done so far because to go back and hope to find and work with tapes that are 40 years old is a tall order.”

Robert Fripp guitars & Mellotron, Michael Giles drums, Peter Giles bass Greg Lake vocals with guests Mel Collins saxes & flute, Keith Tippett piano, Gordon Haskell vocals. Appears on In The Wake of Poseidon

On the evening of Monday January 13th, 1969, King Crimson formally began rehearsals in the basement of the Fulham Palace Road Cafe. After hauling their equipment down the stairs into their cramped rehearsal room Greg Lake, Ian McDonald, Michael Giles, Robert Fripp plugged in their instruments, and with Peter Sinfield operating lights and sound, played and worked on material for the next hour and a half.

King Crimson’s debut album, “In The Court Of The Crimson King”, was released. The recorded entered the UK charts and later, the US charts and catapulted King Crimson from underground cult act to mainstream success.

It was Fripp’s idea to subtitle the album “An Observation By King Crimson”, which had the effect of framing the five pieces within an implied concept of sorts. Fripp also his suggestion that there be no print anywhere on the exterior artwork. John Gaydon, Crimson’s co-manager at the time recalls Island Records were worried about objections from retailers who would be confused about the lack of information on the sleeve. “Fripp said, well, it’ll be the only record in the shop without anything down the spine on it, so they’ll know which one it is. Which was brilliant when you think about it.”

Housed in its distinctive cover painted by Peter Sinfield’s friend, Barry Godber, it remains the most widely recognised album by King Crimson.

This is the “Ur” record of progressive rock. It is by turns jarring and aggressive, lush, gorgeous and ethereal, depending on the track. It is an essential album because, even if you don’t think you like “Prog Rock,” it has such a variety of sounds, styles and moods, there is bound to be something you’ll find appealing.

Writing in the booklet accompanying the Epitaph box set Robert Fripp recalled “The cover was as strange and powerful as anything else to do with this group. Barry Godber, and Dik the Roadie, was not an artist but a computer programmer. This was the only album cover he painted. Barry died in bed in Feb­ru­ary 1970 at the age of 24.

The cover was as much a defining statement, and a classic, as the album. And they both belonged together. The Schizoid face was really scary, especially if a display filled an entire shop window.

Peter brought the cover into Wessex Studios in Highgate during a session. At the time Michael Giles refused to commit himself to it, nor has he yet. But Michael has also never agreed to the name King Crimson. We went ahead anyway.

The original artwork hung on a wall in 63a, Kings Road, in full daylight for several years. This was the centre of EG activities from 1970 and remains so today, albeit in its diminished and truncated form. For several years I watched the colours drain from the Schizoid and Crimson King faces until, finally, I announced that unless it was hung where it was protected from daylight, I would remove it. Several months later I removed it and it is now stored at Discipline Global Mobile World Central.”

In 1969, Rhett Davies, who would come to work with King Crimson on Discipline in 1981, was then employed in the Liverpool Street branch of Harlequin Records in London. He ensured that Crimson’s debut album occupied a whole window of the store. “I phoned up the label and asked them to send me over twenty album sleeves and I stuck a joint in one of the mouths!”

Rarely had an album sleeve so accurately echoed the shock-and-awe reaction which this extraordinary music produced in its listeners. Even the advent of the CD and the jewel-case has done little to dilute its iconic power.

Reflecting on the factors surrounding the making of the album, Fripp said “Any group working together has to have a common aim. The ‘69 band’s common aim was to be the best band in the world, whatever we understand by that, but that was the shared aim. Not the most successful band in the world, not the most famous band in the world – the best band in the world. And while you share that aim, and that is your primary focus together, things might happen.” Things certainly did happen for Crimson and at a dizzying speed. Just days after Lake, McDonald, Giles, Fripp and Sinfield began rehearsing in January 1969 in the basement beneath a Turkish cafe on the Fulham Palace Road, record companies were being invited down to listen to their hybrid mix of folk, rock, jazz and symphonic-hued compositions. As word began to spread about the group’s extraordinarily audacious abilities, one early interested party were The Moody Blues who fancied King Crimson might be the first outside signing for their soon-to-be-established Threshold label. “One or two of them came down with their producer Tony Clarke and we played two or three songs and they were impressed” recalls Fripp. A few days later the entire band came to see Crimson play at The Speakeasy. “They hadn’t heard the heavy stuff such as Schizoid Man or Court at that point. We were meant to be going to out on tour with them but they came and saw us live.” After that, Crimson were dropped from the support slot. “They knew we’d blow them off stage” concludes the guitarist.

The association with the Moody Blues continued however with Clarke as the would-be producer of Crimson’s debut album. After only a few sessions however, first in Morgan Studios and then Wessex Studios, Crimson found themselves increasingly dissatisfied with the results, opting to produce themselves. Given that they still had only a handful of gigs under their collective belt, one can’t help but think that this band must have had balls of steel to tell one of the best-selling producers his services were no longer required. “It wasn’t balls of steel it was just this wasn’t right. Look at it a different way; this has to be right. It wasn’t right. I believe we had a meeting in the EG Volkswagen Beetle and the decision was taken: if we produce ourselves we’ll make mistakes but they’ll be our mistakes and not someone else’s. Tony Clarke would get me strumming rhythm chords to I Talk To The Wind for hours through the night. Well, through the night is not my best time for working. Strumming lots of chords is not the best use of me as a guitar player. In other words, he didn’t see these artists; he didn’t see this band. Not really. He saw what he obviously thought was a good band at the very least and it would be good for him as a producer and he probably gave it his best shot, but it wasn’t the production for us. That’s not a criticism of him as a producer. It was just a mismatch between producer and artist. I saw him a few years after that at Heathrow. I can’t remember exactly what was said but there was an edge there. There was something not resolved for him. He seemed to have a bit of attitude about it. For me it was clear he wasn’t the producer for this band. It doesn’t mean the band’s bad or wrong or the producer; it’s just not the match.”

In the years that have followed its release the self-produced album has been widely regarded by many as having kick-started progressive rock. By July of that year, the band was performing in Hyde Park on the same bill as The Rolling Stones to an audience of up to 500,000 people. By October, the debut album: “In the Court of the Crimson King” was in the Top 5 of the UK album charts, shortly followed by a top 30 position in the US album charts and a No 1 slot – replacing Abbey Road – in the Japanese international chart. By December, following a series of US concerts finishing at San Francisco’s Fillmore West, the band’s first line-up had imploded.

1001 Albums You Must Here Before You Die cites Scizoid Man as “perhaps the first alternative anthem, featuring a gargantuan main riff,squalling sax and apocalytic visions.”

Mojo said “The intense brew of classical melodies, jazz and hard rock, matched with fantastical lyrics – and housed in an intriguing, lurid sleeve – created the template for progressive rock. All the more remarkable, then, that the music was created in a week.”

That’s a view that Steven Wilson, who remixed the album in 2009 shares. ”For me this the birth of progressive rock. Yes, there were other albums before that; you could say Sgt Pepper or The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed have a claim to laying down a blueprint of progressive rock, but In the Court.. really is the first time you have such technical prowess allied to musical experiments, great songwriting and a conceptual feeling all tied together in one record.”

While fans will argue the pros and cons of such an argument there’s no disagreement that Court represents one of the most coherent, cohesive and collectively powerful debut albums of the era.

As new generations of fans discover the album, barely a month goes by without an online reassessment of the record and barely a day goes by without it being cited as one of the most significant and influential rock albums to emerge from the 1960s.

Here’s how some of the music papers of the day reacted to In The Court of The Crimson King.

Melody Maker:
This eagerly-awaited first album is no disappointment, and confirms their reputation as one of the most important new groups for some time. It gives little idea of their true power on stage, but still packs tremendous impact especially the brutally exciting “21st Century Schizoid Man” and the eerie title track, with its frightening mellotron sounds. It’s not all high power stuff though – there’s some nice flute from Ian McDonald on the beautiful “I Talk To The Wind” and “Moonchild” is pretty, though too long. The vocals are clear and controlled and the instrumental work can hardly be faulted. This is one you should try and hear.

Disc:
The first LP from the group heralded by those who know to be the most exciting discovery of the year. Get over the most horrific cover of the year and you’ll find the pundits are not wrong. A brilliant mixture of melody and freakout, fast and slow, atmospheric and electric, all heightened by the words of Peter Sinfield.

International Times:
The Ultimate Album. There is little one can fault with it: the arrangements make masterful use of multi-tracking, compressing and reducing, the standard of playing almost defies belief at time, the vocals are merely excellent and the numbers are brilliantly and excitedly written.

I don’t like one of the numbers, despite my total commitment as a Crimson-Bopper, which is ‘Moonchild’ and is too long. Otherwise a gassy, jazzy, heavy, complex, smooth and totally magnificent album: written, arranged, played and produced by the most original group since …….. (fill in your answers to Apple Ltd., Saville Row, London., for instance.

NME
Long-awaited first album from the remarkable King Crimson, a group which manages to provoke either loathing or fanatical devotion but which is undoubtedly capable of building for itself a sizeable reputation. This stunningly-packaged LP provides a varied selection of King Crimson’s style, although it lacks some of the drive of the stage performances that have made their name. Nevertheless as a first album it is extremely good.

Daily Sketch
If you want to know where pop is going in the 70s listen to this. It is magnificent.

Finally, the American edition of Rolling Stone had this to say:

“There are certain problems to be encountered by any band that is consciously avant-garde. In attempting to sound “farout” the musicians inevitably impose on themselves restrictions as real as if they were trying to stay in a Top-40 groove. There’s usually a tendency to regard weirdness as an end in itself, and excesses often ruin good ideas.

Happily, King Crimson avoids these obstacles most of the time. Their debut album drags in places, but for the most part they have managed to effectively convey their own vision of Desolation Row. And the more I listen, the more things fall into place and the better it gets.

The album begins by setting the scene with ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’. The song is grinding and chaotic, and the transition into the melodic flute which opens ‘I Talk to the Wind’ is abrupt and breathtaking. Each song on this album is a new movement of the same work, and King Crimson’s favorite trick is to move suddenly and forcefully from thought to thought. ‘Epitaph’ speaks for itself: “The wall on which the prophets wrote/Is cracking at the seams…Confusion will be my epitaph.”

‘Moonchild’ opens the second side, and this is the only weak song on the album. Most of its twelve minutes is taken up with short statements by one or several instruments. More judicious editing would have heightened their impact; as it is, you’re likely to lose interest. But the band grabs you right back when it booms into the majestic, symphonic theme of ‘The Court of the Crimson King’. This song is the album’s grand climax; it summarizes everything that has gone before it: “The yellow jester does not play/But gently pulls the strings/ And smiles as the puppets dance / In the court of the Crimson King.”

This set was an ambitious project, to say the least. King Crimson will probably be condemned by some for pompousness, but that criticism isn’t really valid. They have combined aspects of many musical forms to create a surreal work of force and originality.

Besides which they’re good musicians. Guitarist Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald (reeds, woodwinds, vibes, keyboards, mellotron) both handle rock, jazz, or classical with equal ease. Bassist Greg Lake and drummer Michael Giles can provide the beat, fill in the holes, or play free-form. While Dylan and Lennon are still safe, lyricist Peter Sinfield does show a gift (macabre as it may be) for free association imagery.

How effectively this music can be on stage is, admittedly, a big question. The answer is probably not too well. Still, King Crimson’s first album is successful; hopefully, there is more to come.”

At the time of its release in the States, the track that seemed to get the most play was “21st Century Schizoid Man” a disturbing piece of sonic violence. But, there’s “I Talk to the Wind,” a guileless song with harmonies that remind me of sixties soft pop. “Moonchild (including the Dream and the Illusion)” is a narcoleptic study of contrasts, a mix of sparkling cymbal play over Ennio Morricone -stylized string parts (played, as best I can tell, on a Mellotron), transitioning to a series of softly ringing vibraphone sounds, discordant jazz guitar, keyboards, drum rattles and cymbal swells. In short, there is something for everyone, if you are willing to take the trip.

Pressings: there’s lot’s of controversy and some degree of mystery here. The early UK pink labels have matrix information showing A2/ B 2 or 3 or 4; there are even earlier copies with at least an A1 side and some that apparently share an A1/B1 matrix. (My copy is an A3/B3).

Then there’s the legend of the missing tape; the misaligned tape heads and the nasty distortion on the original mix down tape. (I always thought that was by design on Schizoid Man). My UK pink rim, with “U” designations has quieter surfaces than the earlier pink label, but doesn’t really sound any better. There’s a George Peckham (‘Porky’) mastered version floating around (I think those are all pink rims, not pink labels, so they shouldn’t bear a heavy price tag). There are multiple reissues, most of which I haven’t heard.

I did buy the 2010 vinyl re-do, re-mastered digitally and taken from the “missing” first generation mix tapes that had been re-discovered. That “re-do” sounds flatter and less full-dimensioned than either the pink label or pink rim, but that’s most apparent on the “soft” tracks; however, when I switch to the pink label, where I can get more “dimension,” I’m also hearing more distortion and surface noise, particularly on these softer tracks. If you are going head-on with Schizoid Man, it’s a toss up- a biting, nasty piece of work at best.

The Steve Wilson remix, which is offered in a variety of formats (I have yet to see or hear a vinyl version of that), with alternate tracks, apparently relieves some of the distortion. If you are into obscurities, the album was originally released in New Zealand as a Vertigo Swirl!

Which one(s) would I buy? Probably an early Island UK pink rim if it is cheap enough. The sonics of this album are challenging, but it is worth having a copy when you are in the mood, and possibly, even when you are not.

24-disc box set featuring CDs, blu-ray and DVD-As • Combo CD+DVD-A sets of two studio albums also available

King Crimson will release another one of their mega box sets in May. Heaven & Earth is the seventh in their ongoing series and focuses on the period from December 1997 to August 2008. This box set features 18 CDs, 3 x blu-ray audio, one blu-ray video and two DVD-Audio discs. The first three CDs are devoted to enhanced version of the studio albums The ConstruKction Of Light (2000) and The Power to Believe (2003). The former has been remixed (by Don Gunn) and features all new drums by Pat Mastelotto and has a new moniker The ReconstruKction Of Light. The Power to Believe is featured as an extended/enhanced stereo mix and includes the studio version of Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With and Level 5.

The next four CDs feature the instrumental/improvised ProjeKcts, er, projects, described as “research and development” by Robert Fripp. These are all new to CD and each ‘ProjeKct’ each CD features a different line-up.

A further 11 CDs feature live recordings (several new to CD, with some material previously unreleased) from the 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008 tours.

Of the three blu-ray audios:

  • Disc One contains the complete recordings of ProjeKcts 1, 3, 4 & 6 – every single concert plus additional material the ProjeKcts released, it features the complete albums: ProjeKct 1– Space Groove, The ProjeKcts – 4CD box, ProjeKct 1 – Jazz Café Suite, ProjeKct X – Heaven & Earth, BPM&M – ExtraKcts & ArtifaKcts and Rieflin/Fripp/Gunn – Repercussions of Angelic Behaviour
  • Disc Two contains the complete recordings of ProjeKct 2 (every single concert). More than 30 shows plus an album’s worth of rehearsals.
  • Disc Three contains The ReconstruKction Of Light – the album in stereo and 5.1 mixes with the drums completely re-recorded by Pat Mastelotto – stereo mixes by Don Gunn, 5.1 mixes by David Singleton and the original album in hi-res stereo, The Power to Believe – expanded/enhanced 2019 master (2 tracks with additional elements plus 3 extra tracks assembled/mixed by David Singleton) and 5.1 surround mixes by David Singleton – all mixes executive produced by Robert Fripp – plus the Happy With What You Have To Be Happy WithandLevel 5 mini-albums, the 2000 show from London, the EleKtriK live album from 2003 and a video of a tour of the KC studio/live equipment setup from 2002.

There is also blu-Ray video disc of Europe 2000 – The Bootleg TV tour, which features around 10 hours of audio/video mostly never seen/heard since the concerts with versions of selected songs and improvs (usually two per night of each) from almost every show. Includes footage and music from 20 performances.

Finally, two DVD-As (compatible with all dvd players) feature The ReconstruKction of Light (new stereo/5.1/original stereo mixes plus ProjeKct X – Heaven & Earth) and The Power to Believe (2019 stereo/5.1/original master mixes plus Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With mini-album).

A detailed track listing will be available soon, but you get the general idea! As with the previous sets this box comes presented in a 12-inch box with booklet, memorabilia and new sleeve-notes by Sid Smith and David Singleton.

Heaven & Earth will be released on 31st May 2019 via Panegyric Recordings. If the big box is just too much you can opt for CD+DVD-A combos of The ReconstruKction Of Light and The Power to Believe.

The looming dissolution of the Beatles, after a stirring run of creative genius, signaled that everything would be different in the ’70s. They released their final album in Abbey Road, though the earlier-recorded Let It Be would follow, after some post-session doctoring from Phil Spector. They weren’t the only ones who departed: The original Jimi Hendrix Experience, Eric Burdon and the Animals and the Jeff Beck Group fell apart, even as Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones died. The warm feelings of Woodstock were quickly forgotten in the bloody aftermath of Altamont.

The death of Brian Jones, July 3rd , Brian Jones had long since relinquished his role as a major contributor to the band he founded, the Rolling Stones, when he drowned in his swimming pool at his home in Cotchford Farm, the estate formerly owned by A.A. Milnes, author of the ever popular children’s book, Winnie the Pooh. He had been fired by the Stones the month before due to drug use and increasingly erratic behavior, leaving Jones more or less out in the cold as far as any further recording ventures were concerned. Initially ruled “death by misadventure,” the verdict was later questioned when rumors spread that a construction worker named Frank Thorogood actually murdered Jones and had made a deathbed confession to a confidante. In 2008, the Sussex police department declared it was no longer investigating the claim. Nevertheless, Jones became the first member of the so-called 27 club, whose membership now includes Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Whitehouse and a number of other artists whose lives ended at the fateful age of 27. His death also ended a prolific and profound era for the Stones, which many still argue, was the most creative period of their collective career.

At the same time, bands appeared that would dominate the decade to come. Led Zeppelin released their acclaimed first and second albums in ’69, laying a sturdy foundation for superstardom. Zeppelin seemed to arrive as a fully formed new blues-rock variant, harder and louder than anything that had come before. In fact, after touring together extensively, the band arrived in the studio with this material so well rehearsed that they only needed 36 hours spread out over two weeks to complete the album. Its influence, however, has endured – not just as a template for their own career, but also for untold legions of soon-to-be-famous heavy-metal purveyors.

In the summer of 1969, Zeppelin was a band on the rise. Its self-titled first album, released in January of that year, reached Number 10 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., and peaked at Number 6 in the U.K. The band’s pairing of blues, folk and psychedelia eventually would make it the biggest band of the 1970s, “as influential in that decade as The Beatles were in the previous one,”  Zeppelin would play more than 40 gigs on their Summer of 69 tour of U.S.A.

Chicago issued the first of what will eventually be four straight multi-album projects, A band with a bright horn section and a scalding guitarist, Chicago was really all about dichotomy back then. Four songs from their introductory double album would enter the charts, through to 1972’s Chicago V. 

Mick Taylor joined The Stones, sparking their most heralded period – though one that was marked by a turn toward darker subject matter. Rolling Stones, ‘Let It Bleed’ was aptly titled, the second in a quartet of genius albums by the Stones echoed all of the very real apprehensions surrounding this era – like a gritty yin to the Beatles’ utopian yang on ‘Abbey Road.’ Mick Taylor’s arrival also ushered in a harder-edged sound, which combined to create one of rock’s most visceral triumphs. It’s sexy, foreboding, topical and dangerous, sometimes all at once.

Altamont – December 6th was one of the darkest days in music history, Altamont sealed the lid on the promise of peace and love that was capped by Woodstock, and did so within mere months following that celebratory event itself. The Stones, who headlined the sprawling festival in the California desert, may have had good intentions to offer a free concert, but enlisting the Hell’s Angels as security was a terrible idea. Though the line-up was stellar—CSNY, Santana and Jefferson Airplane reprised their roles from Woodstock, along with the Flying Burrito Brothers providing an excellent add-on—an aura of violence and uncertainty pervaded the proceedings. Both Jagger and Airplane singer Marty Balin were accosted the former as he left his chopper, the latter onstage and the death of concert goer Meredith Hunter by a pack of Angels who claimed they saw him wielding a gun, ensured the fact that an idyllic utopian era of the ’60s was quickly come to an end.

‘Abbey Road’ was always a far more fitting send off for the Beatles than ‘Let It Be’ could have ever been. It’s among Paul McCartney’s brightest, most artistically satisfying, moments. But John Lennon’s punctuations (and, to a quickly emerging degree, George Harrison’s) undoubtably make it so. Moments away from imploding, they arrived for these sessions as distinct individuals, rather than stylized mop-topped group. Yet, for a moment in time and for this one last time, the Beatles’ separate personalities seemed to work again in service of the whole.

The Beatles Final Concert, January 30th, Although the Beatles’ impromptu performance on the rooftop of their Apple headquarters in London’s central environs was rumored to be a tryout for a return to live concerts, it was in fact part of the band’s final hurrah. The tumultuous sessions for their album Let It Be exposed a group in disarray, and indeed, a mere nine months after this live six song set—all culled from tracks they had been working on at the time The Beatles were officially broken. Filmed to provide a cap on the ill-fated Let It Be film, it’s still an exhilarating experience to watch the four former Fabs giving it a final go for the curious crowds below. “Hope we passed the audition,” John says before vacating the premises on orders from the police. Yes, Mr. Lennon, indeed you did.

Nick Drake, ‘Five Leaves Left’ was an autumnal yearning which surrounds these folk-rock recordings, and that’s likely the reason Drake was overlooked in his time. Even smart assists from Richard Thompson, then of Fairport Convention fame, couldn’t push this delicately conveyed album into the public consciousness back then. Sadly, Drake only had five years left. He died at age 26 in 1974 of an overdose.

This daring debut by prog rock band King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ still remains prog’s standard bearer, the best example of a then-emerging movement that sought to combine musical concepts with rock. ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ was also a template for how this seemingly ever-evolving band would operate, as their lineup almost immediately flew apart. The core pair of Robert Fripp and Greg Lake was all that remained by the time King Crimson set about recording a follow-up.

The Kinks ‘Arthur,’ a triumph of rock with a British sensibility subtitled “Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire,” never gets the short-hand praise of contemporary works like the Who’s ‘Tommy.’ That’s likely because it’s less ambitious. But it’s also far more listenable – like a rock musical, rather than a rock opera. Hailed as one of rock’s first great concept albums, ‘Tommy’ – like so many examples in that genre – sometimes suffers creatively at the expense of furthering the plot. But at its best, this represents the Who at their finest. And there’s no questioning how the album opened up new narrative possibilities for pop composers.

The Who Performed Tommy for the First Time, April 22nd Notably, the concert in Devon, England, preceded the album’s official release by a month. Although other offerings can claim to be the first real rock operas—The Pretty Things’ S.F, Sorrow and the Kinks’ Arthur, among them—The Who were the only band to take the unusual step of performing an album in its entirety. They’d later take Tommy to some of the world’s great opera houses, elevating rock in both intellect and intent.

The debut of supergroup Blind Faith, June 7th, Heralded as the first true “super group”—a term that would resurface continuously in the years that followed Blind Faith was based on an all-star union between guitarist Eric Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker of Cream and vocalist/keyboard player Steve Winwood of Traffic, with bassist Ric Grech, formerly of Family, added later on. Although Clapton in particular was wary of the implications involved in such a high profile ensemble and equally concerned about inviting the tempestuous Baker into the fold—he agreed to pursue the possibilities, owing in small part to the fact that he and Winwood had worked together in a short-lived ad hoc outfit called Powerhouse a few years before. The group’s less than spectacular live debut at Hyde Park further exacerbated Clapton’s concerns, and after a single spotty album and tours of Scandinavia and the U.S., the group disbanded later that year.

Dylan Reemerges at the Isle of Wight, August 31st, Dylan had been largely absent from public view since a 1966 motorcycle accident drove him into self-imposed seclusion. Other than his work with the Band at Big Pink, he chose to spend time with his family and record an album, Nashville Skyline, a shocking departure from any album he had offered before. Consequently, the announcement of his appearance at England’s Isle of Wight Festival attracted an extraordinary amount of interest, including the curiosity of various Beatles, a Stone, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd’s Syd Barrett and a still gestating Elton John. Rumor had it that Lennon, Harrison and Starr might join Dylan onstage, and although that proved false, Dylan alone was enough to mesmerize the masses. Dressed in a beige suit, his hair cut short, he performed a 17-song set with backing from the Band, a concert that included several classics from his catalog as well as tracks from Nashville Skyline and its immediate predecessor, John Wesley Harding. It’s still considered a landmark performance today.

That was probably to be expected for a generation still reeling from shocking assassinations and an ever-escalating war. So, too, was a move toward nostalgia for the old ways. Bob Dylan Having hinted at his intentions on the more rustic ‘John Wesley Harding,’ Dylan definitively left behind protest music for a head-long dive into deep country for the charming, determinedly happy ‘Nashville Skyline.’ In its own way, this was revolutionary too as he went country, even as his old backing musicians in The Band released a determinedly homespun self-titled masterpiece. The Byrds also splintered, with two members Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman left to dive deeper into their passion for country and western music. The resulting album, unfortunately, did little on the charts – but it proved to be a well-spring of inspiration for descendent bands like the Eagles. breaking away to form the Americana-focused Flying Burrito Brothers.

Although there had been several gingerly moves to find common ground between the disparate realms of country music and rock ’n’ roll early rock pioneers Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Everly Brothers and Rick Nelson all had claims on country—in the divided America of the late ’60s, followers of the two styles were decidedly distinct. Nevertheless, the Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield effectively made efforts to narrow that divide, making it only natural that the two groups they spawned, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Poco respectively, would, to paraphrase the title of the latter’s debut album, pick up the pieces. As a result of releases like The Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut, The Gilded Palace of Sin, in February 1969, country-rock blossomed, spearheaded by the influence of “cosmic cowboy” Gram Parsons (a member of both the Byrds and the Burritos) before later finding a permanent bond with the release of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, featuring members of both the new guard and the old, two years later.

The Stooges, ‘The Stooges’ This album’s wiry, first-take feel was no put on: Three songs from the Stooges‘ titanic debut were written in a single day, after their label said the album needed more material, then banged them out live. The ferocious results gave the nascent heavy metal genre new fire, presupposed far-off punk, and scared the hell out of parents everywhere.

Creedence Clearwater Revival began to come into their own here, reaching heralded high points with “Born on the Bayou” and “Proud Mary.” The rest of ‘Bayou Country’ doesn’t always reach that level, but the album is nevertheless surrounded by a sense of expectancy. They’re discovering themselves with every revolution of this album, and it’s a fizzy joy to hear. The second of an incredible run of three CCR albums from 1969 codifies every great thing the earlier ‘Bayou Country’ pointed toward. Sharply drawn, ‘Green River’ is just as sharply played – with none of the period-piece noodling that had occasionally seeped into their first two albums. John Fogerty dilated his muse on ageless cuts like “Bad Moon Rising,” the title track and “Lodi,” and Creedence finally found its true voice.

The Allman Brothers Band an accomplished debut as they blended rock, blues, jazz and a distinctly Southern sensibility to came up with something uniquely and forever their own. Taken for granted in today’s multi-cultural melting pot, ‘Santana’ marked the big bang of Latin rock. Within a year, congas and timbales had found their way into the music of the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis, among many others. But it all started here, as ‘Santana’ blended mind-blowing, genre-bending musical explorations with more compact songs like the rambunctious Top 10 hit ‘Evil Ways’.

Jimi Hendrix forms the Band of Gypsies, October and with the release of Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix was at the height of his prowess, but the break-up of the Experience left him without a band and bereft of new recordings. His band at Woodstock, ostensively dubbed “Gypsy Sun and Rainbows,” found him expanding his original trio concept and reuniting with his former army buddy, Billy Cox. The aggregate, which Hendrix referred to as “a band of gypsies” when interviewed on The Dick Cavett Show, fell apart soon after, although Cox continued on bass and joined Hendrix for some informal recording dates with Buddy Miles. It was a natural combination; Miles had subbed for Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell on two tracks used for Electric Ladyland, and the trio went on to record a few demos and rehearse for an upcoming concert at the Fillmore East that would span New Year’s Eve. The self-titled album, released on Capitol Records to satisfy a contractual obligation, became the band’s only official recording, but clearly pointed the way to a more racially charged sound Hendrix was working on for the future.

Woodstock, August 15th-18th, If ever there was a single gathering that served to define the spirit of the ’60s, those three days spent in the muddy fields of Yasgur’s farm in upstate New York takes the prize. It wasn’t always pleasant—despite an amazing array of rock’s most influential artists (Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, CSNY, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Richie Havens, et. al.), the traffic, the mud and the scarcity of supplies (other than the acid of course) tended to test the resolve of all involved. Still, it was that spirit of love, peace and music that pervaded the proceedings over all, assuring a communal embrace while setting the precedent for festival gatherings, a basic blueprint that remains relevant to this day.

Jefferson Airplane, ‘Volunteers’ was the last album to feature both Marty Balin and Spencer Dryden, ‘Volunteers’ blended a few bucolic moments (featuring guest stars Jerry Garcia and members of CSNY) in with the now-expected psychedelic rock – but that’s not this album’s best-remembered legacy. Instead, it’s a series of molten, occasionally profanity-laced rebukes of the American status quo. They left the ’60s with a bang.

Joining together for the first of what would become a string of free-wheeling, muscular successes alongside his band Crazy Horse, Neil Young blows a hole in the comfy folk-rock conventions of ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’ in fact, has a lot more in common with the wild eclecticism of his work with Buffalo Springfield, but with a new tone that’s both sharper and looser.

Records in  heavy rotation in my bedroom included the debut album from Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, The Beatles Abbey Road , The Who’s Tommy, King Crimson’s In The Court Of The Crimson King a great record,one that for its time was truly unique, The Rolling Stones Beggar’s Banquet which never left my turntable and the follow-up release Let It Bleed, Neil Young’s masterpiece Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Zappa’s Hot Rats which help change my musical perspective, Fleetwood Mac’s Then Play On, CSN debut, Blind Faith’s one and only official release which is also a very strange record, Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan, The MC5’s Kick Out The Jams, Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul which arrived unexpectedly when I did not respond in time to a record company selection deadline and glad I got this gem,Chicago Transit Authority double set before they shortened their name to Chicago,  Jethro Tull’s Stand Up, Live Dead, The Doors Soft Parade, Pink Floyd’s Live Ummagumma, Jefferson Airplane’s Volunteers, and Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog.

Few events in American history caused as much upheaval as the war in Vietnam. Young people took to streets and college campuses, protesting a conflict that they viewed as little more than an excuse for a murder machine entangling thousands of young draftees. Not surprisingly, musicians supplied the soundtrack against which protest was pursued. With the sound and imagery flashing across television screens night after night, it was only natural that people would find respite in an array of anthems—“Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Street Fighting Man from the Rolling Stones,” “For What It’s Worth (written about the riots on Sunset Strip) by Buffalo Springfield, “Machine Gun” from Jimi Hendrix, Country Joe and the Fish’s “Vietnam Song” and “Volunteers” which came courtesy of Jefferson Airplane. All served to remind the youth of the country that they weren’t alone in their determination to sway some sentiment and avoid the bloodshed overseas.

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Huge release List this week and the big reissue of the week is  St. Jude by Manchester darlings, The Courteeners, plus grab a listen to the beautifully accomplished LP and CD version of the acoustic reworks of the very same album. It’s a testament to their flexibility that the instruments can be stripped back and still be every bit as anthemic . Daniel Avery, whilst not necessarily rocking the spring vibes, has kept his sound concise and melodic, with a few surprises thrown in there for good measure on his latest, ‘Song For Alpha’. Goat Girl have blown all of us away with their rocking but finely balanced blend of punk rock, garage and indie rock and/or roll. It’s a superb debut album, and one that will be played for a long time to come catch them on tour this week.

There’s the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album too, it is everything you’d expect. Riffs, brilliantly athletic vox and grooves throughout, all bolstered by their singular instrumental style. Another stormer in this week is the new one from Hinds, pitting their snarling three-part vocal onslaught against the clashing, fuzzed-out guitars and snappy, insistent drums, much like in their previous iteration, but injected with the experience of dealing with and touring their hit debut album.

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Goat Girl  –  Goat Girl

Across 19 tracks in just 40 minutes, Goat Girl’s self-titled debut creates a half-fantasy world out of a very dirty, ugly city reality.

Goat Girl belong to a burgeoning, close-knit south London scene, born in venues like The Windmill in Brixton and including bands like Shame, Bat-Bike, Madonnatron, Horsey, Sorry, and many more. “We help each other – I put you on, you put me on – because we genuinely like each other’s music. We’d played gigs all over before but never really settled in a comfortable environment, which is what The Windmill is. It’s an important place for us, it was the first space that our music made sense to exist within. It’s a safe space where music is genuinely listened to and appreciated, and where laws and licensing haven’t reached over to ruin the venue.”

This live freedom enabled the band to think without constraints when it came to recording. Goat Girl enlisted producer Dan Carey (The Kills, Bat For Lashes, Franz Ferdinand) to help them capture their vision, set a goal to write and record a piece of music in a day in effort to capture that raw first-creation moment, and chose to record to tape.

It’s a very English album — sharp-eyed observations like The Kinks, louche rage like The Slits — but it’s also full of swampy, swaggering guitars and singer Lottie’s filthy drawl. Each member brings a diverse range of influences and contributions, ranging from krautrock to bossa nova, jazz to blues. They resist being boxed in to an indie, guitar-based genre, and focused intensely on the layers and textures of each song as well as the different contexts they could sit within.

The result, Goat Girl, succeeds in conjuring a complete world all unto itself, and is arranged in segments — divided by improvised interludes — that offer glimpses of an even stranger parallel universe. With each song acting as its own story of sorts that features different settings and characters, listeners are transported therewithin. It’s dark yet cheeky, varied yet cohesive, and striking in its vision; this world is populated by creeps and liars, lovers, dreamers, and wonderful lunatics. Lead single “Cracker Drool” is at once jaunty and sinister, a foreboding tale full of swirling guitar, echoing vocals and synthetic drum hits that stumbles and gurgles straight into “Slowly Reclines,” an equally menacing and considerably heavier track. “Creep” is, predictably and grimly enough, inspired by actual events: Creep on the train / I really want to smash your head in.

On “Country Sleaze,” she sings about sex in a way that embraces visceral reality and defeats shame. “If you say you’re sexually free, as a woman, society still deems that a bad thing. But really it’s a beautiful thing to be confident in yourself – to know that you can have sex and it doesn’t have to mean anything and that doesn’t make you a bad person.” Ellie smiles: “That song is quite disgusting, in a good way. It’s not trying to be nice, it’s not a love song.” Goat Girl is altogether an album crafted with intention, and invites imaginations to run wild; it draws listeners in to its half-fantasy world from the slow fade, eerie instrumental intro “Salty Sounds,” to the gorgeous, unsettling closer “Tomorrow” — a rendition of the song featured in Bugsy Malone — which ends with dawn-chorus birds and the feeling of new possibilities after a long and messy night.

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The Shacks  –   Haze

One of the best debut albums of 2018. Fronted by 19-year-old singer / bassist Shannon Wise and 21-year-old guitarist / producer Max Shrager, The Shacks are already well on their way to becoming one of the year’s big breakouts, and their remarkable debut album, Haze, solidifies their status as a band with ability to deliver on the well-deserved buzz.

Produced together by Shrager and Big Crown co-founder Leon Michels (who’s played with Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Fields in addition to working with The Arcs, Lana Del Rey, and countless others), the album was recorded in bits and pieces between Shrager’s basement and Michels’ Diamond Mine studio, which the Observer dubbed “the Shangri La of Soul.” Haze opens with the title track, which is, appropriately enough, the first song Shrager and Wise ever wrote together. It’s a spare, smoky tune that shimmers and sparkles as it shifts in and out of focus, and it’s an ideal gateway into the immersive world of The Shacks.

The 13 songs featured on Haze plays out like the soundtrack to some long lost 16mm film, beckoning you into their grainy, saturated world of analog beauty. In the short time that they’ve been together, The Shacks have already made an impressive mark. Their hypnotic cover of Ray Davies’ This Strange Effect soundtracked a global iPhone commercial, one which actually stars Wise herself, and their self-titled EP earned the band dates with St. Paul and The Broken Bones, Chicano Batman, and their Big Crown Records label mates Lee Fields and The Expressions.

3CD – Rough Trade Exclusive Version. CD one is the album. On the second CD is The Shacks Self-Titled EP, Selections Previously Issued Only On 7″ Vinyl And Complete Instrumentals From Haze. And on CD three is the Rough Trade exclusive bonus 9 track CD – The Shacks EP Instrumentals.

LP+ – Rough Trade Exclusive. 1000 Copies only on Coke Clear Vinyl with Download (featuring just the main album) and Rough Trade Bonus CD.

LP – Black Vinyl with Download (featuring just the main album) and Rough Trade Bonus CD.

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Island  –  Feels Like Air

Following the release of their hypnotic new single Try, the London-based Island release their debut album Feels Like Air on Beatnik Creative and French Kiss Records. Mellow, not melancholy, their deep rhythms roll with light and shade that’s uplifting and makes you want to move, but no sooner will have you stood still and beguiled in their scenic musicality. It’s totally captivating, hypnotic and emotional. It mixes the intensity and stadium filling potential of U2 with delicate soundscapes and an intense, throaty vocalist.

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Son Volt  –   Search – Deluxe

Led by the songwriting and vocals of Jay Farrar, Son Volt was one of the most instrumental and influential bands in launching the alt-country movement of the 1990’s. Originally released in 2007, and out of print for the past several years, this deluxe reissue of The Search features bonus content. The Search takes Jay Farrar’s signature juxtapositions of the arcane and the modern to provocative extremes, contrasting the blue highways of a disappearing cultural landscape with a perilous world in which the center no longer holds – a world of information overload, of clueless leaders carrying out sinister agendas, of “Hurricanes in December – earthquakes in the heartland / Bad air index on a flashing warning sign,” as the artist sings ruefully on The Picture. The Search’s 14 songs locate and vividly portray the prevailing modes of the human condition in the first decade of the 21st century: cynicism (Beacon Soul), reflection (The Search), restlessness (L Train, Highways and Cigarettes), yearning (Adrenaline and Heresy), paranoia (Automatic Society), despair (Methamphetamine) and conditional hopefulness (Underground Dream, Phosphate Skin). By turns melancholy and exhilarating, the album further cements Farrar’s status as one of rock’s most eloquent chroniclers of contemporary existence.

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Haley Heynderickx’s   –  I Need to Start a Garden

Haley Heynderickx’s highly anticipated debut album. Haley has a wonderful voice and the lyrics are poetic and heartfelt. Musically it’s sometimes reminiscent of early Velvet Underground in that many of the songs quickly build into frenetic and emotive climaxes. The difference here is that these crescendos dissolve into tender moments of unabashed vulnerability, rather than fragmenting into splinters of drug-fueled confusion. It’s beautiful and heartfelt. For fans of Velvet Underground, Angel Olsen and Cat Power.

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Eels  –  The Deconstruction

After a four year wait, Eels release their highly-anticipated new album The Deconstruction via E Works. “Here are 15 new Eels tracks that may or may not inspire, rock, or not rock you. The world is going nuts. But if you look for it, there is still great beauty to be found. Sometimes you don’t even have to look for it. Other times you have to try to make it yourself. And then there are times you have to tear something apart to find something beautiful inside.” Eels singer-songwriter E (Mark Oliver Everett).

2×10″ – Double Translucent 33rpm Yellow Vinyl.

2LP – Double 45rpm Translucent Pink Vinyl Deluxe Boxset. Printed box on uncoated paper. CD Digitpack. 28 page perfect bound lyric booklet with exclusive photos. 12” artwork print. A4 digital handwritten Rusty Pipes lyrics signed by E and E Tip and Strip pen.

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King Crimson  –  Live in Vienna, December 1st 2016

Three CDs featuring the complete concert from Vienna on Dec. 1st 2016 mixed from the original multi-track tapes. CDs Presented in concert sequence with discs 1 and 2 featuring the complete first and second sets. CD 3 features Vienna encores plus the long awaited live recorded debut of Fracture by the 2016 line-up as performed in Copenhagen. CD3 also features a series of soundscapes edited into newly sequenced pieces. Drawn from the introduction music (composed / improvised afresh for each night) and featuring Robert Fripp, Mel Collins and Tony Levin, this essential component of current live King Crimson shows also receives its most complete presentation to date. Presented in a 4 fold-out digifile package with 16 pages booklet featuring tour photos and notes by David Singleton and housed in a slipcase

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Zola Jesus  –  Okovi – Additions

Limited Gray and Black Starburst Vinyl. Zola Jesus’ Okovi: Additions LP offers a new angle on her 2017 album, Okovi. The collection pairs four previously unreleased songs from the Okovi sessions with four remixes by a diverse cast of artists. Johnny Jewel turns Ash to Bone into a late-night cinematic torch song, Tri Angle Records composer Katie Gately’s Siphon is a dark choir of warping angels, black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room’s take on Exhumed makes the pounding industrial anthem even denser and heavier, and Toronto producer Joanne Pollock (formerly one half of Poemss with Venetian Snares’ Aaron Funk) makes Soak feel like an aching classical standard – until it starts warping in on itself and goes somewhere else entirely. The songs on Additions traverse a vast amount of sonic ground, but taken together, they cohere remarkably well as an album, all while serving to enrich the experience of Okovi.

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Fenne Lily  –  On Hold 

Over the last couple of years Fenne Lily has made a real name for herself as a songwriter, surpassing over 30 million streams for her five self-released singles and supporting the likes of Marlon Williams, Charlie Cunningham and many more across Europe. Despite the first song she wrote at the age of 15 proving an almost instant hit upon release, she’s not rushed into releasing her debut collection, instead taking time to perfect her songs and develop her sound while living in Bristol and continuing to perform around the continent. Deciding she wanted to get out of the city to record the album, Fenne travelled to see some musical friends on The Isle of Wight where she formed a band and recorded a number of tracks in a basement studio with upcoming producer James Thorpe. Returning to Bristol to finish the tracks with long-time collaborator Dave Dixon (Tamu Massif) and Ali Chant (Youth Lagoon, Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey) her debut album has taken shape and is now ready for release.

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Hop Along –  Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Written over the course of 2016 and 2017 and recorded in the summer of the latter year by Frances Quinlan (songwriter/vocalist/rhythm guitar), Tyler Long (bass), Joe Reinhart (guitar), and Mark Quinlan (drums), the album addresses disappointment, particularly in man’s misuse of power, and relates accounts from the periphery — one’s attempts to retreat from the lengthening shadows of tyrants, both historical and everyday. It considers what it’s like to cast off longheld and misguided perceptions, yet without the assurance of knowing what new ones will replace them. Much like on Hop Along’s first and second records, Get Disowned and Painted Shut, Quinlan seeks in real time to work through these issues.

Throughout the album, one gets the sense that Quinlan is wandering in the thicket of a forest—a state of being that will feel familiar to long time listeners—and on this outing, she hasn’t left a trail of breadcrumbs behind her. The album’s artwork, which Quinlan painted herself, invites the listener into that forest, as well. “There is a terror in getting lost,” she says, “the woods are at the same time beautiful and horrifying.” This curious wandering gives the album, both lyrically and musically, a heightened dimensionality.

Bark Your Head Off, Dog is, without question, Hop Along’s most dynamic and textured record yet. Self-produced and recorded at The Headroom in Philadelphia by Reinhart and Kyle Pulley, Bark Your Head Off, Dog features the familiar sounds that have always made the band allergic to genre: grunge, folk, punk, and power pop all appear, with inspiration from ELO to Elvis Costello to ‘70s girl group vocal arrangements. This time around, they’ve added strings, more intricate rhythms, lush harmonies (featuring Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian), along with a momentary visit with a vocoder. In more than one place, Mark Quinlan drums like he’s at a disco with Built to Spill.

Most significantly, Bark Your Head Off, Dog shows the band at its strongest and most cohesive. Hop Along (which originally began as Quinlan’s solo project under the moniker Hop Along, Queen Ansleis) has never sounded so deliberate, so balanced. “So strange to be shaped by such strange men” is a line that repeats on more than one song on the album. “I’ve been thinking about that a lot. That I just deferred to men throughout my life,” Quinlan says. “But by thinking you’re powerless, you’re really robbing yourself. I’m at a point in my life where I’m saying instead, ‘Well, what can I do?’”

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Wye Oak –  The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs

The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs – the triumphant fifth album by Wye Oak – begins with an explosion. For a few seconds, piano, drums, and a playful keyboard loop gather momentum; then, all at once, they burst, enormous bass flooding the elastic beat. “Suffering, I remember suffering,” sings Jenn Wasner, her voice stretched coolly across the tizzy. “Feeling heat and then the lack of it, but not so much what the difference is.” The moment declares the second coming of Wye Oak, a band that spent more than a decade preparing to write this record – their most gripping and powerful set of songs to date, built with melodies, movement, and emotions that transcend even the best of their catalogue. Louder is the third record that Wasner and Andy Stack, who launched Wye Oak in Baltimore, have made while living in separate cities – she in Durham, North Carolina, he in Marfa, Texas. They flew to one another for a week or so at a time, hunkering in home studios to sort through and combine their separate song sketches. These shorter stints together produced less second-guessing and hesitation in their process, yielding an unabashed and unapologetic Wye Oak. The result is the biggest, broadest, boldest music they’ve ever made. Louder pursues a litany of modern malaises, each track diligently addressing a new conflict and pinning it against walls of sound, with the song’s subject and shape inextricably and ingeniously linked.

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Mien  –  Mien

Debut album by MIEN, the exciting new four piece band comprised of The Black Angels’ Alex Maas, The Horrors’ Tom Furse, Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir and The Earlies’ John-Mark Lapham. The seeds were sown for this collaboration as long ago as 2004, when Rishi Dhir (Elephant Stone) found himself in a chance encounter with Black Angels frontman Alex Maas whilst performing sitar with his former band on a bill at SXSW in Austin with The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Not long afterwards, he would also stumble across electronics guru and producer John Mark Lapham from Anglo-American band The Earlies, via a shared love for one song – the ‘classic sitar banger’ by The Association, ‘Wantin’ Ain’t Gettin’.

Some years later, another piece of the puzzle came into place, when Dhir was now playing bass with The Black Angels in 2012, and found the band sharing several bills with The Horrors. Thus he made the acquaintance of Tom Furse, and yet another pact was made to work together. Several traversals of the globe by both plane and audio-file later, the result is an album that sees this quartet transcending their origins whilst maintaining a cohesive unity borne of a desire for outward exploration.

John Mark’s vision, as he puts it, was “imagine the Black Angels as Nico in her 80’s industrial phase mixed with George Harrison and Conny Plank.” – true to form, it’s an album that finds equal room for radiant groove-based propulsion and ambient dreamscapes alike – as comfortable with the murky hallucinogenic voyage of ‘You Dreamt’ as the powerful widescreen sweep of ‘(I’m Tired Of) Western Shouting’, yet with songwriting acumen as potent as the production values are expansive and exploratory. This may have been a record put together at a distance – yet the chemistry between these four figures is manifest amidst a kaleidoscopic series of atmospheres and excursions whereby the fertile songwriting of the golden age of ‘60s psychedelia is transmitted into a transcendental realm above and beyond the second decade of the 21st century.

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Unknown Mortal Orchestra  –  Sex and Food

Where are we headed? What are we consuming, how is it affecting us, and why does everything feel so bad and weird sometimes? These are some of the questions posed on Ruban Nielson’s fourth album as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Sex and Food. Recorded in a variety of locales from Seoul and Hanoi to Reykjavik, Mexico City, and Auckland, Sex and Food is a practical musical travelogue, with local musicians from the countries that Neilson and his band visited pitching in throughout.

Sex and Food is the most eclectic and expansive Unknown Mortal Orchestra release yet, from the light-footed R&B of Hunnybee to the stomping flange of Major League Chemicals. If You’re Going to Break Yourself and Not in Love We’re Just High chronicle the effects of drugs and addiction on personal relationships, while the lyrics Ministry of Alienation drip with modern-day paranoia like the silvery guitar tones that jewel the song’s structure. The modern world, and all the thorny complications that come with living in it, loomed large on Ruban’s mind while making Sex and Food. A statement of selflessness, to be sure-but make no mistake: Sex and Food reaffirms the vitality of Ruban’s voice in today’s musical landscape.

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The Courteeners  –  St Jude Re:Wired

Courteeners mark the 10th anniversary of their debut album with a new, fully re-recorded version of the seminal record. St Jude Re:Wired has been produced by Liam and Joe Cross. Originally released in April 2008, St Jude charted at no 4 in its first week and went on to win the inaugural Guardian First British Album award, beating albums by Duffy, Adele and Glasvegas. The record saw Courteeners present to the world outside a first set of songs that perfectly soundtracked modern life in the UK.

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Suede  –  Suede – 25th Anniversary Edition

Brett Anderson believes that Suede’s debut album, winner of the Mercury Music Prize in 1993, probably has more cultural resonance than any other of their albums, as a pre-cursor to Britpop and a supplanter of grunge. It is also home to four ground-breaking singles. This deluxe edition features the album; the b-sides; a CD of demos, monitor mixes (several previously unreleased) and the band’s first BBC radio session, arranged chronologically; plus a concert from February 1993. The DVD features six contemporary TV performances (including their first ever TV appearance), and an hour-long film of Brett and Bernard Butler discussing the writing and recording of the album, all issued for the first time. Also included is a new note by Brett about his memories of the recording of the album, along with the lyrics, hand-written lyric drafts, tape boxes, and photos from the band’s collections.

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Love  –  Forever Changes (50th Anniversary Edition)

Love’s Forever Changes is the psychedelic folk-rock pioneers’ finest achievement. Mostly overlooked when it was released in 1967, today the album is considered an indispensable masterpiece. In 2008, it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and – in 2012 – the Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry. Love celebrate the acclaimed album’s golden anniversary with an extensive 4CD / DVD / LP collection housed in a beautifully illustrated 12 x 12 hardbound book that features a newly written essay and track-by-track notes by music historian Ted Olsen. Recorded during the Summer of Love in Hollywood, CA, Forever Changes is the group’s most fully realized studio effort, featuring Arthur Lee (vocals, guitar), Johnny Echols (lead guitar), Bryan MacLean (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ken Forssi (bass) and Michael Stuart (drums, percussion). The original album introduced classics like Andmoreagain, Red Telephone, A House Is Not A Motel and Alone Again Or. The set features a few firsts for the album, including the CD-debut of a remastered version made by its original co-producer and engineer Bruce Botnick, as well as the first-ever release of the mono version on CD. Also included are alternate mixes of the album, as well as a selection of rare and unreleased singles and studio outtakes. Botnick’s stereo remaster of the original album makes its vinyl debut on the LP included with this set. It was cut from high resolution digital audio by celebrated audio engineer Bernie Grundman. The DVD that accompanies the anniversary collection includes a 24/96 stereo mix of the album version of the original album remastered by Botnick. Also featured is Your Mind And We Belong Together, a rare promotional video directed by Elektra producer Mark Abramson that was originally released in 1968. Forever Changes: 50th Anniversary Edition boasts more than a dozen rarities, including single versions of Alone Again Or and A House Is Not A Motel that are available now for the first time since 1967. Two other recordings on the set have never been released: the backing track for Live And Let Live and an outtake backing track for

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Spacemen 3 –  Recurring

The fourth and final Spacemen 3 studio album Recurring; the follow up to their seminal Playing with Fire album. By the time the album was recorded, relations between the band had soured to the extent that the record is essentially in two parts; the first seven tracks written and performed by Sonic Boom a.ka. Peter Kember (Spectrum / E.A.R.), and the last seven tracks written and performed by Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) punctuated by the cover version of Mudhoney’s When Tomorrow Hits the only track on which both Kember and Pierce appear together.

CD – Presented in a shrink-wrapped 6 panel fold out card wallet featuring the original vibrant cover artwork used on the original US release of this album.

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Richmond Fontaine  –  Don’t Skip Out On Me

Richmond Fontaine and Deline’s singer / songwriter, Willy Vlautin releases his fifth novel, Don’t Skip Out On Me on Feb 1 2018 (Faber and Faber). Like his previous novel Northline it will have an accompanying soundtrack included with the book on CD. While the CD will be included with the book, Décor release the album on vinyl. Don’t Skip Out on Me is magnificent. Willy Vlautin is now one of America’s great writers.’ The Don’t Skip Out on Me soundtrack was recorded early 2017 just after the band called it quits on their final European tour.

LP – 180 Gram vinyl – limited edition of 1000 copies.

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Katie Von Schleicher  –  Glad To Be Here

Glad To Be Here / Party Dawn is the first material the Brooklyn-based songwriter has shared since her critically acclaimed debut album, Shitty Hits, last year. Katie said the following about the tracks: “On a break from touring this winter I went alone to Maryland, where I am originally from, and made these two songs, taking the gear I’ve very happily accrued since making my album Shitty Hits. I built a fire, I set up my gold drum kit, I saw a ton of stars and felt smashed by silence, and it was lonely, so I made these songs. Glad to Be Here is where I find myself right now. Party Dawn is tied to Maryland, to my friend and our adolescence. Both are a bridge toward the subject matter of my next record. Back in New York, my collaborator Adam Brisbin (Sam Evian, Jolie Holland, Buck Meek) contributed guitar and bass, and Julian Fader (Ava Luna, Frankie Cosmos, Nadine, Palehound) mixed it.”

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The Lucid Dream  –  SX1000

Very limited 12’’ single in yellow disco bag, single sided. The Lucid Dream return in April with the release of new single SX1000, the first taster from the recently completed 4th album. The track is a slice of pure acid house, and will again see them acknowledged for venturing into pastures new, setting themselves apart from ‘genres’, ‘scenes’ or what any other band are currently doing. SX1000, as with the whole album, was penned over the summer by Mark Emmerson (vocals / guitar / synths), using only the classic Roland 303/808 synths, bass and vocals as tools for writing.
Inspiration for the writing was formed via continuous listening to the Chicago to UK acid house works of 1986-1992, the focus predominantly on the groove. 5 months on from those writing sessions and The Lucid Dream have competed their 4th album in 5 years, this track a perfect indicator as to what awaits. A record made for the dancefloor.

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On this date 45 years ago a new incarnation of King Crimson released the album “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic”. The 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, 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 embraced a spikier sound that was both willing to rock out as well as explore and experiment with unorthodox textures and atmospherics thanks in part to eclectic percussionist Jamie Muir.

John Wetton helped lead King Crimson away from their influential early prog sound into more free-form areas, as band leader Robert Fripp addedmusicians David Cross, Jamie Muir and former Yes co-founder Bill Bruford to form the group’s short-lived fifth incarnation. The intro to “Exiles” is actually adapted from a piece of music that dates back to shows played by the original 1969 Crimson lineup, but almost nothing about the rest of this song – a great example of this lineup’s ability to move from one eruptive musical texture to another, and then to another still – could possibly be confused with any other era. Over the next two albums, Muir and Cross departed.

When Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace and Robert Fripp walked off the stage of the Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama on April 1st 1972, another chapter in King Crimson’s frequently turbulent history had come to an end. With Burrell, Collins and Wallace staying on in the States to form Alexis Korner’s band, Snape, even before the guitarist returned to London there was speculation as to what the guitarist might do next. “Fripp & Hiseman May Form Band” ran the headline in the New Musical Express.

Although that partnership failed to go beyond an exploratory discussion between the principals, Fripp busied himself during the Summer of ’72 sifting through the cassette tapes of what would become Earthbound, and sounding out potential collaborators. One name suggested to him by Melody Maker writer Richard Williams was Jamie Muir. The drummer and percussionist had been working primarily with the Music Improvisation Company alongside Evan Parker, Hugh Davies and Derek Bailey, had also been a member Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments.  Fripp and the percussionist got together as Muir observes “to see if there was a basis for us working together. I remember I was playing some really fast and furious blow-outs, from a drummer’s perspective it was the Tony Williams / Billy Cobham type of thing. It was fairly energetic stuff and I think we enjoyed ourselves. He didn’t say right then and there ‘OK you’re in’ but I think he said he’d give me a ring.”

Although Fripp and Bruford had discussed working together since Crimson supported Yes earlier in February in Boston, it wasn’t until May that the pair undertook some exploratory jamming at Bruford’s house. “We went into my music room and Robert said: ‘If I played this what would you play?’ Apparently I must have done the right thing because eventually he suggested that we do some more!” recalls Bruford.

“I hadn’t up until that time thought of asking [Bill] because as we all know, he had a good gig with Yes” Fripp told NME’s Tony Tyler. At this stage it was by no means certain the King Crimson would be resurrected. Yet it was while a guest in the Bruford household, and sitting in the bath no less, that the notion of a two-drum line-up came to Fripp. “I suddenly thought ‘Well, Bill’s a lovely drummer but he’s perhaps a little too straight for some things…Then I thought of this nut Jamie Muir whom I’d just met, and I thought, well Jamie’s a great drummer but he’s not really straight enough for some of the things I’d like him to do. Now, while I was sitting in the bath…I suddenly had this vivid idea to use the two of them…and it seemed so right.”

The next piece of the Crimson jigsaw was Fripp’s old friend, John Wetton, who’d been previously asked about joining Crimson when the Islands-era band were coalescing in 1971. It hadn’t felt right back then but after several months with Family the bassist was ready to move on. “One day the phone rang and Robert said ‘I’m round at Bill Bruford’s (he lived around the corner from me in Redcliffe Gardens) and we’re discussing the possibility of doing something. Do you want to pop around?’ So I did. I remember Bill came to the door with a carrot in his hand! I thought it felt good as soon as we started talking and so we put the ball in motion. I was actually in the studio with family still working on Bandstand and Bill had been working with Yes doing Close To The Edge. It wasn’t a jam or anything. We just sat and talked about what we wanted to do.”

For Fripp, a new venture offered the possibility of traversing the musical divide which had opened up after the break-up of the ’69 line-up. With Bruford feeling he’d gone as far as he could with Yes, it was a chance to extend his creative vocabulary. As far as Wetton was concerned there would finally be an opportunity to develop as a singer and composer, a role he was firmly denied as a member of Family.

Until now, the only visual record of Muir performing has been a short extract of the band performing Larks’ Tongues In Aspic” for the Beat Club programme in Bremen. However, with the full session now released for the first time as part of this release we can at last see this Crimson in full flight. Muir stalks around his exotic percussion rig, an avant-garde court jester ferrying the sounds and sensibilities of free jazz to the world of the rock band. “I always remember I had an urge to get Robert to let his hair down because he was very controlled in the way he played” says Muir. “At the TV gig, I really tried and tried to provoke him.”

It’s interesting watching the complete video how much eye contact plays a part in determining the force and direction of the music. “I was an absolute nervous wreck during that TV recording” admits Cross. “I can remember thinking ‘well, I’m going to be found out now’. Looking somebody in the eye means you’re furiously sending messages out and receiving them back. It can be quite terrifying for some people to do that kind of improvising, and you need a certain degree of mutually shared experience and be quite comfortable with the people in order to be able to do that. Somehow it was safer to look John Wetton in the eye than it was to ignore him and be out on your own.”

Returning to the UK, the band announced a huge UK tour that kicked off on November 10th in Hull and ended at Portsmouth’s Guildhall on December 15th. Never before had Crimson undertaken such an expansive domestic tour taking in 27 towns and cities, with only five days off. With Earthbound, released in June on Island’s budget label imprint HELP being the most recent but hardly the most representative album, when the tour began, none of the audience could have been prepared for what they saw and heard. With nearly half of the set given over to extended exploratory work outs, this new King Crimson was undoubtedly the most challenging and uncompromising line-up to date. Opening their concerts with the then-unreleased Heavenly Music Corporation (recorded with Brian Eno just two months previously) playing over the PA, the five-piece Crimson took the audience on a dramatic tour of some of rock music’s most extreme environments. Blasted with slabs of skull-crunching riffs, raked with hybrid polyrhythms, taunted by abrasive bouts of atonality and occasionally soothing ballads, audiences were frequently stunned by the encounter. On top of the musical assault, Jamie Muir’s visual theatrics compounded the wonderment so many experienced. It wasn’t just the punters who were shocked by Muir’s performance art-antics of throwing chains about the place and spitting blood whilst glowering at the audience. “Jamie’s onstage persona never manifested itself in rehearsals” recalls Cross. “I could have died when I first saw him start his antics on stage for the first time.  I thought it was wonderful but we had no idea he was going to do it – it was completely out of the blue.”

The only familiar point of reference was the inclusion of 21st Century Schizoid Man on the set list, delivered as an encore, almost as a reward to the audience’s patience and trust.  This was a radical risk-taking Crimson that during the course of a single concert opened so many portals to diverse and different destinations. Critical reaction to Crimson’s return to the live stage bordered on the ecstatic. The NME’s Tony Tyler described the “spiritual impact” of the group as being comparable to the first Crimson, predicting that this time the potential which Crimson had always had within its reach would at last be grasped. Ian Macdonald wrote in the same paper in December that Crimson produced at least half an hour of the most miraculous rock he’d ever heard, while Melody Maker’s Richard Willams  extolled the virtues of their “90-minute barrage of phenomenal creativity”.

Inevitably perhaps, the real challenge facing this Crimson, as it had been for previous line-ups, was somehow bottling all that ferocious energy generated during the course of a concert and getting it down in a recording studio. After an initial stab at recording the quintet at Wessex studios Fripp notes that “fairly quickly it became obvious that it wouldn’t work, particularly for a double drummer configuration. Wessex couldn’t find a drum sound whatever they did. And Command was always available at short notice!”

The band were in Command Studios in London’s Piccadilly Circus on Wednesday January 1, 1973, much to John Wetton’s chagrin. “ In command is one thing you definitely were not  in that studio! Things were constantly blowing up, or they were losing bits. We had the engineer, God bless him, who’d never done an edit before. We were talking away over a cup of tea and he had instructions to take a certain amount of footage out of the front of Easy Money so we could move the first beat of the bass drum up. So we were sitting there and every now and then would ask how the edit was going. There he was with a razor blade in his hand and then after a while he told us he’d never done an edit before. We were like ‘Fuck! Put that razor blade down!’ (laughs) Every day there was something going wrong like that.”

Interviewed during the mixing of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Bruford offered his thoughts views on the frenetic activity undertaken by the band to date “We specifically wanted to tour before making an album having only just met. For example I knew of Jamie Muir’s position in contemporary music but I’d never met him…it was Robert’s idea to have Jamie and myself play together, and representing percussion through the ages…We’re all still getting to know each other. We’ve learnt to play together on stage, now we are learning to play in the studio.” Looking towards the future, Bruford offered “ There’s a Crimson way of doing things you know. And it’s a fairly intense emotional relationship in the band…It’s exhilarating to be part of and could produce magical music that will change people.”

With work on LTIA finished, the band played two nights at London’s Marquee Club. After the first live performance of 1973, on February 10th, Jamie Muir unexpectedly quit. Faced with the band’s gruelling tour schedule for the months ahead, Muir concluded a path to spiritual enlightenment was preferable. Leaving the group to follow his interests in Buddhism (something he’d been nurturing prior to Crimson), he informed EG management of his decision. Despite offering to serve a period of notice he was urged to leave immediately.

The story put out at the time was that the percussionist’s absence followed an injury sustained on stage. “That was nonsense about my having injured myself” says Muir. “I think I slightly sprained my ankle but then I did that nearly every night when I played. When I heard about what they’d said, I wondered why would anybody do that — what advantage could there be in not saying what actually happened?  It didn’t seem to make any sense to me at all, but then there were a number of things which that management did which didn’t make any sense except perhaps to themselves.” Though Muir’s departure marked the end of a brief but intensely fertile period, it also helped usher in the birth of another remarkable chapter in the band’s story.

Steven Wilson recalls the first time he heard the album. “I was in my mid-teens and I’d  borrowed it from a friend. My first reaction was that it was one of the most dynamic records you could ever hear. Within the first five minutes you been through every extreme of volume.”When it came to remixing the album Wilson was mindful of the criticism by the band that the original recording never quite captured what they were capable of in concert. “Although the music itself is extraordinary I approached things slightly differently than say the way I’ve done with previous Crimson records. I was a little bit less faithful to the original recording in the sense that I knew there were some things we could do to toughen the sound up a bit to give the album a bit more balls if you like.”

Perhaps because of their general dissatisfaction with the sound achieved at Command, none of the musicians who recorded Larks’ Tongues In Aspic are especially comfortable about the finished results. “I look upon it as part of the journey to Red if you like” says Wetton. “It didn’t really capture what we could do live. As I see it, there’s a very natural progression from Larks’ Tongues to Starless And Bible Black, which stretches out a bit sonically. By the time you get to Red it’s all in full flight.”

Echoing the meteoric trajectory charted by the 1969 incarnation, in just five short months five musicians from different backgrounds and influences distilled their collective experience to create a rock band that stood out and, largely, stood alone in the musical landscape of the day. “I think the music that came out of Crimson was purely a result of people being prepared to listen to each other even though they didn’t come necessarily from the same branch of the tree” says David Cross. Jamie Muir puts it like this “The essence of it was that we were still five musicians carrying with them their qualities and gifts and still trying to find a way of welding it all together into one distinct personality.”

Forty years on the music contained on their sole studio album, alongside their live legacy combines to provide a compelling testimony to the group’s breadth of ambition and startling originality. By the time that three-way conversation had taken place in Redcliffe Gardens, Fripp had already been invited to see a band called Waves rehearsing in the basement of the cafe on the Fulham Palace Road at the behest of David Enthoven. Although the band failed to catch EG management’s attention, violinist David Cross was invited by Fripp to do some playing. “Robert said he was interested in doing what he called an Indian type album and asked if I’d be interested in playing with him and Jamie Muir” recalls Cross. “The first time I met Jamie was when I turned up at his flat to play and we spent a couple of hours there having a jam, trying some ideas with just guitar, violin and percussion.”

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On Wednesday 19th July Bruford and Wetton broke the news of their decision to quit Yes and Family. “We had to co-ordinate the whole thing” says Wetton. I remember calling Bill from Olympic Studios to wherever he was and agreeing to tell our respective bands. London was like a village then and everyone knew everyone else and if something happened in a recording studio, like in Olympic where I was recording, it would very quickly get to Advision, where Bill was recording. So we had to do things at the same time.”

David Cross also received a call from Fripp. “He said he was setting up another session but this time with Bill and John and he asked me to come along and he wanted to see what would come out of that. It was that afternoon that the project became King Crimson.  There was a discussion as to what it would be called but eventually by the end of the day it was agreed that we’d call it King Crimson.”

“King Crimson was the ideal for me because it was a rock band and it had more than three brain cells” recalled Jamie Muir. “I was very much more an instrumental style of musician rather than being song based and there weren’t many other bands that I would have been any good in. I was extremely pleased and I felt completely at home with the Crimson.” On July 22nd the new line-up made front page news of Melody Maker. Yes Man To Join Crimson ran the headline. “The New King Crimson rehearsed quietly this week – with Yes’ Bill Bruford on drums alongside leader Robert Fripp”

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It wasn’t until the end of August after Fripp had completed his work as producer of Matching Mole’s Little Red Record that the new Crimson started working in earnest. Wetton recalls that the early rehearsals outlined the bones of tracks such as Easy Money and Book Of Saturdays (then called Daily Games). Fripp also ran the bare bones of an idea that he’d first tried out with the Islands-era line-up, and which would be later titled Larks’ Tongues In Aspic – a phrase coined by Jamie Muir but appropriated by Fripp.

There was a conscious decision to break away from the old Crimson repertoire. Whereas Boz, Mel and Ian had to a certain extent been hobbled by the necessity of playing material fashioned by previous line-ups, this version of Crimson carried no such baggage. Although groups such as The Mahavisnu Orchestra and Can integrated improvisation into their set lists, it’s hard to think of any other rock band operating at the time who took that blistering mixture of calculated risk and blind faith as far as it could go.  “There were long stretches where anything could happen and frequently did” laughs Wetton.  “A lot of the time, the audience couldn’t really tell the difference between what was formal and what wasn’t because the improvising was of a fairly high standard. It was almost telepathic at times. You’d automatically know what the other person was going to do and when they were going to do it. Extraordinary. Those kinds of things don’t happen very often.”

Robert Fripp guitar & Mellotron, John Wetton bass & vocals, Bill Bruford, drums & percussion, David Cross violin, Mellotron, electric piano, Jamie Muir percussion & allsorts. Appears on Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

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