Posts Tagged ‘Tony Levin’

In 2002 and 2003, following the release of his album UP, Peter Gabriel went on the road with his Growing Up tour, once again collaborating with production designer Robert Lepage to create a spectacular and theatrical live experience. The tour took in thirty-two cities across the USA, Canada and Europe and this concert performance was recorded over two nights at the Filaforum in Milan in May 2003, with Peter Gabriel and the band performing in the round at the centre of the arena.

A concert film capturing the live show was released in late 2003, but Growing Up Live has never been a stand alone audio release, until now. It was the beginning of 2002 that we decided to go out on the road. I hadn’t been out for 10 years so it was going to be interesting to see if there were any fans still out there, if we could sell any tickets and how it would all work on-stage.

The fourth, and last, of this autumn’s series of live LP releases, “Growing Up Live”, is released today. Like Live In Athens 1987 and Secret World Live, this is the first time on vinyl for Growing Up Live, but this concert is presented as a 3LP set in a gatefold sleeve and full colour printed inner bags. The LP has been Half-Speed Remastered and cut to lacquers at 33RPM by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering and comes with a hi-res audio download code (24bit or 16bit).

“It was the beginning of 2002 that we decided to go out on the road. I hadn’t been out for 10 years so it was going to be interesting to see if there were any fans still out there and how it would all work on-stage. Last time [Secret World tour] we had two stages, a male stage and a female stage, and they were representing different things, urban, rural and this time we have moved the axis vertically, and it’s a sky stage and an earth stage. The album title had been UP, so there was a certain logic to this vertical translation onto the stage.” – pg

The touring band you will hear on this recording consists of Ged Lynch (drums), Tony Levin (bass, vocals), David Rhodes (guitar, vocals), Richard Evans (guitar, mandolin, whistle, vocals), Rachel Z (keyboards, vocals), Melanie Gabriel (vocals) and Peter Gabriel (vocals, keyboards).

“The band is a mixture of old and new. In the tried and tested friend department there’s David Rhodes on guitar who I’ve played with for many years, since his band Random Hold supported me on a tour way back. He began life as a sculptor, never wanted to be a professional musician, but sort of fell into it.

Tony Levin, who’s on bass, was actually on the first record that I did after I left Genesis. He’s the longest serving member, but obviously he does so many other things on his own, with King Crimson and many other people over the years. I think he is one of the most respected bass players in the world, so I feel very lucky that he is always out with me.

Rachel Z who is a very able keyboard player. She is better known in the jazz world but has been developing her own sort of rock stuff and has just put out an album of Joni Mitchell covers too. She’s very good. She’s also the daughter of an opera singer and has a very useful set of pipes on her as well.

I’ve worked in the studio with Richard Evans many times, but this is the first time live. He plays numerous instrument; mandolin, flutes, whistles, guitar. So that’s fun.

The drummer Ged Lynch. When we were making the album, Manu (Katché) was away on tour for some of the time so Ged came in. Manu’s a brilliant player but he is quite a decorator in some ways so it’s always beautifully and very musically done. Ged, on the other hand, sits in this tight box and there’s this sort of powerhouse driving things forward. It felt good for me to try and make the band focus more direct this time out. Ged is also a great percussionist and did a lot of percussion on the record as well.

Then, my daughter Melanie is out with me singing, and that’s a real pleasure for Dad.”

“Growing Up Live” – on vinyl for the first time – chronicles a Peter Gabriel performance from May 2003. Featuring PG with Ged Lynch, Tony Levin, David Rhodes, Richard Evans, Rachel Z, Melanie Gabriel and special guest appearances by The Blind Boys of Alabama, Sevara Nazarkhan, Dr Hukwe Zawose and Charles Zawose (plus the voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan). Triple vinyl in gatefold sleeve with printed inners. Half-speed remastered and cut to lacquers at 33RPM, across 2x heavyweight LPs. Vinyl cut by Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering, mastered by Tony Cousins at Metropolis and overseen by Peter’s main sound engineer Richard Chappell. 

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.

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

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

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

Starless and Bible Black (1974)
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I actually bought this album at the time because I loved the sleeve artwork, And of all King Crimson’s line-ups, my favourites and because of John Wetton’s vocal,  the mid-1970s iterations of the band, featuring John Wetton on bass and vocals and Bill Bruford on drums. Starless and Bible Black is less coherent than the two albums that bookend it, as it’s largely formed around live improvisations, but it’s still full of highlights like the complex, heavy instrumental ‘Fracture’ and the beautiful ‘The Night Watch’.

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

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

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

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

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

In The Court of the Crimson King (1969)
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King Crimson immediately made an impact with their debut, with Fripp sharing the limelight with Greg Lake on vocals and bass, Michael Giles on drums, and Ian McDonald on woodwinds; McDonald contributed a lot of the song-writing to the album. It’s not perfect, as ‘Moonchild’ drags, but it’s a landmark of progressive rock, effectively defining the symphonic prog genre with highlights like ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ and ‘Epitaph’. This remains King Crimson’s only gold record – they never capitalised on its success, as the initial lineup disintegrated – Lake went on to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

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

Red (1974)
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Gradually whittled down to a trio over the previous couple of records, the dominant sound on Red is the hard, complex rock of the title track and ‘One More Red Nightmare’ from Wetton, Fripp, and Bruford. But it’s the majestic closing ‘Starless’ that’s the gem of King Crimson’s oeuvre, a twelve minute epic that builds to a triumphant, unforgettable climax. Starless is one of King Crimson’s most popular songs came when the view counter for the video of the song performed by the Radical Action team tipped over the 3 million mark.

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

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

and here is the album version of “Starless”