Monday, November 16, 2009

King Crimson

11-16-09 King Crimson

Been thinking about the ’73-’74 King Crimson a lot lately, what with getting a new 2CD re-mastered “Red” CD + DVD set. Supposedly remixed from multi-tracks, the “Red” re-master sounds pretty good to me. And the video on the DVD is very interesting. I always did like that one, “Red”, a bit more accessible than the previous album, “Starless & Bible Black” (and I always thought they stole the title from a Stan Tracey album!).

So, to follow today’s thread, I recommend having on hand these CD’s:

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (1973) (LP)

Starless & Bible Black (1974) (LP)

Red (1974) (LP or new re-mastered CD + DVD set)

U.S.A. (1975) (LP or CD, CD has 3 x bonus tracks)

Supplemented with:

“The Collectable King Crimson – Vol. 1” (Live in Mainz, 1974 & Live in Asbury Park, 1974) – issued 2006 (2CD)

“The Great Deceiver: Part One” (Live in Rhode Island, 1974 & Live in Glasgow, 1973) with a bonus of a short bit from Penn State University, 1974) – issued 2007 (2CD)

“The Great deceiver: Part Two” (Live in Pittsburgh, 1974 & a bit more Penn State ’74 and Toronto ’74 and Zurich ’73) – issued 2007 (2CD)

First, I listened to almost all of these live 2CD sets – some of them have fairly impressive sound quality! Mr. Fripp likes to “abbreviate” “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic: Part II” – it appears only on the Mainz ’74 show as a complete track. Interesting to see that he acknowledges when the music is “improvised”.

Listening to all that live music sent me back to the original LP’s. I played “Larks’ Tongues” to death, once I got a grip on what was on offer. I flogged “Starless” a bit less (though “Fracture” was fairly interesting) and I enjoyed “Red” a lot. U.S.A.” was neither here nor there for me at the time, but now it serves as a professional recording of the final version of K.C. that I can wholly abide.

Particularly on the live material, John Wetton sounds a bit lost at times. And David Cross seems to get stepped on a fair bit (by Wetton & Bill Bruford). And does it all sound like Robert Fripp told them what they were going to do in advance? Uh, guess not. But this version of the band were certainly capable of some mighty sounding material.

There are a ton of liner notes by Mr. Fripp in the live CD’s, some of it rather amusing. Diary entries, “A personal note to young musicians” etc. I saw Mr. Fripp on stage recently as part of the group “Slow Music”, where he was barely audible. I couldn’t help but think he was doing his best Derek Bailey impersonation. Guess he’s still interested in making improvised music.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Fripp is only really interested in improvised music. Studio recording is viewed by him as a chore necessary to build an audience for a tour. Paradoxically, he likes to write by improv. The 2nd time I saw KC they did a largely improv set with catalog material relegated to the back end of the performance. Ostensibly, this was to generate material for their subsequent studio album. As the man himself answers the question: what is the difference between a recording and a live performance?

"One is a love letter, the other a hot date. My Wife’s notes & letters to me are a joy, but I would rather take her in my arms. Fortunately, I have access to both, and each supports the other. But, I do not confuse the two distinct qualities of joy on offer."