Greyness! Wetness! David and Mr. Stormy are above my head. KC at The Savoy, NYC, in 1981 set a standard in live performance. This was the highspot of that Crim, IMO.
The working player of long experience, of many and frequent and constant journeyings to modest accommodations in modest forms of transportation, to a variety of performance spaces, might enjoy in one week’s full work perhaps two or three shows which are a little-more-exceptional than the remaining four or five shows, the average-exceptional for a band of international standing. And, once in a while for any King Crimson, a total clunker.
Life–changing performances and experiences, if we’re lucky, might fly by once every two or three years; although once in seven years is enough to keep us engaged in our particular sphere of activity. An experience of this intensity confirms our confidence that we are, indeed, doing what we need to do; and doing what we should be doing in life.
The professional player is unwise to anticipate more than the merely-professional; although a superbly-professional achievement is itself considerable. But it is not enough to be superbly-professional: professional norms and standards tend to become a limitation rather than a springboard. The greater the professional achievement, the greater the limitations and expectations from representatives of commerce; the greater the demands of fans for repetition of music that has made their lives so happy; and often, for those players with social aspirations, the constrictions and conditions that accompany a large mortgage, equestrian facilities, and the expectations placed upon a rock star by their community.
King Crimson 1981 is a rare example of a group with four players of outstanding professional accomplishment, a degree of public acclaim and acknowledgement, sufficient success to attract attention to itself and its work, and insufficient success to attract overwhelming attention, that managed to escape the limitations of professionalism. This band had its own Good Fairy, the same Good Fairy as in 1969 IMO. I knew them both. As in 1969, the Good Fairy visited for a while, did its work, gave its blessing and enabling power, then departing to meet its other responsibilities and leaving the players to their own devices. We did the best we could. It is a folly to expect a Good Fairy to hang around forever. It is not in a hurry, but is travelling at great speed.
The six performances at the Savoy in NYC was/were the high spot of this King Crimson.
One life-changing, life-directing performance in two or three years is good fortune already; and one life-changing performance every week for a month, profoundly unlikely. Four successive life-changing performances in two nights is impossible. The fifth and sixth performances on the third night were only exceptional-plus. So, sometimes the impossible is possible, but this needs a Good Fairy, magic, a sprinkling of fairy dust, the presence of the Muse, or however we might describe the miraculous entering our lives, even the lives of rock groups working in popular culture; giving us a taste of what a creative life might actually be.
Clearly, this is a subjective account. But what do I care of that? The life of the working player is mostly wretched, and professional success confers the opportunity to continue on with this mostly wretched life. What kept me going, was when Music lent over and whispered in our ear.
The professional conditions at the time were such that to make one album, Discipline, we contracted to make three. Discipline had the juice, the next two were hard-work with high-spots. The focus of King Crimson 1981 was the Savoy. Live performance, as with gardening, is an ephemeral art; if we can escape the restrictions of professionalism and craft. These recorded performances do not, and cannot, convey the experience of a hot date with the Muse. They are also drawn from bootlegs, so they’re not even quite love letters; perhaps best regarded as postcards from the edge.
Sometimes when we step off the edge, we fly away.
12.15 A kitchen meeting with David c. 10.30.
Opening remark from David: People would not believe the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes at DGM to make the releases worth releasing.
Two approaches to behaviour:
do to others as they do to you;
do to others as you would wish them to do to you.
One example of the second approach: to buy a re-mastered or re-mixed release that is qualitatively superior to the prior version. A second example of the second approach: to buy a formerly unreleased live performance where you can actually hear what is being played. In other words, when we hand over our hard-earned pay in exchange for a CD or download, we get the best shot at the best that can be done, at that particular time, place with those persons, working within governing conditions.
David and Mr. Stormy spend hours and hours, days and weeks, struggling with remarkably awful tapes and sonic sources. If these have particular importance in the history, then they deserve to be released. So, what to do if they sound like crap? The answer is simple: David and Mr. Stormy spend hours and hours, days and weeks, uttering rites of necromancy over unpromising materials.
Occasionally in the archive of junk and horror, there is a gem which would have been undiscovered without the weeks and months trawling through the unpromisings. Needless to say (I hope, needless to say) were we governed by the commercial imperative, none of this would be happening.
Peter Sinfield once commented on my claims for DGM: the gentleman doth protest too much. Actually, we don’t protest half as much as we might.
David’s conscientious work, on behalf of The Greater Crim and DGM overall, is invisible and untrumpeted. Until the royalty accounts for September 31st. 2010, when the RHVL received a 2% production override for catalogue work, 40 years of extra-performance curricula was unpaid. This was part of the Crimson ethos of equal-payment for members (with a few temporary exceptions). David felt it unfair to be paid more than the Venal Leader, so didn’t get paid either. One example: three weeks of post-production for both of us at DGM on The Power To Believe.
Now, time to accept that it is fair to be paid for our work, and without protesting.
Other topics: there are incoming comments that the Fortieth Anniversary Editions, the remixing of Steven Wilson, the attention paid to the overall packages and contents, are setting the standard for such re-releases. I agree, and note once again: this would not be so were the commercial imperative to be driving the process. What might we learn from this?
Work driven by the profit motive is unsatisfactory.
Good professional work is prosaic.
Good work is poetry?
Or something like that. There is also press interest in the Fortieth Anniversary Editions. Well.
Final discussion point: the OMG – it’s UMG! horror is continuing.
The street I…
16.50 The horrors of stuff! Stuff and paper! Stuff and paper and dissension in several areas!
Stuff and paper and dissension in several areas = horror!!
17.28 David has left with Father John for the boat.
An evening computing ahead.
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