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King Crimson's On (and off) The Road Unboxed
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Oct 23, 2016

Fancy a whistle-stop tour of the latest King Crimson 19 disc boxed set, On (and off)The Road? Get on board here.

You can order the box from Inner Knot (USA)  and from Burning Shed (UK & Europe)

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On This Date 47 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Oct 10, 2016
In The Court Of The Crimson King was released on this date in 1969. 

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

"Wessex Studios mid-August 1969. The apocalyptic blast of 21st Century Schizoid Man is abruptly cut off in mid-flow as recording engineer, Robin Thompson, mutes the speakers. Gathered in the cavernous performance area of Wessex Studios below, Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield and Greg Lake stopped work to welcome the arrival of artist Barry Godber, carrying a large rectangular package wrapped in brown paper.
A few weeks previously Sinfield had commissioned his friend to come up with something for the cover for what would be King Crimson’s debut album. “I used to hang around with all these painters and artists from Chelsea Art School” says Sinfield. “I’d known Barry for a couple of years...he’d been to a few rehearsals, and spent a bit of time with us. I told him to see what he could come up with. I think I probably said to him that the one thing the cover had to do was stand out in record shops.”

Godber tore off the brown paper and laid the painting on the floor as the band gathered around to see his handiwork.

Greg Lake recalls “We all stood around it and it was like something out of Treasure Island where you’re all standing around a box of jewels and treasure...this fucking face screamed up from the floor and what it said to us was Schizoid Man - the very track we’d been working on.  It was as if there was something magic going on.”

In 1995 Fripp commented, "The face on the outside is the Schizoid Man, and on the inside it’s the Crimson King. If you cover the smiling face, the eyes reveal an incredible sadness. What can one add? It reflects the music

Entering the Top Ten on both sides of the Atlantic upon its release the album catapulted King Crimson from their cultish underground origins to something approaching mainstream success. 

The album cover was so striking that a number of record shops filled their window displays with the album. In 1969, Rhett Davies, who would later work with King Crimson on Discipline, 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!” 

Holding Court at Imhof’s Record Store

Here’s how some of the music papers of the day reacted to the album.

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.

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.

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.

Oslo Download
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Oct 9, 2016
Here's another track from the first leg of the recently completed European tour.

Oslo 6th September, A Scarcity Of Miracles

2016 Tour Box Pre-Order
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Oct 7, 2016
The 2016 Tour Box will go on general sale on November 4th and is now available for pre-order.

This 2 disk package,with many tracks and extracts appearing on CD for the first time, has previously only been available on the merch table on King Crimson’s current tour.

The Elements tour boxes were devised specifically for the King Crimson tours but have since gone on to great success with fans with both 2014 and 2015 editions becoming firm favourites with seasoned fans and newcomers to the group.

The depth and variety of King Crimson’s archives allows for the presentation of such “alternate best of/introduction to…” style releases, providing a fascinating audio history of the band featuring extracts from rehearsals, new live recordings, elements from studio recordings, full tracks, alternate takes and finished recordings from 1969-2015, many of which make their first appearance on CD. Every line-up of the band is featured across the 2CD set.

The set also provides tantalising audio extracts & hints of forthcoming King Crimson releases.

The accompanying booklet features sleeve-notes by co-compiler Sid Smith, photos of memorabilia, full info about the current tour & a number of band and individual photos of the line-up.

Disc I
1 Wind (Extract, 1969)
2 Moonchild (2016, Instrumental mix edit)
3 Peace (Live in Japan, 2015)
4Pictures Of A City (Live in Toronto, 2015)
5Prince Rupert’s Lament (2016 mix from Lizard recording sessions)
6 Islands (rehearsal/run-through)
7 Threshold Soundscape (Live, USA 2014)
8 Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part I (Live, USA 2014)
9 Easy Money (Larks’ Tongues recording sessions/boxed set)
10 Improv I (live 1974 - Starless boxed set)
11 Doctor Diamond (Live 1974 - Starless boxed set)
12 From the Drummer’s Stool (Michael Giles, 21st CSM extract)
13 21st Century Schizoid Man (Live, 1974, USA CD/DVD-a & Road to Red boxed set)

Disc II
1 Prince Rupert Awakes (extract, Lizard recording sessions)
2 The Other Man (2010 early version)
3 Making Of Discipline (edit)
4 Walking On Air (edit, THRAK boxed set)
5 Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind) (live in Japan, 2015)
6 Meltdown (demo)
7 From the Drummers’ Stools I (VROOOM, VROOOM extract)
8 From The Guitarist’s Stool I (21CSM extract)
9 The ConstruKction Of Light (live in the USA, 2014)
10 Tomorrow Never Knew/Thela (Live in Warsaw, 2000)
11 From the Drummers’ Stools II (Larks’ Tongues In Aspic I extract)
12 Nuages (2016 mix, Three of a Perfect Pair CD DVD-A & On & Off The Road boxed set)
13 The Light Of Day (Live in the USA, 2014)
14 From The Guitarist’s Stool II (Lizard extract)
15 Tokyo Soundcheck 6 (Larks’ Tongues In Aspic I extract)
16 Dinosaur (2015 mix, THRAK boxed set)
17 From The Drummers’ Stools III (Tokyo Soundcheck 6, extract II)
18 Heroes (Live in Madrid, 2000)

Tour Programme Sellers Needed
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Oct 7, 2016
For King Crimson’s 2016 shows there will be an “Old School” style tour programme featuring 28 pages of unseen photographs, articles, artefacts, etc.

If you are attending a show on the tour, would you be interested in helping to sell the programme?

We need volunteers for the following nights: 1st night in Antwerp (2/11), Florence, Torino, Monte Carlo, 2nd night in Madrid (22/11) & Vienna.

You would need to already have a ticket for the show and be able to arrive at the venue about 15 mins before doors are due to open.

We’ll kit you out with a bag of programmes and some change to roam the venue with before and after the show… don’t worry you won’t miss any of the show!

In return for your help a Crimson t-shirt of your choice and a copy of the programme will be yours to say Thank You.

Please send an email to iona@dgmhq.com specifying which night(s) of the tour you are able to help with.

Tony's Hamburg Pix
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Oct 6, 2016
Tony Levin has uploaded some photographs from Hamburg - the band's last show of the current tour.

The Crims will be back on November 2nd in Antwerp.

Radical Action Reviewed
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Oct 5, 2016
Here's a couple of reviews of Radical Action. First up is this one from International Times - the website of the underground press publication which was one of the earliest to catch on to Crimson in the 1960s. Secondly, here's blogger Onthewall's eye and ear view of the set.

Copenhagen Downloads
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Oct 3, 2016
There are two more tracks from the current European tour to download.

Copenhagen 23rd September Red

Copenhagen 24th September Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part I

Downloads From Wroclaw
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Sep 30, 2016
There are two more tracks from the current European tour to download.

Wroclaw 20th September 2016 The Letters

Wroclaw 21st September 2016 Meltdown

Happy Birthday Jeremy
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Sep 30, 2016
Check out the latest gallery of photographs from Tony's website which include this shot of the cake presented to Jeremy Stacey for his birthday on Tuesday this week.

Downloads From Zabrze
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Sep 28, 2016
Here’s another couple of uploads fresh of the current tour.

Zabrze 17th September Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row

Download here

Zabrze 18th September The ConstruKction Of Light

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