Discipline Global MobileKing CrimsonRobert FrippThe VicarTour DatesDiariesnav_catalogNewsAccountsForumShopSearch Archives
  News Login | Register | Help

On This Date 46 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Oct 10, 2015

Today marks the 46th anniversary of the release of King Crimson's debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King.

"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.”

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.

More news

Displaying 5216 items (Viewing 171 to 180 of 5216)

Happy Birthday Bill
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., May 17, 2015
Happy birthday to Bill Bruford who is 66 today. Although formally retired from live performance Bill nevertheless continues to enjoy a public profile recently discussing Gwilym Simcock's Crimson! at its UK premier at the university in Surrey and an appearance on Radio Two last week.

Cross On The Box
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., May 17, 2015
David Cross is discussing some of his favourite music on the My Vintage show today at 5 pm on Vintage TV (Sky 369, Virgin 343, Freeview 242, Free Sat 505).

Happy Birthday Robert
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., May 16, 2015
Please raise a glass of your favourite brew and sing happy birthday in the direction of Robert Fripp who celebrates his 69th birthday today. It also happens to be Robert's wedding anniversary so congratulations to Robert and Toyah on their special day as well.

Shahhal Appeal
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., May 14, 2015
Shallal - the Penzance based dance and arts charity which counts Robert Fripp as its patron - are appealing for support in order to secure a grant from theArts Council and Heritage Lottery Fund. Check out this news story and find out more about the group here.

Music Industry Run By 'Feckless Idiots'
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., May 13, 2015
Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan has concluded that the music industry is mostly run by feckless idiots in this interview. Well...

Keeling In Concert
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., May 13, 2015
Andrew Keeling's piece Afterwords is being performed by Fretwork in the Vale Of Glamorgan festival this coming Friday. Check out the website for details. 
Meanwhile check out Andrew's blog for regular updates on his work and some pretty stunning views.

Stick Men On Tour
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., May 12, 2015
Stick Men - Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Markus Reuter - are off around the world again, starting in South America later this month.

You can check out the tour dates right here.

Radio Prog
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., May 12, 2015
Conductor Charles Hazlewood’s exploration of progressive rock is on the BBC iPlayer with 29 days left to listen. Bill Bruford talks about the era including his time in Yes, King Crimson and Earthworks.

Mister Stormy's Monday Selection
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., May 11, 2015
Here's a classic from the vaults given a Mundy make-over: The Sheltering Sky up-close and personal. Check it out here. 

The Orchestra Begins
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., May 11, 2015
A reminder that the Orchestra of Crafty Guitarists XI are staging a special performance project this month.  The course starts Tuesday, May 19, 2015 to Monday, May 25, 2015 · Casa Stella Maris, Caorle, Italy. Check out the details here. 

<< Previous 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Next >> 

King Crimson Tour 2015
Newest Additions

King Crimson
Live At The Warfield Theatre

Full Recording

Subscribe to Podcast

Latest Music
Robert Fripp in Patrimonio 07/17/2004
Robert Fripp in Patrimonio 07/17/2004

Latest Photo

New to the DGM Shop
Mug - Collectors' Club
Mug - Collectors' Club

Top Downloads
King Crimson - Aug. 7th, 2008 in Chicago

King Crimson - Jun. 28th, 1974 in Asbury Park

King Crimson - Oct. 23rd, 1973 in Glasgow

Fripp & Eno - May. 28th, 1975 in Paris

Fripp & Eno - Mar. 14th, 2006 in London

Follow Us

Home | About DGM | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Help | RSS Feeds