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Thrak On A Plate
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Feb 18, 2012

My thanks to Adam Aronson for sending me this picture of his recently acquired personalised number plate.



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It Was On This Date In 1982
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Jun 18, 2014
Beat, the ninth studio album by King Crimson was released on June 18th 1982. For the first time in Crimson's history, the same line-up had made two consecutive albums, and although they went on to release a third in 1984, recording Beat all but broke the band apart.



Looking back on this extreme example of difficult second album syndrome, Belew is unequivocal in his judgement. "Beat was the most awful record-making experience of my life and one I would never choose to repeat."

Things had come to a head during the recording of Requiem when Belew returned to the studio alone and overdubbed some further guitar parts.  Then Fripp followed suit, the two guitarists seemingly vying for position. "I seem to recall that Adrian was less than thrilled about this" said Tony Levin. Far away from home and under pressure to come up with lyrics and melodies, Belew pointedly told Fripp to leave the studio. Leaving for Wimborne and visibly upset, Fripp played no further part in the recording, leaving Belew and producer Rhett Davies to mix the rest of the tracks alone.  

When remastering the album in 2001, Fripp offered this take on the album “At the time (1982) Bill & Adrian thought that Beat was better than Discipline. For me, this is an indication of how far the band had already drifted from its original vision. I believe Ade changed his mind; I'm not sure what Bill's view would be now. The group broke up at the end of Beat, as it did during the Nashville rehearsals (1997). I had nothing to do with the mixing of Beat, nor did I feel able to promote it. Somehow we absorbed the fact, and then kept going.”

Speaking of the relative brevity of the album Bill Bruford explained "In our creative processes the junk got scrapped and the only bits that we could all agree on as being remotely effective went forward. As soon as that quota was fulfilled — being 35 or 40 minutes for an album — then you were gone.  Done.  Finished.  Nobody wanted to stay another minute."

Drawing upon the writing of Kerouac, Ginsberg and the iconography of the Beat generation in general, upon it’s release Beat was the object of much suspicion and outright hostility from the UK music press, with Record Mirror being fairly typical. “Here we are in 1982 and the hippest of the hip (among Talking Heads circles anyway) King Crimson have made an album about the movement. And it’s a miserable effort. The essence of the Beat Movement was that it should be spontaneous, free and exciting. King Crimson seem to think that they should be churning out carefully constructed guitar phrases with Adrian Belew screaming with a calculated passion over the top...Perhaps the most meaningful number is the instrumental Sartori In Tangier, simply because it doesn’t feature the silly overworked vocals... Beat is a wasted effort that would be better off not just in another era but another planet.”

The Melody Maker reckoned “For sweet and sour contrast Sartori In Tangier takes a lot of beating, and is a far better instrumental than Requiem which resurrects the fiddly, pretentious discordance that for me was always the worst watercolour in Crimson’s palate.”

American reviewers were far more interested with this album. Rolling Stone’s Chip Stern awarded the album 3 and 1/2 stars, observing that "Crimson creates a new kind of electronic string music that achieves an orchestral density without resorting to ersatz art-rock bombast...King Crimson may never rope in a pop audience like the Police and Asia have, but they stand a good chance of attracting a following of disaffected listeners who want more from rock than a party"

Stereo Review cconcluded that "Beat retains much of the flavour of its immediate predecessor, Discipline but it seems less frenzied. Belew, Fripp and Co. have taken the distinctive sound developed for the more experimental Discipline and applied it successfully here to more conventional subjects. The excellent results suggest that the King Crimson may be set for a long reign.”

The album with a brand new stereo and surround sound mix by Steven Wilson is due for release in October this year. In the meantime, what’s your verdict? Is Beat ripe for rediscovery or something best left alone?






The Madness Of King Crimson
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Jun 18, 2014
Here's an archive interview with Bill Bruford disinterred on the occasion of what the writer describes as the "almost Crimson" playing Australia and New Zealand next week.  


Meet The New Boss The Same As The Old Boss
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Jun 18, 2014
Remember when companies like Youtube and Google were seen as hip and somehow down with the kids? Well, meet The Man in his new threads here and here.


King Crimson 2014 Tour Dates
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Jun 17, 2014
Just in case you've been sleeping under a rock for the last few weeks, King Crimson have announced a series of live dates in the USA later this year. Tickets are on sale for all venues although the first three dates in New York have sold out.




Tue 9 Sep      Albany,    NY The Egg
Wed 10 Sep  Albany, NY The Egg
Fri 12 Sep Philadelphia, PA Verizon Hall
Sat 13 Sep Philadelphia, PA Verizon Hall
Mon 15 Sep Boston, MA Colonial Theatre
Tue 16 Sep Boston, MA Colonial Theatre
Thu 18 Sep New York, NY Best Buy
Fri 19 Sep New York, NY Best Buy
Sat 20 Sep New York, NY Best Buy
Sun 21 Sep New York, NY Best Buy
Tue 23 Sep Madison, WI Barrymore Theatre
Thu 25 Sep Chicago, IL The Vic Theatre
Fri 26 Sep Chicago, IL The Vic Theatre
Tue 30 Sep Los Angeles, CA Orpheum Theatre
Wed 01 Oct Los Angeles, CA Orpheum Theatre
Fri 03 Oct San Francisco, CA The Warfield
Sat 04 Oct San Francisco, CA The Warfield
Mon 06 Oct Seattle, WA Moore Theater

Happy Birthday Peter Giles
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Jun 17, 2014
Bassist with Giles, Giles & Fripp, King Crimson, McDonald & Giles and 21st Century Schizoid Man celebrates his birthday today.



Peter was behind the invaluable archive release The Brondesbury Tapes, which perhaps more adequately explains the transitional process from GG&F to King Crimson more fully than The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp.



The Road To Red At Home 37 & 38
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Jun 17, 2014
Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more The Road To Red At Home pics, last week we received a couple of fresh ones which will be going up on the site in the next few days.

These two however were found lurking in an old shoe box left over from last Christmas. First up is a splendid array from Diderot DeBritto in Brazil...



and perhaps channeling the back cover of Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma, Andy Puntis lays his set out for all to see....




The Road To Red is still available and can be purchased here.




Well Bugger My Russet
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jun 16, 2014
This round of King Crimson rehearsals came to an end at the weekend. Here's a round-up of some of the snaps nabbed by the team, including this one taken by Trev Wilkins from Tony Levin's website, which might just be my favourite picture of any KC incarnation...



The next round of full-band King Crimson rehearsals takes place next month. In the meantime here's a selection from Friday 13th...















From Saturday 14th...

















Rendezvous With ToPaRaMa
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jun 16, 2014
Pat Mastelotto and his colleague in Crimson ProjeKCt, Tobias Ralph have an album out. Entitled ToPaRaMa you can find out more details here


Dear Mr Eliot
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jun 15, 2014
Jakko Jakszyk's musical fantasy Dear Mr Eliot: When Groucho Met Tom is now available on BBC iPlayer for the next six days. For listeners outside of the UK it's possible to download the show as a podcast.  Yesterday's edition of The Guardian ran a very favourable preview of the piece and you can read an interview with Jakko in The Independent for more details about the background to it. You can also hear Lenny Henry, who stars as Groucho, talking about the piece in Radio 4's Loose Ends show. Jakko was scheduled to be interviewed as well for the show on Friday but in the end decided to keep on Crimsonising with the rest of the KC team. 


Sylvian & Fripp Reissued
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Jun 13, 2014
Sylvian & Fripp’s The First Day and the David Sylvian-mixed edition of the live album, Damage are being reissued. 






The albums are straight forward reissues for the Panegyric label rather than remixes or enhanced CD/DVD-A packages.

In this extract taken from an illuminating article by Paul Tingen in 1994, David Sylvian reveals the background to the recording of The First Day.

"Then, in the spring of 1993, came The First Day, a collaboration with Robert Fripp which took his fans and the press aback -- this was definitely not the Sylvian of old. The album was unusally aggressive and hard-hitting, featuring the wild, distorted and full-frontal antics of Robert Fripp on electric guitar, funky and gutsy rhythms courtesy of drummer Jerry Marotta and stick player Trey Gunn, and seriously direct and sometimes disturbing lyrics by Sylvian. He comments: "Making this album was definitely a cathartic experience, both for Robert and myself. It comes out of traumatic experiences, but it also resolves them. In the end healing takes place. In working on this album I really surfaced from the experiences of the previous years and managed to move on. It was a turning point for both of us." The two men had worked together before on Sylvian’s second solo album, Gone To Earth, in 1986 and plans they had made at the time for a further collaboration only started to come to fruition when Sylvian was asked to do a tour of Japan in 1992. Sylvian: "Robert approached me in late 1991 about whether I wanted to join a new King Crimson he was forming. Though very flattered, I decided that I didn’t feel equipped to take on the whole baggage and history that comes with being a member of King Crimson. So instead we took the offer of the tour as an opportunity to write material for an album."
The First Day was recorded between December 1992 and March 1993 at studios in New York and New Orleans, with help from Jerry Marotta on drums, and with David Bottrill behind the mixing desk. The latter two had both worked extensively with Peter Gabriel; Sylvian explains that he chose Bottrill to get away from the dry, silken sound of his long-standing recording partner Steve Nye, and achieve a more up-front rocky sound. "I had a desire to go into another sonic area. I love the warmth and beauty of the tones that Steve gets. Steve also used to give me a lot of feedback on the way I arranged things. But as I have continued to develop, it just seemed natural to move away. We’d exhausted our relationship to some degree. We might work together again, but for now I enjoy working with different engineers and co-producers."

As a result, Sylvian went into the studio with a new engineer, pre-improvised material, a new outlook on life and a new musical partner. It’s not surprising that the results turned out unlike anything he’d done before. He remembers: "In the end, three pieces were directly culled from live-performances, ’Jean The Birdman’, ’Firepower’ and ’20th Century Dreaming’, although the latter two were greatly extended and transformed in the studio. Once we had recorded these three pieces, we faced the choice of adding some ballads or making a more dynamic album. We decided that the album should be more confrontational, so we put the quieter pieces aside for the time being, and will maybe record them on a second joint album."

An interesting aspect of The First Day is that it combines the two previously rather disparate approaches to making music that Sylvian favoured -- the tightly arranged and the loosely improvised. For Sylvian, this was a step forward: "Improvisations are particularly important in collaborative work, because what’s important there is the relationship between the musicians involved. Improvisation allows that to come into focus, how you react to each other in the spur of the moment. I enjoyed working in that way with Holger Czukay and Rain Tree Crow. It means that you’re not bringing your own limitations in terms of structure and songwriting into the studio with you.
"On the other hand, what feels good whilst you improvise isn’t always going to be interesting for other people to listen to. So we spent a lot of time working on pieces and developing them. It was a challenge to make them work for other people. Neither of us had thought of putting on a piece like ’Darshan’, which is 18 minutes of rhythmically repetitive music with jazz-type improvisations going on throughout. So there was a lot of re-structuring going on in that piece, whilst at the same time I tried not to weaken the live performance that gave it its power in the first place. It was a way of combining Robert’s and my approach to recording music, and a challenge that I enjoyed."

Last December, Sylvian had a triumphant return to the London stage when he played two concerts with Fripp at the Royal Albert Hall, no less. The concert was a world away from the dark introversion of his 1988 concerts. Though never an entertainer, Sylvian (whose gear for the occasion included a Steinberger guitar, Yamaha KX88 MIDI controller, Roland JD990, Korg Wavestation A/D, M1R, Zoom 9030, Akai S1100 and Kurzweil 1200Pro1) looked relaxed and in his element. Musically the concert was close to a revelation. The First Day was an interesting album, but somehow marred by a certain ’monochrome’ mood and sound, as well as crudeness of some of the material. It may have fulfilled a cathartic function for Fripp and Sylvian and contained some excellent music, but it didn’t quite make an altogether satisfying listening experience for me. At the Royal Albert Hall though, Fripp, Sylvian and Gunn, with help from drummer Pat Mastelotto and eminent guitarist Michael Brook, put down one of the best live shows of 1993. What hadn’t always worked on the album suddenly came to life and caught fire. And some elegant and deeply moving ballads by Sylvian proved enough counterpoint for the heavier pieces. A live album with material taken from the last world tour has been mixed by Bottrill and Fripp, and will be released this summer."






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