|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.
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.
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.
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.
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The Glamour Of Life On The Road
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Feb 14, 2015
Trey Gunn's blog about his recent experiences working in the UK and beyond as a member of the Security Project, is a must-read. So read it!
Live At The Orpheum
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Feb 13, 2015
The Pop Matters website turns its attention to Live At The Orpheum with this review.
Register For Fripp & Fripp Video Stream
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Feb 12, 2015
You can register for the video stream of Robert and Patricia Fripp’s lectures at the Lady & The Champs Speaker’s Conference 2015.
Hear Robert Fripp speak about his life, music, insights on success, and so much more! Funny, profound, thoughtful, brilliant, and profound. As you have never seen before streamed into your home AND 1 year’s access to all his presentations and collaborations from the weekend. All for $75
More details about Robert and Patricia Fripp’s appearance at the Lady & The Champs speaker’s conference later this month can be found here.
Presentations Included in the Robert Fripp Video Streaming Package:
Enjoy Robert’s Saturday, February 28, 2015
From Beginner to Mastery: The Disciplines and Habits of Success (Fripp & Fripp)
Sunday, March 1, 2015
How to Be a Hero for More Than One Day (Fripp & Fripp)
After the event
The Man Behind The Music: Patricia Fripp interviews Robert
And 8 other collaborations!
- Learn what habits took Robert from Wimborne to the world stage.
- Hear his wisdom learned from life as a working musician.
- Discover how you can be a hero for more than one day.
- Performing superbly well on stage, speaking or playing guitar, requires many of the same disciplines.
When I Say Stoppard, Continue
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Feb 11, 2015
My thanks to Richard Royston for spotting this appearance of King Crimson in a quiz about noted playwright Tom Stoppard.
You can take the quiz here.
Ade's NAMM Flashback
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Feb 10, 2015
Adrian Belew was interviewed at the recent NAMM event talking about FLUX FX and a brand new project that's still a bit hush-hush. Check out the interview right here.
In The Court Of Fro Hawk Two Feathers
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Feb 10, 2015
My thanks to John Hessell for sending this in. "I recently went to the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY and saw an
exhibit by the artist Fro Hawk Two Feathers. His art work is unique,
historical, spiritual, and imaginative.
This exhibit was about his work
on the wars in the Hudson Valley involving the Frenglish, Dutch, Lenape
and more. It is historical fiction in various mediums.
While researching his work I found this past exhibit. It was a few years ago, though some of the works from that show were exhibited at the Hudson River Museum. King Crimson, he is in more places than you know!"
Soundscape Sunday: Glass And Breath
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Feb 8, 2015
Welcome to the first in an occasional series where we put the spotlight on the archive of Robert Fripp soundscapes that have amassed in the DGMLive vaults over the years.
First up is Glass And Breath which Robert recorded at DGM Soundworld back in May 2007. It was released almost immediately - about as hot off the press as it's possible to get - and is still available for free.
You can download the album here.
If you're a fan of any of the soundscapes that you've downloaded from the site why not write a short review - no more than 200 words - and send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org marked SOUNDSCAPE SUNDAY.
If we feature your review in the Soundscape Sunday slot you will receive a free download of your choice from the entire DGMLive library for your trouble. Only one submission per person please so make it count. OK get writing!
The Night Jakko's Life Changed!
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Feb 4, 2015
If you missed Jakko Jakszyk's appearance on the Prog magazine radio on Sunday, the whole show is now available via their on demand player.
The interview with Jakko, in which he talks about seeing King Crimson for the first time in 1971 and many other stories along the way, starts at around 73 minutes.
King Crimson Confirm Live Dates In 2015
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Feb 3, 2015
Following their acclaimed tour of America in 2014, King Crimson returns to active service in 2015 for a series of performances across the UK and in Europe.
Beginning in Aylesbury on 31st August the band then appear in several cities in the UK and Europe throughout September, making this is most extensive list of UK dates played by King Crimson since the 1980s.
The current incarnation of the group consists of Gavin Harrison (drums), Bill Rieflin (drums), Pat Mastelotto (drums), Tony Levin (bass and vocals), Mel Collins (Sax, flute), Jakko Jakszyk (guitar, vocals) and Robert Fripp (guitar), and has been described by Rolling Stone as “one of the best new bands on the road right now.”
Mon 31st Aug, Friars, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Tues 1st Sept, Friars, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Wed 3rd Sept, St.David’s Hall, Cardiff
Sat 5th Sept, Dome Concert Hall, Brighton
Mon 7th Sept, Hackney Empire, London
Tues 8th Sept, Hackney Empire, London
Fri 11th Sept, Lowry, Manchester,
Mon 14th Sept, Symphony Hall,Birmingham
Thurs 17th Sept, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Mon 21st Sept, Olympia, Paris
Tue 22nd Sept, Olympia, Paris
Thurs 24th Sept, Tivoliredenburg, Utrecht
Fri 25th Sept, Tivoliredenburg, Utrecht
Tickets are on-sale from 9am on Friday 6th February priced at £39.50 / £50.00 / £65.00 regionally and £50.00 / £75.00 / £85.00 in London (subject to per-ticket charge plus order processing fee) and are available from Livenation
Tickets for the Aylesbury shows can be obtained here from Friday 6th February.
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