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On This Date 41 Years Ago...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Oct 6, 2015

King Crimson released Red, their final studio album of the 1970s on October 6th, 1974.

Now regarded as one the most important albums of that decade, Red frequently turns up in numerous best of lists by artists and magazines.

Here's what the New Musical Express had to say about the album upon its release that week 41 years ago today. 

THE PREVIOUS two albums by this final King Crimson lineup have never been as hysterically self-conscious in their obvious adventurousness as the first four studio records that came out under the band's name.

In fact, listening to certain parts of each of those early albums can frequently provoke nothing as crassly simple as severe brain damage but a rather more civilised basic aural pain.

In general, it's a pretty tidy set of neuroses, instability and insecurity — both musical and personal — that cuts a jagged edged swathe across the eight sides. The psychic melodramas do, though, have the saving grace of being carried out with an appropriate sense of artistic folly.

Indeed when juxtaposed against the histrionics of those records Larks Tongues In Aspic, Starless And Bible Black and, now, Red would seem to have been recorded in a state of almost Calvinistic general togetherness — or, if you prefer, what used to be known at school as "maturity" — and even if Larks Tongues does marginally fail to cut it due to a rather too noticeable excess of zeal then Starless, which is minus both Jamie Muir and His Percussive Pistacchio Nuts and the perfectionist production of the former — though not credited on the sleeve as such the whole of side two was cut live — comes up with a more consistent and relaxed amount of highs than any of its predecessors.

There's one other little plus that Starless has going for it...uh...it...well, it nearly swings.

And so to Red. No two ways about it, and putting aside for the moment any little thoughts we may have about its being The Final Work this outfit — now reduced to the basic three-piece of Robert Fripp, John Wetton on bass and vocals, and Bill Bruford on drums (sorry, percussives) — were really starting to whizz those thought patterns around amongst themselves.

Side One is actually rather a funky, even heavy, piece with 'Fallen Angel' and 'One More Red Nightmare' restating the weighty note progression emphasised almost to the point of a calculated ennui on 'Red', the first track.

'Fallen Angel' moves things on with some of your old mellifluous free-flowing melody ending up as a variant on a basic pop track with a surreal middle eight that has some most impressive reed honking from Mel Collins. Robert Palmer-James' lyrics are virtually indistinguishable, which on past evidence is most certainly in the record's favour, whilst Wetton's voice, doable or triple tracked on the chorus fines has the chore of both sounding like Greg Lake and being able to highlight the inadequacies of any similar ELP technological ballad.

'One More Red Nightmare' puts the rather curious counterbalancing of the first two tracks into a comprehensible perspective as it grips together the main themes of each title with some hot ice howling lead percussion from Bruford that does just now and then veer dangerously towards intellectual doodling.

'Providence', which opens the second side, features "guest" violinist David Cross on a schizoid quasi Prokofiev piece of impressionism which, when joined by the bass and Bruford, displays at first the sense of spacing and notation which was particularly evident on Larks Tongues but which ultimately dissolves as it's hurled into a rather early model King Crimson piece of mellotron madness.

The truly enigmatic side of Crimson gets really well held up to the light on the twelve-minute final track, Starless, with the baroque intensity — and extremity — of Fripp's Mancini-like mellotron strings that carry a hint of the mood of side two of Lizard until the scorching guitar, bass and jangling percussion work up and along several note and chord structures with each instrument underlining the other until a pattern is shaped like a continuous loop of sound restating the album's themes.

It's really quite curious and should, I suppose, be put down to some psychic state evolving from the demise of the band but Red is truly the first Crimson album that I can find myself listening to over and over again.

Would it be that same psychic state that makes me believe it's the best album ever made under the name of King Crimson?

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Four Go Forth For Five
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jan 25, 2015
Last year bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera released an album entitled Fourth Dementia (which you can sample here). Julie and Marco are about to undertake a short tour of the east coast of the USA. They'll be joined by Pat Mastelotto and guitarist, Tim Motzer.

The dates are:
27 Jan - Gypsy Sally’s, Washington DC
28 Jan - 8x10, Baltimore, MD
29 Jan - NJ Proghouse, Dunellen, NJ
30 Jan - Hard Rock Cafe, Philadelphia, PA
31 Jan - Spectrum, New York City, NY

Fripp For Homework
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jan 25, 2015
My thanks to Sean H for sending in this link from The Guardian in which Robert Fripp's music is recommended as an aide to studying and homework. "The whole idea is not to let the head drop. Brian Eno may be an obvious choice, but let’s throw in his one-time collaborator, the magnificent Robert Fripp as another option. His At The End Of Time album is a masterstroke: he creates a symphony in sound, and takes you on a trip intense enough to get any piece of work rocking in the right direction. Check out Cerys Mathew's piece in full here.

David Cross Talks Starless Starlight
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Jan 23, 2015
You can watch David Cross talking about the background and inspiration of his forthcoming album, Starless Starlight, right here. The music for the new album, David explains, was inspired after hearing the download of  Robert Fripp's appearance at Blueberry Hill, in St.Louis in 2006. It was here where the guitarist unexpectedly played a variation on the Starless theme amidst his usual soundscapes concert. If you've not heard it, do yourself a favour and take grab this concert.

Crimson On The Menu
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Jan 23, 2015
My thanks to several folks who spotted this tasty but tangential sighting in the UK press this week. 

Lams' Long Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Jan 22, 2015
Bert Lams of the California Guitar Trio has a new recording project underway of music by Gurdjieff and De Hartmann but needs your support. Find out how you can get involved by heading over to the website. 

Live At The Orpheum At Home 4 - 6
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Jan 22, 2015
There's a bumper crop of photos of folks and their copies of Live At The Orpheum hitting the in-box at the moment. So here's a few for the price of one.

First up, Kevin O' Sullivan of West Sussex, who writes "KC tee, KC cd, KC guitar, KC crimhead..."

Jonathan Block in the USA offers this screen shot of the album in his home...

and finally a selfie from Fernando Lobo in the Netherlands...

Gavin Harrison - Cheating The Polygraph
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jan 19, 2015
Gavin Harrison has a new solo album out soon. Gavin broke the news via his Facebook page. "My new album will be released early April (Kscope records). Amazing arrangements of many of my favourite Porcupine Tree songs. I've been working on this for 5 years and it features some of the World's best contemporary Jazz players."

Mister Stormy's Blue Mundy
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jan 19, 2015
They say you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family. However, a glance at Mr.Stormy's fingers on his brother's T-shirt suggest this old saying may not be entirely true!

Blue Mundy and Stormy Mundy

Orpheum Reviewed
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jan 18, 2015
Here's another take on the Live At The Orpheum album, reviewed over at The Progressive Aspect. 

Live At The Orpheum At Home 3
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sun., Jan 18, 2015
My thanks to Duncan Gardiner, of Epsom in Surrey, for sending in this snap of a KC-loving Dalek.

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