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McDonald & Shakespeare
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Feb 14, 2012

My thanks to Brian Thomson for sending me the news that Ian McDonald will be providing the music at an all-star benefit reading of Hamlet in New York this month.  

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On This Date 45 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Jul 5, 2014
On this date 45 years ago, King Crimson supported The Rolling Stones at the now legendary free concert in Hyde Park. The concert was a crucial milestone for Crimson who at that point had played just 23 gigs.

When Crimson took to the stage they restricted themselves to a truncated set consisting of 21st Century Schizoid Man, In The Court Of The Crimson King, Get Thy Bearings, Epitaph, Mantra, Travel Weary Capricorn and Mars.  Dik Fraser recalls that during the opening number a large framed photograph of Brian Jones fell, almost catching Greg Lake. The bass player shrugged off the mishap, but several people backstage thought it was some kind of augury or supernatural manifestation.

It was a good day for Crimson, however. The newest member of the road crew, Richard Vickers (better known as Vick), recalled in his memoir of that period: "The high point of that gig was the whole audience rising to their feet as one and cheering Ian McDonald solo during ‘Schizoid’ — I remember the hairs on the back of my spine rising in unison as the roar from this huge crowd went up."

In the crowd stood Jamie Muir. Having only recently moved down from Edinburgh, the future Crimson percussionist was then playing with free improvisers such as John Stevens and Derek Bailey. He was impressed by the force Crimson created. "What was incredible was that they just exploded on to the scene fully matured. Most bands come along and then develop but Crimson just came on and exploded with this very adult, intelligent, cutting-edge music. It was just this whole package that went wallop!"

Fourteen-year-old Trevor Lever, attending his first concert, found Crimson perplexing.  "At one point I thought an orchestra was playing but through my binoculars saw only four blokes on the stage. 'Where’s the orchestra?' I asked a mate. 'Dunno,' was the informed reply. 'Who is this playing?'  I said to no-one in particular. 'King something,' I was told.  I made a mental note to check this band out at a later stage."  It was the start of a love affair with Crimson which Lever — who has seen shows by every incarnation of the band — continues to this day.

Crimson finished as usual with “Mars” (complete with an air raid siren being cranked up from underneath the stage by Enthoven and Fraser).  Enthoven, celebrating his 25th birthday that day, regards this as the defining moment of the launch of King Crimson. McDonald agrees that it was the point at which Crimson arrived, but adds: "It would sound blasé to say that this was just another gig for us, though in a sense it was; we were having a great time discovering and enjoying our music, but we were also experienced enough individually not to be too greatly affected by any particular venue."

Sinfield was less than impressed with the set that day, feeling that the band was below par.  Lake disagrees: "It was the first open-air gig that Crimson played and to that extent it wasn't as sonically controlled as the ones indoors. Pete didn't have his lights to play with but it was an extraordinary show."  In his diary, Fripp noted: "Standing ovation. Mammoth success, of importance which will take time to appreciate. We'll look back to see this day in years to come and fully realise its significance."

Lake observes: "I think that even if that Hyde Park thing hadn't have happened, I don't think it would have affected the popularity of King Crimson.  The band had spread like wildfire." Certainly the next night when Crimson played their regular slot at The Marquee, the club was packed. Sinfield regards that gig as infinitely superior to Hyde Park. "The Marquee the next night.  NOW that was a humdinger!  Oh yes indeedy!"  McDonald in his diary notes that the band certainly picked up a few new admirers.  "Went to the Marquee. Did gig. Came back with nine chicks (!)"

Crimson continued to surf a wave of critical approval.  Richard Gott in The Guardian's review of Hyde Park asserted: "Most of the music, with the exception of a sensational group called King Crimson, was indifferent." And B.P. Fallon in that week's Melody Maker raved: "King Crimson are going to be giants. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps. Give it a year and we'll know. No dammit. Six months will do. Really..." 

A more considered verdict was delivered by Richard Gilbert in The Listener.  "King Crimson played again at the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park and their confidence in careering from the gritty to the lyrical won them a massive and deserved ovation... if their records can match their live performances they will survive all the bandwagon leaping." 

For years it was assumed that there was no footage of Crimson other than a brief glimpse of an off-stage Fripp peering at Mick Jagger through the potted plants on the Stones In The Park DVD. Minutes later, Fripp and other KC members were unceremoniously thrown out of the back stage area.

However a five-minute snippet was eventually surfaced and was included on the 2009  40th Anniversary Edition of In The Court Of The Crimson King (available from Inner Knot and Burning Shed)

The audience recording of the concert was officially released on CD as KCCC12 in 2002  and is also available as a download from this site.

Were you there at this concert? We'd love to hear from you if so. Get in touch via the guestbook and share you memories of this important concert in the KC calendar.

Now it Seems The Bubble's Burst
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Jul 4, 2014
Hardly a week goes by without a story appearing claiming the major labels are enjoying a resurgence in revenues, but here's a report in Variety which says album and digital sales are slumping. 

Robert Autographs A Strat For Charity
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Jul 3, 2014
There's an opportunity to donate to charity and win yourself a Stratocaster signed by Robert Fripp in support of the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Find out more details here. 

Where's Pat?
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Jul 3, 2014
After the Venturing Unto Joy Part 1 clip went live earlier this week, Gavin Harrison took a listen and said to himself "Hang on, that’s Pat Mastelotto on drums as well!" A phone call from Jakko to DGMLive Towers then pointed out the error in the shownotes and listing details, which have now been amended. Our apologies to Pat for airbrushing him out of this particular Hot Tickle KC moment. 

The First Download?
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Jul 2, 2014
My thanks to The Dork Report for sending in this particular head-scratcher. Can anyone help?  "A new article by Vice has identified the first official digital download as "Head First" by Aerosmith, June 27, 1994.

I’m digging deep into my college-age memories here, but does anybody else remember "Cage" being available as an official download on the nascent world wide web? This would have been circa late 1994, around the time the VROOOM EP landed. I also remember David Bowie releasing "Telling Lies" as a digital single a year or two later.

Is my memory deceiving me, or does King Crimson deserve some recognition as pioneers in the (legit) digital download biz"

a few hours after posting the above news item this came in from via Salex33 the guestbook:

I checked the ET newletter archive. There is one mention of a Cage Digital download made by Chris Van Allen on Friday 11 August 1995.

It seems it was avaliable at this address:

On This Date 40 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Jul 1, 2014
King Crimson played their final show of 1974 in New York's Central Park.

Of this momentous concert John Wetton comments “If I shuffle off this mortal coil tomorrow that gig would be the one for me. That was the one…it was almost tearful, it was so emotional.”

Memorable for not only being the last date with David Cross but also for Fripp the first gig “since the 1969 Crimson where the bottom of my spine registered ‘out of this world’ to the same degree.”

Of the improv, Cerberus, John recalls “It's very together. It's almost telepathic the stuff Bill and I are doing…The energy level is terrifying.” And so it is. An unbelievably poignant gig marking the end of an era but the beginning of something else.

Just a week later with David Cross no longer with them, they entered the studio to start recording Red and just two months after that, King Crimson would "cease to exist."

Brass Nerve
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Tue., Jul 1, 2014
There's been a lot of interest on Facebook about the brass band on Segways playing 21st Century Schizoid Man. Now here's trumpet player Mederic Collignon with his take on LTIA Pt2. Thanks to EnoMan for the link. 

Mister Stormy's Monday Selection
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jun 30, 2014
Want to hear a bit of the latest line-up of King Crimson? Well, thanks to Mister Stormy, now you can!

Bowness Charts
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Jun 30, 2014
Abandoned Dancehall Dreams by Tim Bowness, which features prominent contributions from King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto and Andrew Keeling, has entered the Rock Top 40 section of the official UK album charts at #18.

You can grab the album here and read my take on it over on the blog.

On This Date 40 Years Ago
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Sat., Jun 28, 2014
On this date 40 years ago King Crimson played to a half-empty Casino at Asbury Park on a wet and windy night as part of the final leg of a tour that was meant to break them commercially in the States, but ended instead breaking up the band. 

Image courtesy of: Dave Reininger

A few days after this gig they returned to England, recorded Red and then King Crimson was in Fripp’s words at the time "completely over for ever and ever.”

With its contents drawn largely from this gig, a posthumously released USA, garnered critical applause and brickbats in roughly equal measure.  Even the normally Crim-sceptic Rolling Stone cited the fade on Easy Money as perplexing and frustrating.

As life moved on, with Fripp heading into retreat, Wetton and Bruford both off to too many bands to mention and David Cross en route towards sessions and eventually academia, USA was finally deleted and long forgotten. 

Except it wasn’t.

Spooling forward a few years to the internet age it became evident that those who held this period of the band in high esteem saw USA and this particular concert as a kind of Holy Grail.

It was a regular topic on message boards and news groups who called for the album to be released on CD and the tracks restored to their imagined pre-edited glory.

When, finally reissued in 2002 as part of King Crimson’s 30th anniversary editions, although tracks from the rest of Casino gig concert had been added, somewhat perversely Fripp decided against undoing the edits rendered in 1975.

Though its release was roundly welcomed it was surely a frustrating and bittersweet moment for fans looking forward to hearing what happened next on Asbury Park or Easy Money

Image courtesy of: Mike Dowd

For that they would have to wait until November 2005 and the launch of DGMLive.  It was no surprise given the clamour for it over the years that the very first download on this site was for 28th June, 1974.  

Presented uncut for the very first time using unreleased mixes from the multitracks, and without the added Eddie Jobson overdubs, the power of this gig is tangible.  Despite the internal politics and tensions of the period, the band taps into a ferocious energy that never stops burning. Wetton is especially inventive, infusing the material with a brutal force.

At the other end of the sonic spectrum Fripp’s sparkling clarity produces a consistently powerful performance that must rank amongst his very best.

And what about those edits Fripp and Wettton had made in 1975? Although it’s nice finally to have the full version, some (myself included) would grudgingly accept that the cut on Asbury Park and the fade-out on Easy Money were probably right in terms of the dynamics of the original album release. 

From the grumbling rasp of LTIApt2 through to the ecstatic demands for an encore, this is a classic Crimson show in every respect. Indispensable to fans and worth every bit of the attention the show has received over the years. 

Even if concerts live on forever sometimes the venues which housed them don’t. This was the state of the casino after its closure in 2005.

Head over here to see some more of Mike Black’s photos.

What are your thoughts on this concert? What about the edits - right decision or wrong move? Get onto the guestbook and let us know.

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