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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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Matt's Essential Platters
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 14, 2015
Matt Stevens, the very fine guitarist with The Fierce And The Dead, talks about his ten essential progressive rock albums and includes a bit of KC. Read all about it here. 

Bookies Of Saturday
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 14, 2015
King Crimson made the newspapers in the UK yesterday. Read all about it here. 

To Viddy Or Not To Viddy
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Aug 10, 2015
My thanks to Intrepid for sending this link in which actor Benedict Cumberbatch appeals for people to stop filming his performances. 

Thrak and THRAK BOX preorder
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 7, 2015
The 40th Anniversary Edition of Thrak and the 16disc THRAK BOX to be released in October 2015 are now available for preorder.

USA Vinyl Preorder
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 7, 2015
The second live King Crimson album, originally released in 1975, is being reissued in a splendid 200gm heavyweight vinyl edition in September.

More Words About Data & Cents
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Fri., Aug 7, 2015
My thanks to rrrossi for this link wherein David Byrne talks about the lack of transparency in the music industry as a whole. 

Everything you wanted to know about the THRAK BOX...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Thu., Aug 6, 2015
The 40th Anniversary Series reissues resume with the arrival of the THRAK BOX later this year. Here’s a helpful Q&A that tells you what you can expect from the the voluminous 16-disc set includes.


Q: What’s a THRAK BOX?

A: As the name suggests, it’s a boxed set of material by King Crimson drawn from the double trio line-up of the mid-1990s. 

Q: Ooh, I liked that line-up. What’s in it then?

A: 12CDs, 1DVD-a, 1DVD & 2Blu-Ray discs, featuring studio & live recordings, many previously unreleased, from the earliest band rehearsals to their final gathering in Nashville in 1997. 

In addition, much of the material is presented in new 5.1 Surround & Hi-Resolution stereo mixes.

Q: Tell me more.. what’s on the CDs?

A: CD1: JurassiKc THRAK - is an assemblage of material from the recording sessions for the album compiled by David Singleton - similar to ’Keep That One Nick’ on the Larks’ Tongues Boxed set - placing the listener in the studio with the band as the material was composed and recorded. You can, for example, hear the band experimenting with different drums parts for "Inner Garden" & a wonderful early vocal before that song was divided into two. Similar excitements await listeners with all the other songs. There are also seven pieces that didn’t make it onto the final album.

CD2: Max VROOOM - features the long-unavailable mini-album VROOOM, augmented with tracks & edits from the KC Club release: The VROOOM Sessions - all material re-compiled & remastered at DGM.

CD3: THRAK - is the 2002 remaster of the original album.

CD4: ATTAKcATHRAK (The Vicar’s THRAK) – is a sort of sequel to THRaKaTTaK insofar as it’s assembled from live improvs - but simultaneously very different – one of David Singleton’s best pieces of production. The editing process for the new improv album provides more form and function to the material without compromising the spirit of the original improvs.

Unlike THRaKaTTaK, which was based on stereo board recordings, this album is newly mixed in both stereo and surround sound from multi-track tapes.

CD5: THRAK - is the 2015 Jakko Jakszyk/Robert Fripp remix of the original album, described by Robert Fripp as “transformative – a re-imagining of stereo in the early 21st century.”

CD6: Byte Size THRAK - is a compilation of singles edits, live tracks from promos, a 12" mix edit – some of which are making their debut appearance on commercially available disc & extracts from writing sessions from the final Nashville rehearsals in 1997.

CDs7/8: Kcensington THRAK -is a newly mixed release of the band’s London concerts in 1995. Mixed from multi-track tapes by Jakko Jakszyk, and mastered by David Singleton & Robert Fripp ("to make it rock even harder" apparently). Other than video releases, it is also the first live show from this band available in surround sound (see Blu-Ray below). 

CDs 9/10: New YorKc THRAK - features a complete setlist from the 1995 run of shows in the city, some material previously released on VROOOM  VROOOM (now deleted) & the KC Club release On Broadway. Drawn from multi-track tapes, mixed by Adrian Belew & Ken Latchney - all newly remastered at DGM.

CDs 11/12: AzteKc THRAK - features a complete setlist from the Mexico City concerts in 1996 - released, in part, on VROOOM VROOOM - mixed from the original multi-tracks by Robert Fripp, R Chris Murphy & David Singleton & recently remastered at DGM.

Q: Sounds great, what’s on the Hi-Res discs?


If the stereo material sounds wonderful (& it does) the Hi-Res stereo & especially the 5.1 Surround Sound mixes are a revelation. This is a line-up that’s best heard in multi-channel Surround Sound.

Blu-Ray I is, we believe, the most comprehensive Hi-Res audio only disc yet assembled & features three complete albums 5.1 Surround Sound mixes: THRAK, ATTAKcATHRAK & Kcensington THRAK.

These three albums also appear in Hi-Res stereo - THRAK in both its original & new stereo mixes - plus a further three complete albums are included in Hi-Res stereo, JurassiKc THRAK, THRAKaTTAK & the official live bootleg of one of the earliest shows by the double trio in Argentina: B’Boom.

A recipient of a test disc of BD1 summed it up: “The blu-ray audio is astonishing and presents all the material in a glorious new light.  I can’t say enough about the wonder of this blu-ray.”

Here’s a full list of contents:
THRAK 2015 mix
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 24/96

LPCM Stereo 24/96

LPCM 5.1 Surround 24/96
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 24/48

LPCM Stereo 24/48

LPCM 5.1 Surround 24/48
THRAK Original Mix 2002 remaster
LPCM Stereo 24/96
LPCM Stereo 24/48
Kcensington THRAK
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 24/48

LPCM Stereo 24/48

LPCM 5.1 Surround 24/48
LPCM Stereo 24/48
JurassiKc THRAK
LPCM Stereo 24/48

Blu-Ray II is no less complete & features an audio/visual feast:

1) A complete concert filmed live at The Warfield Theatre, San Francisco from 1995 - previously unreleased - with all footage newly transferred from the original tapes, mastered for high definition and 5.1 Surround Sound newly mixed by David Singleton from the multi-track tapes of the show

2) The live footage from the 1995 Live in Japan performance - all footage newly transferred from the original tapes, mastered for High Definition with the original surround sound remastered by David Singleton & Neil Wilkes. 

3) Tony’s Road Movies - footage of the band on the road as filmed by Tony Levin - all footage newly mastered for High Definition & featuring a soundtrack of previously unreleased material drawn from the band’s earliest rehearsals in 1994  - the first time that Robert Fripp, Trey Gunn, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto and Bill Bruford met together (at Bill’s own studio). Originally captured in stereo on DAT, the audio has been up-mixed to Surround Sound so that all of the video features can be enjoyed in multi-channel audio.

4) The EPK of the making of the THRAK album at Peter Gabriel’s RealWorld Studios with newly mixed Surround Sound audio.

Additionally, this disc is being built to include a further unique feature whereby, with a press of a button, the disc will function as a pure audio disc for all audio material featured in the audio/video section.

Both blu-ray discs set new standards for what can be done with this format.

The DVD-a disc features THRAK in 5.1 Surround Sound & Hi-Res stereo of both the new & original mixes.

& the DVD features The Warfield Theatre concert & Tony’s Road Movies.

Q: Wow, that’s comprehensive but why include dvds & Blu-Ray - sharing material?

A number of reasons:

1) It wouldn’t make sense to try to make two editions - 1 with DVD/DVD-a & one with Blu-Ray.

2) Some fans want both - especially in America where a number of in car systems are DVD-a compatible.

3) Some fans want both if they currently have DVD & intend to buy a Blu-Ray player.

4) By including all options within the one set we can make it usable by the widest possible audience. None of the Blu-Ray or dvd/dvd-a discs are region locked & the dvd-a is a hybrid disc fully compatible with all dvd players.

Q: OK, but what if I can’t afford the box but still want to hear the new stereo & 5.1 mixes?

A CD/DVD-a release in the same format as the other KC40th anniversary series will be issued on the same day.

Q: When is that?


Mid-October - the 16th is the date we’re aiming for.

Q: Hmm, on second thoughts, I might be able to persuade my partner to get the big box for me as a Christmas present.

A: Good for you. Tell them to buy a large sheet of wrapping paper. The box will be in the same format & size as the previous boxed sets devoted to the 1972/4 line-ups – a 12" box with full-sized booklet, containing new liner notes, full details of the musical content, photos (some previously unseen) & memorabilia - lots to read & look at while listening & an ideal shelf mate for any of the LTIA/Road To Red/Starless sets when stored.

Q: Will I be able to hear any of the new material before I commit to buying the set (or convincing someone else to buy it for me)?

A: Yes, keep checking the DGMLive website where we’ll be posting audio (& maybe video) extracts in the weeks leading up to release.

Q: When can I order it?

A: Both the CD/DVD-a & the boxed set should be available to pre-order from Inner Knot or Burning Shed (mail order) & at local retailers everywhere by Mid-August (possibly earlier). DGMLive.com will announce a pre-sell date as soon as it’s confirmed.

Q: Thanks.

A:You’re welcome.

Meanwhile at the vinyl factory...
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Wed., Aug 5, 2015

More details soon...

Classic Crimson Promised On Tour
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Aug 3, 2015
With less than a month to go before King Crimson start their first UK tour since 1982, tickets are beginning to sell out, as can be seen from this advert...

The band will be playing more classic repertoire, some of it for the first time in the UK, from In The Court Of The Crimson King, In The Wake Of Poseidon, Islands, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Starless And Bible Black and Red. Other periods of Crimson will also be featured in what promises to be a dream setlist for Crimheads. Additionally, and perhaps more significantly, they will also be unveiling brand new material arising from their run of rehearsals in 2015.  Not for nothing is the tour entitled: The Elements Past, Present And Future.

Given the rarity of King Crimson touring around the UK it’s probably best to grab a ticket for remaining dates in Aylesbury, and the extra dates added in Salford, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

31st Aug Friars Aylesbury
01st Sep Friars Aylesbury
03rd Sep Cardiff, St.David’s Hall
05th Sep Brighton Dome [SOLD OUT]
07th Sep Hackney Empire, London [SOLD OUT]
08th Sep Hackney Empire, London
11th Sep Lowry, Salford [SOLD OUT]
12th Sep Lowry, Salford
14th Sep Symphony Hall, Birmingham [SOLD OUT]
15th Sep Symphony Hall, Birmingham
17th Sep Usher Hall, Edinburgh [SOLD OUT]
18th Sep Usher Hall, Edinburgh

The Symphony Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists
:: Posted by Sid Smith on Mon., Aug 3, 2015

Robert Fripp will be directing his last Guitar Circle course of Europe in October and is calling for 100 guitarists to join him in forming The Symphony Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists. 

For one week the guitarists will live and work together in Koos Vorrinkhuis, Lage Vuursche, Holland from October 11th - 17th.  Fripp explains “The house holds one hundred people, and I am hopeful that the hundred people necessary to form The Symphony Orchestra Of Crafty Guitarists will arrive. To be part of an ensemble of this size is a rare opportunity. The SOCG will be my final Guitar Circle undertaking in Europe in the foreseeable future. Time to move on.”

Full details on the course and the conditions for application can be found here.

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