King Crimson’s Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair albums are being reissued on vinyl. Fans of the Larks’-era quintet will also be happy to see that a previously unreleased CD soundboard from that incarnation’s first and only UK tour in 1972 is also available for pre-order today. All titles will be released on 26th April.
Three Of A Perfect Pair
Live In Newcastle
The simultaneous release of Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair completes the availability on vinyl of all King Crimson studio albums from 1969 – 1984 for the first time since the late 1980s.
All titles have been manufactured on 200 gram vinyl and cut from masters approved by Robert Fripp. They have never sounded better in the 12” format of their original release.
Beat was released in June 1982 just eight months after the 80s Crimson line-up debut album Discipline. It marked the first occasion where a King Crimson line-up had remained intact for a two album stretch and was also the first album by the band to employ a separate producer – Rhett Davies.
The juxtaposition of lyrics heavily influenced by 50s beat luminaries Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, the complex polyrhythmic musical textures of the ‘80s Crimson, the strength of the songs and the cohesion of the studio performances, all helped the album chart upon release in the US and the UK. Songs like ‘Waiting Man’, ‘Neal and Jack and Me’ and ‘Heartbeat’ became firm favourites with LP buyers and concert goers. ‘Heartbeat’ in particular was an FM radio regular in the US and even merited a promo film shot for the then-emerging music TV market, while one of the album’s twin instrumental tracks ‘Sartori In Tangier’ anticipated the emerging interest in African based rhythmic styles that would become such a fascination for musicians in the latter part of the decade. As ever, Crimson was pushing forward, looking for new methods to communicate internally as a band and externally with an audience. It was, perhaps, the nearest King Crimson ever came to the rock music ‘mainstream’.
Having released two albums in a nine month period between October 1981 and July 1982, Three of a Perfect Pair is the final part of the recorded trilogy begun with Discipline and Beat. Originally released in April 1984, from the pointillist minimalism of the title track through to the urgent rush of ‘Sleepless’ and the album’s closer ‘Larks’ Tongues in Aspic III’ - the only reference to the 1970s incarnations of the band – Crimson’s distinctive mixture of rock, electronica, funk and pure pop songs, ensured the group’s status as one of the most interesting and innovative bands of the decade. Following the release of the album, the band embarked on a tour of Japan and from there America and Canada. At the completion of the last date in July 1984, Fripp, Bruford, Levin and Belew went their separate ways to pursue their respective solo commitments. King Crimson would reconvene in the mid-1990s with a double trio line-up featuring all of the 1908s band members, while the band’s current line-up (2014 – present) features both Robert Fripp and Tony Levin from the 1980s band.
Live in Newcastle tracklist
- Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part One
2. Book of Saturday
3. Improv I
5. Easy Money
6. Improv II
7. The Talking Drum
8. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part Two
It’s remarkable, from this distance in time, to imagine that a band with four chart albums (and an official live bootleg) in its history and the reputation such entailed, could embark on a UK tour, with a completely new line-up featuring just a single surviving founding member, playing a set consisting of newly composed material, some on the spot improvisations and, usually, an encore of one familiar tune – 21st Century Schizoid Man – and be expected by management and promoters not just to fill halls around the country but to sufficiently entertain the audiences from city to city so as not to get bottled off stage. Welcome to King Crimson’s autumn/winter tour of the UK in 1972.
Not only that but, in an era before smart phones and other such devices, a band such as King Crimson could preview an entire album’s worth of material, test, hone, tweak and likely improve upon it in concert prior to taking it into the studio. Weeks before it could be recorded and months before release a band could be reasonably confident that it wouldn’t be freely available to a mass market before the members had made it back to the hotel post-gig.
Of course, some concerts were recorded, fortunately. Of course, some of those emerged as bootlegs, but some were recorded and, for whatever reason, were lost to history. In late 2017 a former road crew member handed a cassette to the band’s manager at a party. He wasn’t sure if it was in the DGM archive. This CD is taken from that recording.
It was also, coincidentally, the first King Crimson concert ever attended by writer and King Crimson biographer Sid Smith. He confirms that the capacity audience was quite content to hear unfamiliar material and respond with enthusiasm to the challenge presented. As he says of the recording: “Had this tape been available to the compilers of the 2012 Larks' Tongues In Aspic: The Complete Recordings 15-disc set, I have absolutely no doubt that this concert would have been the jewel in that particular crown. Good quality examples of the Muir-era quintet are so few and far between that, a soundboard tape like this is a precious find indeed.”
He’s absolutely correct and while this is – buyer beware – taken from a cassette made directly from the soundboard, with all of the audio limitations that implies, even after the DGM restoration team has applied its expertise to the tape, it is also the best single live example of Jamie Muir’s short time with this line-up and it’s there that the magic truly lies. This was King Crimson confidently playing the material that would, for the most part, make up the classic Larks’ Tongues in Aspic album – performed in its near entirety and, improvisations excluded, in the running order that would emerge on vinyl in early 1973 and which is still, some 46 years later, regarded as one of the band’s classic recordings and a classic of the era in which it was performed, recorded and released. Taped with no expectation that it would be used other than, possibly, by a band member wanting to check an element of a previous night’s performance, an imperfect mix direct to cassette from a live feed, un-played since 1972 and still, as thrilling a live recording as you’re likely to encounter in 2019.
The King Crimson Collectors’ Club was launched in 1998, initially as mail order only, with a remit to give collectors the opportunity to buy live soundboard recordings, collections of studio sessions, audio restored historic bootlegs and other non-mainstream band releases. Over the years, several of these titles proved popular enough to be issued through more conventional retail outlets either as released via the club or as part of the King Crimson boxed set series. As the number implies, King Crimson – Live in Newcastle is the 48th title in the series and the club is scheduled to reach its 50th and final release – appropriately enough – in 2019, the King Crimson’s 50th anniversary.