Thursday, April 04, 2013

King Crimson - The Collectible King Crimson Vol.1 (DGM, 2006)

When King Crimson lurched home after a lengthy American tour in 1974, violinist David Cross left the band, leaving guitarist Robert Fripp, bassist and vocalist John Whetton and drummer Bill Bruford to record the incendiary Red LP as a trio with guests. Fripp and Whetton also went through loads of tapes looking to put together a live album from the 1974 tour, eventually called USA and featuring mostly edited pieces from a concert in Asbury Park, NJ. Bowing to fan demand to hear the unedited concert, this two disc set releases the complete Asbury show along with a concert from Mainz, Germany in a bargain priced two-disc set. Pairing these two particular concerts together was a fine idea, as it shows two different sides of this unique band. The concert from Mainz is heavy with improvisation with lengthy sections of the musicians staring unflinchingly into the void with performing with great determination. The group was very tight at this stage, and any member of the group could take the music in a new direction as they developed. It's quite heady stuff, powerful, forceful and almost intimidating in its virtuosity. There are some songs as well, some of the more haunting entries in the band's catalog like the soon to be recorded "Starless" and "Lament" which moves from a ballad to a roaring beast in a few short minutes. It is easy to hear why the Asbury Park concert provided such fodder for the USA live LP as it had a nearly perfect mix of blistering instrumentals "Larks' Tongues In Aspic: Part II" and the spontaneous improvisation "Asbury Park" and excellent version of classic Crimson songs of the period such as "Lament", "Easy Money" and "Starless." The encore of "21st Century Schizoid Man" is thrilling, with the whole band throwing their all into this complicated and terrifying finale. After Red and USA, King Crimson would go into stasis until a very different version reconvened in 1981. Although this particular group was only together for a few short years, they had quite an impact on the possibilities of rock music, influencing Kurt Cobain and a host of other musicians to come. Collectable King Crimson 1 -

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