Monday, October 31, 2016

King Crimson - Beat (40th Anniversary CD/DVD) (DGM, 2016)

Coming hard on the heels of Discipline, King Crimson's triumphant 1981 return to form, Beat is the first King Crimson album to have the same personnel as the previous one and this stability allows them to craft another excellent set of songs, adding new wave and world music elements into their progressive rock format. The group had coalesced around the leader and guitarist Robert Fripp, guitarist, percussionist and vocalist Adrian Belew, bassist and Chapman Stick player Tony Levin and percussionist Bill Bruford. As can be inferred by the title, the inspiration for the material on this album is the writing of the avant-garde poets and writers of the Beat Generation, like the driving lead off track, "Neal and Jack and Me," which motors along with the energy of an all-night amphetamine fueled writing and talking session, adding allusions to beat figureheads Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac. "The Howler" also evokes the great beat poet Alan Ginsberg and his famous and controversial poem "Howl." "Heartbeat" and "Waiting Man" show the group approaching a newfound sensitivity, nearing ballad tempos at times, but also with complex and exciting rhythmic and tempo changes included. "Neurotica" is a blasting composition that matches the exciting nervousness of the lyrics about the madness of city living with explosive instrumental accompaniment, featuring ripping guitars, pulsating bass and Stick and stirring percussive work. This album is a very string set of songs, and even spawned a 12-inch single at one point. This is a two-disc set that features the 2016 stereo mix on a compact disc and surround sound and high-definition stereo mixes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp as well as three rare video performances on the accompanying DVD. There are very interesting liner notes, drawing from Robert Fripp's diary as well as the historical perspective given by Sid Smith's essay and extra photographs. This is a very well designed package and provides a wealth of material for fans to sift through. Beat (CD/ DVD-Audio) 40th Anniversary - amazon.com

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