Wednesday, November 23, 2016

King Crimson - On (and Off) The Road 1981-1984 (DGMLive, 2016)

In what has become a yearly autumnal tradition, the great progressive rock band King Crimson releases another lavish boxed set covering an aspect of the band’s history. This time the period covered is their tight trio of albums recorded in the early 1980’s with the lineup of leader and guitarist Robert Fripp, guitarist, vocalist and lyricist Adrian Belew, bassist and Chapman Stick player Tony Levin and drummer Bill Bruford. This was a taut and explosive unit that made both some of the poppiest and accessible songs in the band’s history along with explorative instrumentals all of which were played with admirable virtuosity. This exhaustive set presents the three studio albums the band recorded during this period, Discipline, Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair in remastered form as regular CD’s and high resolution formats. There are several live albums included in the collection, especially notable is a remastered version of Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal, which captured their last gig together as a band and also finds them in truly extraordinary form, mixing in classic compositions from the band’s earlier incantation, like “Red” and “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Pt.II” with some of the great song form based material from the period like the driving title track, the galloping "Thela Hun Ginjeet" and subtle, quieter material like the gentle slide guitar drenched ballad "Matte Kudasai." There is a generous amount of live material, including remastered DVD’s of the Three of a Perfect Pair: Live in Japan and Live at Frejus 1982 videos as well as various video clips of the band in action. There are a couple of interesting behind the scene parts, like the Are You Recording Gary? disc, which peeks into the inner-workings of the group, in a collage which was put together by David Singleton from original album session tapes. The Live at Moles Club disc is also very interesting, being a raw and exciting live performance taken from an audience cassette recording of the very first live performance by this quartet, while the band was still called Discipline, and would lead Robert Fripp to realize that this was truly King Crimson after all. There is a generous amount of liner material and ephemera included in the boxed set and it makes for a fascinating trawl through this ever changing and always exciting band. On (and Off) The Road 1981 - 1984 (CD/ DVD-a/ BluRay) - amazon.com

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