Saturday, December 16, 2017

King Crimson - Official Bootleg. Live in Chicago, June 28th, 2017 (DGM, 2017)

Since the venerable progressive rock band King Crimson resumed its improbable journey in 2013, there has been a steady stream of live material in the form of official bootlegs like this one and more planned out compact disc and video releases. This version of the band has grown to an octet, with three drummers, two guitarists, bass, reeds and Robert Fripp, the benign dictator, ruling over it all. This is a "warts and all" soundboard recording from their summer tour of the USA, so you get the occasional yahoo yelling out for their favorite song, which does nothing to dissuade the band from performing their chosen set which by this time incorporates material like "21st Century Schizoid Man" through to newer tracks like the intricate song "The Errors" and the blistering "Meltdown." They even incorporate some Adrian Belew written material, a controversial move until a detente was reached between Belew and Fripp. The band carves up "Neurotica" and especially "Indiscipline" but vocalist (and guitarist) Jakko Jakszyk seems a little uncomfortable singing the material, opting for a tentative half-spoken approach. He is much more comfortable interpenetrating the 1970-1972 music of the band that has been somewhat overlooked prior to the release of this years epic Sailors' Tale boxed set which reviews that period of the band in exhaustive depth. "The Lizard Suite" is a surprise, carving off some of the most dynamic bits of the original twenty-three minute side long monster. The title track to "Islands" is quite beautiful, featuring subtle piano from Bill Rieflin and tender flute from Mel Collins. Collins is an unsung hero throughout the album, he was in the band in the early 1970's and brings a clutch of reed instruments to the party, deftly finding the right one for each occasion. There is a devastating version of "Pictures of a City" which allows the band to move from delicate a introduction to a cro-magnon stomp over the course of ten exciting minutes. The group hits their stride playing songs from the band's 1973-74 glory years, including the subtle and dynamic "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part One" which is then following up with it's proto heavy metal evil twin "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part Two" along with the exhilaration instrumental "Red." The inclusion of the Red era album track "Fallen Angel" is a pleasant surprise, incorporating strong vocals and powerful swelling music to excellent effect. The inclusion of the anthemic David Bowie track "Heroes" was a fine choice, giving a much deserved nod to a fallen compatriot, and allowing Fripp to reprise the memorable guitar solo he took on the original recording. Overall this was a fine concert and another quality entry into the bands large discography. By incorporating material from their near fifty year history, they are able to give the fans their favorites while challenging themselves and keeping the music fresh. Official Bootleg: Live In Chicago, June 28th, 2017 - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.