Tuesday, November 06, 2018

King Crimson - Meltdown: Live In Mexico City (DGM, 2018)

Since roaring back to life in 2012, the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson has released a number of live albums and official bootlegs as well as a generous helping of free downloads that have charted the band's progress. This latest release is comprised of three compact discs and one blu-ray, consisting of music performed during the band’s five night residency in Mexico City during July 2017. The liner notes of the collection have some wonderful photos, and highlights from bandleader Robert Fripp's diary. Fripp is the only musician to have been in all incarnations of the group going back to 1969, and he states that this version of the group is one of only four definitive formations of the band and the first one since 1981. The band has solidified as an eight piece with the now customary three drummer front line that runs like a fine sports car. The three compact discs represent a typical concert for the 2017 tour, but as Fripp and other musicians mention in the liner notes these concerts were special, the Mexican audiences were particularly respectful and generous, and the band responded in kind by playing at a very high level, performing music from the length of their nearly fifty year career. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" Parts One and Two bookend the first CD, allowing the drummers to enter with a subtle world music feeling on the former and blast righteously along with the guitars in the latter. The dynamism of the percussionists is also on display on tracks "The Hell Hounds of Krim" and "The Talking Drum," which allow them to weave a thoughtful and complex tapestry of percussion that can support or lead the band. After an amicable arrangement with the band's former lyricist Adrain Belew, tracks from the 1980's period of the band have returned to the setlist, as evidenced by the inclusion of slightly re-arranged version of "Indiscipline" and "Neurotica." Well represented are some new compositions that the band have developed, which are quite potent, including the driving title track "Meltdown," but it is also a real treat to hear this larger band play material from the early years of their existence, many which went unplayed from the mid seventies until the band reformed 2012. Tracks such as "Cirkus" and "Islands" are given quite dramatic readings on the first disc, and on the second rare tracks "The Letters" and "Sailor's Tale" make an appearance. Their most well know compositions from the late sixties through the mid seventies receive raucous performances from a skull crushing "Easy Money" and a soaring version of "Red" to simply majestic versions of "Starless" and "21st Century Schizoid Man." The blu-ray has excellent multi-camera footage of a full concert, either in 5.1 surround sound or high resolution stereo, along with extended concert audio, either in 5.1 surround sound or high resolution stereo. Overall it is an excellent package with the band at the height of their powers and offering a wide variety of viewing and listening choices, and it is highly recommended. Meltdown: Live In Mexico City - amazon.com

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