KING CRIMSON — In The Court Of The Crimson King

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KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King cover
4.23 | 35 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1969


A1 21st Century Schizoid Man (Including ''Mirrors'') 6:52
A2 I Talk To The Wind 5:40
A3 Epitaph (Including ''March For No Reason'' And ''Tomorrow And Tomorrow'') 8:30
B1 Moonchild (Including ''The Dream And ''The Illusion'') 12:09
B2 The Court Of The Crimson King (Including ''The Return Of The Fire Witch'' And ''The Dance Of The Puppets'') 8:48

CD (2009,Discipline Global Mobile – DGM5009) reissue's track list:
1-1 21st Century Schizoid Man (2009 Stereo Mix) 7:24
1-2 I Talk To The Wind (2009 Stereo Mix) 6:00
1-3 Epitaph (2009 Stereo Mix) 8:53
1-4 Moonchild (2009 Stereo Mix) 9:02
1-5 The Court Of The Crimson King (2009 Stereo Mix) 9:31
1-6 Moonchild (Full Version) 12:16
1-7 I Talk To The Wind (Duo Version) 4:56
1-8 I Talk To The Wind (Alternate Mix) 6:37
1-9 Epitaph (Backing Track) 9:06
1-10 Wind Session 4:31
1-2 21st Century Schizoid Man (Original Master Edition 2004) 7:24
2-2 I Talk To The Wind (Original Master Edition 2004) 6:04
2-3 Epitaph (Original Master Edition 2004) 8:49
2-4 Moonchild (Original Master Edition 2004) 12:13
2-5 The Court Of The Crimson King (Original Master Edition 2004) 9:26
2-6 21st Century Schizoid Man (Instrumental) 6:47
2-7 I Talk To The Wind (BBC Session) 4:40
2-8 21st Century Schizoid Man (BBC Session) 7:11
2-9 The Court Of The Crimson King Part 1 (Mono Single Version) 3:22
2-10 The Court Of The Crimson King Part 2 (Mono Single Version) 4:31


Bass Guitar, Lead Vocals – Greg Lake
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Michael Giles
Guitar – Robert Fripp
Reeds, Woodwind, Vibraphone [Vibes], Keyboards, Mellotron, Vocals – Ian McDonald
Words By, Other [Illumination] – Peter Sinfield

About this release

Island Records – ILPS 9111 (UK)

The tracklisting is taken from the cover. On the label tracks A1, A3, B1 and B2 are divided in separate subtracks which on the cover appear as part of the ''normal'' track titles.

Recorded at Wessex Sound Studios, London.

Thanks to snobb for the addition


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Crown of Thorns

Time for a little revisionism here methinks... Reviewers of this album are often at a loss to reconcile the disparity between its indisputable influence and its musical merit. In the case of the former, it made Prog fleetingly 'hip' and served to convince the money men that this type of artistic expression could shift shed loads of units. In the case of the latter, we are left with an endearing work that left its inimitable mark on all those who fell within its magical slipstream. Yes, this is one of the most important prog records EVER No, this is NOT the flawless masterpiece touted as a 5 star effort by most of the genre's myopic curators

Therefore, at the risk of appearing bludgeoning, there are only three tracks on this record that you really couldn't live without: 21st Century Schizoid Man - Epitaph - In the Court of the Crimson King

The remainder are pleasant enough but do inevitably betray the origins of the band in its gestation period of hippy 60's pop through freeform freakout wankery. ie. Giles + Giles + Fripp = Flanders + Swann + flares + chemicals

What is also interesting about this record is that it subsequently shaped everyone's perceptions of what King Crimson were about, irrespective of how much they grew and developed over time. To wit, mention the name to anyone over 40 and you will get that lazy response - 'Groovy, peace man, far out, let's all make love etc' - Anyone who has heard the band live circa 69-70 will testify that 'In the Court' only hints at the sort of ferocity and confrontational power that were integral to the Crimson experience. The irony of their 'hippy drippy' label is one that probably hindered Crimson's material success in later incarnations. If you seek further evidence, check out the numerous collectors club releases lovingly remastered by Robert Fripp himself to see the sort of feral jazz intensity they exuded live.

So for me at any rate, this album is not even representative of our fave red critter at the time of its release and it could be argued that 'Court' was culpable in creating a level of expectation amongst it's subjects that the Crimson King was never really in a position to satisfy. Much of this music has aged far less gracefully that that of it's contemporaries (the Nice, Procul Harum, Arthur Brown) and notwithstanding the three indispensable tracks, the earnest apologists for 'Moonchild' must be guilty of intuiting the 'Music of the Spheres' from the sound of their engines idling at a red light.
Before I knew of this group I read in a music magazine that Pete Townsend of The Who had pronounced the first King Crimson album as being "an uncanny masterpiece." Coming from one of my heroes I considered this an overwhelming endorsement and looked forward to hearing it. In late 1969 many of us young rock music aficionados felt that we had "heard it all" and there was nothing new under the sun but we were dead wrong. Once this album was unleashed we knew there were still vast, uncharted territories out there to explore as we entered the next decade.

"21st Century Schizoid Man including Mirrors" (no one, absolutely no one had song titles like these guys!) hit the still free and unsanitized FM airwaves like an aural sledgehammer with its stunning combination of saxophone and distorted guitar blasting through the speakers. Greg Lake's electronically altered vocal was additionally effective in creating what could only be considered "new music." As the song progressed into passages featuring Michael Giles' maniacal drum patterns and Robert Fripp's bizarre guitar riffs we knew that this band was unlike any other on the face of the planet and it was exciting beyond description. The stark contrast they presented with the next cut was definitely straight out of left field. "I Talk to the Wind" is a quiet, peaceful tune that features a gorgeous flute solo from Ian McDonald and a subtle guitar lead. Giles, instead of laying down a normal beat for a ballad, doesn't stay still and plays deftly all around the song but never interferes with the cool ambiance. Huge Mellotron chords draw us into "Epitaph including March for No Reason & Tomorrow and Tomorrow." This is Lake's finest vocal on the album and the lyrics supplied by Pete Sinfield on this tune were the easiest to relate to. It was a turbulent year for the planet and words like "The fate of all mankind, I fear, is in the hands of fools" rang disturbingly true for most of us. After a brooding dirge from the woodwinds we hear Lake's mournful "I feel tomorrow I'll be crying" repeated over and over. Giles' jazzy drum work is extraordinarily unconventional throughout the record but especially toward the end of this song. By now we thought we had a bead on this group but not so. "Moonchild including The Dream and The Illusion" is yet another sharp curve in the road. Starting out as another peaceful ballad, Fripp then surprises us all with a delicate jazz guitar passage, then a long give-and-take sequence with the drums and vibes. It's totally unexpected and brilliantly performed. "The Court of the Crimson King including The Return of the Fire Witch and The Dance of the Puppets" is the fifth and final tune and what a monster it is! McDonald's massive Mellotron sound creates a cavernous atmosphere, Giles continues to fly all over the skins, and Lake provides an ominous vocal as this signature song moves in like a swirling, hot sand storm. It has everything that makes this album unique yet accessible. A Mellotron lead, another fantastic flute performance, a false ending and a calliope precedes the return to the memorable chorus melody featuring Giles' most energetic moments on the drums. Spectacular.

To call this a landmark album is an enormous understatement, especially in the genre of prog rock. It influenced countless musicians and opened up minds to a myriad of possibilities. Unfortunately, this particular lineup would not survive their tour of the USA and one can only wonder what they might have created beyond this. As we now know, King Crimson was to become a temporary harbor for many talented musicians in the years to come and we learned to always anticipate the unexpected from Mr. Fripp & company for better and for worse. More and more Robert was inclined to let his jazz leanings influence the direction the band would go in, much to the chagrin of his record label that wanted something a bit more commercial. The jazz quotient on this record is lower than it would be in the albums that followed so I can only give it 4 stars for that reason. However, only a handful of albums can claim to have shocked the music world as much as this one did.

Members reviews

siLLy puPPy
Although rock music had been becoming more progressive before this release with such artists as the Beatles, Zappa, the Moody Blues and others slowly chipping away at the damn of the progressive reservoir, it was this album that burst open the floodgates and took progressive rock music to a whole new level by stripping away the blues influence and replacing it with classical, jazz and avant-garde.

A very eclectic playlist with mostly accessible songs like “21st Century Schizoid Man” and “The Court of the Crimson King” but also included the inaccessible “Moonchild” which does seem like an exercise of tolerance at times but ultimately is an interesting piece after forcing you to change your musical mindset. A style they would go on to incorporate on future releases.

The album took the world by storm making progressive rock popular and ushering in the next golden age of music. Although it took me longer to love parts of this album than others I ultimately succumbed to its charm and have to give this album no less than 5 stars for its unadulterated brilliance, boldness and importance in musical history.
So many words have been written on the merits of this album, so I'll refrain from getting too deep into them and instead address what is often cited as the album's one flaw: Moonchild, the first song on the second side, which begins unusually gently given the tone of the rest of the album (loud, paranoid, bombastic, sweeping, dramatic, and all the other words that have been applied to it...) and ends up seemingly losing its way in a long quiet section of freeform improvisation which lasts for around 9 minutes or so. (Indeed, in the most recent round of remasters this section was shortened). Taken on its own, the song is highly dissatisfying, but taken as a prelude to the spine-tingling album closer of In the Court of the Crimson King I actually think the free-playing segment works quite well, the improvisation coming together into a gentle but foreboding atmosphere before the first chords of In the Court blare forth.

So, I will join with the masses in giving this one five stars, even though some of the individual songs might only be three star compositions, because this is one of those very few albums which you can say are greater than the sum of their parts.

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