The 26th installment in the King Crimson Collectors' Club contains a set from the 1980s re-formation featuring Adrian Belew (guitar/vocals), Bill Bruford (drums/percussion), Robert Fripp (guitar), and Tony Levin (bass). The show in question hails from the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia, PA, on July 30, 1982, shortly after the release of Beat, the second of three LPs from this incarnation. Not surprisingly, a majority of their repertoire consists of material from that album and its predecessor, 1981's Discipline. Even though Fripp and Bruford had returned to the fold from the 1974 aggregate, the reinvention brought a modern approach, which naturally yielded King Crimson a thoroughly fresh musical visage. "Thela Hun Ginjeet" kicks off the festivities as a high-energy prologue of things to come. Couched between Belew's frenzied narrative and blazing guitar squeals and Fripp's sharp and incisive fretwork is the flawless execution of the propelling rhythm section. "Red" follows, bearing further power and precision than it had boasted back some eight years earlier. Belew's sinuous electric guitar and Levin's full-bodied undulations further weave within the distinct melodies. "The Howler" is a recent addition, boasting an urgency girding the swirling arrangement that overpowers its studio counterpart. Again Belew hurls himself into the performance, maneuvering the slippery time signatures with formidable passion. In light of the incendiary rendering heard here, it is simply baffling that the tune did not remain in their repertoire for very long. A similar vibrancy races through "Neurotica"; the incredible intensity will leave the listener as spent and satisfied as the musicians must surely have been. Belew's exceptional songwriting is worthy of mention in the form of the loping and languid love song "Matte Kudasai," as well as the pop-infused "Heartbeat." Concluding the disc is a brisk "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2," bearing much of the same frenetic force that began and unified the outing. While the Collectors' Club is a multi-volume series in progress, enthusiasts and the curious alike will find 2004's Live in Philadelphia, PA: July 30, 1982 to be one of the strongest statements from this era of King Crimson.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer