King Crimson

The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 2: 1981-2003

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

It appears that just when you thought the folks at Discipline Global Mobile had re-released every single King Crimson track in as many configurations as possible, they surprise you with another compilation: 2005's The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 2: 1981-2003. Following in the footsteps of 2004's The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 1: 1969-1974, the second volume combines the best tracks from Crimson's studio albums from the advertised period, as well as mixing in live takes and rarities. When Crimson reconvened in 1980 after an extended hiatus, no one could have predicted that the group would have more in common sonically with Talking Heads and the Police than Yes and Genesis. But with newcomers Adrian Belew (vocals/guitar) and Tony Levin (bass/stick) joining previous Crimson members Robert Fripp (guitar) and Bill Bruford (drums), the "new look" Crimson managed to be quite musically daring without the bloat of '70s-era prog, and in a few instances, managed to be (gasp!) accessible. This point is proven on disc one of Vol. 2: 1981-2003, as highlights are plucked from the group's trio of studio albums from the early '80s: 1981's Discipline, 1982's Beat, and 1984's Three of a Perfect Pair. Also included are several rarities that only hardcore fans will have heard previously: the self-descriptive "King Crimson Barbershop" from 1982 as well as several latter-day tracks off the obscure 2004 EP Happy with What You Have to Be Happy With. Disc two shows early-'80s Crimson flexing their muscles in concert (with the majority of the tracks coming from the 1998 release Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal 1984), while discs three and four focus on the group's mid-'90s to early-21st century period. With the group toughening up its sound and adding a few new members to the Belew/Fripp/Levin/Bruford lineup (before scaling back to a four-piece lineup that saw only Belew and Fripp remain), the band sounds very Tool-esque on the selections from 1995's THRAK, 2000's The ConstruKction of Light, and 2003's The Power to Believe. And as an added bit on the end of disc four, you get a taste of a few Crimson offshoot projects, including ProjeKct One (Bruford, Fripp, Levin, and Trey Gunn) and ProjeKct Two (Belew, Fripp, and Gunn). The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 2: 1981-2003 is best suited for those looking to dig deep into the "Adrian Belew phase" of Crimson. But if you're a longtime fan who already has most of Crimson's studio albums and archival releases, there isn't much here that you probably don't already own.

blue highlight denotes track pick