King Crimson

Collectors' King Crimson, Vol. 7

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This import box set highlights three historically significant aural documents by King Crimson taken from the mail-order-only Discipline Global Mobile Collectors' Club. The first entry features a 1969 Hyde Park performance, followed by portions of a dialogue between the original "team" -- including bandmembers, crew, and management -- captured at the listening party for Epitaph (1997) as well as a previously unissued instrumental studio version of "21st Century Schizoid Man." This very good -- but not superior -- sounding audience tape commences with Mick Jagger's introduction as he predicts that this "new band is gonna go a long way." The quartet immediately launches headlong into the first of three tunes that would be featured on their debut long-player, In the Court of the Crimson King. The precision and fire in this reading of "21st Century Schizoid Man" easily matches, if not arguably surpasses, the intensity and ferocity of any other available version. The performance of the upcoming album's title track, "In the Court of the Crimson King," is notable as it has not yet gone through the lyrical alterations which would be included on the LP. Perhaps the most revealing music played during this set is the extended suite of "Epitaph," "Mantra," "Travel Weary Capricorn," and Holst's "Mars." The band's ability to musically maneuver and bond themselves at times resembles the rugged precision of an orchestra. Next up is the two-disc Live at the Zoom Club 1972. Without question, this set is one of the most satisfying volumes thus far in the series of archival releases -- in spite of the less-than-pristine sound quality of the unauthorized audience tape. The inherent beauty lies within the spirit and uniqueness, which yields consistent brilliance throughout. This October 13, 1971, set is the public debut of the third distinct group of musicians assembling under the King Crimson moniker. As the previous incarnation of the band had done, the intimate confines of the Zoom Club in Frankfurt, Germany, were chosen as their launch pad. This set -- if not exact recording -- has surfaced on numerous bootlegs; however, the sonic restorations done for this legit release prove heroic in comparison. The band in question includes the respective talents of Robert Fripp (guitar/mellotron), David Cross (violin/flute/mellotron), John Wetton (bass/vocals), Bill Bruford (percussion), and Jamie Muir (percussion/allsorts). Although Muir's tenure ultimately lasted less than a year, his influence is indelible and absolute. The same can be said of the audible percussive gestures he makes while directing the band into some of their most intense and profound instrumental explorations, one of his most notable contributions being the shimmering cymbal intro to the primordial "Book of Saturday." Additionally, in a nod to a technique perfected by multi-reedsmith Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Muir maneuvers the combo into the improvisational "Zoom" with the wail of a police whistle. Finally, the Champaign-Urbana Sessions January 17-30, 1983 are haphazard bits and pieces recorded during a two-week confab held by King Crimson in early 1983 between the Beat (1982) and Three of a Perfect Pair (1984) albums. The quartet regrouped in a portable recording facility at C.V. Lloyd Music Center in, of all places, Champaign, IL. "Fragmented" develops rhythmic staccato patterns that prominently feature Tony Levin (bass/Chapman stick) and Bill Bruford (drums) in much the same progression as "Industry" on Three of a Perfect Pair. Parallels can also be drawn from "Robert and Bill" to "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III." Other pieces, such as the techno-thrash of "San Francisco" or the tight funk developed on "Not One of Those," are frustratingly good snippets that, simply put, lack the direction of a fully realized King Crimson performance. Then there are tracks in between, such as "ZZZZ's," containing a well-defined groove similar to what the quartet developed on "Sleepless." Yet the melody seems to hearken back to "Thela Hun Ginjeet" from Discipline (1981) as well as to the title track for Three of a Perfect Pair.

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