King Crimson

Collectors' King Crimson, Vol. 8

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This imported box set is available for those outside North America and the EEU who wish to partake of classic King Crimson from the vaults of the venerable Crimson King himself, guitarist Robert Fripp. This volume includes material from the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Discipline Global Mobile Collectors' Club releases -- respectively consisting of two distinctly different incarnations from 1972 and a composite of 1997 improvisations from the ProjeKct One fraKctilization of the larger early- to mid-'90s six-man lineup. Taken in order of their release, ProjeKct One's four-day-long lifespan -- December 1 to December 4, 1997 -- at London's Jazz Cafe is up first. The quartet featured Bill Bruford (drums, percussion, mixing), Fripp (guitar), Trey Gunn (Warr guitar), and Tony Levin (bass, Chapman Stick, synthesizer) and was the first confab to have splintered off once the larger unit disbanded. It is also marked by Bruford's concluding role as a King Crimson associate. The three "Suites" extracted from the four evenings' worth of performances vary less in their free-for-all structure and execution, relying more upon each individual's efforts than a singular group mindset -- not that there is anything wrong or even undesirable in that scenario. In fact, those who enjoy hearing the band during its further-out sonic excursions shouldn't pass up at least a cursory spin of these suites. It is worthwhile noting that these are edited and reconfigured from four separate shows and aren't presented the way the gigs actually went down. Of the trio, "Suite Two" stands out as an exemplary sampling of the delicate balance between Levin and Bruford's limber rhythm-section work as it goes head to head with Fripp's off-the-chain fretwork, creating a vibrant fusion akin to Miles Davis' electric late-'60s era. Live in Orlando, FL 1972 is the most complete, with Fripp (guitar, Mellotron) joined by Boz Burrell (bass, lead vocals), Mel Collins (sax, flute, Mellotron), and Ian Wallace (drums, vocals). The concert is among those excerpted on King Crimson's first live long-player, 1972's Earthbound, and although the sound is far from audiophile grade, the inspired "The Sailor's Tale" as well as the instrumental wails of "Groon" and "Earthbound" truly capture the combo in its prime. Of equal note is the comparatively languid "Cadence and Cascade" and the demented carnival atmosphere on "Cirkus" -- especially Burrell's distorted and downright scary vocals. The final installment of the Collectors' Club on Collector's King Crimson, Vol. 8 is from later the same year as King Crimson broke up and were reconfigured with Fripp (guitar, Mellotron), Bruford (drums), David Cross (violin, flute, Mellotron), Jamie Muir (percussion, allsorts), and John Wetton (bass, vocals) on November 13 at Civic Hall in Guildford, Surrey, England. They had been together for only a few months and their youthfulness is expressed in an ability to take on new challenges, essentially liberating themselves from all former manifestations of the Mighty Crim. The repertoire points the way to Larks' Tongues in Aspic with the blazing "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 1" that is dynamically juxtaposed with an early but sublime "Book of Saturday" -- known then as "Daily Games" when Fripp mentions it from the stage. The nearly half-hour "Improv: All That Glitters Is Not Nail Polish" must be heard to be believed -- making Live in Guildford, 1972 worth the price of admission in and of itself.

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