The 18th installment of the DGM collector's club presents a 90-minute live King Crimson set derived from the second evening of a two-night run at the Eastown Theater in Detroit, MI, on November 11, 1971 (initial pressings erroneously list December as the month of the performance). This incarnation of King Crimson adheres to the unspoken, albeit stringent band policy of sounding completely unlike any previous or future version(s) of the group. However, as this performance boldly exemplifies, the ragged drive and sonic tenacity of this quintet are as deeply rooted in post-bop and free jazz as they are in the burgeoning progressive rock movement to which the band has long been speciously linked. King Crimson embarked upon their fall 1971 North American tour in support of the Islands album, which was still a month away from release at the time of this show. Although this is the fourth volume in the DGM collector's club series to feature these particular performers, this mini-tour would be the last to involve founding member Peter Sinfield. His work included significant lyrical contributions in the studio, as well as the band's sound and lights on the road. As evidenced throughout, the nature of this unit thrives on the extended improvisational situations that consistently present themselves. The Islands-era "Formentera Lady" and instrumental counterpart, "Sailor's Tale," are of particular note, as the loose structure encourages primal contributions from Robert Fripp (guitar) and Ian Wallace (drums). Their clever timing and cacophonous exchanges raise the stakes higher and higher until buried in a sonic tidal wave of white noise from a VCS3 synthesizer manipulated off stage by Sinfield. The 12-bar blues reading of "In the Court of the Crimson King" is unfathomable until heard. Additionally, Fripp and Wallace's on-stage banter before the encore reveals a few witty gems. The sound quality of the mixing desk (read: soundboard) tape used for this two-disc set is remarkable for its time. It does, however, reveal some of the limitations of the medium. Among these are the occasional audio dropout and missing song intro or section. So in order to facilitate the changing of the reel of tape, there is an edit during Wallace's drum solo in "Groon." Likewise, the final song, "Lady of the Dancing Waters," ends rather abruptly. These audio anomalies appear slight when measured against the band's weighty and fierce interaction during this performance.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2