This volume contains several historically significant aural documents of the original 1969 King Crimson. Although the centerpiece is the 40-minute live Hyde Park performance, also included are 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." King Crimson's set list is fairly typical of what the band performed during the spring and summer of 1969 in London-area clubs like the Speakeasy and the Marquee. 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. The bonus tracks include a quarter-hour's worth of banter between the original band, equipment crew, and management. Their comments are often funny and insightful, yet always candid. They recall their reactions in 1997 to hearing recordings of the 1969 band for the first time and, like old soldiers, are brimming with mutual admiration as well as war stories. The final track is an early instrumental version of "21st Century Schizoid Man," which was scrapped after the band decided to produce themselves.
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AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer