King Crimson


Composed by Robert Fripp

Song Review by

The instrumental Robert Fripp composition "Red" has lived a somewhat schizophrenic existence. As a studio recording, it was first featured as the title cut from King Crimson's eighth long-player in 1974. As a live performance, "Red" would have to wait six years until the band re-formed -- initially under the guise of Discipline -- and played the song at the Moles Club in Bath, England, in late April of 1981, as documented on Discipline: Live at Moles Club, 1981 (available through the King Crimson Collectors' Club). Since then, it has become a performance staple in all subsequent incarnations of the band as well. The original studio version features Fripp (guitar, Mellotron), John Wetton (bass), and Bill Bruford (percussion). The portentous tone and heavy vibe is an all-out aural attack -- rivaling that of "21st Century Schizoid Man" from the band's 1969 debut. The song's two main components are the heavy thrashing "verses" and the contrasting yet no less ominous middle section or "break." According to Sid Smith's band bio, In the Court of King Crimson, there was an additional musician who contributed the riveting cello accompaniment during the break between the instrumental verses, and who remains undocumented and, alas, uncredited. Seminal versions of "Red" highlighting the various incarnations of King Crimson can be found on Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal 1984, On Broadway: Live in NYC 1995, and even from the Y2K quartet on the Collectors' Club title Live in Nashville, TN 2001.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Red 1974
EG Records 6:16
A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson 1976 Island 6:18
Frame by Frame: The Essential King Crimson 1991 Caroline Distribution 6:17
The Concise King Crimson 1993 Caroline Distribution 6:16
Dinosaur 1995 Virgin 5:53
Sometimes God Hides: The Young Person's Guide to Discipline 1997
Various Artists
Discipline Global Mobile / Discipline 5:52
The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson, Vol. 1: 1969-1974 2004 Discipline Global Mobile 6:15
The Condensed 21st Century Guide to King Crimson: 1969-2003 2006 Discipline 6:15
The Road to Red 2013 Panegyric 6:16