Saturday, December 20, 2014

King Crimson: The Birth of Progressive Rock

One of the pioneering bands of progressive-rock, King Crimson came together in 1968, with guitarist Robert Fripp, drummer Michael Giles, saxophone/flute player, Ian McDonald, lyricist Peter Sinfield and bassist Greg Lake. The band chose the name, “King Crimson,” and headed to the studio in 1969, where they recorded one of the greatest albums in rock history, “In the Court of the Crimson King.” The album was an artistic set of songs ranging from the hard rock of “21st Century Schizoid Man” to the beautiful and dreamy ballad, “I Talk to the Wind.” The album is superbly written, arranged, and produced and contains unforgettable songs.

Peter Giles replaced Lake on bass and Ian McDonald departed, and with their new lineup King Crimson recorded “In the Wake of Poseidon” (1970) which was a lesser version of the previous record. The jazzy, “Lizard” (1970) and “Islands” (1971) would follow, but none of these albums came anywhere close to matching the brilliance of the debut.

Robert Fripp put together a new lineup featuring bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Bill Bruford, violinist David Cross, percussionist Jamie Muir and lyricist Richard Palmer-James. This lineup was a harder rocking unit and recorded “Larks Tongues in Aspic” (1971) and “Starless and Black Bible” (1973), the best records the band had made since their brilliant debut.

Fripp brought back Ian McDonald for “Red” (1974), one of the band’s most-acclaimed releases. Despite almost constant lineup changes, King Crimson has forged ahead with guitarist Robert Fripp as the constant thread holding them together.
The best releases of this band’s most recent work included the following: “USA” (1975), “Discipline” (1981), “The Great Deceiver: Live 1973-1974” (1992), “Thrak” (1996), “The Night Watch” (1997), and “Absent Lovers: Live in Montreal 1984” (1998).
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