ARTIST: King Crimson
YEAR RELEASED: 1972
CHART ACTION: None
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: 21st Century Schizoid Man (live)
LINEUP: Robert Fripp, Boz Burrell, Mel Collins, Ian Wallace
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A crappily recorded live record by a band on the verge of breaking up (well, at least, leaving Fripp behind). You can imagine…
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: I’m sure that the shows presented here, if you attended them, were pretty good. King Crimson live has always been built on improvisation with unexpected twists and turns and interesting angles on their extant songs.
This record, from their 1972 US tour, was the sound of a band breaking away from its leader. Robert Fripp had once again alienated a band, and by the end of the tour his three bandmates were off doing their own thing. The band was deep into improve, with two of the tracks truly off-the-cuff, and two others variations on already recorded instrumentals. Only “21st Centry Schizoid Man” is somewhat recognizable from the record and it’s powerful and scary.
That would be great, and many fantastic live Crimson gigs are out there that contain a lot of improv. What makes this record egregious is the recording medium – a low quality cassette tape recorded on a two-track plugged into the mixer which totally distorts the sound, makes it muddy, and nearly impossible to improve even with the best technologies available today.
The sad thing is that this would be decent, if not for the sound. But it was foisted on the public because by all accounts King Crimson was dead and Island wanted some final cash from them, and Fripp agreed to it (if he had a choice, even).
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Wallace, Burrell, and Collins joined Alexis Korner for a while after splitting with Fripp.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there will be a new box set from this era which may have better sounding live dates
GRADE: D: This should never have been released. Many bootlegs sound better than this. It doesn’t get an “F” because the version of “Schizoid Man” is terrifying (in a good way, as it should be).