To celebrate the crossing of the 10,000 views mark today, I shall review? Praise? Point out? some albums that have shaped the way I perceive music. When I started listening to rock music, some of the first artists I encountered were King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Rush, Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, etc, basically the albums from the 1969-1980 era.
Out of all these King Crimson were the most fascinating without a doubt. Visceral, frightening, sad, ethereal and frustrating. After a point of time I started looking at King Crimson not as a mere band but as an idea; the idea being that of ruthless innovation and experimentation, listeners be fucked. After all, only guitar player and songwriter extraordinaire Robert Fripp has been involved with every release and at all stages of the Kings history. The rest is a revolving door of drummers, bassists, vocalists, and keyboardists etc.
Red has to be, without a doubt, the most consistently amazing albums that have ever been made, not a shadow of a doubt about it. While people were still digesting the rude, crude and extremely entertaining bluesy hard rock of Sabbath on Paranoid, King Crimson were already playing metal which would later be known as progressive in most circles. The heaviness that had manifested itself previously on Larks Tongues in Aspic is even more fleshed out on Red, especially on the title track and One More Red Nightmare. We have the obligatory 8 minute wank-er-thon called Providence, but apart from that the whole album is brilliant, every damn second of it. I can recall most of the sections and passages in my mind’s music player, and when that happens, it means that this one takes a place in my Top 5. The reason that this stuff is so awesome compared to most of early Crimson (Starless and Bible Black, Islands) is that it is so carefully and meticulously constructed, even though it might threaten to turn into a loose jam on some occasions, you enjoy those moments too instead of sitting around and wondering what the hell Fripp was thinking of.
The balladry that Crimson has always displayed on tracks like Epitaph and I Talk to the Wind (from the 1969 debut In Court of the Crimson King) is on full display and even more tragic on my favourite track Fallen Angel. However the 12 minute epic closer just might be a tad better, where the songwriting chops of these excellent artists are brought to a head. Starless consists of a solo consisting of only one note, played and built perseveringly and insistently by Fripp, creating a bubble of tension which you will not experience in rock music. The release, when it comes, is perhaps the best moment on the whole King Crimson discography. The Bill Bruford just out does himself on this album, bringing a very jazzy feel to the rhythm section. If you are a fan of his drumming with Yes, then you’ll have an orgasm with the display he puts on here. If there is someone out there who still hasn’t got this one………..
And that is the bottomline.