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The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson: Volume One 1969-1974 by King Crimson

In the liners, King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp states: "The aim of The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson is to replace the Frame by Frame 4-CD compilation (1991), taking advantage of technology advances, ten years of additional live and studio Crimsoning, and twelve years of archiving live material." Consequently, the digital studio remastering does yield alluring dividends, especially during King Crimson’s inaugural 1969 classic "In the Court of the Crimson King," and other LPs transferred to disc. These 4 CDs represent the band’s evolution in alternating fashion: two studio and two live discs. After thirty-five years and still running, Crimson might indeed reign as the most influential progressive-rock band on the globe: Hence, no additional elaboration or for that matter, glorification is required here.

This multi-disc set is laid out rather nicely amid some eye appeal, featuring pictures of scribbled notes, concert tickets, photos and tour agendas. On the flip side, Fripp also bestows some choice words for his former management company, alluding to some of the better known ills of the music industry. Nevertheless, this package signifies a timeline of the band’s evolution along with the various personnel changes witnessed during its 1969-1974 era. Naturally, the unit’s catalogue is arranged in chronological order, with LPs such as the jazz tinged "Lizards," including the great British pianist Keith Tippett and other modern jazz luminaries. Regarding the jazz element, back then it seemed kind of odd for the band’s genre hopping propensities subsequent to the release of the mellotron heavy, and huge wall-of-sound type effort, "In The Court Of The Crimson King." As a side note, Fripp’s jazz chops are prominently conveyed on these early sides, via select movements featuring his Wes Montgomery style chord progressions. But in hindsight, bits and pieces of KC’s familiar methodology seemingly regenerate into a variety of formats. Besides the odd time signatures and thunderous advances, Fripp shines as a definitive melody-maker. So, it wasn’t all about turbo-charged, technical exercises. During a mid-period transition - eventually segueing to bassist/vocalist John Wetton and drumming hero Bill Bruford’s arrival - the group tinkered with chamber, jazz, prog-rock and catchy little ditties such as the endearing "Cat Food," from "In The Wake Of Poseidon". Yet, KC’s sound and style became firmed up with albums such as "Red" and "Lark’s Tongue in Aspic." Therefore, many surmise that the induction of Wetton, Bruford and violinist David Cross typified the ensembles’ singular presence within burgeoning rock circles. Moreover, percussionist Jamie Muir’s stint with the aforementioned lineup provided an abstract world-music edge.

Think of a classic auto, newly refurbished and ready for the showroom floor. To that end, the music is digitally cleansed and upgraded rather effectively and of course presented in the compact disc format. In addition, Fripp is planning a second; 4-CD volume to be produced for this record label, consisting of sides culled from KC’s ‘80s and onward, recordings. (Essential.... )

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: King Crimson
  • CD Title: The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson: Volume One 1969-1974
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2004
  • Record Label: Discipline Global Mobile
  • Tracks: Disc One: In The Studio (1969-1972), Disc Two: Live 1969-1972, Disc Three: In The Studio (1972-1974), Disc Four: Live (1973-1974) (see Discipline Global Mobile website for track and album listings)
  • Musicians: Robert Fripp (guitar, mellotron & devices), Bill Bruford (drums), Greg Lake (bass & vocals), John Wetton (bass & vocals), Michael Giles (drums), Keith Tippett (piano), David Cross (viola, violin & mellotron), Jamie Muir (percussion), Ian McDonald (reeds, keyboards, vocals & vibes), Peter Sinfield (words & illumination), Peter Giles (bass), Mel Collins (woodwinds), Gordon Haskell (vocals), Andy McCullogh (drums), Robin Miller (oboe), Mark Charig (cornet), Nick Evans (trombone), Jon Anderson (vocals), Ian Wallace (drums), Boz Burrell (bass & vocals), Paulina Lucas (soprano sax), Harry Miller (bass),
  • Rating: Five Stars
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