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 “Cliffs and a military band blew an air of normality”. Exiles – King Crimson - Miscellaneous Debris – Archive

“Cliffs and a military band blew an air of normality”. Exiles – King Crimson

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

14 Mar 2003

I have too much King Crimson.
No, really. I have way too many CDs of theirs, and I haven’t even got any of the 90’s and onward studio CDs. Overload. Overdose. Whatever.
King Crimson are a very good live band, despite the opinion of some. When they can really rock on their extended 10-minute improvs. Especially the second-period lineups, as can be seen in the Great Deceiver boxed set. The third-period and onwards are a bit lacking in that, but they rock nonetheless.
The problem with that is that I have many live albums of theirs, and while they improvise a lot and keep it moving, there are too many live albums which are almost entirely alike. Sure, it’s very cool to hear Adrian Belew’s 1999-interpretation of “Red” (not to mention the Beatles’ “Free as a Bird”), but you can only listen to badly-distorted Gordon Haskell recordings that often. I never did like his voice, either.
Further aggravating the problem is Fripp’s tendency to get his hands on any half-decent bootleg recording from the late 60’s and upwards and remixing it in his studios, and releasing it to the public. I have only one of these KCCC (King Crimson Collector’s Club) releases, and frankly – it isn’t worth the effort. There is definitely a reason why that particular show was never recorded and selected for release. It’s simply not good enough on tape.

Which brings us to the point of the whole entry – Earthbound and USA.
Earthbound is an “official” King Crimson release. “Official”, in this case, means that it was released way back in 1972, on vinyl (of course), as an official live album. Not only that, it was the final album released by the last lineup of the first incarnation of the band, right after it broke up, and to all intent and purpose it was THE last King Crimson album. The fact that Robert Fripp re-formed it less than a year later is immaterial. The music papers were full of “King Crimson’s very last record” way back then – those clippings fill the CD liner booklet.
Two years later the same story happened again. The second incarnation released three wonderful albums and once more – broke up. Their swan song, again heralded by the press as “The very last King Crimson release”. By the breakup of the third incarnation, almost a decade later, the press had gotten wise.

The point I was getting to is that those two albums were different from the run-of-the-mill live albums circulating the bootleg circuits. The reason is that is was chosen by the band (Fripp, mainly) as an all-round selection of their live abilities. These were the Chosen Ones. And as someone who has, as mentioned above, too much King Crimson, I can definitely say now that the choices made were good ones.
These albums have layed there in teh hands of collectors and fans since the 70’s, in their vinyl forms intact and untouched, until Fripp decided to get something done and transferred them onto CD form in May 2002.
I’ve known of these albums for a long time – from the sites and the discographies and many a review, but never had the chance to listen to them – I doubt more than a handful of copies exist in Israel. Now, in CD form, I got them both at once. After listening to both twice, I can say just one thing:
I don’t have enough King Crimson.
Both albums are GREAT. Noisy, loud improvs with heavy Sax and Islands-ish feel on Earthbound (including the rarely-performed “Sailors’ Tale”) and focused, drilling noise from the “Starless”-era band, with the very-frequently-perfomed but always welcome “Easy Money” and a wonderful “Fracture”.
Any thoughts I had recently of bumping King Crimson down from my “All-time favorite band” category have vanished.
I am re-converted.
Bring on the noise.

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