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:: ProjeKction - King Crimson NET :: • View topic - ON THIS DATE (44 YEARS AGO) ITCOTCK Released


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Postby Indyrod on Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:26 pm

for NEWBIES...

October 10, 1969 – King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King is released.
# Allmusic 5/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)

In the Court of the Crimson King is the debut album by King Crimson, released on this date in 1969. It reached #28 on the Billboard 200 Top LP's chart and #5 on the UK LP's chart.

The album is generally viewed as one of the strongest of the progressive rock genre, where King Crimson largely stripped away the blues-based foundations of rock music and mixed together jazz and Classical symphonic elements. In his 1997 book Rocking the Classics, critic and musicologist Edward Macan notes that In the Court of the Crimson King "may be the most influential progressive rock album ever released". The Who's Pete Townshend was quoted as calling the album "an uncanny masterpiece". It’s astonishing to think that when this record was released in 1969 King Crimson had been together for less than nine months.

It’s astonishing to think that when this record was released in 1969 King Crimson had been together for less than nine months.

Aside from the impeccable musicianship, the record’s impact was helped enormously by Barry Godber’s cover painting. Commissioned by Crimson lyricist, Pete Sinfield, rarely has an album sleeve so accurately conveyed the shock-and-awe reaction which this extraordinary music produced in its listeners. Even the jewel-case format has done little to dilute its iconic power.

Going into the album charts upon its release on both sides of the Atlantic, the first incarnation of Crimson imploded whilst on tour in America in December 1969. Though short-lived, the music produced by this line-up continues to resonate 40 years later.

In light of this, Pete Townshend’s declaration that the album was “an uncanny masterpiece” seems something of an understatement.

of In The Court of the Crimson King.
A life-long King Crimson fan, 40th Anniversary Editions producer, Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson offers his thoughts on the debut album.

“For me this is the birth of progressive rock. Yes there were other albums before that. You could say Sgt. Peppers or Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed have a claim to laying down a blueprint of progressive rock but ITCOTCK really is the first time you have such technical prowess allied to musical experiments, great songwriting, and a conceptual feeling all tied together in one record.

I think musicianship is the key here. Bands like The Beatles and the Moody Blues attempted very ambitious psuedo-progressive albums before, but Crimson was the first time you had a band that were able to go that one step further in terms of their musicianship. They were young guys full of ideas and ambition and I really think you have to say that this is the true point at which progressive rock is born, and some would say never bettered.

Some people snigger at the idea of progressive rock but for me when progressive rock was at its peak in the 69 - 74 period it was the most experimental, most credible, most ambitious music that has ever been made. The guys were reaching for the stars and very often got there."

The impact of this group, featuring Fripp, Giles, Lake, McDonald, Sinfield, is difficult to convey 25 years afterwards unless one were part of it: something like the explosive impact of punk seven years later. A considerable influence on the musicians and groups of its generation, it is also the only Crimson which could have been a massive commercial success. Inevitably, it drew as much hostility as support.

The only record from this period - "In The Court Of The Crimson King" - failed to convey the power of its live performance but hints at the intensity which characterises classic Crimson of any period. Contemporary ears might find the music part of another era unless they drop listening at the music and listen through it. The sonic landscape remains as bleak an authentic Crimscape as it gets. Neither heavy metal nor hard rock have been able to blow me away since I spent 1969 playing "Schizoid Man" and a mellotronic stroboscopic "Mars" throughout England and the US.

My own perspective on Crimson is obviously rather different from the other founder members of the 1969 band. My impression is that they consider their Crimson to be the only real Crimson, a view with which I have sympathy but disagree. We would probably agree that this founding Crimson was charmed. There was something completely other which touched this group and which we called our "good fairy". After reflecting on how we went from abject failure to global commercial and musical success in nine months, I concluded after several years of reflection that sometimes music leans over and takes us into its confidence. This was one of those times.

But we were also young men, too immature to handle the strains involved in rapidly moving from failure to international success. The group's birthday was on January 13th. 1969 at the Fulham Palace Cafe in London. It broke up in Los Angeles, December 1969.
~ Robert Fripp


Barry Godber (1946–1970), a computer programmer, painted the album cover. Godber died in February 1970 of a heart attack, shortly after the album's release. It would be his only painting, and is now owned by Robert Fripp.

Fripp had this to say about Godber:
"Peter brought this painting in and the band loved it. I recently recovered the original from EG's offices because they kept it exposed to bright light, at the risk of ruining it, so I ended up removing it. The face on the outside is the Schizoid Man, and on the inside it's the Crimson King. If you cover the smiling face, the eyes reveal an incredible sadness. What can one add? It reflects the music." (1995)

There are certain problems to be encountered by any band that is consciously avant-garde. In attempting to sound "farout" the musicians inevitably impose on themselves restrictions as real as if they were trying to stay in a Top-40 groove. There's usually a tendency to regard weirdness as an end in itself, and excesses often ruin good ideas. Happily, King Crimson avoids these obstacles most of the time. Their debut album drags in places, but for the most part they have managed to effectively convey their own vision of Desolation Row. And the more I listen, the more things fall into place and the better it gets.

The album begins by setting the scene with "21st Century Schizoid Man." The song is grinding and chaotic, and the transition into the melodic flute which opens "I Talk to the Wind" is abrupt and breathtaking. Each song on this album is a new movement of the same work, and King Crimson's favorite trick is to move suddenly and forcefully from thought to thought. "Epitaph" speaks for itself: "The wall on which the prophets wrote/Is cracking at the seams ... Confusion will be my epitaph."

"Moonchild" opens the second side, and this is the only weak song on the album. Most of its twelve minutes is taken up with short statements by one or several instruments. More judicious editing would have heightened their impact; as it is, you're likely to lose interest. But the band grabs you right back when it booms into the majestic, symphonic theme of "The Court of the Crimson King." This song is the album's grand climax; it summarizes everything that has gone before it: "The yellow jester does not play/But gently pulls the strings/And smiles as the puppets dance / In the court of the Crimson King."

This set was an ambitious project, to say the least. King Crimson will probably be condemned by some for pompousness, but that criticism isn't really valid. They have combined aspects of many musical forms to create a surreal work of force and originality.

Besides which they're good musicians. Guitarist Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald (reeds, woodwinds, vibes, keyboards, mellotron) both handle rock, jazz, or classical with equal ease. Bassist Greg Lakes and drummer Michael Giles can provide the beat, fill in the holes, or play free-form. While Dylan and Lennon are still safe, lyricist Peter Sinfield does show a gift (macabre as it may be) for free association imagery.

How effectively this music can be on stage is, admittedly, a big question. The answer is probably not too well. Still, King Crimson's first album is successful; hopefully, there is more to come. (RS 49)
~ John Morthland (December 27, 1969)

Written by Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles, Sinfield unless noted.
Side one
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:21
"I Talk to the Wind" (McDonald, Sinfield) – 6:05
"Epitaph" – 8:47

Side two
"Moonchild" – 12:13
"The Court of the Crimson King" (McDonald, Sinfield) – 9:25

40th Anniversary CD Bonus tracks:
"Moonchild" – 12:15 (full version)
"I Talk to the Wind" – 4:55 (duo version)
"I Talk to the Wind" – 6:36 (alternative mix)
"Epitaph" – 9:05 (backing track)
"Wind Session" – 4:31

"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:24
"I Talk to the Wind" – 6:04
"Epitaph" – 8:49
"Moonchild" – 12:13
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 9:26
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 6:47
"I Talk to the Wind" – 4:40 (BBC session, from bootleg source)
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:11 (BBC session)
"The Court of the Crimson King (Part 1)" – 3:22
"The Court of the Crimson King (Part 2)" – 4:31

"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:08 (trio version – instrumental)
"I Talk to the Wind" – 4:21 (studio run-through)
"Epitaph" – 9:27 (alternative version)
"Moonchild" – 2:21 (take 1)
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 7:15 (take 3)
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:21
"I Talk to the Wind" – 6:03
"Epitaph" – 8:56
"Moonchild" – 12:12
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 9:22

"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 6:36
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 6:31
"Get Thy Bearings" – 9:41
"Epitaph" – 4:29
"Mantra" – 3:05
"Travel Weary Capricorn" – 5:38
"Mars" – 3:30
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 7:52
"A Man A City" – 12:19
"Epitaph" – 8:32
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:57

"21st Century Schizoid Man" – 7:22
"I Talk to the Wind" – 6:04
"Epitaph" – 8:52
"Moonchild" – 12:13
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 9:27
"The Court of the Crimson King" – 2:20

2009 remix, 5.1 surround, in DTS and MLP
2009 remix, stereo, in 24/48 LPCM and 24/96 MLP
Alternative takes from the original studio recordings
2004 remaster (CD2 tracks 1–5), stereo, in 24/48 LPCM and 24/96 MLP
"21st Century Schizoid Man" – film from Hyde Park concert 5 July 1969 — with King Crimson - Robert Fripp and 7 others.
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