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My Life in The Bush of Crimson Ghosts

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My Life in The Bush of Crimson Ghosts

Postby Ironclaw on Mon Oct 13, 2014 8:31 am

I posted this as my self-into at the OTHER board. For some reason I'm posting it here, as well. Please excuse my egotism in writing about myself.

"Up and Down Over the Years with King Crimson and Progressive/Regressive Rock" or "My Life In the Bush of Crimson Ghosts":

I started to like King Crimson back in the 70's, when I was in High School in Southern California. I was a huge fan of progressive rock. At 14 years old I had given up the violin and had been listening mostly to Classical Music and to more or less "regular" rock when I attended John Wooden's basketball camp and I happened to ask my roommate what his favourite album was. He told me it was something called "Brain Salad Surgery". So I bought it. I became a progressive rock fanatic. So I got heavily into progressive rock just as its decadent phase was beginning: the end of the summer of 1974. This had both advantages and disadvantages: pretty much all of the the big names in classic progressive rock had already done their best work and/or were releasing new albums with much less frequency than before and King Crimson was ceasing to exist.

BUT lots of the other big names still came to town in the flesh and I was privileged to see quite a few of those classic bands live. The really great thing about that time was that visiting a record shop was like a trip to the candy store: progressive rock was part of the mainstream and you could find pretty much all the best albums by all those bands in stock and ready for buying. It was great fun looking at the covers and wondering which record I should waste my parents' hard-earned allowance money on. I'd get interested in a band and one by one would buy almost everything they'd ever done.

Getting together with my friends (occasionally inhaling the smoke of green herbs) and listening to each other's records was how we discovered new music. One day a progressive rock buddy of mine brought over something called "In The Court of The Crimson King". I already had everything ELP had done up to that point and I think he wanted to see my reaction to what Greg Lake had been up to before. He put it on without saying what it was, but, with a certain disclaimer, because he was worried I'd be put off by the noisy screech and cacophony in parts of "Schizoid Man." I wasn't put off, to say the least!

Another memory about KC and the same friend: "Red" was already several years old when I bought a new but "cutout" copy of it from the bargain bin for $1.99. After buying it my High School buddy and I exited the record store only to see a large amount of smoke coming from the area of my home. We got into his 1955 Chevrolet (given to him by his grandmother) and I got home to find one of Southern California's famous brush-fires raging just behind my house. My parents were both still at work and ash and cinders were raining down. I had to get up on the wood shingle roof with a water hose and wet the place down to make sure we wouldn't get burned down. Appropriately, "Red" entered my life with fire!

Anyway, it was frustrating and I felt betrayed watching progressive rock basically do itself in as the 70's drew to a close. Regressive Rock was taking over (that's my term for Disco and Punk). I don't have anything against that music now, but at the time I did...except for the Sex Pistols whom I found amusing. But soon enough the energy that was the impulse of Punk gave birth to New Wave and that was basically what Punk progressed into. And that wasn't so bad, still, I never really listened to New Wave all that much. But I loved when Fripp returned to active service and showed up on stuff like Talking Heads' "Fear of Music". I loved "Exposure" and and was in 7th heaven sitting a few feet from Fripp as he did one of those free Fripptronics promos in a record shop on Sunset Blvd in 1979. I loved what Fripp did with Bowie and I noticed Adrian Belew's eccentric playing with Bowie as well. But by the time 80's Crimso came around I had pretty much given up on Rock music and had switched to what used to be filed under "XXth Century" in the classical section of record stores. I worked in an Art and Frame Shop which was also a CD and Laser Disc (remember those?) Shop. One day a co-worker informed me that there was a new King Crimson album called "Discipline". I couldn't believe it and he put it on the shop sound system. It was interesting, but it sounded too much like ripping off "Talking Heads" while adding Fripperisms into the mix and I didn't really pay attention. I thought "That's King Crimson? No, King Crimson ceased to exist a long time ago." So, much to my loss, I closed my ears and my mind and I never bothered to listen to any of the 80s Crimson at the time.

Years later in middle-age I began to feel nostalgic for my youth and beside the Bartok, Stravinsky, Debussy and Ravel I began buying CDs of my favourite classic progressive rock from the 70s. But I studiously avoided anything recorded in the 80s or after. Around that time the Double Trio came and went. I paid no attention. Then the projects happened. I didn't even know about them. After that The Double Duo. The Double Who? Batman and Robin? And eventually my wave of nostalgia passed as well. I went off Rock again.

Again years later, after finding myself living and working in Japan, I happened to be in a restaurant-bar catering mostly to foreigners such as myself while some friend/coworker/acquaintances of mine provided the live music. My jazz/rock drummer friend played some licks that inadvertently reminded me of Muir and/or Bruford and nostalgia awakened once more. Very soon thereafter when visiting my ageing mother in California I rescued some of my classic KC discs from oblivion and brought them back to Japan. I once and for all finally realised that KC was my all-time favourite band! For me, a cut above all the rest of rock. I couldn't get enough! And so, there was nowhere else to turn. I began eyeing post-70s Crimson CDs and LPs in used record shops and started to wonder what the various guys who'd been working under the name of King Crimson had been up to all those years. But I had this revelation in, like, 2009 and thus found myself in a situation a bit like the one I was in in 1975! Crimso had once again ceased to exist but there was a whole back catalog of work just waiting for me to explore! But then right around that time the 40th anniversary stuff started coming out, and so, I haven't gotten around to the Projects yet and have only scratched the surface of a lot of KC's various live stuff with Belew. I am usually too busy gorging on the box sets and such from the 70s. But I finally "get" that it's all King Crimson! And I am a man obsessed!

Luckily for us, King Crimson has recently been reincarnated and though I missed them once again, I do believe someone in the band, I think Tony Levin, said that they are working on trying to make it to Japan next year. That was good news!
Ironclaw
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Location: Kagoshima, Japan

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