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Islands (1971)

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Islands (1971)

Postby vrooom on Sat Apr 17, 2004 11:33 am

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Your thoughts about this album to be posted here - so feel free to talk about your first listen, what you like about this album, what you don't like, etc.


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Postby The Doc on Thu Apr 22, 2004 2:03 pm

I can't remember when I got this, but I think it was after LTIA. Anyhow It was certainly v different to anything I had heard from KC before. The copy I got was a simple sleeve with no insert so I didnt even know who was playing on it when I got it (I think I only knew it existed from the comment on the back of earthbound 'this is the 5th in an occasional series, the preceeding albums were .....)

I love it for its largely relaxing qualities. The bass ostinato on Formantera lady', the way on vinyl you could hear the 'impaled on nails...' coming through onto the silence in the preceding groove on The Letters, the Fun (and for a young boy) naughtiness of 'ladies of the road' being able to play 'Song of the Gulls' to old people and mostly for the brass on the title track - I still don't know where the bum notes are supposed to be.

I was slow to get Sailors Tale, having heard the Earthbound version first.
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Postby Gilesfan on Fri Apr 23, 2004 5:33 am

I just got this when Darren had the 35th Anniversary competition. it helped with a few questions! :lol:

I had been meaning to get it for awhile. I still am not totally accustomed to Boz' vocals, but they take awhile to get used to I guess. :roll: That was my biggest complaint with this line-up.

Personally, I think "Formentara Lady" is greatly underrated. I first heard it done by 21st Century Schizoid Band and liked it very much.
"Ladies of the Road" is very McCartney-Beatle influenced except for that tricky alternating groove which the Beatles would never do!

Ian's playing on "Sailors Tale" is outstanding, though I like his live version on KCCC#2: Live in Jacksonville even more, as it has more energy by the band as a whole and Ian really goes for it.

I always forget he is a lefty! :o

"The Letters" is no match for "Drop In"! "Song of the Gulls" is not particularly memorable. I find the title track very melancholic and sad. :cry: Mark Charig's cornet solo near the end does me in melancholically as does Boz' vocals on this track. :cry: A song that makes me feel somewhat lonely in the world, and long for those who have passed away. :cry:

But! I love the cover! :D
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Postby aWc on Fri Apr 23, 2004 2:50 pm

I am definitely in the "yay" camp about this one. First of all, I appreciate Boz very much. I think he had the best tone of any crim singer ever, not to mention excellent pitch. i was glad to hear Jakko (from the Schizoid band) say something similar in a recent interview.

Highlights include Sailor's Tale (an all time Crim best) with Fripp's truely unique strumming solo. With headphones, you can hear the Mellotron coming in, barely audible at first and then building up and building up with the guitar, and than....BOUMMMMM!!! into the speedy part.
I have never heard such a sound on any other record (apparently it is a mellotron brass bass note further transposed down an octave by tape speed manipulation). This is one trippy sequence!!! Wallace's drumming is outstanding.

Also, the closing (title) track is memorable. so human, so touching.
The bum notes in the cornet even add to the "live' feel. even if they are not quite as excellent, I still like the other tracks too.
An underrated album from an underrated incarnation of the band

PS. The live version of Sailor's Tale (on KCCC Live in Jacksonville) is indeed very good too. Very different Fripp solo, almost bluesy with that killer string bend at the end!
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Postby MiKcrobe on Fri Apr 23, 2004 5:07 pm

The Doc wrote:the way on vinyl you could hear the 'impaled on nails...' coming through onto the silence in the preceding groove on The Letters,

You're right. I had forgotten about that! I always figured my copy of the record was just too worn or perhaps defective.

Say what you want about Islands but you know after you listen to it you walk around singing either "Formentera Lady" or "Islands." You just can't help it. The melodies are too infectious and very, very easy to sing. And despite the melodramatic lyrics of "The Letters" that blast when the bass sax kicks in is a killer. I guess it would have still sounded like that if they had recorded it in the form of "Drop In" but I'll play "The Letters" any day over "Drop In" just to hear that bit.

Like others had already said, "The Sailor's Tale" is definitely the highlight of the album, particularly with that maniacal "banjo-sound" solo. That was a truly inspired piece of playing. I think even Fripp has said he's not sure where that came from.
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Postby Indyrod on Tue May 04, 2004 8:29 pm

There is just flat out nothing about this album that I don't like. I'm one of the few that has ever admitted (that I've seen), that Prelude: Song of the Gulls is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever put on a recording by King Crimson. I absolutely love that piece of classical bliss. And as I've said many times, I'm also a huge fan of Ladies of the Road and I especially enjoy hearing the 21stCSB doing this excellent song, as well as Formentera Lady and especially Sailor's Tale. The Letters is ok, not a particular favorite of mine, but then the track Islands is phenomenal. The mellotron really comes through on that track, and the instrumental arrangements are perfect. Along with Lizard, I've believed Islands was one of King Crimson's crowning achievements.
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Postby Lemmings on Wed May 05, 2004 12:35 am

Formentera Lady is one of my favorite Crimson tracks of all time! The sax section that track is absolutly mind blowing! Mel Collins is just magical on that track! Ladies of The Rock is one stellar rock n roll song while Sailor's Tail jams out like a mutha!! The title track is pure bliss, I love it! 8)
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Postby Riverman on Wed May 05, 2004 5:17 am

Gorgeous classical passages: the most atypical Crimson songs ever, and in their own way some of the most beautiful. Mel rawks. Boz is quite capable and acquits himself very well, although the later live recordings show it much more than the studio album. The disc's highlight "Sailor's Tale" rips and roars with the closest thing to Crimsonian fierceness to be heard here. "Formentera Lady" is indeed subtle and alluring, as some have pointed out. "Song of the Gulls" and the title track are airy visions of far-off tropics, warm and inviting is a tad lonely in spots. Yes, I can easily understand why Islands is the black sheep of the KC catalogue - well, one of them at least - but its vast difference from the rest of their body of work really shouldn't be held against it. On its own it's got some stellar moments.

Just program out that mediocre filler track "Ladies of the Road" and you've got a hell of an album here.
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Postby Dog_none on Thu May 06, 2004 12:39 am

Like Lizard, this is quite an oddball of a King Crimson album. A great piece of work overall, though.

To me, Formantera Lady & Sailors Tale really overshadow the rest of the album in terms of awesomess. They are both amazing peices, and without them I think Islands would be a below average album.

I am ambiguous on Letters, some time I like it, sometime I don't. I guess my beef is the same as everyone else's, the dynamics are just too varied. I understand what effect they were going for by making the soft passages so soft, but I think they went a bit overboard and in effect made it ineffective.

Ladies, Gull, & Islands make a great second half.
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Postby Gilesfan on Mon Nov 08, 2004 9:36 am

Has anyone noticed the slight similarities between "Sailor's Tale" and "Heart of The Sunrise" by Yes?

That is, the dominating fast bass rhythm accompanied by a complicated drum pattern, then later slow part with mellotron background, then back to the fast part.
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