Saturday, February 4, 2012


YEAR: 1969

LABEL: Atlantic

TRACK LISTING: 21st Century Schizoid Man (including "Mirrors"), I Talk To the Wind, Epitaph (including "March For No Reason" and "Tomorrow and Tomorrow"), Moonchild (including "The Dream" and "The Illusion"), The Court of the Crimson King (including "The Return of the Fire Witch" and "The Dance of the Puppets")

IMPRESSIONS: I'm not real fan of prog rock -- I say no to Yes. However, this album was in huge rotation throughout my formative childhood years owing to my dad's record collection. This was another odd victim of my father's tendency to only listen to one side of a new album (which I've mentioned in previous posts) so that years later he would still have a "new album" to listen to on the other side. I know . . . I don't understand it either. But such was the recession-plagued seventies tricks we played. Anywho, this album is usually considered probably the most important ever released in establishing the prog rock genre which would be taken to ridiculous lengths by such bands as Pink Floyd, Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. However, here we have a more sober 1969 take on the musical niche (if such can be said of such a flight of fancy contained in songs about moonchildren and fire witches). The songs are quite long (the shortest clocking in at 6:05) but whereas later prog rock seemed to go on interminably, here the songs seem to unfold naturally without pointless soloing or forced bombast. In fact, the songs sit back and relax as the unfold their bizarre sonic soundscapes of some misty past courtly pageant. Oh, incidentally, the only side I heard of this album for years was side two which only contain two songs: "Moonchild" and the title track. Since then, I've discovered side one and find the entire song sequence to be one sonic whole which Pete Townshend has called "an uncanny masterpiece". There are dissenting opinions; most memorably critic Robert Christgau's dubbing the album as "ersatz shit". To each his own. Eerie and unwholesome-sounding with just a hint of bubonic plague lingering around the edges, this is one medieval album which should be listened to while reading tarot cards at the masque of Mandragora.


FACT SHEET: IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is King Crimson's first album. The original stereo master tapes were discovered to have been recorded on a machine with misaligned tape heads resulting in unwanted sonic distortion; consequently all versions of the album released were of tape copies several generations removed from the original masters. Throughout the years, Robert Fripp has endlessly remastered the album until the original stereo masters (previously thought to have been lost) were rediscovered in a storage vault in 2003. Since then, a vastly improved remastered version has been in circulation. The iconic album cover was painted by computer programmer Barry Godber; the artist died of a heart attack in 1970 shortly after the album's release and this was his only painting (now owned by Robert Fripp). The face on the cover is of the Schizoid Man and the face on the interior is of the Crimson King.

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