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King Crimson - Lark's Tongue In Aspic (the complete recordings) CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.84 | 59 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars Difficult to give a fair rating for such an artefact, because it's of a very limited interest for most anyone, but of a maximal value for a very few. Indeed this monster boxset about a single studio album must be a record of some kind. The boxset includes up to 15 disc of different mediums, such as DVD (1) , Blue Ray (1) and CD (the 13 left), but very sadly not the vinyl, which is kind of shame given the shape of the boxset and the amount of space left inside the box: its thickness could've easily allowed it. In such a package, most of the little bonuses are totally useless, such as a domestic tour programme reproduction, the studio album release annoucement flyer, an envelope containing five separate individual photos of the protagonist and a cardboard page representing the front and rear cover. Wowie Zowie!! There is load of powder thrown into your eyes. Of greater interest is the solid booklet featuring an especially-made for this boxset David Singleton interview, an excellent Sid Smith essay and a very interesting piece (courtesy of Declan Colgan) about the state of mind of the industry and the way Crimson managed to salvage its legacy in a much better fashion than 99% of the recording artistes of the last 50 years. The hole booklet featuring plenty of archives pictures and a reprint of the famous Crimso diaries (first appeared in the Young Person's guide to KC compilation) for an almost two years period (Jan-72 until Sept 73).

Ok, enough about the package, let's move on to the contents. To be honest, most of the discs' contents are of little interest for most anyone, but the most unconditional Crimson fans. The others might just be well advised to find (or keep) their 30th anniv remastered version, or 'settle' for the two-discs 40th anniv digipak package, which includes 95% of the essential stuff that's included in this boxset. While not being the most practical packaging (the booklet slips out too easily and fingerprints are a pain), the 40th anniv might just be what might be the best solution, with the DVD containing the visuals and 5.1 mix. In this monster boxset, we get the exact duplicate of the DVD and the Blueray.

The 15 discs are stored in triple-folded cardboard sleeves by sets of three, each featuring the five heroes' individual faces. The first one bearing Wetton's, the second with Fripp's and the third with Cross' are featuring restored live bootleg tapes (some already available in the KCCC series), all of them predating the album's studio recording sessions. But don't hold your breath: most of the results are still in such disputable sonic state, that one wonders how Fripp might actually let these out, since he's usually so uptight about the quality of products bearing the KC name. To be honest, only the improvs of those six discs are of any interest (and there is at least one of them over a disc), but one has to suffer ear-wise to ingest them. You might be surprised to find out that Fallen Angel (on the Red album) already existed this early in the band's history. Honestly a lot of these early improvs are really not all that good, and certainly not matching those found on the previous Nightwatch and Great Deceiver boxsets or even the Asbury ark of the USA live album. Indeed, a good deal of it is rather messy 'n'importe quoi', but I supposed it is 'de rigueur' to hold them in high esteem and laud their greatness despite disputable sonic and artistic qualities. Some fans might be advised to compile these improvs on one CD-r and get rid of the monster box. So, there was only so much Mr Wilson could've done with such poor quality sources. The real question is whether this was worth the work and is the result honestly marketable?

Onto the last two 'Studio' cardboard sleeves containing the last six discs, of which two of them feature the DVD and BR contents. The Bruford-adorned triple cardboard sleeve is probably the least interesting one, especially if you chose to own the two-disc 40th version. And even the disc 10 featuring the very dispensable 'keep that one, Nick' studio drops or cut-out montages. The Muir- faced cardboard triple sleeve is of little more interest, since only disc 13 featuring a different mix proposed and restored by Steven Wilson of the studio album tracks is of interest (but a real one, because: there are a few pleasant surprises on it) to those that opted for the two-disc version, the rest is being included.

So what to make of this very un-essential boxset? Outside the useless bonuses and the absence of the vinyl, the booklet is very interesting, most of the live material is of inferior sonic quality and the improvs are not yet showing what the band would do afterwards, and from the 'studio' stuff, you'll find the most essential stuff on the little brother two-discs version. Personally, I could cram everything I found interesting from this 15-disc boxset into two CD-r discs, and find a way to include these inside the two-disc 40th anniv digipak version. There would still remain the problem of an equitable ProgArchives rating: 'For Fans Only' is surely the comment that applies best to it, but it merits a tad bit more stars, given the thoroughness of the job delivered by Steven Wilson. But to 90% of Crimson fans or 95% of the progheads, the two-disc digipak affair is all they will need.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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