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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 1945 ratings

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2 stars Lizard is one of those special albums, even among progressive rock, that stands out. It's a very diverse album, in the sense that there is a large collection of genres present. The most prominent of these genres is likely jazz, as there are a lot of seemingly free-form jamming, and very loose segments. Also, with the addition of VCS3, there is an arsenal of odd and unique keyboard voices. And furthermore, the presence of Robin Miller playing oboe, Mark Charig on cornet, Nick Evans playing trombone and Mel Collins with flutes and saxes adds to this collection of unconventional rock noises. As I said, it's a very diverse album.

The album begins very well with Cirkus, a memorable and very enjoyable classic Crimso track. It's dark, and exciting, and it's got very good drumming from Andy McCulloch. Some people may have a problem with Gordon Haskell's vocal style (a.k.a., his voice), but those who enjoy it, enjoy it a lot. It's not high and screeching, like Geddy Lee's, but it's deep and fat. We also hear a lot of acoustic (or, as it is on Indoor Games, electric) guitar that sounds out of tune, or as if it's being played in a key other than that the band is playing. This isn't the first time Fripp's worn that hat. All of the saxes work very well, and add another layer of intensity and complexity to the music.

All of side one is relatively similar in style and feel, with the exception of Lady of the Dancing Water, which a flute-heavy acoustic number, following in the path of I Talk to the Wind, or Cadence and Cascade. It's soft and soothing, carving serene atmospheres and imagery of liquid scenes. But where the majority of the band's work was invested this round was side two's twenty-three minute epic, Lizard. It's quite an odd track on the first few listens, and still is after many, but its strangeness grows on you. The first bit is very symphonic, with the addition of vocals from Jon Anderson of Yes. Following this is a section full of brass and dark jazz. After the energy builds, there is a large release, and quiet oboe takes the stage. Again the mood rises, to a much grander scale this time, and breaks again. This time the music stays silent, and throbbing, all sinister-like. After Fripp's evil guitar fades out, there is a short section called Big Top that is so gleeful that it's not unlike a horror film. You know those movies where the puppets are all happy - so happy that it scares the crap out of you? Well, it's that sort of thing. It still creeps me out.

This album is always a pleasant adventure while listening to it, but I'm not left with any extremely distinctive, fond memories of it afterwards.

Shakespeare | 2/5 |


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