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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.60 | 2929 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars This album provides the blueprint for probably a half dozen forms of progressive rock - prog metal (Schizoid), prog pysch (I Talk to the Wind), symphonic prog (Epitaph), prog jazz (Moonchild), and space prog (In the Court). I'm sure you could add your own to this. While the album is not totally original - there are echoes of Moody Blues in the more symphonic parts - it is as close to pioneering status as you are likely to get.

As a fan of the mellower side, I nonetheless find the opener to be very appealing thanks to the monster riff, imaginative vocal parts, well developed and structured middle section, and use of brass. As in the other tracks, Michael Giles trebly sounding drums are peerless, and his combination with Greg Lake's bass shows this is no simple improv. How is it Giles agility and the sounds of his drumkit are so rarely imitated? A few parts in the middle get to be a bit much, but I can still appreciate it.

When Schizoid ends, we see the true dichotomy in prog, and one which is a source of much debate. I happen to think there was no other song to follow Schizoid than "I Talk to the Wind", a lovely ballad as gentle as the previous track is vicious, and yet every bit as potent. The vocals, the bass, the ethereal flute, even the melodious lead guitar all work synergistically.

The segue into the drum roll of "Epitaph" is almost imperceptible at first and in seconds becomes deafening. This is yet another flawless piece of work and probably one of the most mellotron drenched songs ever. The lyrics are actually quite understandable and aching with regret and sadness. Yet the music is uplifting too, partly because it's Greg Lake's most heartfelt vocal performance ever.

Moonchild starts as a gentle ballad a la "I Talk to the Wind" but a bit spacier. Then it becomes a quiet improv with a variety of plucked noises, good to meditate to. This is a drop off in quality but not enough to deduct even a half star, as it seems to be filling the need for greater artistic expression than the more structure pieces could achieve. It's almost like the band knew how seminal the album would be, and planned it accordingly, by plying as many sub genres as possible from the as yet unnamed style.

The title track shocks us back into the here and now, or is it the 13th century? Perhaps the dark plague, where no good can befall us. A truly beautiful, lengthy yet structured piece with no waste. More hard hitting vocals and chorus line, flutes, mellotrons, and a mind blowing close. This is transformative music, and a perfect close to one of the most groundbreaking albums ever, in any genre.

kenethlevine | 5/5 |

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