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King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon CD (album) cover

IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1973 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars In the wake of their great debut

To me, King Crimson started at the top, and worked their way down rapidly! By recording the sublime "Court of the Crimson King" for their first album, they were always going to be faced with a stern challenge to emulate the power and majesty of that masterpiece. The band were torn apart almost immediately by significant line up changes. The multi-talented Ian McDonald had already departed; in his place came Keith Tippet on piano and Mel Collins on saxes & flute, while Robert Fripp took over the mellotron. Greg Lake was still around, sort of. He and Gordon Haskell are both credited at various points as lead singer here.

The likelihood of their follow up album living up to the enormous expectations they had raised with their debut were therefore rapidly diminishing, but hopes were still high that this album would manage to recreate, at least in part, the magic of the first album.

After the brief overture of "Peace - A beginning", things start of in relatively reassuring fashion, with the "Schizoid man" like "Pictures of a city". This 8 minute song leans far more heavily towards the jazz improvisations of the opening song on ITCOTCK than the more structured and majestic songs which dominated that album. Lake's departure during the recording sessions meant that the following "Cadence and cascade" saw Haskill making his debut with the band. The song is a highly delicate rendition, with echoes of Peter Gabriel as his most "beautiful". The flute is reminiscent of "I talk to the wind" (anyone spot a pattern here yet?).

And as sure as eggs is eggs, the first side of the album closes with a track similar to, no I kid you not, "Epitaph". In some ways, it really is a great pity that the title track of this album has been tarred with the "clone" brush, as it has much to recommend it. Greg Lake gives a fine vocal performance, and the 8 minutes are positively awash with mellotron. In retrospect, if only "In the wake of Poseidon" (the track) had replaced "Moonchild" on ITCOTCK, that album would in all probability be the number one prog album even today. Make no mistake, this is a mighty, and sadly under-credited song.

In fairness to King Crimson, the allegations that they simply made a facsimile of their first album with "In the wake of Poseidon" are largely valid only for side one of the LP. The second side, whose brief opening acoustic interlude "Peace - A theme" is completely omitted from the sleeve and the LP label, is more indicative of the route the band will head off in on future releases. Greg Lake's vocals on "Cat food" may be relatively conventional, but the rambling jazz piano on which the song is based is much looser than we have come to expect from the band up until this point. Unfortunately, from my point of view, this is where I get off. With three sides of essential music to their name, for me, King Crimson took a massive wrong turn at this point and in the process killed the golden goose. The following pieces, which merge to form an 11 minute suite, are rather dull noodlings by Fripp, saved only by the always pleasant sound of the mellotron. It almost seems like a kick in the teeth when the main theme from "ITCOTCK" drifts in and out.

In all, "In the wake of Poseidon" is a classic case of a game of two halves. Side one is a decent if all too obvious follow on from the band's glorious debut. Side two, sees them starting to struggle for ideas, and reverting to a certain amount of improvisational padding in order to complete the album. Nice sleeve though.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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