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King Crimson - USA CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.02 | 458 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's amazing that, when this album first appeared, many rock critics demolished it, or so I gather from the reviews Robert Fripp included in the FRAME BY FRAME box set. The "Folkestone Herald" is typical, calling the album 'the last, loudest and possibly heaviest record from Crimson who seem to have degenerated from a prima rock band to producing sheet after sheet of noise and towering barriers of sound'.

'Sheet after sheet of noise and towering barriers of sound' may be true, at least about SOME of the pieces included, but 'degenerated'??? The music's glorious! It seems to me that, back in 1975, Robert Fripp was doing us all a huge favour by releasing this. You must remember that no other official live documents from this Crimso incarnation would become available until the 1990s, with the release of the GREAT DECEIVER box set. And believe you me, USA is as good as anything to be found in that. It contains some truly splendid moments, not the least of which are "Asbury Park" (which vies with "Trio" for the loveliest KC improvisation on record) and the last few minutes of "Easy Money", where Fripp comes up with a heart-rending, mellotron-accompanied solo.

The main problem with USA is its fragmentary nature. The album consists of a number of disjointed pieces which have been jumbled together. It lacks the grand climactic effect of predecessors such as GET YER YA-YAS OUT or GENESIS LIVE. It was also my first introduction to King Crimson. I bought it soon after it came out. I had read an extensive history of the band in OOR, the leading Dutch rock music mag, and I thought: 'Well THIS is an ensemble I need to know! Bill Bruford can't have run off with them for nothing!' People, did I ever get a shock... "Larks Tongues (Pt. 2)" scared the hell out of me. I must have been expecting something JOLLY in the vein of "Perpetual Change" or "Dance with the Moonlight Knight", and I'd never come across rock music so dark. It took me a lot of spins before I started liking this stuff. After a while I discovered that "Exiles" and "Lament" had beautiful, romantic melodies. And even when I was introduced to IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, I kept enjoying USA's live version of "21st Century Schizoid Man". John Wetton's aggressive bass and BB's drumming make for a listening experience which is totally different from the studio original. During the fast instrumental bit in the middle Fripp even introduces the 'hysterical strumming' he would repeat to great effect in Bowie's "Up the Hill Backwards".

Nowadays you can even buy USA with two very generous bonus tracks! Well folks, what are you waiting for???

fuxi | 4/5 |


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