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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.45 | 378 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars Down to earth with a bump!

This is an early live collection from King Crimson, released around the same time as "Pictures at an Exhibition" (ELP). When originally released in LP format, these albums (plus others such as the re-released, "Valentine Suite" by Colosseum) sold at a budget price on Island records HELP label. For many, because of their budget price, they offered an introduction to the music of these bands. The success of the venture was however mixed. While ELP's offering was excellent both in terms of quality and musicianship, "Earthbound" did little to encourage the casual buyer to investigate King Crimson further.

The recording quality is little better than that of a bootleg with distortion aplenty, indeed, the sleeve notes actually state that the recordings were captured on a stereo cassette! To be fair, the cassette recorder was plugged into the mixer (sound board), this is not a microphone recording.

Looking through the mist, we find five tracks in total. An 11 minute rendition of "21st century schizoid man" kicks things off, the substantial lengthening of the song being due to improvisations on guitar by Robert Fripp, and sax by Mel Collins. Greg Lake's vocal is replaced by that of Boz Burrell, who rather struggles with the intricacies of the song. It's all rather messy with a distinctive feel of being under-rehearsed. The fact that by the time of these recordings the band was down to a four-piece, with most of the original members having moved on, clearly has a significant impact in this respect.

Two of the five tracks are new compositions, credited to all four current band members. In reality, "Peoria" and "Earthbound" are little more than lengthy jam sessions. Both tracks even find Burrell indulging in vocal improvisation! One can only imagine what those people in the audience who had turned up expecting to hear "Epitaph" and "Court of the crimson king" must have thought.

"The sailor's tale" fades in as "Peoria" fades out, presumably the cassette must have needed turning over at this point. The track is the only one taken from the band's then current album "Islands", Mel Collins moving to mellotron since Fripp is still on his guitar. This track at least has some semblance of a structure, but once again we have a rapid and unsatisfactory fade before it actually ends.

The final track, "Groon" was not considered worthy of a place on an album in its original 3 minute form as a single B-side. Quite why then it would become a 15 minute monster here is especially puzzling.

Much has been made over the years of the sound quality of these recordings being the reason the album is poor. In reality, the sound is all too audible, it is the lazy, hope you like our new direction performances which are the real disappointment. All "Earthbound" did was to show that the majesty of the band's early mellotron drenched works was well and truly behind them. Avoid!

Easy Livin | 1/5 |


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