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King Crimson - The Essential King Crimson: Frame by Frame  CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.65 | 55 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars A GORGEOUS COLLECTION - slightly marred by a few perversities.

I simply adore anthologies, and when this one came out in the early nineties, it seemed like a godsend. No need to buy all those separate KC albums that you remembered from the 70s and 80s! All the essential stuff in a beautifully designed box! I still think FRAME BY FRAME is the most enjoyable Crimso compilation that ever appeared. Some people might complain that it has now been superseded by the so-called 21ST CENTURY GUIDES, but those are either too mammoth-like (TWO four-disc sets!) or too small in scope (the "condensed" version). No folks, if you want the best of classic Crimson on four solid CDs, FRAME BY FRAME is the set to go for. The only drawback is that it doesn't take you beyond 1984.

Just look at the track listing. Virtually all of their legendary debut album, and of the equally legendary 1981 rebirth, is included. The second half of the first CD then provides a great selection from the early seventies ("Catfood" and "Groon" are there, as well as the utterly beautiful "Bolero" and the best seven minutes of "The Sailor's Tale"). The second disc offers you an ideal 70-minute selection from LARKS' TONGUES, STARLESS AND BIBLE BLACK and RED. The six best tunes from BEAT and THREE OF A PERFECT can be found on CD 3. It's true that a few of the longer tunes have been slightly abbreviated, but in my view this only makes them stronger.

Now for the perversities. "Cadence and Cascade" has been remixed, with a new vocal by Adrian Belew - but before you start shouting "Fire!", please note that it sounds virtually identical to the original. The final disc is entirely devoted to live recordings, but whereas the tracks by the 1973-1974 and the 1980s bands are superb, I see no redeeming features in the tunes from 1969 ("Get thy Bearings", "Travel Weary Capricorn" and "Mars") which sound utterly boring to me. Also, "The Talking Drum" just does not segue into "Larks Tongues pt. 2", as it ought to. I must admit I hardly ever play this live disc, especially since I also bought two of Crimso's greatest REAL live albums, USA and ABSENT LOVERS. But don't let this put you off. FRAME BY FRAME is worth it for the studio material alone.

FRAME BY FRAME dates from the good old days when four CDs were nicely packaged next to each other (not on top of each other) in an LP-size box. The FRAME BY FRAME box actually won a well-deserved prize for its design. The 64-page booklet (also LP-sized) is ravishing. Not only does it include a wide range of photos (many of them large-size), it also provides you with an extensive selection of the press reviews KC received through the years, both good and bad. As with the earlier YOUNG PERSON'S GUIDE TO KING CRIMSON, Robert Fripp has done his utmost to represent his band's legacy (as it stood in 1991) in the best possible way.

fuxi | 4/5 |


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