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King Crimson - Live At The Orpheum CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.02 | 97 ratings

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Symphonic Team
3 stars The best official King Crimson live album for 40 years, but still could have been so much better

Live At The Orpheum features material that was recorded live on King Crimson's most recent tour which saw them perform some classic songs that they hadn't played live for a very, very long time. Sadly, not all of the classics that were performed are included on this live document. In fact, this live album features a heavily truncated set list. The long overdue return to some classic material was probably prompted by the welcome return of Mel Collins on saxophone and flute who previously was a member of the band in the early 70's. Mel also was a member of the excellent King Crimson alumni group the 21st Century Schizoid Band in which he collaborated with Jakko Jakszyk who handles lead vocals and second guitar here. Jakszyk is a very good singer and guitar player and his voice suits mellow songs like The Letters (originally from 1971's Islands) and Starless (from 1974's Red) perfectly. The latter song was also performed by the 21st Century Schizoid Band and so was the instrumental Sailor's Tale (also originally from Islands). These three songs are the best of this live album. The first four tracks include two shorter instrumentals that add little of interest to the proceedings and a version of ConstruKction Of Light (originally from the year 2000 album of the same name). The only other song from the 70's present here is One More Red Nightmare. As other have pointed out, the absence of 21st Century Schizoid Man is a disappointment and so is the lack of songs from the recent A Scarcity Of Miracles album (a King Crimson Projekct featuring Jakko Jakszyk, Mel Collins, and Robert Fripp). Filling out the line-up here is Tony Levin on bass and Chapman stick and no less than three (!) drummers in Bill Rieflin, Pat Mastelotto, and Gavin Harrison. Personally, I think the idea of multiple drummers is silly and pointless. But thankfully it doesn't disturb too much.

Despite its obvious flaws (and discounting the vast catalogue of archival live releases that have appeared over the years, most of which I am not familiar), this new live album is the most interesting live release under the King Crimson name since 1975's USA with John Wetton. Still, if you want to hear classic King Crimson songs performed live I would much rather recommend the excellent live double album Pictures Of A City - Live In New York by 21st Century Schizoid Band which blows Live At The Orpheum (and much else) away by a million miles. That brilliant alumni band featured Mel Collins and Jakko Jakszyk as well as other ex-King Crimson members in Ian McDonald, Peter Giles and Ian Wallace. Also, live releases by John Wetton (for example, his Amorata concert video and the Nomansland live album) and Greg Lake (for example, the Greg Lake DVD video) feature strong versions of classic King Crimson songs that overall outshine Fripp's band.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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