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King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 3024 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Simply, some of the finest music ever etched into vinyl or burned into shiny plastic. It's all here -- a virtual encyclopedia of music.

Oh sure, it starts out innocuously enough, only a little melody played on a kalimba which imperceptibly evolves into a bit of violin and fuzzy guitar suggesting a mere hint of of the usual KC menace, and then LTIA Part 1 explodes, with Fripp hammering power chords which tend to favor the tritone...just in case we weren't sure this was going to be standard KC. What follows is probably my favorite Fripp solo, which initially sounds like he's playing utterly random notes, until you've heard it a few hundred times and come to aurically understand that he's playing themes at hyperspeed that repeat throughout the song. And it just progresses from there:

Book of Saturday: a great KC 'quiet' song. Exiles: a beautiful composition in the tradition of Epitaph. Easy Money: the best pure rock song KC had recorded up to this point. The Talking Drum, a prognostication of what was yet to come in rock and roll.


LTIA, Part 2. As Hunter S. once said, "Mother of Sweating Jesus!" Just when ya think this is the perfect album, the band brings it all up to a new level, and it's not just perfect, it's sublime. Listen to Fripp, Wetton, and Bruford just pounding away. This is Heavy Metal as it was meant to be composed and played. It's as if Fripp is issuing an ultimatum, "Screw Led Zep, screw Black Sabbath, screw all pretenders now and forever, this is the standard you'll have to meet from here on out!"

So, as always, there are possible objections:

Wetton's voice not all that great? Okay, maybe he's straining here and there, does that detract? Umm, no, it's rock and, prog rock. No problem.

A tendency to meander (I'm thinking Talking Drum here)? I don't hear meandering, I hear innovation that will eventually be picked up by Eno, among others. No problem.

Now that we have the objections out of the way, what's the final deal? This is the finest KC album since their first. Bruford and Wetton as a rhythm section totally rejuvinate the band. Fripp's playing is his best in years, obviously buoyed by the new blood. He plays, to use a cliche, like a man possessed. Muir is the most inventive percussionist this side of Dom Um Romao, and Cross knows exactly how to squeeze a violin into the constricts of a loud rock band.

Maybe I'm getting carried away. I've listened to this awesome album at least a thousand times in the past 35 years, but it never disappoints, and even now I come away with a new appreciation of it with each listen. There are not a lot of albums that meet that standard. Simply, essential.

jammun | 5/5 |


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