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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1924 ratings

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3 stars For some reason, I had thought I had the complete King Crimson studio discography, for which I had always thought that it was funny that I saved the best for last, since In the Court of the Crimson King was my last King Crimson purchase. I decided to prepare reviews for King Crimson's studio albums on a chronological order and it turned out that I didn't have Islands. I have remedied that situation and I am now the proud owner of a 30th Anniversary addition of King Crimson's 4th album, Islands. It is their 4th album with their 4th lineup. Boz Burrell is now the singer and Ian Wallace is now the drummer. This would be the last album in which Peter Sinfield would contribute the words to their albums. A good change for me because I have never been too fond of his abstract lyrics.

The first track, Formentera Lady is a jazz rock song with a bit of a Latin feel to it. Instrumentally, it is a melodic piece featuring Keith Tippett (I think) on piano and Mel Collins on flute and starts out with what I believe is Peter Sinfield on violin. It is a good song. My one complaint which might appeal to some but didn't appeal to me is the use of Paulina Lucas as a soprano wailing like a banshee through the last portion of the song. I suppose that this could possibly have been the inspiration to Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky, which is my only must skip tune from the Dark Side of the Moon.

The second track, Sailor's Tale, is an excellent instrumental featuring some superb drum work by Ian Wallace and capable bass playing by Boz Burrell. There is also some nice saxophone playing along the way by Mel Collins. Robert Fripp's guitar and mellotron playing are OK but kind of distract from the rest of the playing.

The third track, The Letters, starts out as an acoustic ballad with the first two stanzas until Mel Collins interrupts with some heavy metal saxophones. After this saxophone interlude Boz Burrell comes back to sing the last two stanzas with the final stanza being unaccompanied by instruments. This song tells the story of a man's mistress revealing their affair to the man's wife via a letter. The wife then responds with a letter in which it appears that she might have killed herself out of the despair of finding out that her husband was cheating on her.

The fourth track, Ladies on the Road, is the heaviest track of this album with some of its roots probably coming from a track like Cat Food from their previous output. The chorus borrows from the Beatles sound. The song is a track about groupies and sex on the road. There is a very nice bass and drum rhythm line throughout the track. The first two stanzas are accompanied by Robert Fripp playing a mellow blues line, and then Mel Collins kicks in some heavy saxophones. The track ends with a nice saxophone and blues guitar jam.

The fifth track, Prelude: Sound of the Gulls, is a beautiful classical music based instrumental track.

The final track is the title song Islands. It is a mellow piece featuring Boz on vocals only accompanied by Keith Tippett (again I think it is him) on Piano, and Robert Fripp on the mellotron. After the first two verses, Mel Collins comes in with some saxophone. The last 4 or 5 minutes is instrumental featuring piano and saxophone with some mellow percussion accompaniment.

This is a good album, but not essential. Robert Fripp's guitar playing is largely absent from this album, and Mel Collins seems to be the featured musician on sax and flute. This is a much mellower album than any other in King Crimson's discography. Following this album, the entire band would be gone, and Robert Fripp's next KC output would add two of the classic Crimson lineup with John Wetton and Bill Bruford along for Larks' Tongue in Aspic.

rushfan4 | 3/5 |


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