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King Crimson - Red CD (album) cover

RED

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 2289 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

jammun
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Red is the final studio album from this incarnation of KC. What's unique about Red is that final albums are usually throwaways, meant to meet some contractual requirement. But in Red we have yet another five star KC release. They seem to have put their all into this one. There are some longer cuts -- Red and Providence -- similar to those found on the previous album, but here they are more fully developed and seem to have more purpose -- the overall composition and playing is superior. Another Red Nightmare and Fallen Angel fulfil the usual rock and ballad tendencies. I don't mean to elide over these songs; they are all of usual KC quality. However, there's the one song that stands out, which is fittingly the final one:

Starless.

The best song KC has recorded, before or since. Fripp felt this was the end of KC, and wrote a stirring Epitaph, play on words obviously intended. Think about it:

Q: What is starless (and Bible black)? A: Death. Q: What supposedly happens as you die? A: Your life flashes before you in a matter of minutes (it takes about 12:18, apparently (at least on my edition).

The song starts out at a dirge-like pace and tone, completely drenched in Mellotron and Fripp's guitars, all with a ambiance that is a throwback to the first album. We haven't heard this since those first few albums; we seem to be reliving something here. Then in the second verse we get a little saxophone thrown in. Haven't heard much sax since the early era either; we seem to be reliving something here. KC's life is sonically flashing before our eyes (ears). The song wends its way to Fripp's initial solo, which resembles nothing so much as the repetitive pealing of church bells, announcing the funeral, or perhaps memorializing the passing, of KC. This then evolves into a virtual reiteration of the innovations unvealed on 21st Century Schizoid Man. The pace of the song suddenly picks up, the jazz influence exerts itself in blaring saxes and guitar riffs. It's a completely self-contained alternate realization of the first song on the first KC album. KC is reliving it's life, just prior to death, which comes, sadly -- for who wants to lose an old friend -- with the final fade out. I cannot think of any other way to interpret this song, or to explain the impact it has on me. Wetton and Bruford are summoned to evoke 6-7 years of KC history, and both deliver impeccable performances, with Wetton's vocals and bass driving the song and Bruford completely unleashed to play what he will. Both deliver standout performances. Mel Collins sounds like he never left the band. The lyrics are self-explanatory in this context.

With hindsight, we know that Fripp believes in reincarnation, at least of KC. But at the time, this was KC's farewell, and it is for an opportunity to spend an hour or two of our existences with music such as presented on Red that we listen to progressive rock at all.

jammun | 5/5 |

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