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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.13 | 2233 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I had something here before about dark towers and deep libraries, which sounds about right, since that's where "Lizard" takes me. What I failed to mention is how brilliant this is. Standoffish, yes, noisier and more complicated than it needs to be, which I find by turns fascinating and forbidding. Today it's the former, and even the little black imp is dancing on the bookcase like a pinned insect, limbs akimbo. So much music gets swirled into the mix, horns and piano and mellotron and tripping snare rolls, that musical indigestion is a distinct possibility. The devastating force of earlier albums remains, but it competes with dissonant jazzy nonsense some of the time. (At the moment, I'm lost in the mid-song maze of "Happy Family" and there doesn't seem to be any way out of it.) If you seek the respite of "Cadence and Cascade", there is "Lady of the Dancing Water", featuring the lovely flute work of MEL COLLINS. It's not quite the sublime creature of Cadence; oddly, it's another vocal anomaly (Jon Anderson) who changes the tone of the record this time. As much as "Lizard" wants to assume its own landscape, the arrangements are too self-conscious to fully transport me. I suppose that's where the tower and the library come into play. It's a beautiful world glimpsed from a distance, FRIPP intruding into the picture with black and sour commentary to yank the listener out of their immersion in "Lizard"'s warm protection. Interesting though the ANDERSON cameo is, it's not the sympathetic setting he'd find on "The Yes Album", instead siding more with the overwrought "Time And A Word". Better by far is GORDON HASKELL on "Cirkus", though tampering with his voice on "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" lessens the stakes of his dulcet throat. Joining them (and expanding Crimson's musical dialogue considerably) are pianist KEITH TIPPET, drummer ANDY MCCULLOCH and a trio of horn players.

It's arguably one of CRIMSON's most accomplished lineups, underscored by the fact that "Islands" was found lacking with the departure of McCulloch and Haskell. Adorned with delicate passages, "Lizard" could be seen as a sinister cousin to ANTHONY PHILLIPS "The Geese & The Ghost" (he wrote, guilty of greasing Geese's sales again). Ornate, ornery and orfully good, CRIMSON's third is a diabolical cirkus of the senses.

daveconn | 4/5 |


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