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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.52 | 468 ratings

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Axel Dyberg
4 stars The first official live album by good ol' Crimso. The most loathed of all King Crimson albums, the audio quality is below bootleg-standards, however, if you look beyond the sound quality, you'll realize that this lineup had a distinguishing feature: Raw energy. And indeed, this album is one of raw energy, from the whooping 4 minute guitar solo in Schizoid Man, to the spontaneous vocals in Peoria, and definitely not least the absolutely barking mad drum solo from Ian Wallace.

Another seldom documented feature on this album is the funkyness of the band. Peoria is like a 7 minute funk jam, and this really gives a sense of fresh air.

Anyway, it starts of with the loudest band you'll ever hear by Crimson. The 21st Century Schizoid Man makes his appearance in the form of Boz Burrell. The ear-shattering vocals are superb, with the cracks and pops in the background only contributing to the raw power of the performance itself. Then follows the, in my opinon, best damn guitar solo in the history of recorded audio. Absolutely furious fretwork by Bobby Fripp, almost drowning out the others with his lightning fast playing. This is the kind of energy I'm talking about!

Peoria, of course, is a delightful funk-jam. Lovely and smooth saxophone improvisation by Mel, and of course the scat-vocals by Boz make this a great track. Wah-wah soaked guitar playing by Fripp and the meticolous time-keeping skills of Ian contribute to the cake, but doesn't really quite make the icing. Instead, the slow fade-in of the Sailor's Tale is where it's at! This track is an amazing showcase for Fripp and Collins, who duel it out for the intro. We are then treated with some lovely Fripp playing. It fades out with some loud drum fills by Ian. I'd wished it would've been a bit longer though.

Earthbound, the title track, is another funky track. Boz kindly thanks the audience, before it kicks into gear. It's a large showcase for Collins and Fripp, but again Boz contributes with scat-vocals. Great improvisation throughout. And while it may sound as if Ian is nothing more than just a rhythm-keeper, don't worry. You'll see why I haven't mentioned him soon.

Groon is the last and by far longest track on the album. Standing at 15 minutes and 26 seconds in duration, this is another saxophone-based jam. And it's bloody well the best sax playing I've heard in a long time! Fast, jazzy and long are three keywords to the saxophone playing in this song. After some 6 odd minutes of great saxophone playing, it seems the players settle down a bit. But oh no... Do you hear it? The light tapping of a ride cymbal. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, it's time for sir Ian to take the throne. Beginning quite slowly, it turns into an out-right battering of the poor toms. The pure powerhouse that is Ian Wallace spares no drum skins for this. But the scary thing is that he keeps this raw energy for four whole minutes. Madness! Finally, strange effects carry on over the drumming, before it ends on an apocalyptic note by Fripp.

Overall, if you're a Crimson fan, get this album. Beyond the obviously bad sound quality there is loads of fantastic musicianship and amazing playing. If you're not a King Crimson fan, stay away from this. It will probably leave you quite shaken. 4 Stars!

Axel Dyberg | 4/5 |


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