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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1896 ratings

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4 stars Islands ? No. 4 Studio album by Crimson, features again major changes in the band. Andy McCulloch replaces by Jazz drummer Ian Wallace, renown for his hard beats on the drumset. His drumming on Islands is more straight forward than McCulloch's on Lizard, but that may be because the album overall, is more "clean" in the sound and compositions. Boz Burrell replaces Haskell on vocals and Bass. Still with Mel Collins on flutes & sax, and guest pianist Keith Tippet. Features also soprano, oboe, cornet and string bass. The album starts out with the 10 min "Formentera Lady" continuing directly into "Sailor's Tale", without break, allmost 18 min of magical Crimson music. After only a few minutes one thing stands clear, Islands is going to be very diffrent from Lizard, and anything else Crimson had done before. Opening with a bass soloing, flute soloing, piano moods, asian style persussions, and then a straight forward vocal singing, still on this moody music, with an unclear melody. Bass starts on a main theme in the composition, a dobbelt beat (bum bum... bum bum... bum bum) There is a very asian sence to the hole setup, never seen with Crimson before. Some great solo's on the "bum bum... bum bum... bum bum" theme. In between those, Boz delivers the song. Moves directly into "Sailor's Tale", starting out with a much faster drumbeat. Some very nice saxophone and guitar duels, the beat slows down, and Fripp deliver some of his best rythm guitar ever. After this great start the next track is a huge disapointment, "The Letters" is a strange mix of an attempt to make a beauti, like "Cadance and Cascade" or "Lady of the Dancing Water" , and a progressive powerrock thing. Both fail, and it leaves me with nothing. Then "Ladies of the Road" opens side B, a straight forward rock song, or at least as straight as Crimson can be, of the most lovable kind. Fun lyrics, some nice sax work, deasent singing, but no masterpiece of prog. indeed. The kind of song you would use to get people interested in King Crimson. But to me personally a song that dosent fit this album well. Now to the conclusion of the album, "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" and "Islands" The first basicly a classical composition, and preformed as such. May not be Mozart or Franz Schubert but it works perfectly as the Prelude for "Islands". "Islands" a very melodic, beautiful song, very dark and soft at the same time. I get a feeling of something very old, even though I realise its a very modern composition. A true mix of elements from Jazz, Classical and Rock music. A great song, when you are in the mood for something soft and beautiful, this is one of the best Crimson ballads. The album ends out with some studio nonsence.

So how do I rate this, start and ending truely deserves 5 stars, but the mid section especialy "The Letters", is a major setback. I will give it 4 stars, it does contain some of the best Crimson moments, sadly also one of the worst.

tamijo | 4/5 |


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