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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.47 | 382 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
1 stars Review Nš 50

Robert Fripp was persuaded to entirely reform and restructure King Crimson with a new musical direction and with a new line up. However, as the band had a live tour commitment, he took the decision to dismember the band only after that live tour. The recordings from this live tour were later recorded as the "Earthbound" live album, which became their debut live album and which was released in 1972. So, "Earthbound" became also the farewell album of this line up, with Robert Fripp (electric guitar), Boz Burrell (vocals and bass guitar), Mel Collins (alto, tenor and baritone saxophones and mellotron) and Ian Wallace (drums).

"Earthbound" has five tracks. The live recordings of the tracks were taken from several locations. The first track "21st Century Schizoid Man" was recorded at the Armoury, Wilmington, Delaware, USA, in 11 February 1972. The second track "Peoria" was recorded at the Barn, Peoria, Illinois, USA, in 10 March 1972. The third track "The Sailor's Tale" was recorded at the Baseball Park, Jacksonville, Florida, USA, in 26 February 1972. The fourth track, the title track "Earthbound", was recorded at Kemp Coliseum, Orlando, Florida, USA, in 27 February 1972. The fifth track "Groon" was also recorded at the Armoury, Wilmington, Delaware, USA, in 11 February 1972.

About the tracks and their performance I need to write some lines. "21st Century Schizoid Man" was originally recorded on their debut studio album "In The Court Of The Crimson King" released in 1969. These eleven minutes live version isn't bad at all. It's my favourite second track on the album. However, in contrary to the opinion of some other reviewers, I consider this live version inferior of that was performed on their second live album "USA". "Peoria" is a live improvisation of a piece of music that was never released on any studio album of them. This is a kind of an energetic jazz/funky groove song with some quality and played well. However, in my humble opinion, it isn't a very impressive piece of music, and honestly, I think that it's a little bit an outsider on the band's music. "The Sailor's Tale" was originally recorded on their fourth studio album "Islands" released in 1971. This is, for me, the best track on the album. It's a very good live piece of music and the most symphonic of all on the album. However, it isn't as good as their studio version. "Earthbound" is another improvised live song that was also never released on any studio album of them. This is another track with a kind of an energetic jazz/funky groove in the same vein of "Peoria". This is another song that I also think it's a little bit out of their musical context. "Groon" is a rare song which was released for the first time as the B-side of their single "Cat Food"/"Groon" and wasn't available on any studio album of the band. Sincerely, this is my less favourite track on the album. I really think that is a great monstrosity. First of all "Groon", on its studio version has only 3 minutes and on this live version has about 15 minutes. This wouldn't be bad if its live improvisation was good. Sadly, this isn't the case. By the other hand, I must say that I like very much of the typical live solo drums of the 70's. I really like of good drumming. But on this track, the 7 minutes of a drum solo slow and without flame, it's boring and honestly, I can live perfectly without it. Finally, on a live album, the musical improvisation can be free, but all musicians must play together as a band. But on this live album, and in particular on this track, this isn't the case. When I listen to "Groon", I have the sensation that each musician performs alone what they really want.

Conclusion: "Earthbound" is the most obscure, atypical and failed King Crimson's album, and I'm sure that it wasn't a coincidence that was the last band's album to get reissued on a CD format. In my opinion, several reasons contributed to that. In the first place, I'm perfectly sure that the Fripp's decision of dismember the band, brought demotivation and some tension in the band's members. In the second place, make only a live tour just to meet their contractual commitments, was certainly another factor of poor motivation. In the third place, probably the main reason, this isn't for sure one of the best King Crimson's line up. Excluding Fripp and Collins, which are really excellent musicians, Burrell and Wallace are, with respect, slightly below to the minimum quality level required for this band. I'm convinced that with John Wetton and Bill Bruford, it would have been a better album. In the fourth place, the choice of the band's repertoire wasn't the best that the group had written until the time, with the exceptions of "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "The Sailor's Tale". The last but not the least reason, its sound quality is really awful. The information that the recordings were captured live on an ampex stereo cassette recorder in the rain and from the back of a Volkswagen truck, says it all. So, with all these conditions reunited together, "Earthbound" had to be a huge failure. Sincerely, I must confess that I hesitated to rate "Earthbound" with 1 or 2 stars. Finally, I decided to give it only 1 star because I can find on it very few of positive and I need to be fair with some other albums that I rated with 2 stars.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 1/5 |


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