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King Crimson - Red CD (album) cover

RED

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 2237 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Of all three masterpieces that King Crimson recorded during the brief Wetton-era, this is my favourite one. Following in the same harsh road of its predecessor "Starless and Bible Black", "Red", while not portraying the massive sophistication of "Larks' Tongues", nevertheless manages to enhance the red hot energy that the band already mastered, taking it up to a higher level of excitement and compositional inventiveness than the band had ever known before: and of course, the level was kept evenly according to high standards from day one (that is, the release of "In the Court of the Crimson King"). It may sound a bit ironic since the group's line-up was reduced to a trio format in these "Red" days, but yes, KC found its way to retain their frontal rocking power and make it stronger while decreasing in size. The opening title track is a lesson in hard rocking and clever dissonances, taught through a strategy of inventive chord progressions, effective interplaying, and a fluid connection between the reiterated main motif and the sinister intersection. This same harsh approach can also be found in many passages included in the remaining repertoire, but the track 'Red' is the most emblematic of the album's overall direction. 'Fallen Angel' combines the clever hard rock ordainment with beautiful acoustic guitar based sections for the verses: there is a notable contrast between the controlled textures played by the mellotron, oboe and lead guitar during the verses and the freer lines played by the cornet during the choruses, which establish a frontal counterpoint to Fripp's minimalistic riffs. Things again get harder, and also a bit jazzier, in 'One More Red Nightmare': once again, a wind instrument - this time, a tenor sax - serves as an accomplished guest in charge of adding fuel to the fire of rock'n'roll during the subtly complex instrumental passages. 'Providence' is basically a reminder of the "Starless and Bible Black" days. A testament of Cross' input to the band during this era, the 'Providence' jamming is initially led by him on violin until Fripp assumes the leading role, a status that eventually both will share during the last portion; the rhythm duet plays beautifully, paying close attention to what is demanded from them and how it is demanded. It's really amazing how this improv stuff can sound so ordained in a way. But the breathtaking gem is yet to come, and that is the closure 'Starless', arguably the best KC song ever. This song starts as a typically Crimsonian ballad, with a mellotron that leads the way by displaying haunting harmonic layers and a slow tempo delivered with absolute distinction by Wetton and Bruford: the guitar leads serve as a counterpoint to the mellotron, while the soprano sax flies as a counterpoint to Wetton's sung lines. No other melody could fit better the lyrics, which compellingly portray the absolute darkness of the inner self in contrast to the shades of light exposed in the outside world during the last minutes of twilight. After this enormously beautiful passage, here comes the most famous minimalistic guitar solo in prog history: Fripp's one color musical picture is ornamented by Wetton's wicked bass and Bruford's percussive implements, until the drums join in for the explosive partial climax that soon leads to a fiery jam. After the alternate solos on sax and guitar during the jam, the initial motif is reprised for the definitive climax. So captivating and so disturbing at the same time. a perfect ending for one of those KC perfect masterpieces --- 5 stars!!

[I dedicate this review to my beloved "Starless" friend Beatriz]

Cesar Inca | 5/5 |

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