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King Crimson - Red CD (album) cover

RED

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.56 | 3540 ratings

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Walkscore
5 stars Essential Crimson Masterpiece.

The culmination of this incarnation of Crimson, this represents the songs that this version of the band wrote and played live for their last year before Fripp broke up the band. It is a stunning set, and for me the definitive Crimson (I also like the 80s incarnation, but I don't think that band could have existed without this one having come beforehand). Every piece here is excellent. Fripp was in discussion with Ian MacDonald about possibly rejoining the band (an idea with support from other members), and he plays on it to great effect. His soprano saxes on Fallen Angel, One More Red Nightmare, and the totally amazing Starless, provide that extra bit of sonic difference that helps them transcend the usual standards of rock music. The band here is officially a trio though, as Fripp felt Cross was not making sufficient contributions. Yet, we still hear Cross play on this album in multiple places, and his contributions to the improvisation "Providence" are essential. While the title track is iconic in itself (and continued to be played by each iteration of Crimson since then), it is the songs "One More Red Nightmare" and "Starless" that standout here. The other pieces are already in the 5-star category, but these two are at the very top of the ranking scale. They are so essential to the history of progressive rock. These are the two Crimson songs with the best Wetton vocals (and lyrics), and Bruford's drumming here set a bar that few drummers have ever surpassed, even 40 years on. Starless is one of the best songs ever written in my opinion. Starting with a mellotron intro that sends shivers down the spine, the words seem deeper than anything Crimson put down before or since, with a beautiful and memorable guitar melody that sticks in the head. The long section part of the song is in 15/8 time, beginning with a slow syncopated (in 15/8) bass line and Bruford's quirky yet totally musical drumming, which gets layered with the building Fripp guitar and Cross violin lines to a climax in which the speed doubles (again in 15/8) with MacDonald's sax solo over top. The final is just amazing, a mind-blowing experience. I was even more impressed when I learned that Bruford was the one that came up with this second section (the bass line, etc), making this piece a true band composition, and showing what could have been if the band had continued to work together like this. One of the best ever albums. I give it 9.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is a high 5 PA stars. This is in my top 10 albums of all time, and the very best Crimson album.

Walkscore | 5/5 |

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