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King Crimson - THRAK CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.68 | 1298 ratings

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4 stars Great. But could have been even better.

There is so much clear pent-up energy on this album, so much promise and talent. The musicians are still all at the top of their game. Adrian Belew is still writing excellent songs. However, Fripp insisted that if Bruford was going to be part of the band (Bruford had to actually lobby for months for this) then it was going to be a 'double trio', that is, with two drummers (and with both Trey Gunn and Tony Levin on bass/touch guitars). This is fine in and of itself. Indeed, Fripp got Pat Mastellotto in as the second drummer, and he is (and continues to be) a great drummer. It would have been so excellent if when they recorded these pieces, one drummer had been placed in one ear, and the other drummer placed in the other, allowing the listener to hear which was whom. However, Fripp also insisted that Bruford give up any artistic control, and Fripp mixed both drums in the centre of the recordings. So, we can't tell who is playing what. Indeed, with the two drummers both going full stop, it gets a bid muddy at times. This would also be the last Crimson album with Bruford - Sid Smith's Fripp-sanctioned biography suggests that Fripp used a minor disagreement to kick Bruford out of the band (Fripp left for three days to sulk, and wouldn't resume without Bruford gone), after which Crimson continued on in its next form as a four-piece. So much lost potential. But despite this, the music here is good. There really is not a bad song on the album, and some of the tunes here are so good they are now Crimson staples (Dinosaur, Vroom, Thrak). I really like Adrian Belew - he adds so much musicality to Crimson, including here. My favourite pieces on this album are clearly his alone, like 'One Time', 'Inner Garden', and 'Walking on Air' (and of course, so is 'Dinosaur'). Belew was really generous in donating so much of his great compositions to Crimson - from the moment he joined on Discipline, he provided the vast majority of Crimson's staple songs. I wish Bruford were allowed to shine more here - he is such a musical drummer, but Fripp would seem to have wanted to keep him down, which is a real shame. I don't know why such a great musician as Fripp would want to diminish the musicality of another great musician. Sid Smith implies Fripp is incapable of empathy, and given Fripp gave his blessings to Smith's biography, perhaps it is true. I am not sure. Even without having read Smith's book, one can feel the lost potential on this album on first listen. It is great, but could have been so much greater. I give this album 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars, which is still excellent, but...

Walkscore | 4/5 |


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