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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King CD (album) cover

IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.63 | 4319 ratings

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volta3
4 stars King Crimson's debut album In the Court of the Crimson King is considered by some as the first prog rock album (others give this title to the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed). One can definitely here traces of different strains of prog here such as symphonic rock (Epitaph) and the very early roots of what would later become prog metal (21st Century Schizoid Man). Though ITCOTCK does have quite few amazing moments, the full impact of the record is dulled slightly by the long and aimless Moonchild (I know this point has been hammered in to every reviewer of this album but I just wanted to add my opinion).

ITCOTCK opens with the proto-jazz-metal of 21st Century Schizoid Man with its catchy opening riff and the main theme for its middle section Mirrors. IMO, Ian McDonald was one of the great musicians to pass through King Crimson in the band's entire history (he plays nearly half of the instruments on In the Court...) and his sax playing on Schizoid Man is one of the best parts of the album by far. The second track, I Talk to the Wind is a great ballad that again features McDonald's exceptional woodwind playing, only this time on flute. Epitaph is a strong example of mellotron rock that KC, along with the Moody Blues, pioneered. Its lush string sounds provide the perfect backing to Greg Lake's wonderful and ominous vocals. Moonchild has a half-decent opening vocal melody but then dissolves into what I believe is a frankly juvenile attempt at free jazz (if you want good free-form jazz without the yawn try Albert Ayler or Ornette Coleman). The final track, the title track, is probably the second best song on here besides Schizoid Man. It is a wonderful culmination of all the thing that made this line up of King Crimson great: Greg Lake's captivating voice (that turns Peter Sinfield's imaginitive lyrics into magnificent melodies) Ian McDonald's woodwinds and mellotron, Robert Fripp's serene and aggresive guitar playing, and Michael Giles loose-but-steady drumming.

After the last track fades out, it leaves me awed at the sheer skill and craft that these four (or should I say five) musicians possessed. It is sad that this was the only album these particular men all made together but that's not a bad thing because ITCOTCK is a fine collection of songs that is timeless and will remain a rock classic for years to come.

volta3 | 4/5 |

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