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King Crimson - Beat CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.08 | 1213 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars When standards are set too high, disappointment is sure to follow.

"Discipline" was a breath of fresh air for the members of King Crimson, and indeed the prog world in general (especially considering prog music was basically either comatose, swept under the rug or just plain dead as a doornail). The "rock gamelan", Bruford's inspired drumming, Belew and Fripp's interlocking guitar harmonies. And on top of all that, some memorable and catchy tunes actually emerged thanks to Belew's pop-rock songwriting sensibilities.

But I feel like that pop-rock songwriting went a bit too far on "Beat".

Sure, "Neal and Jack and Me" and "Heartbeat" sound fine. The verses are a bit unorthadox, as well as the lyrics in general (inspired by the Beat Generation), and it only takes a few minutes before the chorus comes in on the former, the most pleasant part of the song, and even that only lasts a minute or so. All these songs are short compared to the goliath tracks that Crimson is known for in the past, but of course this is the 80's we're talking about now. Even Yes went commercial.

And to be fair, none of the songs are truly appalling. "Sartori in Tangier" is a cool African rhythm-inspired jam, Levin shreds on "Waiting Man", where even more African influences are prevalent, and yet it still feels like the same old same old. Is it because this is the same excuse we've been using to criticize Crimson since the beginning, or is it just because the songs off "Discipline" were just plain better? "Neurotica" actually would've been a better had it stayed schizophrenic, but roughly two minutes in, the same synth click beat returns and the hypnotic double guitars once again suck the life out of the track.

And this sort of uninspired feeling continues. "Two Hands" continues with a soft minimalism and African-styled drumming, but nothing pops out. No singular chorus or chord, no interesting noodling or groundbreaking sounds.

Only "Requiem" stands out, really. It's the closest thing to an homage of the classic Crimson schizophrenic sound. Bruford goes nuts while Belew and Fripp distort the hell out of their guitars. It's one of the highlights on the album, even though sonically it's going backwards, which is basically the exact opposite of King Crimson's MO.

So in reality, this album is about as average as average can get. Not bad, but not good. Same sounds as "Discipline", but bad songwriting and lackluster instrumental exposure. Even though I consider it a middle of the road album, I don't think even King Crimson fans should bother with it, especially since "Discipline" and "Three of a Perfect Pair" have the same 80's Crimson style, and "Three" lacks a significant African influence the previous two albums share. My advice is to just stick with "Discipline" and not bother with the others.

Wicket | 3/5 |


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