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King Crimson - Epitaph, Volumes One & Two CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.79 | 211 ratings

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4 stars Why do we listen to this vintage record?

That was my first question that came into my mind with respect to this late sixties record. Especially with many new bands coming into stream of progressive rock with modernized recording technology? But .. my surfing on the net and the finding of their seventies performance of 'Easy Money' combined with my CD collection of their seventies performance titled as 'The Night Watch' made me eager to listen to this vintage record 'Epitaph ? Live in 1969, Volume One and Two'. My first impression on the first spin of this Epitaph CD was that quite OK on the first three tracks. It's probably I have been listening to it in different version of the box sets 'Frame by Frame' and 'The Great Deceiver'.

'A Man, a City' blew me away man !!!

The fourth track 'Epitaph' is so legendary and so meaningful to me and I do really love this live version. It made me repeat this live version many times. I have to admit that Epitaph has a very special meaning to me. It reminds me to the life after death and how I get prepared myself before I die. But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying and being able to sit and relax in paradise where the river flow underneath as it is mentioned in Quran. Despite the deep meaning of the words (thanks, Mr Sinfield!), the song itself has a catchy melody and mellotron-drenched background that makes the dark mood of the music.

But one thing that finally BLEW me away was when I listened to 'A Man, A City' performed live, in which I have never heard this song performed live before. Yes, I do like the studio version (aka Pictures of a City) as the structure is quite excellent and the melody is really great. But this live version is really different and very inspiring! This song was not recorded in the studio before it was performed in 1969 because the studio version came out one year later when the second album 'In The Wake of Poseidon' was released in 1970. The song was re-titled to 'Pictures of A City'. The recording sonic quality is not good actually. But it's OK, it does not count much here because it was recorded long time ago with limitation on mobile recording. The music composition and performance outnumber the sonic quality, believe me! If you ignore the sonic quality, you will get a top notch composition by prog rock pioneer! I truly admire this live version because the style is much more dynamic and many improvisations performed throughout this extended song. To me this song is a great combination of rock, symphonic and jazz music. Ian McDonald's exploration of woodwind is really stunning and it reminds me to the kind of Van der Graff Generator's music. I can imagine how the crowd were confused as this song was not released when it was performed here in this record. This song finally came out in the next studio album 'In The Wake of Poseidon' (1970).

The '21th Century Schizoid Man' performance is also excellent and I do love the way Greg Lake sings, it's rockier than the studio version. The improvisation tracks from 'Mantra' with nice flute work to 'Travel Weary Capricorn' are great. The band demonstrates their jazzy heart through 'Travel Weary Capricorn'. It's a great track, really, especially on the combination of vocal and improvised flute work. Well, I forgot to notice that Michael Giles is a great drummer / percussionist. He played really well throughout the live record with dynamic drumwork. Fripp guitar improvisation in 'Travel Weary Capricorn' is really excellent. It stops suddenly with 'Paco De Lucia' style guitar work at the opening of 'Improv: Travel Bleary Capricorn'.

'Mars' is a symphonic instrumental piece with dark mood using mellotron as main rhythm section. This song lays a solid foundation for next King Crimson music in 'Three of a Perfect Pair' album with song like 'Industry'. 'Drop In' is another great jazzy music with dark mood. I think, the music of Sting (The Police) was initially influenced by this kind of music, especially on the opening part. This is really an improvisation song that sounds really great to me. The interlude part is really a pure swing jazz music.

Overall, I really consider this album as an excellent prog music collection for those who love King Crimson. It's a must. Keep on proggin' ..!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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