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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2111 ratings

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3 stars Side 2 of "In the Wake of Poseidon" introduced the new KING CRIMSON sound that would be carried forward to "Lizard" and "Islands". Only lyricist Peter Sinfield and guitarist Robert Fripp remains from the debut, with Fripp occupying the mellotron stool. Gone are the melodic and classically infused compositions, replaced by a more free form intentionally dissonant and cold jazzy ambiance. Gordon Haskell assumes most vocals although he is largely relegated to side 1. He's no Greg Lake, but that man's talents would have been wasted on "Lizard".

The album actually kicks off with one of the group's best tracks, the eclectic "Cirkus", with its surreal lyrics of a collapsing world under the big top, and its superb riff and instrumental breaks highlighting Fripp's idiosyncratic acoustic guitar style, Mel Collins' sax, and even some sweeping mellotron. The piece quiets down near the end to a slow buildup and calamitous climax, nothing new for an opening KC cut.

"Indoor Games" is a far more mature and effective reading of "Cat Food" that appeared on "In the Wake", with more thought-provoking lyrics and acoustic frippery. But "Happy Family" has to be one of the worst songs committed to vinyl, a blasphemous drug induced nursery rhyme without charm or insight. Luckily Side 1 ends with a ballad following in the footsteps of "I Talk to the Wind" and "Cadence and Cascade", shorter still, but with sparkling guitar and flute. I admit it has a burned out vibe, no doubt signaling the end of KC's run of sweet flute ballads.

Jon Anderson acquits himself well on "Prince Rupert Awakes", and it's hard to imagine giving the job of carrying this melody to Haskell. It's eerie and measured, with a choral mellotron ending to match. After this, the album moves fully into jazzy territory. "Bolero" is a lovely instrumental but with a bit too much heavy sax in the break. My edit would only include a little of this extravagance. But "Battle of Glass Tears" essentially introduces the even more devil may care style of "Islands". The themes that can be discerned are less interesting and more tempestuous, and far too drawn out.

I am not a fan of this style to be blunt, but, for what it is, "Lizard" is actually a pretty impressive critter, and could merit 4 stars if it were not so cold blooded.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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