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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1830 ratings

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3 stars If "Lizard" dipped its toes into the vast cool ocean of modern jazz, "Islands" submerged itself. Only Fripp, Sinfield and Collins remain, with Collins having the greatest impact on the sound via woodwinds and brass. It's almost as if Robert Fripp tried out a variety of ensemble concepts during the initial run of the group, before settling on the violin led final trio of disks that many regard as the group's best.

The new bassist, and I do mean new, as he only learned the instrument prior to the recording of the album, plays loudly to compensate for questionable ability. One of my problems with KC from here on out as that they seem to have only two volumes - not loud enough no matter how high you turn it up, and too loud no matter how low you turn it down. So most of "Formentera Lady" falls into the former category and the "Sailor's Tale" the latter. Both have real highlights, with the gentle melody of "Formentera Lady" carried well by Boz and improvised later by Collins, and the closing mellotron-led passages of "Sailor's Tale" reminding us of the power of the orchestral prog introduced waaaaaaaay back on ITCOCK just 3 years prior.

"Ladies of the Road" marks a low point for the album - a kinky retelling of the groupies' story from the innocent band member's perspective....please. Gimmickry laden, it must have been equally unimpressive in its day, but is now wholly irrelevant and not even worth the curiosity. But "Prelude/Song of the Gulls" is perhaps the group's most fully classical moment ever, from the meters down to the instrumentation, and it provides a gorgeous intro to the album's title track. Though the decidedly mellow "Islands" is a bit overlong, it does epitomize Fripp's ongoing knack for avant garde romanticism that would permeate some of the more accessible tracks on the remaining albums.

While alienating to fans, flawed in direction and production, and definitely not a desert island disk, this album proved that, at least in the 1970s, Robert Fripp possessed an uncanny knack of making a minor treasure out of a major shipwreck.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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