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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.47 | 382 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

4 stars I know what you're thinking- "What kind of unrefined idiot would give this piece of crap four stars?? And he calls himself a FAN??? Guards, remove this man at once!!!"

As a King Crimson fan since '81 (via their appearance on the late night show FRIDAYS), I've avoided this album for many years due to the extremely hostile and venomous bad rap it gets from fans and critics alike. Fortunately, last year I stopped listening and decided to check this album out out of sheer curiosity. I figured "How bad can this really be?" The answer: this (along with the many other fine live albums of this particular line up from the King Crimson Collector's Club series) kicks the blithering crap out of ISLANDS (which I always considered to be Crimson's weakest album, despite minor gems like "The Sailor's Tale" and "Ladies Of The Road").

Ever since hearing the aforementioned better quality live outings from the KCCC, the '72 line up has been really growing on me. This was a band that seemed to be dominated by Mel Collins and Ian Wallace, as far as live presence goes. And we're all aware of the tension that's on display here: Fripp struggling to maintain some sort of control while the other three are Hellbent on turning Crimson into some kind of monster r&b/funk jam band. Yes, the sound quality is "bad", but it does nothing to diminish the Hellish intensity of these performances. In fact, it's almost appropriate. I will go out on a limb and say that this is their METALLIC K.O. The primary difference is (besides the musical genre), EARTHBOUND is the sound of a band at war with itself rather than with the audience. And it's hard, raw, gritty, unhinged, and angry. It is truly the Anti-ISLANDS. Crimson was (is?) one of the very few prog bands who weren't afraid to attack their audiences with occasional aural psychotic ugliness and still exhibit the precision that this genre is known for. It's just that in this case, it wasn't the kind of musical violence that Fripp had planned.

This album's "21st Century Schizoid Man" is flat-out mean, with Boz's crazy modulated vocal and Wallace's herd-of-elephants drumming. Probably the most urgent version I've heard yet. "Peoria" is a stomping Goliath of a funk jam, with Boz's wonderfully ridiculous scatting and Fripp being forced into some Reggie Lucas-style comping (and he pulls it off!). "The Sailor's Tale" is good, but merely a tease as it gets cut off too soon. "Earthbound" is full of rock/funk swagger, with a heavy beat, a bit more of Boz's purist-offending scatting, Fripp loosening up a bit, and Collins' fine sax playing. This track also gets cut off early, and it seems to be a primitive precursor to some of the live improvs of the '73/'74 line up, at least rhythmically. "Groon" is a wobbly jazz-rock ramble, complete with with some of Boz's excited and seemingly drunken yelling and hollering in the background. Things get really out-there when the electronic effects attach themselves to Wallace's thundering drum solo like the face-hugger in ALIEN. It ends with Fripp playing a few doomy, sustained notes which decay into quiet amp humming. What a glorious mess!

I think we all agree that this is Crimson's runt of the litter. But it's much more than that. It's a grainy black & white snapshot of a band's dying incarnation on the edge. Think of a large, bellowing beast in its death throes with a few spears stuck in its side, and you've got the picture. I completely dig it.

Jangoclone666 | 4/5 |


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