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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1891 ratings

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4 stars "islands join hands 'neath heaven's sea"

Another winner from King Crimson, though this album stands out in the band's discography for its lack of heavy music, precise technical playing, and unconventional time signatures, usually defining features of the Crimson sound. Bandleader Robert Fripp knew what he was doing, however, and the album succeeds on its own terms. Boz's voice is perfect for this kind of music, with his thick English accent and classical inflections. "Formentara Lady" runs a little long, but it sets a nice gentle mood (and is as far as I know the only Crimson track to feature a female musician). "Sailors Tale" is a nice jazz-influenced piece, and Fripp's chord-based guitar solo is one of the most original I have heard. "The Letters" is by far the most startling thing on here, with great dynamic contrast, and the mellotron used to its fullest potential. Boz sounds really great here, and nails the haunting mood that the text is trying to create. Much has been said of the sexist lyrics in "Ladies of the Road." I would like to hope that Peter Sinfield was poking fun of the "rock 'n' roll lifestyle" instead of endorsing it, but it is not entirely clear here. In any case, the song is catchy, but not a high point of the album. Following a pretty-sounding but conventional prelude, we have the title track "Islands," which may be one of the most beautiful tracks you will hear. The poetic nature of the text fits the soft music perfectly, setting a scene of pure tranquility. The whole piece follows a gradual crescendo that culminates triumphantly with Mark Charig's cornet. King Crimson knows how to close an album, and "Islands" is a marvel. The accessibility and genre-crossing of this album makes it highly recommended for any listener, not just prog fans.

thesameoldfears | 4/5 |


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