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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.80 | 1695 ratings

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BACKGROUND: King Crimson gained attnetion as a forerunner of progressive rock in 1969 with the release of their first album. It was powerful symphonic prog with jazz/rock fusion and a lot of originality, such as lengthy pieces with bizarre lyrics and a mysterious atmosphere, as well as a lot of chord change sand unusual time signatures. The band quickly dissolved, they released a second album, 'In wake of Poseidon', which was essentially a weaker version of the first album. Then Lizard was a mesmerising album with Mel Collins' adding amazing wind instrumental work and was a classical/folk/jazz-rock mix. Then they followed it up with 'ISLANDS'

ANALYSIS: Unlike a lot of other vocalists for THE CRIM in the early 70's, Boz Burrell is a fine vocalist. He has a very pretty voice. The album is generally a mix of a lot of different styles.

Around this time I think King Crimson were at their best. A lot of their later stuff, even I mean later in the 70's, is quite predictable, but on Debut/Lizard/Islands they were open to anything and everything. Later on it was more about trying to blow up amps, especially on albums like Larks Tongues, Red, Thrak and Construction of Light.

The opening 'Formentera Lady' is a brilliant mix of Eastern music, a bit Arabian. There are some haunting female voices and a very Eastern rhythm. Won't here anything like that on 'Construction of Light' will we? There are a variety of instruments and Boz sings so well to express a love emotion. The second song is a harder edged song with raucous guitar and a jazzy rhythm section, a good instrumental. There are a couple of weaker peices in the middle of the of the album, 'Ladies of the road' and 'The letter'. The former is a stab at an up- tempo comedy number with sexual lyrics that would later be a feature of ELP albums. The second, 'The letter' is much better, an emotional song about a cheating man, with soft sections and a loud instrumental bit that will blow your ears off, but ultimately, not a good song.

The album closes with 'Song of the gulls/islands'. 'Song of the gulls' is a beautiful classical msuic piece that leads into the title track. 'Islands' is a delicate, classical-influenced ballad with gorgeous vocals from 'Boz', although his voice needs to be louder in the mix sometimes. For that error I can safely say this album is worth three stars. It ruins what was almost a perfect song. It has a perfect melody and a very warm feeling in the music, very peaceful and restful.

CONCLUSION: This is possibly my favourite line up for KC, I mean what would be better than Mel Collins/Robert Fripp/Boz Burrell. Boz sings with a delicate, quaint charm that fits well with the mysterious moniker of the band and Collins' wind instruments add a more colourful, varied texture than what would be on later albums. It is a highly accomplished album, but for a few glitches, it is ultimately worth about three stars.


Brendan | 3/5 |


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