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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.63 | 4185 ratings

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5 stars King Crimson's 1969 debut, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, stands as one of the cornerstones of the progressive rock genre. Many consider this the album that started Prog rock. King Crimson was comprised of Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) playing bass and handling vocals, Robert Fripp playing the guitars and Michael Giles handling the Drums (formerly of Giles, Giles & Fripp). Ian McDonald rounded out the lineup by playing saxophone, flute, and keyboards, as well as the new Mellotron, the instrument besides synths most associated with progressive rock. Robert Fripp was the driving force behind this innovative new band, and had the most creative control. Peter Sinfield wrote the poetic, though overblown lyrics. Sinfield later rose to greater fame as he also wrote ELP's lyrics after 1973. This is an exceptional album, with historic qualities. It opens with the near-metal of 21st Century Schizoid Man, an amazing song featuring jazz-metal instrumentation mixed with Lake's distorted vocals. This song became an instant Crimson classic, and a concert stalwart. Sinfield's lyrics are particularly good here. The paranoia and fear of this track is displayed in the album cover artwork, a painting of a screaming man. This hectic, frightening track segues instantly into the beautiful I Talk to the Wind, which features very pleasant flute from McDonald. This was the first in a long string of similar, acoustic pieces by King Crimson, like Cadence and Cascade on the next album. Epitaph is the most powerful piece on the album, due in large part to Sinfield's striking chorus: "Confusion will be my Epitaph/As I crawl, a cracked and broken path/If we make it, we can all, sit down and laugh/but I fear tomorrow I'll be crying...". This song is a singing critique of society's use of science for military purposes, and is quite effective. It also features Lake's strongest vocals on the album. This song is probably the first symphonic rock piece as we know it today, and has complex and bold arrangements to augment the lyrics. It has a slow build up, but when it climaxes, it is flawless. Moonchild is the only weak point on this album. The first two minutes are great, featuring incredibly haunting music and lyrics. It can creep out the listener. The next ten minutes, however, has the band "experimenting" on their instruments. This is pointless, boring noodling, and is reminiscent of some of Pink Floyd's druggier work. This hints at the rampant experimentation of King Crimson's later work, like LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC. Making up for this waste of time, the albums closer and title track are amazing. In the Court of the Crimson King is a multi part mini-suite, and has the strongest playing on the album, as well excellent lyrics again from Sinfield. This is the most bombastic track, hinting at the extravagances of ELP. This is also Robert Fripp's first experimentation with musical 'suites', and this song has a couple of distinct and brilliantly interwoven sections. Fripp's guitar is also flawless throughout the course of this album. This is the most popular and most symphonic King Crimson album, and is also their best (climbing to #4 on the British charts). Soon, they would be ravaged by personnel changes and would drift towards jazzier improvisation. This lineup would barely survive its first album, as Michael Giles and Ian McDonald leave over creative differences in 1970, with Lake exiting to form ELP soon after. IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is still a monument in the world of Prog, and hinted at the progressive rock to come. IN THE COURT... is King Crimson's most symphonic, and many consider, their best easily earns it's five star rating, and contains some of the best progressive rock to be found.
NetsNJFan | 5/5 |


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