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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

2.45 | 377 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars The First thing one should know before purchasing this live 'recording' is that it is essentially a bootleg. While many fans gripe at the mediocre sound quality of Yes's "Yessongs" or ELP's "Welcome Back.", this one takes the cake. This probably has the worst sound quality of any official release I have ever heard (which is surprising, coming from the perfectionist band leader, Robert Fripp. One must remember however, that this was 1972, and Fripp was under pressure to get an album out from his label, and this lineup of King Crimson had already broken up. So this is a posthumous recording, made from the best available sources, so we take what we can get. Enough about the sound quality, to the actual music:

This is essentially a jam-album, featuring a very blues and jazz oriented band. Wallace (drums), Burrell (vocals/bass), and Mel Collins (Sax) were all the time at odds with Fripp (guitar) who was still pulling the band in a very Prog direction. The other three wanted more control, and Fripp, always a domineering sort of person, refused to give it, (resulting in the breakup in 1972). This album shows those strains, but has many good points. This was a very popular touring lineup, and there strengths show.

The album opens with a strong rendition of "Schizoid Man". Boz Burrell's vocals are processed through a synthesizer to get that same studio distortion as when Lake sang the song, and it works quite well. The band then breaks into a long jazzy break where Mel Collin's sax really shines. Next is "Peoria", a jazz-improv-jam piece, which surprisingly features 'scatting' of all things from Burrell. Overall, not a very impressive piece, but it is energetic and is played well. The "Sailor's Tale" off of the Islands album, is this albums most symphonic piece, and it is good, but pales in comparison with the strong original. The mellotron, (when it can be made out) as well as Fripp's Guitar are fairly good. "Earthbound" is another jazzy piece much in the vein of "Peoria" but it features much more interesting guitar work. Finally, the album closes with "Groon", a fifteen minute expansion of a three minute B-side from 1970 (from "Catfood"). This track is very interesting, especially to fans of avant-garde King Crimson. It features fantastic and funky drumming by Ian Wallace, and very interesting VC3 synthesizer work by Robert Fripp, which remains interesting despite its obvious improvisation. It does, however, drag on a bit too long.

This album is enjoyable, as the only King Crimson live album from its early period (1969-1972), (others have since been released), but its awful sound quality and jazzy- jam nature, and lack of classics (other than "Schizoid") make it definitely for King Crimson collectors only. Start with the studio albums first, if you like those, proceed to this one.with caution - 2 stars.

NetsNJFan | 2/5 |


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