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King Crimson - Ladies of the Road CD (album) cover

LADIES OF THE ROAD

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.03 | 115 ratings

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thehallway
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This rather unpublicised gem holds the best document of KC music from the '71 touring line-up, with high sound quality relative to Earthbound (though not on disc 2) and a nice selection of songs that includes every album up to that point, albeit with a focus on 'Islands'.

Most songs transfer well into a live setting, particularly 'Pictures of a City', surprisingly 'The Letters, and obviously, '21st Century Schizoid Man'. The other two Islands cuts are actually a little inferior to the sudio versions, with 'Formentera Lady's abridgement making it seem rushed and 'Sailor's Tale' lacking its original fury (especially in the guitar department). But the loungey jazz application to the rest of the songs here works well with what sounds like a small but enthusiastic audience. 'Cirkus' has been changed the most; I like this version but almost as a totally different song, because the Lizard one is full of overdubbing of brass, keyboards and acuostic guitar. Our Cirkus here is slower, harder, and rawer with tense builds-ups and a shuffle rhythm towards the end, all being great but no longer reminiscent of circuses. The two improv pieces, 'Groon' and a Donovan cover, show this band's wonderful chemistry and some great music is to be found here, so do not ignore!!!

Burrell's singing is really top-notch and he applies as many relevant moods to the older songs as well as the Islands tracks, perhaps shining more towards the end of this album. Mel Collins delivers his usual standard of saxophoning: absolutely incredible stuff. Wallace is equally on the money and takes a couple of brief drum solos to really show us his style, which is rocky when neccesary but rooted in heavily-syncopated jazz flurrying. Fripp is dynamic as ever (despite being sat down the whole time).

Disc 2 of this collection encompasses 11 or so fragments of various middle solos from the "Schizoid Men" of this tour. They are without gappage, as if inviting one to indulge in an entire 53 minutes of noodling, but this is, I must admit, boring. Some solos are better than others anyway, and some are almost identical (there are a total of 12 guitar solos and 6 sax). The random silence on the final outgoing doesn't make sense either (but a jewel case sticker informs me that it is an artistic decision). The whole thing is a nice idea but not really as intense as I thought it would be. I can enjoy some of these solos individualy though.

In summary, a fantastic array of music abodes the first disc here, with only a few mere moments of bad stuff. The experiment following is not something one should get their hopes up for, but is also worth checking out. The band tonight are dynamic, rich, technical and poetic. Unquestionably better than Earthbound, this release will fill a void in your Crimso collection that needs to be filled.

thehallway | 4/5 |

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