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King Crimson - Beat CD (album) cover

BEAT

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

2.97 | 788 ratings

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1791 Overture
2 stars This one is often cited as the low point of King Crimson's career, but I beg to differ - Three of a Perfect Pair is even worse. No, in all seriousness, this is not an awful record, but it is so inconsistent that I don't think giving it a rating as high as three stars is justified. After all, the guidelines say that three-star albums are just plain 'good.'

The record starts off promisingly, with the first few notes picking up almost exactly where the wonderful Discipline album left off - there's a five-time motif with a New Wave style guitar tone. Rather than building into the expected entwining rhythms, however, Neal and Jack and Me opts to launch into a relatively mediocre rock tune, which, despite its energy form Belew as a vocalist and a few rhythmic hiccups, is not completely convincing. Things only get worse with Heartbeat - it's passable, but when faced with a band whose discography consists so plentifully of songs they alone could write, it is disheartening to listen to one that is interchangeable with anyone else's from the same period. A tight rhythm section can't save it - this is King Crimson's first attempt at writing a song that is completely pop with no trimmings, and truth be told, the band is not good at writing pop music. Simple as that. The rest of the album picks up a bit, but it is far less complex and compelling on the whole than Discipline - though the instrumental has an interesting way of taking King Crimson's classic ensemble sound and morphing it into an 80's entity. One thing you can say about King Crimson - they are never stuck in the past...unless you count their own past, of course. Neurotica seems to hint at Jack Keuroac's observational poetry and distorts it into a typical Crimson wankfest. Funny, but nothing to write home about. Two Hands plays at being sentimental, but honestly I find it a bit creepy. Some decent textures, though.

The final track, Requiem, is the heart and soul of this album - an atonal improvised guitar solo that screeches over unrestrained percussion and a deliciously unresolved bass (I mean stick) line from Levin, this has to be heard to be believed. If you are a King Crimson fanatic that somehow doesn't already have this album, then this track is worth the price of admission on its own. My only regret is that's it's attached to a release full of so much mediocrity, and that more musicians don't craft songs like this one. One for the history books, sadly overlooked due to its position in time and the discography. Listen and enjoy.

If you are looking to get into King Crimson's post-70s material, I would recommend going further forward in time, perhaps to the incredible ConstruKction of Light album, before taking this on.

1791 Overture | 2/5 |

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