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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2112 ratings

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Dark Nazgul
5 stars Fripp's genius is not for everyone.

"Lizard" is the album of the first major change in direction of King Crimson style. Fripp disrupts the line-up by bringing in permanent roles two guests of the previous album (Mel Collins and Gordon Haskell) and a new drummer was signed (Andy Mc Cullough). However, the most important innovation is certainly the contribution of the jazz pianist Keith Tippett and the great impact of the trio Charig-Evans-Miller on horns. Of all the records of the band, Lizard is definitely the most jazz-influenced: wherever you feel an incredible freedom of expression that leaves breathless. Without doubt, "Lizard" is a courageous exploration inside the immense territory of experimental jazz, so it's very hard to digest but at the same time very rewarding if you have the patience to listen it many times.

Cirkus the first and perhaps the best track on the album, opens with a delicate phrasing of electric piano and the voice of Haskell, suddenly followed by a menacing mellotron theme in which all the other instruments are incorporated. The verses and the mellotron theme are repeated through the song, in which there are a beautiful guitar solo by Fripp and above all an extraordinary solo by Collins on saxophone. Then, two very bizarre songs, Indoor Games and Happy Family, which are clearly experimental and characterized by intricate jazz arrangements. The initial dramatic note of Happy Family (right after the hysterical laughter of Haskell which ends with the exclamation "hey-ho") has an expressive power that will leave you absolutely breathless. Lady of Dancing Water, is a quieter ballad, with lyrics and music in medieval style and beautiful pieces of flute, but I must admit that in the interpretation of this song Haskell does not satisfies me (I'm not a fan of Haskell voice, for sure. However, his strange way of singing fits perfectly to the more experimental tracks: his voice does not irritate me, in songs like Cirkus or Happy Family).

Then we have the suite, Lizard, which is divided into several parts. In the first section, Prince Rupert Awakes, dominates the voice of Jon Anderson, the great guest of the record, who sings a melancholy melody. Although the melody sung by the Yes singer is incredibly smooth, the arrangement is always changed in every verse, and therefore the song is never be banal. A romantic crescendo of mellotron gives way to the second section, the exceptional and solemn Bolero, an instrumental piece with a great use of wind instruments and a free arrangement in the middle. After a short passage sung by Haskell (Dawn Song) the suite becomes extremely complex, with awesome mellotron parts ("mello" is used by Fripp in incredibly innovative way) and the usual cerebral jazz phrasing. In the latter part of the suite there is a loss in quality, the only one in the album, with an experimental solo by Fripp that I think is aged badly (Prince Rupert's Lament) and the bizarre and inconclusive final waltz Big Top (what a pity to conclude in this way an album like "Lizard"!).

Despite the loss of quality in the final, "Lizard" is a great album in my opinion, where Fripp's genius is shown everywhere, as well as the technical ability of the musicians who accompany him. I think that after "In The Court Of The Crimson King", Lizard is the most beautiful album of the band. But please beware: listen to it can be a fantastic experience but also incredibly frustrating. In fact, it is a very complex album, which hard you'll love at first listen (the risk is to listen to it once and then keep it in the closet for years). Therefore highly recommend only for patients and "adventurous" listeners.

Rating: 9/10.

Best song: Cirkus

Dark Nazgul | 5/5 |


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