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King Crimson - USA CD (album) cover

USA

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.00 | 352 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars It's ... it's a live album released after Red (and reissued in 2002). It's hard to know what exactly to say other than that, because it's a good live album, but that's more of a function of the tracklisting than of any particular performance. The original boasted but six tracks, while the remastered version added bonus performances of "Fracture" and "Starless" to the mix. "Larks' 2," which opens the album, is done with higher volume and greater distortion than the original version, so that's something notable. But otherwise it's ... a good performance of "Lament" (which actually means something, as I never really liked it before), a good performance of "Exiles" (with some more noise than before, but not improving much on the already great original), an average moody improv in "Asbury Park," and a good "Easy Money" that unfortunately fades out during the middle jam. "Fracture" is also done decently, but I'd be very hardpressed to figure out how it's any better or worse than before.

In the end, then, there's only two tracks that I can find much to say about. First of all, the rendition of "Schizoid Man" on here is danged marvelous, far exceeding the tepid version on The Night Watch. Wetton gets a boost to his vocals through distortion, Bruford's drumming is fabulous, and Fripp's solo is miles above that on, again, The Night Watch. It's also interesting to here the violin mixed fairly high during the verses, something not previously found in renditions of the track.

"Starless" also holds some points of interest. This version shows it as a work still in progress, with some differences from the studio version, yet with the raw parts already in place. Most notable is that the opening guitar solos of the studio version are handled by Cross' violin here (which makes sense, since Fripp was handling the mellotron), and that there's no Ian McDonald around on saxophone, so the ending instrumental jam is more guitar heavy and 'grungey' than on the original. Some of the lyrics are also different - I'm so used to the ones on Red that I find myself missing them here, but it's still interesting nevertheless to see what Wetton had to work with at this point. Let's not dabble in semantics, though - the melody is still there, and the brilliant instrumental passages are there, so I'm not about to complain.

In the end, it's a solid live album, but with just these two exceptions, it's nothing we haven't heard before. It's actually my opinion that this album says Crimson's live abilities at the time are overrated - the performances are good, but too often I get the feeling the band is tired and kinda going through the motions, albeit really solid motions. Get it as a gap-filler, if at all.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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