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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2129 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars King Crimson: Lizard [1970]

Rating: 9/10

After the disappointing In the Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson solidified their lineup by making Gordon Haskell a permanent member and by recruiting Mel Collins and Andy McCulloguh on sax/flute and drums, respectively. Like all pre-Larks arrangements, this lineup proved to be short-lived. However, it managed to work magnificently. One of the major criticisms of ItWoP was that it sounded too similar to the debut. Thus, Fripp completely overhauled the band's sound. The result was King Crimson's jazziest, most abstract, and most unique album. Lizard was a big risk for the band, and it remains controversial to this day. It's generally a "love it or hate it" album, and I fall into the former category.

"Cirkus" is a gorgeous opener. It begins with quiet keys and vocals. Classical guitar joins in, and a menacing rhythm is contrasted with the Mellotronic soft passages. Collins plays two wonderful sax solos, as well. "Indoor Games" is a whimsical track with distorted vocals and disharmonious guitar/sax lines. This is probably the weirdest song here, but that certainly isn't a bad thing. "Happy Family" has a (relatively) catchy main hook, more distorted vocals and dissonant guitar, and some excellent flute work. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is another gorgeous song, and probably the track here most reminiscent of classic Crimson. It's a soft song centered upon flute, acoustic guitar, and excellent vocals from Haskell. Brass instruments make a quiet appearance as well. And then we have the title track, the only side-long epic King Crimson ever recorded. This song is cavernous, strangely beautiful, and rewardingly dense. Guest vocals from Jon Anderson (automatic bonus points for me) open the piece, backed by piano and Mellotron. A medieval-themed section follows, dominated by a hypnotizing snare drum bolero. Dual sax solos come next, accompanied by jazzy piano. Things then suddenly quiet down, and soft vocals enter. The Mellotron enters with an infectious motif, and then the brass and flutes bring back the intensity. Fripp plays a signature guitar solo that slowly fades out, ending one of the greatest songs King Crimson ever recorded.

Lizard is definitely a challenging album, and it almost certainly will not be appreciated upon first listen. Fripp and company have always had an immense talent for creating innovative and inventive music, but this album is unique even by King Crimson standards. This is indeed a controversial album, and many Crimson fans (particularly those lacking penchant for jazz) don't even appreciate it. Regardless, I find Lizard to be a deeply rewarding and fascinating masterwork, and I think many multi-dimensional prog fans will (to a certain extent) agree.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |


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