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King Crimson - Red CD (album) cover

RED

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 2249 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
5 stars King Crimson: Red [1974]

Rating: 9/10

On paper, Red should have been a disaster. King Crimson was in its final stages during this album's recording (although Fripp would reform the group nearly a decade later with a different lineup); in fact, the band was officially disbanded months before this album was released. The band is reduced to a trio here due to Cross's departure, although his violin does appear on the album and many session musicians were employed, including former band-mates Ian McDonald and Mel Collins, both of whom have a strong presence on this album. Regardless, it's clear that Red was recorded by a band that seriously lacked cohesion. One would thus expect it to be somewhat of a mess. On the contrary, Red turned out to be one of King Crimson's greatest. This is the band's heaviest album, with many moments having a downright metal feel. The entire package is full of energy and emotion, creating a fitting swansong for what may be King Crimson's most esteemed era.

"Red" is an intensely energetic opener with a legendary main riff and an absolutely stunning rhythm section. Bruford is at his finest here. Wetton's vocals enter on "Fallen Angel." This track begins in quite a mellow fashion, building up to intense guitar riffing and sax soloing. This is yet another masterful composition. "One More Red Nightmare" continues with jaw-dropping drumming. Wetton lays down some incredibly catchy vocals in the verses, and the sax sounds wonderful during the instrumental sections. "Providence" is a lengthy experimental improvisation. Cross's violin takes center-stage for most of this track, but heavy bass, drums, and guitar enter in halfway though. This track is most often compared to "Moonchild", but as much as I love that track, I find "Providence" to be far superior to it. The closing track "Starless" is absolutely flawless. Mellotron and sax accompany Wetton's vocals on the mellow first section. The intensity slowly builds, and fantastic energetic jazz-rock takes over.

Red is an absolutely sublime piece of work, and is probably the second most essential King Crimson album after ItCotCK. It's unfortunate that this was the last album to feature this spectacular lineup; I would have liked to see this style progress further. Every musician plays together seamlessly here. This is probably one of the most intense prog-rock albums of the 70s, as well. In fact, this is a strong contender for the first prog-metal album. This is a creative height for the band, and is certainly essential for anybody progressive/art rock fan.

Anthony H. | 5/5 |

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