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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.63 | 4186 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
5 stars For my very first review, I've chosen the very first prog album I listened to in its entirety, some thirty years ago. At the time, as a teenager, I was deeply intrigued by the record's frightening cover, so I borrowed it from a prog-loving friend of mine. I will always remember when "21st Century Schizoid Man" came crashing out of the amps... It was my first encounter with unadulterated, fully-fledged heavy metal! After that, my love affair with prog rock has been through several ups and downs (just like every other relationship), but now that I'm older and wiser I can say prog will always be my favourite kind of music.

"In the Court of the Crimson King" is said by many to have been the first prog album. To me, however, it is just a practically perfect record which contains all the defining elements of progressive rock music: suitably esoteric, vaguely disturbing lyrics, a lead vocalist to die for, accomplished musicianship, and no fear at all of crossing any boundaries between musical genres. Though King Crimson's unique brand of prog may not be easy on the ear (far from that!), they've never sold out as others have done.

The album strikes the right balance between melody and aggression, from the initial wallop delivered by "21st Century Schizoid Man" to the idyllic, pastoral atmosphere of "I Talk to the Wind", reaching a climax in what is perhaps the ultimate prog track, the wonderful "Epitaph". "Moonchild" exemplifies the nature of the album itself, split as it is between the ethereal feel of the vocal parts and the jazzy improvisation of the instrumental section; then "The Court of the Crimson King" brings everything majestically to a close.

On this record Greg Lake proves himself to be THE voice of prog: his performance in "Epitaph" is absolutely stunning, especially when, at the end of the song, his vocals merge with the waves of sound produced by the Mellotron. Fripp is... well, Fripp: perhaps an acquired taste to some, but without any doubt an extremely innovative and daring musician. Michael Giles' drumming stands on a par with Bruford's, and Ian McDonald's performance on both keyboards and woodwind instrument is superlative. The chemistry between the four musicians is nothing short of incredible, and Sinfield's lyrics - even though not to everyone's taste - blend perfectly with the music created by the fantastic foursome.

"In the Court..." is 36 years old now, but it hasn't aged one day. Like all masterpieces, it has that timeless quality so many strive for without ever hoping to attain it. You can hate it (and some unfortunately do), but you will never be able to ignore it.

Raff | 5/5 |


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