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King Crimson - Larks' Tongues in Aspic CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.42 | 2976 ratings

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4 stars First of all, let's get one thing clear: I love this album and I listen to it very often. However, to be perfectly honest, I also think it falls short of being a masterpiece because of a rather unfortunate flaw. Musically it's one of KC's very best, more accessible than its follow-up, "Starless and Bible Black", and definitely more energetic than its predecessor, the slightly soporific "Islands". Jamie Muir's weird presence and extremely imaginative array of percussion instruments add a pinch of spice to the band's already idiosyncratic take on prog rock. Bruford needs no introduction, and bassist Wetton, with his aggressive, powerful style, is possibly the best choice for KC's new musical direction.

So, where does the problem lie? In my opinion, Wetton's vocals are what prevents LTIA from being the 5-star masterpiece it deserves to be. Before joining KC, he was not used to singing lead, and had to reinvent himself as a lead vocalist because of the band's long-standing tradition of having a singing bass player. As I once read in the forum, Fripp tried to get all his vocalists to sing like Greg Lake, often with very poor results. This is quite evident on this album too, with wonderful songs such as "Book of Saturdays" and "Exiles" which would have been perfect for Lake's voice, but are instead marred by Wetton's still uncertain, at times downright flat vocals.

In spite of all that, though, the music is just plain stunning. The title-track bookends the album, with the first part being subtle and understated and the second almost heavy-metal in its intensity. The above-mentioned "Book of Saturdays" and "Exiles" are both wistful, moving ballads, the second punctuated by Cross's romantic violin strains; while "Easy Money" has an interesting structure, with an almost funky feel and rather weird lyrics. The quirky "The Talking Drum" leads then the way for the monstrous riffing and complex rythmic patterns of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic pt. 2".

It's a shame not to be able to give 5 stars to such an exciting record, but I must admit to being very particular about vocal performances. Nevertheless, 5 stars or not, this remains an essential listen for every prog fan.

Raff | 4/5 |


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