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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2114 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars The Cirkus is coming to town! Grab your kids and run for your life!

What a great opening track. Its ominous demented mellotron melody combined with spooky bells and Fripp's strange acoustic guitar abuse form one deliriously haunting track with weird and bleak lyrics topping things off. It's one of my favorite tracks by the band as it mixes up some jazziness and a dark rockish flair with just enough avant garde sensibilities to give this tune a genuinely uneasy vibe, as opposed to some band just trying to sound scary. This is the real deal, and it works magnificently.

I'd be better off just writing about "Cirkus" for a few more paragraphs, but unfortunately there's the rest of the album to deal with, which never really fulfills the promise "Cirkus" offered to my ears. Made in the same year as In The Wake Of Poseidon, this was quite a busy year for the band, not just recording and playing the music, but members leaving and joining the group in such a rampant fashion that Fripp must have walked into the studio one day and bleated "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE?" Lizard comes across as a pretty hectic recording itself, as if it didn't really know what it wanted to be, so thought "screw it" and went crazy every once in a while.

"Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" really bring things down a number of notches. They're like sloppy jazz rock with a splash of acid thrown in. Haskell sounds like he's reciting these ridiculous lyrics against his will, as if he really wants to just toss the damn sheets into the fire and start wailing "I love you baby, Gimme all you got!". Only the laughter at the end of "Indoor Games" has any meaning. It's like he's laughing at this weird song and weirder lyrics coming out of his mouth. Greg Lake seemed to thrive and sing his heart out with a greater commitment if the lyrics were more insane, pointless or fantastical. Haskell, on the other hand, sounds like he just wants to jump in a hole during most of this stuff, and it was probably good that he did after this album.

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is an ok if uneventful ballad, but the monstrous title track is where things get interesting again. When the singing began, I thought "Damn Haskell should suck the helium balloons more often" until the voice soon became familiar enough for me to recognize Mr. Anderson's high registered croon. In fact, the first part of this song is right up there with "Cirkus" as a highpoint; not as menacing, but memorable and cool. Then we get lots of jazzy stuff that goes on and on, then there's a mellotron fest, then some other stuff...oh, and a cool solo near the song's end, before the circus music pops in again like an encore nobody wanted. The epic is a pretty good track overall, and I respect the devil- may-care sense of adventure in all the jamming out, but it's not something that's ever captured my imagination despite sections boasting titles such as "The Battle Of The Glass Tears".

It's quite a feat for a band to put out something this ambitious in such a short time, as if they needed another stamp on 1970. The sound of the band is changing as the members change, making this an interesting document as to where they would likely head in the future, plus it somewhat displays the confused state the group seemed to be in at this time quite well.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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