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King Crimson - B'Boom. Official bootleg - Live in Argentina  CD (album) cover

B'BOOM. OFFICIAL BOOTLEG - LIVE IN ARGENTINA

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

3.73 | 129 ratings

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Black Max
4 stars This is a live recording from one of the early concerts of the six-man lineup from the mid-90s, released after Fripp realized that a poorly recorded bootleg of a concert was making the rounds (hence the "official bootleg" moniker). The four-piece lineup from the 80s is augmented by Trey Gunn's Warr Guitar and second drummer Pat Mastelotto. The two new members are still finding their comfort zone in the band, and overall the band's performace is still a bit uncertain, with the two new members sometimes finding it tough to find room for their own contributions. Still, this is a fine album, very well recorded, and nicely performed, though I'd like to hear recordings from later in this iteration's career when they had their sealegs a bit more underneath them.

"Vrooom," a slashing instrumental, opens the set, followed by fan favorite "Frame by Frame" -- this particular performance isn't the band's best, but it works well enough. "Sex Sleep Eat Dream" is a typical whimsical Belew offering, with some trademark sonic chaos expertly handled by the six performers. "Red" is typically harsh and metallic, but the band slogs a bit through this version; six members are perhaps too many for this piece of controlled frenzy. "One Time" is a highlight of the band's softer side. "B'boom" is a fabulously frenzied drum piece, with Mastelotto laying down a thunderous rhythm and Bruford blasting solos over the top. That leads directly into "Thrak," a stentorian instrumental with deep, howling guitar chords smashing through the furniture, with a short, subdued improv in the middle. A lovely but all-too-short "Two Sticks" improv with Gunn and Levin goes into a double-shot of 80's favorites, the whimsy and feedback of "Elephant Talk" and the screaming guitar/drum assault of "Indiscipline"

A variant on the first track, "Vrooom Vrooom," opens the second CD, followed by the always-lovely "Matte Kudasai" with Belew's trademark seagull guitar. A lengthy instrumental from the 70s band, "The Talking Drum," is my personal favorite from this album; this song showed me just what a consummate musician Trey Gunn is, and what his contributions to the band would be. He opens the track with a stunningly lovely, almost ethereal Warr guitar solo, later joined by Fripp; the two give the audience a beautifully intertwined guitar duet, augmented by Levin's bass harmonics and airy washes of sound from Belew, before diving headfirst into the howling headwinds of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic II," a favorite piece of KC savagery. After a breath, the band serves up the pretty, if lightweight, "Heartbeat," which earns its place among the other songs by wont of getting some FM airplay, followed by the minor dance floor hit "Sleepless," reworked as a percussion feature by Bruford and Mastelotto. As the concert comes close to its end, the audience gets to hear a work in progress, "People," a funky Belew-Levin track that is more fully developed on the "Thrak" studio album. Unexpectedly, the album ends with different renditions of two earlier-performed pieces, "B'Boom" and "Thrak."

There are problems with this album, primarily because the band hasn't yet found its groove. Mastelotto in particular seems wasted at times, finding it hard sometimes to find his place in particular songs; Gunn sometimes suffers the same fate. (Later both band members will become more fully integrated into the music.) And sometimes the band's versions of their earlier songs, performed perfectly by a four-piece, seem almost lugubrious when performed by six musicians. Thankfully, this is rare. Although this is not an absolutely essential album to anyone's KC collection, by virtue of the fact that it is one of the few albums completely devoted to live recordings of the six-piece band that was released to the mass market, this album deserves space on your shelf if you have any real love for the band. Not the album I'd use to introduce a new listener to the KC oeuvre, but for the devotee, a necessity. The version of "The Talking Drum," with the stunning duet of Fripp and Gunn, alone makes it worth the purchase price, though there is much to like about the rest of the album as well.

Black Max | 4/5 |

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