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King Crimson - Earthbound CD (album) cover

EARTHBOUND

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

2.44 | 279 ratings

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Dayvenkirq
3 stars In 1970 King Crimson jumped from jazz-oriented rock ("In the Court of the Crimson King" and "In the Wake of Poseidon") to a bit more classical side of things with "Lizard". In 1971 they returned to the idea of having more jazz in their sound with "Islands" and continued going down that path, adding some funk to their sound. Such stylistic changes were well reflected on their 1972 live album, their first live album, "Earthbound".

If you were doing a bit of a research on that album, you may have realized by then that the band and the album caught some fire of criticism because the band did some crappy performances that were recorded on a cassette. Well, I have some breaking news for you: I did not think the performances were crappy, nor was the sound quality a big deal for my eardrums to be able to appreciate what was happening on this record.

The album opens with an incendiary version of "21st Century Schizoid Man", where the drummer Ian Wallace is doing a lot of justice to the piece. Also, I don't mind the slightly excessive distortion of Boz Burrell's vocals. If I couldn't understand what Greg Lake sung on the opener of the band's debut, then it's only fair to add a little more, right? And doesn't it sound like Boz was faking his emotions? If so, then so did Greg, right? But who cares? The band is there to deliver! Now, why did I rate this track with a four? For one thing, it's the sound quality on the tape, but it's no biggie. Second of all, there is nothing new, truly fresh, or groundbreaking that the band had to offer. There are no surprises, so you can already imagine what the whole track sounds like. But still, this is a truly decent version. The track sounds good to me.

Then there goes "Peoria." What is "Peoria"? It's an interesting title for an average funky/bluesy rhythm track. At least no one there shows off for the sake of the show, no technical inconsistencies, no intentional drawbacks whatsoever, unless you count the lack of an emotional lead solo as a drawback.

Then there goes "The Sailor's Tale." This one is not superior to the rendition on "Islands" because it's shorter. A very good excerpt was cut out unless it was actually poorly executed live and, like with the "Schizoid Man", there's nothing truly innovative. Still, I can't find any good reason to pull its rating down to three as long as the musicians keep it tight.

You could think of the title track as the precursor to some of the jams on the the band's album "Starless and Bible Black." This is where Fripp polishes his economical guitar style (perchance something along the lines of ambient in mid- and late 70's) and Ian Wallace sounds like he took from Bill Bruford (or is it Bruford who took from Wallace? Or maybe nobody took from anybody else in that case?), but that's good. I don't mind another Bruford. And that's it. A very adequate jam. A band's sound in a development. They are cool as long as they keep on rocking. Boz's scat-singing is extraneous, just really in the way, but it's not much. I can't complain big time. The track sounds tight enough for me. No huge reservations.

Last, but not least, is the album's final track, the insane "Groon". I wanted to give this one a five because the first time I heard it, I skipped to the second half and heard some crazy sound affects accompanying Wallace's berserk drumming. This is actually one of those few cases where self-indulgence does not bother me. I actually found this kind of listening experience to be very rewarding. The drumming (which lasts about eight minutes) and the experimentation may be out of control, but you know what? Some people want longer freak-outs. In the case of Yes, some people want longer adventures. Sounds fair? And then, after all the intense drumming, the sax kicks in, and Mr. Fripp closes the deal. Oh, how he closes the deal, man.

Now, here is the kicker, though. When I heard the first half of the jam, I changed my mind. This is where self-indulgence was really grinding my ears: Mel Collins' saxophone performance can be thought of as simply dismal at first, but when I got used to it, it did not bother me as much. Now that first half of the track sounds pretty listenable to me but it doesn't really grab me. The whole track is now left with four stars.

1. "21st Century Schizoid Man" - **** ; 2. "Peoria" - ** ; 3. "The Sailor's Tale" - **** ; 4. "Earthbound" - **** ; 5. "Groon" - ****

Recommended for people who just can't get enough of the Ole King Crimson's jamming, minus the Mellotron, and want a bit of sonic wackiness to go with that.

Dayvenkirq | 3/5 |

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