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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.63 | 4363 ratings

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The Wizard
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Deciding what rating I should give "In the Court of the Crimson King" was difficult. The album, while in my opinion not the first prog album (The Mothers of Invention get that honor), it was certainly the album established the genre of symphonic prog, thus making it essential to any collection of progressive music. But the actual quality of the album can be questioned, but I'll get to that later. Lets look at this this track by track:

1) The album opens with the demonic madness of 21st Century Schizoid man, which was without a dought the darkest and heaviest song of it's time. Exploding into a riff combining sax and distorted guitar, this certainly did scare The Moody Blues! The lyrics are just as dark, distorted into what sounds like a demented android on killing spree, lamenting the innocents raped by napalm fire and poets who starve as children bleed. It is little recognized as a protest song, but it certainly is. After the main riff it explodes into a jazz-fusion instrumental that could be compared to being mugged by brain surgeons. The guitar and sax interplay screams away while Giles pounds away at the drums and Lake provides an excellent jazzy bassline. Another great thing about this song is that it hasn't dated at all since it was released and sounds quite contemporary. This, my friend, is what apocalyptic madness sounds like.

2) The song I talk to the wind dosn't really work well after having your brains blown out by Schizoid man. The dreamy flutes and lyrics show the lighter side of symphonic prog. There is a wonderful flute solo and Giles proves no slouch on drums, but it's unlikey that the listener would be in the mood for such a song after the apocalytic madness of Shizoid man. Don't get me wrong; it's wonderful song, and while it hasn't dated as well as some other tracks (It is obvious it was made in the sixties), it still sounds good today.

3) Epitaph is a wonder song, drenched in mellotrons and jazzy drumming. Fripp provides some amazing acoustic guitar and Greg Lake soulfully sings the dark lyrics "Confusion; wil be my epitah!". The mellotron cresndos are very dark and suspenseful and are absolutely perfect for the song. There are also some wonderful woodwinds that and to the symphonic scope of the song. Sadly, this song hasn't dated as well becasue of the use of mellotrons and such, but that dosn't detract from it's quality.

4) Moonchild is wonderful at the start. The most psychedelic song on the album, with strange guitar effects and cosmic lyrics. This only goes on for two minutes, and the song is twleve minutes long. So instead of epic King Crimson rock, we get pointless and boring noodling. This isn't the good kind of noodling that you hear on Starless and Bible Black that evolves into song at the end. This noodling leads to nowhere but boredom. While it may serve as an effective lead in to the epic 'In the Court of the Crimson King', why make it 10 minutes long? It's just filler and is the achilles heel to this monolithic release.

5) Another mellotron drenched epic with effective acoustic guitar, this is what must have been what most symphonic prog referenced to. Sinfield's imagery lyrics are at there best and most effective here drawing an image of an Evil King in his court, with Fire witches and funeral marches. Intreseting sound effects are all about, and midway it breaks into a flute solo accompanied by cymbal drumming that speeds up, leading back to the song. Very Effective, as is Fripps lovely acoustic guitar. The mellotrons are also amazing, adding to the imagrey of the song. Wonderful woodwinds also are present at the end, with Fripp stacatto electric guitar. Some of the sound effects are somewhat annoying, and the use of mellotron hasn't dated well, but it's still an amazing an epic song to close (for the most) an amazing and epic album.

While the qaulity of Moonchild would normally hurt the rating, I make an exception here because of historical importance. This album established symphonic prog and should therefore be in every proggers collection. 5 stars and an essential part of any serious prog collection.

The Wizard | 5/5 |


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