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King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.84 | 2174 ratings

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4 stars After the success of In The Court Of The Crimson King, Crimson's first line-up imploded; Ian McDonald and Michael Giles left after the band's first U.S. tour, with Greg Lake immediately following to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer, leaving Robert Fripp to scramble together a band to assemble a second album. He managed to get Giles and Lake back, but only as session musicians with the latter only providing vocals, which left Giles, Giles & Fripp veteran Peter Giles to fill in for bass for this album. Rounding out the group are Mel Collins (sax/flutes), Keith Tippet (piano) and Gordon Haskell (vocals on "Cadence and Cascade"). Peter Sinfield remains as lyricist and Fripp continues to provide guitar and fill McDonald's Mellotron role. With the exception of the title track, most of the album was taken from works that were being developed when the Court line-up was still together.

In The Wake Of Poseidon has gained a bit of controversy among fans for its first side mirroring that of In The Court Of The Crimson King and many have dismissed this second installment as a cheap imitation, though others have frequently made cases in defense of the album. I find that sequels are not that unusual in rock, sometimes being just as good as its predecessor (Magical Mystery Tour to Sgt. Pepper's) or lacking (A Passion Play to Thick As A Brick). In my opinion, it probably leans a bit towards the former.

If I had to choose the best of the three Court clones, I'd probably pick "Pictures Of A City", a piece developed from the Court band's "A Man, A City" and even played in the same set as "21 Century Schizoid Man". It's not as nightmarish as its counterpart and compared to later numbers like "The Great Deceiver" and "Frame By Frame", it's not the best attempt at recapturing the glory of "Schizoid", plus, "Battle Of Glass Tears" and "Starless" would make better use of elements found in here. It could almost been seen as a self-parody, particularly in the speed section where it sounds like something from the live-action Batman show of the 1960s, but it's an entertaining self-parody and I can't help but crack a smile at the silliness of the whole thing.

I can't really say the same for the title track, the album's "Epitaph" counterpart. The lyrics are the definition of pretentious and while the same could be said about "Epitaph", at least they were well grounded. Here, they're a tad silly. I want to consider this one a low point, but it's not terrible, mainly due to the actual music being pretty good, especially the Mellotron and Lake's singing. Not as good as "Epitaph", but it's decent and I don't mind it being on when it appears.

That leaves the "I Talk To The Wind" sequel, "Cadence And Cascade", featuring future Crimson vocalist Gordon Haskell. The melody was based off of a Ian McDonald song "Flight Of The Ibis", but later reworked when McDonald left (McDonald would later record it on McDonald & Giles' self titled album). It's arguably the least copy-pasted of the three, though Collin's flute work in the second half of the song prevents it from escaping its clone status, but nonetheless, a pleasant listen. Fripp's acoustic guitar and Tippet's piano are nice touches and Haskell does well on vocals.

The other tracks go into new territory, though The "Peace" numbers, which open and close the album and split the original two sides, don't really do much for me, due to the short lengths in comparison to the rest of the album. The only section that tries to accomplish something is the "Theme" section with Fripp playing a nice acoustic instrumental, and even that doesn't do much, due to it lasting only a minute. It could have been a good song if they hadn't split it into three parts. As it is, it's wasted potential, but, like "In The Wake Of Poseidon", not bad enough for me to consider it a personal dislike.

"Cat Food" is more successful, a quirky little jazz-funk number with a dash of Beatles about the fast food industry. Tippet's piano playing is all over the place in the first half of the song, frantically skipping and bopping and the rest of the piece after the song proper has him and Fripp pulling off some decent solos. It's much lighter than anything off of Court and most of Poseidon (to an extent, it foreshadows what Crimson would do with their next album), though it's probably not all that surprising, given that primary writer Ian McDonald wanted to go in that direction. An abridged version was even released as a single just before the album's release, though it didn't do anything on the charts, sadly.

If you've managed to get the 30th Anniversary edition, you'll pick up the B-side of "Cat Food", "Groon", a frantic jazz instrumental that showcases Fripp's guitar work, with the Giles brothers in tow (in a sense, it's the last hoorah for Giles, Giles & Fripp). It reminds me of the instrumental section of "Moonchild" had it sounded much more energetic, though I think this one is more successful. "Groon" probably would have sounded out of place on the original LP, but it might have fit had Fripp grouped it together with "Pictures Of A City" and "Cat Food" on the same side, a move that could have helped alleviate the rip-off criticisms. Oh well, hindsight is 20/20, as they say.

The album was supposed to have a rendition of Holst's "Mars" from his Planets suite, but Crimson's request to use it was denied by Holst's estate. As a result, Fripp, with some help from McDonald, made "The Devil's Triangle", which was more or less a copy of "Mars" that had quotes from the original pop up from time to time. The piece is dominated by Fripp's Mellotron and starts out totally silent and growing louder and louder (love Giles' cannon sounding drums in the first section) until it explodes in a cacophony of noise. It's not totally perfect - I kind of wish the last part would have lasted a bit longer before going to the "Revolution 9"-esque montage - but it's neat nonetheless and foreshadows Crimson's other build-ups. At least it's better than the "Moonchild" jam.

In The Wake Of Poseidon is not as groundbreaking as Court, but it doesn't do much to make it totally inferior. Two of the three clones are keepers in my book and there's some interesting ideas that points the way for the future.

Final rating (30th Anniversary Edition): 4/5

Personal favorites (30th Anniversary Edition): "Pictures Of A City", "Cadence And Cascade", "Cat Food", "The Devil's Triangle", "Groon"

Personal dislikes: None

KingCrInuYasha | 4/5 |


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