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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover

LIZARD

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.09 | 1418 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars King Crimson's third studio album has a different feel than the previous two. Maybe that's because the lineup is different than the one before. Maybe it's because it has the longest studio track Robert Fripp ever composed on it. Or maybe it's because the way the instruments were played and the way the music was written that it was different. Whatever it was, this album is on par with the debut, In the Court of the Crimson King, and is loads better than In the Wake of Poseidon. Vocalist and bassist (as well as childhood friend of Fripp) Gordon Haskell has a drastically different voice than Greg Lake, and fans got a sample of his voice on Cadence and Cascade on In the Wake of Poseidon. The music is comprised mainly of mystical acoustic interludes, wavy VSC3 synthesizers, melodic saxophones, cornets, and flutes, and anxious and sullen mellotrons, but it all works well within the mold of the group.

Cirkus opens the album, and from the beginning one can hear a difference in the group. Gordon Haskell's voice is certainly different than Greg Lake's, and he's probably my least favorite vocalist for King Crimson. He's too nasally in his approach and his bass work ranges from inspired to derivative. An interesting mellotron line is also presented. Fripp's acoustic work on this track is very fast and fluid, but I can't really get into the chaotic interludes, they feel to claustrophobic and no instrument really gets room to breathe. Indoor Games has an interesting walking bass line and some unison saxophones creating a groovy line. The whole song has this interesting groove and it is one of the better songs on the album. Fripp's guitar towards the end is a well conceived idea of jazzy guitar chords before more mixed horns and reeds take the forefront again.

Happy Family begins with an interesting synthesizer line that has quickly becomes an electic piano based tune, with some bland bass work and some okay vocal work (I'm still not too fond of Haskell's vocals). Lady of the Dancing Water begins with a pretty flute motif and a pretty underlying piano theme. A somber trumpet line is also played underneath the gentle piano and flute motifs. It's a pretty song that precedes the showcase of the album. Lizard is the longest studio King Crimson song, and it's their only side long epic. Jon Anderson (of Yes) is featured on this track as Prince Rupert, the main character of the story of the song. The song is an interesting mix of synthesizers, pianos, flutes, saxophones, dynamic drumming, and superb guitar. This is the best track on the album, by far. The vocals on this track are also a lot more refreshing as I've always liked Jon Anderson's vocals and Haskell's vocals really hurt the album.

In the end, Lizard has some fascinating pieces on it, but it also has some mediocre instrumentation, and I cannot stand the vocals. If you like more avant-garde jazzy symphonic prog, this album will be right up your alley. But if you're someone like me who got into later King Crimson first and aren't as keen on the symphonic era of the group, than this may not be for you. I liked this album, but it's not something I would call a masterpiece. The bottom line is, though, that this album is boring, and it's not one of my favorites at that. There are far better Crimson albums out there, and you should start with those before this one. 3/5

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |

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