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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.62 | 4033 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars An excellent out-of-the-blue album by a relatively new band - King Crimson. Released in 1969, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" has truly shaped the history of progressive rock.

As you put this album on and wait in anticipation for half a minute, in comes the screaming "21st Century Schizoid Man", with Fripp's fuzzy guitar tone; McDonald's squealing saxophones; Greg Lake's vocals with possibly the strangest, distorted sound ever. The bass guitar and the drums of the Giles and Lake work hand in hand throughout the album with the distinctive, indescrible timbre of the drums and the perfect backing of the adventurous bass, especially during "Schizoid Man's" guitar solo, one of the most revered in all of progressive music with the powerful fusion between jazz and hard rock, interrupted by McDonald's wild saxophone.

Enough about track 1, "I Talk To The Wind" contrasts the insane ending of "Schizoid Man" to introduce the 2 most beautiful flute harmonies I have ever heard! Similar harmonies are then heard by Lake's psychedelic yet lonesome lyrics (written by the underrated Sinfield). When studying the chords behind the beautiful melody, you find that they are really quite sophisticated (e.g. the E major chord resolving to the Cmaj7, and so on, is very interesting harmonically, but just rolls over you as well). The piece continues this before almost tricking you into thinking it's the end, until a wonderful flute solo kicks in before the fade out.

A drum roll begins before you are taken right into the next piece "Epitaph" by a majestic E minor chord. Yet again, there are more profound lyrics to be heard and figured out such as the main line: "Confusion will be my epitaph". The Em-D-Am-B chord progression throughout also adds some more flavour with the unmistakable E harmonic minor scale used. For impatient listeners (as I was the first time I heard it), the song can go on for a while (almost 9 minutes) which might be a "mark down" to some people. I see this as the wrong approach to this sort of music, and even start to find myself finding it too short - especially if I'm improvising underneath it with my guitar.

As "Epitaph" ends, you are instantly drawn into the hypnotic trance of "Moonchild", with the luxurious guitar tone as a 2nd guitar plays a beautiful chromatic descent with the Am chord on top of it. As Greg Lake sings a mellow and lonely melody, similar to that of "I Talk To The Wind", a beautifully fragile atmosphere is created as soft mellotron tones almost push up against the edge of this orb as the verses end and the 10 minute improvisation begins! Starting as the gentle, jazzy weeping of the "Moonchild", the piece grows into a quietly chaotic section - not heard of again until "Providence" on the album "Red" 5 years later.

Suddenly, you are woken up by the unique drumming of Giles: DAT-DAH-DUH-DUM-DUM. The anthem then begins: "The Court Of The Crimson King". A whole orchestra of sounds are then heard as you (or I at least) imagine a freezeframe of a large courtroom filled with "purple pipers", "black witches", "wise men", "yellow jesters", and of course "The Crimson King" himself. Brilliant interludes are inserted between various parts of the song, as heard in "The Return Of The Firewatch". Just before the "Dance Of The Puppets" a strong E major chord emphasises the diminutiveness of the puppets, who are then attacked by the pounding of the drums again to reinvent the chorus in a different key, and to lead the whole album home.

A+: A must-have album for every prog rock, or even rock, fan.

21st Century Schizoid Man - ***** I Talk To The Wind - ***** Epitaph - **** Moonchild - ***** The Court Of The Crimson King - *****

Xonty | 5/5 |


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