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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson

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5 stars My first KC album and still one of my favorites and like a good friend at work i turned on to said "It sounds like Miles Davis on acid".I think Lizard is quite possibly the wierdest album ever made.I love Jon Anderson on lizard part 1.I heard Robert Fripp was offered lead ax for yes before they hired Steve Howe.I wonder if yes would have sounded like lizard part 1.
Report this review (#14863)
Posted Sunday, November 16, 2003 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars Fripp is the King Lizard

This is probably the toughest Crimson album to get into (but what a superb artwork), but it is well worth the effort. As with Poseidon, Keith Tippet makes another appearance but this time he brings along the reed players from his own group - Charig, Miller, Evans etc... so the jazz-tinged prog developed in the present album is of course not easily that accessible. Very few of these tracks were played live and this line-up never toured. Circus is a fine opener but the Indoor Games is along with Happy Family some of the stranger tunes ever from Crimson. Lady is another tune in the mould of Cadence or Talk to the Wind. Of course everyone waits for LIZARD and its 23+ min. The first part most everybody knows because of the Yes-man on vocals and is quite fine. Comes a very delicate Bolero (a better version on the 4 cd box-set) that is the only one that does honour to Ravel and then comes the heart of the album - the Battle - savage war-like drumming flying reeds and mellotron layers making it my fave number from Crimson.

Lizard is definitely not easy album to master, but once you will, there is absolutely no doubt you'll find it one of Crimson's best album. By the time the album had been released, singer Gordon Haskell, pretending to hate this album, left the band and had returned to his solo career, prompting drummer Andy McCullough to follow suit. So for the second straight album Crimson was unable to tour to promote their album.

Report this review (#14855)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars LIZARD is perhaps the most "difficult" of the early King Crimson albums, yet, for that very reason, it is also ultimately one of the most rewarding. The third release from Robert Fripp and company sees the band moving in a new and radical direction. The classically-inspired sweeping grandeur and controlled cacophony that typified the first two Crimson discs has been here largely (but not entirely) replaced by a sound that has its roots much more deeply embedded in jazz.

LIZARD was highly avant-garde and demanding of its audience when it was released in 1970, and it remains a powerfully unique, almost disquieting listening experience today. While IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON's sardonic "Cat Food" may have hinted at the path about to be explored, nothing could have fully prepared fans for the truly bizarre, almost eerie colours of abstract sound paintings like LIZARD's first three songs: "Cirkus," "Indoor Games," and "Happy Family." Much of the credit for the feel of these tracks must be accorded to new vocalist Gordon Haskell, who had supplied the almost ethereal vocals for Poseidon's lovely "Cadence and Cascade." With Greg Lake departed for ELP, Haskell gets the space to reveal a voice of power and depth, which is by turns intimate, theatrical, scornful, fey and raving. The end of "Indoor Games" finds him cackling like a madman, but the delicately pretty "Lady of the Dancing Water" (the disc's most immediately accessible song) sees him don the guise of a sensitive poet-troubadour, paying court to his lady-love on the bank of a laughing stream.

The second half of the disc (the old LP's side two) is given to the title suite. The first section of this masterful three-part song cycle features Jon Anderson of Yes on vocals, providing yet another savory flavour for LIZARD's exotic musical mélange. There is less of the jazzy experimentation which was heard on previous tracks; the direction here is more conventionally "progressive rock," with grandiose mellotrons, courtly subject-matter, and classically-oriented arrangements -- at this point almost a welcome respite from (or counter-balance to) the overt strangeness of the first half. The final installment, "Big Top," fades up to repeat the "Cirkus" theme, before diminishing hauntingly away, thus neatly framing this unique work of art. (Indeed, as art, this album is the total package -- the cover artwork is breathtaking, and the Pete Sinfield lyrics, with lines such as "Night, her sable dome scattered with diamonds," are some of the best poetry he has ever written.)

LIZARD may be an acquired taste, but it has stood the test of time as a lustrous example of early progressive rock at its most inventive. It is decidedly not for the faint-of-heart, but it is well worth taking the time to appreciate!

Report this review (#14857)
Posted Thursday, February 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is some of the most inovative music you could hear. Philosophically it is a piece about the "wheel of existence" life is a circus, and a nasty one. I find after thirty odd years that the direction is a little negative, the final battle focusses on the loser. But the material is also true if a little hard to take. Fripp is reported to have said it is not the sort of music you play at parties. Prince Rupert is a delightful piece well composed with a simple yet powerful theme that recurs throughout. Bolero which follows is fantastic programme music, would accompany a movie well, one can almost see the comical calvacade of a medieval army proceeding to a war (in which they will be decimated).
Report this review (#14854)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars KING CRIMSON albums have mostly all been either reviewed in positive light or pulled apart by some rock 'n roll "analyst" a million times, with "Lizard" being no exception. I must admit that KC have always held a special place in my heart as one of the real corner stones in the genre we know as "progressive rock" as "Lizard" is one of their classic outputs which needs to be mentioned here. Not unlike early KING CRIMSON's "In The Court Of The Crimson King" I find "Lizard" builds on this work with increased exploratory sights and a much heavier jazz-rock portrayal. Lyrics have been well crafted by Peter Sinfield and are sung by Gordon Haskell, guitar and mellotron skillfully used by Robert Fripp throughout and even a guest appearance of a very youthful sounding Jon Anderson (YES). For years one of my most beloved tracks of all time is the title track "Lizard" which is the epic track on the album and opens with Jon Anderson's angelic voice... I always wished that he did the whole album with Fripp and friends as he sounds superb with this band... "Lizard" is a delicate yet highly intricate album which moves in and out of many different caverns and carries a high dream like quality to it. Instrumentation is brilliant and if you are able to pick up the new re-mastered version on HDCD you will be absolutely blown away as the well preserved sound capability on this 30 year old treasure.
Report this review (#14852)
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most jazzy album by KING CRIMSON, characterized by the presence of such guest stars, including Jon ANDERSON from YES; but the dark tone of "Circus" and generally the dark tone of the whole mini-suite, make this album very interesting. The use of sax is very clever and the guitar style very well balanced, even though better things had to come after. After all the present issue is one of the most underrated albums by K.C., as it's more accessible in comparison to their music standard, moreover containing that famous suite in which even Jon Anderson made a special performance!! In fact their use of strings was more jazzy once again, while They were able to alternate the melodic moments with those darkest ones (the track "Circus" is the best example), characterized by interesting harmonic solutions at the guitar, that I prefer...ok don't get me wrong, I like the atonal scales by R. Fripp and his "brainy" style, but from time to time I need to hear something easier, always at the condition that K.C. preserve a certain originality, in spite of searching for an immediate contamination between rock and jazz (usually in a few circumstances). Here They tried to compose a number of pretty melodic lines, yet sometimes being uneven.never mind, cause Fripp & C. often reached this goal (otherwise however being helped by important session men) and therefore, despite of remarking its important distance in comparison to their best (actually a few ones) experimental accessible works, "Lizard" is more versatile and worth checking out at the add another half star at least, despite of the arrangements being sometimes uneven.
Report this review (#14882)
Posted Saturday, April 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars On e of the most complex albums ever, with a master interplaying of jazz and prog, perhaps this is a transitional album for a band experimentng with their essence, a brilliant piece of vocals, instruments and theatrical concepts, also the artwork of the cover reminds an ancient age. again, brilliant.
Report this review (#14861)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is their most jazzy album. Some floating mellotrons, omnipresence of brass instruments, small wind instruments. FRIPP's guitar is electric but very acoustic too. There are electric piano parts too. There is the presence of Jon ANDERSON's voice on the last song. The lead vocals are mellow and very good. The compositions are well structured and FRIPP is not really experimental here.
Report this review (#14862)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Probably the best progressive album ever. Circus and cabaret mood colabarte to one of the most exciting album ever. Islands - thier fourth album was great but Lizard is from a different leauge. Even today, every time I'm listening to this album I hear additonal sounds i didn't heard before. You need a realy excellent HI-FI system to hear it all, and I'm not thier yet.
Report this review (#14874)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
Carl floyd fan
4 stars This cd starts out with a bang! Its very good and has a dark feel to it. But by the time Jon Anderson comes in (granted he is superb with Yes) I kinda get bored and lose interest. Still, the first half of this cd is prog at its best and is probably KCs third best.
Report this review (#14875)
Posted Monday, April 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars A perfect fusion between Jazz and Progressive, just a little harder than the previous albums, but there aren't bad moments, a high level production from the beginning to end. If you like the prog-rock, take it, if you like jazz, take it, if you just like good music, take it.
Report this review (#14869)
Posted Monday, April 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I had something here before about dark towers and deep libraries, which sounds about right, since that's where "Lizard" takes me. What I failed to mention is how brilliant this is. Standoffish, yes, noisier and more complicated than it needs to be, which I find by turns fascinating and forbidding. Today it's the former, and even the little black imp is dancing on the bookcase like a pinned insect, limbs akimbo. So much music gets swirled into the mix, horns and piano and mellotron and tripping snare rolls, that musical indigestion is a distinct possibility. The devastating force of earlier albums remains, but it competes with dissonant jazzy nonsense some of the time. (At the moment, I'm lost in the mid-song maze of "Happy Family" and there doesn't seem to be any way out of it.) If you seek the respite of "Cadence and Cascade", there is "Lady of the Dancing Water", featuring the lovely flute work of MEL COLLINS. It's not quite the sublime creature of Cadence; oddly, it's another vocal anomaly (Jon Anderson) who changes the tone of the record this time. As much as "Lizard" wants to assume its own landscape, the arrangements are too self-conscious to fully transport me. I suppose that's where the tower and the library come into play. It's a beautiful world glimpsed from a distance, FRIPP intruding into the picture with black and sour commentary to yank the listener out of their immersion in "Lizard"'s warm protection. Interesting though the ANDERSON cameo is, it's not the sympathetic setting he'd find on "The Yes Album", instead siding more with the overwrought "Time And A Word". Better by far is GORDON HASKELL on "Cirkus", though tampering with his voice on "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" lessens the stakes of his dulcet throat. Joining them (and expanding Crimson's musical dialogue considerably) are pianist KEITH TIPPET, drummer ANDY MCCULLOCH and a trio of horn players.

It's arguably one of CRIMSON's most accomplished lineups, underscored by the fact that "Islands" was found lacking with the departure of McCulloch and Haskell. Adorned with delicate passages, "Lizard" could be seen as a sinister cousin to ANTHONY PHILLIPS "The Geese & The Ghost" (he wrote, guilty of greasing Geese's sales again). Ornate, ornery and orfully good, CRIMSON's third is a diabolical cirkus of the senses.

Report this review (#14870)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album that first got me into King Crimson. This album is a masterpiece. It has a good blend of jazz and progressive rock. The last song "Lizard" featuring Jon Anderson with some vocals has got to be one of my favorite King Crimson songs of all time. You should probably be ordering this album online as I speak.
Report this review (#14884)
Posted Friday, June 25, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Amazing how much they'd changed over the last year or so- compare the fading antique tapestry of "In the Court of the Crimson King" with the detailed, vivid surrealism of "Cirkus"; both communicate a dystopian pomp with undertones of mystery and menace, but this time through an off-kilter modern arrangement featuring such rare elements as Fripp's acoustic and a brass section (including the amazing Mel Collins, obviously a good friend of the prog community). Hearing the acoustic and electric piano parts on this album made me realize how conspicuous their absence is in much of KING CRIMSON's music. McCullogh's drumming never seems to settle down; it's hard to decide if it's effective or irritating as he rolls and fills at every turn. The jazzy improvisation urge has won out for the most part on this album, a stark contrast to the often plodding pomp of the first two, and it's obvious to hear that Fripp doesn't quite know how to reconcile all the disparate elements. Partly as a result and partly by choice, Sinfield's lyrics now resemble antique nursery ryhmes, or Lewis Carroll, lending a bit more humor and playfulness (albiet of a dark sort) that many listeners will connect with "Nursery Cryme"-era GENESIS; "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" both laugh, but you may not laugh along with them. Although indeed sometimes resembling early Gabriel, Haskell's delivery sounds very similar to past Greg Lake and future John Wetton. On the delicate "Lady of the Dancing Water", the medieval grace attempted on "Moonchild" and "I Talk to the Wind" is achieved, but only by sacrificing much of the band's dinstinctiveness- if you hadn't known, would you have guessed this song is by KING CRIMSON? However, the Jon Anderson-voiced "Prince Rupert Awakes" maintains some stylistic ties- including a lovely reverse guitar sound and the Mellotron, both of which demonstrate Fripp's lighter touch. Prog catalogers should note that "Lizard" is both unique in the bands' discography and most like a typical prog epic: an extended piece, broken up into named movements and sub-movements, ostensibly following a storyline. The arrangements here are anything but typical, however; the brass parts sometimes elicit jazzy impressions, and sometimes a sloppy classical grandeur more akin to PINK FLOYD's "Atom Heart Mother". You can feel Fripp being torn by two opposing forces: the lush, large-toned narrative romanticism which characterized the original albums and the modern, raw, experimental approach that blossomed in the later works. For the duration of "Lizard", however, the battle still rages; listeners will most likely be torn as well, finding much to appreciate but also much that resists enjoyment.
Report this review (#14885)
Posted Saturday, July 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is indeed very jazzy and that's not bad.The artwork of the L.P. is so beautiful...amazing...the cd version looks poor compared to the original lp.The music on the album is very relaxing and even Jon Anderson is in.The music is sometimes boring but overall this is a must have album.The last track is the best and Jon's part is cool.If you like KC get this album lol.Try to get the original LP or the new reissued CD version.
Report this review (#14887)
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hello folks. I'm from Brazil and I'm 14 years old. "Lizard" is not only the best KC album, but one of the best of all times! The title track is divine, and "Cirkus" too. I apreciate some jazz mixed up with prog sometimes, and Robert Fripp does that in an excelent way. "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale" is perhaps the best part of all the album! We here in Brazil enjoy prog rock too!
Report this review (#14888)
Posted Sunday, November 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album was released nearly 34 years ago (in December 1970, as several "written information sources" say). In November of that year, the "McDONALD AND GILES" album and also "EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER"`s first album were released. So, in those two months the original members and original former members of KING CRIMSON released three very good albums recorded by 3 different bands.This "Lizard" album is good, and sometimes very good. It also has a very good cover design, with even THE BEATLES, who split some months before, in April, included in the cover painting! (the cover idea was by Peter Sinfield).The composers of the music and the lyrics in this album and also the producers are Fripp and Sinfield, the remaining original members of the band. This short- lived line-up never toured for this album, and they split after the recording of this album. Drummer Andy McCulloch is very good, similar in style to Michael Giles. Mel Collins plays very good saxes and flute. Gordon Haskell plays bass and sings lead vocals, but in my opinion his voice sometimes shows some difficulties because it seems to me that the music wasn`t adapted very much to his voice. So, he sounds forced sometimes, trying to reach the low tones of the music. He is a good singer, but I prefer Wetton or Lake instead for King Crimson. Robert Fripp plays the mellotron in this album apart from his guitars and other electric keyboards and "Devices". There are some acoustic guitars in this album, a thing Fripp later diminished in other albums. The additional musicians are good, too, particularly Keith Tippet on pianos. The "Side One" of the L.P. has some good songs, particularly "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water". But the best part of this L.P. is the "Lizard" long song which has several parts ,and it is included in the "Side Two". Jon Anderson sings lead and backing vocals in "Prince Rupert Awakes", with very good mellotron arrangements, but in my opinion, Anderson`s vocals sound a bit forced when he sings the low tones. Maybe Fripp and Sinfield didn`t have enough time to adapt the songs to the lead singers, so the singers had some difficulties with the low tones in the songs. "Bolero-The Peacock`s Tale" is a very good instrumental section which sounds improvised a bit and with some jazz influences from Tippet and the wind instruments musicians. "The Battle of Glass Tears" is darker in mood. The album is finished with a brief instrumental piece called "Big Top", which has some variations in tape speed."Prince Rupert Awakes" and "Bolero-The Peacock`s Tale" are the best parts of "Lizard", in my opinion.
Report this review (#14889)
Posted Sunday, November 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A tough one to review, and definetely Crimson's most challenging work of their earliest records. I was pleasently surprised when I spinned this one for the first time and the monolithic "Cirkus" really grabs your attention as well as letting you know that this Crimson album will be very different from before. The rest of the album is not bad either with several jazzy nods and quirky twists and turns and the excellent "Lady of the Dancing Water" working as a perfect prelude to the epic album conclusion. This time around Fripp toys a lot more with contemporary jazz and classical in his compositions, something that's especially prominent in the massive title track that moves through four very different and somewhat eerie but very diciplined movements. This track might not be Crimson's most focused work but still a great experience.

Fripp presents a whole new line-up here (a trend within Crimson later on) with Mel Collins on saxes and flute; Gordon Haskell on bass and vocals and Andy McCullough (later Greenslade) on the drums, and they all do a damn fine job here though not as brilliant as the 'In The Court' line-up, but that's only my opinion. If you liked KC's two first, check out this one. It's somewhat messier to get along with but it'll grow on you for sure.

Report this review (#14891)
Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Stronger and meaner than "Wake", and the songs are slightly better, but the old Crimson spirit begun to disappear here. The songs are not as inspired and well-performed here, but still a worthy item to your Crimson collection! Recommended if you are a fan!
Report this review (#14892)
Posted Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I bought this album back when I was in 8th grade and I tell you, I could take this record to school and listen to it on my free periods. People could stare at me and I wouldnt notice cause I'd get so carried away by the music...People at school also considered me a weirdo for listening to this stuff when everybody else was listening to Green Day's "Nimrod" , Puff Daddy and Metallica's "Reload". I liked this album ever since I listened to it for the first time. Its just so darn progressive.. dark melodies, loud mellotron, odd time signatures and odd arrangements that may sound dissonant, I love all that stuff!!!! That's why I give it the five stars, cause I think that this album states just what progressive rock is all about. Cirkus is just an amazing track and the lyrics are also magical thanks to Mr. Sinfield's wacky King Frederick's analogies (that's where the name King Crimson comes from, if you didnt know or dont believe me go to this site: The other songs are good: Happy Family, Indoor Games and Lady of the Dancing Water. Lizard its just one of those songs that you can't describe it being it so perfect, you just have to listen to it yourself. As I said before, the dark environment is present throughout the whole album and also the dissonant arrangements and odd time signatures. An excelent work of music, Thanks to Mr. Fripp. If you dont have yet, buy it!
Report this review (#14894)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Altough this album's recorded in 1970, I believe it sounds more progressive and innovative than anything else from today's releases. It is dark, melodic, lyric, spooky, adventurous, grandiose, meandering. The performances and the sound are excellent and as the time passes, the music becomes more deep and imposing while you can hear a great varity of instuments played throughout. This one, and the Genesis' "Selling England By The Pound" I consider as the two peak works of progressive music (and not only). Thank you for the hospitality.
Report this review (#14896)
Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I may be only 19, but I feel I can accurately assess "Lizard". Quite simply put, it is the best progresseive album ever. Sure, the naysayers will have their jibes, but in no other work are jazz, classical, and rock so finely amalgamated as in this. For a taste of true progressive, one need look no further into the pantheon than "Cirkus"; the beautiful acoustic passages combine with the brass-driven theme to create a swirling, often disorienting and frightening ether through which the beautiful sax of Mel Collins swims. "Indoor Games" is funky avant-garde jazz with some amazing syncopated guitar. "Happy Family" is a Pete Sinfield's finest lyric on the album--a bittersweet piece about the Beatles' break-up. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a gentle folk-like ballad with glorious flute artistry courtesy of the aforementioned Mr. Collins.

And the title track itself...well, that's a whole different creature. The heavenly voice of Yes' Jon Anderson rides the cascade of Keith Tippet's piano in "Prince Rupert Awakes" before the cadence of Andy McCulloch's drums opens the "Bolero"--in which the enchanting oboe theme is reminiscent of a Mozart concerto; battle is joined in "Glass Tears", with the soldiers' waking at "Dawn Song", fighting in their "Last Skirmish", and being the cause of "Prince Rupert's Lament"; finally, the sounds of the circus--the circus that is life--return in "Big Top".

The album is more than a classic; it is more than ephemeral. The sounds are those of eternity itself...may they live forever.

Report this review (#14897)
Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The beginning of my progressive rock was with albums such as "Aqualung" and "In the court". After adapting a "progressive ear" I came to an album name "Lizard" by KC, of course...

This Album is so Unique, so special in its way that you must listen to it at least 3 times to understand whats happening. I must say that "In the Court" had a better first impression, but "Lizard" takes the overall! from the special rythem of the orchestra in the song "Indoor Games" to the touching lyrics in "Lady of the dancing water" I felt the album had it all.

With the closing song of 'Lizard', "Lizard" becomes a complete masterpiece of music. I must say that is in my top 10 prog albums of all time.

Report this review (#14899)
Posted Friday, February 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Peculiarly underrated by some, this is one of KC's finest moments. Stand out tracks Cirkus and Lizard, KC's only 20 minute + song, make the album worth owning by themselves. That's not to say that the tracks in between disappoint, though. They show a different side to the band, however, much as the middle three tracks of Wish You Were Here do Pink Floyd.

Overall the album is difficult to fault, hence the five star rating. It's not too inaccessible, leaving out the improvisations that make Starless a more challenging listen, nor is it bland and mainstream. In fact, far from it. If you're just getting into the band, make it one of your first buys.

Report this review (#14900)
Posted Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Again King Crimson amazes with great skills and masterfull compositions. Gordon Haskell has replaced Greg Lake on vocals and bass during the recording of In The Wake Of Poseidon, he didn't convince on that effort, but he does convince on Lizard. Again KC takes a frenetic approach, with jazzy symphonised pieces, alternating that with soft classicaly inspired soft ballads.

1. Cirkus(including Entry of the chameleons) (6:28) Soft tinkling keyboards, and nice singing start of the album. Great accoustic guitar with great orchestration. Just an awsomely great pandemonium of sounds and melodies. 2. Indoor games (5:41) A jazzy slow symphonic piece. A great instrumental section in the middle. 3. Happy family (4:16) Frantic jazzy rambling, with some nice piano. 4. Lady of the dancing water (2:44) A soft ballad, nicely sweet music very classicaly inspired, just beatifull.

5. Lizard: Epic-sized suite, a) Prince Rupert awakes (4:36) hears Jon Anderson softly singing on great classical piano music, some more powerfull chorus parts leads the music to a more heavy sound b) Bolero - The peacock's tale (6:39) Classical flutes (Oboe) piano and drums create a soft mood for daydreaming. c) The battle of the glass tears (10:58) The centre piece of Lizard, evolving from the Bolero to a more dark edgy piece, with slow dark singing, gloomy bass counterpointed with some nice flute melodies, getting more powerfull with every passing second. Great music. Big top (1:13) finishes the album with a visite to the Cirkus once more.

I really enjoyed this album. A great wonderfull effort, not a masterpiece, but close enough for me. 4 stars without a doubt. RECOMMENDED.

Report this review (#14901)
Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
el böthy
4 stars Lizard is a pretty unique album, even for Crimson´s standards. Very adventurous, very dinamic, with a wide range of instruments that gives the sound a sort of big band, fusion, orchestra feel, the end product is something that has not been done after. This is quite rare, as so many bands took influences from every period and even every album the Crimsons did... but I honestly can´t hear anything from Lizard in any of those. And why is that? Maybe this sort of music would have reached a dead end very quickly, maybe other bands where not interested in making this sort of music, prefering the dense mellotrons passages and the fiery guitars, bass and drums combo... who knows... But this is actually good, it gives the album another dimension, a sort of bonus point for standing out among the rest, not only for it´s quality, but for it´s originality too.

Each song is, if not radically, very diferent from the other (with only Indoor games and Happy family having anything to do with each other) yet the album feels like a whole, nothing is out of place. An interesting feature on this album is the VCS3 synth which, if I´m not wrong, would mark the first recording it would deliver in comercial music. My favorite tracks are Cirkus and the 23 minutes epic Lizard. Even though the album is full of inprovisation and soloing, specially when it comes to the saxes from Mel Collins, the album is (just as all of the first period of the band) is incredibly well composed, the songwritting is excellent and Sinfield delivers some of his best lyrics so far.

A must in every Crimson collection, that´s for sure, and a strong contender for album of the year (1970 that is...). This music is not even ahead of it´s time, it´from another time and space...

Report this review (#14903)
Posted Monday, February 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The third album by the band has it's great moments, but also some terrible songs too. The opener "Cirkus" is my favorite, as it has very powerful and oppressing elements on it. Also some runs with acoustic guitar here are truly stunning! GORDON HASKELL was doing the singing and bass playing too, which I found as an interesting anecdote. Some of his bass lines are actually quite good! The title epic on the B-side is interesting, having a short quest visit by JON ANDERSON on vocals. "Lady of The Dancing Water" is then a pretty little fairy ballad, but I found both "Indoor games" and "Happy family" extremely irritating songs. Controversial LP, but worth of a listening though.
Report this review (#14906)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amusing that a singer-bassist of King Crimson wins decades later commercial success as a singer for a wide audience. But seriously: should I give this 5 stars since this undoubtedly IS a masterpiece of jazzy prog rock? No, I should rate it as I personally like it. I do think it's a hell of an album with all those fantastic musicians from Keith Tippett (p) to Mel Collins (fl,sax) and other blowers. Full of cheerful insanity to put it fripply. But I don't like Haskell's throaty voice very much. Maybe Greg Lake would fit here? (Not John Wetton, that's for sure.) Jon Anderson suits perfectly into the opening movement of the Lizard suite. It's a marvelous but rather difficult epic to digest as a whole, mainly because of some ear- teasing faint/loud contrasts. But each track in this album is genuine Crimson. Perhaps my favourite one after the debut. Obligatory to any friend of both fusion and progressive rock.
Report this review (#14909)
Posted Tuesday, May 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
Man With Hat
Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Wow! Totally surprised by this one. When you ask people about KC, Lizard is very rarely a response you get. This is really a fantastic album. All the songs are really really solid. The playing is absolutly fantastic. I particulariy love Happy Family and Lizard. (Again, an instance where I should give five stars just for one song.) Lizard is probably the most underrated KC song. Wonderful blend of jazz, classical, and progressive rock. There are only two problems with this album. It takes a while for you to like it, or at least that's how i felt. I downloaded Circus from the site, and i didn't care for it first. After about four or five listens, i started to like it and decided to buy the album. The second problem is, there are two minutes in Lizard (the song) that i don't care for, but the good outwieghs the bad expoentially. Despite those things this is really a great album. It is really catchy and jazzy and complex. Certainly the jazz peak of KC, there are traces of almost every type of jazz...straight, jazz-rock, avant jazz, etc. The complexity and un-ear friendlyness of a few of the songs can put some people off. Thus, this is not one to start with. A fantastic album recommended to the KC fans with adventerous ears.
Report this review (#14910)
Posted Wednesday, May 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars From my point of view this is very overrated album. I'm very disappointed. After great "In the court.." and good "In the Wake.." this one made me angry. What kind of music is that? Where is the melody? On their first album only one track was annoying (don't need to write which one), but on Lizard only one track is acceptable for me (Indoor Games). Does music need to be so complicated to be named great? Not for me, for this is too jazzy, liveless, and difficult to perceive. Sorry guys but unlike most of you I won't rate it high. And I would never recommend it for all. To be honest, there is really no reason for me to write more about "Lizard", because it is not worth it. Probably when you're a die hard fan of KC, you would love it. For me, every 42 minutes spend listening to this one is just a waste of time.
Report this review (#14911)
Posted Saturday, May 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While still struggling (unsuccessfully) to keep a permanent line-up on the road, Fripp and Sinfield managed to keep KC busy on studio recording. Their constant (and at times conflictive) flow of creativity allowed them to bring out material for a third album, "Lizard", not too long after their previous "Poseidon" album - it turned out to be their most ambitious 69-72 era work. The scores and arrangements are labyrinthine, which is to a large degree due to the heavy use of wind instruments (the oboe, trombone and cornet join Collins' saxes and flutes here and there) and keyboards (the role Tippett's grand and electric pianos becomes as crucial as that of the guitar and mellotron, in charge of Fripp). There's also the fact that the vinyl's B-side was exclusively absorbed by the sidelong namesake suite, a monumental piece that comprises lots of epic passages and majestic multi-layered orchestrations. But the symphonic factor is not the only featured element here: in fact, the symphonic stuff is more evident in the structure of most of the album's tracks than in the performing style per se. When it comes down to the solos (mostly on wind instruments), interplays and McCullough's confidently intricate drumming, you can tell that the most prominent musical colors are tinted in jazzy tones and nuances. The funny, exquisite 'Indoor Games' is a showcase for that, and so is the Beatles parody-tribute 'Happy Family', which takes up the jazz thing to the explosive realms of free jazz in a disturbing, yet captivating manner. The acoustic ballad 'Lady of the Dancing Water' creates a bucolic portrait of gentle love slightly based on Renaissance ambiences: the trombone textures that appear during the lust sung verse add, once again, a touch of jazz that, oddly enough, melts into the song's evocative spirit quite fluidly. The sinister opener 'Cirkus' and the aforementioned 'Lizard' suite are the tracks that mix symphonic prog and jazz with a delicate sense of balance, something that shouldn't be mistaken by lack of energy: on the contrary, the band's typical energy can easily be sensed here, only if wrapped under a more sophisticated clothing and a more polished sense of ensemble shared by all musicians involved. 'Cirkus' makes an impressive opener, since it maintains a solid cohesiveness all throughout its mood shifts and diverse adornments employed for the recurring main themes: a special mention goes to the excellent acoustic guitar flourishes delivered by Fripp. The main virtues of the 'Lizard' suite lie on the accomplished elaboration of a sense of drama, in this way creating the impression of story telling even in the instrumental passages (which are many, since the lyrics are not too abundant). Its most prominent highlights are: the beautiful opening section, featuring Jon Anderson's lead voice and a dreamy mellotron-driven climax; the eerie oboe motif in the 'Bolero'; the interaction between the mellotron and the horns in 'The Battle of Glass Tears', robustly sustained by McCullough; the soaring guitar solo for 'Prince Rupert's Lament', coming to the listener's ears like a chocking wail in the distance. The only minus (and it's a very minus minus in the grand scheme of "Lizard" things) for this album is incarnated in Gordon Haskell's persona. His bass playing is merely precise, certainly not as solid as to complement his talented rhythm partner McCullough competently; what's more, his baritone timber can only work in the softer numbers, since it feels too weak and inexpressive for the most energetic passages (his successor Burrell did a great job in 'Cirkus' on tour, although I'm not a big fan of his obsessively bluesy style neither., but anyway, that's a matter for a different review.), almost ruining the overall result. Fortunately, he's not as powerful as to cause an artistic disaster for "Lizard" - in fact, this my favourite Sinfield- era KC album, and so, I label it as a masterpiece, no less than that.
Report this review (#14912)
Posted Sunday, May 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard came after two great album that created new standards in rock music (especialy "In the court of the crimson king"). This album, for the first time is solely composed by Robert Fripp. One would expect it hard to achive the same standards of the former two albums but suprisingly it is a better one, being more mature, versatile & focused. The opening is "cirkus" where delicate singing turns to Fripp's dark tuned guitar making the point. Next comes "indoor games" & "happy familly" - two jazzy pieces, cinical and mean. THe first side of the record ends with a beatifull ballad - "Lady of the dancing water". The other side is an epic concept creation with 3 major parts. It begins with "prince Rupert awakes" sang by John Anderson with a whole bunch of blow instruments (oboe, trombone, cornet, etc). The song fades to the second part "bolero - a peacocks tale" which is a very classical instrumental theme using the same blow instruments. Then come the third & longest part - "the battle of glass tears". It starts with a sad cor anglais tune leading to a short song telling us what is the story. THen the singing ends and the battle begins ! You can realy hear the battle through the dialog between the rough guitar and the flute. Then comes the after battle and you can realy hear the killing field via the slow drumming escorted by quiet cornet (I think it's cornet). Truely one of the most touching cuts I ever heard. The end is a small instrumental piece called "big top" which I always felt comes to take me out of the shock of the previous cut. I purchased this one 23 years ago and listened to it many times and I never get tired of it. It is one of the best albums ever made and even in king crimson outstanding creation it is second only to red. A must have !
Report this review (#14914)
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Yet another great King Crimson record, this time with Gordon Haskell on vocals. This album follows the line that started with the previous album In The Wake Of Poseidon and mostly abandons the mellotron-led dramatic sound found on the debut album. It's very jazzy and even weirder this time around, with some more organic elements thrown in the mix. The vocals mostly are distorted and it also has a guest appeareance of Yes' Jon Anderson on vocals at the start of the epic, multi-part title-track. The seeds for the Bruford-Cross-Fripp line-up are sown.
Report this review (#14917)
Posted Wednesday, May 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It seems that everybody else decided to make reviews about this heavy metal band dream theater. Man, this site if far the best of all times, it deserves an Oscar. Ok now lets to "Lizard", "circus" has a vdgg atmosphere, half beautiful half sinister and also one of the best on the record, with amazing mellotron and sax solos, and vocals fitting perfectly. "Indoor games" a more (another) jazzy piece. "Happy family", probably about Beatles split up, with distorted vocals, since from the start, KC established its concept of album what would repeat in other albums of their career, among superb progressive songs, ballads and non sense noisy songs, I will not give examples, but on this one they were very different and the jazz influence makes it more hard listening, and the title track epic is really an amazing and beautiful song. A complex and well-played album, that you will have to be in the right mood in the right day, did you dig it?
Report this review (#35581)
Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars The third album by King Crimson is a lot various from the first two. "In the court of the Crimson King" and "In the wake of Poseidon" are two speculars works, but "Lizard" is very different. The songs are light, nothing to do with the power of "21st Century Skizoid Man" or "Picture of a City". The album is set up to "In the court of the Crimson King" (the song). The sweetness is the leader in dominant sounds. It's a good album, but not the best you can buy from King Crimson.
Report this review (#36588)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars In 1970, King Crimson was an unstable band, that surprisingly managed to produce excellent albums, landmarks in progressive rock. At this point, much of the original band had departed, with the exception of band leader Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield. Luckily, they bring in many talented musicians in to round out the band. This lineup only lasted for the recording of LIZARD and never toured. Gordon Haskell is brought on as vocalist/bassist to replace Greg Lake, and does an admirable job. His raspy, brooding vocals fit the material perfectly. Andy McCulloch is competent as drummer, and his presence is felt, giving pace to the often chaotic jazz interludes. The addition of many woodwind and brass players gave King Crimson a much richer, jazzier sound. Keith Tippet's strongly Jazz flavored keys are an added plus (Keith was asked to join the band, but passed). The material found on LIZARD also has a much jazzier edge than its two predecessors, and is also much darker and complex. While it does mark a step towards Jazz-Fusion, that's not to say this is The Soft Machine style free- Jazz; LIZARD is much more composed, and it is still very much in the Progressive Rock camp, with prominent guitars and stereotypical 'epic' progressive lyrics. One gets the feeling Robert Fripp and Sinfield carefully orchestrated this whole album, and it successfully builds a certain (creepy-demented) theme throughout.

LIZARD opens strongly with Cirkus, a frightening track featuring Crimson at their most insane. This track features excellent acoustic guitar from Fripp, as well as dramatic vocals by the underrated Haskell, and wonderfully arranged horns and keyboard flourishes. It alternates perfectly between soft vocal segments, and cacophonous jazz flavored instrumental bridges, creating a true circus atmosphere, with a sinister twist. This is a near perfect early-Crimson track, and shows just how scary these guys could be. The next piece lightens up a bit, featuring a wonderful jazz introduction from the brass section. Haskell's distinctive vocals give the song it's Crimson touch. Overall, it is quite good, but not nearly as interesting as the other tracks found here, and follows a more straight-jazz approach, with occasional Fripp Guitar breaks. Happy Family resumes the dark feel of Cirkus, with eerie distorted vocals, and more guitar and keyboards than on the previous tracks. It also has great flute touches. (note: It is rumored that this track was written by Sinfield about the Beatles' breakup, and many further contend that the figures found on the elaborate record sleeve under the 'I' are the Beatles...This is also one of the best cover's ever on a Crimson album, designed by Sinfield). Side One closes with Lady of the Dancing Water. This represents the obligatory, light acoustic piece on a King Crimson album, and is much in the vein of Cadence and Cascade and I Talk to the Wind. It is very enjoyable and light, providing a brief respite from the insanity surrounding it, but by this point, the formula was getting old for this sort of song. Side Two features the side- long epic, Lizard. The title track is a twenty-three minute suite, with four distinct movements. This piece is one of the most ambitious songs ever attempted by Fripp and Co. It opens with Prince Rupert Awakens. Surprisingly, Jon Anderson of Yes sings vocals on this piece, as Gordon Haskell never finished. This is an excellent touch. Anderson's light, ethereal vocals give the folksy-traditional prog song a definite boost. This song has beautiful melodies, and it is nice to hear Anderson sing semi-coherent lyrics, as oppose to his Yes work. The next two sections, Bolero and The Battle... are Jazz pieces, and feature impressive playing from all members. McCulloch's drums are especially good, giving The Battle... a warlike feel. The horn section is also excellent. These pieces are well done, but a bit drawn out and longwinded. Lizard closes with Big Top, a short reprise of Cirkus, giving the album a fitting close and a cyclical feel.

Many fans and Robert Fripp himself do not like this album, and it is not easy to define. LIZARD is King Crimson's darkest, and least accessible album. It is also their farthest removed from traditional rock. It is a progression over their last album, IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON (1970), and it is a shame that this potent lineup didn't last. Four stars, due to some weak moments on Lizard. This is one that rewards repeated listens, a definite essential for fans of King Crimson or Jazzier Rock.

Report this review (#37247)
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The third work that replaces member excluding Robert Flipp and Peter Sinfield and is produced. Merotoron and the wind instrument were multiused, and the kneaded music group had the surprise and was received more precisely than the first inviting guests of the number more than the former work 'In the Waken of Poseidon' at that time. The quality of music is not inferior to other works high though the attempt to unite various elements like classics and the contemporary music and jazz, etc. might give a loose impression if it sees as the entire album. It is a reason loved as unique existence in their works. The best Big name is John Anderson in the guest. A big role is played to the construction of the outlook on the world in the title tune.
Report this review (#37758)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is a great album, and even if there are some bad songs, there are more good songs.....

"Cirkus" sounds very good as an opener, and, like all of the first three songs, it has a weird-sounding instrumental.

The next one is the weakest song. "Indoor Games" sounds jazzy, and Gordon Haskell sings very strange on this and on "Happy Family", a bit metallic. The intro is pretty good.

"Happy Family" is the weirdest song on the album, but I like it, because it tells the story of the Beatles' end in a funny way, and I also like the end; it ends very fast, and you think "What? Is it over?"

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a mellower track, the best on side 1. Mel's flute sounds wonderful, and it gives the song a magical atmosphere, this sounds Middle-Ages-like.

The Lizard suite, divided into four parts, is the best "song" in here, but it sounds like six different songs, not like one piece that lasts over twenty minutes. "Prince Rupert Awakes" is the best song on the whole album, featuring Jon Anderson on vocals. He sings very quiet, and when he breaks into "Wake your reasons' hollow vote...", you think that he sings loud, but in fact he sings in a normal volume.

"Bolero" is the "new version" of Ravel's Bolero, and it's a good track, but the next one is better....!

It's "The Battle Of Glass Tears"; the reeds give you this battle feeling, like when the saxes are fighting! But it lasts nearly 11 minutes, and it could be a little shorter, for example in "Last Skirmish", which is a bit too long.

"Big Top" reprises the main theme "Cirkus", the same thing that Genesis did in many of their albums ("Selling England By The Pound", "A Trick Of The Tail", "Wind & Wuthering"). It's a good closer, even if the real "Big Top" is the previous one, "The Battle".

I would give it 5 stars if they didn't include the pointless "Indoor Games".

Track ratings: Cirkus ****, Indoor Games **, Happy Family ***, Lady Of The Dancing Water *****, Prince Rupert Awakes *****, Bolero - The Peacock's Tale ****, The Battle Of Glass Tears ****, Big Top ****.

the Sorcerer

Report this review (#37835)
Posted Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars My (currently, and probably forever) favorite KC album - and extremely underrated, this one is very unique and rich of instrumental exploration, even more than their other masterpiece "Lark's Tongues in Aspic". It manages to be even more complex and therefore harder to get the attention of the occasional listener, and it is the perfect mix of sad, romantic / mellow and fun parts. The most amazing is that all these different music styles all flow very well without losing path during the album! Something that only Fripp and Co. would be able to make with their eccletic musical characteristics that we find through KC's vast discography.

The fun moments are "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family", those are 2 songs that work very well together, since they show the most pleasant side of jazz that i could ever appreciate in this genre which i never enjoyed too much (i absolutely can't stand KENNY G). After a crazy laugh by Mr. Haskell at the ending of "Indoor Games", the album leads to "Happy Family". Some people will find this track annoying due to the vocal distortion and the bitting piano that flows during it, but i have to admit that this is one of the most different "fun" songs i've ever had the pleasure to hear, and it doesn't annoy me at all! It makes me feel happy and full with energy. It ends in an inoccent way with Haskell singing for two or three seconds alone in a childish manner. The next song, "Lady of the dancing water" is an example of the mellow and romantic side of this album, and the flute is the instrument that leads it together with a soft guitar at the background. Haskell sings in a very beautiful way here, very different from "Cirkus", the first track and another member of the KC's romantic side. In "Cirkus" (which has a good intro) we have a more serious and cold vocal performance, on the other hand the 4th track shows a softer tone of Gordon's voice. But the best is still to come. The title song arrives and...does anyone recognize this guy? He is YES' vocalist JON ANDERSON, making a wonderful performance in this epic. This song shows the sad and the romantic sides put together in a bolero-like performance after the vocals on the first part named "Prince Rupert awakes". On this first part we have Jon singing in a so passionate way leading to the album's climax, where he delivers his "aa-aaaaaahs" followed by the great mellotron solo, a sad and beautiful moment, and the best one of this album. Part 2, the bolero one, shows the fun side again after some seconds, in a not-so crazy KC jam, a very natural one, not sounding so forced like the one in "21st Century Schizoid Man", mixing VARIOUS instruments together and making a very complex arrangement. After the jam, the bolero recovers its original mellow pace, reaching the second climax of the album on around the 30th minute of the album. "The battle of the glass tears", the last part of the most wonderful KC song ever done, brings Gordon Haskell back to scene, and it is firstly based on a quiet vocal performance with a wind instrument on the background, and delivers a similar feel of the early years of your childhood, giving memories of your mom telling stories to you before going to sleep. But this mellow tone doesn't last too much, as a more noisy part kicks in with some nice drums, mellotron, sax, flute and bass work, all put together in perfect shape. This may seem like another successful and not forced jam by the band, and it is a very well estructured one i might say. The piano may sound a bit bluesy sometimes after a while, but the main thing here is top quality jazzy jam, which lasts a bit too long but i really don't mind. A drum beat than interrupts the jam, and Fripp's unique guitar notes start to flow, and some great bass work begin to rise the jam back from the ashes, this time being more insane and heavy than ever, but again not so forced on the point of becoming annoying. Some weird noises looking like footsteps on the above floor appear after the jam's end and a chaotic and quiet at the same time guitar arrives. A great guitar solo, leading to the epic's glorious end. This is without question the best song the King has ever done, much better than my also beloved "Starless", which i considered for a long time my fav KC number. Some mellotron notes then born, on the 1 minute finale "Big Top", giving a disturbing and schizofrenic true circus feel, and the album ends in a golden shape.

One more thing that i would like to add is that Gordon Haskell is the most underrated vocalist of all times! I couldn't stand him some time ago, but i now realised that he was just the perfect guy for this album. GREG LAKE would probably not do this one so much justice, and even though i consider him one of the best vocalists of all times, i think that Haskell (despite being technically not as great as the awesome voice master that shows his deeper skills on songs like "Epitaph" and "In the Wake of Poseidon"), was a fortunate choice to sing here mainly due to the fact that his "old man" voice seems to fit more with the jazzy feel we get in this album.

And for the ones who haven't listened to this which is one of the best progressive recordings of all time, do it NOW. Really, this is the peak point of King Crimson, and the only near they would get to this masterpiece would be three years later on the weirdly titled "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", but it still doesn't have the same brilliance showed on "Lizard". Together with "Wish You Were Here", "Foxtrot" and "Pawn Hearts" this one would make an honorable mention to a "the best album of all times" contest. And it surely is worthy of such unique mention.

Report this review (#38623)
Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars King Crimson returns with a new singer, and an excellent album. Gordon Haskell, though not nearly as good a singer as Greg Lake, is however, perfect for this album (he didn't seem to fit well singing Cadence and Cascade). The album opens with Cirkus. There is an evil insanity to this song that is hard to explain, it is definitely best track on the album. But the rest of the album is still so good. Indoor Games and Happily Family continue with more dark insanity, and there is finally some relief at the end of side one with Lady of the Dancing Water. Side 2 contains a side long title track epic. Lizard starts off beautiful, with Jon Anderson of Yes singing a powerful, but somewhat unsettling 'Prince Ruport Awakes'. His voice is a welcome addition to this album, as Haskell's, though distinct and fitting for the darker stuff, doesn't quite work as well for a song such as this. The second movement is a beautiful instrumental arrangement featuring flowing oboe and trumpet solos. There is some jazz improvisations also thrown in here. But it's not long before things take a turn for the evil again when the last movement, the battle of glass tears kicks in. It is dark, heavy, and frantic at times. The album then ends with some more cheerful cirkus insanity with big top. This is one of the best King Crimson albums. On par with the second one, but not as good as the first.
Report this review (#38749)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars King Crimson's third album comes across as something of a crisis. The first two albums were so very alike in construction and arrangement that listeníng to Lizard injects a nervous tension, in both listener and perhaps the musicians when they recorded it. "Cirkus" starts off in a strong well meaning manner but soon after a chaotic free form jumble of sounds is let loose as the musicians weave a heady mix of classical jazz and what not. It has a few reminders of the past and a little hint of the future but Lizard is certainly standing alone in the King Crimson catalogue, which in itself is odd since many of the King Crimson albums can be paired or form a trio with others to form a set. The first two are like this and so are the trio of albums released between 1972 and 1974 including the monumental Red. And though the album that followed this one, Islands, may have a little in common with Lizard what they would have in common would tend to fall on the side of their oddity rather than strength of the music contained within. King Crimson have been labeled as a progressive rock band but the tag is too simple for a band so complex and unique and if anything those traits come to the fore on Lizard. Yes they are progressive but are they really a prog band? The term in my opinion is almost generic now, but King Crimson were never generic. This album is a band crashing while waiting. For what? Who knew. But it was still a way off. Robert Fripp is certainly a visionary and always worked for the now. Lizard is an album that takes getting used to while never becoming accessible.
Report this review (#39073)
Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Again an incredible piece of work by King Crimson. Their third studio album is totally different from the first two albums and at the beginning I found it a lot harder to listen to. But after a few listens I experienced the album in a great way! This album is very special. Every single track is good, although the best track is definitely the title track "Lizard". This piece is one of Crimson's best if you ask me. It's a long, jazzy track with a lot of variety. This album is very good and you should check it out.
Report this review (#39788)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am very tempted to give this album the full 5 stars. However, I will refrain. The reason for this is that it is one of my favorite Crimson albums, full of its own unique originality. Still, to put it on the same level as In the Court of the Crimson King and other albums like Close to the Edge and Wish You Were Here would not be right in my mind. Hence, the 4 star album, which I still hold in extremely high regard.

I was introduced to Lizard after learning ITCOTCK, ITWOP, and Lark's Tongues, and I had also recently acquired Islands. It came to me in a shipment along with Red and Discipline. I immediately set to work learning them. Lizard caught me off-guard on my first listen. I knew everyone called it the jazzy album by Crimso, but whoa, I wasn't expecting this much of a turnaround from ITWOP. Complete sax and jazz everywhere. Once I got used to it though, it proved to be one of the most rewarding albums in my collection.

One thing that also should be noted is that every song (other than Lady of the Dancing Water) has improv jazz sections in them. They vary in length, but 4 of the 5 songs have them. Some may see them as noodling. That's up to you. For me, they are brilliant.

Cirkus: A very haunting opener. Haskell, who is by no means as good as Greg Lake, still does well for himself. I can only imagine the power the album would have had if Lake was still here... anywho, Haskell's vocals do work here, and that strange yet amazing riff that appears between his singing verses is absolutely phenomenal. The perfect opener for the album.

Indoor Games: I laughed out loud at this song the first time I heard it. I thought it was the goofiest, silliest thing I'd ever heard. However, I have great respect for this song now. It just seemed so goofy, for lack of a better word, at first, but, of course, with more listens, it became a fantastic song.

Happy Family: In contrast to the previous song, I absolutely loved the opening to this song when I first heard it. Something about it just hit me, and it is still one of my favorite openings to a song. Then, Haskell's weird vocals set in. I say weird because they did something very strange with it in the studio. It took me a while to get over it, but now I find it extremely listenable.

Lady of the Dancing Water: In terms of the short Crimso songs, this is probably my favorite. Ending Side 1, it's a short yet absolutely beautiful song that closes out the first half of the album spectacularly. I don't know where'd I be without this song. It strikes a chord deep within me.

Lizard: An absolutely brilliant, I repeat, brilliant, track. Jon Anderson's vocals are heavenly. And, on a sidenote, I see strong, strong influences from his section of the song on Tales. Honestly, I could see this section of the song being on TFTO. I don't know if I'm the only person to think that, but, anywho, on with Lizard. Very different than, say, songs like Epitaph. It's a different Crimson here, and one must remember that. Part of the reason that I disliked Lark's Tongues (my second Crimso album) on my first listen was because it was so different than ITCOTCK, which I wasn't ready to let go of. Remember that it's a differed KC. Then you'll be able to recognize the majesty of this album, especially this song. Brilliant.

This one does pain me a bit, but I feel 5 stars would be too generous for it. Perhaps it is a 4.5 or so. However, I do not round numbers up to a 5. For me, an album has to be a 5 to get a 5. So, perhaps it's a 4, perhaps it's a 4.5 (more likely), but either way, I highly recommend it to the Crimson fan. If not a Crimson fan, DO NOT START HERE. That I'm sure about. Start with their debut. Work up to this one. I'll go with my original 4/5 stars. I don't want to get into decimals.

Report this review (#42403)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars An album that has many people baffled but remains maybe the finest they ever released. If for nothing else listen to this album for the first song, Cirkus. Some people don't get the song at first. That's okay, keep listening. The song is a modern masterpiece and remains as fresh and strange and mind-boggling and soul fulfilling as ever! Upon repeat listens the song never gets old or boring. It continues to amaze me and perplex me. The way the mellotron complements Fripp's speedy fingerpicking and Goldon Haskell's thick, salty voice over the top of it never ceases to amaze. Michael Giles replacement on drums Andy McCullough is no slouch either. He improvises in the same unique way as Giles but gives it his own personal touch. The rest of the songs on the album are good. Lizard the final song is one to listen to several times and then pick out the parts you like best. Jon Anderson does great vocals on it too.

Allow yourself to listen and be amazed!

Report this review (#44164)
Posted Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is history.Personnally, it's my favourite..This album is something far beyond progressive rock or art rock anything else similar.It has this frightening jazz atmosphere (check out cirkus,indoor games,happy family) and it contains a lot of melodies which are so weird that they mix your head..You don't know how to feel when you hear this album..I think it's the weirdest thing in music history, but who's the man behind King Crimson? Guess..Robert Fripp (for those who didn't know)
Report this review (#45689)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "A magical Lizard album". Lizard really is a wonderful piece of music that is full of colour and imagination as the cover illustration suggests.It has a light vibrant jazz influence all the way through, it is totally coherent as everything flows along at a smooth pace,there is a lot less hard rock here than the two previous albums,but the song writing is so much better and shows a great leep foward all round."Lizard" is so much better and different than the other two previous efforts," In the court"and "Poseidon".In all respects it simply provides a far more colourful variety of music,which follows a similar theme all the way through which is very important.The production is finally at long last great,and avoids "the horrendous sound given to In the Court".Lizard is really a special album not only in King Crimsons catalogue,but also in all prog rock.Lizard is probably one of their best and sounds better now than ever,"a King Crimson Gem".
Report this review (#46192)
Posted Saturday, September 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars GOD DAMN! THE best Crimson album ever. personally, I also think it's the best album I've ever heard... It's certainly a masterpiece to be added to any normal proglover's collection. It has the combination of deep (and a bit scary) instumental jazz and classic, with the touch of the common prog rock characteristics and it's special unusualness.

Tracks 2-3, Indoor Games and Happy Family, are very good. You just gotta to love them... jazzy and a bit freaky but all the same make you dance like youv'e never danced before (even if your'e not a dancer). Track 4 is a bit problematic. Some might say its simplicity is touching but I find it the weak spot of the album. 3 minuets of a nice flute, but no more to it than that. Cirkus, the first track, shows the perfect technic and harmony of Crimson. It's one of my all time favourite track. Just amazing. But it's almost as good as.......... Yes, Lizard itself! My favourite song ever! A song that concludes every good thing a song should have. This song makes the album one of the best albums ever, and with tracks 1-3 it recieves the 5 stars grade (it deserves) from me...

As said before (one or two reviews before my own), a Crimson gem.

Report this review (#46340)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2005 | Review Permalink
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
3 stars 3.50 stars, really - musically speaking it would probably be a 5, but the vocals bring the rating considerably down. As a matter of fact, Gordon Haskell (whose performance on "Cadence and Cascade" was adequate, though nothing earth-shaking) was the worst possible choice that Fripp could have made when he had to replace Lake. Just listen to the initial "Cirkus", an otherwise excellent song with lyrics that reflect the content of the stunningly beautiful cover artwork: Haskell's voice has an odd timbre, low but at the same time metallic and almost tuneless, which may perhaps fit the heavily jazz-influenced music, but makes listening an ordeal. "Prince Rupert Awakes", featuring Jon Anderson's angelic vocals, definitely soothes the ears battered by Haskell's so-called singing.

On the other hand, the musicianship here is quite astounding. Fripp brought on board a group of jazz musicians, including Keith Tippett, who had already graced "Cat Food" with his deranged piano runs. The presence of brass and woodwind instruments is quite prominent too, giving the album a weird orchestral feel. Together with the already- mentioned "Cirkus", the varied, complex title-track is the highlight of the record; while I'm not crazy about "Lady of the Dancing Water", which to my mind cannot hold a candle to "I Talk to the Wind" or "Moonchild". Sinfield's lyrics also deserve a particular mention for their sharpness and irony: I know he's not to everyone's taste as a lyricist, but I must admit he's one of my favourites - I really enjoy his way with words.

I think "Lizard" may be very well summarised by this short statement: great music indeed - shame about the vocals!

Report this review (#54794)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Well, I've been going through King Crimson's discography in chronological order, and there has been something of a decline in the quality of their albums since In the Court... Maybe this is the least accessible album of theirs, but either way its disapointing. It has its moments, and I guess its important to see how Crimson developed as a band, but the vocals aren't great and their is a serious lack of 'hair- raisingly good' moments that were abundant on the first album (and a little bit on the second one too). This album is also jazzy to the extreme in parts. But anyway.

The first track, Cirkus, starts the album off fairly well with a good melody, and some alright vocals. Then comes in this scary sounding riff that works really well. There is also a good mellotron section underneath a... jazzy sax solo? Who would have thought that two opposites such as that could sound as good as they do together? So anyway, a good song. 8.5/10

Now the next two songs sort of go together because they flow into each other. They are also the source of most of the album's faults. Indoor games has some horribly bad, jazzy musical interludes, but the vocal sections are OK, and the bridge is very dreamy and cool sounding. An Ok song with OK vocal parts, but crappy instrumental parts. 6.5/10

Track 3, Happy Family, is a weird song, and the melody is not catchy, nor will it grow on you very well. However, whereas it was the vocal parts that salvaged the previous track, it is the instrumental sections which save this song. Not overly jazzy, and kind of rocking. Still, a mediocre song. 5/10.

Now, having said that vocal parts in Indoor Games are good, but the instrumental parts are bad, and that the vocal parts in Happy Family are bad but the instrumental sections are good, I thought the logical solution would be to combine the vocal parts of Indoor Games with the instrumental parts of Happy Family, which I think would have actually worked quite well, because when you think about it they would sound good together.

The next track, Lady of the Dancing Water, is a very mellow ballad, with some good melodies and flute work, pleasant but not a standout track by any means. 7/10

Now, Lizard. The twenty minute epic of the album, which happens to feature the great vocals of Yes-man Jon Anderson. Well, this song is OK, and it will grow on you to and extent. It opens with very melodic vocals from Anderson, with some great dreamy, semi-ominous keyboards from Fripp. AFter that, the peacocks tale begins and the song takes a slight turn for the worse, with some long drawn out jazzy sax improvisation. However, after this the battle of glass tears comes in, with Haskell singing the best melody of the album. The rest of this section rocks fairly hard, and features a good spacy guitar solo from Fripp. The last section is alright, not very memorable. The only problem with this song is the lack of vocals in parts which could use them, and the lack of a cohesive structure. Sure it has subtitles, but they dont flow very well. So a pretty good song, which will grow on you over time. 8.5/10

So this album is alright, nothing very special. Standouts are Cirkus and Lizard. The problems with this album are the vocals, the lack of very strong melodies, and the over- jazziness. However, keep in mind that a little jazziness goes a long way with me, if you love jazzy stuff, you will probably feel differently about this album.

Report this review (#56167)
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This one caught me completely off guard. After loving LTIA, Red and Discipline and liking the the rest, I was expecting Lizard to be a good album. What I got...well, was much better than a good album. In fact, I have absolutely no qualms with placing this next to CTTE, SEBTP, ITCOTCK and Thick as a Brick as an essential prog masterpiece. While CTTE and SEBTP givewell-rounded and mature perspectives of the genre, Thick as a Brick gives a more fun, accessible perpective to the genre, and ITCOTCK just defines the genre, this album defines the creativity that prog is so known for. Every second I listened to this, something interesting owuld be happening. I think at one point there were five or six solos going on at the same time, making for one crazy trip. There are little solos and shots of intrsuments thrown in everywhere to make it very itneresting. I promise you each time you listen to this album, you will hear something new. People told me this was going to be the hardest KC album to get into, which made me a bit ambivalent, On the contrary, I loved this album from the beginning, and this really defines creative jazz prog rock. This is excellent stuff.

The album opens with Cirkus, which starts very quiet and slowly builds throughout the whole song to grand proportions. The singing is not all too phenomenal, but I have never truly liked a King Crimson vocalist, to my knowledge. Teh truly highlight is of course Fripp's guitar and the insane song itself. The sax solo maybe a third of the way through backed by the mellotron is lovely, and Fripp's guitar at 4:51 is awesoem to listen to. I think this part suits as an excellent example of the intense layering in this album, with so much going at one time. The song finishes with another nice (frantic and not happy, but nice) sax solo, then a trumpet solo of similiar style, and it's done. Phenomenal track. I like this one almost as much as Schizoid Man, definitely. 9.5/10

Next is Indoor Games, which is a real funky piece, with saxes providing the main melody most of the time. The acoustic chord hit when Gordon sings indoor games is lovely, and Fripp's little feature at 2:38 is really refreshing. The song kinda meanders along with various solos and general jazz stuff people may or may not enjoy. I personally do. At 4:46 the song returns to the main theme, finishes strongly and ends with some slightly maniacal laughter, which I thin symbolizes the insanity of the next song. I love this track. 9.5/10

Holy crap. This song, Happy Family, is trippy as hell. I imagine this is the soundtrack to a stoner's paradise. This fetaures just about every intrsument possible, I believe, to floaty flute to classic mellotron, to bluesy piano to sax to a bitchin' trombone. This song is just insane, and at one time has about three solos going in the right ear with another three in the left. Yup, this is what I meant when I said about 6-8 solos at one time. This song is not for the faint of heart or for non-fans of jazz, but I doubt real prog fans will have a problem with it, as good music is good music, no matter what the style. 9.5/10

Lady of the Dancing Water has some bad singing. Like real bad. Kinda a shame. I like the flute on this song and the general melody, but god, this man cannot sing well. I always flinch when I hear him go flat, which is a lot. Besides that, the flute melody is pretty and it's a nice peaceful track after the last three insane ones. I really like the trombone part halfway through too. Meh. 8/10

Lizard! The epic 23:15 song! It begins with some slightly chilling mellotron and piano and vocals from Jon Anderson of Yes. Anderson comes through with flying color and does an excellent job. The song builds for the next four minutes or so, quite nicely. Then you hear that telltale trumpet come in. You can almost hear Fripp standing there, nodding while saying, "Alright guys. Have fun for the next seven minutes or so. Go nuts." And they do go nuts. Like Happy Family, this song has about every instrument imaginable in a "rock" song. At around 12:00 minutes in, the painful vocals come in again. Then the song starts bulding with some real nice jazzy parts that make you wanna be like..."Yea!". I love that sax in minute fourteen with the flute going nuts in the background. So funky. The song builds off that sax part in grand proportions and just grooves! I can imagine people getting bored, but not I, with so much going on. It just...grooves. Like, damn. And it's awesome. The song fades out slowly, and ends with Fripp playing his guitar in the style of Jimi Hendrix, which I found a bit odd but whatever. This whole album has been odd. Anyway, this song gets a 10/10 for sure, it's just awesome. Not for everyone yes, but awesome. 10/10

So there ya have it. One of the msot insane jazz prog albums ever created. Not for the faint of heart and/or people who dislike jazz, but with an open mind (which is what prog is all about), this album rocks. It grooves, it moves it solos and it does it all right. Awesomeness. A masterpiece no doubt.

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Posted Thursday, November 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard is probably the most surprising album King Crimson ever released. Some argue that this record is for die hard crimson fans only, and that it is one of the more difficult crimson albums to get into. I couldn't believe how different I felt when I first heard this album, I loved it from the very first time I heard it, this really is one of the greatest albums the band ever made. The line up for this album has some minor changes from the album beforehand, Including Robert Fripp and Pete Sinfield from original line up, Mel Collins (flute and sax) who played on the previous album, Gordon Haskell (bass and vocals) who also sang on one track on the album beforehand, and newcomer Andy McCulloch on drums, brilliant pianist Kieth Tippet also guests.

Lizard is innovative, brave and extremely ambitious for its day. The album incorporates rock, free jazz, and classical arrangements. The opener "Cirkus" starts quietly with Haskell singing lightly over what sounds like a stringed instrument, but i'm still not quite sure. It is left behind pretty quickly though as one of crimsons loudest and darkest passages takes over, after a few seconds the passage ends for the verse and some may be surprised to hear that fripp is using an acoustic guitar in place of his heavy les paul, he also plays some excellent mellotron on the track and throughout the album. Cirkus is darker and edgier than most of the other songs on the album. The following song "Indoor games" is another excellent song and is in a completely different mood to cirkus, it seems more playful, avant garde noise making and plenty of action from the woodwind section, Fripp adds some excellent acoustic guitar. Haskells voice is perfectly suited to the songs and does a great job, he may not have been crimsons finest but it would seem wrong for anyone else but him to sing on these fine tracks. Two more songs are included on side one, the slightly barmy "Happy family" and the soft, gentle "Lady of the dancing water" , one of the more peaceful tracks from crimson.

Side two contains the epic title track. A lot has already been said about its varying styles and sections and not everyone may enjoy it fully, but it does prove to be a powerful enough track, ambitious and brilliant and one of crimsons finest. For the first section Jon Anderson makes a guest appearance, an excellent way to kick off the track, and probably the easiest part of the album to listen to, Jons voice, as usual, is beautiful and inviting. The song is quite long, reaching over twenty three minutes and has an unusual bolero section in which the woodwind takes over,but to go through it all would take too long, but at times it can be beautiful, dark, jazzy and overall enjoyable to listen to. A great achievement for something released in 1970. This album seems to be gaining more recognition from progressive rock fans, but as i have said before, isn't for everyone, it may be too much for some people which is entirely understandable, as not many people would have heard a band with screaming horn arrangements. None the less it is quite a unique album, It might not have aged as well as other crimson albums, but stunning for its day.

4.5 stars strictly speaking, but I will round it off to 5 as I can't give halves.

Report this review (#62370)
Posted Friday, December 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is King Crimson's most ecclectic and jazzy records they have recorded. They go in a direction that they had yet to go to and have yet to come to again (islands come close but its not nearly as good) The depth of the instrumentation is amazing, every time i listen to this record I hear some new aspect to the musicianship. An album like this is the definition of prog rock in my opinion. Completely different from past works and not an attempt at making commercial songs, it is just straight creative work here.

Cirkus- 10/10: This song is amazing, the song starts with some nice vocal/lyrics and a electric piano rhythm, then the dissonant horns come in. Fripps classical/acoustic guitar on this is superb! Why fripp never uses classical/acoustic guitars anymore bewilders me he has such a good sound on them. Mel Collins sax work on this song is excellent as well.

Indoor Games- 10/10: Such a quirky song! Again a good work to describe this is depth, the song is incredibly jazzy feeling. The vocals/lyrics are just off the wall, i love it. This middle/late part of the song is a jam/improv feeling section but it has great direction and the musicians work off each other with ease and skill. The musicianship is excellent and abstract. Only bad part of this song is the very end where Haskell does that very disturbing laugh(lol).

Happy Family- 9/10: Another song in the same breath as indoor games. Jazzy sounds, off the wall vocals/lyrics, excellent musicianship but with an extremely experimental edge. This is a high form of prog rock in my opinion, pushing the limits of the music. This song doesn't deserve 10/10 because unlike indoor games the improv/jam section of the song involves the musicians going off in different directions which makes it sound a bit random still superb work though.

Lady of the dancing water-8/10: After all that frantic jazziness a ballad is in order, this song brings it to you in the vein of cadence and cascade, I talk to the wind. Haskells voice isn't the best for ballads in my opinion but he does a good job. If it wasn't so similar to past works this would be 10/10.

Lizard- 10/10: Beginning with the wonderful prince rupert which includes jon anderson and the great electric piano of tippet this song is very fresh for a crimson song. Lizard then shifts to Bolero which is a wonderful intrumental piece with an almost classical feel. This is a bit of a precursor for what is to come on islands. The song gets jazzier as it progresses. Next is battle of the glass tears which starts off in a ballad fashion but then builds into a quite dissonant sounding jazzy piece. This section has some incredible flutework in particular and also some nice mellotron and sax work. All arouind great musicianship. Fripps soloing at around 20:00 is a precursor to his tone in the wetton era. The piece ends with an eccletic ending that gets the circus feel in it.

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Posted Saturday, January 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars As great as the cover!

Lizard is the craziest record of my Crimso collection. I was just finishing Wake of Poseidon when I popped Lizard in my walkman and frankly, I got scared. Scared of making the wrong purchase and wasting a good amount of money, those 30th anniversary cds are not the cheapest.

Ooof! After many (headphones) listens, it really kicked in. Wow, this album has a lots of kick! Strong saxes riffs a la Gentle Giant, great Beatlesque acoustic guitars, truck loads of dreamy mellotron, burlesque but poetic lyrics and many good VCS3 effects. Not forgetting the ever important drum techs which got even more jazzier again. Many saxes solos on top of that, Lizard is indeed a weird pet, but in the end, there's enough meat around the bone to feed you for a long time.

Taking time getting around Lizard is rewarding, unlike other classic albums. The general sound does ressembles to Court or Poseidon, but the textures are way less 'classic Crimso' and much more adventurous, like Cat Food was for instance. You get a lot of that here.

One line about the cover, every image is describing a moment in the album. How cool is that! To me this kind of artwork is definetely enhancing the pleasure of listening to the album, many times I'm just listening while gazing at the booklet.

A one-shot concept, never reapproached by the band, perhaps because the line-up was also as fragile as cristal.

Report this review (#64303)
Posted Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Ahh, those beautiful Fripp acoustic parts. The best part about this album in my view, since Fripp would rarely use them after this. Still, caution in required in approaching this album. For years, I thought it was terrible (an evaluation shared by Fripp and many of the people involved in making it years later). But having decided to pick it up about a year ago, I gave it a reevaluation. When listened to on its own terms (which you pretty much have to do with ANY Crimson album since they are generally all so different), it is quite interesting. I think what causes a problem is the dense instrumentation. The songs are rarely allowed to breath. Plus, there is a heavy jazz influence throughout which is unusual for a Crimson album. The overall affect is that this is some very bizarre music. The vocals don't work well for me, with the notable exception of Jon Anderson singing the beautiful first section of the epic Lizard. In fact, that track has the best music of the whole album on it (though I still get annoyed by the concluding Big Top, which seems to take all the wind out of the piece). Cirkus is a good tune, but very strange. And Lady Of The Dancing Water is a nice ballad to break up the strangness of the rest of the album. Keith Tippit is notable for his wild piano playing, which certainly helps with the strangeness I keep mentioning.

My advice is to not start with this album :) But I think it is a decent album and deserving of 3 stars, possible another half star.

Report this review (#65358)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Many of you, prog fans, admit that this is real masterpiece. Excellent King Crimson album. Very jazzy and improvisated. Great bass work done by Gordon Haskell. The whole album is crown with the monumental suite Lizard where Jon Anderson vocal appears. Album is very well played. It is very free and unconventional. Highly recommend!
Report this review (#68680)
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Although a difficult listen at first, after repeated listens the brilliance of this album is revealed. Even though Haskell doesn't have very good voice compared to Wetton or Lake, the lyrics on this album are so creative and at times absolutely hilarious that I can't help but absolutely LOVE this album (The especially funny "Indoor Games" makes me burst out laughing every time.) Circus is a wonderful opener with it's inventive and beautiful lyrics and that absolutely terrifying instrument that kicks in with the drums at each of the songs' many climaxes. (I have no idea what it is, but I love it) Indoor Games, as I mentioned earlier, I find utterly hilarious. Happy Family is my least favorite, probably because I find the voice distortion sort of annoying, but it's tolerable, and the lyrics once again have that obnoxious and strange humor found on the prevoius track. Lady Of The Dancing Water is an instantly appealing track with soft voice and beautiful flutes that was my favorite for the first few listens, but got pushed back after I realized that the other tracks were even better. Lizard is a great finale, with the only weak point being the ending Big Top section, which sort of ruins the overall mood of the song for me. All in all an absolutely essential prog masterpiece that everyone should own, and my favorite Crimson album of them all. (Larks Tongues' following) Straight up 5/5, without a doubt.
Report this review (#69204)
Posted Monday, February 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'm not the specialist of Crimson and I really know their debuts a little but this album deserves 5 stars only for one song: Cirkus. This song is simply excellent and a masterpiece in every point. The sad, tortured atmosphere always reminds me the old film "Freaks". This song really gives me thrills and strangely its theme is like a drug for me. Other tracks like Indoor games are quite good too but Cirkus makes it alone. With Tella Hun Ginjeet, Sheltering Sky or Sartori In Tangier it's one of my fav of the band.
Report this review (#69773)
Posted Friday, February 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars A big departure from the first two albums. More jazzy, more happy, even if the writing team of Fripp and Sinfield still remains. And this time, no real weak track.

"Cirkus" is a great opener, mixing dark music with happy lyrics. "Indoor Games" is a happy jazzy track. "Happy Family" is very catchy - only one word to describe the song: humour! "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is simply beautiful - "Moonchild' should have been like this one on the first album. Then the album ends with its centerpiece - the 23+ minutes title track "Lizard". Maybe the most progressive track of the first three albums, it contains soft passages ("Prince Rupert awakes", "The battle of the glass tears" and "Prince Rupert's lament"), a beautiful instrumental ("Bolero"), jazzy music ("Dawn song") and silly improv ("Last skirmish"). I tend to agree that the last part ("Big Top") could have easily been skipped.

Rating: 90/100

Report this review (#70463)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars How can it be that the KC album featuring the least amount of electric Fripp can be the best? It's because the instrumentation in Lizard is so complex and intense with woodwinds, trombones, symphonic mellotron, and the best keyboard and piano work to be found in any King Crimson album thanks to Kieth Tippet. Yes, there's no Bruford or Wetton but Jon Anderson gives a great performance in the first Lizard movement, Prince Rupert Awakes, which is the best King Crimson piece ever IMO. Add to that the peacock's tale and you have the most moving 10 minutes of music King Crimson has ever produced. Every song on here is superb and crucial to any prog collection and should be the 1st album of the prospective KC fan.
Report this review (#70602)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The spirit of two precedeing albums one can feel on the A side of this one; concept is the same- strong intro with 'Cirkus', then two slower and simplier tracks 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family', and then closing 'Lady Of The Dancing Water' which brings in memory 'I Talk To The Wind' from Court, and 'Cadence And Cascade' from Poseidon. The other side brings something new for Crimson, though not for the prog of that time- suite. 'Lizard' suite occupies whole B side of the record consisting of three movements: a) 'Prince Rupert Awakes'-marked by Jon Anderson of YES vocal guest appearrance and nice melodic lines, b) 'Bolero-The Peacocks Tale' instrumental with cute interplays between all the brass and keyboard instruments represented, and 3) 'The Battle Of Glass Tears' darker, heavier and more Crimson like structured part which brings us to the end. The musicianship is simply great, arrangements astonishing, but what impressed me most is Keith Tippet piano palying throughout whole album. It is of such kind that it's one of the main reasons why I'm spinning this record regularly and joyously for more than thirty years now.
Report this review (#74869)
Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Lizard" is usually taken hard by the uninitiated listeners, especially the novices acquired a taste of previous two classic "symphnonic" and Mellotron-filled predecessors.

To be sure the change of the course is taken radically on this album. More jazzy and avant-garde in approach and in arrangements, it is however a neclected masterpiece of early CRIMSON. If you are trained enough and equipped with good will and patience, "Lizard" will take you to another worlds. Simple as that - amazing stuff!

Report this review (#75598)
Posted Thursday, April 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yes, I understand in great detail the glory of King Crimson's smashing debut, In the Court of the Crimson King. And yes, I understand how, having thoroughly listened to the album, it would be hard to imagine anything more spectacular. However, I assert with full confidence that Lizard is, in fact, King Crimson (as well as Fripp's) crowning achievement.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to Fripp and his frenzy in the only way I see fit (in retrospect): at the beginning. Similar to my delve into music in general, my relationship with King Crimson eventually led me deeper and deeper into both the minds of the artists and, introspectively, my own mind. I gradually made my way through various other progressive rock bands (Camel, Yes, Gentle Giant, etc.), certainly well-deserving of careful and complete listening, but no album has ever compared to Lizard.

The second album in the four part story developed and written primarily by Fripp and Sinfield, Lizard has a familiar dark, medieval sound; the difference is in the variety of genres the band manages to tie into the loose term that is "progressive rock," as well as the precision and copious style with which these other tastes of music were applied.

The clearest difference between the first and second album is the overwhelming fullness found in Lizard, particularly in the melodic exploration of jazz improvisation sampled in all but one of the tracks. This jazzy flavor was first sampled in the fast and furious title track that aptly launched and propelled King Crimson's debut album, 21st Century Schizoid Man. (I find it right to now include my opinion that this track, although technically accounting for only one-fifth of ITCOTCK, serves as the majority of the entire album's overall appeal to me.)

Throughout the album the multitude of styles, rhythms, time, signatures, and obscure chords/melodies contrast and accent the maturity of the music. This growth is most notably found in the title track, Lizard, where in the portion subtitled "Bolero," a flurry of saxophone and other woodwinds outline a characteristic jazz bass line offered by Gordon Haskell. Fill in the final missing piece with what was for me the most familiar aspect of King Crimson's music (Andy McCulloch's jazz-rock drums), and you have King Crimson in their finest moment.

Simply glorious.

Report this review (#75690)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album I consider as the band's early days album in the vein of "In The Court of The Crimson King" album. The band truly changed its direction in 1981 when Discipline was launched. As far as the "oldies", "Lizard" is one of my favorites because there are melodic and memorable track featured here. The cover artwork looks funny and is the case with the music which contains some humorous components like the following tracks: "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family". One of the masterpiece KC song ever is "Lady of the Dancing Waters" which became my favorite in the seventies. I knew the track the first time not through the Lizard album but from my friend who at the time lent me an LP titled: "The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson". Altogether with "Prince Rupert Awakes" this became my all-time favorite. The "Bolero" section is crafted beautifully. The segue into it from the "Prince Rupert" section is also very good.

On the whole, this is one of the most rewarding of the early King Crimson music. This album might be the most underrated record by the band. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#75755)
Posted Friday, April 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Forget everything who hearded about progressive rock. this is another thing: "Lizard" is like a cathedral: big, strong, and lightness. "Cirkus" is the beginning, with power opening of mellotron and a foolish sax of Mel Collins in a swing vein. "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" goes to the free jazz with complex harmonies and lots of changes. "Lady..." is a song for the middle age (the song of flute is a must). But the better is title track: a suite which begins with voice of angel (Jon Anderson) and ends with a devil sound ("Battle of Glass Tears"). This song is a mix of free rock and allucinations came from the mind of Robert Fripp. This is a album for the open, open mind.
Report this review (#80100)
Posted Friday, June 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
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

Report this review (#81833)
Posted Friday, June 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The third album by progressive rock pioneers King Crimson is the band's most demanding, patchy and deservedly obscure. If nothing else, fans of avant-garde music should admire it for those very reasons. The band's debut, 'In the Court of the Crimson King,' is a landmark of experimental rock, a brilliant fusion of modern (1969) technology and Medieval influence that acts as a dingy counterpart to the happy psychedelia and pastoral prog played by Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes around the same time. The second album, 'In the Wake of Poseidon,' disappointingly repeats exactly what the first album did, but with less impressive results. For 'Lizard,' released later the same year, Fripp and the other musicians created a record that stands apart in the Crimson discography for its basis in experimental jazz, which ultimately leads to the band's first (and only) side-long song, the 23-minute eponymous 'Lizard.'

This emphasis on jazz style lends the album a free-roaming, unsettling sound that is heavy on the horns. For listeners unaccustomed to the style, it can be a little off- putting, especially in the album's second half. There are enough recognisable structures in the first four songs to avoid deterring newcomers, but fans of long epic prog rock songs, Pink Floyd's 'Echoes,' Genesis' 'Supper's Ready,' Yes' 'Close to the Edge,' Rush's '2112' and, more recently, Porcupine Tree's 'The Sky Moves Sideways' and Dream Theater's 'A Change of Seasons,' won't necessarily appreciate the length granted to 'Bolero' and 'The Battle of the Glass Tears' in the second half. Lizard is a challenging and demanding album, even for prog fans who pride themselves on having what it takes to handle everything the seventies can throw at them.

Former vocalist Greg Lake departed to form one third of Emerson, Lake and Palmer (in which he starred as the 'Lake' one), and Greg Haskell was recruited as the new voice to ethereally spout the dark, fantastical, unusual lyrics written, as usual, by non- performer Peter Sinfield. Haskell had appeared on 'Cadence and Cascade' on the previous Crimson album, and his vocals impress as much as Lake's on that album, although don't approach the level of the debut. For some reason, Jon Anderson of Yes makes a guest appearance half-way through the album, lending his androgynous angelic voice to the opening part of the album's 'epic' composition.

The single stable element in King Crimson is influential guitarist and keyboard player Robert Fripp, as even at this early point in the band's history, all other performers were subject to change. Fripp's co-founders Giles and Giles have now both departed, bass guitar duties handled by vocalist Haskell and drums by Robert McCulloch, both of whom would depart before the next release. This temporary line-up appears to be a studio- necessitated phenomenon, and would never tour or exist in any form thereafter.

King Crimson, 'Lizard' (Atlantic, 1970)

1. Cirkus (including Entry of the Chameleons) 2. Indoor Games 3. Happy Family 4. Lady of the Dancing Water Lizard: 5. a) Prince Rupert Awakes 6. b) Bolero - The Peacock's Tale 7. c) The Battle of the Glass Tears ____i) Dawn Song ____ii) Last Skirmish ____iii) Prince Rupert's Lament 8. Big Top

If any single song from this overlooked album deserves to appear in at least one King Crimson live set or compilation CD, it's the opener 'Cirkus.' An unforgettable yet simple guitar-and-sax riff looms ominously between Haskell's soft-spoken verses, all of which taper to a louder vocal assault not dissimilar to Lake's on the first album's title track. At six and a half minutes, 'Cirkus' is the closest to perfection that this album attains, although it's still in a radically different league than 'In the Court of the Crimson King.' 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family' take a disappointing refrain from this nightmarish darkness, opting for a more melodic mood, the latter of which sounds similar to early Genesis, circa 'Nursery Cryme.' It's a problem common to King Crimson that by changing line-up so often, and veering off in such drastically uncharacteristic musical directions, is it still the same band we're listening to? It's certainly not typical of the distinctive Crimson sound, or rather what I imagine that to be amidst all this evolution.

'Indoor Games' isn't very impressive, but 'Happy Family' at least manages to be more complex; Haskell's vocals are all over the place, playing around with a weird staccato style rather than the excellent pseudo-singing of the first track, and the middle of the song seems fairly directionless. The final song on side one of the album's vinyl pressing is 'Lady of the Dancing Water,' which again doesn't sound particularly Crimson-esque, despite obviously being this album's continuation of the flute-ballad trend that began with the excellent 'I Talk to the Wind' and continued with the less excellent 'Cadence and Cascade.' 'Lady of the Dancing Water' is the least impressive of the three, despite Mel Collins' pleasant flute work, and is too short at under three minutes to actually go anywhere.

Side two is dominated by the 'Lizard' suite. Floyd fans should think more along the lines of 'Atom Heart Mother' (released the same year) than 'Echoes,' as this is predominantly a brass-led instrumental extravaganza with minimal focus on coherence. The exception is the first section, an airy sing-along piece with soft piano by Ken Tippet, and Jon Anderson's pleasant vocal cords. Strangely addictive and compelling, this couldn't sound more dissimilar to the rest of the piece. 'Bolero' is jazz for people who are scared of jazz, although it can still be pretty intimidating. More jazz-rock than prog-rock, it's nevertheless well performed and emotionally confusing to jazz newcomers. I think I quite like it. At seven minutes, it's not the most concise instrumental offering, but it could have been a lot worse; despite evidence to the contrary, I believe that Fripp seeks to avoid overindulgence in King Crimson.

'The Battle of the Glass Tears' is likely the most intriguing and rewarding part of the entire album upon repeated listens, and I haven't even come close to fully appreciating it. A lengthy piece that opens with dialogue and proceeds to more instrumental fun, the horn section trying to recreate the sound of a battle and its aftermath, this is truly a twentieth-century answer to classical compositions in the same vein. The album ends with the brief 'Big Top,' an unnecessary instrumental reminder of 'Cirkus' that seems more like a desperate attempt to add structure to a crazy album. It may have been more wise and pleasing to end with the final notes of 'Lizard,' but this isn't a major criticism of the album.

Lizard was an overlooked King Crimson album right from the start, released the same year as their eagerly-anticipated sophomore effort and featuring an almost entirely different line-up and musical direction. It would take two more albums for Fripp and friends to finally settle on a direction, and even that brief solidarity would be gone by 1975. The band's first live album, 'USA,' overlooks this album's contribution entirely, although that's forgivable at only six tracks in length. What's more surprising is the complete absence of choice cuts, admittedly few, such as 'Cirkus' and 'Prince Rupert Awakes' being excluded from the numerous official 'best-of' compilations released over the decades, and listed on this site: 'The Young Person's Guide to King Crimson' (1976), 'The Compact King Crimson' (1986), 'The Abbreviated King Crimson' (1991), 'The Concise King Crimson' (1993) and 'A Beginner's Guide to the King Crimson Collector's Club' (1999).

Even the 1999 update of 'The Young Person's Guide to King Crimson,' entitled 'Cirkus' of all things, fails to feature that track. The only appearance of Lizard material outside the album itself comes with the addition of an edited 'Bolero' in the four-disc boxsets 'Frame By Frame: The Essential King Crimson' (1991) and '21st Century Guide: Volume 1' (2004), sneaking its way into the end of disc two. It's perhaps not surprising, given Fripp's own alleged disappointment at the direction of Lizard, but there's enough impressive material here to feature occasionally, rather than endless re-releases of '21st Century Schizoid Man.'

Lizard is a strange and not completely remarkable album in a fairly zany discography, but dedicated prog rock fans should certainly try it out as, chronologically at least, it's one of the genre classics. Jon Anderson's cameo hints at a direction the band could have headed, and indeed seemed to try with the next album, the melodic 'Islands,' before abandoning such leanings completely for the grinding, beautiful noisiness of 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic.' 'Cirkus' is a good song, and the title suite is fun too. The lyrics are intriguing in their customary lack of meaning, and the cover art is nice. I quite like this album.

Report this review (#82120)
Posted Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Third album by King Crimson and their first album done under serious lineup changes. Singer and bassist Greg Lake departed to join Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form ELP and the two Giles brothers quit the group to work on other projects. Lizard welcomes the addition of bassist/vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCullough.

This time, we can notice a change in the style and substance of the album. In the wake of Poseidon was particularily similar to its predecessor but Lizard is really different. There's not a really hard rocking number and they even thrown in an epic at the end.

This album is mostly enjoyable. Cirkus is a great opener. The way this song progresses makes it a little bit haunting. The next two songs are both really good, upbeat and pretty weird even when compared to the rest of the King Crimson catalogue. I particulary like these two songs. Then comes the only song which is reminiscent of the first two albums : Lady of the Dancing water. Once again, just like Cadence and Cascade, this number reminds me of I talk to the wind. It's a nice song overall anyway. Finally, the epic title tracks comes up. Jon Anderson of Yes contributes to make the intro really good. It would have been nice to hear more of him with Crimson. His voice is way ahead of what Haskell achieved on the other tracks. In fact, Haskell's voice is one of the downpoint of album. Back to Lizard, most of the songs is made up of individual instrumental parts which are mostly really interesting. The Battle of the glass tears is incredible with his crashing drums and powerful horns and guitars. It is by far the best moment of the album. However, some parts on Lizard are a bit boring and seem to have been thrown in just for fun.

In conclusion, this album is pretty good but not exceptionnal. Some parts are excellent but it's not an album I will rush to my CD collection to put in the stereo even though I enjoy the times when I play it. 3,5 (closer to 3 than 4) stars for this third album by KC.



Report this review (#84194)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The "Lizard" album didn't impress me the first couple of time I listen to it but, when I brought the remaster for this one, I decided to gave it another good try at it... WOW! My vision troward the album change completly, the music in here is very, very good. My favorites are "Cirkus" and the "Lizard" suite but, altrough "Indoor games" and "Happy Family" may sound a little bit wierd for King Crimsun tunes, are very good also, I like the way the album sound. In the end, if your a fan of the first album "In the Court..." you must get that one. 4 Stars for the album and a half star more for the beautiful vocal contribution by Mr. Anderson.
Report this review (#85996)
Posted Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favourite King Crimson album. Perfect, creative surreal and exciting. Peter Seinfield's lyrics are very symbolic and imaginative. When I went to high school and took the art course, many of my paintings were influenced by this masterpiece, due to the clever lyrics and amazing myusic. The track Circus starts the album quietly and mysteriously with Haskell telling a mysterious story which according to the notes in the CD package is about loss of innocence. The trumpets adds a circusy but also sinister sound with the right balance of chaos and melody. Fripps guitar is in the background creating excellent melodies.

Indoor Games is in my opinion the best song on the album and one of my personal favourites, the keyboards are surreal and the trumpets rhythms are great a fantastic imaginative piece with a great instrumental which feel so imaginative I feel when I am listening to this that I am in a strange comic land with bizarre creatures. It is a very warm feeling piece in comparison to the ending of the epic Lizard.

Happy Family is a mad chaotic piece with the contribution of Keith Tippet's crazy piano. The lyrics sound insane but are infact symbolic about the break up of the Beatles. Lady of the Dancing Water is a nice Beatle influenced little ballad that finishes the first part of the album.

Lizard is the twenty minute epic, starting with Jon Anderson singing on the first part Prince Rupert Awakes, a fantastic meloncholic piece, beautiful especially at its ending it is klike the beginning of a dream that is the epic Lizard. The next part, Bolereo -the Peacocks Tale is kind of a fusion of classical music and Jazz, influenced by Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain (also a fusion of classical music and Jazz), it is very soothing and dreamlike the kind of music you could gently go to sleep with, but yet colourful with strange characters in the sounds crezated by the music. That piece reaches a climax and then goes into The Battle of Glass Tears; the first part of it; Dawn Song is a meloncholic piece sung by Gordon Haskell, about the preparation of war for the next movement, Last Skirmish is with the aid of trumpets and Saxaphone both dark, meloncholic and chaotic which is after all what war is with a sense of impending doom, which takes us into Prince Ruperts Lament, led by Robert Fripps guitar, it really captures the despairing aftermath of a battle,a sense of solitude the feeling that noone is left alive, and that it is going to rain soon. The epic ends with Big Top rather ironic after the dread that this is a happy sounding piece, but it soon starts to soung menacing (as one reviewer put in the CD notes), and spirals away, after hearing this you're left feeling a little cold after an engrossong epic. To me this is because Robert Fripp has really captured the emotion of battle, after that you might want to play Indoor Games again to cheer you up. What amases me is that Robert Fripp wrote all the songs on this album they have so much depth.

The artwork sleeve album matches the mood of the album perfectly, delighting the imagination. Each little picture has a link with a certain event in each song.

This album is light years ahead of their previous albums, And has a lot more depth than other prog albums released that year perhaps with the exceptuion of Genesis Trespass, to me this show that King Crimson was always one step ahead of every other band.

An excellent innovative essential masterpiece. My favourite King Crimson album.

Report this review (#86542)
Posted Friday, August 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Lizard' is a singular album, probably the most cerebral work of the first King Crimson era. Rationality doesn't appear in metronomic compasses or numberless recordings searching for the perfect take. It's more a matter of planning, where sound overflow is conceived together with the intention of the whole album. Ways and forms are part of the same idea. Any one can put a name upon this idea, mine is 'extravagant elegance'. Pure Fripp, I would say.

It's a hard listening record. Here Fripp shows his interest in new expressions in jazz (did anyone say 'free'...?), in improvisation and polihythm. But it's not the only distinction: it must be said that is the first KC album with a real good sound.

To delve into Lizard is to face the improbable. Everything seems to be planned in order to disturb with manners. With this line in sight, brasses show thw way in contrast with acute pianos and mellotrons. It's the case of the downright blowing of the trumpets that present the ominous 'Cirkus'. The austere voice of Gordon Haskell collaborates with the oppresion with some uneven chords. 'Indoor games' sounds clownish, seen from the one who suffers the mockery. 'Happy family' follows with a similar approach, but repently seems to disappear in a chaos of improvisation (everyone playing a different tune...), and is finally rescued in a one-hand-clap to the beggining line. 'Lady of the dancing water' is a filler and short song, before the main act, 'Lizard'. All the elements shown before entwine in this four part suite. First Jon Anderson sings behind Prince Ruppert, then the amazing Bolero and his seductive tread. Some of the best passages of the album and one Fripp vintage solo crown the song and the record, which slowly vanishes in the arena.

Report this review (#88199)
Posted Friday, August 25, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars this album is totally amazing ! king crimson as a full orchestra ! I think this album is highly underated i think its up thier with the first two masterpieces that precede it although at times the lyric material gets a bit risque even for my virgin ears the debut of gordon haskell as king crimson's answer to peter gabriel is quite outstanding !

great musicianship throughout even fripp who plays more acoustic than on the previous albums and keyboards!

an interesting bass change from "original" bass player peter giles to gordon haskell who does a fine job as well

an excelllant underated genious of a michael giles replacement with Andy McCulloch (who later went to Greenslade)

some great performances from centipede alumnis to make this a full crimson orchestra even jon anderson of yes in a cameo appearance !

this album also serves as two mini albums cirkus and lizard as both side of the record connect but act as two seperate but related plays fripp did this later with three of a perfect pair

mel collins he does one oustanding performance here lady of the dancing water reminds me a bit of i talk to the wind he is no ian mcdonald but ian mcdonald is no mel collins two differant yet similar players The group was then augmented with supporting players, the noted jazz pianist Keith Tippett and brass/woodwind players Robin Miller, Mark Charig, and Nick Evans.

a very jazzy at times album

some element of both avant garde and cantebary prog with a tongue in cheek artsy cover

its a must have yours truly a pleasant symmetry

Report this review (#93387)
Posted Wednesday, October 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars A bit of a strange and obscure atmosphere, is this the album they almost forgot rock´n´roll; I guess so, in favor of what? Jazz and experimental music. Guitar's mastermind R. Fripp sounds acoustic and very complex, what is great; there are lot of air instruments and good use of melotron and keyboards. King Crimson is not a symphonic band like many other their contemporaries, their experimental approach make them very hard listening, the high point is the beautiful song "Lizard" sung by legendary Jon Anderson. A good record but a bit boring by the lack of rock´n´roll energy in favor of some intricate and beautiful passages.
Report this review (#94030)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard is a bold album that grabs the listener's attention from the start of the album and does not let go. The album's opener Cirkus, is a strong composition; as good as 21st Century Schizoid Man and is just as terrifying. It starts out quietly with singing and keyboards, and then erupts into loud horns, bass, drums, and other intruments. I particularly enjoy Fripp's acoustic guitar work on this track with lots of appregios. The drums stand out on this track , and for the rest of the album as well. Next is Indoor Games, which is also a great number, very cool. There is more horn blowing here, but no scariness like in Cirkus. If has a kind of funky, upbeat sound. Next is Happy Family, about the break-up of The Beatles, which goes back to being darker sounding, with the singing being muffled by various effects and filters. This track is a little to experimental sounding and too dissonant for my taste. Closing side one is Lady of the Dancing Water, which is a delicate piece that sort of splits the chaos of the album in half. This is refreshing after the manic Happy Family.

Side two is occupied by the title track Lizard. This is KC's longest composition and a great one at that. It has a symphonic feel, with a lot of jazz mixed in. The first part has Jon Anderson lending his vocals, which is a great contribution to the album. Then the Bolero comes in which is enjoyable, but probably the weakest part of the suite. This is followed by the Battle of the Glass Tears, which has a similar sound to Cirkus. From here on out it gets pretty experimental, and it ends with the Big Top theme.

This album is very "experimental" sounding and may scare some away at a first listen. But this is definitely one that will grow on you. I'm going to give this one five stars because it really pushed boundaries without being completely unlistenable; on the contrary, it is very enjoyable. If you like ITCOTCK, then you should definitely give Lizard a spin.

Report this review (#94775)
Posted Monday, October 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars King Crimson was the second progressive band I'd discovered, and, since then, I had broadened my horizons in the progressive music discography with such bands as Genesis, Yes, ELP, Carmen and Gentle Giant. So, for a long time now, King Crimson was no longer the focus of my ear's attention; I've found that, compared to many progressive bands, King Crimson was the most unbalanced band; their discography is very uneven and many of their albums were very flawed in many aspects. As for Robert as a musician, he could be an amazing guitar player and a proficient composer when he wanted to, but most of the time he wanted to experiment, and most of the time he didn't pull it off too well (a very good example of this: Starless and Bible Black and Islands).

Some call it "for die-hard fans only", but I'd dare to state another argument: since King Crimson fans had always been divided between the "Court" lovers, the "Bruford- Wetton-Fripp" or the "Belew-Fripp" admirers , this album (along with Islands) seems to be lost in a transition. I'm not a big fan of King Crimson, yet I found it to be their best and most eclectic work ever. Uneven? sure, but the epic title track manages to take most of the rating. It doesn't deserve the 5-star because some songs were very unnecessary and range from weird to completely ridiculous. But the title track alone has the merit of, at least, a 4.5 rating; maybe a half star less due to some minor flaws that I'll discuss further below. Here are the ups and downs:

- Mel Collins can play some beautiful flute sometimes, but he gets carried away too often. I never thought he was able to make a decent improvisation with it; and most of the time he sounds like trying to get the high notes off instead of focusing on harmonizing along the music (the best example of this on "Happy Family and "The Battle Of Glass Tears"). I'm not against the off-key notes, but this playing mode shouldn't be so persistent; once in a good while he should feed the music with notes on the intervals and here he just sounds like throwing random notes in a hit and miss attempt: most of the time he MISSES. However, his work on "Lady Of The Dancing Water" demonstrates how fluent and mellow he could sound. He's much better when he plays on obbligato rather than ad libitum.

- I don't like Gordon Haskell on this record; his voice is less fluent than on the "Cadance and Cascade" song, and he has led a bad reputation after the parts he played here. It's a shame because he wasn't a bad vocalist.

- As for Keith Tippett, I found out he was a great pianist on this record. I didn't like his work on "Cat Food" much, mostly due to it's intro.

- Indoor Games would have been a decent jazzy-rock song, were it not for the cheesy background synths. As for Happy Family, it was a simple rock song with a jazzy style that came out a bit flawed due to the aforementioned Mel Collins' flute, alongside the ridiculous synthetizers that only made it more unlistenable.

-"Cirkus" and "Lady Of The Dancing Water" are the highlights of Side A: I found the mellotron lines on "Cirkus" very interestesting in the harmony created along with the basslines and the acoustic guitar noodling by Fripp, and there were some nice feeds by Mel Collins on Alto Sax; Haskell also contributes greatly with the vocals, especially in the song's introduction. Lady Of The Dancing Water features the most beautiful flute display by Mel Collins and it's an oasis to rest your ears in after the horrible aftertaste left by "Happy Family".

- "Lizard" it's not a conventional prog rock epic. I wouldn't even consider it progressive ROCK, but opts more for a "progressive jazz" tag; that is, classical-oriented jazz music. The best example of this amalgam is present in the "Peacock's Tale": certainly has a classical bolero format "a la ravell" with free-form jazz style improvisations; it's the most sentimental segment, in my opinion, and the oboe lines (at least I think it's an oboe; I get confused with the woodwinds sometimes) brings this sentimentalism to a more acute level; so acute that your eyes will feel a bit wet after a while. "The Battle Of Glass Tears" offers an aggressive free-form jazz soaked in mellotrons to give it a classical enviroment; and, although it's a bit flawed by the random flute gibberish of Mel Collins, it doesn't manage to spoil it (Mel should put some low key notes every now and then, though). Plus, Sinfield felt like taking a rest after "Happy Family", so most of the synths are as great as absent on the 23-mintute long song (I think Sinfield was also in charge of the synthetizers, although I'm not really sure). Jon Anderson (of YES fame) sings on "Prince Rupert Awakes", the most rock-oriented part of the suite, and does it magnificently; I have no objections with his singing.

I think "Lizard" (the song) is one of the best episodal "epics" made in prog music, in competition with "Supper's Ready" (Genesis), "Close To The Edge" (Yes), "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" (Jethro Tull). Maybe it's the most original "progressive jazz" epic made by a progressive rock band, as it's not like the rest of the epics that would dominate the 70's prog outputs, starting with the dismissal of many indications of rock music in the arrangements. Fripp demonstrates that Ian McDonald's absence had no effect on the songwriting, creating one of the most beautiful and complex pieces ever made by King Crimson. Neither "Epitaph", nor "Court Of The Crimson King", nor "I Talk To The Wind" could hold a candle to this masterpiece, often dismissing the former pieces as practically "just a bunch of songs".

I think many Gentle Giant fans would appreciate this album better than many "die-hard" Crimson fans, because, as I mentioned above, the Crimson fandom is divided; and this period of King Crimson is the least considered, judging from what I've seen.

It's a shame that I'd have to rate this album lower than the title track merits. So a 3.5 star rating. although I'll round it to 4... The title track is really nothing short of breathtaking.

Report this review (#94870)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Fripp, Collins, Haskell and Tippett are back, but there's a new drummer in Andy McCulloch and some guests playing trombone, cornet and aboe.This was a difficult album to get into but it has grown on me just like "Islands" did. I find this such an interesting album to listen to now and applaud Fripp for making something completely different from the first two records. Lots of mellotron and we even get Jon Anderson singing on one track.

The opening song "Cirkus" is my favourite on this album.The intricate guitar playing of Fripp, along with the mellotron and sax all works wondrously. I even like Haskell's reserved vocals on this one. "Indoor Games" features lots of horns and mellotron. Vocals a minute in and some intricate guitar from Fripp. "Happy Family" opens with lots of bottom end.The vocals are interesting in a good way. Check out Tippett on piano. So much going on. Some flute too and the drumming is outstanding. I really like this one. I wonder if the band HAPPY FAMILY took their name from this song ?

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a gentle song with warm beautiful flute. Reserved vocals and acoustic guitar as well.The final song "Lizard" is a twenty minute epic that you might call mellotron soaked Jazz. Jon Anderson opens with vocals as piano plays along. It kicks in with vocal melodies then settles again. Sax follows then aboe as bass supports. Haskell comes in vocally after 12 minutes. It kicks back in around 13 1/2 minutes. Mellotron too. Great sound with lots of bottom end. Horns follow. It turns avant before 19 minutes as drums pound. Check out Fripp a minute later as it calms right down.

KING CRIMSON would continue to change styles and be innovative right up to this day.This one's for the adventerous.

Report this review (#99473)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, what an album! I guess that this one is KING CRIMSON'S jazziest album and I am sure that it is technically seen even better than IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, I personally like it better than their debut-album, but that is just a matter of taste, both are excellent and milestones in progressive rock-history.

LIZARD is a mixture of calm and beautiful and very freejazzy, weird and rocky parts. If somebody asked me to describe this CD with only one word, I would chose the word incalculable. And that is the thing that makes this album so wonderful. Your ears always have some work to do, LIZARD is no album you can listen to in the background, you have to spent your whole concentration on the CD because the calm, melodic part which is played right at this moment can transact into a weird, dissonant, exciting part.

KING CRIMSON uses many instruments on this album. Tributary to the classical rock-instrumentation consisting of guitar, drums, bass and keyboards, you will find a lot of work with oboes, trumpets, pianos, saxes, cornets, trombones and flutes. So as you can see you will enjoy much alternation on this CD.

The songs on this CD are all brilliant and experimental if you ask me. "Cirkus" is a very rocky tune with much freejazz in it (and it is my favourite song on this album), "Indoor Games" is a bit more calm and psychedelic, "Happy Family" is again a psychedelic, rocky tune which contains a lot of freejazz, "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a very beautiful and a sad song with nice flute work and the last track, "Lizard," whichcontains chant of YES member JON ANDERSON, is very beautiful and happy at the beginning and elides into weird more than 20 minutes long experiments which are pure alternation.

LIZARD is no album you can listen to in the background. I just wanted to say that again, if you buy this album you have to engage with the music and maybe you will need some more time to get into this CD, but I assure you that LIZARD is a class of its own and that it contains truly beautiful musical work. I strongly recommend you this album.

Report this review (#102490)
Posted Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars lizard is another imaginitive crimson album, similar to poseidon and islands. Greg lake is no longer our vocalist, but gordon haskel works well to add to the bizarre cirkus tone of the album. Somehow his voice is perfect for this album! It wouldn't have been the same with lake on vocals, though his basswork could have helped. Lets start with cirkus, the first track. Let me just say that this song is awesome! From the quiet mysterious intro, to the menacing melotron, to the cacaphonous entry of the chameleons, this song gives you a picture of the scariest, far off cirkus you could conceive! Indoor games continues the strange cirkus theme with some quirky saxophone lines and keyboard noodlings. Its about just what it sound like; running rampant around your house, making a fool of yourself, just as many of us did as children. I still do and i'm 19! I don't go as far as to light fireworks in my house though! Good, but not as good as the previous song. The next song, happy family is another good song, with some disturbing vocal distortion that kicks ass! maddening keyboards will also be found here, as well as some strange, jazzy flute lines. The entire album is very jazzy, just as a heads up in case that might annoy you less musically appreciative fellows out there. Well, we all have our preferences. It all works well though. For me, this song doesn't quite match cirkus, but it's pretty close!. Next we have lady of the dancing water, which is the calm before the storm, if you will. It has some good flute work and lulling horns that could put you to sleep in a good way if it were longer. Haskell's vocals are good here, but don't quite match cadence and cascade from poseidon. Next is the great finisher, lizard. this is a massive song, divided into more subsections than i've ever seen, though they're not really divided in an apparent way. Guess what, here comes jon anderson from yes to start us off! His vocals add the perfect touch to the song that i'm not sure haskell could have. This is a really dramatic song, with some jazzy sections that will eventually turn to jazzy madness at the end. after the 'bolero' section, haskel comes in on vocals to usher in the madness. The only problem I have with this song is that it is a little repetitive toward the end. Other than that it is very good. The song closes with big top, a sort of cap to the never ending lizard, that reminds you where you've just been; the king crimson cirkus from hell! If you're a crimson fan, you need to pick this one up! I can almost give this 5, but compared to some of their other works it doesn't quite hold up. Overall, very good, but not perfect, like larks' tongues in aspic is!
Report this review (#103283)
Posted Friday, December 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Crimson had delivered two wonderful symphonic albums with their previous releases. So, I was kind of curious to discover their third album after the departure of Greg Lake who will have more exposure in ELP. Gordon Haskell will replace him (he was already featured on the previous album in one song), but he does not convince me. On his behalf, I must say that I am quite a Lake fan.

The opening track "Cirkus" is brilliant : great acoustic guitar work, melodious moments after the (average) vocal intro with lots of mellotron and very subtle sax from Mel. This song still show some complex structure. Still, it is one of the most accessible here.

"Indoor Games" is another story : jazzy improv ending up nowhere. The follower "Happy Family" is way too jazzy for me as well. Piano has the lead role (a bit of flute though ..). These two tracks kinda ruin this album.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" is a very quiet short number and provides a bit of relief after all this cacophony. Nice and subtle fluting from Mel Collins. My preferred number on "Lizard". At times, I feel like I'm listening back to "I Talk To The Wind". This always provides me with some pleasure.

The central piece of this album features a special guest on vocals in the first movement : Jon Anderson ! Nothing special to mention though. Sober and good. That's it. Vocals during the chorus are rather weak (Haskell taking the lead, I guess). It's a nice intro for this epic.

The second movement "The Bolero" starts OK but then again turned into a jazzy, and melody-less improv. Only the last minute has marvelous mellotron and is very melodic (symphonic actually) as during its initial phase.

Third and longest movement starts again very promisingly. Good vocals, scary music for most of this section (reminds me VDGG) at times. Rather difficult but good. This piece of music is of course not to be compared with other prog epics like "Supper's" or "Close" which are love at first sight. This one is more to be compared with "A Plague" from VDGG.

Still, one doesn't forget, that this number was written BEFORE all the other ones and therefore needs some credits as well. It needs to be listened and listened again to allow the listener to get into it (it is my case). The "finale" features a bit of everything in less than seventy-five seconds. I was expecting something "bigger" to close it.

Vocals have never gotten a dominent role in KC, but I feel that Lake's departure had a dramatic effect in that respect. I cannot be considered as a Crimson maniac. The Crimson side I prefer is its symphonic one. There weren't too many here. Still, there are good moments in this album ("Cirkus", "Lady" and the title track sometimes) but I can not rate this album higher than three stars.

Report this review (#113215)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars When I went through my KC collection a few years ago & anthologized their albums, this album & Islands didn't end up occupying too much space on the resulting compilation CDs. From this album, I really like only Happy Family & Lady of the Dancing Water. For such a "serious" band, Happy Family is an enjoyable prog romp & Lady is a very nice pastoral ballad that I still play often on dreary Sunday afternoons. The rest, well, they didn't impress me back then, which makes the high rating accorded the album by many, rather hard to understand from my point of view.
Report this review (#115364)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the amazing debut and the not-quite-as-amazing follow up, my friends and I wondered as 1970 was drawing to a close just what the revamped lineup of King Crimson would produce with LP #3. If we harbored any ideas that they would continue making exactly the same kind of music as before those thoughts vanished within the first few minutes of listening to this. Of all things considered we never anticipated so much brass and woodwinds and what we quickly realized was that going forward we should only expect the unexpected from this group. For, while most bands were desperately trying to find and establish a bankable identity, Fripp and his cohorts were doing everything they could to force us to abandon our preconceived notions of what we thought they were or should be.

As the album begins a cheerful, tinkling piano fools you into thinking pleasant thoughts as bassist Gordon Haskell's cold voice slowly rises from what sounds like a darkened cell. Soon Andy McCulloch's drums introduce the ominous Mellotron melody that will accompany you throughout your tour of the "Cirkus." Peter Sinfield's confounding, macabre lyrics and Mel Collins' demonic saxophone fills join to create a menacing atmosphere that's surprisingly intimate and not as cavernous as previous albums were. Robert Fripp's distorted electric guitar has been replaced by an acoustic but it still has very sharp teeth. There's a palpable experimental jazz flavor here that was only hinted at before and it mesmerizes as the song's insane carnival aura builds to a dissonant ending. Sly, funky horns lead us to "Indoor Games" and more familiar territory. It is reminiscent of "Cat Food" from "In the Wake of Poseidon" but not as captivating. By now it becomes obvious that a little of Haskell's singing goes a long way and that he's not close to being in the same league as his predecessor, Greg Lake. He holds this tune back. The satiric message gets through but the music drifts a bit before Collins' twisted sax finally adds some spice.

"Happy Family" is next and it is sarcastically aimed right at the Fab Four who had broken up about a year earlier. I detect a clever innuendo of "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "She's So Heavy" in the recurring theme of the song but the jazzy ambience stops it from turning into an unfair lampoon of The Beatles. The flute and electric piano blend is very creative and the fact that they electronically manipulate the vocal keeps Gordon from becoming an albatross around the neck of the proceedings. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a short, serene song that fascinates by uniting acoustic guitar, flute and Nick Evans' uncharacteristically delicate trombone to slow the pace. Now that you've sampled the appetizers it's time for the main course, the impressive "Lizard." It was a stroke of genius in recruiting Yes' Jon Anderson to lend his angelic vocals to "Prince Rupert Awakes" but at the same time it shines a glaring light on the shortcomings of Haskell as a singer. It's a welcome change to say the least. Keith Tippet's subdued but intricate piano swims just under the surface as the song's minor key verses give way to the major on the engaging chorus. Fripp's reversed guitar lines and gushing Mellotron create a magical feel that permeates the tune. At one point the drums begin to tap out a soft marching beat. The group rides it to segue seamlessly into "Bolero-The Peacock's Tale." This is the album's acme. Mark Charig's cornet, Robin Miller's oboe and cor anglais along with the trombone construct a prog classic that's part big band, part Dixieland yet arranged in an unorthodox manner that only King Crimson can deliver. Their timing is immaculate, evolving through different phases even though the drums never stray from the underlying bolero rhythm. This is great stuff.

"The Battle of Glass Tears" ensues with "Dawn Song" rerouting things down a more sinister road. Haskell is back with his shaky intonation but his return is blissfully brief as they transition into the fierce conflict that is "Last Skirmish." Here McCulloch does his best imitation of previous drummer Michael Giles and mimics his play-all-around-the-downbeat style admirably. The heavy Mellotron is a throwback to earlier works but the wild flute and trombone spasms keep the tune from becoming a retread. As songs depicting war go, this one is suitably noisy and unnerving. Fripp finally trots out his electric guitar for the somber "Prince Rupert's Lament" and it's well worth your wait. As if the prince is mournfully walking among the bodies of his slain soldiers, the throbbing bass emphasizes Robert's wailing cries that he squeezes out of his strings. It is stark and stunning. Then, almost as an afterthought, you are reminded that life can be a bizarre midway filled with warped mirrors and gruesome clowns as the surreal strains of "Big Top" float about, then fade away into the distance.

You could search for a very long time and never find another album that is as individually unique as this one is. Mastermind Fripp wasn't in the music trade to win popularity contests, he was earnestly trying to express what he heard in his head. His art. And love them or not, that's what made King Crimson the most eccentric group of the modern rock era. "Lizard" may not be a masterpiece but there are masterpieces within. 4.3 stars.

Report this review (#115403)
Posted Friday, March 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have to tell you, this is a hard album to summarize in words. One part of me wants to give this 4 stars, because it certainly is excellent, one could almost say unique, expression of the experimental spirit that infuses progressive rock.

But the experiment failed. 2 stars. This is only for collectors, fans, and people who are interested in seeing Fripp and Crimson redefining what we mean by fusion.

Make no mistake, that's what this album is all about. It's a uniquely fresh take on jazz rock fusion with the emphasis on planned spontaneity and unorthodxity that infuses all of the early Crimson albums prior to Red. Catfood off In the Wake of Poseidon foreshadowed clearly what direction KC was moving in.

When I say planned spontaneity, that's what the first half of this album is about. The King Crimson philosophy of all players adding to what is played instead of what is planned to be played is in full force. This leads to passages which seem muddled and just about to careen out of control, although they never quite do. Still, the first three tracks require a great deal of patience and attention to bring the listener to an appreciation of Fripp and Company are trying to accomplish.

"Lady of the Dancing Waters," on the other hand, demonstrates everything that went right in recording this. Mel Collins' work throughout the album is outstanding, and here we hear him featured. Fripp brings in a more classical guitar sound in the album, and again, you hear that on this track. Even Haskell's mediocre vocals sound good here.

That brings us to the final track, "Lizard." This is a generally more restrained composition that inteligently leads us through an amazing number of genre styles of playing. If you are prepared to listen and think, this track will be the most rewarding of the lot. Still, it stretches on longer than it should and runs out of gas eventually.

In good conscience, I cannot give this more than 2 stars. But the creativity and imagination brought to this album would have given it 4 stars if only it were more accessible to the listener.

Report this review (#116294)
Posted Saturday, March 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crimson's Circus.

Speaking plainly, this is the best non-Bruford album in KC's catalog. This came right after the slightly disappointing In the Wake..., which many felt was a lesser quality version of the original gem ITCOTCK. That being said, this represented a stark change for the band, in what I consider their most unique release to date, merely because there is not another record that sounds quite like it. Rather than being edgy, and off-the-wall or having sweeping symphonic passages, this album presents itself in a much more humble and jazzy manner than any other output by the band.

The best vocals here come from guest Anderson, as I am not too much a fan of Haskell, who really lacked the prowess and insanity of Greg Lake. The opener is one of my favorite Crimson tunes, and I most closely assimilate it with 21st Century..., because of the compactness of the song (under 7 minutes but seeming as if epic in stature) and excellent ryhthms provided. Then there's Lizard, the epic before epics were born, and surprisingly it get's little credit when standing next to the CTTE's, Supper's Ready's, and TAAB's of the like. No, it's perhaps not quite as polished as other epic tracks, and there is some rambling bits that appear to head in no direction, but most of the song is quite enjoyable, and if nothing else, Yes fans can be pleased by Anderson's vocals in the beginning of the song.

Overall a very appealing record, and one that challenges us through every movement. It is a very rewarding experience, but ultimately I wouldn't get this till one has become fully adapted to the style of KC. This was Fripp's finest achievement until his grand opus of Larks Tongues in Aspic.

Report this review (#117401)
Posted Thursday, April 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Lizard is one of those special albums, even among progressive rock, that stands out. It's a very diverse album, in the sense that there is a large collection of genres present. The most prominent of these genres is likely jazz, as there are a lot of seemingly free-form jamming, and very loose segments. Also, with the addition of VCS3, there is an arsenal of odd and unique keyboard voices. And furthermore, the presence of Robin Miller playing oboe, Mark Charig on cornet, Nick Evans playing trombone and Mel Collins with flutes and saxes adds to this collection of unconventional rock noises. As I said, it's a very diverse album.

The album begins very well with Cirkus, a memorable and very enjoyable classic Crimso track. It's dark, and exciting, and it's got very good drumming from Andy McCulloch. Some people may have a problem with Gordon Haskell's vocal style (a.k.a., his voice), but those who enjoy it, enjoy it a lot. It's not high and screeching, like Geddy Lee's, but it's deep and fat. We also hear a lot of acoustic (or, as it is on Indoor Games, electric) guitar that sounds out of tune, or as if it's being played in a key other than that the band is playing. This isn't the first time Fripp's worn that hat. All of the saxes work very well, and add another layer of intensity and complexity to the music.

All of side one is relatively similar in style and feel, with the exception of Lady of the Dancing Water, which a flute-heavy acoustic number, following in the path of I Talk to the Wind, or Cadence and Cascade. It's soft and soothing, carving serene atmospheres and imagery of liquid scenes. But where the majority of the band's work was invested this round was side two's twenty-three minute epic, Lizard. It's quite an odd track on the first few listens, and still is after many, but its strangeness grows on you. The first bit is very symphonic, with the addition of vocals from Jon Anderson of Yes. Following this is a section full of brass and dark jazz. After the energy builds, there is a large release, and quiet oboe takes the stage. Again the mood rises, to a much grander scale this time, and breaks again. This time the music stays silent, and throbbing, all sinister-like. After Fripp's evil guitar fades out, there is a short section called Big Top that is so gleeful that it's not unlike a horror film. You know those movies where the puppets are all happy - so happy that it scares the crap out of you? Well, it's that sort of thing. It still creeps me out.

This album is always a pleasant adventure while listening to it, but I'm not left with any extremely distinctive, fond memories of it afterwards.

Report this review (#118316)
Posted Friday, April 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimson encloses in Lizard doubtless the most artistic movement of their early alter-fame and their avant-garde clever prog underscore. Or definitely the aesthetic one above all, out of everything surpassing, relentlessly, the "oh so normal" drifts of contemporary action and feedback. And heavy as torment's spontaneous as well, since that's apparently an enormous tag for its complexity. Unexpectedly this is one of my recent belief (opportunely, something like a good appreciation never actually drops down from a high view, once reaching it) on the album's worth and art endeavor, since for a good period I disliked the more experimental and florid achievements of early crimsoned "folly"; imperatively Islands in its dangle of sounds, but this one as well. Right now, the likes of it are actually more than fulfilling, for such elevated times (which giant, up to now, isn't consecrated by something mirobolant?) and also for such pretentious beliefs: the one of cataclysmic zeal, the one for a better symbolized flavor, the one for intense heaps of lonesome prog rock gem-hinging. Lizard is, by immensurable taste, legendary and effectively grand-scaled. But for me, the magic of it goes much deeper and much less in congruent, ordinary characters. It's a fact of a beautiful soreness towards the present and the real, but an intense wonder of a strange, undesirable almost, eclecticism. A "miniature" of escalation and deep feeling. An odd comfort in extraordinary chaos. And so on. In The Wake Of Poseidon remains my favorite early King Crimson, and, well, In The Court Of The Crimson King has a way of being considered an imperative untouchable master-class, master-power (etc.) (despite its own greatest beliefs being on a different note than it should). So Lizard is impeccable listening for a very.advanced type of music confounding. That's almost an irresistible and incontestable mania around the scales of both mesmerizing and simply impelling, opportunist pioneering, classic prog.

Moments of style are aversely fragmented and united.Lizard's a hectic experience of pure "acoustic" prog gleam, total jazz-(rock) drifts and illusions, soft arranged avant umber tones, bit classical (to actually incite the "bolero" steps to an art transposition), bit space-edged, experimental (better said: fieriest improvisational) drafts of general melting forms, nod-lifted diverse elements (a basic mood), "medievalism", "contemporary"!, close (self-) parody, narration or dispersion (lyrics, but also some fluent or disruptive chords!), thematic or repetitions, clueless acts of soar and reproach dynamics in contrast with rather mellow tranquil infusions. The whole set. The Crimson frantic worth array, that is. In an idea of actually placing the common sense of Fripp's (or Sinfield too) plain conventional magnitude, my favorite artists are Collins, with passages of sax insanity, and Tippets (showing the jazz retype of the album's value), by small clips of accommodative grins. From kaleidoscopic to cacophonous, from stringent to warm, from inquiring to revealing and from memorable to.what else?

I'm putting a walkthrough imitation, out of liking this discrete memento. Cirkus is a big unusual sentiment of tone-tune and obvious simple-headed expansion for me, through its dark "refrain", one that almost seems illusive, adamant and of eyesight subsides, but also through a clouded gift in lead singing and paraphrasing. A track of taste and of cumbrous notch. Indoor Games already moves to the swing of jazziness and the dash of lights and impends. Happy Family is a more retro/retrieved source of fainted spell, moving around a circle of motions and a known act of lyrical virulence/dramatic cadence. Lady Of The Dancing Water is even more sheltered (through the middle Lizard affection actually, the sharpness of pronounced changes is faintly blunted; these two pieces are for an impressionistic, also imprecise, metering set, rather than a best moment of gleams), but its prime effect is a shortly orientated avant meager pat, made for a lush of words in a less accurate sway. Finally (and not just finally: eventually; ultimately; continuously; incessantly; endlessly) the title epic resonates magnitude in composition and in hearth effect. Resembling the peak of dissonance experimentation, jazz craze pump, flawless instrumental and very tasty disarrangements. Lots of symbols speak in too short meanings. Great music power fancies too often conclusions.

Lastly, here's the actual magic I very much appreciate behind the concept drama and the mix of greatest mind fragments ever "miniaturized": the hidden humor in a cursive language, the juxtapose of beliefs, the distortion of valid sanity, the subdued verse of light and darkness, of tranquil and insane, of grief and grave, of music carnival-esque redress of style and caricature. The great groove motion. Strange ethos of sharing brilliance. And such, being not tangible features of a listening, but impression of a more unintentional aftertaste.

Lizard's a trace of essential listening, best atone for the taste of it inside the pleasure of a incandescent lightheartedness. Much recommended.

Report this review (#118598)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I have a funny relationship with this album. When i bought it growing up in the seventies, i never ''got'' it then! i remember i liked ''Cirkus'' and that's it. I never really dig into the ''LIZARD suite'' past the Jon Anderson vocals.

And a strange thing happened! a few years ago, i was buying back my KC collection -30th anniversarycollection in miniLP format- so i got LIZARD back. I played it on my system and i was blew away! what did i miss all these years!!; almost the perfect album. King Crimson at its best!! tender, melancholic, serene, then agitated, noisier, disjoncted then back to peaceful. King Crimson to resume. There is not one dull moment on this album. There is a lot of MEL COLLINS of this album;he is also helped by a bunch of other horn blowers that create a one of a kind of athmosphere like this spanish-jazz style part in the middle of the Lizard suite.

The mellotron is very present as well, so is the unique style of pianist Keith Tipett. Gordon Haskell has taken over the vocals and is doing an excellent job IMO. i know some of the reviewers don'y like him too much, but i think his voice mixes well with the music. About the music: thsi is definitely KC, no one else could have come up with a concept like that; a unique sound that makes Crimson the king of Prog music to many of us.

At this point, the band has only 2 original members :Robert Fripp and lyricist Pete Sinfield. But that doesn't affect the music at all as Fripp is in total charge by now. This album is what prog is all about. beautiful, adventurous, powerful,opening new grounds for the music to develop into uncharted new territories.

Only 5 stars can be attributed to LIZARD .

Report this review (#119095)
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is not an easy listening album, but an excellent work, a bit underrated too. I love the jazzy parts and the brass instruments present in whole album. There is a lot of improvisation and quite weird parts, that can sound aggressive for many people, but from my point of view, these elements made this album special. 4.5 stars
Report this review (#126310)
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album is not less great than any other King Crimson album of their symphonic era. Like many albums released as LP in seventies, it has two thematic parts: on the first side we have four, not that much long songs, and not so good as epic called "Lizard" from other part of an album. Whole album is in jazz mood, and Lizard is great symphony. I do not find first three songs too much interesting, but I still like these tracks, as these are not quite bad done. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is anyway very atmospheric and picturesque song, pure joy for ears, with nice acoustic guitar and great flute. One can almost see Lady of the Dancing water, while closing eyes; it took me to its own lyrical and fantasy world. "Lizard" has got everything to be an excellent symphony, several parts that fit together good, and it gets hard to me to explain how it sounds like, all I can write is that it is artistically high water mark, I felt like reading meaningful book and having some nice dreams. This song is classical museum piece; it is worth listening for years.
Report this review (#127339)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This one is strange, really strange. If you want to like this album, you have to be more open minded to this complex music. It is crossed with jazz and maybe there'S to much of it, not that i have something against it, just listen to "Bolero - the peacock's tale".

Don't get me wrong however, the album still have its moments. "Cirkus" is a dark and intriguing song and the best on the album. As many of you knows, Jon Anderson from YES contributed to the album by singing "Prince Rupert awakes". This part completly stole the show as Jon's voice and the way he's singing was made for this song. Although it is not their best track in their career, "Lady of the dancing waters" is quite a charming ballad. "Indoor games" and "Happy family" are to avoid.

Only to die-hard Kiong Crimson fans.

Report this review (#127407)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "Happy family, pale applause, each to his revolving door"

The turmoil in terms of line up changes which were to plague King Crimson over the years continued for the recording of "Lizard". Greg Lake had left during the making of the previous album ("Poseidon"), with Gordon Haskell taking over on lead vocals. Now we bizarrely see Jon Anderson turning up as vocalist on one track here. In addition to the other well documented and ongoing changes, a number of guests are brought in for "Lizard", primarily bringing with them wind instruments.

"Lizard" was released almost exactly a year after "In the court of the crimson king", yet the change of style and sound is so jarring as to suggest the albums are by two completely different bands (which in reality, it could be argued they are). Pretty much gone are the majestic mellotron sweeps and strong, tight melodies, to be replaced by an altogether much looser, more jazz orientated atmosphere.

On the face of it, the signs are largely positive, especially since the second side of the album contains a side long suite bearing the album's name. Indeed, the opening track "Cirkus" has echoes of both "21st Century schizoid man" and "Epitaph", the symphonic mellotrons spoilt only by Mel Collins sax noodling. The track has a rather disturbing atmosphere, driven on by a lyrical nightmare.

The mood quickly changes though with "Indoor games", a sort of jazz precursor to Peter Gabriel's "Games without frontiers". The improvised sections of the track give the distinct impression that the band is not quite sure what to play here! The lyrics of "Happy family" deal with the concurrent break up of the Beatles, but ironically they could also apply to the situation King Crimson found themselves in after the recording of this album. As with "Indoor games" though, the song is messy and unconvincing. No, actually if I am honest, it is quite awful! Side one closes with the brief ballad "Lady dancing on the water".

Those who, like me, grew up in the age of the LP record, will know what I mean when I say you could get some idea of the music on the record simply by looking at it. The grooves softer sections have a noticeably different appearance to the louder ones. Looking at the "Lizard" suite on side two of this album, it is immediately apparent that a considerable proportion of it is quiet. The opening "Prince Rupert awakes", the track which features Jon Anderson on vocals, is the best part of the entire album. Delicate soft passages alternate with mellotron driven louder ones, Anderson contributing a fine performance. As the suite develops, pleasant soft oboe and CorAnglais played by guest Robin Miller are unceremoniously pushed aside by Mel Collins and Keith Tippet, who appear to vie for centre stage. Unfortunately, neither seems intent on actually playing anything constructive, the piece rapidly degenerating in a wilderness of soft noise. There are bursts of melody as the suite progresses, spurred on by waves of mellotron, but all too soon, the jazz influences come to the fore once more. For me, the "Lizard" suite is too long and woefully unfocused. Undoubtedly, it does have some fine parts, but it simply fails to hang together and retain my attention for its 23 minutes (is that all it was?!).

For many, "Lizard" represents the final part of King Crimson's debut trilogy, and from a chronological standpoint, that is a fair assessment. From a musical perspective, I got off this particular bus at the stop before this one.

Report this review (#127408)
Posted Tuesday, July 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Cirkus 5 A nice, atmospheric number with good vocals from Gordon Haskell (he sounds very close to Peter Gabriel on this one), fine connection between the soft and the heavy passages. Nice mellotron work, good rhytm section, fabulous acoustic guitar from Fripp. Really dramatic and complex. Mell Collins adds some neat jazzy sax in here, too. A really atmospheric piece. Indoor games 5 Excellent drumming and vocals here again. Fripp plays some marvelous guitar on here again (both acoustic and electric) and gets a typically unorthodox but great guitar solo. Especially fine is his dueling with Mel Collins on saxophone. The song has also a lot of mellotron and keyboards added to the sound. Overal a very fine piece. Happy family 2 Guitar heavy, as well as dissonant electric piano from Keith Tippet that adds to the number´s charm.However not that much melody and too chaotic without atmosphere for my tastes. Lady of the dancing water 5 Starting off with flute, typical Crimson acoustic ballad. Quiet, but very seductive. Great vocals from Gordon Haskell. The lizard 5 A side long suite. The track starts off with a lovely melody and vocals from Ion Anderson. Fripp plays some wonderful guitar as well. The track then gets a wonderful majestic piano and melotron part, followed with marvelous jazzy saxophone playing, after which the atmospheric part with heavy use of melotron as well as trumpet comes in. After quiet passgae with Haskell singing, the drums join in. Haskell plays some neat basslines on here and when the saxophone joins in, the sound gets simillar to 21st century schizoid man. After that a more meditative part comes again, with a marvelous guitar solo from Fripp and the song ends on a typically "weird" and improvisational note. A marvelos number.

OVERALL :4.5 stars= average of 5 STARS

ESSENTIAL: a masterpiece of progressive music

Report this review (#130506)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is probobly the wieredst of all KC albums and very chalanging, but allso for me thiere secret masterpiece, since i now have all thiere ealry albums and have hade em for soem years now, this have become a favorite of mine one that i never get tierd of and it still yust keeps geting beter and beter the title track is a good example of a song that takes allot of time to understand and i still dont but after all thise years i keep on liking it more and more. All the songs are good in tihere wierdness and have cool effects its allso a very jazzy album and i like that. I having a hard tiem desiding if to give it 5 or 4 star it is a album that takes long tiem to like but in the end its well worth the effort its allso the first album in wich KC changed direction completly and got 2 new band mebers. Well i go with 4 star since its not perfect but no doubt a must for any prog collection.
Report this review (#132832)
Posted Sunday, August 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the guest appearance by jazzman Keith Tippett on their previous album, Crimson decided to get a whole ensemble of jazz guests for this one, making one of their most off-the-wall album ever! Lizard doesn't get nearly as much attention as others, perhaps because it lacks a great characteristic vocalist like Lake, Wetton or Belew. With that said Haskell does a fine job, and his voice is actually quite similar to Wetton's. Much of the album is similar to their first two, with sweeping neoclassical mellotronic euphoria (Lizard, Circus), a soft ballad (Lady of the Lake), and bluesy tracks (Indoor Games, Happy Family). It is also additionally enhanced by the omnipresent woodwinds and brass by the guest musicians, but somewhat spoilt by dated sound effects, especially on the two bluesy tracks. None of this material is really appalling, but "Circus" and "Lizard" in particular stand out as some of the best collections of sound waves the band has ever recorded, with a free improvised feel over beautifully composed melodies, and amazing playing by Fripp. Essential.
Report this review (#133176)
Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars As usual I disagree with the general consensus, "Lark's Tonngues in Aspic" is seen as one of KING CRIMSON'S masterpieces and "Lizard" is underrated, but my opinion is exactly the opposite, I simply love "Lizard", because is the last of their albums in which they privileged the melody and sense of musicality over the adventurous but sometimes senseless experimentation.

It's obvious that we're before a band that is mutating, from a clear Symphonic birth they evolved into a Jazzy album with clear Symphonic leanings and the addition of orchestral instruments help to create this Medieval mood somehow closer to Canterbury scene than ever before or after.

"Cirkus" is an amazing song, the soft beginning announces a melodic soft track, but it's only a mirage, they never loose the melody but surely they make a lot of experimentation, maybe the only problem is Gordon Haskell's voice, but his strange range suits perfectly into the general atmosphere.

I always heard Robert Fripp is a guitar virtuoso, but only understood the magnitude of his abilities when I heard this album, just perfect or at least close to perfection. The arrangements are outstanding, every instrument appears in the precise moment, love the section when Gordon sings almost as a troubadour narrating a history, he hit the nail in the head, great material and you'd better believe this comment coming from somebody who is far from being a KING CRIMSON fan..

."Indoor Games" is much more jazzy with the wind instruments in contrapuntist performance, the vocals are weak in comparison with the previous track and the song seems a bit confusing but still is great material.

"Happy Family" starts violent and aggressive, somehow closer to free Jazz, the flute adds coherence to what seems a controlled cacophony, it's interesting to see the spirit of Jazz present because every instrument takes it's own path, but God knows how they keep control over a track that could had easily escaped from their hands at any moment, an excellent experiment of advanced fusion that I'm sure served as inspiration for Mahavishnu Orchestra.

"Lady of the dancing Water" is a medieval tune that starts with vocals, flute soft piano and a dreamy guitar and flows gently during the 2:45 minutes as an introduction to the epic that will close the album.

"Lizard" is a complete multipart epic in which even one of the parts is subdivided, Jon Anderson pays a short visit leaving his unique voice, that may not be my favorite but has a special flavor hard to imitate.

The chorus is simply breathtaking and the percussion is out of this world, if you add the classic piano and the Symphonic cadencies you got a masterpiece, but if you still add some jazzy touches, well this is something very special and deserves to be listened.

Of course there is a very complex instrumental section around the last quarter of the song that doesn't allow us to forget that Robert Fripp is capable of surprising even the most expert specialist on his music, again a very good track.

To be honest after this album I loose the interest in KING CRIMSON until "Red", because the Symphonic and melodically strong era is closed for ever with "Lizard", after that they will privilege the experimentation over the musical coherence and that's not my zone of comfort.

Now, I'm in a great problem, how in hell will I rate this album, not a masterpiece and not an excellent addition for everybody (I heard a lot of times this is the less accessible KING CRIMSON ALBUM), but it's more than just good, 3.5 stars will be perfect but I will have to go with 4 stars that seem a bit too much, but every system has limits and we must adjust ourselves to them.

Report this review (#133404)
Posted Thursday, August 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is the Crimso culmination. I like following “Islands” most from all Sinfield-era albums, but this deserves a credit as well. Being the most overlooked and the least accessible among all 69-71 albums, it’s filled with cold energy, fusion approach and intense atmosphere. Opening “Cirkus” is one of the best songs KC ever did; “Happy Family” is a BEATLES satire; and closing 23-min long eponymous epic proves that Progressive Rock was the most pretentious music at those times (though opening “Prince Rupert” movement with YES’s Anderson vocals is pretty radio-friendly). Cover layout must be mentioned as well – beautiful and artsy, as anything KC ever did. If you’re familiar with “Earth-Wind-Fire-Water concept” theory, which claims that first KC 4 albums are lyrically connected and tell a one and the same tale, it’s an another proof of KC’s overwhelming genius. Leave alone Fripp, Sinfield and Tippet deserve to be mentioned equally with Robert-The-Crafty-Guitarist. Highly recommended, it’s a grower.
Report this review (#135377)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 200th rating of this album… 5+ stars.

I know, there’s always much to argue about Lizard, because it really differs from KC’s first two (and many other also) releases by form of expression. Of course, there is more jazz orientation, but does it really differ so much from older albums? As I listen to Pictures Of A City from ITWOP, for example, I can see many similarities… I can understand people who say this album is KC’s hardest to get into (even Robert Fripp himself didn’t get into it, as he says it was his biggest mistake in his career), but what I know is that I didn’t have any problems with loving it. I can say that the spirit of the music on this album is not far from earlier or older Crimson, remaining as always eclectically dark, beautiful and paranoid at the same time. Alright, now back to the songs…

The album starts with Cirkus. This song is amazing from it’s first humble piano sounds to the full-blown madness at the end. Everything is beautiful, perfect here. Keith Tippet’s piano catches lost subtle notes from cosmos, mellotron in haunting, drums are monumental, Mr. Fripp’s acoustic guitar sounds subtle, and electric one is magically depressive. Mel Collins’ sax provides nice addition throughout the song until it tales the lead at the end. As I said it all ends with extraterrestrial feeling of insanity/paranoia… Haskell’s vocals sound so mystic… It’s impossible to describe this song with only twenty six characters, all I can say, hold your breath and push “Play”…

With Indoor Games and Happy Family jazz inclinations come to the fore. but it’s not conventional jazz or fusion or whatever. It’s unique, Crimso-hellish, paranoid, mad… I heard lot of free jazz that can’t induce this feelings. right, only Masters can do it.

Lady Of The Dancing Water closes side A on vinyl. I think, the genius can show itself by 100% in ballads, and here is the case… Perfect flute, voice and of course, guitar. Although on vinyl is a perfect side closer, on CD it’s like an intro to the epic…

Lizard… Hey, familiar voice… Wait, it’s Jon Anderson!!! What a surprise! This is maybe my most loved epic, two years older then the famous Supper’s Ready (an overblown one, which I don’t really praise). In fact it’s opposite to Supper’s Ready, being the wave of beauty then just a weird combination of nice themes. I can’t really differ it’s parts (unlike some others), Because it sounds like one organic entity. Jazzy improvisations follow melodic parts and it all drowns in mellotron… There’s atmosphere of a fairy tale. It’s an absolute masterpiece.

In conclusion, as I said there are some changes in style after Poseidon, but it’s still Fripp!!! & co. If I was forced to choose one highlight, that would be Cirkus, but other songs come pretty close. And in Gordon Haskell’s defense, I declare him as great singer. More than highly recommended, it’s a must.


5+ stars again!!!

Report this review (#137017)
Posted Friday, September 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars King Crimson's Lizard is pretty much among the best efforts released by the band, making an hybrid between classic progressive rock (for a few tumultuous mini epics & atmospheres), weird heavy guitars and jazzy brass sequences. "Cirkus" is a really attractive, mysterious composition featuring complex, quasi dark melodies. Indoor Game is a "comic", "sarcastic" song, including jazzy elements, various moods and nice bucolic flutes. A very pop-ish composition with rather weak, common melodies. It features some charming Mellotron parts and almost folkish guitars. "Happy family" is a stronger song that is into the avant rock, jazzy spectrum. A good mention to the ferocious guitars, curious keyboards arrengements, groovy flute sequences. The vocals tend to be ridiculous. The instrumental section really works. "Lady on the dancing water" is a poor, naive pop ballad with really kitsch atmospheres. "Prince Rupert Awakes" begins to alternate fragile pseudo poetical melodies, including obscure organ arrengements and ultimately painful, cheesy old fahshioned pop melodies. However there are some good keyboards parts that can remind "in the court of the king crimson"). As many King Crimson's albums I would like to classify this one as "mainstream progressive" rock.
Report this review (#137853)
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars This complex web of symphonic textures, manic rhythms and challenging melodies makes "Lizard" a very deep album-- one that is exceptionally challenging to listen to and even harder to appreciate. Ultimately the verdict on this one will become a serious matter of taste; for my own part I find this incarnation of KC somewhat directionless, devoid of backbone and lacking any dazzling moments of song writing or instrumental performance to leave much impression-- the music here is just so abstract and meandering. I enjoy most of the soft guitar work throughout, and admit that after MANY listens "Lizard's" sound will start to come together, but it just isn't worth the effort when I have much more interesting King Crimson albums waiting for me. For serious fans of the band only.
Report this review (#138845)
Posted Monday, September 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Robert Fripp lets go of the past.

With all bout one of the original members gone, Fripp makes full time members out of Haskell and Collins and brings in drummer Andy McCulloch. This new King Crimson shows that were indeed alive and capable of writing good material. This album is very jazzy and features Mel Collins on various woodwinds. Many songs just turn into jams in the middle with him and other horns soloing. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is very peaceful with flute played over soft lyrics. This slightly reminds me of previous songs like "I Talk With the Wind" and "Cadence and Cascade". Jon Anderson's voice is very comforting on "Lizard". It is nice to hear it in a different place (other than Yes). His section fades out as a bolero section fades in. After that, it is moving melodies by horns for a while. A frantic section follows and it finally ends with atmospheric guitar and an amusing outro of horns and piano over mellotron with effects to speed it up and distort it, creating a nauseatic, odd feeling (like what it would be like to ride a carousel while drowsy or possibly while high(I can only guess)). Overall, it is one of their best albums. Definitely recommended.

Report this review (#140407)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lizard is the third King Crimson album; or at least the third album by Robert Fripp using the King Crimson name. Gone are Giles and Giles and Lake. The only returning member was Mel Collins on sax and flutes. Gordon Haskell took over most of the lead vocal duties (he also appeared on Cascade and Credence on the previous album). This is as much a jazz album as it is a progressive rock album. While listening to it to prepare this review I actually enjoyed this album much more than I had at any previous time. There is a prevalent use of horns and flutes throughout this album. The highlights are Cirkus, Lady of the Dancing Water, and the title track Lizard. Lizard features Yes' lead singer Jon Anderson on vocals for the first part called Prince Rupert Awakes. I must admit that I am not a very big fan of Peter Sinfields lyrics. I suppose that some of their meanings are too abstract for me to comprehend.

Cirkus is a really good song with strange lyrics regarding a cirkus. Not sure if there is any other meaning to this or not. It does go along well with the album's cover artwork. Interestingly to me, is that although Jon Anderson does not sing on this song, he would go on to create and sing a strange song titled "Circus of Heaven". I wonder if this was in anyway an inspiration.

Indoor Games is musically a good rocking jazz song containing very strange lyrics, which do fit in nicely with the music. I suppose this song is in reference to the fun "Indoor Games" that ones participate in behind closed doors in the privacy of our own homes, and yet these games are being participated in in front of guests and servants. I suppose that this was age of love, peace, and happiness.

Happy Family is another musically good rocking song with very strange lyrics. Again they lyrics fit in nicely with the music and actually have a cool flow to them, but they are just strange. A previous reviewer mentioned it has something to do with the Beatles breaking up. Other than the reference to "four went on and none came back" I don't pick up on this reference.

Lady of the Dancing Water is a short melodic acoustical piece. No problems with the lyrics, singing or sound here. It is nice little song featuring lots of horns and flutes.

Lizard is the highlight of this album. As previously mentioned it features Jon Anderson on vocals, which for me is definitely a plus since he is one of my favorites. Lyrically however, I will be honest and say that I truly have no idea what this song is about. There are a couple very lengthy jazz instrumental passages in this song. For me these instrumental passage are far better than those that were on the song In the Wake of Poseidon. The playing here sounds organized because the instruments appear to be on the same page playing the same song versus having instrument play their own song and throwing it together.

In my opinion this album would be an excellent addition to any prog music collection strictly with the music alone, but because there are also strange lyrics and some strange singing I have to downgrade it to good, but not essential.

Report this review (#140884)
Posted Friday, September 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Whoa, dude! If anyone thought that KC was dead following the departures of Lake, MacDonald, and Giles, they were in for a rude awakening with the release of Lizard.

Cirkus kicks things off, and there's those standard Fripp tritones driving yet another classic opening track. The difference this time around is Fripp's acoustic guitar, which somehow weaves itself in and out of the song, never overpowering its surroundings but always driving the song forward. To this day, still a remarkable performance that is unique in the KC catalog. Both Indoor Games and Happy Family are great KC songs, full of unexpected twists and turns, beautiful Mellotron segues, and other Fripp signatures. I truly do not understand why this album is such a flash point for KC fans, though Lady of the Dancing water is somewhat perfunctory. What was Side 2 of the original LP -- the Lizard suite -- is reasonably enjoyable but not great There are good moments -- the almost free-jazz of the Bolero section, the menace of the Battle -- but it doesn't hold together all that well.

So the quick summation: KC fans are divided on this album, but I rate it a 4 all the way. I can't imagine not having this one in my collection. It takes a while for it to work its way into your consciousness, but once it gets there it's not leaving.

Report this review (#142164)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars If progressive rock is supposed to be a mix of rock, jazz and concert hall music, then this album should be the poster child for the genre. I have heard that Fripp more or less disowns this album, which is a shame because I think it is one of the finest works he has ever produced. Anyway, Fripp is not the only star on this totally unique record, Keith Tippet, Mel Collins and Andy McCullough should also get a lot of credit for helping shape these songs.

If I had to pick a typical King Crimson song from any of their albums it would be this album's opener, "Cirkus", right down to the " is it modern or medevial" fake spelling. The song alternates uneasy psychedelic folk with spacey jazz while the lyrics deal with a paranoid nightmarish reaction to what is a fun occaison for most others. The song ends with an atonal march into madness similar to the ending of "I am the Walrus".

"Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" are both great funny avant-pop tunes from a distant future that will never happen. Both songs mix psychedelic pop with lounge exotica and free jazz and always sound new and modern in any era. The much maligned Pete Sinfield writes some of his best sarcastic lyrics on "Happy Family", which is a send-up of the Beatle's over publicized personal problems.

"The Battle of Glass Tears", towards the end of the second side, is where it all falls into place. It is on this piece that Fripp pulls the jazz, rock and concert hall influences all together. First of all. to his credit, Fripp does not look too far in the past for his influence from serious composers. A lot of his inspiration on this section comes from 20th century composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky. I don't think it is particularly "progressive" to take some antiquated musical qoute from the 18th century and stick it next to some mediocre rock and think you have somehow improved rock music by doing so. Unfortunately a lot of artists who pretty much do that get credit for being "progressive".

Anyway, what Fripp does on this section is take musical themes that build and contrast with each other, weaving them in and out till it all hits a bursting point. This is the essence of concert hall music. On top of this tightly wound compostion the horn players spit out their chaotic solos, and it is all done with a rock sound and energy. It is the perfect blend of all three elements.

Report this review (#145806)
Posted Thursday, October 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars King Crimson has so many different flavors that it is easy to listen to one of their albums and forget who you are listening to. For example, Lizard is very unique and sounds nothing like In the Court of the Crimson King or any of the Wetton albums. Gordon Haskell's short-lived stint as Crimson's vocalist ends with this album. Lizard definitely explores the jazzier side of the Crimson portfolio.

Cirkus is a great opener as it subtly floats in from the borders of conscious hearing. This track is probably my favorite on the album as the rest tend to be of a more experimental nature. Indoor Games and Happy Family are both light-hearted fare as Fripp and his cohorts incorporate some jazz elements into the music.

Lady of the Dancing Water follows and is somewhat forgettable as it sets the stage for the closing epic for which the album is titled. While the Lizard suite is varied and well played, it elicits no emotion from me. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it leaves me cold. I can appreciate the album for its unique style and virtuosity, but it doesn't move me as my favorite music typically does. I much prefer the Wetton era of Crimson as it gets into my skin and really engages my senses.

Report this review (#149746)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This recording represents a startling and bold contrast to the two preceding efforts of this band. For the armchair critics and the pundits that led the battle cry that In the Wake of Poseidon was an ersatz rehash of In the Court of the Crimson King, this daring, complex and highly innovative recording must have represented a firm slap in the face or a cold bucket of ice water on the head. Firstly, on this effort, Keith Tippett's bandmates Miller, Evans and Charig (Keith Tippett Group) are additionally integrated into the King Crimson lineup. The result is a striking progressive rock/ free jazz fusion replete with wild explosions of piano, trombone, cornet, english horn and oboe which, along with Mel Collins' flutes and saxophones, Fripp's guitar and mellotron work, very effective percussion work by Andy McCullough (later of Greenslade) and the quirky timbre, register and delivery of Gordon Haskell's vocals over Peter Sinfield's highly evocative lyrics make Lizard one of the true pioneering events of progressive music in its era. Jon Anderson's cameo vocal on Prince Rupert Awakes is a pleasant and tasteful diversion but is not particularly special in its own right. It does, however, provide a brief interlude between the quirkiness of the songs on side one of the original vinyl and the highly intricate and heavy instrumental work that comprises most of the Lizard epic on side two of the original vinyl. A concept that sounds so entirely otherwordly wouldn't be quite complete without spinning totally out of control, which is exactly how Big Top finishes the recording. It sounds like a space ship shaped like a circus tent playing carousel music spinning faster and slower, notes getting sharper then flatter, getting louder then softer andmore distant and then off into the stratosphere and into space. Definitely an acquired taste, one worth cultivating and indulging, Lizard will not ever be wildly embraced by mainstream listeners because of its idiosyncratic nature. Nevertheless, it is a true classic and is an essential piece of progressive music history.
Report this review (#150620)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I'd like to reiterate that no matter how historically important an album is, it does not mean it's good, enjoyable or anything that so many people on here have for some reason convinced themselves goes along with importance. King Crimson's Lizard is yet another case in point from the band. While again pushing the boundaries of rock music, the album is terribly dissonant, aimless or tuneless half of the time, not to mention that vocalist Gordon Haskell is quite a poor one. The other half of the time, however, King Crimson strikes confounding brilliance. Of the average length tracks, "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water" are top-notch, the first with some effective dissonance, a great saxophone solo and a good vocal line (even if it's sung poorly) and the second is a beautiful ballad where the vocals actually sound good. "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" are pretty weak. There are some good ideas strewn about, but the arrangement is just chaotic and a lot of the embellishments do nothing to help the songs. The 23-minute epic title track is hard to explain. Harder than the other tracks, which I more or less didn't bother trying to describe as it is. Starting off nicely with guest vocals from Jon Anderson (before Yes was worth your time), the song then moves off into a mostly instrumental jam fest. It's a pretty sturcutred jam, but one does get the feeling that it isn't totally a coherent epic. Certainly it's filled with a lot of good material, but by the end it just doesn't seem like anything was accomplished. The ending movement is especially disconcerting. The song actually built into a climactic seemed-to-be ending and then just goes into some random final movement that seems rather unecessary.

I listen to my fair share of challenging music, and while this makes for a good starting point, obviously far beyond its time, other bands have tried similar things to greater sucess down the road.

Report this review (#150887)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars A big step up from Poseidon, this album brings Fripp's jazz fantasies to their full fruition. He gets a number of horn players to assist him, and it works very well. we'll get right into it:

Cirkus: A great song drenched in mellotron, sometimes dark, and sometimes sad, with some amazing acoustic playing from fripp. Haskell is a good sub for Lake, but not that good. The Sax solo in the middle, courtesy of Mel Collins, is hair raising. Tippet adds some nice electric piano fills, and Fripp brings the mellotron in hard as it segues back into the vocal part. The strumming then goes insane, and the drums kick back in. The mellotron goes dark once more with evil, heavy riffs. This continues into an outro filled with horns, sax and trumpet dueling.

Indoor Games: A nice horn trio introduces us to this very odd song. Haskells vocals are much more upfront here, with some strange tones playing through his voice. The rest of the band, however, is a little off during the vocal sections, with some rather simple playing. When the horns kick in again though, its fun again. The sax solo alternating with odd sections is classic, but ultimately cannot bring this song to be great. The weird laughing outro is a little annoying.

Happy Family is another odd song, with some very interesting, chanted vocals, and a dark tone. There is a weird effect on Haskell's voice, making it undulate from speaker to speaker. the horns are great as usual, adding the right notes in the right places. The flute solo in the middle is eerie, fitting the song perfectly. it later gets augmented by trombone, very nicely placed.

Lady of the Dancing Water: The ballad of the album, introduced by a great flute run and mini solo, accompanied by some nice electric piano and acoustic guitar. it works well, but gets a little boring after a while. the flute is superb throughout, however.

Lizard: The only epic in Crimson History, they certainly do it well. The eerie mellotron leads us into it, setting the mood for what is to come. the piano enters, with Jon Anderson singing. He isnt in his usual yessound, but it fits the music well. the mellotron bursts in at perfect moments. the chorus seems like something anderson would do with yes, being poppy and upbeat. the verse repeats as does the chorus, and leads into a chanting section, with clapping as well. it seems converse to everything crimson is about, but it fits nicely. the verse is then reprised with some interesting dissonant piano chords stuck in, and some nice snare drumming. then the mellotron kicks into high gear and the song rises in power and emotion. it leads dramatically into a few bars in major, then back to minor for an amazing trumpet solo. the piano arpeggios augment it nicely. the sax then kicks in in a more sad mood, perhaps reminiscent of days passed. this whole time, the snare has not lost its militaristic tap, even when quiet in the background. next comes the oboe, quavering on each long note beautifully. next up is the trombone and trumpet duet, with the piano turning more jazzy, and the sax jumping in too, and some very awesome sounds come out of the trombone as the three instruments weave their way in and out of one another's paths. the music is starting to crescendo, and it builds into softer section, where everything except drums and trombone cut out, then they slowly come back in again. the piano now takes a more central role, banging away. then the sad sax theme from earlier is reprised. the sax and mellotron build into a dramatic release. the sax the slowly builds in an eerie way. Haskell then comes in for the first time and sings in a low, creepy way. the sax follows his vocal line nicely. then the mellotron and drums kick in again, reusing the dark sax riff and making it loud and scary. the horns build into a positively mad flute solo. this horn and mellotron exploration continues for quite a few minutes, including some more amazing trombone noises. this all cools down into alot of nice piano work, and builds again, a common theme of this song: climaxes and crescendos. then there is some distant electric guitar, followed by a strange circus outro, slowly building in volume and going up in keys.

Overall, a great album, almost jazz, and one of the more interesting in the Crimson catalog.

Report this review (#154661)
Posted Friday, December 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By mid-1970 Fripp and Sinfield had enough material to record a third album, but the formation of a stable line-up was still a problem.Thus, they asked Gordon Haskell and Mel Collins, who participated as guests in the previous effort, to join permanently and then they recruited Andy McCulloch on drums, formerly of Shy Limbs.The sophisticated sound of the pieces forced them to also recruit session musicians, Keith Tippett was once again among the guests along with cornet player Mark Charig, trombonist Nick Evans and oboe player Robin Miller as well as Jon Anderson of Yes, who sung the opening section of the title-track.The recordings took place between August?September 1970, again at the Wessex Sound Studios and ''Lizard'' was released in mid-December of the same year.

''Cirkus'' has to be among the ultimate classics of the Crimsonian's repertoire, a beautiful connection between the sound of the 69' debut with the slight psychedelic tunes and the Mellotron-denched haunting symphonicism with the jazzier lines, which will appear in this album, featuring great work on sax by Mel Collins and some great trumpet parts with Haskell delivering a nice singing performance.''Indoor games'' is more along the lines of GENTLE GIANT, the atmosphere is same as on the opener, albeit slightly jazzier, with impressive use of VCS3 synth by Sinfield and sweet organ and Mellotron parts with the sax prevailing and the acoustic guitars in evidence.The closing section features smooth but complex Jazz Rock of great inspiration.The naughty singing parts of ''Indoor games'' reappear in the following ''Happy family'', highlighted by Tippet's performance on electric piano, in contast with the complex Fripp-ian guitar moves, the VCS3 synth of Sinfield and the sax/flute alternations of Collins.The dissonances start to become a regular component in the sound of King Crimson.The short ''Lady of the dancing water'' is a relaxing ballad with flute and acoustic guitars and Haskell prooving to be a sensitive and expressive singer.''Lizard'' (taking up the whole flipside of the original version'') is the longest cut ever composed by King Crimson.A manifest of Classical, Jazz, Chamber and Experimental elements, wrappred up in a long suite, which has its moments, but sounds overall a bit stretched.From the opening minutes with Jon Anderson's vocals and the mellow atmosphere to the Classical-oriented parts with the Mellotron and the oboe creating an orchestral mood and even to the abstract jazzy improvisations with the wind instruments and piano in the forefront, King Crimson attempted to mix different music paths into an attractive blend, the composition is largely instrumental with the typical King Crimson-ian atmosphere, switching from romantic soundscapes and cinematic textures to sinister and complicated moods.

A controversial, excessive but extremely progressive work by King Crimson.Imagine elements of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, GENTLE GIANT, THE SOFT MACHINE and THE ENID in the same album.Chaotic, but pretty elegant at the same time.Strongly recommended for all fans of messed-up yet genuine prog adventures...3.5 stars.

Report this review (#157107)
Posted Sunday, December 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Having in large part started the (symphonic) progressive movement, King Crimson ditched it. Instead, here we have Jazz and Hard rock warped together, and put on drugs. In some cases, this formula works marvelously, like in the opener. In some parts of the album, it sounds a bit silly. There is some classical touches, mostly to impress a sort of medevil mood. Fripp largely sticks to a background role, which works very well.

Although this album is a fantastic album in it's own right, it is best seen as a transition album towards the masterpieces which are LTIA, SABB, and Red. The wackyness is there, the improvisation isn't quite as tight. As such, I would give this album 4 stars, but the title track earns back the fifth star.

The opener, Cirkus, is the most coherant of the three first tracks. All three of these tracks are off beat, relatively, and very jazzy. CIrkus is a five star song, wheras the other 2 are maybe 3.5 star songs. The fourth track, Lady of the Dancing Water, is simply beautiful. It is my favorite among the early king crimson ballads. It is unfortunatly short.

The side-long, Lizard, is yet another masterpiece. It features a guest appearence of Jon Anderson of Yes. It is very spooky at first, and has great dynamic contrast. The careful orchestrations on this song are possibly the best King Crimson has had to this point. Bolero in particular is beautiful. The jazzier moments on this song are good, and maybe more memorable then tracks 2 and 3. I particularly enjoy the saxophone. The line between jazz and composition is made rather blurry, but not as much as later albums. The eading to the third movement with Fripps triumphant guitar is another fantastic part of this song.

Yet again (as in the first 2 albums), the lyrics by Peter Sinfield are untouchable. His lyrics are pure poetry, and good poetry at that. The imagery he presents is convincing, each image not only evoking a clear image, but evoking a feeling. Spokeless wheels is somehow striking to the heart. All sorts of allusions, and other tricks of the poetry trade abound. Once again, the lyrics are quite a deal to decipher, but ultimatly worth the effort.

The first 4 king crimson albums were intended to fit thematically with the four elements. The first album was air, the second was water, islands was land, and this one was fire. In this, I imagine dancing flames when I hear the various instruments dancing around each other. Also, the destruction rampant throughout the lyrics of the epic stand with fire's destructiveness. Lady of the dancing water touches on passion, the fire of the soul.

Overall, this album is 4.5 out of 5 in my estimation. The title track is one of the essential masterpieces of Prog, and should be required listening for any fans of fusion prog, or avant garde prog.

Report this review (#157346)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars For a long time in the 70´s me and most of my friends did not like this LP at all. It was a major shifting from their symphonic sound of their first two albums to a much more experimental, jazzy stuff. But it did included my favorite ever Crimson song, Prince Rupert Awakes (with Jon Anderson of Yes singing a marvelous lead). Later on I had the opportunity to listen to the album with less prejudice and found it to be very good. Actually, nowadays I think it´s really amazing that such a relative new band could achieve such efford that soon . They changed their sound (and, ok, musicians too) almost completely and yet they produced a classic, even if you don´t really wanted them to go that way.

Cirkus is the opener and it´s also one of KC greatest songs, the melody and arrangement matching the lyrics and theme with rare talent and impact. This haunting song is one true great achivement and Robert Fripp does a fantastic acoustic guitar solo in the middle that is completely astonishing! (beginning with a different tempo from the rest of the band, it must have been very difficult to record). Happy Family and Indoor Games are less memorable, but still interesting jazzy stuff. Lady Of The Dancing Water is a wonderful acoustic ballad with some amazing flute playing by Mel Collins. Side two of the vinyl LP was filled by the long Lizard suite, quite bold act at the time. I don´t think this piece was a complete success, but it has its moments.

All in all it was a bit obvious that Fripp, working with so many jazz veterans, would eventually be influenced by them. Nevertheless, it was a big surprise that it turned out THAT different. With hindsight we can see that the group in general and Fripp in particular were very talented musicians and Lizard is a quite amazing album, even if you did not like their changes in style. If you´re going to listen to this album for the first time please try not to compare it with In The Court Of The Crimson King neither to In The Wake Of Poseidon. With an opened mind and ears, you´ll be rewarded by an outstanding album done by one of prog´s most important and groundbreaking bands ever.

Report this review (#157703)
Posted Saturday, January 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." [R. Fripp]

King Crimson at its core is the vision of Robert Fripp, the lord of progressive music and certainly one of its most influential artists. While I've never seen Crimson live I did see Bob with the "League of Crafty Guitarists" in a small venue that allowed me to witness the seriousness of his approach up close. It was an insight into how he could pull off something like Lizard just about half a year after the second album, while at the same time dealing the personnel changes. Incredible when you think about how these days some bands take 6 months just to rehearse some tracks or plan a tour. Furthermore, Lizard would change the course of the first two albums to encompass a wider range of musical styles and improvisation making it a notable influence for what many Crimson peers would be doing over the next several years.

"Cirkus" is such a cool track with the amazing acoustic guitar work, sprightly and nimble, over the mellotron. With the outstanding drumming and brass it makes for a powerful opening, and the ominous dark current running through the song ties in nicely with the feeling on many Crimson albums I've heard, an indescribable and nagging unease. The outstanding production values must also be noted. Lizard sounds fabulous with every instrument crisp as hell and with plenty of space for them to lounge about, allowing the album to age far better than many contemporaries. "Indoor Games" is a great laid back improv with plenty of the "space" I just mentioned. "Happy Family" is almost psych-jazz with dense sound, compressed vocals, and mischievous piano/sax running all over the madness. I can only imagine what fans of the gentle symphonic moments of the first two albums were thinking in 1970, as I'm sure Fripp no doubt relished thinking the same thought. Many complain about the vocalist on this album but I think he does just fine. You don't listen to Crimson for the vocals anyway, they're really just there for some contrast. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a perfect pastoral break with nice flute and acoustic. "Lizard" is Crimson at their experimental best and a track which took me years to fully appreciate. I still have to be in the mood for it because it demands attention especially in the long improv sections, it's not exactly the best music for strapping on to go jogging. But it is a wonderful document of the early Crimson sound and solidifies this album as an essential title for serious proggers. A 23 minute ode to progressive exploration with many outstanding, memorable moments. I love how Fripp states in one of the booklet clippings that this album will require an effort of the listener: "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." He also laments recording as being inhibiting because "you are aware that you will have to live with that solo for the rest of your life." True enough, but I think he has little to worry about in that regard.

The 2000 Virgin Records mini is a great edition with a nice gatefold reproduction and a fabulous booklet of period press clippings that Robert is apparently fond of collecting. A legendary album and one of Crimson's very best. Probably my favorite. 4 ½ but rounding up, because while some critisice this for straying too far from the Crimson sound, I think perhaps that should be rewarded, not penalized. Then they might say it's an experiment that failed. How? Was it the immaculate performances that failed, or the wonderful variety of new sounds and thoughtful improvisation? I don't think it fails in anyway except perhaps not meeting the expectations of those who wanted another ITCOTCK. It succeeds beautifully at what it attempts and holds up well.

Report this review (#157887)
Posted Sunday, January 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lizard holds a special place in my heart. Indeed, King Crimson's Jazz influence here on the titletrack is apparent, yet there are many different musical themes to be explored, particularly on the opener Cirkus which is really an eventful piece. While the titletrack is arguably the masterpiece here (or well, it's both loved and hated) for it's arrangement, structure, and beauty, I have just as much appreciation for the simpler, shorter Lady of the Dancing Water.

Indoor Games and Happy Family are nice tracks as well, but they don't do that much for me. This album is really a mixed up one actually, people have very different opinions about it. For me, it's one of the highest points of King Crimson.

Report this review (#159392)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not, jazz, not rock, not symphonic, but all of the above. Avantgarde overtones, but but nothing an average symphonic fan couldn't digest after a few listenings. Of course, it offers much more than it will reveal after a dozen's just so difficult to describe WHAT exactly it offers to a listener. An entire palette of colours, but they all belong to different shades of brown perhaps?

Is that thing slapping my face a bassoon or an overdriven organ? That thing is an unusual melody able to be pretty and unusual at the same time...a little overbearing at the moments perhaps, but certainly very rewarding.

Imagine a good Prerafaelite picture: a young, long haired lady sitting in the grass on the river bank. The picture has a story, a beauty, a balance, and a certain eroticism. Now imagine the same theme painted in a cubist style a la Picasso - but still able to maintain that eroticism and still being able to be bold and fragile at the same time - because of the master's angular stroke of the brush; or master's angular guitar melody. That's it. Nothing less, nothing more: to be treasured.

Report this review (#159504)
Posted Tuesday, January 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimson´s third album Lizard shows a lot of progress from the two first albums that were kind of siblings and that´s even though Lizard was released in the same year as In the Wake of Poseidon. Gordon Haskell has taken over the vocal duties from Greg Lake who had by this time moved on to ELP. Gordon Haskell has also taken over the bass duties from Peter Giles. Drummer Michael Giles has been replaced by Andy McCulloch. The only member still in the lineup from In the Wake of Poseidon in addition to Robert Fripp is Mel Collins on flute and saxes. I think it can be heard in the music that new faces have been added to the lineup. The rythms are far more complex than on the two first albums and it seems like Robert Fripp has had oppertunity to play some things he has been longing for. Lizard seems very inspired in my ears.

The music is pretty symphonic even though there are traces of jazz and classical and avant garde music in the compositions. The closing epic is very symphonic and features a guest appearence by Jon Anderson of Yes on the first movement of that song called Prince Rupert awakes. Lots of mellotron is used throughout the album and of course Robert Fripp´s guitar is omnipresent. Gordon Haskell has a very similar voice to that of Greg Lake so no big changes in that department. Personally I never felt King Crimson had a really good vocalist ever, but that is just my opinion. Gordon Haskell is no exception, he has a pretty trivial and unremarkable voice IMO.

The production is excellent. Absolutely one of the best productions from that time. It´s produced by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield and that is even more remarkable. A real joy to listen to.

This is a landmark album in the history of prog rock just like King Crimson´s debut album, but as I have a hard time fully appreciating Gordon Haskell´s voice I can only rate this album 4 stars. It is really excellent though and if you like Gordon´s voice I´m sure you´ll like this better than me. Highly recommendable.

Report this review (#163539)
Posted Sunday, March 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Many of my observations about this album have already been made here - that the album stands alone in the Crimson catalogue. One thing it isn't is a prog rock album more a prog jazz/pop, spiced with rock and classical.

Make no mistake there's some fine material and stunning musicianship on here but I only recently realised why this album doesn't touch me in the same way as my most loved KC albums - ITCOTCK, LTIA and Discipline. My current band is auditioning drummers. As as ex-drummer (who may end up back on the throne) I am acutely aware of the importance of drummers to a band sound. As drummer after drummer came into the studio we couldn't help wondering if there are any drummers around who don't overplay! All these dazzling fills, tricks and pet licks were thrown at us as casually as a teenager throws his dirty washing on the floor - and with similar effect.

Andy McCulloch was and no doubt is a fine drummer with chops I can only dream of having. However, he overplays on much the album. One reviewer earlier noted that he never seems to settle down and it's true. Yes, his almost-constant flicks and fills lend a flexibility to the music but at the expense of clarity; his idea of leaving space for featured vocals or instruments was to play his intricate fiddling more quietly.

High points in music are achieved through contrast and counterpoint but Andy's endless noodling, album mean the first three tracks on the album, all potential KC specials are - featureless is too harsh a word - less than they could have been with Mike Giles or Bill Bruford on the drum stool. To be fair, Andy M's drumming is a natural follow-up from the busy style of Michael G laid out on Groon. However, where Michael G carried on lick a drumming madman in songs and spots where there was space, there are so many instruments on Crikus, Indoor Games and Happy Family that more space was needed. One can only imagine how these songs would have sounded if the other KC drummers were there.

The other weakness, well documented, is Gordon Haskell's vocals. He's not as bad as some make out, but not a strength either. Both Gordon and Andy tend to flatten the songs by reducing the potential highlights by providing less variation and dynamics than would be ideal. The exception is Lizard, especially the Battle of the Glass Tears section, where Andy does some fine and well-conceived tom tom fills that add dynamism (even if he still patters on his snare too much).

The songs. Everyone has already said how creepy Cirkus is, with that evil minor-third riff later referred to on the wonderful Dinosaur track twenty years later, and a hint as to the wicked riffing of their hard core period 1972-4. It's textured and varied and if Mike Giles and Greg Lake were still around this would have been a classic. I would have liked to have heard this live with Boz Burrell on vocals and Ian Wallace on drums.

I first bought this album as a teen after hearing other albums, being especially enamoured with the Larks' Tongues version of KC and I hated Indoor Games when I first heard it. I enjoy the track now, which is rightly grouped with Happy Family as part of the Cat Food aspect of KC's catalogue. Later this style of show 4/4 quirky jazz-spiced, near-funky prog was rocked up a bit in Ladies of the Road (shame about the lyrics) and Easy Money. Some people really hate the cacophony of the group soloing in Happy Family but I see that as the music expressing the the chaos when each member of the happy family (The Beatles?) wandering off in their own direction. Indoor Games and Happy Family both have their Bitches Brew moments. Reviewers tend to knock the effect on Gordon H's voice in Happy Family but I think it was needed or the nursery rhyme flavour of the lyrics and phrasing might have been too bland.

Lizard, its four parts taking up all of side two, is a wonderfully complex and impressive composition that is only for the patient. There are two ways to listen to this one - either with total focus when you have time to spare or as background music. Otherwise it can be dull at times. However, there are some gorgeous musical moments in this one like the climax at the end of part one. Then there is the passage where the classical bolero metamorphoses into a jazz bolero first hinted at by a some sly syncopated seventh chords from Keith Tippet, falls into near chaos which clears to a sweet Mark Charig cornet line.

This album is probably only for those who are die-hard lovers of KC's originality and those whose tastes span jazz, classical, pop and rock.

Report this review (#164538)
Posted Friday, March 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
Italian Prog Specialist
5 stars Just when you think you're perfectly acquainted with a band, an album like Lizard shows its ugly face and turns all those preconceptions upside down. Being my second venture from the Wetton years (the first was Discipline), this 1970 effort from King Crimson has quickly been crowned my favourite with the band. And yes, that includes the almighty In The Court Of The Crimson King, which I picked up at the same time as Lizard.

Never have King Crimson sounded livelier, more adventurous and yet as fragile as here. The sheer aggression and/or chilling atmosphere of the Wetton-albums are replaced with a mixture of disturbing joyfulness and melancholic yearning...almost dreamy at times. I've never heard anything quite like it. I'm pretty sure I never will again. One of those albums that leave me wondering - how is it even possible to assemble all this music, all these different influences, and still get something so perfectly natural in the end?

A great number of different instruments, including woodwind and brass. As often as they rise from the mix in short jazzy solo parts they take part in creating a constantly evolving musical landscape. Complicated enough to make me breathless it is swirling (no - dancing!) in a seemingly confused, yet perfectly coordinated way before it assembles, forming a rich background for Fripp's acoustic excursions. Hearing Fripp acoustic like this is for me probably the highlight of what I've heard from the man so far. No piercing, meandering or 'backwards' electric guitar anywhere in the neighbourhood. But even without that he makes the sound his own. Expressive, frantic picking and outbursts in just that dark, menacing way one have come to expect. If an acoustic guitar can be used explosively, that is what you experience while listening to Lizard, side by side with the mellow, pleasing side of the instrument most of us are used to.

Keith Tippet is my other hero on the album. Adding lonely, ringing tones from those pianos of his, he's one of the chief architects behind the delicacy, fragility and solitude (and madness?) found on the album, not to mention the great work he performs in the somehow ordered, jazzy chaos forming the backbone on many of the songs.

Vocalist Gordon Haskell is obviously not of everybody's liking. Overall he's got a rougher, throatier voice, somewhat lacking in range. His phrasing is also most likely to make some raise their eyebrows. I also had a slight problem with him in the beginning, but now that feels more like the standard initial skepticism coming with everything new. And if you by any chance can't learn to live with his voice, the objection has a tendency to vanish like dust in the wind when you start concentrating on the music. Jon Anderson from Yes also has the courtesy of dropping in for one of the songs on Lizards, namely the title track.

And what a title track it is. Twenty-three minutes of heaven, constantly shifting, covering many different moods and a perfect way of showcasing all the amassed skill present in the making of this epic. It's jazzy, it's symphonic, it's rocking. It's soothing, it's disturbing, it's cold and it's warm. And just like the album itself - a masterpiece.


Report this review (#166552)
Posted Sunday, April 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 20, Lizard, King Crimson, 1970


Lizard is really where King Crimson move mercilessly towards their classic formula of not having a formula. The songs on it bear almost no resemblance to earlier Crimson songs, and the band replaces many of its rock elements with jazz and, to a lesser extent, classical, ideas, which would be explored a little more on Islands. The new line-up produces a very interesting and powerful album, even if it's sometimes difficult to stomach, and Lizard fully merits five glittery stars. Sinfield's lyrics do work here, even if it took me a long time to get Lizard itself lyrically, and he moves through a lot of different styles with plenty of skill, though occasionally lacking the panache he possessed on Court and Wake. The album was really a grower for me, so I suggest giving it a little time to ferment before making a judgment.

The musicians have undergone a large transition of line-up, and, given how much Crimson albums are affected by the musicians involved, it's appropriate to examine it. Vocals (Jon Anderson's finest moment excluded) and bass are taken over by Gordon Haskell, who, whilst not a particularly good singer, suits the theatricality of the album, and handles the bass surprisingly well. Mike Giles has been replaced by the very capable Andy McCulloch. If there was one instrument on which the change could have been a massive mistake, it was the drums. Even a plain excellent drummer wouldn't do. McCulloch, however, was a very successful choice, I think. Keith Tippet takes a much more active role on piano and E-piano. Mel Collins really comes into his own a little more on saxes and flute. The biggest change, perhaps, are the studio contributions of Robin Miller on oboe and cor anglais, Mark Charig on cornet and Nick Evans on trombone. The diverse instrumentation is certainly something that marks the album's character, and it is merged with the previous Crimson line-up very well.

Cirkus, among a long list of classy Crimson openers, is among the best. Everything is utterly amazing: Keith Tippet's astral electric piano, the post-superb acoustic guitar work, the heavy jazzy mellotron (I think) riff, Andy McCulloch's curious, tapping percussion. A superb cornet solo. Gordon Haskell was made for this song, providing the appropriate delivery for Pete Sinfield's enchanting, biting abstract lyrics ('Elephants forgot, force-fed on stale chalk/Ate the floors of their cages'), and some superb crystalline bass. The gentle, spectral Entry Of The Chameleons works very neatly, preparing for some of the best interplay (acoustic guitar, piano and drums) that I have ever heard and a blaring jazz explosion and relaxation. Absolutely masterpiece material, with every musician more than standing out.

Indoor Games is one of the album's weirdest pieces, and I hated it on the first listen. Glad to say I've changed my mind on this. Pete Sinfield's lyrics are sarcastic, semi-nonsensical, and don't even seem to have a theme. The highlight is, again, the interplay and the way that the musicians come in and disappear without a seam. Fripp provides some very interesting strained electric guitar, and we get some amazing VCS3-Mellotron interplay on the middle section. The bass and drumming are seamless, and we get a cracking saxophone solo from Mel Collins to boot. Gordon Haskell's vocal and accompanying insane laughter is a grower, and Another masterpiece song, even if it took me a little while to get it.

The impact of satirising The Beatles' break-up is lost on me. Nonetheless, it sounds great, and Happy Family blares in very neatly at the end of Indoor Games, giving them a sort of one-song feel. Much more chaotic than the previous one, in its own way, with a distorted vocal from Haskell, a weird VCS3 (I think) riff that comes in every now and then, some flute and other soloing and a xylophone tapping on the conclusion. Very, very weird song.

Now we have the gorgeous Lady Of The Dancing Water. Perhaps the most beautiful ballad ever, with a combination of flute, trombone, acoustic guitar and piano that is genuinely able to reduce me to tears if I'm in the right mindframe. Pete Sinfield's lyrics could not be improved upon. Beautiful, beautiful song. Also an example of how to do a 'progressive' ballad.

Prince Rupert Awakes begins with an enchanting piano part that continues throughout the piece and a beautiful high vocal from Jon Anderson (Yes, the Jon Anderson), the uplifting, optimistic song continues with some acousticy Spanish-sounding and more typical guitar additions from Fripp and glistening, haunting mellotron, as well as superb VCS3, bass and drums on the chorus. A sweeping piano and drum crescendo leads us into one of the greatest mellotron-based sections of progressive music.

From the end of this chaos, a lone cornet turns up, and the rather loose, improvisational (I suspect) Bolero section begins, giving especial opportunities for Mel Collins and the four jazz-men to show off. Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch provide an odd rhythm section, while the others switch between solos and polyphonics, with Tippet providing an outstanding piano part. An oboe solo, combined with outstanding classical drumming, leads on to the haunting sax intro to Dawn Song.

The Battle Of Glass Tears begins with Gordon Haskell's hesitant, haunting, quiet vocal and backing, curious drumming and piano. What I presume is Last Skirmish kicks off with an eerie mellotron and rhythm section trio. The other instruments variously hammer in, including particularly exceptional flute and sax solos from Mel Collins as well as chaotic jazzy riffs and parts from all involved. Robert Fripp adds in shrieking electric guitar. Every section either escalates or builds tension, until it relaxes to a bass-and-drums beat over which Fripp lays the tragic Prince Rupert's Lament, a powerful, tense, emotional electric guitar solo. This would have been the perfect end to the epic song.

But it wasn't, for some reason, probably pertaining to Pete Sinfield's concept, the band tacked on a random Circus part to the end, which, while it might not be too bad in and of itself, damages the atmosphere, and I hate the speeding-up effect in all its shapes and forms.

This is, from what I've so far got, Mr. Fripp's high point as a guitarist. He never dominates or takes centre stage so bluntly that the other players don't have seem to have the space to develop, and he doesn't feel like he's made the conscious decision 'OK, we put a guitar solo here, a flute solo here, and then throw in a mellotron', but like he's organically fitted into his diabolical creation. The interplay and musicianship on the album is very dense, and it is almost flawless.

Five stars. Highly recommended to anyone interested in experimental music combinations, quality, diverse guitar-work and anyone who likes albums that take ages to grow on you.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Cirkus

Report this review (#168740)
Posted Saturday, April 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Almost without the existencialist-atmospheric concept of the two previous albums, and withou Lake, McDonald & Giles, Fripp reborned Crimson into an avant-garde mix of old Crimson mellotonic-concepts and circus-driven-randomized jazz.

For god sake, it really worked! LIZARD is a deterministic record, that defines, for all future listeners, that Crimson is not a band of one or two line-ups: Crimson is a concept.

Lacking some important attributes altough, Fripp re-builded the band with the gorgeous help os Mel Collins, Keith Tippet, Andy McCulloch & Gordon Haskell. Sinfield inspired lyrics remained untouched and mad as hell, and unfortunately this band could not tour in the 70´s mainly because of the disband-fever, now starded with Haskell.

Well, despite the scenario, LIZARD is a very well structured album, based on small cuts and single pieces of magnificent Fripp sonic-guitar flavours in the behalf of a new dressing. Collins, Tippet & McCulloch contributions are huge, and we´re all should be very depressed by the total absence of live recordings by this line-up.

From the big Cirkus to the symphonyc Lizard, it´s top Crimson in every note! Even the REALLY strange Indoor Games and Happy Familly are both able to send the message: Crimson is unique.

Strange and competent enoug to deserve a FIVE stars.

Report this review (#169399)
Posted Thursday, May 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Sang Froid Reptile With Overlapping Scales

After the very lackluster In the Wake of Poseidon, this offering from the Crims was something of a return to form.

Given Fripp's penchant for a revolving door recruitment policy at this time, it is remarkable that any of these early recordings possess as much coherence as they do. Lake's absence is not particularly glaring, as Haskell serves up some very inventive and perhaps 'earthier' grooves on the bass and his singing is a real highlight of the album. A childhood buddy of Fripp, we have anecdotal evidence that he found the material here daunting and did not relish the whole undertaking one bit. Regardless of Gordon's misgivings, his vocals lend an interesting texture and counter balance to some of Fripp's epic designs.

I fear the sedentary axe hero overreached himself here with an unwieldy idea for a very ornate but ultimately unsuccessful concept album i.e the side-long Lizard totally outstays its welcome and seems to take an inordinate length of time to explore then squeeze the life out of the musical materials presented.

The playing throughout is quite brilliant and the attention to detail is exemplary, but Fripp has never been shy of squarebashing his very illustrious troops into line, so why does he let Collins, Miller, Charig, Evans and Tippett noodle away just filling up space ?

This is a great pity as the lyrical opening section with Jon Anderson's vocal is quite brilliant, managing to encompass groundbreaking structural and key change elements topped off by an exquisite and unforgettable chorus. Thereafter things degenerate into a lengthy and painstaking transition from straight to swung time with the music becoming progressively jazzier and looser.

Fripp seems hell-bent on showing off this house to would be investors, but I for one, would keep my money in my pocket if all I am shown is the basement and a meticulous plan of the foundations.

Towards the end we do get some respite courtesy of a gorgeous bagpipe drone sound from Fripp's elegiac and wailing solitary guitar before..... Whoops...they've done it again. We end on a rather predictable note with some speeded up fairground music, a device they should have got out of their systems long after its deployment on the debut album.

Side one of Lizard is much, much better as the shorter song based formats force Fripp and Co into an economy of style woefully absent on most of side two.

'Cirkus' - Haskell's voice lends this a spooky air and the dynamic development is beautifully executed with a sublime police siren riff at the climactic moments. Listen to Fripp's bizarre broken arpeggios on acoustic guitar during the verses and just marvel at how he makes such angular accompaniment work so well. One of Crimson's most underrated songs.

'Indoor Games' - A tune that extra terrestrial female infants practice skipping to in the playgrounds of Pluto ? The quiet section in the middle is sublime but what sort of lollies were these guys sucking on ?:

Each afternoon you train baboons to sing on perspex coloured waterwings

Wonderful acoustic guitar strumming from Fripp on the chorus and fantastic horn arrangement lending the piece a jazzy improvised feel (although its composed down to the very last detail - that's the trick)

'Happy Family' - almost like a nursery rhyme sung by Darth Vader with Haskell's voice twisted beyond all human recognition into a gleeful robotic snarl. Very beguiling little melody that is at once innocent and sinister, framed in a very inventive arrangement with suitably languid flourishes from Robert.

Someone told me once that this song might be about the Beatles but I can't discern any obvious reference to the fab four ?.

'Lady of the Dancing Water' - pretty, as in I Talk to the Wind (slight return), but saved by some beautiful flute and that caramel texture that Haskell's voice gives to proceedings. In contrast with what comes before and after, this song seems like an afterthought. Not strictly filler, but out of context with the thematic feel of the album.

This record does have significant depth and detail so it rewards repeated listens but I fear that the following analogy may help summarize its flaws:

-They were arguing over which brand of camera to use to take pictures of the crash site, all the while oblivious to what caused the accident in the first place

Report this review (#169575)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars What makes the difference in rating such works as In the Court of Crimson King & Lizard . Simply , the answer is within yourselves . In the Court is one of my favourite albums since 1969 , and as a young teenage i accepted this work easily , his password was marked on its cover . It's one of the most commercial works of the progressive rock since that time . But , what about Lizard ...... I've purchased this album in 1971 , having no idea that this release from King Crimson has a special code , not marked on the cover of the album , and you have to figure it out by yourself , using your common sence , and reading between every single detail of the 5 tracks . Time factor was my code to open the perfection of Lizard , if in your opinion In the Court represent the best of KC's works , or it deserves 5 Stars as rating . I also believe in this humble equation , but imo Lizard was not addressed to the 70's markets , not even to all proggers , So figure out by yourselves why this particular release by King Crimson is on this statues as far i'm concerned . Still , as a conclusion to my previous talking , If , In the Court deserve a 5 Stars rating and a special place in your 100 most popular progressive releases ,which i don't mind at all . Lizard deserves a lot ... lot ...... lot more attention , time & recognition . As far i'm concerned in this review , this is the best of the best of the best releases ever in the world of progressive mania since 1969 up till now , it's in fact number one with no assistance , not even from Crimson's discography so far , and deserve no stars in my humble opinion . --- N.B = as i cannot exceed the limit of 5 Stars , it's ok for me to do so . Tracks Toni .
Report this review (#169826)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars As it's my first review, I have chosen Lizard from King Crimson, because it's the album which taught me not to judge anything at first sight. As you all know, some prog is hard to understand at first listening : what I had heard about Lizard didn't encourage me much, seeing as I was still a low level listener. Then, one day, I decided to give it a try. In The Court was a great album, along with the very special Islands, the main album to discover between these two surely is Lizard. When I listened to it, everything seemed clear to me : this is an astounding album with extremely inventive songs, and most of all the real classic Lizard (the song).

Cirkus remains one of my favourite Crimson songs ever : from the mellow introduction to the powerful riffs the structure of the song is incredible. I particularly enjoy the beautiful guitar work on this one, it gives me chills with its harmonies. Indoor Games is less emotional, but also quite experimental, with saxes and synth effects, there is a great jazz feeling during the whole song. Happy Family is really darker and VERY experimental at some points. At 1:00 the voice is coupled with a special effect, which really sticks with the atmosphere of the song. Lady Of The Dancing Water is a lovely ballad, with a great vocal offering and incredible flute work, the line Farewell my lady of the dancing water is probably one of the mellowest ever written by King Crimson. Finally, there is this monster track : Lizard. Jon Anderson is really impressive here, at first I thought it was someone else. Though I describe his voice as funny and powerful in Yes, here it's all the opposite. I had never heard such calm and emotion from him. All the instruments are used at their best here, especially winds and piano. The song is the ultimate blend between Rock, Jazz and Classical music. Its length does not endanger the quality of the material at all.

All in all, a must have for a King Crimson fan, but everyone should give it a try at least once, just to see and feel the power of real music.

5 Stars.

Report this review (#169838)
Posted Sunday, May 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars There are some very good moments on this album like the opening track Circus, the beautiful Lady of the Dancing Water and the first part of Lizard, sung beautifully by Jon Anderson. The rest of this album, however, is not that remarkable. This applies especially the the title track, it loses its direction toward the middle and it very little to do with the good first part. Lizard is therefore, despite being over 20 minutes in length, hardly an epic.

Some very good moments, some merely ok moments and some even boring ones. A good album overall, but not more than merely good.

Report this review (#177336)
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars PROLOGUE

After In the Court of the Crimson King and the roughly congruous In the Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson couldn't stay in one place for too long, whether because of the fact that they're a constantly evolving band, or because of drastic lineup changes... the Giles brothers departed along with Greg Lake who went on to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Gordon Haskell (from Cadence and Cascade) came in on vocals/bass and Andy McCulloch assumed the drumming role. Furthermore, Fripp broadened the band's range by adding three musicians to play oboe, cor anglais, cornet and trombone. Lizard is a different creature altogether in comparison to King Crimson's first two albums - it builds on them by adding many jazz influences (particularly free jazz). Lizard is the first true reinvention of their sound... jazzier, denser and more complex than their previous works.


01 - Cirkus: Cirkus is yet another strong King Crimson opener - it certainly exudes as much energy and chaos as their previous ones. A delicate spidery piano intro begins the album and, coupled with vocals, cascades and peaks until the opposingly ominous brusque brass enters. Fripp's acoustic guitar soon arrives over the top and it weaves in and out of the foreground throughout the whole song. Even as the verse progresses, the acoustic becomes more and more fractured and culminates in a choppy arpeggiated solo. Later on there is a splendidly jazzy alto sax solo backed by a signature King Crimson anguished mellotron melody. After the last verse, the songs starts to grow a little more wild and at 4:51 it's as if the piano, brass and acoustic are all vying for attention. The outro is rather intense with a climactic ascending tritone melody painted over by saxophone.

02 - Indoor Games: With its highlight goofy sounding sax riff and groovy off-kilter beat propelled by drumming which Bruford would be proud of, Indoor Games is the fun song of the album... lyrically I understand it to be Sinfield taking a vitriolic stab at wealthy people who are utterly bored in life. Indoor Games is certainly less intensely focused than any the rest of the album. And as if to attest to this, upon reaching the fourth verse, everything goes spacey and it becomes a bit of a free jazz jam session. Fripp's riffs are funky in a strange edgy kind of way, and his leads are very fusionesque. The song returns to its main theme and finishes with a charmingly raucous laugh from Haskell.

03 - Happy Family: Happy Family, which is a story about the Beatles, has just about everything in it. If King Crimson have ever done a truly avant-garde track in the spirit of free jazz, this is it. Haskell's vocals are beyond distorted and Tippett again exhibits more of the Cat Food piano style, a mixture of inaccessible insane syncopated choppy sections with a dash of blues swagger. While we have some vigorous flute attacks, Fripp's guitar in the background, some brass and even some synths, this track is predominantly Cat Food Part II with piano at the forefront.

04 - Lady of the Dancing Water: Lady of the Dancing Water acts as the mandatory chaser following the madness, which we've come to expect from King Crimson... it is a placid pretty love song featuring Mel Collins' flutework, an acoustic rhythm and even trombone in the middle. It is slightly disappointing because it isn't as strong as I Talk to the Wind, the Dream (first section of Moonchild) or Cadence and Cascade, and is a comparatively unadventurous song when wedged in an album full of experimentation. But it is undoubtedly valuable as a refreshingly pleasant change of pace for 2 minutes.

05 - Lizard: Here we are presented with King Crimson's majestic sprawling 23 minute track, Lizard - this is the first suite they ever wrote. It is divided into 4 parts with the 3rd divided into 3 subparts, and tells the story of Prince Rupert in battle.

Prince Rupert Awakes: The introduction to the suite features Jon Anderson - despite liking Yes, I don't particularly like the vocal style he employs with them, but on Lizard, he tones it down and sings beautifully and passionately. This section switches between sincere solemn verses and folky optimistic sounding verses with handclaps and Frippisms floating over the top. All in all, this is a pretty epic way to begin the suite.

Bolero: The Peacock's Tale: The previous section segues into Bolero which is bookmarked by oboe sections. The second section maintains the mood with some engaging lush melodies played over the top of bolero drumming until some funky piano encroaches and the song moves into a swinging jazz territory somewhat reminiscent of Charles Mingus.

The Battle of Glass Tears: The 2 minute Dawn Song is the first subsection of the Battle of Glass Tears, and it is suitably led by an ominous but enticing cor anglais section. Haskell describes in words the breaking of dawn and the moment just before battle ensues, as the soldiers are forming their lines.

Last Skirmish begins with McCulloch's articulate drumming, a rather deranged sounding bassline and mellotron echoing the cor anglais melody which is by now sounding anguished rather than hypnotic. Brass and flute enter the fray, then everything grows more and more wild in the chaos and confusion of the battle, most markedly the raucous saxophone. Things slow down for a bit (not sure what this is meant to represent) and then rage with twice the intensity until we reach an abrupt stop signalled by a bum note, at which point Rupert is struck down.

Prince Rupert's Lament begins with a plodding funereal bassline overlayed by nothing but Robert Fripp's downright dolorous eerie electric mourning... it reeks of wretched pain and bleak misery.

Big Top: Big Top is the peculiar circus-like outro to the album. It seems almost a parody when preceded by Prince Rupert's Lament.


Lizard was a risky departure and progression from Crimson's first two albums, and I consider it a complete success and a masterpiece. King Crimson prove here that they can reinvent themselves, and not only survive but innovate in the prog world. Lizard maintains a dark edgy experimental vibe throughout and the only weak point is Lady of the Dancing Water. I feel Tippett truly shines on this album, the brass/woodwind instruments add a lot and McCulloch did a pretty nice job on drums. While I think Haskell's vocals are a bit substandard next to Greg Lake, his basswork is decent and unfairly criticised. Lizard is quite overlooked in general, and misunderstood by many King Crimson fans. Even Robert Fripp himself ignores its existence. I give it a 9/10.

Report this review (#178456)
Posted Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | Review Permalink

I first listened to it with low expectations caused by the critics I saw of this album, my expectations were blown away! Cirkus' a really great open track, Robert Fripp's virtousity is shown while he's literally soloing the entire song! he makes great fills and Gordon Haskell's voice fits really perfect.

The next two tracks can blow your mind the instrumentation is great, then comes my favourite track Lady Of The Dancing Water, I wish It was longer the flute in this is great, it has a relaxing mood, and the lyrics are pure poetry indeed one of KC's best tracks ever recorded, and finally the homonim track, Lizard, this track its pure art, a great mood instrumentation and voice, it doesn't have any weak point, some parts have a classical-feeling, and Jon Anderson's vocal part has a perfect mood.

My favourite Crimson album, really relaxing, poetic, virtuoso, perfect mood, you can also find some jazzy parts that fit really great

5 stars for me!

Report this review (#178918)
Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars An other fantastic opera by KING CRIMSON! Lizard is a milestone of the rock music. A work semply genial for the music, the words and the arrangiaments. It explains the visionary force of Robert Fripp and his talent, with the great Pete Sinfield for the words part. Many artists are presents in this work, how shown in tha album desciption. I think that the music is very innovative, and the concept of album, dedicated to mythology, is wonderful. the cover, too, is a masterpiece. Extraordinary the sax of Mel Collins, and the oboe of Robin Miller, but all the band is on straospheric level. Five songs to listen with the maximum of concentration to have the maximum taste. In particular, beware LIZARD; a 23+ minuts of splendid sensations, where Jon Anderson (YES) sings at his best. In LIZARD there is a tribute to Maurice Ravel (bolero), and many musical passages of high intensity and worth. FOR ME, FIVE STARS!
Report this review (#180378)
Posted Wednesday, August 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is probably one of King Crimson's best albums ever, ranking up there with their debut and Red, but in a very different way.

The haunting and melancholy moods of the first few KC releases have now given way to the next direction the band will take: a more active, more energetic side of the band. Also, the melodies on this album finally get their feet. The whole way through, the vocals, though unfortunately no longer provided by Greg Lake, work with some wonderful tunes and produce a handful of songs that are still inspiring in their own way today. While fans of prog will, if completely unaware of King Crimson's style, be drawn to this album because of the sidelong track, the true beauty of this album is in its whole. Mel Collins is on fire throughout the release, playing saxophone like he was born with it in his hands and mouth. Robert Fripp takes more of a lead with his guitar work here, beginning to reveal to the world why they will soon refer to him as one of the greats of the guitar world (I'm referring to the aspect of the world that doesn't keep rating Kurt Cobain as the best guitarist of all time).

The album opens with the highly aggressive Circus, driven by some stellar six string loving from Robert Fripp. A catchy chorus and some nice saxophone in the middle turn this song into another unique opener for the band, proving that, though it hearkens back somewhat to their first two releases, they were never going to do the same thing again. Indoor Games continues the feel here, with distorted vocals and neat acoustic guitar. The saxophone gives the song a slightly goofy, lilting feel. A slightly meandering experimental middle section is punctuated by neat guitar and sax work, returning to the main theme of the song with a wild abandon after what might be the first true guitar solo by Robert Fripp. The next song, Happy Family, is another dark tune with a strange sense of disparate tempos. The vocals are once again lighthearted and odd, feeling built in to the music. The guitar builds a groundwork for some odd keyboard noodling that actually sounds cool here. The main musical theme here is a really menacing and progressing bit. The side wraps up with the quiet ballad Lady of the Dancing Water, which is somewhat a let-down after the previous few tracks. The flute, however, is gorgeous here.

Then, of course, we have the second side, featuring the big old title track. Within moments, we notice something is odd. What happened to Gordon's voice? Jon Anderson of Yes makes a wonderful debut on the first three or four minutes of this song, sounding more perfect for this music than he usually does for his own (and I like Yes). The little chorus of this section is pure gold, a wonderful melody that just fits in timber and tone with Anderson's voice and the mood of the music. This is a wildly difficult song to digest, on the whole, as while most of it is great, a lot of the little bits go beyond experimental and into something more like RIO. When it all realigns each time, though, it's is splendid. I can't really break down this tune piece by piece, but I can tell you that it moves into a spacey bit about halfway through, which segues to one of the more aggressive moments on the song about 14 minutes in. The song builds off this, continuing to get darker and fuller. Lastly, the song dies down about 20 or so minutes in, throwing a mournful guitar over a bolero feel. Well, lastly meaning the song proper is about over, except then a strange circus bit comes in and tears the ending of the song to delightful pieces. This might be one of the strongest songs the band ever wrote, as weird and as inconsistent as it might seem. It just feels right on the whole.

In short, this is a wonderful release. One of the few essential releases by King Crimson. It's more along the lines of regular symphonic prog than most of the rest of their output, so it's a nice place to start if you are, say, a big Yes fan and always wondered what convinced Jon to throw some vocal tracks over here. A perfectly splendid album.

Report this review (#185126)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard is the most different King Crimson album from the 70's, since King Crimson here has more classical music influence than whenever

Though Robert Fripp thinks this is not such a good album, Lizard is another King Crimson album that i love, but unlike most King Crimson's albums, Lizard is clearly more influenced by classical and folk music than any other King Crimson album, though it still retain some of the jazz instruments, like the trumpet, the sax and oboe.

Lizard is also another rebirth album for the band and that is probably why the music is so different. After King Crimson disbanded for the first time, in 1970 after the release of In the Wake of Poseidon, Fripp thought of leaving prog rock for good, but thanks to the Yes invitation (at that time Yes was searching for a new guitarist but things didn't worked out so well and then, thanked by the invitation, Fripp asked for Jon Anderson to do some vocals in Lizard), Fripp decided to keep King Crimson going. With a completely new band, things went differently in studio than in the previous albums and eventually resulted in Lizard's great outcome.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

The album is basically divided in two parts: the Lizard epic and the rest of the album. The epic looks like more like a symphonic prog piece, with a big deal of classical music influence, than Crimson's jazzy experimentalism, but this does not means it is a bad song (in fact it is an awesome song). Lizard (the song) also is mostly driven by the piano / mellotron / keyboard instead of the usual guitar work.

The rest of the album strives for wider horizons than Lizard, since it is more experimental and diverse than the title song, but, unfortunately, it is not as good as the epic.

The highlights go the the epic side-long song Lizard. It is just beautifully amazing.

Like most (or maybe all) Crimson albums, Lizard (the album) has some quite complex song to play. Because of that, the musicianship of all musicians is quite good, though this album is not as demanding as Lark's Tongues or Red. On a sidenote, it is remarkable how Gordon Haskell's and John Wetton's voices look alike.

Grade and Final Thoughts

As always, King Crimson reappears as something completely different as before and blows my mind (at least until Discipline) and since, in my opinion (although Robert Fripp may disagree), Lizard is the fourth best Crimson album of the 70's, i think it does deserve the masterpiece grade.

Report this review (#185467)
Posted Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars King Crimson was a leading band in the 70' and especially "Lizard" putted them in a lonely place at the progressive top. Lizard had the biggest line-up of King Crimson and showed a more complex sound with a more avant jazz approach, although having still the typical Crimson basic songwriting. Keith Tippet - who had showed his wild piano skill before on Cat Food - plays a more prominent role on this record and there are more wind instruments. Fripp -the mastermind of the band himself - plays besides the beloved mellotron also an accoustic sounding guitar on some of the songs.

The first side has great dynamics. While "Circus" shows already a quiet complex sound, the next songs "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" are even more chaotic/ avant garde. As a fan of avant-garde musicians - like Zappa, Beefheart and Henry Cow - King Crimson could not have made a better choice to please me! The prog ballad "Lady of the dancing water" is a welcome easy but beautiful listening experience after this avant peak of the record.

The second side contains just one track which named this record. After the great vocal parts of Jon Anderson (Yes) their is room for some long improvisations. The record ends with a great psychedelic avant trip.

This is without doubt one of the most progressive records ever made. It's advised for progressive listeners with some listening experience and RIO/avant rock fans. Better start with King Crimson's first effort!

Report this review (#186380)
Posted Sunday, October 19, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars KING CRIMSON - LIZARD Let's begin!

This is third album from King Crimson and it is a different one. I read somewhere that this is as close as they get to their jazz influences. And it is true. But how it sounds? Well, can you imagine King Crimson with Miles Davis's touch? Sketches of Spain inside of the In The Wake of the Poseidon?

CIRKUS: This is second song I have heard from KC (first being 21 century) and it's masterpiece. From the beginning to end it's beautiful. I personally think this is Fripp's first true contribution to the overall sound with his acoustic eccentric lines. 5 Indoor games & Happy family: Two songs like one! Bizarre, grotesque and not for everyone. I personally love them but I can why someone have a problem with them. Must be heard to judge. 4.5

Lady of the dancing water: Beautiful ballad. Nothing more to say there. Can be better maybe? 4

Lizard: STUNING! KC epic! Can you imagine it? Can you imagine group improvisation (something like free jazz but all in the circle of progressive rock) the everything fits right in the spot and everything is disharmonic and in the same time beautiful? Well, that's it. Masterpiece. 5 5 stars. Essential.

Report this review (#186770)
Posted Friday, October 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars King Crimson - 'Lizard' 5 stars

Crimon's unsung hero.

Lizard is King Crimson's hardest album to get into by a mile. It mars together some of music's toughest character, jazz and avant-garde. Also, with so many line-up changes, there is such a new flavor in a band that was still very new. What brings out the jazz flavor is the horn section, which is the most abundant on this album compared to any other, thanks to Mel Collins.

There is plenty acoustic guitar done by Robert Fripp on this album. He seems to be the driving force on this record, possibly due to him being the main composer of this album. 'Cirkus' is just about the only accessible track on the entire album. The rest all are some very challenging songs, but do have some of the strongest melodies, some being more apparent than others, for instance the electronic line in 'Lady of the Dancing Water' or the theme in the 23 minutes epic 'Lizard'. There are plenty throughout, but you must be able to discover them buried in the music.

King Crimson's least accessible album, but the most rewarding.

Report this review (#190294)
Posted Sunday, November 23, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars So good seeing the love that Lizard gets from its hundreds of PA reviewers. And hey, here's some more:

Lizard remains to this day my favorite Crimson album. And I can wrap it up in one word: mischief. There is easily more mischief, both instrumentally and lyrically, than on any other KC project to date. Just love all those extra wind instruments, Keith Tippett's flitting piano trickling all over the place, some real envelope-pushing mellotron work, Gordon Haskell's full throated voice, reedsman Mel Collins being ... Mel Collins (always a treat), and Pete Sinfield's most fascinating set of lyrics ever, particularly on Cirkus ('Elephants forgot, force-fed on stale chalk, ate the floors of their cages' - good lord, what a visual!).

How such a fascinating album could arise from such fractious origins is quite a testament to headmasters Fripp and Sinfield. If what I read is true, bass player Haskell and drummer Andrew McCulloch recorded their instrumental tracks in advance, completely without the aural aid of the rest of the band. Helluva weird way to make a record, but sure was a nice payoff! Pity this lineup never lasted long enough to do even a single gig. They were barely around long enough for a single photo!

For the Crimson novice, Lizard is probably not the place to begin. But if you're already hooked and in the midst of assembling your own Crimson Collection, you might want to move Lizard to the head of the line!

Report this review (#194675)
Posted Monday, December 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars Slightly better than the heavier Red but not quite as brilliant as In The Court Of The Crimson King (thouhg it is not far off), making this KING CRIMSON's second greatest album. A compositional masterpiece instrumentally mixes with superbly crafted lyrics, both substantial and ludicrous, expertly delivered by both Gordon Haskell and Jon Anderson. This album embodies everything great about progressive rock, at times agressive and bombastic and at time soft and beautiful but never anything less than virtuoso. To love this album is to love progressive rock in its purest form because if your looking for a nice easy crossover sound you ain't getting it. There are greater prog albums (not many, mind you) but I don't know that any better exemplify Essential: a masterpiece of progressive music. An unabashed 5 stars.
Report this review (#196968)
Posted Friday, January 2, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Quiet One
5 stars King Crimson goes Quirkier and Jazzier than ever!

After the un-inspiring, though excellent musically, In The Wake of Poseidon, Robert moved to ''dangerous'' grounds, jazz. With a whole bunch of new musicians, Greg Lake finally left to pursue with the Symphonic masters, ELP, so Gordon Haskell who had sang in Cadence And Cascade in their previous, now gets the role of singing in the entire album plus playing bass, his voice is nothing than an acquired taste, definitely not a appealing voice from the first listen, but with each listen it starts to grow on you, primarly because you notice his low-timbre really fits the music here. Also Mel Collins gets a much important role in this album, featuring his whole potential in the sax. But as some members were ''promoted'', others were ''demoted'', for example Robert Fripp, his role as a guitarist is diminished, while his important role on the mellotron still stands. On the other hand Keith Tippet who had played some few, though beautiful, notes, this time he gets a whole bunch of chords to play with his jazzy and quirky piano and electric piano.

Lizard gives you highly entertaining songs from the very beginning, through the dark and melancholic, psych-esque, Cirkus, in which the highlights are the haunting mellotron and the smooth/dissonant sax by Mel Collins. Then Indoor Games gives you a less haunting view of the album, though still complex, managing the KC fan stay focus on the album, with some quirky moog plus the quick change of moods. Later on KC delivers you a more powerful entry with Happy Family, though it soon fades away and gets into a dissonant, jazzy-style, song, with Gordon's voice twisted and delayed giving the dissonant feel, plus some entertaining flute that'll give the KC fan some memories of In The Court. Finally Robert gives you the smooth and gentle acoustic/flute lead moment with Lady of the Dancing Water, ala Cadence and Cascades or Peace from their previous effort.

But what really makes Lizard one of it's own, is the title track, with the highly original structure/composition developing all the potentials from the ''promoted'' members, plus the main incorporation of the jazz leanings all throughout the song, mainly lead by Mel's sax or Keith's keys. The first part features Jon Andersons' delicate voice, in which the songs develops from beauty to calm dramatic moments with the mellotron, in which in the second part it will all fade away, moving to the long-awaited jazzy territory with sax and piano. The third ''movement'' is the darkest and greatest, with a stunning dissonant, psych-esque climax, fully lead by Mel's aniquilating saxophone, along with crazy mellotron touches, and a impossible rythm to follow. Pittily the last part is quite dissapointing, being crazy, circus-esque, letting the epic fail in the end.

As nearly all KC albums of the 70's, each one is unique(with the exception of ITWOP and SBB) because of a certain mood or genre dominating it. Like I said in my Islands review, I highly recomend you to try non-stop with this album until you enjoy it, by the way it's the only KC album featuring a 20 minutes+ piece. Also highly recomended for those saxophone lovers, you won't find in any other Crimson album as much sax blast-off's as in this, with the exception of Islands.

A masterpiece. Lovers of quirky sounds, jazz, and complex, yet old 70's fashion, music, check this out.

Report this review (#202314)
Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Wear your blizzard season coat.

Lizard is an album which,although proves with repeated listenings to be rich in compositions and multidimensional,has as it's greatest merit the complete and perfect mutation from the two previous albums.Jazz remains the primary influence,however the final result is something so far away from the debut and it's strong follow-up,that one might question if this is the same band after all.The personell change resulted in an elegant transformation,and the essence captured here would be again lost in the following albums.This is an interesting momentum in King Crimson's carreer,and although it is far from flawless,Lizard still stands as one of their most significant,expressive and misterious efforts.

While Cirkus and the tiltle track(a 23-minute lament with enchanting lyrics)are set apart from the world of progressive rock with cold,almost ethereal melodies and arrangement,the album also finds space for more traditional pieces such as the lovely Lady of the Dancing Water,a flute-led ballad which sets the mood for the aforementioned Lizard composition.Both Indoor Games and Happy Family are heavily jazz-influenced and require time in order to be appreciated,but these two numbers seem somewhat misplaced in the silent and obscure mood of the album.

The choice of Gordon Haskell for lead vocals wasn't quite fittable for Lizard.Not that he has a particulary bad voice:it quite simply doesn't match the album's elegance.This is brought up in one of the best passages,when Jon Anderson is invited to sing the first movement of the Lizard suite.Yes' frontman's sad,high-pitched and melodic chant seems far more natural here than Haskell's remarkable effots to do justice to the album's grandeur.Being as it is,it's hard to imagine Cirkus without Gordon Haskell's challenging,sometimes ironic voice,though.

Needless to say,all the remaining musicians are stunning throughout,but credit must be given to the lyricst Pete Sinfield,who brought back the excellence of the first album's poems in a more contemplative and abstract encarnation.The lyrics really complete the music here,in a way that only this band could do.

As happened with all King Crimson albums up to Lark's Tongues In Aspic,the strenght of this third effort lies in the sum-up of it's pieces,and the unmistakable mood forged by them.This is,however,a delicate,unmatchably sophisticated and remarkably sorrowfull album,and resemblances to other recordings by the band in the same period are very remote.The sum-up of all this elements makes Lizard one of the most enchanting offerings King Crimson ever presented us with,and it's imperfections are simply an invitation to this extremely complex album.

Report this review (#227988)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Particular album in the discography of King Crimson. In the premiere listen to the abum do not stick but it is small has young that it is going to create the magic... Cirkus it ets a little of madness, with a shout, a sound of absolutely magnificent Mellotron, a guitar seche beautiful, everything in sharpness and in exploit. Gordon Haskell has no formidable voice(vote), but a sound of bass tres just. The big Mel Collins is in the sax and has the flute. The passages on cirkus can etre tres envoutant. Indoor games can etre funny, but the soft passage is absolutely beautiful. Happy Family is nutcase's title! Ravaged completement. Then the voice(vote) of Jon Anderson arrives and the magic arrives at the summit. To note lady's beautiful ballad of the dance hall to water, everything in sharpness.

Report this review (#228023)
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is King Crimson's hardest album to get into to. You need repeated listens to appreciate this album. CIRKUS is a pure masterpiece from Crimson and has wonderful acoustic guitar work. INDOOR GAMES is not a great song, but overall it is completely tolerable. The horns and saxes may make the song seem like a bit of nonsense. HAPPY FAMILY is just a tad bit better than Indoor Games, however, the distortion of Gordon Haskell's vocals do not fit in great. Even Haskell himself did not like what they did to his voice. Happy Family is sneakily about the Beatles. This represents the fact that Peter Sinfield's lyrics were just about at their peak here. A short track called LADY OF THE DANCING WATER follows Happy Family. Despite it's length, it is much better than the previous two pieces. It is that of what I Talk To The Wind was on their debut album.

The final track, Lizard, is King Crimson's greatest (and possibly strangest) achievement. The first 11 minutes are fantastic: Jon Anderson's vocals go perfectly with the lyrics and music. The chorus is downright spectacular. The rest of the song (except for "Bolero") may get a little overwhelming, but this is another Crimson masterpiece. Without the title track, this album is not that good. I give it 4 stars.

Report this review (#235045)
Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is not as good as Islands or Fracture, but it is still a big masterpiece of progressive rock. In here, even the voice of Jon Anderson, that in General I do not like, is very well served. Indeed, as appears the vocals of Jon Anderson is the only way they sound good, as in Vangelis Heaven and Hel and in some small parts of Yes's albums. The music here is very influenced by classical music but it also has a jazzy taste. Of course, Fripp is clearly who mainly does everything, specially the compositions of the songs.
Report this review (#235920)
Posted Sunday, August 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars King Crimson - Lizard (1970)

This record proves King Crimson was really far more grownup then all other progacts around. Already in 1970 they made a record that didn't remind me at all to their older works. This is a TRUE progressive record without any doubt (for those who follow the discussions about 'prog or not prog'). The influences on this record are clearly avantgarde and jazz. Rock was somehow put aside for most of the time. I don't think any of the members of King Crimson could have understood where this record was going to, not even Fripp himself.

Cirkus(including Entry Of The Chameleons). This is a true classic KC song. Dark, with punching wave of mellotron I never heard before. Though a very intelligent composition, it is still acceptable for the most proggers. The ending has orchestrations that remind me of the Roman Empire music you hear in movies. Very impressive song! 100% score.

Indoor Games. This is where the avantgarde trouble starts. Though it has a catchy refrain, most of the song is messy and chaotic. It takes time to get into this song, but I like it quite much. I still don't however wether this is great or avaragel.

Happy Family. This is dark and pessimistic. "Happy family, one hand clap, four went by and None came back". The vocals of Gordon Haskell are not my taste. The vocals sound like a German propaganda movie... it would have suited Captain Beefheart. Not my favourite song this is.

Lady Of The Dancing Water. Where Happy Family is quite ponderous, Lady of the Dancing Water is a pure gentle song like I talk to the Wind and Cadance and Cascade. I loved this song from first spin and it's still one of the greatest melodic songs of King Crimson. The presence of the flute of Mel Collings make this a masterfull song.

Lizard. The epic of the album taking side two of the vinyl record on its own. The first parts are quite like the 'normal' progressive sound of the first two KC records. Yes vocalist Jon Anderson was asked to sing the first vocal parts of the song and does so perfectly. This is by far my favourite Anderson vocalpart of his whole carrere. After the symphonic parts the jazz improvisation parts with psychedelic/avant-garde sound appear. It's hard to discribe how the music evolves, but it's different then all other prog epics. The song has the symphonic sound of the prog classics combined with the jazzy sounds and atmospheres of Miles Davis led by Robert Fripp's dark ambitions. It is record pretty well.

This record is a essential masterpiece of progressive rock. Not because I like every moment of this album, but for some moments that are so special and progressive that it's quality could not be doubted. I have no record in my collection that sounds like this, progresses like this and has an impact like this. It's hard to get into, but it's worth it! It might not be everyone's cooky (modern symphoproggers might find it horrible), still it desevers the full five stars!

Report this review (#241868)
Posted Monday, September 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third KC album is different from it's predescesors. Much more complex, with strong jazz and avantgard elements, it stays aside of KC early works. As for me, it's really better, then soft ,almost romantic and mellow "Poseidon..". More energy, more drive, more experimental sounds. But far from masterpiece, sorry. Too many places sound as strong raw material, but not finished music.

I like about 50% of this album, but the other part is just ... accessible. I think, it is just my personal point of view, but under heavy experimentation I not always can feel the music there.

I like it's ROCK component, and some of jazz components too, but can see the melted sound of those two far away not everywhere.

Speaking about KC Mk I ( it is, before "Discipline"), I prefer "In The Court of CK" first and "Red" after. And I think "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" is third.

The problem is not in free jazz added ( I like Keith Tippett in his jazz-avantgard solo works very much!), but because I can't feel strong collaboration between prog and jazz section too often. For me it sounds more as experiment with some successful results, but not as finished serious work.

But, for sure, the album is enough interesting, as almost any KC album!

Report this review (#246475)
Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars Side 2 of "In the Wake of Poseidon" introduced the new KING CRIMSON sound that would be carried forward to "Lizard" and "Islands". Only lyricist Peter Sinfield and guitarist Robert Fripp remains from the debut, with Fripp occupying the mellotron stool. Gone are the melodic and classically infused compositions, replaced by a more free form intentionally dissonant and cold jazzy ambiance. Gordon Haskell assumes most vocals although he is largely relegated to side 1. He's no Greg Lake, but that man's talents would have been wasted on "Lizard".

The album actually kicks off with one of the group's best tracks, the eclectic "Cirkus", with its surreal lyrics of a collapsing world under the big top, and its superb riff and instrumental breaks highlighting Fripp's idiosyncratic acoustic guitar style, Mel Collins' sax, and even some sweeping mellotron. The piece quiets down near the end to a slow buildup and calamitous climax, nothing new for an opening KC cut.

"Indoor Games" is a far more mature and effective reading of "Cat Food" that appeared on "In the Wake", with more thought-provoking lyrics and acoustic frippery. But "Happy Family" has to be one of the worst songs committed to vinyl, a blasphemous drug induced nursery rhyme without charm or insight. Luckily Side 1 ends with a ballad following in the footsteps of "I Talk to the Wind" and "Cadence and Cascade", shorter still, but with sparkling guitar and flute. I admit it has a burned out vibe, no doubt signaling the end of KC's run of sweet flute ballads.

Jon Anderson acquits himself well on "Prince Rupert Awakes", and it's hard to imagine giving the job of carrying this melody to Haskell. It's eerie and measured, with a choral mellotron ending to match. After this, the album moves fully into jazzy territory. "Bolero" is a lovely instrumental but with a bit too much heavy sax in the break. My edit would only include a little of this extravagance. But "Battle of Glass Tears" essentially introduces the even more devil may care style of "Islands". The themes that can be discerned are less interesting and more tempestuous, and far too drawn out.

I am not a fan of this style to be blunt, but, for what it is, "Lizard" is actually a pretty impressive critter, and could merit 4 stars if it were not so cold blooded.

Report this review (#256630)
Posted Thursday, December 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Lizard is a quite a unique album in the Crimson discography. By consequence, it has both its devoted fans and people that rate it below other KC albums. Whichever way you turn, I think it has excellent material and serves as a landmark album of the then still premature prog scene.

The opener Cirkus is simply amazing, it's a superb composition, alternating gentle verses and brilliant acoustic guitar picking with that big dramatic guitar theme. It has beautiful mellotron and nice jazzy elements and, in typical Crimson style, it ends in a big and almost chaotic climax.

This is probably the only King Crimson album that features some synths, a VCS3 to be precise. It's done very subtly as on Indoor Games. This song is less overwhelming then the opener but it grows with frequent listens. Also Happy Family features some keyboard, resulting in an eye-catching opening part. The core of the songs is difficult to get into though, and sounds more like a practical joke that got out of hand then like a regular Crimson track. Very 'circusy' indeed, this one. Lady of the Dancing Water must be one of PFM's main sources for inspiration. Very smooth and gentle but not really convincing.

Lizard lifts this album almost to 5 stars. Jon Anderson opens with amazing vocals, alternating subdued verses in typical Crimson style with a very uplifting chorus that bathes in dazzling Yes-light. Even the lalala is gorgeous. These first 4 minutes rate amongst the most beautiful of the classic symphonic rock style. They are followed with a soft jazzy section, improvising around the main theme of the chorus and borrowing the rhythm of Ravel's Bolero. Halfway in, there is a short piece on Oboe that is slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky, Gorden Haskell takes over vocal duties and the band launches in another 10 minute of experimental jazz rock drama and mellotron washes. The last 3 minutes before the short finale feature some very abstract guitar playing from Fripp.

An out of the ordinary Crimson album, incredibly dense and orchestrated compared to their usual stark sound. I think it's one of their brightest, most melodic and most playful albums. Lovers of symphonic prog shouldn't miss this.

Report this review (#257140)
Posted Monday, December 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lizard - King Crimson (3.67 stars) Original Release: 12/11/1970


Cirkus including Entry of the Chameleons (4 stars) Creepy, psychotic circus music with a great instrumental chorus with mellotron that sounds like a horn blown by Poseidon himself. The bass comes in underneath with a malevolent swagger and the acoustic guitar flows around it like a manic feather boa. This sound also has good mellotron and saxophone instrumental section. Overall great mix of instrument, mood and drama. This song ends with a sound effect like that one that ended "The Devil's Triangle" on their previous album; a kind of shimmering light sound.

Indoor Games (3 stars) I am unable to get much understanding out of the lyrics on this song. Their is a confusion of guitar around the vocals and a bemused sax melody. Strong strums on the acoustic guitar accent the brief chorus. The instruments are numerous and complex but syncopated.

Happy Family (3 stars) This song has the same light tone as the previous song and is connected to it by the vocalist's laughter. The instruments also, similarly, are played like a controlled avalanche around the vocals. I've read that this song is about the Beatles' break up; perhaps, if I knew more about the Beatles I might be able to recognize this in the lyrics. Otherwise the lyrics are just strange like some Ringo Starr song.

Lady of the Dancing Water (3 stars) There is excellent flute playing on this slow, quiet song. If I'm not very much mistaken this is actually a love song; I can't think of another love song that King Crimson has done.

Lizard: Prince Rupert Awakes, Bolero: The Peacock's Tale, The Battle of Glass Tears: (Dawn Song, Last Skirmish, Prince Rupert's Lament), Big Top (4 stars) Given that there is seemingly a story behind this song, I imagine that the lyrics are penetrable but I have not been able to make too much sense of them. This is King Crimson's only epic length song. I think the band has turned down the complexity a slight notch for the most part in favor of more straight-forward instrumentation. Jon Anderson's mystical voice climaxes in the first part of the song with a passionate mellotron in the tradition of King Crimson's album-titled songs so far. The mood is anticipatory and calm until this first climax is reached. Then starts a beautiful instrumental, a bolero, with a succession of elegant woodwind and brass instruments that play slight variations on the main theme. The instruments include trumpet, clarinet, oboe, saxophone and trombone together, then all these instruments join together with a piano, often played like a harp, in the background. The mellotron comes in at the end like a backing string section. After this bolero the oboe plays an ominous song of the dawn before a battle. The regular vocalist returns to sing and after this the mellotron kicks in with bass beating the drums of war. Then the saxophone sings a war march. Further sounds emulate the chaos and violence of war until a further climax resolves into a kind of funeral lament with the bass plucking deep notes and the guitar screaming someone's agony. After this misery fades away the sounds of a big top fade in and then as soon fade away again as the pitch and tempo slowly increase, suggesting a kind of madness. Also, this theme may have been an effort to tie the album's beginning and ending together conceptually.

Album: This album has a more cohesive sound than its predecessor "In the Wake of Poseidon". I sense that the mellotron is gradually loosing ground in successive King Crimson albums, but it is still being used effectively. Woodwind and brass instruments often get to shine on this album and are not always lost in an effort to create a crazy cacophony. This is one of the highlights of this album's style, to showcase the talents of the musician's individual efforts.

MP3 recommendation:

Four stars (4 stars) 1. Cirkus (4 stars) 2. Lizard (4 stars)

Report this review (#262371)
Posted Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lizard witnessed a fairly dramatic change of direction from King Crimson, rather than simply being a reproduction of the previous album as had largely been the case with In The Wake Of Poseidon. The sound here is geared more towards avant-garde and the album features several guest musicians drawn from the jazz world. Brass and woodwinds dominate the aural landscape along with Keith Tippett's pianos. On the whole, Robert Fripp's guitar is fairly restrained although there is some sublime acoustic work during the first half of the album. He also makes liberal use of Mellotron throughout the album and lyricist Pete Sinfield even gets in on the act, adding some interesting synthesized effects.

Fripp and Sinfield were still the principle members of KC at this point and had written all the material for the album. Reeds-man Mel Collins remained from ITWOP, with Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch joining as full members. McCulloch proved to be a more than adequate replacement for Michael Giles; his drumming is excellent and sounds similar in style to his predecessor. However, bassist and vocalist Gordon Haskell's singing is a sore point for me. In my opinion he can't sing; or rather, he doesn't sing. His vocal range is narrow while his delivery lacks articulation and falls somewhere between his speaking voice and a drone. If this criticism seems harsh, you only need to look to the fact that Jon Anderson was employed to sing the lead on Prince Rupert Awakes. On the subject of Jon Anderson, I've always felt that his voice sounds incongruous on a KC album; that and the handclaps make this song far too dainty for my liking.

The opening track, Cirkus, is arguably the main highlight of the album and features a menacing Mellotron that calls to mind The Devil's Triangle from ITWOP. The song itself is a curious hybrid of styles, alternating between the band's heavy and symphonic sides. The song ends in a cacophony of saxophone, brittle guitar, braying cornet and clattering drums. Indoor Games and Happy Family are a couple of quirky songs with hedonism and The Beatles as their subject matter respectively. Both these songs feature treated vocals; experimentation, or further evidence Haskell wasn't up to the job? Track 4, Lady Of The Dancing Water, features a lovely playful flute by Collins along with some trombone. This song is a throwback to I Talk To The Wind and Cadence And Cascade from the two previous albums. I'm surprised that KC continued to produce this type of song, and in fact would go on doing so after Lizard.

The title track consists of a 23-minute multi-part suite, beginning with the aforementioned Prince Rupert Awakes. This first piece is very much in KC's trademark symphonic style and features a lyrical electric guitar lead and Mellotron-laden crescendos. During the final verse a marching snare-drum beat joins in, which exquisitely heralds the forthcoming Bolero section. The initial cornet and piano of Bolero are soon joined by oboe. Reed and brass instruments then head into an improvised section, throwing in occasional motifs from the standards repertoire, underpinned by Tippett's manic piano. Fripp has been conspicuous by his absence so far in this section, but waves of Mellotron arrive during the reprise of the main theme. A distant cor anglais then introduces the lengthy Battle Of Glass Tears, which features dramatic contrasts of dynamics; another trademark of the KC sound. The brief Big Top closes the album, and along with the opener Cirkus these two songs nicely ring-fence the entire album.

Lizard has the reputation of being a difficult album, mainly as it is quite different to other early KC discs. It's certainly an album that requires repeated plays in order to fully appreciate its complexities. Despite the issues with the two vocalists highlighted above, it's an otherwise fine album and is worthy of a solid 3 stars.

Report this review (#262876)
Posted Wednesday, January 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, altough this album's been recorded back in 1970, it still sounds extremely progressive and innovative. It is playful, dark, melodic, lyric, spooky, adventurous, grandiose, meandering. It has an avant-garde felling all over it and it is more jazzy and symphonic (in the classical way) than any other KC album. The performances and sound are excellent and, as time passes, the music becomes deeper, while you can hear a great number of acoustic and electric instruments building an enormous sound canvas. The guitar playing is very characteristic, the mellotron reigns and McCulloch's style on the drum kit is brilliant and very personal. Now, if you add the amazing painting on the cover, you have an essential piece of musical art, not only in progressive rock's territory, but in contemporary music's too.
Report this review (#263664)
Posted Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The most jazzy-oriented release by King Crimson

Lizard is an interesting release in the history of King Crimson, with being the most jazzy album of the band. One of their peaks, but without their distinctive and characteristic style. It saw the arrival of new vocalist - Gordon Haskell, who's very similar to Greg Lake's voice. The album could trully regarded as a jazz rock fusion album with only little moments outside jazz territory. This is probably one of the best King Crimson's album (following Red). It gets away of some unpleasant moments, situated in a couple of other KC albums. Despite that, there isn't something special in most of the short songs before homonymous epic Lizard. The essence of the album is been in the last one. It's deep, profound and catchy. Lizard features Jon Anderson from Yes on vocals at the beginning of the composition - called Prince Rupert Awakes. Prince Rupert Awakes is the only part not being jazzy as whole. All other parts of the composition are strongly jazz-oriented. Lizard is highly recommended album for jazz rock fusion fans and quite recommended for all others. 4 stars!!!

Report this review (#266678)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars After another round of personal changes, new vocalist, new drummer, new bass. King Crimson realeased Lizard in late 197O, second album that year.!!

Crimson moves away from that very dark mood's they had in the previus 2 recordings, to a lighter, sometimes even humerous music and sound, somewhat related to what you could call medival music. You might then think that Lizard would be an easy album to get into, compared to the earlier once, but no, quite the opposite, this is an allmost indescribable complex, offbeat, odd, and very hard for the 4/4 rock/pop loving ear to controll. This is a fusion of avantgard jazz, rock, medival, all at the same time. The Album opens with a soft vocal on a piano solo like texture, not even a clear melody in the piano but it works out great. Suddently the band kicks in, bass, drum, melotron, Fripp a supreme acustic guitar, one of the most incredible acustic guitars, he ever did, flutes, horns, piano coming in and out in smaller and longer sections. Haskell vocals singing Sinfields surreal lyrics: "Worship!" - cried the clown. "I'm a T.V. Making bandsmen go clockwork, See the slinky seal Cirkus policeman, Bareback ladies have fish." Won`t go into to any analyse of lyrics, to me its just fun, it makes me smile. After about 4 minutes the track changes into a quiet passage, and after that it turns back to the main theme (dare call it that), now with a longer solo part on the sax, and ending it a sort of chaotic climax.

Next track even more based on a jazz feel with horn's all over the place, Fripp's electric, now perfectly mixed in, but still also acustic guitar here and there. The arrangement even more complicated on this one, with the instruments jumping in and out of the sound picture all the time. Even though i`m listning hard i`m not allways sure what instruments i`m hearing. More or less the same goes for the third track "HAPPY FAMILY", Tippets Piano at the early parts eminent, same goes for Frips guitar, and the duel between the two. This is the most chaotic track on the album. But that is not a problem, quite the contrary, a very lovable track. But my mum dont think so !

After this three shell bombartment we need a break,and that what we are getting. "LADY OF THE DANCING WATERS" a small beauty, soft, gentle, The flute solo ingenious.

Now to the epic, "LIZARD". Starting out with a rather straight forward Jon Anderson vocal preformance, done with all that sensitivity that only Jon could do. This on a foundation of a limited but yet complicated arrangement. Not that far from the compositions on the previus records, like "Epitaph", but lighter and more piano driven. From here we move to a symphonic secquence with only a light drumming in the background, in a style you will later find similarty too on "Islands" and "Starless", but in this case, it turns more jazzy, horns and piano duels, of very high standart. Hereafter another small vocal piece within "LIZARD" called "DAWN SONG", allmost without accompaniment, only a flute and sparse piano. The band kicks in with a melotron drive theme on a bass line, and shortly after a lot of horn and flute, guitar incoming, dissonant and abstract but never the less beautiful. After that a secquence of a continuing bass note, with Fripp on top doing a guitar solo, in the well knows style, later to be repeatedly reinvented. The "Lizard" epic, ends off with a small outtro "BIG TOP", strange circus like music, just mad !

From a prog. rock view this is another milestone, in a long line of stones, where Crimson again evolve the genre dramaticly. Fripp showing his full potentiale as the most interesting prog. composer. Essential ? , Did Hendrix play the Guitar ?, Was Sid making psychedelic's ? This is as Essential as they come !

Report this review (#276984)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Stake a Lizard by the throat", sings Jon Anderson in the ironically cheerful chorus to Prince Rupert Awakes, a line which blends theatrical humour with overbearing darkness. Such is true of the entire Lizard album. That dark feel is achieved by the band literally 'standing in the shadow' of their debut (the same can be said for 'Poseidon'), whilst the humour seems to come from the increasingly whimsical brain of Peter Sinfield. This, combined with the new line-up, the jazzy, brassy, and YES-y guest musicians, and the invention of the VCS3, is what makes Lizard so oddly unique amongst King Crimson's catalogue, and indeed in music generally.

...Not that that's a bad thing. Although in practise this appears to be a recipe for disaster, it seems to work to Bob Fripp's advantage on this record. There are medieval themes within the cover artwork and lyrics, something which you either like, or don't, and the music is similarly divided. But those who enjoy Crimson's offbeat original style, are bound to fall on the positive side. Side 1 treats us to 'Cirkus', which is reminiscent of the first album with it's poetic verses and chilling melltron breaks, although it distinguishes itself with the busy overdubbing of brass, flute and acoustic guitar. 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family' are less serious, working to their advantage. Their lyrics (which one can mull over and be none the wiser) are almost annoying, but the tunes are quirky and upbeat nonetheless, with interesting instrumental breaks that are worth grooving to. 'Lady of the Dancing Water' is a welcome break; very light, melodical and almost madrigal-like. I have to agree though, with the other people that have said it feels 'out of place' amongst the heavy-natured, jazz-rock tomfoolery that makes up 95% of Lizard.

The title track is very rewarding, once you get your head around the different sections and sub-sections. 'Prince Ruper Awakes' is almost a sing-along folk song, which Jon Anderson's voice is well suited to (just look at Yes's 'We Have Heaven'). This section blends nicely into the extended bolero, an excersise in jazz improvisation with increasing instrumentation that leads to a beautiful climax, decorated with more Tippet brass and tinkly piano. The battle that ensues (with it's brief introduction by Haskell, who at this point has already decided to leave the band), increases in intensity as well, this time with the signature Crimson darkness and paranoid complexity. This section is one of the finest moments of the album, dragging the listener through a battlefield of opposing mellotrons, guitars and saxophones, in a way which makes you want to turn up the volume, close your eyes, and bask in the wall of sound with the knowledge that you aren't involved in the fighting itself. After a funeral-esque guitar fanfare, and an out-of-place circus reprise, Lizard is over, and the entire 23 minute experience seems irritatingly brief. But overall, the track is worthy of closing an album such as 'Court of the Crimson King', for on Lizard, it is often overlooked. The song isn't perfect, at times messy; a 'fractured masterpiece', but it brings the listener a sense of fear and delight that makes you keep returning to it. This can be said of the whole album. For me, Lizard stands the test of time better than most other Crimson records.

Report this review (#277800)
Posted Tuesday, April 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars With Lizard, we get some of the best and worst of King Crimson. I love the experimentation and variety, and some of it works quite well, but we also have plenty of material that is probably not on par with what we know the band can produce, such as in the epic title track. I love the instrumentation, but I think there are some clear limitations in the songwriting department.

Things start out well, as Cirkus is certainly a fun song, with some very speedy guitar from Fripp, and delivered with such panache! On the other hand, some of the melody is just not that good, particularly the police-car-siren refrain. Indoor Games keeps up the quality, bouncing all over from playful jazz to a folksy chorus to a little instrumental freaking out. Good stuff!

Lizard for me is quite a mixed bag. I really only enjoy two sections--about 10 minutes worth--but boy are they good. The opening sequence, Prince Rupert Awakes, is very pleasant and dreamy, yet stately as well. Of course Anderson sounds great, but it's the combination of songwriting and performance that really makes this work. The following bolero section is a bit to free form and improv for me--just not sure what the point is here. However, it's worth getting through, because the final build (I'm intentionally leaving out the second ending), introduced by the menacing mellotron, and then replaced by menacing saxes, is a first class King Crimson freakout all the way. Probably the highlight of the album for me.

As you can tell, this is a frustrating album for me. On one hand, I really like how they are playing, but for some sections, I just don't care for what they are playing. Regardless, Lizard shows a fairly unique and side of King Crimson that is definitely worth having.

Report this review (#285738)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars With Lizard, King Crimson's third album, Robert Fripp has finally gotten rid of all that baggage weighing him down on the first two albums, save for lyricist Pete Sinfield (before I get flamed, that was a joke). Fripp somehow managed to create a work of brilliance with an all new cast of band members. This one to me ranks up there with the Wetton albums, but in a different way.

The songs are all quite lush, but also both delicate and ominous at the same time. A major reason for this is the unique piano style of Keith Tippett, who had added some of the best moments to In The Wake Of Poseidon. His piano and Fripp's guitar weave tapestries around each other, in compositions that walk a tightrope between symphonic prog and jazz fusion.

Special mention should also be given to Andy McCullogh, who's snare heavy drumming rolls the compositions along, and the ubiquitous Mel Collins, who has never sounded better than on this album.

The first half of the album is made up of shorter tunes, the best being Cirkus, with Fripp's guitar picking and fierce mellotron leading the ominous composition, and Happy Family, a thinly veiled tale of the Beatles' breakup. The latter appears to have been written around a riff that the original Crimson lineup would often play in their improvs (listen to the live collection Epitaph if you don't know what I mean).

The second half of the album is one long piece, Prince Rupert's Lament. This epic begins with some light opening vocal by a certain Jon Anderson, and then weaves it's way through what I would say is the finest pure symphonic prog Fripp has ever recorded.

There is not a bad moment on this masterpiece.

Report this review (#285803)
Posted Wednesday, June 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Powerful album by King Crimson, especially with the last song, "Lizard", which is just a monster, to say the least. Very jazzy album, probably the one with the most jazz elements out of the 70s, rivaling "Larks'..." Some cooky songs here as well, including "Happy Family", but overall, very enjoyable. It sure takes a while to fully get into completely, so be wary. Robert Fripp is clearly ahead of the pack with just surreal guitar work, never fully replicated. Indeed a must for KC fans and fans of jazz rock/fusion as well.

1. "Cirkus" - 8.5/10

2. "Indoor Games" - 8.5/10

3. "Happy Family" - 8.5/10

4. "Lady of the Dancing Water" - 9/10

5. "Lizard" - 10/10

44.5/5 = 89%, not quite a masterpiece in my book but an especially excellent addition.

Report this review (#287923)
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars WARNING: If you like this album, run away now.

While it's good that Robert Fripp was so intent on avoiding a second 'clone' of Court, this is a clear example of my belief that change is only for the better if, well, it's for the better. Except for Fripp and Sinfield, all remnants of the Court lineup had been swept away by this time, and it's obvious that Robert wanted to make a clean break from the stylistics of the first two albums and establish his own identity. There are some people who played on Wake - Gordon Haskell is now the bassist and lead vocalist, Mel Collins is the fulltime woodwinds player, as well as a couple of others - but the sound couldn't possibly be more different from that on those albums.

The problem, though, isn't that the album is different. The problem is that the album sucks. Fripp may have had to assume the songwriting duties on Wake, but much of that merely constituted of slight tinkering with ideas from the first album (with a bit of structured avantgarde here and there). On Lizard, however, Fripp had to assume control of both the songwriting and the artistic direction, and it seems to me that shouldering both proved too much for him. With only a very small number of exceptions, Fripp's goal seemed not to lean towards any kind of memorability or even sense, but rather trying to be as complex and grandiose and epic and avantgarde as he could without considering whether or not these qualities served any purpose. For a hardcore prog fan, Lizard might seem fine for just those reasons; however, as much as I love my Close to the Edge and Foxtrot and Octopus, I require that complexity and its cousins in some way entertain me. Simply put, Lizard doesn't.

Fripp's songwriting, however, does not get full blame for how much I dislike this album. Gordon Haskell was an alright vocalist on "Cadence and Cascade," but this album is a whole other story. Basically, he's an incredibly mediocre tenor that sounds like he has a frog in his throat at all times. It's not just that he's worse than Lake - it's that he's worse than almost EVERY SINGLE VOCALIST I'VE EVER HEARD. However, in the area of the vocals, Haskell isn't even the biggest problem - rather, that honor goes to what he's singing. On this album, Sinfield simply went berzerk with his lyrics, penning such brilliancies as "Stake a lizard by the throat" (and that's a lyric from the best part of the album!). In short, awful vocals + awful lyrics + incredibly mediocre vocal melodies = bad music made worse.

So what about the songs? I can find some good things here and there, but wow I have to reach. The opening "Cirkus" is more or less tolerable - everything associated with the vocals is dumb (including the instrumentation under the vocal parts), but the mellotron- guitar breaks between verses are rather interesting, and some of the "soaring" mellotron parts provide a slight return to the well-done epic vibe of the first two albums. I also more or less enjoy the first section of side-two's sidelong title track, as it's basically just a nice pop song with guest vocals from Yes' Jon Anderson (hey, did you know there was a rumor of Robert Fripp joining Yes as Peter Banks' replacement? Imagine how THAT would have turned out...). The lyrics are of course utterly abominable, but I'm able to lose myself in the neat pop chorus and even in the more atmospheric parts of the verse melody. So yeah, there's some good stuff on the album after all.

However, that's more or less it as far as really good music goes. The rest of the first side is practically worthless - "Lady of the Dancing Water" is the best of these, and that's only because it does nothing instead of actively offend. And offend the others do. "Indoor Games" is a 4th-rate "Pictures of a City," with a laaaaazy saxophone riff that hasn't 1/100 of the intensity of that near masterpiece, nor a single decent hook throughout. Bear in mind, that's before the last chunk of the song, when we're greeted with the DUMBEST SOUNDING SYNTH EVER, and a fadeout with Gordon laughing "menacingly" for no apparent reason. This in turn leads to "Happy Family," one of the most abominable songs I've ever heard. The instrumental parts are just about the very definition of mindless, directionless jamming, with seemingly random piano and synth and guitar noise and whatever for some of the worst four minutes of my life. This is compounded by the fact that Fripp found the one way to make Haskell's voice more unbearable - he encoded it in distortion, and suddenly Haskell's obnoxious human voice became an obnoxious android voice.

Now the second side (after "Prince Rupert Awakes") is a bit strange for me. I like PARTS of it (at least, after many many listens), but as a whole, I consider the track a failure. "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale" is an attempt to fuse jazz ideas with modern classical ripoffs, and while it mostly bores me, it does have a reeeeally pretty mellotron line that pops up a couple of times. During the next part, the ten-minute "The Battle of Glass Tears" (with three parts of its own), the music just kinda goes and goes, though there is a reasonably interesting theme that parts of it seem to be based on. I also kinda like "Prince Rupert's Lament," the only time of the album where Fripp's guitar is prominent (not in shred mode at all, but the tone and note choices are quintessential Fripp), and the ending "Big Top" is amusing in a kitcsh sort of way. Again, though, a couple of decent moments in a track this long just doesn't cut it for me.

In short, this album is, in my mind, one of the great failures of British progressive rock. This is the sort of album that gives a bad name to prog rock, one filled with pretense and poorly executed ambition, hoping to get by on bombast and weirdness with no substance. There's some good material, but not even enough to get it up to **.

Report this review (#289936)
Posted Sunday, July 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars If Lizard doesn't hold the distinction of being King Crimson's worst album-I don't know if that can happen if you never outright have a BAD album-then it definitely has the dubious distinction of being their most forgettable.

Side one is fine, but it's just that: Fine. There are a few things that are good but nothing that'll blow your mind and one song-"Indoor Games" that I can never, ever remember what it sounds like no matter how many times I listen to it. The highlight of the album is probably "Happy Family", a goofy, surreal interpretation of the breakup of the Beatles. The vocal distortions are used to great effect and it contains an excellent keyboard solo, which(at least to me) is a pretty rare occurrence. "Cirkus" is second best, with its traditional Krim dark grandiosity, but it never becomes quite as chaotic or grand as it needs to get in order to be considered an essential track. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is perfectly fine, but it strikes me as almost a precise repeat of "Cadence and Cascade", and not just because it has the same vocalist. One or the other would be fine, but two songs that are so similar, and so chronologically close together, screams out a lack of ideas.

The second side, after a charming first four minutes, is nearly intolerably dull. I have no hatred for long prog tracks-"Supper's Ready" and "Close to the Edge" are two of my favorite prog songs-but this attempt at a classical chamber suite in the grand old tradition simply falls completely flat. If I wanted something like this I could listen to ACTUAL classical music and find many more moments of interest and dynamism.

Lizard isn't precisely a dreadful record, but it seems almost lazy compared to King Crimson's other releases. It's good in small doses, but it is the very definition of a two star release according to "For collectors/fans only." And I do mean ONLY.

Report this review (#293443)
Posted Wednesday, August 4, 2010 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars This is my personal favorite Crimson album. Not even sure the reason, something about it just makes it my favorite King Crimson listen. It probably isn't even their best album musically and the lineup was only there for an extremely short while.

Maybe it's just such a rare gem that I love it for that reason but anyways...

We begin with the soft opening of Cirkus which gives us our first taste of those silly- sounding vocals by the one-time vocalist Gordon Haskell. He doesn't try to sound silly I don't think but he sure does to me haha. Then suddenly without warning there is a heavy and dark turn in the music with Fripp's guitar and Mel Collin's sax which gives a very ominous jazzy feel. The feeling stays for pretty much the remainder of the song except when Haskell sings the soft verses. There is a jazzy sort of improvisation in the middle of the song which is very beautiful.

Indoor Games and Happy Family to me are very similar tracks. Both sort of playful but with seemingly darker hidden meanings. Haskell's vocals create this playfulness I believe, but I'm not really sure. Both have the jazzy feel of the previous track and are very catchy for full- blown prog.

Lady of the Dancing Water is a soft acoustic end to the first side of the record which sets the mood for the beast to come. The vocals are sung with perfection and the mood is set like a table.

The second side of the album is the monstrous Lizard suite which starts with some guest vocals by none other than Jon, the-Yes-guy, Anderson. His vocals suit the track perfectly and it starts as a very majestic and dark piece of music. Then there is a interlude in which we have some excellent trumpet playing which is soon succeeded by more soloing. Then the jazzy feel is revived with some excellent brass instruments battling over marching drums. After that comes to it's end the mood gets calm again and Haskell starts his vocals. He sounds alot less silly in this track (I guess it is possible!) and the calm mood remains all the while he sings. Soon though, things get pretty extreme with another burst of jazziness and the sax starts to plow through everything in it's way. This section is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard, the sax is just so powerful in it. This wonderful section continues on for some time before eventually coming to a screeching halt. The main theme keeps playing but in a softer way with the piano tingling in the background. The song starts winding down for it's majestic close with Fripp playing some beautiful guitar parts. Then when you think all is said and done sounds of a carnival come and go to end the album.

Masterpiece in my book, I get the feeling it's a pretty misunderstood little record. It's got so much to love though. A total 5 star.

Report this review (#296014)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the more difficult King Crimson albums to enjoy- more jazzy and avant-garde than others, Haskell on vocals as well as a guest spot by Jon Anderson of Yes. This is not a bad album, by any means, but it is challenging. I don't think about this album when I think of the early works of King Crimson, I tend to picture IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING and IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON. I have never listened to this very often- have to be in the "mood". I also have a "mood" for LARK'S TONGUE IN ASPIC. Best parts here for me: "Cirkus", "Lizard". Worst parts: "Lady of the Dancing Water". Dull. 3 stars overall.
Report this review (#296398)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard is maybe the most difficult album in history of music. I never heard such strange, complex and eclectic music like on this album. But because of this, this album is very interesting and in my eyes the best "King Crimson"-album.

In all songs you will hear so many instruments which are all plaiying different fancy melodies at the same time - but it works perfect and sounds wonderfull. Just the song "Lady of the Dancing Water" is very calmly and I think it would be better placed on "Islands" (maybe King Crimson should shift it with "Ladies of the Road" ;-) ).

If you listen to "Lizard" don't do anything else or you will not figure it out. Just listen and concentrate on this bunch of music. Then you will hear a magic-box of prog.

So, I just can give 5 stars. "Lizard" is definitively a masterpiece but only for prog-pros.

Report this review (#296618)
Posted Sunday, August 29, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars My favourite KC album by some distance. This one is their least 'rocky' and probably the most difficult to get into. At times it sounds utterly chaotic with sudden changes in style and tempo. There's also an awful lot going on in this record with an almost uncountable number of instruments. I bet they wished they had 48 tracks to play with rather than the 16 while recording in 1970. Is it just me, or do all KC albums save the dark and threatening track for the opener? 'Cirkus' begins off nicely enough, then a big ugly mellotron rears it's head immediately followed by a doom laden bass. Fripp does some serious Flamenco style finger plucking on acoustic guitar which adds to the clash of styles present. Oh - and I reckon it's 'Cirkus' with the letter 'k' for King to go along with the 'c' for Crimson. That annoyed me for months before working it out! They always seem to be playing with those K&C letters.

'Indoor Games' is about as straight as things get and would probably have been the only possible choice as a 7"single.

'Happy Families' has some crazy filter through the vocals and again with lots going on in the background and a lot of stereo panning.

'Lady Of The Dancing Water' is somewhat similar to 'I Talk to the Wind' on their first album.

The main highlight is the side long title track which comes in at a whopping 23 minutes. Entirely scored with no Crimprovisation. Another head is reared during this tune - this time it's the ugly head of Jon Anderson of 'Yes' fame. Thankfully he doesn't sound out of place - but he must have wondered what the hell he'd let himself in for. Robert Fripp's guitar disappears after the first few minutes, then everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown in. There's a lot more Jazz than Rock on 'Lizard'. I get the impression Robert Fripp doesn't really like this record and it's also done poorly for them in royalties and sales but I think it's a brilliant experimental success despite the continual implosion of the band.

Report this review (#296974)
Posted Wednesday, September 1, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Even though Lizard was released the same year as In The Wake Of Poseidon, it was an entirely different album that moved away from Symponic Prog by adding experimental jazz arrangement into the mix. This direction can be attributed to the changes in the lineup. Giles brothers were out and Gordon Haskell had now replaced Greg Lake on vocals and bass guitar.

Since Lizard was one of my earliest King Crimson albums I really had no expectations when it came to its direction and that's a highly recommended approach. The opening mini-opus track Cirkus starts off in a subtle fashion while slowly increasing the volume level until the electric keyboards take over and mesmerize the unexpected listener. Gordon Haskell's vocals might not be as memorable as those by Greg Lake or John Wetton but he does an excellent job on Cirkus and Lady Of The Dancing Water which together show the complete spectrum of his capabilities.

The only way I can describe Indoor Games is that it's pure fun that still manages to maintain an adequate level of complexity outside of the Symponic Prog realm with prominent saxophone arrangements by Mel Collins. Happy Family has never been one of my personal favorites but it manages to progress the music very fluently from the unexpected twist of events that occurred on Indoor Games. Finally we have a magnificent ballad titled Lady Of The Dancing Water concluding side one on another highlight.

At the end of the day your final opinion of this album will depend on the 23 minute long title track that occupies the entire side two. As many have mentioned before me, Supper's Ready or Close To The Edge it is not. I find the progression of the piece to be very disjointed and outside of the beautiful intro section titled Prince Rupert Awakes and the later Prince Rupert's Lament the rest of the material just feels long, poorly produced and unsatisfying. Originally I assumed that the very down-mixed sound production had to do with my unremastered CD version of the record but after hearing the 30th anniversary edition of the album I felt that the sound was still very much the same.

Lizard is another unique album in King Crimson's discography which might not be saying much considering the band's persistence with changing their approach to music making. Still, this is as close to jazz that the band would ever get and that should count for something!

***** star songs: Cirkus (6:28) Indoor Games (5:41) Lady Of The Dancing Water (2:44)

**** star songs: Happy Family (4:16) Lizard (23:15)

Report this review (#298840)
Posted Sunday, September 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars King Crimsons jazzy, melodic, heavy, and downright weird album. King Crimson was going through allot of changes when this came out. Mel Collins was the only member who stayed after ITWOP, and Keith Tippett as well, but he wasn't an official member. As a result we had something completely different than there first two albums. You all wanted change? Here it is! Not change for good or bad, just different. This album has sax, A vocalist with a completely different sound, and is quite good. Sinfield still is writing lyrics here, so most of this makes very little sense, but I guess it didn't need to. Cirkus is about a nightmarish place I guess. Indoor Games and Happy Family I have never really analizyed lyrically as the songs just don't interest me very much, these two are listenable, but that's really it. Lady of the Dancing Water is nice, it seems to be a song in the same vein as Moonchild. And than we have the title track which is King Crimsons only "epic". Jon Anderson makes a welcome appearance on the first segment of the song. The biggest virtue of this song is the bolero. Which reprises the first melody, and also does its own thing. Very beautiful part of the song. Lizard manages to hold my attention for 23 minutes which is the sign of a well put together epic. Overall I'd give this one a 4 star rating, a little closer to 3.5. One of those albums you just have to pick up and make your own opinion about.
Report this review (#306810)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Even more jazz-oriented than its predecessors, "Lizards"is another single album in the discography of King Crimson.Da first phase of the band, this is what most differentiates the debut album, "In the court of King Crimson" . Definitely not one of my favorites of the band, but it is very gratifying to hear, despite all the controversy that round.

Of its five tracks, the epic opener and final are the highlights: "Cirkus" is a wonderful little strange, a psychedelic trip absurdly wandering the sad voice of Haskell, Mellotrons strong, beautiful fingerstyle guitar by Fripp, powerful saxophone, until arriving at a cacophonous end (as is "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Pictures of the city" of previous albums), while "Lizards"is the greatest band of KC (if you disregard the 4 parts of "Larks Tongues in Aspic" produced over 27 years) and is not just for special appearances by Jon Anderson (who sings the first section, "Prince Rupert Awakes"), but by several desnvolvidos themes throughout its 23 minutos.The other tracks is also interesting but are weaker.

Overall, this is a great album but not a masterpiece.4 stars

Report this review (#389915)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The best pre-LTIA album Crimson released. The vocals are not too great, but vocals were never an important part of this groups music. At least after Lake left. Only Fripp and lyricist Sinfield remain from the debut. Mel Collins and Keith Tippet are back from the last album. Bassist/vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch are the new boys in town. They would only appear together on this album; this line-up never toured. For the longest time, Fripp hated this album. This was recently reissued with a re-mix by Steven Wilson.

Compared to the first two albums, this is a bit jazzier and less symphonic. Fripp wrote all the music here, but you rarely get to hear his electric guitar. Instead, you get some instruments that are a real surprise: organ, electric piano and the VCS3 synthesizer. You would never hear any synth on a Crimson album again until the guitar synths on the '80s albums. McCulloch seems to be obsessed with the snare drum. Haskell's bass playing is adequate but his singing voice is not very good. There are some guest musicians here besides pianist Tippet, playing oboe, cornet and trombone.

"Cirkus" is one of Crimson's best songs, and I think was the only song from Lizard ever played in concert by the Islands band. Opens with some harpsichord sounding electric piano along with Gordon's vocals. A short drum fill and then the first appearance of the main Mellotron riff. Fripp only plays acoustic guitar here; very fast at one point. Nice mix of Mellotron and sax in the middle, followed by some lovely electric piano. Love the buildup at the end with the trombone. "Indoor Games" begins with a jazzy groove before the vocals and guitar appear. Both electric and acoustic guitar here. Changes to a more mellow section with organ, Mellotron and VCS3. A little jam follows. I like the mix of synth and sax in this song. Ends with laughing.

The lyrics of "Happy Family" are about the Beatles, released the same year they broke up. You can even see the Fab Four on the album cover. The vocals in this song were processed through the VCS3. The most avant song here. "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a ballad based on electric piano that is similar to both "I Talk To The Wind" and "Cadence & Cascade". The latter of course was sung by Haskell as well. This song is really filler. Next is the only side-long epic Crimson ever did, the title track.

Some nobody named Jon Anderson sings at the beginning. 'Prince Rupert Awakes' is musically probably the closest to Yes that KC ever got, but Yes themselves were still trying to find their sound at the time. Jon's vocals work very well here. This was around the time that Fripp was asked to join Yes; he declined. Great 'chorus' in the "stake a lizard by the throat" part. This part ends very symphonic while marching drums come in beginning the next part, 'Bolero-The Peacock's Tale'. Some gorgeous trombone and piano playing. Then a flute solo. Then an oboe solo. All of a sudden it changes to jazzy piano and trombone while the drums are still marching away.

'The Battle Of Glass Tears' is itself divided into 3 different sections (an epic within an epic?). This starts very mellow and subdued with a some wind instrument playing. Some electric piano and Gordon sings his only lyrics in the epic. Some nice Mellotron leads to a part with a sax riff; the other instruments play looser and freer. Some cool tape-altered Mellotron at one point. After some dissonant cacophony, goes into an easy going jazzy part before it gets all crazy and dissonant again. Music takes a breath of air for a second then goes back for more. 'Prince Rupert's Lament' is the last part of 'Glass Tears'. Features a repeated one-note bassline with Fripp doing his best impersonation of bagpipes. The music fades out and then a brief moment of silence. The very last part fades in with bizarre circus music.

This and Islands really stand out in the Crimson discography. But this is better. More forward thinking than the first two albums. The production for 1970 is really good. The only real low points about Lizard are Haskell's vocals and the song "Lady Of The Dancing Water". The epic title track is fantastic. One of the better prog albums of 1970. 4 stars.

Report this review (#392665)
Posted Wednesday, February 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Fripp's genius is not for everyone.

"Lizard" is the album of the first major change in direction of King Crimson style. Fripp disrupts the line-up by bringing in permanent roles two guests of the previous album (Mel Collins and Gordon Haskell) and a new drummer was signed (Andy Mc Cullough). However, the most important innovation is certainly the contribution of the jazz pianist Keith Tippett and the great impact of the trio Charig-Evans-Miller on horns. Of all the records of the band, Lizard is definitely the most jazz-influenced: wherever you feel an incredible freedom of expression that leaves breathless. Without doubt, "Lizard" is a courageous exploration inside the immense territory of experimental jazz, so it's very hard to digest but at the same time very rewarding if you have the patience to listen it many times.

Cirkus the first and perhaps the best track on the album, opens with a delicate phrasing of electric piano and the voice of Haskell, suddenly followed by a menacing mellotron theme in which all the other instruments are incorporated. The verses and the mellotron theme are repeated through the song, in which there are a beautiful guitar solo by Fripp and above all an extraordinary solo by Collins on saxophone. Then, two very bizarre songs, Indoor Games and Happy Family, which are clearly experimental and characterized by intricate jazz arrangements. The initial dramatic note of Happy Family (right after the hysterical laughter of Haskell which ends with the exclamation "hey-ho") has an expressive power that will leave you absolutely breathless. Lady of Dancing Water, is a quieter ballad, with lyrics and music in medieval style and beautiful pieces of flute, but I must admit that in the interpretation of this song Haskell does not satisfies me (I'm not a fan of Haskell voice, for sure. However, his strange way of singing fits perfectly to the more experimental tracks: his voice does not irritate me, in songs like Cirkus or Happy Family).

Then we have the suite, Lizard, which is divided into several parts. In the first section, Prince Rupert Awakes, dominates the voice of Jon Anderson, the great guest of the record, who sings a melancholy melody. Although the melody sung by the Yes singer is incredibly smooth, the arrangement is always changed in every verse, and therefore the song is never be banal. A romantic crescendo of mellotron gives way to the second section, the exceptional and solemn Bolero, an instrumental piece with a great use of wind instruments and a free arrangement in the middle. After a short passage sung by Haskell (Dawn Song) the suite becomes extremely complex, with awesome mellotron parts ("mello" is used by Fripp in incredibly innovative way) and the usual cerebral jazz phrasing. In the latter part of the suite there is a loss in quality, the only one in the album, with an experimental solo by Fripp that I think is aged badly (Prince Rupert's Lament) and the bizarre and inconclusive final waltz Big Top (what a pity to conclude in this way an album like "Lizard"!).

Despite the loss of quality in the final, "Lizard" is a great album in my opinion, where Fripp's genius is shown everywhere, as well as the technical ability of the musicians who accompany him. I think that after "In The Court Of The Crimson King", Lizard is the most beautiful album of the band. But please beware: listen to it can be a fantastic experience but also incredibly frustrating. In fact, it is a very complex album, which hard you'll love at first listen (the risk is to listen to it once and then keep it in the closet for years). Therefore highly recommend only for patients and "adventurous" listeners.

Rating: 9/10.

Best song: Cirkus

Report this review (#415854)
Posted Monday, March 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lizard is arguably King Crimson's jazziest record, which makes it one of my favorites from early era King Crimson. The change in vocalist is largely unimportant, as the vocals were never a strong point in King Crimson's music, and I've always felt that the band created a greater atmosphere as instrumental writers. Most of the songs here are slightly comparable to "Cat Food" on the previous album in that they are all strongly jazz-influenced compositions with fantastic improvisations, but overall sound better and more thought out, but that may just be my imagination. Whereas the last album was very gloomy in atmosphere, this album manages to be quite playful and fun among the incredible musicianship and creative writing.

Highly recommended.

Report this review (#429380)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Anthony H.
5 stars King Crimson: Lizard [1970]

Rating: 9/10

After the disappointing In the Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson solidified their lineup by making Gordon Haskell a permanent member and by recruiting Mel Collins and Andy McCulloguh on sax/flute and drums, respectively. Like all pre-Larks arrangements, this lineup proved to be short-lived. However, it managed to work magnificently. One of the major criticisms of ItWoP was that it sounded too similar to the debut. Thus, Fripp completely overhauled the band's sound. The result was King Crimson's jazziest, most abstract, and most unique album. Lizard was a big risk for the band, and it remains controversial to this day. It's generally a "love it or hate it" album, and I fall into the former category.

"Cirkus" is a gorgeous opener. It begins with quiet keys and vocals. Classical guitar joins in, and a menacing rhythm is contrasted with the Mellotronic soft passages. Collins plays two wonderful sax solos, as well. "Indoor Games" is a whimsical track with distorted vocals and disharmonious guitar/sax lines. This is probably the weirdest song here, but that certainly isn't a bad thing. "Happy Family" has a (relatively) catchy main hook, more distorted vocals and dissonant guitar, and some excellent flute work. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is another gorgeous song, and probably the track here most reminiscent of classic Crimson. It's a soft song centered upon flute, acoustic guitar, and excellent vocals from Haskell. Brass instruments make a quiet appearance as well. And then we have the title track, the only side-long epic King Crimson ever recorded. This song is cavernous, strangely beautiful, and rewardingly dense. Guest vocals from Jon Anderson (automatic bonus points for me) open the piece, backed by piano and Mellotron. A medieval-themed section follows, dominated by a hypnotizing snare drum bolero. Dual sax solos come next, accompanied by jazzy piano. Things then suddenly quiet down, and soft vocals enter. The Mellotron enters with an infectious motif, and then the brass and flutes bring back the intensity. Fripp plays a signature guitar solo that slowly fades out, ending one of the greatest songs King Crimson ever recorded.

Lizard is definitely a challenging album, and it almost certainly will not be appreciated upon first listen. Fripp and company have always had an immense talent for creating innovative and inventive music, but this album is unique even by King Crimson standards. This is indeed a controversial album, and many Crimson fans (particularly those lacking penchant for jazz) don't even appreciate it. Regardless, I find Lizard to be a deeply rewarding and fascinating masterwork, and I think many multi-dimensional prog fans will (to a certain extent) agree.

Report this review (#431388)
Posted Monday, April 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Lizard

I didn't really listened thus Crimson reign until "The Court...", nevertheless I've already meet them via Lizard. An acid-jazz-rock album. Primarily I must say this one is NOTHING like other KC's works; this one outstands for its mere rarity, a singularity in a Crimson way. The album's cover is sort of medieval romanic script all colorful spelling the words 'Crimson' for the front and 'King' on the rear, both replete in drawn scenes which illustrates the lyrics from the songs.

"Cirkus", starts with an almost ethereal harp but quickly turns into a quaint gypsy nightmare. As creepy as sensational the jazz goes from the acid hard rock mood in crescendo to a poppy sax interlude. Both acoustic and electric guitars leads this visual and burlesque show in perfect balance at the mouth of madness.

It's all vanish trough a playful sax intro of "Indoor Games" a little more relaxing, still an insane sound mainly directed by drums and bass, the arrangements on the guitars and sax. With an acoustic guitar and a desperate laughing, the song bridges to "Happy Family" in ironic psychedelic strength. Jazzy at its finest every instrument paint their way chromatic figures, a piano and a flute are invited to add more color into the crazy room. All ended on a numb voice claiming their loneliness 'Happy family one hand clap, four went on but none came back'.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" reminiscent to Crimson's previous album. The flute sounds almost in a romantic shape, as well as the guitar. The bucolic images among grasses subtexts the innocence of the insane.

As its impossible to speak about Crimson without energetic riffs and dark harmonies, it's also impossible talk about progressive rock without long length epic songs. "Lizard" is one of those complex and precious yet unrated tales in which progressive tend its bed. Really far from Fripp's crazy hands the first half of the song lies over the soft voice of Jon Anderson and a magical very folk flute. All carried in sweet tenderness as an awakening in the meadow. But then the Haskell voice's declaims for a lost kingdom and the fight begins, turn onto psychedelic and acid-jazz passages all of them growing in voracious until the death came to slow the path, a funeral march, the last an dying stream of sanity. Reborn in the dawn of madness. Maybe it isn't easy to listen "Lizard", but when someone can finally understand it, it is clear the reason of KC greatness; even beyond 'The Court'.

Report this review (#432957)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lizard ? 1970 (3/5) 11 ? Best Song: Cirkus And yes we have a change in pace. This band is noted for changing things around quite often. Say goodbye to the jazz-twinged symphonic prog and say hello to stiffly orchestrated classical prog. Is that such a bad thing? Well, it all depends exactly on what you prefer. The album opener still comes off as sounding oddly similar to 21st Century and Pictures, if only in tone and chord dimension. The rest is a grab bag of experimentation and awkward melodic (in?)sensibility. Either way, it's purposeful for the new arrangements. The focus has been taken less on singing and more on pointless jamming. I think it's because they lost Greg Lake. 'Cirkus' sounds wonderful for what it is, and 'Indoor Games' is a competent jam, sure enough, but something important has changed. They're not only pandering to the simple tastes of the burgeoning 'art rock' world, with odes to classicism and a sidelong epic (before either Supper's Ready or Tarkus or Thick as a Brick whatever), and that's exactly the kind of thing I tend to not prefer in my music. They're still the leaders, and the waves of reaction are easily seen, but when the 23 minute title track doesn't have a single truly memorable melody, you know you're in a rough spot. Even so, the flutes on most of the songs are at least quite touching, so once more I'm left wondering how exactly to rate the thing. Eh, I'd give it a 10, but there's no Moonchild for miles! So 11 it is, friends.
Report this review (#441682)
Posted Monday, May 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars As I mentioned in previous reviews, none of the so called King Crimson albums since ITCOTKC are anything whatsoever to do with that band. This is merely Fripp at it again, peddling his wares under that label, always a force to be reckoned with in playing, but badly lacking in writing skills, the world taken over by musicians, especially rich successful ones who now have carte blanche to play and record whatever they like, however meaningless and obscure it is to the rest of us, and bloody good luck to them too. But don't try and tell me it's anything to do with anything.
Report this review (#447559)
Posted Friday, May 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Quite the gem, Lizard the third album by King Crimson, stands to be one of Fripp's most particular albums. It is a pinnacle in Art Rock. Admittedly I found this album to my distaste at first. It took a few years before I would grow to appreciate it as I do. The album is a fusion of many styles and is a very well orchestrated piece. Avant-Garde and dissonance are prominent throughout and the listener may be found at odds enjoying it. Gordon isn't Greg and can also be viewed as a downfall also. However if one listens to this album completely vanquishing any thought of the first two albums (Except Cascade) one may find it quite enjoyable. I came into it with that mind frame and suddenly I found myself loving it. In fact it is now one of my favorite albums. Definitely in my top 100.

Gordon Haskell's vocals may be very underestimated as they aren't as strong as Greg Lake's. However they are very dramatic and can be appreciated. Cirkus, Indoor Games and Lady of the Dancing Water allows us to do this. His bass playing is good as well. Though it isn't necessarily something to get excited about.

Mel Collins is a master of the wind. His tonal sax playing is on par with Wayne Shorter Though Wayne Shorter does have a great sense of atonal music as well.)

Fripp's guitar playing is very expanded on this album. He explores a plethora of techniques and styles. From dark and twisted to clean and angelic and everywhere in between he dominates the guitar throughout.

Andy McCollough is a great fusionistic drummer. Though sometimes he may come of as a bit much. He is probably better suited for a Fusion band but his drums are very welcome on the album.

The contributing musicians are of great caliber. It is ultimately them whom put this album up to the top. The horn sections and keyboards are bring a jazzier side to KC yet to be explored.

Cirkus is a brilliant track. It really shows the ability of the musicians to keep everything together. Indoor Games is a little crazy but is still a strong piece. Happy Family is plain weird but that can go both ways. Lady of The Dancing Water is more typical of earlier KC and is beautifully laid out. It isn't necessarily a masterpiece though many listeners will disagree with me.

The title track Lizard is the best part of the album. It takes up all of side B on the original vinyl. It is in a quite different vein than the first part of the album and I find it much more accessible in the traditional sense. It is broken up into different named sections. Starting with a beautiful passage by Jon Anderson and Keith Tippet.

Prince Rupert Awakes goes back and forth between classical symphonic and folk rock. Fripp's signature delay reverse guitar effect is teased on this part and fits perfectly. Towards the end of Prince Rupert Awakens it gets extremely powerful. Very symphonic. It peaks and then quietly transitions into Bolero.

Bolero is a very beautiful Latin/Symphonic passage that is very classically inspired. The air is filled by Tippet's blazing yet soft accompaniment. The original theme recurs before the horns bring on some New Orleans style jazz to the mix in which Tippet then brings the mojo. The theme occurs again with a jazz flare. It transitions back to a Latin/Middle Eastern Symphonic masterpiece. The movement ends with almost a feeling of triumph.

Battle begins very softly leading into Haskell singing eerily. It feels very dark yet somehow inspired. Then we get a dose of some traditional KC. It picks up and is in your face. Thick with Mellotron and mid-ranged bass. Horns are very together but there is an overall looseness to it. It holds itself together barely by a thread. Some crazy avantish soloing. Battle is also broken into three different parts. Prince Rupert's Lament showcasing Fripp's amazing ability with psychedelic technique.

Big Top ends the album is very trippy.

Cirkus and Lizard are very strong tracks and if they were released as an EP it would be a 5 star EP. The rest of he tracks are weaker with Happy Family being the weakest of the mix. A very 2 to 3 star song IMO. I rate this album a 3.5 rounded to four because of the awesomeness that is Lizard.

Report this review (#454038)
Posted Monday, May 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Sporting a medievally-flavoured cover that might fool the unwary listener into thinking this is King Crimson's answer to Genesis's Trespass, Lizard is instead a jazzy development of the sound that coalesced on In the Wake of Poseidon. The contributions of Graham Haskell are much-lauded, though I think Boz Boorer did a better job of singing in a broadly comparable style on Islands. Indeed, the friction between Haskell, Fripp, and the other musicians involved in the album are the stuff of legend, and this was yet one more Crimson album born out of confusion and conflict within the lineup.

The album's crown jewel is the sidelong epic Lizard, which features a wide range of instrumental flavours, superior musicianship and compositional chops when compared with the side one material, and a marvellous guest appearance from Jon Anderson, capturing Anderson's vocal talents just as he hit on his classic style (this album being recorded between Yes recording Time and a Word and The Yes Album).

The material on the first side of the album, meanwhile, is somewhat less interesting; Lady of the Dancing Waters is yet another quiet tune in a similar vein to Cadence and Cascade or I Talk to the Wind, and whilst it's a reasonable enough song by its own, we're clearly suffering diminishing returns at this point. It doesn't help that Happy Family is a whimsical novelty song about the breakup of the Beatles, and if there's one area Fripp and Sinfield aren't so strong in it's whimsical novelty. That said, Cirkus and Indoor Games are interesting attempts to integrate this jazzier style of playing into the King Crimson sound.

Like many I underrated this album a bit until Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp sat down to turn out a new master for the 40th Anniversary edition. I've been a little sceptical of the craze for having Wilson tinker with your back catalogue in the past, but in the case of this album he more than justifies the endeavour, with a subtle hand teasing out aspects of the music which had passed me by on previous editions. Hell, not even Robert Fripp liked this album until Wilson worked his magic on it; after that, the current Crimson lineup began increasingly incorporating more material from it into their repertoire. When even King Fripp himself is taking pleasure in rediscovering the subtleties of this album, now's a great time to join in. I'd say three stars for the first side, four stars for the second.

Report this review (#468880)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars REAL King Crimson > lizzard > non fanatic 2011 REVIEW :

As a person who is not a prog rock fanatic, just a person who listens to the best of every genre of music, and who isn't insistent on ever lauding or blowing smoke up any genre or band whatever they turn out, and who is currently in one continuos session listening to the entire KC back catalog in chronological order to find what has stood the test of time, ie is listenable to non fans as well as fans, "LIZZARD" has been the weakest studio album so far. the track lizzard itself is way to self indulgent and does not hang together well over its 23 minute duration, sounds like too many disparate bits ill coordinated slapped together, indoor games is particularly weak. Prog rockers sometimes like acid jazz fans or fusion jazz nuts in there fever to defend the genre they enjoy, become defensivley enthusiastic about their pet loves, and begin to turn a blind eye to disharmony and clashy sounds, or grow so perverted as to love in the same way as harmonious sounds, musically the benefit of going "off piste" is to at some point thematically return to some coherence and harmony, King crimson at there most experimental are very very hard work audibly, Lizzard sounds like to many practice jams that shouldn't have made it on to the album. i will be making a list of all tracks 4 stars and up for the entire catalog it will be interesting to see how this compares to others views here, but this album getting 4.1 stars is deceptive in that it only allows 0.9 stars of quality difference for all the other KC albums to exist in, this is unrealistically enthusiastic no band is that consistent. Only lady of the dancing water on Lizzard makes it to 3 stars imo and thats generous.

Quality KC tracks in chronological album order four out of five stars and up imo:

track 1-4 In the court of the crimson king track 1,3,4,5 In the wake of poseidon track 4,6 Islands track 1-4 Larks tongues in aspic no tracks Lizzard tracks 2,3 Red tracks 2,7 Discipline no tracks Beat (album to generic > heavy studio production values) no tracks Three of a perfect Pair track 6 Vroom track 2,4,10,14 Thrak cd1,trk1 cd3,trk7 Heavy Construkction

The overall arc of KC imo like most bands seems to be, to remain consitent for a bit and then as they get further from their youthfull inception they lose coherence this is natural and normal. KC's attempts to reinvent themselves by gambling with lineup changes etc sometimes come up with things that are worth it, but have also created quite a Large spoil heap to get there and Lizzard is in that pile I'm afraid. Beat and half of three of a perfect pair also, seem to sadly be coated throughout with the same sour disharmonious cyclic repetitive guitar loop riffs, and the eighties restylings and fetal era based contemporary sound style clonings dont stand out in the era itself, as tracks of significance, except perhaps as influences for things to come later, all of purpose, but not standing the test of time from a listenable perspective in their own right. Vroom imo opinion weak, Thrak a little return of flavour, but by this point as with allot of bands of this age albums are beginning to more and more to repurpose and regurgitate things past, and the sound so different that by the time you reach the bloated studio/Live "Heavy Construkction" the King Crimson of 2000 is as to be expected i suppose, another band completely, in all but name, Ok robert fripp is consistently there but still its just not really KC. theres too many samey overtly for the sake of it experimental abstract rock / noise awkward tone poems that arent adding to anything or going anywhere, in my opinion experimental means it shouldn't really make it onto an album on the basis that experiments should often be the exploration that leads up to a work and not the work itself, and as for including his censorship of photography statement on the audience as track worthy of including, its pure filler for the fanatics crimson fans. Beyond 2000 I have fearing, not yet trod the path to "the power to believe" I will get there though.

many will disagree, but I presume there ear is not crimson fresh, but crimson trained.

Report this review (#474073)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars King Crimson's third studio album and a very much reviewed one too. So I will be brief.

This album is a very strange one too. Very Beatles like at places. It is mostly very Gentle Giant like too. But it is mostly arch typical King Crimson with Robert Fripp's signature mellotron very much in presence on this album. But the woodwinds is the signature of this album and they creates what is bordering to a jazz vibe. I say bordering too because most of this album is Beatles like pop-rock.

The songs here are not that great. But the title track, which my maths tells me is around half an hour long with all the suites, is great. The rest has flashes of brilliance inbetween some good stuff.

It is really really hard to give this album a review in stars based on only ten listenings. I feel this album may end up as a companion of myself for the next decades. I will give it one set of stars now and revisit in some years time. That is the only thing I can do. Anno december 2011, I rate this as a very good album only.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#584547)
Posted Thursday, December 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Prog Metal Team
3 stars The Cirkus is coming to town! Grab your kids and run for your life!

What a great opening track. Its ominous demented mellotron melody combined with spooky bells and Fripp's strange acoustic guitar abuse form one deliriously haunting track with weird and bleak lyrics topping things off. It's one of my favorite tracks by the band as it mixes up some jazziness and a dark rockish flair with just enough avant garde sensibilities to give this tune a genuinely uneasy vibe, as opposed to some band just trying to sound scary. This is the real deal, and it works magnificently.

I'd be better off just writing about "Cirkus" for a few more paragraphs, but unfortunately there's the rest of the album to deal with, which never really fulfills the promise "Cirkus" offered to my ears. Made in the same year as In The Wake Of Poseidon, this was quite a busy year for the band, not just recording and playing the music, but members leaving and joining the group in such a rampant fashion that Fripp must have walked into the studio one day and bleated "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE?" Lizard comes across as a pretty hectic recording itself, as if it didn't really know what it wanted to be, so thought "screw it" and went crazy every once in a while.

"Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" really bring things down a number of notches. They're like sloppy jazz rock with a splash of acid thrown in. Haskell sounds like he's reciting these ridiculous lyrics against his will, as if he really wants to just toss the damn sheets into the fire and start wailing "I love you baby, Gimme all you got!". Only the laughter at the end of "Indoor Games" has any meaning. It's like he's laughing at this weird song and weirder lyrics coming out of his mouth. Greg Lake seemed to thrive and sing his heart out with a greater commitment if the lyrics were more insane, pointless or fantastical. Haskell, on the other hand, sounds like he just wants to jump in a hole during most of this stuff, and it was probably good that he did after this album.

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is an ok if uneventful ballad, but the monstrous title track is where things get interesting again. When the singing began, I thought "Damn Haskell should suck the helium balloons more often" until the voice soon became familiar enough for me to recognize Mr. Anderson's high registered croon. In fact, the first part of this song is right up there with "Cirkus" as a highpoint; not as menacing, but memorable and cool. Then we get lots of jazzy stuff that goes on and on, then there's a mellotron fest, then some other stuff...oh, and a cool solo near the song's end, before the circus music pops in again like an encore nobody wanted. The epic is a pretty good track overall, and I respect the devil- may-care sense of adventure in all the jamming out, but it's not something that's ever captured my imagination despite sections boasting titles such as "The Battle Of The Glass Tears".

It's quite a feat for a band to put out something this ambitious in such a short time, as if they needed another stamp on 1970. The sound of the band is changing as the members change, making this an interesting document as to where they would likely head in the future, plus it somewhat displays the confused state the group seemed to be in at this time quite well.

Report this review (#588752)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"Lizard" evokes fantastic medieval sceneries as if it were a long fable.

The third album by King Crimson is too many times underrated. "Lizard" was and still is one of the most overlooked albums released by the band, being once again victim of negative comparisons with the previous KC works.

"Lizard" happens to be one unique album, whether you like it or not: it is a sort of modest and humble release, where, I have to admit, there is nothing new brought to the table. However, it is a new direction for the band itself: the music is jazzier than ever, with more sax here than any release of theirs, even though ironically it is one of the most melodic and accessible LP's from the band. There are still plenty of mellotron moments, which are always extremely either melancholy or mysterious, and it definitely still is a Progressive album, thanks also to other instruments such as flutes and a typical Progressive sound overall.

The atmospheres the band brings are almost magical and reminiscent of a fairy tale, of medieval times, of great castles, battles, fair ladies, and fantastic monsters. This setting is very credible at times, and truly brings you amidst these worlds. This is probably the best thing this album has going for, because, like it was mentioned, the melodies and the music itself in general are pretty standard for the genre, not being anything particularly innovating.

The first side of the album has four songs: a melancholy and mysterious, almost menacing at times piece (the mellotron-driven opener "Cirkus"), the much more light and cheerful duo "Indoor Games", the better one, and "Happy Family". The really pleasant acoustic interlude "Lady In The Water" is also worth mentioning. The heart of the album however lies in the second side, consisting solely of a more than twenty minute suite, the title track, which, even though not being at all as convincing and spectacular as other epics such as "Supper's Ready", "Close To The Edge" or "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers", it has some spectacular and haunting moments here and there that very effectively evoke those fantastic images.

"Lizard" is an experience that is essential for any King Crimson fan, and is always too underrated. The atmospheres and feelings of the album are so vivid and magical, despite not having amazing, groundbreaking melodies, and it's a shame that people don't recognize it.

Report this review (#600360)
Posted Saturday, December 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
5 stars The Crimson King's 3rd album in 2 years has an incredible shift in sound, direction, personnel, instrumentation and composition. Even if all the Crimsonian fundamentals, such as Robert Fripp's virtuosic guitar playing, blaring mellotron, inventive sax charts and complex arrangements are in place, he has chosen to augment the line-up to include various players from the jazz scene, notably those who have helped SOFT MACHINE give their sound a broader pallette at the time of their Third and Fourth albums, recorded around the same time as 'Lizard'. The talents of woodwinds man Robin Miller, trombonist Nick Evans, cornet player Mark Charig and jazz-pianist Keith Tippet along with regular sax-player Mel Collins give this album a good dose of jazziness, with parts of looseness and free-form jamming and, at times, a great baroque soundscape - especially side two's 4-part epic 'Lizard'. We also get to hear JON ANDERSON sing on part 1. The main vocalist here though is Gordon Haskell, who also contributes some crunching bass guitar. His voice was heard on the previous album's 'Cadence and Cascade', and for those that are interested, he has a charming solo album called 'It Is And It Isn't', featuring the likes of John Wetton, Dave Kaffinetti, Alan Barry etc. Fripp has challenged himself and everyone around him with mastery of eclectic composition, almost crushed them all with his searing mellotron work, but also incorporated enough quirks to make light of the complexities displayed, such as amusing synth sounds and vocal treatments (Indoor Games, Happy Family) or the pitch-shifting carnival merry-go-round mellotron piece 'Big Top'. The lyrics of Peter Sinfield can be described as remarkably inspired and eccentric. So much can be said, has been said and will be said about this wonderful album, both positive and negative, from fans and non-fans alike. I have been delighted with this album since 1987 - masterpiece.....
Report this review (#605448)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
4 stars King Crimson's album of quirky chaotic jazz and symphonic virtuosity.

"Lizard" has become a classic 70s prog album over the years for legendary King Crimson and from the outset the music has a drawing power and your ears tell you that you are being treated to a virtuosity that is unmatched in early prog history. It begins with an astounding ominous chord structure on 'Entry of the Chameleons', that later became Entry of the Crims for when the band took to the stage in live performances. It is the best track on the album featuring the massive doomy atmospheres of Fripp's angular guitar riff and a huge sense of theatrical flair in the structure. The vocals are well handled by Haskell who sounds a bit like Lake.

'Indoor Games' has a whimsical flavour with some nice sax and guitar interplay and it ends on a manic laugh that always makes me smile.

'Happy Family' cruises along at a nice pace with intricate time sigs and well orchestrated musicianship. It ends on acapella Haskell singing "happy family, one hand clap" which always makes me laugh. The exuberance in the music is infectious. The band have fun but are able to produce music of immeasurable quality and dexterity. The content of the song is based on The Beatles' breakup; "Happy family, one hand clap, four went by and none came back".

Side one ends with the acoustic ballad 'Lady of the Dancing Water' with Haskell very pleasant on vocals.

The side two epic is what gives this album it's huge reputation. It clocks in at a 22:24 running time and features many sections forming one orchestral suite moving through a range of moods and time changes. The lulling high octave vocals by Yes' Jon Anderson on 'Prince Rupert Awakes' is a nice touch as is the beautiful flute on 'Bolero the Peacock's Tale'. The piano flourishes are gorgeous and I was reminded of Camel's "Snow Goose". The exquisite tones of the woodwind solos are pleasant and they are joined by a brass band sound including sensuous saxophones. The brass instruments play of each other playfully, as an impatient piano bangs out staccato chords ready to take over. The instruments of piano, trombone, cornet and oboe compete for a while and then the piano gives up as the sweet tones of Collins' saxophone and the oboe take the spotlight. The orchestration is really as good as it gets, with an interplay of virtuoso musicianship. It builds to a crescendo and then breaks as a lone sax wails mournfully in the silence.

'The Battle of Glass Tears' begins with 'Dawn Song' and Haskell's low baritone vocals begin. Suddenly a cataclysm of sound breaks through the clouds, a mellotron sweeping and majestic with sporadic jazz percussion by McCulloch. The heavy sax and trilling lute trade off beautifully. Then a lengthy ominous sax and off beat percussive rhythm ensues with atonal dissonance and asymmetrical figures. This is 'The Last Skirmish' which is more reminiscent of the chaotic side of King Crimson on such albums as "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" or "Red" yet to come and stun the world. The dramatic atmosphere settles into an ambient mellotron with sporadic piano runs as 'The Big Top' begins and it spirals off speeding up absurdly till it concludes the album.

"Lizard" is certainly another classic for King Crimson in an era when they were at the height of their creative power. It is not to be missed by Crimsonites or those who love innovative virtuosic symphonic prog.

Report this review (#605451)
Posted Saturday, January 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A little darker, a little more ethereal, a little heavier on the synthesized effects, but overall the same King Crimson.

Even with the rest of the group abandoning him, Robert Fripp knew where KC was going. When he found new members to replace the old, he got those who could do essentially what the old ones could. Any change in sound from previous KC recordings can be put down to Fripp's own desire to attempt new things (or play with new toys). By the third album, Fripp is credited with playing a myriad of electronic devices, and the music is entirely his creation.

The low, soft introduction of "Cirkus" is swiftly shattered by a noisy tangle of instruments, carried on a brooding drone. This aptly sets the tone for the menace of Lizard. The first half of the album is punctuated by moments of start/stop rhythmic pacing that recall Gentle Giant's debut. "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" in particular. The latter chronicles the breakup of a (fictitious?) group of artists. Although it features noticeable parallels to the recent (at the time) fragmenting of the Beatles, with this new KC lineup, one has to wonder if the story was inspired by a situation closer to home. "Lady of the Dancing Water" closes the first half, bringing to mind the understated opening of "Moonchild".

The side-long epic "Lizard" is the true strength behind the album, and it doesn't hurt having a guest appearance from Yes' Jon Anderson. Anderson's unique voice is well suited for the stirring opening portion, "Prince Rupert Awakes". Nearly half-way through its twenty-three minute span, Gordon Haskell takes back the reigns, sounding at times like he's channeling Peter Gabriel. The vocals don't make up much of the song, and the twisting turning soundscapes give the listener more than enough to keep their ears occupied for the duration.

Lizard is King Crimson's best so far, but Fripp and friends still have better things yet to come.

Report this review (#611794)
Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Farewell, the temple master's bell."

The record is not freaking awesome, but it's certainly not bad either. This is, actually, quite a feat. Even though there are a couple of numbers with dubious potential, I like the album anyway. I don't mind Gordon Haskell singing on four of the tracks on the album; at least he is doing it right, and that counts. The record, in a nutshell, is not up to the par with the known prog classics, nor does it sound like an ersatz product. It is just very good. 'Cirkus' is mad and really cool, and it is somewhat reminiscent of 'Dancing with the Moonlit Knight' (2:29-2:41), as far as brass section imitation goes. I won't like tracks 2 and 3 again unless I will be playing "World of Warcraft" while listening to them (no kidding). I don't mind their presence because they don't disturb me and, somehow, they don't incite boredom to a noticeable degree. Haskell's vocal delivery and Robert Fripp's acoustic guitar performance work really well together in the enamoring 'Lady of the Dancing Water'. Last, but not least (more like "most"), 'Lizard' is the pinnacle of all things on the eponymous album. I like all parts of it, except for the messy instrumental noises in the second half of 'Last Skirmish' on 'The Battle of the Glass Tears'. The coda of the title track, 'Big Top', is my most favorite moment on the whole record. It features a remarkable Mellotron passage that I personally see as something much more valuable than the well-known classical epic "The Rite of Spring". I'm not sorry; that's just me. That Mellotron just gives me the chills.

On an important side note: of course the review is subject to change; I just didn't want to wait for an eternity to write this review, so expect a little more to come here.

1. 'Cirkus' - ****

2. 'Indoor Games' - **

3. 'Happy Family' - **

4. 'Lady of the Dancing Water' - ****

5. 'Lizard' - ****

Stamp: "I like it."

Report this review (#613950)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars It probably blew acid-boiled minds when it was released because of its richly detailed, colorful music and artwork. It also sounds like a record still standing in the shadow of The Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" LP, in that it begins by establishing the action in a colorful and theatrical environment, and then goes on to spin a series of eclectic and gently surreal tales in lyric and sound. Unfortunately here, the general effect is lifeless and contrived. Matters are not helped by Gordon Haskell's atrocious vocals replacing the bronze baritone of Greg Lake. On the plus side, Fripp has here avoided "Poseidon"'s error of imitating the structure of their iconic debut, and Jon Anderson's vocal turn at the beginning of the "Lizard" suite foreshadows the build-up- battle-and-aftermath piece he wrote for Yes a few years later, "The Gates of Delirium."
Report this review (#629802)
Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars Lizard is King Crimson at their jazziest and most avant-garde, yet it does not at all abandon the symphonic and heavy textures that are present in their first two albums. I enjoy Gordon Haskell's voice, but the way it is presented here is somewhat unfortunate, with a certain level of distortion and delay that doesn't always suit him. I must confess that the first time I heard this album, I thought Bill Bruford was drumming, given the loose attacks and reliance on the snare, so I was surprised to learn of Andy McCulloch, and I grew to appreciate his unconventional style, which makes these compositions very different than what they would have been with a more straightforward technique. Robert Fripp's presence is evident but far more inconspicuous.

"Cirkus (including Entry of the Chameleons)" Entering in a dreamlike manner that becomes clearer, as though waking up, Haskell sings over a lullaby-like introduction. Jarring brass and electric guitar saw through, interrupting the magical mood. The mystical acoustic guitar runs are a fabulous aspect. Then enters the glorious Mellotron and saxophone.

"Indoor Games" Taking a jazzier approach, the main theme makes me think of gumshoes, mobsters, and desperate dames. The verses incorporate blasts from acoustic guitar.

"Happy Family" I love the heavy, almost symphonic introduction here, but the song devolves into the token goofy track it seem each early King Crimson album must have. This is the "Cat Food" of the album, as it were- seemingly silly vocals (evidently singing about the disbanding of The Beatles) and various instruments competing in almost free-form fashion.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" Light flute and vocals provide a peaceful moment on an otherwise boisterous album. Like "Cadence and Cascade," this is a tranquil yet fleeting masterpiece- very sweet.

"Lizard" The appearance of Jon Anderson of Yes is a treat. The verses of the first section of this lengthy composition are dreamlike and quiet. However, the loudness of the Mellotron swells reach a piercingly painful level (I find myself reaching for the volume knob many times). The refrain is upbeat and happy. The second section offers mostly pleasant jazz in bolero fashion, playing on the melodies that came prior. The next theme begins in a lonesome manner (only to be later interpreted in discord with a Mellotron and ascending bass). I think Anderson's voice would have been better suited for the hushed vocal part in the third section, as Haskell's delivery is low and dull. The piece grows more cacophonic, with raucous brass and a chaotic interaction of instruments. Fripp provides a Hackett-like guitar solo over a thudding bass in one segment of the track. The suite concludes with an unsettling rendition of circus music.

Report this review (#640927)
Posted Saturday, February 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Lizard" is certainly a very interesting and enjoyable album, with some rather unusual mixes of prog rock and free-jazz. It is one of the toughest King Crimson albums to get into, so many repeated listens or revisiting this work would be recommended. The psychedelic "Cirkus" is a main highlight for me, which rattles your senses with its dark, haunting mellotron and emphatic drumming. Mel Collins' work on saxophone here happens to be a personal favourite few moments on the whole album. I think that Keith Tibbet gives some of the songs a chaotic feel with his peculiar playing style on piano and keyboards. But I am often partial to the softer songs, especially the ones by KC. Therefore "Lady of the Dancing Water" is another highlight. It contains some of the most attractive flute playing available anywhere. The delicate horns and woodwinds are lovely too. The 23-minute epic title track is quite a beast and also has some immense moments, particularly during the first half where it features Jon Anderson on vocals. I think the most accurate rating for "Lizard" should be three and a half stars.
Report this review (#659417)
Posted Thursday, March 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Criticized in some quarters for producing a virtual facsimile follow-up to their seminal 1969 debut 'In The Court Of The Crimson King', 'Lizard' would prove a stark departure from the ethereal, mellotron-washed blueprint King Crimson had dusted down for 'In The Wake Of Poseidon'. Although a very similar album, both in sound and structure, 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' was still a fine slice of post-psychedelic grandeur; 'Lizard', however, would find Robert Fripp and company heading in a different direction. A dense and difficult affair, this is progressive rock in it's most ambitious guise, featuring a multitude of differing instrumental climates, a daunting atmospheric coating and a sonic palette stuffed with enough ideas to fill several albums over. No doubt stung by the criticism flung at 'In The Wake Of Poseidon', this is very much a case of King Crimson performing in almost deliberately contrarian fashion, crafting a lengthy, multi-chaptered concept album that makes it's predecessors seem simple in comparison. This is best summed up on the twenty-three minute long title-track, a four-part prog marathon which takes the listener on a spellbinding journey through carefully-crafted segments of rich chamber rock layered with intricate free-jazz cul-de-sacs, warm acoustic medleys, medieval- styled passages and squalling metallic attacks, thus producing a truly mesmerizing experience. It's a powerful if somewhat humourless and occasionally stiff reading of the progressive rock genre in all it's cerebral glory, yet the display of pure musical imagination offered up deserves real kudos. The shorter tracks also stand up to careful observation, with both the chromatic opener 'Cirkus' and the delicate, acid-dipped folk-jazz of 'Happy Family' glowing with a dark and mysterious ambience, whilst 'Indoor Games' adds a confident, fiery and almost jocular tinge to proceedings, exhibiting a deft ear for melody sometimes crowded out by the sheer volume of instrumental ideas. Although maybe not in the same exulted class as their genre-defining debut, 'Lizard' is nevertheless a powerful and original statement from one of progressive rock's pre-eminent outfits. This is highly cerebral music for those with the time to appreciate such things and it is only after multiple listens that one can truly appreciate the album's multi-faceted musical architecture. Some will find this 1970 effort deliberately obfuscating and pompous, others no doubt will point to the radical instrumental approach and technical prowess as proof of it's singular musical vision. Album's such as 'Lizard' are rare; the raw creativity showcased throughout even more so.


Report this review (#733214)
Posted Thursday, April 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I usually get my source of music information from reading reviews from online nonprofessional web critics. In regards to Lizard, a good chunk of them who aren't based solely in a progressive rock site are not very fond of it, considering this to be one of the nadirs of King Crimson and the majority of the album being unlistenable or boring. After reading these reviews, I went to my local record store, bought the album, among others, and went home to play it. After the last notes faded into the ether, I kept asking myself: "Am I listening to the same record?" Rather than thinking of it as an unfocused pile of mush, I think of Lizard as a fine accomplishment of the early (i.e. 1969 - 1971) King Crimson

For this version of King Crimson, Gordon Haskell and Mel Collins, who contributed to the sessions for In The Wake Of Poseidon, make full time appearances on bass/vocals and sax/flutes respectively, with Andy McCulloch taking up the drums. Keith Tippet appears with his pianos and bringing some musicians from his group - Robin Miller on oboe and cor anglais, Mark Charig on trumpet and Nick Evans on trombone - and though only listed as a session musician, he plays such a key role that he could almost be a full member. Haskell's bass playing is decent and I have no problem with his vocals, but I admit this is probably the only album where his singing could have worked; I really can't see him singing '21st Century Schizoid Man', which was still a key number in their (then dormant) live set. McCulloch is probably the most fidgety of Crimson's drummers, and it fits with the material presented in the album.

With the above group, guitarist Robert Fripp (with lyricist Peter Sinfield still in tow) takes Crimson in a new direction, the first of many twists he would take the group. The album's first half is based on the jazzier elements developed on Poseidon and injected with a dose of weird, a trait immediately thrust upon with listener with the opening 'Cirkus', another Mellotron based tune with a simplistic horn line that brings forth Sinfield's whacked-out circus imagery and punctuated with Fripp's acoustic guitar - sometimes lovely, sometimes frantic - and organ. The aforementioned lyrics are just as weird as Poseidon's title track - in fact, had it appeared on that album, it could have been the sequel to 'The Court Of The Crimson King' - though they're much better this time around (the opening stanza alone beats out anything from 'Poseidon') and are complimented well with the various keyboards and Haskell's regal sounding vocals, with Fripp's aforementioned guitar and Collins' saxophone spicing things up a bit.

The slightly bluesy 'Indoor Games' harkens back to 'Cat Food' from the last album, as well as the material by Giles, Giles & Fripp and it's every bit as weird as those works. A lot of it has to do with Haskell; while his voice sounds perfectly at home on 'Cirkus', he sounds absolutely goofy on here (and 'Happy Family' for that matter). In fact, the entire song is goofy; a VCS3 synth whistles and hums throughout, Fripp's guitar is skipping along, Collins' sax lazily drifts along to the riff that lays the foundation for the song, and, of course, Sinfield's lyrics: 'Each afternoon you train baboons to sing / Or swim in purple Perspex water wings'. Wiggy. About the worst that can be said is that the synth and the more hyper section of Fripp's guitar should have been pushed a bit to the forefront, but other than that, a real delight.

The Beatles break-up tale 'Happy Family' is next and the only spot where I can understand where the album's detractors are coming from. The nursery-rhyme meets wacky free jazz recalls Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, so if you don't like that album, you're probably not going to like 'Happy Family'. I like the Led Zeppelin-ish riff that pops up now and then, and the main song portion is alright, though some might find Haskell's distorted voice a tad annoying. As for the jam section, Haskell and McCulloch manage to put a foundation on the jam, preventing it from flying into chaos, while Collins and Charig (or is it Evans? I'm not too sure) pull off some decent solos as Tippet and Fripp do some free-form playing in the background. Of the five tracks here, this is probably the one you might to approach with the most caution.

Things settle down a bit with 'Lady Of The Dancing Water', a lovely song based on acoustic guitar and electric piano that's in the same vein as the 'Peace' songs from Poseidon, but this one is actually fully built and succeeds where 'Peace' failed. Haskell's voice is back in his range, delivering a nice performance.

The entire second side of the album is occupied by the 23+ minute, four part title suite, the first and last time Crimson would attempt such a feat. Most of the track is heavily aided by Tippet and his crew and as a result, it's the only number off the album that probably could not have been done justice live had the main core of this line-up (i.e. Fripp, Sinfield, Haskell, Collins and McCulloch) ever had the chance.

The poppy 'Prince Rupert Awakes' kicks off the suite and it sounds like something Yes would have done at the time - they even brought in Jon Anderson to sing the part. Listening it sounds like you're entering a beautiful dream, especially in the chorus section with the backwards guitar and Anderson's vocals, though the occasional Mellotron scream and piano twangs in the verses suggest something wrong beneath the surface. Not helped by the whole 'Stake a lizard by the throat' thing.

Chraig's horn brings forth the second section, 'Bolero: The Peacock's Tale'. It takes some cues from Sketches Of Spain-era Miles Davis and Maurice Ravel's own 'Bolero', though unlike the latter, it's not a crescendo piece, just an instrumental with McCulloch forming the structure of the piece with a variation of the original 'Bolero' 's beat. The main theme is quite lovely, thanks in part to the piano, oboe and Mellotron. About halfway through the section, the band starts playing the verse section of 'Prince Rupert Awakes' as a Rat-Pack styled swing, of all things. I never saw that one coming and it's one of the hilarious things I've ever heard. Another moment I like is Tippet's Spanish flavored playing about two-thirds into the section, which is sadly pushed into the background by the horns and sax, though, fortunately, not enough to drown it out. I'm still puzzled about the complaints that it's boring or atonal. The main theme and the silly bits are enough to keep the listener satisfied and it lasts for a reasonable amount of time.

'Battle Of Glass Tears' starts out as a creepy piano/cor angais ballad (subtitled 'Dawn Song') sung by Haskell before shifting into an ominous Mellotron number that alternates between a heavier section (subtitled 'Last Skirmish') that loosely recalls 'Pictures Of A City'. The chaos that consumed 'Happy Family' is back again in full force and fits the whole battle vibe. Compared to 'Prince Rupert' and 'Peacock's Tale', this part is relatively simple, but it does its job and, as with 'Peacock', doesn't overstay it's welcome, though I have to admit, Crimson would greatly improve on the ideas presented on "Last Skirmish" during the 1972 - 1974 era. The section closes with a Fripp guitar solo (subtitled 'Prince Rupert's Lament'), backed with Haskell playing a one note bass line and McCulloch doing a funeral march; it's one of the more unnerving moments by Crimson. After scaring the pants off the listener for the past 11 or so minutes, Fripp and co. end the suite (and the album) with 'Big Top', a carousel flavored waltz that reprises the bridge to 'Cirkus', making the whole piece (if not the album) come across like an episode of The Twilight Zone. Overall, I think the suite is a success. The piece builds logically and encompasses the moods it wants to depicts quite well.

I think it's a masterpiece, but, as they say, taste is subjective. I enjoy the weirdness that flows through the album, but if you're still suspicious, I recommend borrowing it from a friend before making a purchase.

Edit (July 12, 2012): As much as I like this album, I've decided to lower its rating to a 4/5. It's still good, but,as mentioned before, King Crimson would greatly improve on some ideas presented in the second half of the "Lizard" suite. I'll explain when I get to reviewing Larks' Tongues In Aspic.

Final rating: 4/5

Personal favorites: "Cirkus", "Indoor Games", "Lady Of The Dancing Water", "Lizard" (specifically the "Prince Rupert Awakes" and "Bolero: The Peacock's Tale" sections)

Personal dislikes: None

Report this review (#786703)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars To me, Lizard is King Crimson's most unique, complex, and atmospheric album. It stands out from all the rest, and is hands down my favorite King Crimson album. Partly, this is because it is their most jazzy album, but at the same time it is one of the most stylish and bad ass albums I have ever heard. I can see why this may not be for everyone, but I was genuinely surprised when I discovered this site and this wasn't ranked higher. Fripp's guitar is at It's best (over the top insane cross picking) the new vocals are also amazing, and creepy. I feel like i'm in the mind of insane schizophrenic when I hear Haskell's voice. I mean that in a good way. This album sucks you in right from the opening notes and when its over, you want more. Unfortunately, this perfect line up of musicians would discontinue, but they left behind a masterpiece.
Report this review (#786772)
Posted Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh this album. This can be a slog to get through at times, but it is worth it. In 1970, King Crimson was in some weird line-up changes and had a core band consisting of Robert Fripp on guitar and mellotron, Peter Sinfield on lyrics, Gordon Haskell on bass and vocals, Mel Collins on sax, flute and mellotron and Andy McCullouch on the drums. This is a difficult album, to say the least, with an almost Soft Machine Free-Jazz direction(Their album Third came out in the same year, very jazzy as well) with some symphonic feel of the last two albums, but you could feel a change was happening.

Cirkus(Including Entry of the Chameleons): A great opener and probably the most famous song on the album. Starts with some dark mellotrons with a heavy rhythm section. An incredibly dark song that makes me feel uncomfortable at times, which sounds like the idea.

Indoor Games: One of my favourites. It has a dark humour feel to it and I think is detailing couples having weird sex fantasies or something like that. I can't make it out but it a great song with some excellent sax from Collins. Also, it ends with some creepy laughter from Haskell

Happy Family: Opens with a distorted, heavy mellotron and discusses the break-up of The Beatles. It is kind of funny but also kind of mournful tone to it as well.

Lady of the Dancing Water: The soft, gentle track of the album. Excellent flute work by Collins with a great vocal from Haskell. I always thought he was a great voice for softer, balladry type of songs, and this song is a great showcase with that.

Lizard: The centerpiece of the album. 20+ mins, takes up all of Side 2 of the LP, and is one giant load of I don't know what. It is an incredibly confusing mess of sounds that I still don't quite get, It is the tipping point of experimentation in rock music before becoming complete Jazz or Avant-Grade music. I love the opening section with Jon Anderson on vocals, the most coherent part of the song and the best.

Overall, this is a strange album, but a underrated album over the years. I think if this album had more of a direction and coherence to the weird atmosphere, it would not have as much of an effect as it does. Come to this one later on, or if you love Jazz music, it is right up your alley. 4 stars. Highlights: Cirkus, Indoor Games, Happy Family and Lizard

Report this review (#833979)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Hey all in the land of the prog archives, here is the 3rd album by Prog Rock practitioners King Crimson (or whom I like to call the great Crimson King). By this point in the band's history Greg Lake and Michael Giles (uh oh, it's not good that he left, ouch!!!) had left and were replaced by Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch respectively (a slew of other musicians played on this album). King Crimson had build a bit of a reputation up to the release of this album as they had been known for their weird and odd approaches to music with albums such as In the Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon. Lizard, brought a somewhat familiar but different sound to the band. Here is my review of this odd recording.

Here is the low down for this album known as "Lizard"

1) Cirkus - Note to the guys in King Crimson when you do something like this I'll listen and then maybe admire you and become a fan but you guys don't do it enough though. I love this song, it's the epitome of Prog Rock for me, McCulloch literaly kills the drums on here (only song that he does it good enough though). 10/10

2) Indoor Games - This track does nothing for me. Gordon Haskell sounds a lot like Stewie Griffin from Family Guy on this album but mostly on this song (no, no Stewie prog!!!!!!!!!) and I don't want Stewie Griffin singing for any band especially a Prog Rock band (ahh!!!!!!!). While listening I actually find myself thinking 'What's the point of this?" Anywho, it's a terrible and chaotic mess with no musicality to it at all (it's important to remember that when you are sober you will realize that "it's crap"). I am not a fan of this track at all. One of their worst in their discography in my opinion. 2/10

3) Happy Family - To me this sounds exactly the same as Indoor Games. It tries to confuse you (fails terribly to do so though) and keep you on your music listening toes but personally it does nothing for me. Gordon Haskell has this weird and odd vocal delivery and the instrumentation to it just doesn't cut it. Unfortunately, this is yet another song by Crimso that does absolutely nothing for me. Yes, yes I know that the guys in this band know how to play but they just don't do it in an engaging manner on this track. This song sounds a lot like Indoor Games (in the way it's structured and delivered) as it has me screaming "change it up please!!!!!" Another awful piece of fluff. 2/10

4) Lady of the Dancing Water - This is a great song. I love Haskell vocals on here and although a bit formulaic (with a ballad on the first 3 albums) it's actually very good. I pretty much love everything about this song, it's beautiful and well crafted. If only Crimson did this more often (sighs). What a waste of talents. 10/10

5. Lizard - Ahh, now we reach the big bloated epic of the album entitled Lizard. However, as an epic I feel it just doesn't hold up. It drags on without really going anywhere in my opinion. Here is the epic examined in its many portions a) Prince Rupert Awakes - This has a guest appearance from Jon Anderson( of Yes fame, yes that Jon Anderson) and it is beautifully done."Wake your reasons hollowed vote, wear your blizzard season-coat, burn a bridge and burn a boat, stake a lizard by he throat." I love that line (whatever the hell that means I don't know but it sounds pretty good?). Unfortunately for me it's the best part of the song. I bet they couldn't get Haskell to sing this (probably because it doesn't fit his vocal rang??). Just try to imagine Gordon Haskell singing this. I know, it doesn't fit well at all.

b) Bolero - The Peacock's Tale - I like the first few minutes of this piece (the jazzy bits are pretty nice) but then it starts to tail off and it goes nowhere leading to the next part of the song.

c) The Battle of Glass Tears - This part of the song is just terrible as it ruins the epic for me. It repeats itself over and over and over (maybe it's my intolerance but believe me I have a ton of patience). A fine example of repeating your piece of music over and over and actually making it good is "Abaddon's Bolero" by ELP as it's structured, very complex and multi-layered but on here it just keeps going and going like a bad hip hop beat from Tyga or some other bad rapper. The kitchen sink is thrown at you but it just doesn't get me in any way. Fripp tries to be inventive and interesting with a little guitar piece but it's nowhere near a Hackett or Howe. Just not interesting enough for me

d) Big Top - This portion of the song is pure fluff to me. It also does nothing for me. Altogether the piece is ok but just not really to my liking. 7/10

Overall, even though this album is indeed very progressive and even though it has a lot going, it just sounds like a confused mess that goes nowhere (a genre crisis perhaps??). It's an album that's definitely out there as it has some moments of sheer brilliance but also has plenty of moments of confusion. Fripp himself actually dismisses this album as he has considered it "crap." Not a bad album at all it's just confused. Yet another 3 star rating for the Crimso. Peace out!!!

Report this review (#885284)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is a difficult album to review, being a mixture of almost bland sweetness at times, combined with avante garde noodling. My view is the opposite of the usual critique of this work, I hear side one as being much the stronger of the two, with side two falling into shapeless self indulgence.

The album starts well with the impressive Cirkus, the sinister lyrics are well combined with dark instrumental passages between the verses. Indoor Games is much less memorable but Happy Family with each nursery rhyme lyrics and dark atmosphere is under rated. Side closer Lady of the Dancing Water is pleasant but unremarkable. All in all side one is a success, although not KC at the top of their game. Side two starts where side one tailed off, the blandly pleasant "Price Rupert Awakes" (any song which has Rupert has the name of the hero is always going to be skating on thin ice). Although insipid, this is the highlight of side two. This merges into a section called bolero. Any hope that this might be a dark and mysterious journey over an insistent rhythm a la "the devil's triangle" is quickly disappointed. A flute melody, the sort of thing which would appear as the theme tune to a safe Sunday night TV programme begins this, but it sound descends into dissonant jazz noodling with Tippett's harsh piano being the worst culprit. However any musical ideas are abandoned altogether in the forgettable "battle of glass tears" section, a massive 10 minutes long and devoid of melodic interest. One is grateful for the slight return of Cirkus at the end.

Report this review (#936228)
Posted Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars This album has the worst vocals of all of King Crimson's lineups (except for the first movement of Lizard which features Jon Anderson), which makes this one really hard to listen to. The instrumentals, however, are brilliant, ever changing at any second going from harsh and dissonant to beautiful and melodic. The contrast at times is stunning and amazing. This one is also a lot jazzier than most of their albums and has a generous amount of brass and reed instruments mixed by crazy guitar and otherworldly mellotron. This is an album for expert level proggers and not for the general public. Once again KC proves that they are ahead of their time, taking prog to another level, the level of quasi avant-garde or even breaking into post punk/rock territory even before it was even a twinkle in anyone's mind. This one is way out there and it would take a long time for the music industry to embrace it. Even for a die hard KC fan, it's hard to rate this above 4 stars because of the vocals, but the instrumentals make up for it in a big way. With 4 medium to short songs and 1 gigantic suite over 20 minutes long, this is definitely an interesting album.
Report this review (#1003522)
Posted Monday, July 22, 2013 | Review Permalink
2 stars Another King Crimson album from a piecemeal line-up that wouldn't even last weeks after it's release. Bobby Fripp takes the helm firmly with an iron fist utilizing a gaggle of available musicians. Amazingly none from the original group from just the year prior. One member, the lead singer/bassist, was Fripp's childhood friend who agreed to do Fripp a favor and join KC. Talk about desperation!

Lizard is an overwrought behemoth. It's one album where the pretentiousness is almost unbearable. Although there is some inspired playing and atmospheres, the problem is some of the tunes just meander with loads of horns just fighting for space. Like avant-garde jazz amid weak material. Gordon Haskell's vocals on Lizard are just awful. He is actually a very good singer but he is admittedly way out of his element here and some of the studio vocal treatments are irritating. The drummer, at Mr. Fripp's direction, executes rolling fills after rolling fills.

"Cirkus" being a bright spot does a great job with the lyrical metaphors and the music giving an eerie Circus-like imagery. Mel Collins sax solo over an ocean of mellotrons is particularly nice.

"Indoor Games" A lot of people don't like this one. I think its a fun song. Great jangly acoustic guitar and a decent "jam" in the middle.

"Happy Family" is a major dud. Supposedly about the break-up of the Beatles. Here we get the ugly and unnecessary effects-laden vocals. Pete Sinfield had a new toy, the VCS3, and was dying to play with it. The "jam" in the middle of this is all over the place.

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a soft delicate song in the vein of "Cadence and Cascade but nowhere near as good. Forgettable.

"Lizard" is a long workout full of ideas but devoid of direction. The first part has Jon Anderson of Yes singing some truly inane lyrics resembling an old English fairy tale complete with Lizard's bones becoming clay to aid the birth of a swan. Wow. There are also some very weak sounding hand claps in there as well. Yuck. The rest of the song is mostly instrumental with some good parts, mainly the "Bolero" section, I like it but it's not rock really but a soft English jazz. The rest is very long unfocused, sleep inducing and is comprised mostly of hired musicians. Not a "band" effort but at this point KC wasn't a band at all.

Lizard, a prog masterpiece? Some think so but there is no way in my opinion. It does have loads and loads of ideas, great execution by Fripp, Collins and the hired jazzers and some slick studio effects. Regrettably most of the lyrics, the vocals, the weak rhythm section and the avant-garde jazz meandering just makes it one big pot full of some good ingredients that just makes a bad stew.

Unfortunately things for KC will get worse first before they get better, a lot better.

Report this review (#1031354)
Posted Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars I cannot comprehend how this album is 'hard to get into', because for me it is the King Crimson album where everything works perfectly. In my opinion this is the best King Crimson album. The songs basically get better and better until the best song on the album, the title track, which is easily a top song for King Crimson. This is an extremely underrated album from my point of view as it is the essential King Crimson listen for any progressive rock listener. If you have not yet heard this album you must as soon as possible. A masterpiece of progressive rock.
Report this review (#1421419)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2015 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars The third release from King Crimson in the span of 14 months, the third of the band's countless line-ups and the third of their 5 star, knock-it-out-of-the-park prog masterpieces. After "In The Wake Of Poseidon", which drew many parallels to the band's debut, "Lizard" ventures into largely unknown territory, focusing on a seamless fusion of symphonic and jazz-based prog. And it works wonderfully.

Side one features four songs sung by Gordon Haskell, who sang on the lovely "Cadence And Cascade" from "Wake Of Poseidon", that are all among the finest in King Crimson's catalog. Songs like "Cirkus" feature plenty of jazzy saxophone melodies interspersed among neo-classical acoustic guitar and "Indoor Games" takes on a similar vibe as the earlier release, "Cat Food". "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a brief duet between vocals and acoustic guitar that ends side one and acts as a prelude of sorts to the album's side-long, self-titled epic, "Lizard". The title track continues the fusion of jazz, classical and symphonic textures but perfects it to an art. Some of the band's most beautiful, lyrical woodwind arrangements can be found counteracted by some of the funkiest, most refined heavy jazz soundscapes to be found in prog as well as spectacular vocals by Yes' Jon Anderson in the epic's introduction section.

Many other reviewers warn of this album being one of the more difficult King Crimson albums to get into though I couldn't find that to be less true. "Lizard" is an album that will floor any King Crimson fan (and most prog fans) with very few listens and delivers some of the most beautiful, most creative and most varied output in the band's catalog. Perhaps the second best King Crimson album after their debut and a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Report this review (#1434426)
Posted Friday, July 3, 2015 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars L

While KING CRIMSON took the world by storm only a year previous in 1969 with their game changing debut, their follow up "In The Wake Of Poseidon" has always felt to me like a collection of B-sides from the leftover bin of tracks from the initial sessions that created them. With LIZARD, the second album of 1970 and third album overall, it feels like Robert Fripp and company took the whole project to a new level of complexity by not only keeping the previous elements that came before but also by upping the ante in pretty much every way. While not the only top class album to take complexity to new levels in the year 1970 (to my knowledge only Marsupalami, Soft Machine and Magma were contenders at this level), Robert Fripp steered his KING CRIMSON project into new grounds a mere fourteen months after the extraordinary "In The Court Of The Crimson King" was unleashed on an unsuspecting public and proved that he was a serious force to be reckoned with. LIZARD is a testament to a focused individual driven to evolve light years above the newly aroused competition nipping at his heals. LIZARD hasn't always been a bonafide masterpiece in my world but i can happily say that i've reached a point of understanding where it all makes perfect sense.


Only two years into the band's formation, Fripp was already seeing a rotating door policy of musicians who just couldn't jive with his ambitious visions. In only a year since the debut that ignited the progressive rock powder keg, vocalist and bassist Greg Lake jumped ship to join Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Drummer Michael Giles and wind instrumentalist Ian McDonald would jump ship together to create a lighter version of KC called McDonald And Giles (but McDonald would reunite on "Red") leaving Fripp as the only original member on LIZARD. The new KING CRIMSON circa last half of 1970 featured Fripp on guitar, Mellotron, synth, organs and other sundries, Mel Collins (Circus) on sax and flute, Andy McCulloch (Manfred Mann, Fields, Greenslade, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown) on drums and Gordon Haskell (Les Fleur de Lys), a long time school friend of Fripp who had contributed one vocal track previously on "Poseidon" and now took the role as lead vocalist on side one. Jon Anderson of Yes would join in for the long behemoth title track that encompassed the entire second half of the original LP release. Also on board were the phenomenal Keith Tippett who also played as a session keyboardists on "Poseidon" as well as other session musicians who added oboe, cornet, trombone and extra vocals.


Everything about LIZARD is more ornate than anything before starting with the album art cover itself. The original LP release was graced by two sides of medieval art with one side spelling KING and the other CRIMSON. While the music doesn't exactly lead to anything medieval per se save a few classical guitar workouts by Fripp, the album does display a sense of Renaissance in the music scene with its relentless fusion of classical, rock and jazz with the greatest emphasis on the latter. The jazz elements on here are off the hook with saxophone solos, jazzified song structures within the tracks and even segments of progressive big band interaction in full swing. Therefore if you don't haven't gotten an A in your jazz appreciation course you probably won't enjoy this as much as the full-blown jazz fusionist lovers. Miles Davis appears to have been a major influence on this one since the very same year as the KC debut, Davis himself was adopting rock into the jazz world. A year later and following in the footsteps of other rock to jazz fusionists like Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, KING CRIMSON was gracefully taking it on to create equally complex and sophisticated music.


Just to give you a sense of how complex this album is, most of the lyrics are actually represented in the art work itself. For example, the "I" in CRIMSON is a caricature of The Beatles and is a direct reference to the track "Happy Family" which referred to the breakup of the band. The lyrics get even more detailed about certain aspects of the band. The artwork and lyrics go hand in hand to create a much larger story as does the music thus creating a never ending level of complexity that the listener can delve into as deeply as the listener wants. The downside to all this complexity including the hardcore jazz aspects is that it is a bit alienating for the uninitiated and non-adventurous listeners especially following much more digestible tracks like "20th Century Schizoid Man" that had put KING CRIMSON in the eyes and ears of a totally new generation of music lovers only a year prior. LIZARD perhaps had gone too far too fast for many fans, however this album is not without its instant gratification. There are melodies aplenty to be savored albeit with allusions to all kinds of obscurities in the mix, both lyrically and musically. The music literally has taken decades for fans to catch up with.


The album seems to be as divided musically as it is divided from the front and back side of the album cover. Side one sporting Haskill's vocals is the jazzier of the two sides which focuses more on the jazz meets rock aspects fueled with dissonant yet melodic hooks and horn heavy segments with occasional avant meanderings, whilst side two is much more in the symphonic prog world with Jon Anderson displaying sublime vocals and a glimpse into his future solo career projects. It also has a propensity to delve into the world of free jazz and the avant-garde including warped time perception and utter detachment from the musical world altogether. While the two album sides are clearly delineated by style, they somehow form a cohesive mood and feel after many listens. The prog behemoth that constitutes the title track includes four segments with the third being subdivided into three subparts and successfully manages to create a frenzied prog workout that takes the listener on a true musical journey very much in accord with classical music symphonies, operas, concertos and sonatas. The transitions from one style to another are somewhat subtle as they never just jump into each other's turf. The transitions are gradual like gentle sand dunes slowly changing the topography of a vast desert where mirages from a camel ride slowly merge into each other. It's really hard to grasp upon just a listen or two how much was put into this one.


The simple truth is that LIZARD is one of the very first progressive rock albums that is like climbing Mt Everest. You need to acclimate yourself to comprehend its sheer intensity. For the uninitiated this is the equivalent of a sea level dweller accustomed to an ample air supply gasping for air in an oxygen depleted environment and thus will come across like an atmospheric hypoxia induced sleepless night at the base camp where only groggy faded memories of what occurred will semi-percolate into the consciousness. This is an album that is a true 10 on the progometer scale. A code red, 3rd degree progressive jazz/classical/rock behemoth of the ages. That means that it requires several stages of musical development to truly "get it." You must not only have your rock and classical musical sensibilities in top shape but you will go nowhere until your jazz appreciation skills have been fine tuned and honed to the point that mutli-genre fusion is like second nature. A true work of art that was perhaps overly ambitious for its era but sophisticated enough to evoke a sheer sense of timelessness.

Report this review (#1611422)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another fantastic Crimson album. Ive been asked to review this album by a fellow PA member so im just going to jump right into it.

For some reason, King Crimsons early albums (after ITC, before Larks Tongues) have been sort of overlooked. Being my second favorite band of all time, I can enjoy all of their 70s albums. But Lizard is a very unique piece of music. Coming out after Poseidon, the 50/50 remake of their debut, Fripp decides to change up their sound completely. Now the only members playing from previous albums on here are Fripp and Sinfield on lyrics, the rest are new Jazz- oriented musicians, to change things up. Enjoying this album does require a taste, but once you acquire it, boy does it taste good.

Starting off extremely strong, Cirkus wakes you up with some evil-sounding mellotron. The jazz like drumming is very strong, and fripps classical guitar sound couldn't be better. This is probably Gordon Haskell's best singing on the album, he isnt an amazing singer, but this song wouldnt be the same without him. The beautiful sax solo midway is my favorite part, a delicate touch surrounded by chaos. Definitely one of the best songs here.

Indoor games and Happy Family go together quite well. Indoor games is quite a silly track, and if you asked me what its about, I wouldn't be able to answer very well. Hell, there are some words that don't even exist in here. There is a very tight jazzy instrumental section midway that i really enjoy. Happy family is another very odd track something about the events of a family dying, im not really sure though. This song has always given me the giggles for some reason, Haskells slightly distorted goofy singing here and there, surrounded by jazzy instrumental. This is the sort of song only a band like Crimson would produce.

I love it when albums have short melancholy breaks (Moonmadness, Lamb Lies Down, Hand. Cannot. Erase.), this is my favourite of them all. Lady of the Dancing Water lets soft flute and guitar give you a break from the madness and takes you to a meadow somewhere beside a lake. A perfect prelude for the epic title track.

The flipside is taken up entirely by the title track, one of my favorite songs of all time. Jon Anderson singing on a King Crimson album? Its any prog fans dream. Peters lyrics have never been better, and Anderson brings them to life perfectly. The chorus is very catchy, which is a very rare thing to find in the Crimson stables. When Anderson steps away from the mic, youre introduced to A Peacocks Tale, my favorite section of the song. Clarinet has never sounded better than in this light instrumental passage. Reminds me strongly of "Islands" occupying their next album. There's a minute of spoken word before hitting you in the face with the most image-provoking battle sequence you'll ever here. Thundering trombones blast, it has a certain medieval feel to it that I love. The thing I love most about this song is just how many instruments are being played. It amazes me just how overlooked this gem is, being one of my favorite side-longs. A Masterpiece.

Robert Fripp himself announced he didnt care for this album, which is a shame. I rate this album 4.5 stars, but im giving it 5, due to the fact that giving it 4 would be lowering its average. Highly underrated masterpiece of progressive rock.

Report this review (#1644464)
Posted Friday, November 18, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Nice to have more jazz, but musically mixed.

Lizard continues the formula of Poseidon, but without Greg Lake and Michael Giles. Fripp relied on his old friend (which would, because of this experience, cease being a friend) Gordon Haskell to sing like Lake (except on one tune), and Sinfield to continue writing the words. Much of the end of the second side of Lizard is taken up by an extended quasi-version of Bolero, just like much of the second side of Poseidon was taken up with a quasi version of Mars. However, unlike Poseidon, it is the second side here which shines, while the first side has less staying power. The second side starts with Jon Anderson singing Prince Rupert Awakes, and this is the best vocal performance on the album, followed by the extended Bolero suite. The later was apparently recorded in stops and starts, with Fripp getting everyone to improvise for four bars, stopping and listening, before doing the same for the next four bars, etc. A strange way of recording the piece, seemingly limiting in free expression, the result still works. It is listenable. The same cannot be said of much of side one, though. The opener, Cirkus, is OK. Great heavy riff. But Sinfield's lyrics are really sub-par, and Haskell's snide delivery makes the singing annoying. The worst tracks are 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family'. These two tracks border on unlistenable, and I can't listen to them any more (of course, after many decades) while the closing tune on side one, 'Lady of the Dancing Water' is actually very pleasant. But even side two - which is musical - is not super original. Fripp has said these years involved decisions that he knew weren't fully right, but had to be done to keep going. The music reflects this, and the album is somewhat of a transitory one. But there is still enough originality to make this worth having in your collection. I give this 7.1 out of 10, which translates to 3 PA stars.

Report this review (#1696027)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars Planned spontaneity: 10/10

Clown, juggler, acrobat, sword swallower, lion tamer, it can only mean one thing... the circus has come to town! For their upcoming show, they have brought along a special guest: the iconoclastic and now jazzy KING CRIMSON, featuring Robert Fripp, Gordon Haskell, Mel Collins, Andy McCulloch, Keith Tippet, Robin Miller, Mark Charig, Nick Evans. The purpose of this unconventional partnership is to present tonight's theatrically bombastic show, the conceptual piece called LIZARD.

"People, oh all good people," says the announcer (who is actually Jon Anderson with a mustache. Boy, I wonder why is he hiding his identity), "This will be a unique experience! It will take you to lands so eerie you would never expect to visit!". Fripp, with a cold smile, continues. "I can guarantee you: this will be unlike anything ever seen."

LIZARD is... strange. Here, KING CRIMSON plays an in-between of free jazz and jazz fusion. Nowhere nearly as accessible or straightforwardly technical as MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, but also hardly grasping the absolute unorthodoxy of oddities like BITCHES BREW, LIZARD can be described at best as "free jazz with structure", something that sounds like an absurd oxymoron, but isn't. The jazz is improvisational, however, with limits demarked by the songs' skeletal chords and rhythm. Basically, the musicians perform a controlled experiment. It ends up sounding bizarre, unpredictable, but not really alienating.

Sadly, LIZARD's status as "not this nor that", its inhabitation in that grey area makes it underrated (rather than accessed) by both extremities. At one tip, settled by a demanding minority of bold avant-jazz lovers who expect nothing less than deranged subversiveness, it's not adventurous enough. To the numerous jazz fusion fans on the opposite hemisphere, it's too weird, too chaotic, and most importantly, it doesn't sound like 21st Century Schizoid Man. It doesn't sound like anything that resembles the first incarnation of KING CRIMSON at all, actually. "Jesus, dude. IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON was such a great followup... why did you need to do... this?"

I'll give them a break, it must have been a shocker. In the dawn of 1970 KING CRIMSON was playing mellow and atmospheric symphonic prog but only a few months later they changed their style completely. Now, they're playing weird jazz. Weirder than 21st Century Schizoid Man (which isn't even weird, to begin with). This is visible since the opener: LIZARD begins with a somber tone, brought by Cirkus. Right away, KING CRIMSON's new incarnation brings solid musicianship through an organized polyphonic instrumental jamming (under Haskell's rude vocals). Although the track seems to indicate a certain conceptual (or atmospheric) seriousness, this is an erroneous assumption, promptly corrected on the next track. Indoor Games' brass melody has an air of mockery and Gordon Haskell's reverbed vocals sound cheerful in a rather... mischievous way. Happy Family continues with this frolic mood. But it is also the most inaccessible and anarchical song. Everything: the guitars, the keyboards, the Mellotron, the flute, the oboe; they all together jam with autonomy, absolutely disconnected, almost cacophonically. Starkly contrasting with this madness, Lady of the Dancing Water is warm and delicate, like a lullaby. Fripp gentle strums the guitar, Collins calmly blows the flute. Images of a lake come to your mind. Well, if it didn't before, I hope it does now you've read this.

The big boy occupies the second side. LIZARD . The eponymous track. From the Old French lesarde. (Aren't them beautiful words? Both lizard and lesarde.) Dynamic, medievalesque, ever-changing and spectacularly composed and played (even if somewhat disjunct), it brings up a notch the already formidable songwriting. The abstract lyrics construct imageries of a whimsical world dwelled by sentient lizards and brave princes (which so happen to be the name of coastal Canadian cities) who participate in poetic battles of symbolic proportions and cryptical significances. Or... something like that, I guess. It's a beautiful, powerful and boldly creative song and deservedly hailed as one of KING CRIMSON's finest pieces. It features Jon Anderson (the main vocalist of YES). By the way, that's the reason Anderson was hiding his identity. He didn't want to spoil the surprise. Seriously, when I spontaneously discovered it was him (I was listening to this at school) I giggled like a fan girl "It's Jon Anderson, oh my god". Luckily, no one was around.

Big Top is the [song and album's] outro. A circus-esque melody begins at the right speaker and fades from the left, simulating the passage a musical act right in front of the listener. And thus the show is over. The circus left town with its fanciful world of adventures and eclectic improvisational jazz fusion. Some who experienced LIZARD deems it as bland, boring, disconnected, too coldly calculated, too inaccessible, or directionless. Others, like me, call it inspirational, superb, breathtaking, yadda yadda yadda. It's all a matter of perspective. For anyone willing to give a shot at a slightly weird and unorthodox jazz, but only slightly, LIZARD's at your service. The circus is willing to play their show again, and again, and again... if you're willing to listen to it.

Report this review (#1802469)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | Review Permalink
5 stars After the release of "In The Wake Of Poseidon" and most of the original band going off to pursue other musical avenues, most bands would just part ways, not bounce back to release the eclectic masterpiece that is "Lizard." Not only did King Crimson managed to pull the impossible off like they always do, but they even managed to release it in the same year as the previous album. Like "In The Court of the Crimson King," this album shows that KC are already ahead of other artists by leaps and bounds.

Fripp and Sinfield remain from the original band, making even more of a collaborative effort this time between two creative minds. Not only does Pete Sinfield return to write the lyrics, this time he also designs one of King Crimson's finest album covers, as well as one of prog's finest. Mel Collins joins the band as an official member this time around, bringing his amazing flute and especially amazing saxophone skills to the table. As for other members, Gordon Haskell comes on to do most of the vocals and bass guitars here, and he does a fine job, but not an outstanding one. Andy McCulloch is the drummer of the band, but it seems like he was just told to do his best impression of what Michael Giles was doing.

Moving forward from where the last two albums left off, "Lizard" decides to go in the jazzier direction that the early band seemed destined to go in at some point. Flutes, saxophones, trombones, cornets, and more take the spotlight, as opposed to a more traditional rock format using guitars. Many jazz sections are found in the tracks on this album, especially on tracks like "Indoor Games" and the title track.

"Cirkus" is the perfect opening track, and it immediately grabs your attention with abstract lyrics, and the highlight of the song, which are the menacing mellotron and horn sections after each verse. It's also one of Haskell's finest vocal performances on the album, and overall, a circus I like coming back to again and again.

"Indoor Games" follows a similar bombastic format to "Cirkus," getting even jazzier this time. With a "hey ho" from Haskell, we're launched into the next attraction of the circus, which is "Happy Family." Many consider this to be a weak song, but I think it's the perfect culmination of what "Cirkus" and "Indoor Games" were leading up to. Oh, and it's about the Beatles, too.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" is similar to "Cadence and Cascade," and although I probably like "Cadence" a bit more, this is such a peaceful song to close off the first side, giving the first 3 songs room for a better experience. The best part of the song is Collins's flute playing, and it echoes the brilliance of Ian McDonald's playing on "I Talk To The Wind."

Finally, the track that makes this album a prog essential is the title track of "Lizard." First and foremost, it is one of the first side-long suites in prog, coming in a year before ELP would release "Tarkus." It set a trend that other artists such as Genesis and Yes would take inspiration from. Speaking of Yes, one of the best things on the song is the fact that Jon Anderson, the vocalist for Yes, comes in to sing "Prince Rupert Awakens," and the song fits his voice perfectly. Next in the suite we move directly into "Bolero," the jazziest piece on the album which culminates in crashing cymbals, leading into the chilling opening notes of "The Battle Of Glass Tears." This section takes up most of the suite, but it doesn't disappoint and it really feels like a battle. Even Haskell's vocals fit the section well, representing a calm before the storm. The suite is ended off with "Big Top," a short nostalgic piece on the mellotron that never fails to give me chills.

Even though this album is said to be "hard to get into," it is worth it and overtime, its true musical excellence of "Lizard" starts to show. 5/5

Report this review (#1938959)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars With Lizard the first phase of King Crimson continues without preserving any of the musicians of the first, seminal, epochal, album (of course except Fripp and Sinfield) . The progrock of KC is no longer romantic, epic, as it was on "In the Court of ..." The crystalline melodies of McDonald are now part of the past. Lake's celestial singing is gone. The music has become abstract, glacial, liquid; at times the atmosphere is mysterious and subtle. There is not even the bombastic existential angst of "21st Century Schizoid Man".

There is, if anything, the development of the long jazz improvisation of "Moonchild" in songs dominated by the keyboards (Keith Tippet, remained from the previous album); orchestral, obsessive and paranoid songs. The jazz, after peeping into "Cat Food" (In The Wake of Poseidon) here is expanded and developed with piano, keyboards, saxophones (the faithful Mel Collins) and horns (trombone, cornet) and wooden instruments (cor anglais) an overflowing battery (Andy McCulloch), which is never content to keep the rhythm. The guitar is almost absent: Fripp is limited to being the conductor and to play Mellotron, synth and organ.

Side A. "Cirkus" (including Entry Of The Chameleons, vote 8+) is a half past six minutes song dominated by the horns, which trace a threatening and obsessive melody that reaches epic moments. The drums are sometimes excessive while Fripp's acoustic guitar solo is fantastic. The voice of Gordon Haskell is powerful but definitely devoid of charisma, and lacks those romantic and delicate nuances that Greg Lake was capable of. Anyway, it's a great initial piece, which gives to KC a new sound and that immediately makes it clear that the carat of this album is greater than the one of "In The Wake of Poseidon", which began quietly and repeated the patterns of the debut.

The second song (Indoor Games, vote 7+) and the third (Happy Family, vote 6,5), dedicated to the dissolution of the Beatles, are clearly inferior to the opening piece but maintain the jazzy sound that characterizes the abum: carpet of keyboards, horns to trace the melody, an iconic drum that follows a completely unpredictable rhythmic line, acoustic and rhythmic (electric) guitar in a secondary role, instrumental pieces with jazz dissonant improvisations (especially in Happy Family, where the piano played by Tippet in the foreground is nothing but jazz). The dissonance in Happy Family makes it very difficult to listen. The fourth track, "Lady Of The Dancing Water" (vote 7) is a short song (almost three minutes), nice, melodic (acoustic guitar and flute) but not remarkable. Haskell's voice does not have the nuances suited to the atmosphere of the piece. The side, after the excellent start, ends in a fall of inspiration but still it remains good for the quality of the sound and arrangement. In This side good melodies are missing. Medium quality side A: 7,33 (wihout Lady). Vote side A: 8+.

Side B is completely dedicated to the suite called "Lizard". divided into 4 movements. The first, "Prince Rupert Awakes", with Jon Anderson singing (the effect is wonderful), is the only catchy piece of the entire album, and it is a simple song strophe-refrain. Then, starts the second movement: "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale", instrumental, where the melody of the first movement is developed by a chamber ensemble halfway between classical music and jazz, reaching enchanting, very poignant, romantic moments; then, when it is about to become cloying, the melody is distorted, becomes dissonant, undergoes variations that lead to jazz improvisation. The third movement, "The Battle Of The Glass Tears" opens with "Dawn Song" where the cor anglais accompains the whisper of Haskell; is a calm, almost sad moment. "Last Skirmish", the next piece, is an instrumental that reaches moments of dissonance and cacophony never touched by the KC; the sound is symphonic thanks to the use of Mellotron, and the trombone and the piece is prolonged in a totally dissonant free jazz, which sometimes resume the initial melody, touching peaks that only "21st Century Schizoid Man" had reached. McCulloch can unleash himself in this piece, demonstrating his virtuosity. In the end, the last piece ("Prince Rupert's Lament") of the third movement takes over, led by Fripp's electric guitar (it still exists!) and by the bass of Haskell.

The fouth movement, "Big Top" (one minute and 13 seconds) is an ironic joke in "crescendo"; the sound is that of a circus clown. Lizard is a wonderful suite, maybe only too repetitive and dilated in some moments. Vote side B: 8,5/9. Overall the suite that occupies all the second side, perhaps the first case in the history of rock music, is better than the 4 songs of the first. The album is close to being a masterpiece both for this suite and for the menacing and jazzy liquid sound that Fripp managed to build. What is missing, to be a true masterpiece, are better songs on the first side and a wider range of varieties and good melodies (and a better singer).

Average of the sides: 8,04. Vote album: 8,5/9. Rating: Four (and a half) Stars.

Report this review (#2113741)
Posted Wednesday, January 2, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars Lizard is an album that pokes out in the King Crimson discography, because it sounds very strange in my opinion. The weird thing about this album is that lots of people really enjoy this album. I have seen people online put it in their top three King Crimson albums, which in my opinion is strange because I think it is one of their weaker works. The album has Gordon Haskell on bass and vocals, the only album to feature him. I think that he is the weakest out of the many vocalists that King Crimson has had over the years. Gordon Haskell in my opinion sounds bad with a band like King Crimson, and the musical change on this album made him fit in more, but somehow he still sounds strange. The album also has Andy McCulloch as the drummer, and his drumming sounds forced. I remember reading up an article about the album. Apparently Robert Fripp was trying to get him to play technical music, but it was out of his range, thus making the drumming sound forced. Cirkus is one of the stronger tracks on the album, it sounds good but it is not a excellent song in any way. The two tracks that follow, Indoor games and Happy family, sound pretty okay at best. The songs just sound like a strange improvisation or jam session that was recorded at put onto a studio album, for some reason. Lady of the dancing water is nothing special either, except for the fact that it is one of the stronger songs. The song sounds more King Crimson like and not a weird improvisation or jam session as mentioned above. Lizard is the 20 minute plus side long epic that closes the album. It is notable due to the fact that it features the legendary Jon Anderson from the prog titan Yes. The song Lizard only has Jon Anderson on the first song because Gordon Haskell apparently did not fit for the job. The rest of the song is pretty good, probably the strongest song off the album. Overall Lizard is pretty meh or okay at best, its not horrible but its certainly my least favorite King Crimson album.
Report this review (#2119440)
Posted Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars On this third King Crimson album Lizard from 1970 (same year as its precursor In The Wake Of Poseidon) mastermind and selfclaimed leader of the pack Robert Fripp is the only original musician from the first line-up. Because Pete Sinfield was only the song writer on ITCOTCK, now he was allowed to do some experiments on the odd VCS3 synthesizer (known from Eno his work during Virginia Plain from Roxy Music). In comparison with 1969 this is almost a new band, this King Crimson delivers mainly jazz and avant-garde, only a few traces of the sound from their legendary debut album In The Court Of The Crimson King. Members piano player Keith Tippett and Mel Collins and a wide range of guest musicians on brass and wood instruments colour the music, with saxophone, hobo, trombone and cornet.

This 40th anniversary version CD opens with the strong track Cirkus: lots of dynamics and tension featuring fine work from Fripp on the acoustic guitar, an awesome solo from Mel Collins on saxophone and wonderful Mellotron parts. The next composition Indoor Games is a different story: brass like 'Madness avant-la-lettre' and very jazzy guitar play. Then the King Crimson quirky factor turns into even more dominant in Happy Family, again lots of brass and jazz guitar. Next the mellow Lady Of The Dancing featuring beautiful interplay between flute, electric piano and vocals. Finally the very epic titletrack (23 minutes), with Jon Anderson and his distinctive high pitched voice as guest singer. The music shifts from 24-carat symphonic rock with majestic Mellotron and howling guitar to free jazz with lots of brass, like the cornet, and piano, what a contrasts in this composition, King Crimson is on a captivating musical journey, but not really my taste.

The bonustracks are an 'alternate mix' of Lady Of The Dancing Water, a Frame By Frame remix of Bolero and a studio run through of Cirkus (wonderful final part with Mellotron and saxophone).

The DVD contains only audio material, from the original album in DTS 5.1 Digital Surround and PCM Stereo (2009 New Stereo Mix), and the bonustracks from the CD.

Report this review (#2136849)
Posted Saturday, February 16, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Ah. the third installment of the King Crimson bloodline, This one deserves a solid 7.5 out of 10. Jazzier sounding than the predecessors, this LP explores a lot of interesting musical territory. Mellotron, horns, Jon Anderson of Yes.. lots to indulge in with this release. It will take a while to get into this one but I really am happy I took the time to love this LP.

Cirkus (7 / 10)

The album slowly gains momentum from a musical box sounding intro, towards a fierce mellotron attack that drives the first track 'Cirkus'. Guitar arpeggios remind the listener of the last two album's more pastoral parts. This track rocks back and forth from violent to calm, the mellotron forms a moody atmosphere. This track gets a 7 out of 10

Indoor Games (7.5 / 10)

An odd rhythmic disjointed groove, disorienting vocals and horns form a mysterious web over the acoustic guitar. The song follows a few verses before diminishing into a strange jumble of atonality. 7.5 out of 10

Happy Family (8 / 10)

Strange song followed by an even stranger song, this one features some modulated vocals and a menacing mood. I really enjoy the flute section over the top of the electric piano, this turns into a chant 'Happy family, one hand clap Four went down but none came back' 8 out of 10

Lady of the Dancing Water (9 / 10)

Okay, I'm a sucker for a beautiful song like this, The flute over the top of the gorgeous guitar composition. Lovely lady of the dancing water. The subtle motifs of the trombone in the background. 9 out of 10

Lizard (9.5 / 10)

This suite carries me away to many different places, I agree with the comments of it sounding very cerebral. The first portion features guest vocals from Jon Anderson, Then onto a flowing explorative instrumental passage highlighted by horns It is quite a beautiful passage. This ends at a silence before the storm of the next part. Mellotron booms and shakes as the battle rages and rolls. The drums and percussion thundering along like a freight train. I really enjoy the chaos of this part. This suite is the stretched out version of one of the main musical ideas in the album, a partnership between loud and boisterous and quiet and cerebral, and I think King Crimson does a very good job at taming the chaos and keeping it interesting in the quiet parts. 9.5 out of 10.

Report this review (#2184267)
Posted Friday, April 19, 2019 | Review Permalink
3 stars A number of reviewers have described Lizard as 'challenging,' 'difficult to get into,' 'not easy to master,' and requiring 'an open mind' to appreciate. Of course, while that's said of many albums - - and certainly of many King Crimson albums - - it's almost as if there's something defective about those of us who don't recognize it as a masterpiece: we haven't yet mastered it, or perhaps we haven't approached it with an open mind. Perhaps we're not up to the challenge.

Who knows? Maybe a personal shortcoming prevents me from recognizing Lizard as a four- or five-star album. On the other hand, perhaps this LP is only a good album. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp, who co-wrote and co-produced the album, has judged it quite harshly for years (e.g., "I am unable to recommend that anyone part with their hard-earned pay for this one'). It's true that a post on the band's website says Fripp 'was finally reconciled with the album,' though that's hardly a glowing endorsement. The opinion of Lizard lead vocalist and bassist Gordon Haskell has been no kinder.

During its first phase (1969 to 1972), King Crimson seems to have been an emperor in continuous search of not just new clothes, but of whatever garments are the least like whatever he wore yesterday - - and as different as possible from anyone else's. For King Crimson enthusiasts, this shape-shifting is confirmation of the band's eminence. Indeed, this is in part what drove Bill Bruford, one of the greatest prog-rock drummers ever, to quit Yes immediately after Close to the Edge, one of the greatest prog-rock albums ever. King Crimson's risk-taking and innovation were too much for him to resist.

As good as the drumming on Lizard is, I get the sense that Andy McCulloch's playing wasn't quite up to the vision Fripp had for the album. McCulloch was let go after the album, and his replacement appeared on only one studio LP (though he lasted fifteen months, compared to McCulloch's two). It seems like these guys were keeping the drum stool warm for Bruford's eventual induction into the group. When Bruford and bassist-vocalist John Wetton joined in 1972, Fripp fired the entire band - - even the lyricist was given a pink slip. After four albums with three different bassist-vocalists and three different drummers, the Fripp/Bruford/Wetton troika produced three consecutive albums (with percussionist Jamie Muir on one and violinist-keyboardist David Cross on two). The quality and consistency of these three albums - - Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974), and Red (1974) - - surpasses most of the band's first four LPs.

But back in 1971, the emperor was several years away from finding a comfortable clothing style. Accordingly, Lizard is a mixture of experiments, both fruitful and futile. Most of the less successful material comprises Side One, which hits a low point on the second track, the inane 'Indoor Games.' It's not funny-inane, or even amusing-inane, and not even tolerable-inane. Haskell has claimed that his laughter at the end of the song was a reflection of the ridiculousness: 'the truth of the matter is, it was a lousy song, the lyrics were ludicrous and my singing was atrocious so I just burst out laughing.' Apparently, in an effort to continue to evolve, the band (or, perhaps more correctly, Fripp) seems to have jettisoned the relative cohesiveness of In the Court of the Crimson King, especially on Side One.

Side Two, which is taken by the suite 'Lizard,' is substantially better. Like Side One, 'Lizard' is comprised four songs, but these four make much more sense. In a sense, Side One is a rough draft of the twenty-three-minute title track. Most of the ingredients of 'Lizard' are exercised on the first side: the dramatic syncopated vamps, the odd rhythms of the vocals, the free guitar and (especially) sax solos, and the overdriven studio effects. In selecting and sequencing the recording for the album, Fripp and his co- producer Peter Sinfield may have been observing the maxim which begins 'if at first you don't succeed' - - or maybe they were challenging the listener, intentionally making the album 'difficult to master.'

Whatever the case, King Crimson would undergo two more costume changes over the next two years before finding a more comfortable wardrobe. Maybe, to drag the metaphor out just a bit more, Lizard is a document of an emperor at the mirror, trying on one outfit after another. The final result is good, though not as good as his subjects contend.

Report this review (#2189103)
Posted Sunday, April 28, 2019 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another year, another Crimson record.

This time with an actual band (and unfortunately Gordon Haskell on full vocal duties), the song remains basically the same. Fripp playing pretty much everything, Sinfield doing all the producing. Although it's still sax heavy, there's even more of a bebop-influenced sound, and Sinfield takes a much more hands on approach by using more distorted sounds and synth effects. "Cirkus" errs a bit towards classic Crimson, but "Indoor Games" features more synth sounds and effects while "Happy Family" plays around with more distortion on Haskell's vocals, while also messing with faders to pitch sounds all around the place. The guitar and organ sound like they're crunched up next to the mike while the flutes sound like they're in another continent, but to good effect, while "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a typical folk influenced ballad.

The title track is the meat of the album, with Yes frontman Jon Anderson taking center stage. This is a big song, not just because it clocks in at a whopping 23:19, but because the entirety of the Crimson sound up to now is showcased here to stunning effect. From medieval salutes to jazz breakdowns to bebop shizophrenia, this one's got it all. It's an absolute stunning masterpiece of a progressive rock work. It's just a shame it doesn't feel like it has an actual ending. It feels basically like one big improv that Sinfield just faded away when he realized he completely used up all the time on the track.

The bare bones are still Crimson, but now there's advancement in terms of sound and technology is concerned. It's a step more towards production wizardry and tech gadgetry and a step away from the sax heavy, bebop spastic theme heavily populating the previous two records. The title track obviously is the main highlight, but all the song aren't terribly bad. It's a fresh enough record to place it above "Poseidon", but below, say, "Red" (which has grown on me only because the heaviness of the record feels like they took a page out of Deep Purple's playbook [and I love me some Deep Purple]).

Honestly, the main downside to this album is Haskell. Never been a fan and probably never will. His singing just doesn't do it for me, it feels too half-assed. Can't take him seriously when he tries to be slightly comical and neurotic on "Happy Family", but I can't take him seriously even when he's serious. It's just a style that doesn't fit with the music, honestly. Hell, Jon Anderson sounded better on a Crimson track than Haskell. and Anderson's a bubbly, high pitched, soaring eagle of a singer. He doesn't do neurotic. Yeah, something feels wrong about that picture, doesn't it? Nevertheless, this is an important album in foreshadowing the transitional phase between the "Crimson King" sound and the more production and synth based sound of future albums.

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Posted Thursday, September 19, 2019 | Review Permalink

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