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King Crimson - Live in Guildford, 1972  CD (album) cover


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3 stars The new incarnation of King Crimson played its first gigs in Germany. Evidence of these performances can be found on the Crimson Collector's Club releases "The Beat Club, Bremen" and "Live at the Zoom Club". After this they went to the UK and the fourth concert on the island was in Guildford, on November 13. Four tracks from this concert ended up on this cd.

The first track is "Larks' tongues in Aspic (part 1)". It is a great version, especially because Jamie Muir can play all his percussive tricks. Next is "Book of Saturday", which was called "Daily Games" at that time. John Wetton proves to be a good singer on this nice version of one of the best Crimson ballads. What makes this cd the most interesting for Crimson fans is the next offering: a 25 minute improv. King Crimson has always been a band that did a lot of improvisations during their shows (partly to try out new material) but in the formative months of this incarnation they made them last very long. Other examples can be found on the cd's I mentioned in the introduction. As a whole I find this improv a bit too long, there are some interesting parts however. One of them is a segment that would later be recorded as "We'll let you know". After about 15 minutes there is a great violin guitar duet, played very gentle and emotional. The improv ends with a heavy guitar solo. The last track is "Exiles". Just when the band goes into another improvisation, the tape runs out. This is a shame, because the opening sounded good.

Because there are only three live cd's of Crimson with Jamie Muir (so far) and since these are the first steps of what would become a great incarnation of KC (72-74) this is by no doubt an interesting album. The sound quality is not of a high standard, but still good. It is the best from the three live albums with Muir. The music and performance is great. If I were to recommend this album to anyone, than only to a Crimson fan who wants to hear the 72 line up with Muir. But if you want to do yourself a real treat, you should go for the Zoom club album.

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Posted Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Among with now officially released 1972 live records "The Beat Club, Bremen, 1972" and "Live at The Zoom Club", this album "Live in Guildford, 1972" presents us the concerts which established the Wetton / Cross / Muir line-up of King Crimson, and also show up the birth process of their classic "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" album. When comparing to the two albums mentioned first, this album has maybe the best quality of sound of them.

The show opens with a very aggressive version of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic - part one", and that distorted tone of Fripp's guitar is just a pure killer. The two second movements after the violent main theme are here quite similar, later the bass and drum patterns evolved separating these moments as more different from each other. The number is also here longer than in the Beat Club performance, having the violin "Larks' Ascension" solo part, missing only the nightmarish coda, which ends the studio version and later performances of this brilliant avant-garde number. The violin tunes are followed with "Book of Saturday", creating a nice contrast and a calm moment to the more violent and chaotic moments. Here the song has some tambourine backing it up, usually it doesn't have much percussions played over it. The name of the song is also yet "Daily Games" according to Fripp's following polite and disciplined speech (these are in my opinion fun as they sound so different when compared to the passionate and impulsive music performed). The speech also reveals that the set should end up with "Larks' Tongues in Aspic - part two", which sadly did not get captured on this recording, as the tape ran out too quickly. The next "attack towards culture" is a freeform collective improvisation which is built up by the same principles as the long improvisation "The Rich Tapestry Of Life" from the Beat Club concert; It opens up with really loud and violent communal crashing of the instruments, and then stage is free, players presenting themes and demanding reactions from others. If you like interactive jamming and old rock sounds with Mellotrons, here's a gourmet dish of described ingredients for you. All of the moments aren't most the successful, and the longer similar jam referred on the Beat Club set is maybe little more better, but this really fine too. The record ends to the beginning of the harmonic "Exiles" rising up from the "Mantra" theme, which was used also in the 1969 concerts as an opener on other musical relations. The version here is incomplete as the tape runs out after three minutes. A really sad thing, ruining mostly motives for listening this track, but from the documentary point of view it is good to have it here from documentary perspective, as it was nice to hear how Muir colored the beginning with his bird whistles.

For me it's difficult to say which would be best of the three official live albums with Muir, but this and "The Beat Club, Bremen, 1972" are clearly better than the double-CD Zoom Club, which has lots of interesting long improvisations, but has partially very poor sound quality. If you are fond of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" album, I would recommend to try listening this one or the Beat Club CD, as they reveal a deeper insight to these magical moments of this band, which often succeeded better on the live stage than in the studio (though they often succeeded there too). Also hunting down all of these interesting concert recordings is a fun collecting hobby which could be compared to the collecting of stamps; These records are only more funnier than old postmarks in my opinion, as they have violent, neurotic, passionate and beautiful music radiating from them.

Report this review (#134045)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Like many people who would read a review of an exhumed, obscure King Crimson show, I am a big fan of this ever-changing band, and all of its incarnations ... though I do have a bias toward Michael Giles's tasteful, gorgeously emotive drumming, and the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section, and the expansive mellotron, violin, and brass epics of the 60s and 70s (my favorite KC tunes include Wake of Poseidon, Epitaph, Fallen Angel, The Letters, Fracture, Larks Tongues in Aspic Part II, Starless, and Islands).

At present, I've purchased no less than a dozen live albums by this band--from various eras--- and in some cases found excellent, well-recorded versions of songs I already knew (Live in Asbury Park is a sterling example of this, as is Ladies of the Road---both are highly recommended). These recordings sparkle with embellishments and (in the case of tunes like Lament, Exiles, and Cirkus) additional living fire. Yet still ... I am hoping for something more than strong variations of music with which I am familiar when I buy these albums---I am hoping for some NEW music with which I am unfamiliar. I should also point out that I have mixed feelings about the purely improvised pieces that the various iterations of KC have recorded---often, I feel that the ratio of desultory wandering to inspired coherence isn't great. Sure, for two or three of its ten minutes an improvised number like "Asbury Park" coheres into something memorable, but not for most of its duration to my ears.

So with this admitted bias, I was floored when I heard this album, Live in Guildford 1972. The sound quality here is flat---there is little depth and no dynamic other than one instrument blocking out another on occasion, but the 25 minute improvisation on this record entitled "All that Glitters is Not Nail Polish" is powerful, memorable, formidable, exhilarating, menacing, and inspiring. The version of Larks Tongues in Aspic Part I is good, and the other tunes aren't all there, but with this recording I finally found what I'd hope to find by buying numerous live releases from this band: some very good King Crimson music that exists nowhere else. For those on a similar quest, this lo-fi release delivers some real platinum.

Ladies of the Road and Live in Asbury Park are great live albums that feature energetic elaborations of familiar material, but Live in Guildford is essentially a new album born in the maelstrom of interstellar Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir, and Cross improvisation. Bravo gents. I'll gladly buy a dozen more live releases to find another gem like this...

(An aside: The Bremen show provides the second best lengthy improvisation I've heard by KC-- that one is 28 minutes--though it peaks in it's first half, whereas the one on Guildford builds up and grows and gets more engaging throughout. And the Improv: Cerberus on Central Park 1974 is 8 minutes of sharp platinum...)

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Posted Saturday, August 8, 2015 | Review Permalink

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