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King Crimson - Live at Moles Club, Bath, 1981  CD (album) cover


King Crimson

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3 stars This album, available only through the DGM Collectors' Club, is a live recording from one of the first performance of the reformed Crimson; at that moment, the band was still calling itself "Discipline" before Fripp decided to bring the band under the King Crimson umbrella. The sound recording, from a non-professional audience source, is spotty at best, but so few recordings of the band from 1981 exist that the CD is pretty much of an essential for KC fans.

The band, featuring Fripp, Bruford, and new members Adrian Belew and Tony Levin, excited audiences with its combination of high-octane, energetic instrumentals, alternately loopy and lovely lyrical contributions from Belew, and the foursome's consummate chops. The band is still getting its feet under it, and occasional stumbles can be heard, but overall this is a hard-charging yet highly listenable band that appeals to both the musicologist and the dance floor maven. I was privileged to hear the band in Atlanta shortly after this concert; quite literally, that two-hour concert changed my musical life. So I'm a bit biased! But I, and I would guess the vast majority of the others in the audience that night, had never heard anything like this before, and we knew we wanted more. Lots more.

The set features what wil become standards for the band in later concerts, relying on all seven songs from the upcoming "Discipline" album and mixing in two thunderous instrumentals from the 70s band, "Red" and "Larks Tongue II." Old-time fans took a while to become won over to Belew's vocal performance, many preferring the more stately and elegaic vocals of John Wetton, but Belew added something older versions of the band almost completely lacked -- a sense of lightness and even whimsy. And no one needed winning over to Belew's jagged, manic guitar, which welded almost seamlessly to Fripp's own guitar pyrotechnics. The seven "Discipline" tracks performed on this recording sometimes lack the precision of the studio recordings, but the energy and intensity make up for the occasional lack of complete accuracy. The band obviously loves playing together, and their enjoyment of each other, and the music they're combining to produce, shines through even in this relatively poor recording.

For many, this iteration of King Crimson is the definitive lineup; for those fans, this recording, with all of its sonic faults, is a necessity. For the casual fan or the music lover new to KC, other albums come first. The studio recording, "Discipline," is a terrific place to start.

Report this review (#59969)
Posted Saturday, December 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
1 stars This particular recording is of great historical importance (it is the very first public performance of the reformed King Crimson in 1981 - so early, in fact, that they were still calling themselves "Discipline" and not "King Crimson).

The quality of the recording is atrocious, by far the poorest release of the King Crimson Collector's Club series. I fully understand why it was released (its historical importance), but I was extremely dissatisfied with the sound quality. Only add this to your collection if you are a King Crimson completist (which I was until I bought this CD).

Report this review (#117987)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2007 | Review Permalink

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