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Various Artists (Tributes) The Letters: An Unconventional Italian Guide To King Crimson album cover
3.85 | 7 ratings | 1 reviews | 0% 5 stars

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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD ONE (78:56):
Virtuous Circle (including: Entry of the Chameleons)
1. STEFANO BOLLANI - Frame by frame (3:13)
2. GERMINALE - Doctor diamond (5:32)
3. NEMA NIKO - The talking drum (7:25)
4. SPIROSFERA - Cat food (4:05)
5. ROVERSI/CAIMI/MENOTTI - Discipline (5:25)
6. SOUNDVISION - One more red nightmare (6:37)
7. ANATROFOBIA - A sailor's tale (5:00)
8. TILION - One time (9:09)
9. TAPROBAN - Lark's tongues in aspic part 2 (6:25)
10. PROPHEXY - The great deceiver (3:52)
11. THREE OF A CHARMING PAIR - Inner garden I & II (5:58)
12. GIARDINI D'AUTUNNO - Formentera lady (8:41)
13. PSYCONOESIS - Starless (7:34)

CD TWO (76:55):
When I Say Stop, Continue (including: no photo, no recording, no smoking)
1. GOAD - Epitaph (9:00)
2. COSTA/MOMBRINI/PIAZZI - Lady of the dancing water (3:47)
3. JET LAG - Pictures of a city (7:21)
4. UBI MAIOR - Prince Rupert awakes (4:48)
5. L'IMBROGLIO - Providence (5:02)
6. MALIBRAN I talk to the wind (5:13)
7. FLOATING STATE - Exiles (8:32)
8. NOTTURNO CONCERTANTE - Cadence and cascade (5:00)
9. GREENWALL - Lark's tongues in aspic part 1 (13:06)
10. CABOTO - Moonchild (3:14)
11. THE SLOWMOVIES - Matte kudasai (4:32)
12. ZAQ - In the court of the Crimson King (6:51)
13. MARIPOSA - Sex sleep eat drink dream (4:29)

CD THREE (26:12):
1974 EP: This Night Wounds Time
1. MOSAIC ORCHESTRA - Red (5:08)
2. COMFORT - We we'll let you know/Fracture (11:13)
3. NODO GORDIANO - Lament (3:56)
4. ARIA PALEA - The great deceiver (5:55)

Total Time: 182:03

Line-up / Musicians

See track listing for bands attributed to particular tracks

Releases information

A well produced, three CD set issued by Italian prog specialist label, Mellow Records (cat no: Mellow MMP 460 A/B/C), of new and older recordings by a large number of bands and therefore separate musicians.

Thanks to dick heath for the addition
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VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) The Letters: An Unconventional Italian Guide To King Crimson ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(0%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(67%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) The Letters: An Unconventional Italian Guide To King Crimson reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dick Heath
4 stars Tribute albums while lauding a suitable band or artist worthy of such praise, can so often be lacklustre affairs. I strongly believe a tribute album should add to one's experience of a band's music; (hence I would be keener to see Queen fronted by Paul Rodgers, than the Musical Box). Indeed progressive rock tends to suffer from at best indifferent tributes, where one of two tracks may stand out, but are too often a complete waste of time. I usually want with these to hear some new but anchored someway to something familiar - although ocasionally excellent imitations e.g. Mike Keneally's Siberian Khatru, also can hit the button.

So with the advantage of finding a cheap 2nd hand copy of this Italian Krimson tribute (well under half the list price), I first played this album with some trepidation. But there had been no need to believe I had made a poor purchase. The Letters has a consistency of reinterpretation from the originals, while usually finding something different to say within the arrangements on the majority of familiar tunes. And it has to be said that when many other tributes fall flat and only provide 70 minutes of music, The Letters clocks in at 180 minutes plus.

So how does The Letters differ from many other tributes? A lot of tributes seemed rushed affairs. Get some named artists in to cover a competitive band's tunes, rehearse and record it in short time. Lesser known musicians are often employed to pad out the album, but either won't risk (or lack the ability) do anything other than a second rate clone-job OR less commonly, bravely dismantle and reconstruct into a radically new version which mayget folks talking. I don't normally want to hear near-identical versions, when I have the original artist's tune fixed in my mind. I want hear a musician/band demonstrate they have the musical ability to take something from the original and arrange/display it in a new and unexpected way. And there are those albums which cherry-pick the odd cover from a band's studio album, to compile tribute compilation, (e.g. "Blue Wind" from Niacin's 'Time Crunch' ending up on the Jeff Beck 'The Loner' tribute): the lazy way of making a tribute. Magna Carta as well as its sister labels, Road Runner and Tone Center, seem to produce the least satisfactory tributes, while appearing to be able to turn them out on a production line (e.g. separate John Coltrane, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck and Miles Davis tributes from Tone Center in the last 12 months) - maybe they are too indiscriminant.

However, this Mellow tributes makes the effort through most if not all of the tunes offered, to put new complexions on the familiar by : 1. taking the folk or jazz elements so often bubbling away under the surface of the original Krimson tunes, and emphasis these; 2. arrange for different instrumentation; 3. and perhaps the cracked English of the Italian singers, in slightly changing the annouceation or emphasis of the language/meaning, causing me to listen to the lyrics in a new way.

The Letters, is an album which provides many ideas about how a tribute should be made, and so just deserves 4 stars, especially when it is getting many a play locally. And it reminds me, it is about time I got down Mellow's Giant Giant tribute and listen again!

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