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erik neuteboom View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Review book King Crimson
    Posted: January 07 2006 at 17:22

SID SMITH-IN THE COURT OF KING CRIMSON

(2001, Helter Skelter Publishing, UK Pounds 14,99, ISBN 1-900924-26-9)

 

At first I had severe doubts about this book because of the position of the author. Sid Smith  has written a lot of linner notes for King Crimson re-releases and has contributed an on-line diary to the web site for Fripp’s record label DGM. So I was afraid that Mr. ‘Frippercontrollics’ would constantly look over the shoulder of Sid. But reading this book I have to admit that Sid succeeded in writing an interesting and objective book. Fripp was 11 when he started mastering the guitar with an almost obsessive determination: within a few years he learned to play several styles and at the age of 18 he even gave lessons (Al Stewart was one of his pupils!). Fripp turned out to be a very gifted musician with an adventurous mind but also a person with a very dark side. This book delivers some clues about the origin of Fripp’s whimsical, nasty and even sociopatic behaviour. Robert Fripp: “Ever since the age of ten I’ve been very much on my own – and of course at that age I was aware of it and upset. I suppose when you’re young you think it’s a fault not having friends”. Classmate Gordon Haskell (later King Crimson bass player): “I spent a lot of time with him and it was a strange life. His mother and father didn’t seem to share their life with him and so he was left to his own devices, studying and left in his little cocoon”. Charlotte Babes (former girlfriend of Ian MacDonald): “Well, I found Fripp extremely annoying and irritating. He was just so meticulous, it would drive me nuts. He would just practise for 29 hours a day and I always thought he was a robot rather than a musician.” Ian Wallace (former King Crimson drummer): “We were on the road and for two weeks Fripp wouldn’t speak to anyone and he’d just sit in the dressing room playing scales over and over. In the van he just wouldn’t speak to anyone and it got very frustrating and it cast a cloud over everything. But back to the band because this book is not titled “In the court of king Fripp” (although...). It stand as informative with lots of interesting facts and details, from diary notes, early fans and personal opinions by band members and relatives. About the pre-King Crimson years with Giles, Giles and Fripp. The meteoric rise of King Crimson after their sensational Hyde Park concert as Rolling Stones’ support act in front of 650.000 spectators. The highly acclaimed debut-album with that stunning cover (including painter Barry Godber’s sad story). The emotions and tension between Fripp and Ian MacDonald, the Giles brothers, Pete Sinfield, Greg Lake, Adrian Belew and mainly Bill Bruford (“Robert knew he needed Bill but hated the fact that he needed Bill”). About the famous Mellotron (“hernia-inducing!”) and all the changing line-ups with Fripp as the key-member. The incredible percussionist Jamie Muir. The reasons why Fripp decided to let “King Crimson cease to exist”. King Crimson II in ’81. His break with the label EG and King Crimson as a ‘double-trio’. The appendix contains a comprehensive discography, gigography, short notes about all the King Crimsons members and of course an index (total pages 346 including lots of small but nice black and white pictures). My final remarks. The story of King Crimson in this book is blended with chronological reviews from all the songs on their albums. This delivers lots of interesting details and musical remarks, especially about songs like “21st Century schizoid man”, “In the court of the crimson king”, “Starless” and “Elephant talk”. But to me these ‘review pages’ were a bit disturbing and distracting: just when I was into the story I had to read two, three or four pages with musical facts, sometimes quite technically. In  my opinion the author could better place these ‘review pages’ at the end in a special chapter or only use a few reviews about the most remarkable songs. A bit disappointing is the lack of information from Fripp about the family Fripp: did he feel neglected by his mother, was his father too demanding or was he jealous at his sister Patricia? Nonetheless, a fascinating book about a seminal band!

 

Erik Neuteboom

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 07 2006 at 19:59
 Thumbs Up Sounds very interesting.  I guess I'm going to have to break down and fork the cash out for this book.  I usually allot my extra funds for CD's, but I'm a big Crimson fan.  Do you have any other books on King Crimson, if there are any others, and how do they compare?  Thanks for sharing.





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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 07 2006 at 23:56
WOW! I definately got to get this book!

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 08 2006 at 05:33

Good to read these enthousiastic reactions!

There is another book about King Crimson but that is a long time out of stock, I hve forgotten the title, perhaps Google/E-Bay are solutions?

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2006 at 06:07
^ Is it Eric Tamm's book? Smile You can dowload it from here legally:
 
 
Sid's book was better by the way! Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 23 2006 at 09:58
I heard about this book last year via the Elephant Talk website (KC afficionados). There was supposed to be a copy in a nearby library (my hometown library!) , so I requested it via the interlibrary service from my (now) local library. Turned out the book had gone missing, so they bought a new one (just for me!); I use it as a reference book and, as far as I can tell, only one other person has borrowed it in 6 months, sadly.
 
It's well worth reading. Gossipy bits + some technical muso stuff. The biggest frustration for me personally was that the book stopped after Thrak (which, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, is merely two riffs, a Beatles pastiche and some elevator music Thumbs Down ) and the ProjeKcts, and doesn't cover what I think is the upturn of their best album since Red, The Power to Believe. (Nor does it really speculate, at least to my satisfaction, on what might come next, with Fripp, Belew, Mastelotto & Gunn.) But then I guess that's Fripp's fault for not retiring gracefully, and continuing to simultaneously make different music, be an asshole, and take the piss out of his listeners.
 
I'd recommend it, certainly to anyone who's been interested enough to post an opinion on one of the many KC threads here.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2006 at 12:50
As you all known Sid  is a "watching" member of PA, but don't expect him to wax extensive on many topics he is busy free-lancer. However,  if you wish more of his articulate written views you can do no worse than go to  his blog, which covers all in sundry:
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: June 23 2006 at 10:47
Originally posted by Eetu Pellonpää Eetu Pellonpää wrote:

^ Is it Eric Tamm's book? Smile You can dowload it from here legally:
 
 
Sid's book was better by the way! Wink
 
I just finished the Eric Tamm book, a little stiff, but an  interesting and persona readl, the passage about the guitar craft workshop is very lively, interesting  look on Fripp as a musician and  philopsopher.
Tadpoles keep screaming in my ear
"Hey there! Rotter's Club!
Explain the meaning of this song and share it"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 04 2006 at 12:46
Sid in his Sid Smith Dairy bog this Monday reports that a Italian publisher are hoping to release an Italian translation of In The Court Of King Crimson, for which Sid will do an update. I believe Sid will be happy for me to write this: I know Sid has longed hoped to produce an update. This is because KC have continued as an active (progressing) band in the intervening years so the need for an update of the history, some revision is needed since former members of KC are now being 'more communicative', and since Sid set the marker for rock biographies with Court, other biographers have taken his lead and pushed the standards for research, writing interpretation etc.  even further
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 04 2006 at 15:06
If you are missing your book, Erik, I still have it! I really enjoyed your book and maybe I'll give it back to you in august, at the next Progwalhalla meeting
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 04 2006 at 16:58
August 5th at the Hans Galje Residence featuring the Quaterna Requiem DVD, the Grobschnitt International Party 2-CD, the new Little Tragedies ... I hope to see you there Marcel!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 17 2007 at 23:14
Cool!!!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2007 at 11:21
I understand the book is being re-printed in the UK at end this March (2007). Given it was first published 2001, hopefully it's going to be updated to cover "Power to Believe" etc. Have placed my order!
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2007 at 13:24
Originally posted by Phil Phil wrote:

I understand the book is being re-printed in the UK at end this March (2007). Given it was first published 2001, hopefully it's going to be updated to cover "Power to Believe" etc. Have placed my order!
 
Why don't we ask Sid direct - he's a member!
 
 
Update: Just e.mailed Sid asking to check out this thread and to respond.


Edited by Dick Heath - March 13 2007 at 13:29
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erik neuteboom View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 13 2007 at 16:45
Thanks Dick, I am looking forward to a reply by 'the other Sid' Wink
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 14 2007 at 03:29
hi there ,
the KC biog does not include any update but is simply its fith or sixth reprint.  It stops at TCOL.  At some point in the future I'm hoping to update the book but this reprint isn't it.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 19 2007 at 12:56
I'll have to start dropping hints for Xmas for this one.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 19 2007 at 17:57
wHY AREN`T THESE BOOKS EVER AVAILABLE IN FRIGGIN STORES WHERE THINGS HUMANS
 BUY SHOULD BE SOLD.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 29 2007 at 17:39
i have a book, called king crimson.    talk about history of the band, robert fripp an all the lineups, cds, tracks and many interesting aditional close up to the carreer of this legendary band... curiously, i got the book but never listened KC before... and loved the book just by the way it was wroten... cant remember author... or translator... because is on my native languaje.... 
"llrr lrlr rrllrrlrl lrlrrlrlrlrr... at the end are just senseless letters... "
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 02 2008 at 14:07
On Sid Smith's blog in the last few days:

quote:

The Return Of The Toxic Tome

Debbie and I spent a portion of the morning figuring out the year ahead and even touched upon some New Year resolutions.


Elsewhere, a fighting fund for the Sid Smith tour of America 2008 was established and, not entirely unrelated to that, the terms of reference for the revision expansion and rewriting of the King Crimson biography book were formally identified today.

Areas to revise – the many mistakes, errors and omissions
Areas to expand – the social context of the music’s various eras
Areas to re-write – the whole kit and caboodle

I’ve been listening to lots of Can today. I saw them live a few times (including the time when Damo was in the band) and subconsciously connected them to Crimson at the time. Certainly in terms of the whole spontaneous composition issue, Crimso have more in common with Can than any of their regular contemporaries.

Elsewhere on the virtual whiteboard: to what extent is the story of King Crimson also the story of the rise and fall of the record industry?
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