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King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 2040 ratings

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3 stars King Crimson's debut was so incredible that their legion of fans could hardly wait for the follow-up to hit the racks. Unbeknownst to most of us there was more drama going on within the band than a TV soap opera with members coming and going constantly. When I learned later on about the personality conflicts and constant strife the group was enduring while trying to record this album it's a wonder it got finished and even more surprising that it's as good as it is.

The Poseidon adventure starts with a simple theme that will recur from time to time, "Peace - A Beginning," with Greg Lake singing the melody solo. Those of us who aurally devoured the first LP couldn't help but smile as the beginning of "Pictures of a City (including 42nd at Treadmill)" gave us a needed taste of what we loved about this band. It features a gutsy crawling blues progression from Hell and Lake's snarling rendition of Pete Sinfield's subliminal lyrics ("Concrete cold face cased in steel/stark sharp glass-eyed crack and peel"). Peter Giles on bass and his brother Michael on drums combine to make an outstanding rhythm section and it's nowhere as obvious as it is here. Many characteristics that made "21st Century Schizoid Man" so alluring are included in the arrangement of this song and that's not meant as a detriment at all. It's great. However, the next tune, "Cadence and Cascade" makes you realize that something is askew in the Crimson household. Some guy named Gordon Haskell weakly sings this dismal ballad that is about as intriguing as day old dishwater. Some nice flute from newly acquired Mel Collins is welcomed but it's not enough to save this toadstool. A return to familiar territory is desperately required at this point and "In the Wake of Poseidon (including Libra's Theme)" is a step in the right direction. It's vaguely akin to "Epitaph" yet not quite as good. Robert Fripp does a decent job of replacing Ian McDonald on the Mellotron, Lake turns in another excellent vocal performance and Michael Giles adds his interesting crazed drum fills to the finale but there's an underlying stress weaving throughout the song that can't be ignored. The short "Peace - A Theme" is a sweet acoustic guitar return to the original melody that further displays Fripp's versatility. "Cat Food" is a cool, hip tune and the most commercial sounding in the band's history. I picture in my head some big cheese at Atlantic (after reviewing the success of the 1st album) shouting "Now we just need those boys to give us a hit!" and this is the result. I've always loved this song personally because, even though it kinda reminds me of the riff from The Beatles' "Come Together," there's no way this group could play it straight. Keith Tippet's wild piano spasms and Greg's snide crooning of Sinfield's sarcastic lines like "Goodies on the table/with a fable on the label/drowning in miracle sauce/Don't think I am that rude/if I tell you that it's cat food/not even fit for a horse!" create a fun five minutes for the listener. (Imagine what Pete thinks of today's processed foods!) And the last two minutes get delightfully weird with everybody taking a turn or two at contributing a moment of strangeness.

Next is a little over eleven minutes of Robert Fripp and, as it lists in the credits, his "devices." With one of the longest Mellotron fade-ins in history, "The Devil's Triangle" establishes a musical theme played over a marching drumbeat. "Merday Morn" is a continuation of the same melody as it grows more intense and discordant. Manic piano runs can be heard in the mix, then things reach cacophony. "Hand of Sceiron" is just howling wind noises and then what can only be described as arrhythmic taps before "Garden of Worm" returns you to more bizarre avant garde dissonance in which you'll hear a short snippet of "The Court of the Crimson King" whiz by your ears. The song is adventurous, to be sure, but it doesn't do much for me in the long run. "Peace - An End" bookends the album with the same air you heard in the beginning. This time Lake sings softly over an acoustic guitar, bringing the album to a serene finale.

I've always found that tiny sample from the debut swirling inside "Garden of Worm" to be significant. It's as if Robert Fripp was bidding farewell to the attitude and sound created by that initial collection of musicians because KC would never sound much like that again. The 3rd album would find the band going down a wholly new path with different personnel and never looking back. While this sophomore effort is flawed, it still deserves merit for a couple of outstanding songs and the determination it must have taken to get the album in the record bins at all.

Chicapah | 3/5 |


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