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King Crimson - Cirkus - The Young Persons' Guide To King Crimson Live CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.84 | 92 ratings

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4 stars Getting to know King Crimson's studio album catalog is one of the most rewarding goals a progressive rock fan can pursue, but you need to be open to a lot of different dynamics and musical styles to fully appreciate it. Jazz or classical, pastoral or heavy metal, composed or improvised, it is tough to name a musical domain on which Robert Fripp and Co. have not touched. Given that you have plowed through (and already relish) their studio works, it is essential to seek out and enjoy their live material too, since King Crimson have always been primarily creatures of the live stage. But where to start exploring the vast body of what is available from their live catalog? That could be daunting without a proper guide....

Cirkus: The Young Person's Guide to King Crimson Live is a considerably better-than-adequate, two-disc sampler to provide a jumping off point into that ocean. It sources an excellent and representative cross section of the band's history (1969-1998) and the audio is fairly consistently good throughout. Performances of "In The Court Of The Crimson King"and "Pictures Of A City" (aka "A Man A City") document quite well the energy and fuzz freakouts of the early Crim concerts. We get "Ladies Of The Road" and the Islands-era group performing an intense version of "21st Century Schizoid Man", as well as hearing some stunning versions of classic material from Larks Tongues In Aspic (though, sadly, not part I). Also the classic title cut and a rousing, complete version "Starless" from Red are present -- all impeccably performed.

Needless to say, we cannot do without certain essential cuts from the 1980's King Crimson, namely "Elephant Talk", "Sleepless," and "Three of a Perfect Pair". Especially good however - with a light, syncopated rhythm section intro that dumps off into loads of fiery intensity - is a version of "Indiscipline" from KC's Japan tour in 1995. The open-minded listener may want to lend an ear to the four improvs on this collection, including '1ii 2' by ProjeKct One and a rip-roaring "Deception Of The Thrush" by ProjeKct Two. (These ProjeKcts being the famous late-1990's "fractalisations" of the band) Some folks will immediately recognize "Deception..." as apredecessor to 2003's "The Power To Believe III"; and truly, tracking that tune's evolution through the years is actually one of the peak joys of delving into live King Crimson.

All in all, this sampler is a bargain in terms of getting a lot of band history in a very little bit of space. Or, I suppose, you could think of it as a "Greatest Hits Live". As such collections go, however, this one requires some deep study, and probably should not be digested all at once unless you would like invite a 2-hour-plus, almost relentless sonic assault upon yourself!

CapnBearbossa | 4/5 |


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