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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2112 ratings

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5 stars "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." [R. Fripp]

King Crimson at its core is the vision of Robert Fripp, the lord of progressive music and certainly one of its most influential artists. While I've never seen Crimson live I did see Bob with the "League of Crafty Guitarists" in a small venue that allowed me to witness the seriousness of his approach up close. It was an insight into how he could pull off something like Lizard just about half a year after the second album, while at the same time dealing the personnel changes. Incredible when you think about how these days some bands take 6 months just to rehearse some tracks or plan a tour. Furthermore, Lizard would change the course of the first two albums to encompass a wider range of musical styles and improvisation making it a notable influence for what many Crimson peers would be doing over the next several years.

"Cirkus" is such a cool track with the amazing acoustic guitar work, sprightly and nimble, over the mellotron. With the outstanding drumming and brass it makes for a powerful opening, and the ominous dark current running through the song ties in nicely with the feeling on many Crimson albums I've heard, an indescribable and nagging unease. The outstanding production values must also be noted. Lizard sounds fabulous with every instrument crisp as hell and with plenty of space for them to lounge about, allowing the album to age far better than many contemporaries. "Indoor Games" is a great laid back improv with plenty of the "space" I just mentioned. "Happy Family" is almost psych-jazz with dense sound, compressed vocals, and mischievous piano/sax running all over the madness. I can only imagine what fans of the gentle symphonic moments of the first two albums were thinking in 1970, as I'm sure Fripp no doubt relished thinking the same thought. Many complain about the vocalist on this album but I think he does just fine. You don't listen to Crimson for the vocals anyway, they're really just there for some contrast. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a perfect pastoral break with nice flute and acoustic. "Lizard" is Crimson at their experimental best and a track which took me years to fully appreciate. I still have to be in the mood for it because it demands attention especially in the long improv sections, it's not exactly the best music for strapping on to go jogging. But it is a wonderful document of the early Crimson sound and solidifies this album as an essential title for serious proggers. A 23 minute ode to progressive exploration with many outstanding, memorable moments. I love how Fripp states in one of the booklet clippings that this album will require an effort of the listener: "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." He also laments recording as being inhibiting because "you are aware that you will have to live with that solo for the rest of your life." True enough, but I think he has little to worry about in that regard.

The 2000 Virgin Records mini is a great edition with a nice gatefold reproduction and a fabulous booklet of period press clippings that Robert is apparently fond of collecting. A legendary album and one of Crimson's very best. Probably my favorite. 4 but rounding up, because while some critisice this for straying too far from the Crimson sound, I think perhaps that should be rewarded, not penalized. Then they might say it's an experiment that failed. How? Was it the immaculate performances that failed, or the wonderful variety of new sounds and thoughtful improvisation? I don't think it fails in anyway except perhaps not meeting the expectations of those who wanted another ITCOTCK. It succeeds beautifully at what it attempts and holds up well.

Finnforest | 5/5 |


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