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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2111 ratings

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5 stars Just when you think you're perfectly acquainted with a band, an album like Lizard shows its ugly face and turns all those preconceptions upside down. Being my second venture from the Wetton years (the first was Discipline), this 1970 effort from King Crimson has quickly been crowned my favourite with the band. And yes, that includes the almighty In The Court Of The Crimson King, which I picked up at the same time as Lizard.

Never have King Crimson sounded livelier, more adventurous and yet as fragile as here. The sheer aggression and/or chilling atmosphere of the Wetton-albums are replaced with a mixture of disturbing joyfulness and melancholic yearning...almost dreamy at times. I've never heard anything quite like it. I'm pretty sure I never will again. One of those albums that leave me wondering - how is it even possible to assemble all this music, all these different influences, and still get something so perfectly natural in the end?

A great number of different instruments, including woodwind and brass. As often as they rise from the mix in short jazzy solo parts they take part in creating a constantly evolving musical landscape. Complicated enough to make me breathless it is swirling (no - dancing!) in a seemingly confused, yet perfectly coordinated way before it assembles, forming a rich background for Fripp's acoustic excursions. Hearing Fripp acoustic like this is for me probably the highlight of what I've heard from the man so far. No piercing, meandering or 'backwards' electric guitar anywhere in the neighbourhood. But even without that he makes the sound his own. Expressive, frantic picking and outbursts in just that dark, menacing way one have come to expect. If an acoustic guitar can be used explosively, that is what you experience while listening to Lizard, side by side with the mellow, pleasing side of the instrument most of us are used to.

Keith Tippet is my other hero on the album. Adding lonely, ringing tones from those pianos of his, he's one of the chief architects behind the delicacy, fragility and solitude (and madness?) found on the album, not to mention the great work he performs in the somehow ordered, jazzy chaos forming the backbone on many of the songs.

Vocalist Gordon Haskell is obviously not of everybody's liking. Overall he's got a rougher, throatier voice, somewhat lacking in range. His phrasing is also most likely to make some raise their eyebrows. I also had a slight problem with him in the beginning, but now that feels more like the standard initial skepticism coming with everything new. And if you by any chance can't learn to live with his voice, the objection has a tendency to vanish like dust in the wind when you start concentrating on the music. Jon Anderson from Yes also has the courtesy of dropping in for one of the songs on Lizards, namely the title track.

And what a title track it is. Twenty-three minutes of heaven, constantly shifting, covering many different moods and a perfect way of showcasing all the amassed skill present in the making of this epic. It's jazzy, it's symphonic, it's rocking. It's soothing, it's disturbing, it's cold and it's warm. And just like the album itself - a masterpiece.


LinusW | 5/5 |


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