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King Crimson - Three of a Perfect Pair CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.28 | 1192 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars King Crimson released three albums in the 1980s - - Discipline (1981), Beat (1982), and Three of a Perfect Pair (1984). To me, each is a three-star album: good, but not great. But my favorite of the three is Three of a Perfect Pair.

Like Discipline and Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair mixes offbeat but nonetheless pop-rock-oriented songs with experimental pieces. The first four tracks, "Three of a Perfect Pair," "Model Man," "Sleepless" and "Man With an Open Heart," are the relatively accessible songs, with varying levels of new-wave favor. The next five, "Nuages," "Industry" (the first song on Side Two, the "Right Side"), "Dig Me," "No Warning," "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, part III," are more experimental. All of these are instrumentals except "Dig Me."

As good as "Man With an Open Heart," "Model Man," and "Sleepless" are, the standout here is the title song. Like most 1980s King Crimson vocal songs, "Three of a Perfect Pair" has a verse-chorus structure. But even without a bridge section (the obligatory guitar solo - - or Frippertronics solo - - is based on the verse), the two sections are strong enough to carry the song. To me, this is the crowning achievement of this version of the band, a near-perfect blend of pointillist style and new-waviness.

I'm less enamored with the remaining tracks, some of which may simply have been selected from among dozens of unrehearsed jams. Yeah - - I'm looking at you, "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)."* Just as Discipline had closed with its strongest math-rock instrumental, the final song on Three of a Perfect Pair, "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, part III," is the best of the instrumentals on the album.

The 2001 edition of this album contains six bonus tracks constituting the "Other Side" (these also appear on the inevitable subsequent reissues). In addition to two experimental pieces which expand on "Industry," there are three remixes of "Sleepless" and bassist Tony Levin's "The King Crimson Barber Shop." Another oddity, "Barber Shop" is an a capella ditty that probably never had any chance of being released on the album, or even as a b-side, in 1984.

Whereas Beat was at the low end of the three-star range, Three of a Perfect Pair is at the high end. It's a good effort, and while it lacks Beat's concept, the material on Three of a Perfect Pair is superior.

*Nothing wrong with a little unrehearsed jamming, by the way; the problem is when it's both unrehearsed and uninspired.

patrickq | 3/5 |


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