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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
4 stars Review Nš 307

King Crimson is one of the most innovative and experimental prog bands that already ever existed. The band, in fact, incorporated diverse and many influences and instrumentation during their long history, including symphonic, jazz, classical, psychedelic, heavy metal, hard rock, folk, and electronic music. So, somehow, we can say that King Crimson is a truly eclectic progressive band, probably the most eclectic progressive rock band that already ever existed.

"Three Of A Perfect Pair" is the tenth studio album of King Crimson and was released in 1984. The album is a balance between the more experimental "Discipline" and the more commercial and accessible "Beat". It's divided into the left side and the right side, with a third side added in 2001 with six bonus tracks. The album and title song's concept is based on the idea of perfect opposites and three sides to every story with, his or hers, and with an objective truth.

The line up on the album is Robert Fripp (guitar), Adrian Belew (lead vocals, fretted guitar and fretless guitar), Tony Levin (backing vocals, bass guitar, Chapman stick and synthesizer) and Bill Bruford (acoustic and electronic drums).

"Three Of A Perfect Pair" has nine tracks. All songs were written by all band's members. The left side has five tracks. The first track is the title track "Three Of A Perfect Pair". It opens the album with tight harmony vocals from Belew that soar over top of some intricate guitar work from Fripp and a great drum work of Bruford. This is a very solid track that continues the King Crimson's sound of the previous two albums and it can be compared with some of those songs. The second track "Model Man" is a lovely and emotional ballad that sounds as an 80's new wave song. It isn't a great song, but once again Belew's singing it wonderfully, besides developing his musical taste. The guitar work is experimental and very good again and all the other instruments are also played very well. The third track "Sleepless" begins with a fast bass line that is soon joined by Bruford's bass drum beat and Fripp's altered guitar sound. This is probably the most 80's song on the album, but it still sounds very nice. However, this is probably my least favourite song on it. The fourth track "Man With An Open Heart" is a very solid rock ballad with some clever and interesting Japanese motifs, that reminds me of David Bowie and Talking Heads. This is probably the closest to 80's pop sound that they ever got and give us the opportunity to enjoy some cooler guitar lines and the smooth singing of Belew. The fifth track "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)" is a very soft track cool and moody, that might fit very well on an earlier 70's science fiction film. It has beautiful mellotron passages with that Fripp groovy guitar tone that he first experienced on "Epitaph", which sounds as a koto, picking high up on the string and leading a weird Asian accent to the piece of music. The right side has four tracks. The sixth track "Industry" is an instrumental track with its ominous drums and stick bass sounds very melodic with its delicate synthesizer work. It sounds positively very industrial and it probably represents the pinnacle of a new musical approach of the group, on this right side. This is an excellent track that musically explodes in all variety of directions and where all bands members show the full limits of their creativity. The seventh track "Dig Me" is one of the most King Crimson's experimental songs from the 80's. It's a very impressive track with an incredible musical execution that sounds very strange and with a disturbed vocal harmony that swings in all the chaos. The song switches between madness and stability, a song on the verge of falling apart completely. The eighth track "No Warning" is another instrumental and experimental track that sounds very dark like "Industry". It's another very enjoyable song with a slight psychedelic touch. Its instrumental and mood again are strange and experimental creating a final result with a very unique form very dark and effective. The ninth and last track "Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part III)" has nothing to do with the previous two versions. It features familiar rhythms to the first two sections, but it's much different. The sound is far more electronic and is the shortest part of the trilogy. It sounds like a modernistic update version and it's not as bad as some detractors have claimed. It seems to me an appropriate end to this album.

Conclusion: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" is divided into three parts. We have the left side, the right side and a mysterious third side. So, as the name indicates, we have three of a perfect pair. Confused? I can see why. Even I'm not totally sure about it. But we may say there is a relative separation between the pop and the progressive parts. Still, this dichotomy isn't absolute. There are a number of interesting effects on the left side, especially on the title track, but there is also "Man With An Open Heart", which is one of the weakest King Crimson's songs. However, the majesty of the right side largely compensates the weaknesses of the left side. The style of the right side reminds me the masterpiece of Davis Bowie, "Low". So, "Discipline" is one of the essential King Crimson's albums and "Beat" is, somehow, a mixed bag and is clearly the weakest of the trilogy. "Three Of A Perfect Pair" is between the other two. So, it's strongly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |


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