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King Crimson - The Night Watch  CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.46 | 308 ratings

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5 stars Since King Crimson has always played a significant part of my music collection it was only right for their debut album to receive the honorary place as my 100th review. Now it is time for The Night Watch to follow in its footsteps and receive honorary title of becoming my 600th review!

Recorded at the Concergebouw in Amsterdam on November 23rd 1973 and released almost 25 years later, The Night Watch is an amazing live recording by a band at the top of their game. First and foremost, I really have to emphasize the magnificent sound quality that I have not heard on any other live recording from the '70s! It's very crisp and every single instrument is highlighted perfectly without spotlighting any of the performers more than the others. This release really has to be experienced on a good surround-sound system in order to fully appreciate the great mixing job that this performance has undergone.

The material for this performance comes from the two first '73-'74 era album's and in some cases these performances would later serve as the backbone for the album Starless And Bible Black. My all-time favorite composition Fracture sounds even better here then it did on the studio album even though the source recording is still identical. The same goes for the lengthy improv that would later become the title track of Starless And Bible Black. All the small details that I failed to recognize in the past are depicted here very clearly and add a whole new layer to my enjoyment of the material.

Even studio takes of compositions off Larks' Tongues In Aspic are greatly improved upon in these live renditions. Book Of Saturday and Exiles have always been big favorites of mine but there is really no question, for me, of which versions I happen to prefer more. There's just so much more groove in these performances that clearly show that the band had found that perfect balance in their live approach to these pieces and they do it with such ease! The only instance that feels a bit out of place comes in the middle of the second CD during the performance of a very loose improv number titled The Fright Watch. I guess it wouldn't have made sense to leave it out of this complete concert performance but other than that I would have skipped it entirely. Luckily the highly energetic versions of The Talking Drum and especially Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two make up for this minor inconvenience and the encore performance of 21st Century Schizoid Man finishes the live gig on a high note!

Even though this is probably one of the most expensive albums in my collection, since I paid around $50 for this 2006 2-CD re-release, it was definitely worth it especially since the colorful and very informative 20 page booklet really adds a lot of depth to this performance. An album like this cannot be rated anything below the essential rating that it truly deserves!

***** star songs: Lament (4:14) Book Of Saturday (4:09) Fracture (11:28) The Night Watch (5:28) Improv: Starless And Bible Black (9:13) Exiles (6:38) Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two (7:51)

**** star songs: Easy Money (6:15) Improv: Trio (6:09) The Talking Drum (6:35) 21st Century Schizoid Man (10:30)

*** star songs: Improv: The Fright Watch (6:03)

Rune2000 | 5/5 |


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