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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2112 ratings

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4 stars The best pre-LTIA album Crimson released. The vocals are not too great, but vocals were never an important part of this groups music. At least after Lake left. Only Fripp and lyricist Sinfield remain from the debut. Mel Collins and Keith Tippet are back from the last album. Bassist/vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch are the new boys in town. They would only appear together on this album; this line-up never toured. For the longest time, Fripp hated this album. This was recently reissued with a re-mix by Steven Wilson.

Compared to the first two albums, this is a bit jazzier and less symphonic. Fripp wrote all the music here, but you rarely get to hear his electric guitar. Instead, you get some instruments that are a real surprise: organ, electric piano and the VCS3 synthesizer. You would never hear any synth on a Crimson album again until the guitar synths on the '80s albums. McCulloch seems to be obsessed with the snare drum. Haskell's bass playing is adequate but his singing voice is not very good. There are some guest musicians here besides pianist Tippet, playing oboe, cornet and trombone.

"Cirkus" is one of Crimson's best songs, and I think was the only song from Lizard ever played in concert by the Islands band. Opens with some harpsichord sounding electric piano along with Gordon's vocals. A short drum fill and then the first appearance of the main Mellotron riff. Fripp only plays acoustic guitar here; very fast at one point. Nice mix of Mellotron and sax in the middle, followed by some lovely electric piano. Love the buildup at the end with the trombone. "Indoor Games" begins with a jazzy groove before the vocals and guitar appear. Both electric and acoustic guitar here. Changes to a more mellow section with organ, Mellotron and VCS3. A little jam follows. I like the mix of synth and sax in this song. Ends with laughing.

The lyrics of "Happy Family" are about the Beatles, released the same year they broke up. You can even see the Fab Four on the album cover. The vocals in this song were processed through the VCS3. The most avant song here. "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a ballad based on electric piano that is similar to both "I Talk To The Wind" and "Cadence & Cascade". The latter of course was sung by Haskell as well. This song is really filler. Next is the only side-long epic Crimson ever did, the title track.

Some nobody named Jon Anderson sings at the beginning. 'Prince Rupert Awakes' is musically probably the closest to Yes that KC ever got, but Yes themselves were still trying to find their sound at the time. Jon's vocals work very well here. This was around the time that Fripp was asked to join Yes; he declined. Great 'chorus' in the "stake a lizard by the throat" part. This part ends very symphonic while marching drums come in beginning the next part, 'Bolero-The Peacock's Tale'. Some gorgeous trombone and piano playing. Then a flute solo. Then an oboe solo. All of a sudden it changes to jazzy piano and trombone while the drums are still marching away.

'The Battle Of Glass Tears' is itself divided into 3 different sections (an epic within an epic?). This starts very mellow and subdued with a some wind instrument playing. Some electric piano and Gordon sings his only lyrics in the epic. Some nice Mellotron leads to a part with a sax riff; the other instruments play looser and freer. Some cool tape-altered Mellotron at one point. After some dissonant cacophony, goes into an easy going jazzy part before it gets all crazy and dissonant again. Music takes a breath of air for a second then goes back for more. 'Prince Rupert's Lament' is the last part of 'Glass Tears'. Features a repeated one-note bassline with Fripp doing his best impersonation of bagpipes. The music fades out and then a brief moment of silence. The very last part fades in with bizarre circus music.

This and Islands really stand out in the Crimson discography. But this is better. More forward thinking than the first two albums. The production for 1970 is really good. The only real low points about Lizard are Haskell's vocals and the song "Lady Of The Dancing Water". The epic title track is fantastic. One of the better prog albums of 1970. 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |


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