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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover

LIZARD

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2104 ratings

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Warthur
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Sporting a medievally-flavoured cover that might fool the unwary listener into thinking this is King Crimson's answer to Genesis's Trespass, Lizard is instead a jazzy development of the sound that coalesced on In the Wake of Poseidon. The contributions of Graham Haskell are much-lauded, though I think Boz Boorer did a better job of singing in a broadly comparable style on Islands. Indeed, the friction between Haskell, Fripp, and the other musicians involved in the album are the stuff of legend, and this was yet one more Crimson album born out of confusion and conflict within the lineup.

The album's crown jewel is the sidelong epic Lizard, which features a wide range of instrumental flavours, superior musicianship and compositional chops when compared with the side one material, and a marvellous guest appearance from Jon Anderson, capturing Anderson's vocal talents just as he hit on his classic style (this album being recorded between Yes recording Time and a Word and The Yes Album).

The material on the first side of the album, meanwhile, is somewhat less interesting; Lady of the Dancing Waters is yet another quiet tune in a similar vein to Cadence and Cascade or I Talk to the Wind, and whilst it's a reasonable enough song by its own, we're clearly suffering diminishing returns at this point. It doesn't help that Happy Family is a whimsical novelty song about the breakup of the Beatles, and if there's one area Fripp and Sinfield aren't so strong in it's whimsical novelty. That said, Cirkus and Indoor Games are interesting attempts to integrate this jazzier style of playing into the King Crimson sound.

Like many I underrated this album a bit until Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp sat down to turn out a new master for the 40th Anniversary edition. I've been a little sceptical of the craze for having Wilson tinker with your back catalogue in the past, but in the case of this album he more than justifies the endeavour, with a subtle hand teasing out aspects of the music which had passed me by on previous editions. Hell, not even Robert Fripp liked this album until Wilson worked his magic on it; after that, the current Crimson lineup began increasingly incorporating more material from it into their repertoire. When even King Fripp himself is taking pleasure in rediscovering the subtleties of this album, now's a great time to join in. I'd say three stars for the first side, four stars for the second.

Warthur | 4/5 |

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