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King Crimson - Lizard CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.12 | 2104 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars King Crimson's album of quirky chaotic jazz and symphonic virtuosity.

"Lizard" has become a classic 70s prog album over the years for legendary King Crimson and from the outset the music has a drawing power and your ears tell you that you are being treated to a virtuosity that is unmatched in early prog history. It begins with an astounding ominous chord structure on 'Entry of the Chameleons', that later became Entry of the Crims for when the band took to the stage in live performances. It is the best track on the album featuring the massive doomy atmospheres of Fripp's angular guitar riff and a huge sense of theatrical flair in the structure. The vocals are well handled by Haskell who sounds a bit like Lake.

'Indoor Games' has a whimsical flavour with some nice sax and guitar interplay and it ends on a manic laugh that always makes me smile.

'Happy Family' cruises along at a nice pace with intricate time sigs and well orchestrated musicianship. It ends on acapella Haskell singing "happy family, one hand clap" which always makes me laugh. The exuberance in the music is infectious. The band have fun but are able to produce music of immeasurable quality and dexterity. The content of the song is based on The Beatles' breakup; "Happy family, one hand clap, four went by and none came back".

Side one ends with the acoustic ballad 'Lady of the Dancing Water' with Haskell very pleasant on vocals.

The side two epic is what gives this album it's huge reputation. It clocks in at a 22:24 running time and features many sections forming one orchestral suite moving through a range of moods and time changes. The lulling high octave vocals by Yes' Jon Anderson on 'Prince Rupert Awakes' is a nice touch as is the beautiful flute on 'Bolero the Peacock's Tale'. The piano flourishes are gorgeous and I was reminded of Camel's "Snow Goose". The exquisite tones of the woodwind solos are pleasant and they are joined by a brass band sound including sensuous saxophones. The brass instruments play of each other playfully, as an impatient piano bangs out staccato chords ready to take over. The instruments of piano, trombone, cornet and oboe compete for a while and then the piano gives up as the sweet tones of Collins' saxophone and the oboe take the spotlight. The orchestration is really as good as it gets, with an interplay of virtuoso musicianship. It builds to a crescendo and then breaks as a lone sax wails mournfully in the silence.

'The Battle of Glass Tears' begins with 'Dawn Song' and Haskell's low baritone vocals begin. Suddenly a cataclysm of sound breaks through the clouds, a mellotron sweeping and majestic with sporadic jazz percussion by McCulloch. The heavy sax and trilling lute trade off beautifully. Then a lengthy ominous sax and off beat percussive rhythm ensues with atonal dissonance and asymmetrical figures. This is 'The Last Skirmish' which is more reminiscent of the chaotic side of King Crimson on such albums as "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" or "Red" yet to come and stun the world. The dramatic atmosphere settles into an ambient mellotron with sporadic piano runs as 'The Big Top' begins and it spirals off speeding up absurdly till it concludes the album.

"Lizard" is certainly another classic for King Crimson in an era when they were at the height of their creative power. It is not to be missed by Crimsonites or those who love innovative virtuosic symphonic prog.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |


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