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King Crimson - Islands CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

3.83 | 1798 ratings

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Steven in Atlanta
4 stars I've been revisiting this one a lot of late as I've always perceived Islands to be the most overlooked KC album of the '70s - and I can't resist an underdog! Interestingly, the live shows from this lineup don't sound remotely like this studio effort, further singling this album out for more personal investigation.

It's easily the quietest Crimson album, with many of the guest musicians employed on Lizard along for another, yet much different ride. I've always been intrigued by the pacing of this album, with the bowed double bass of Harry Miller moaning unaccompanied for nearly a minute on the opening Formentera Lady before a Mel Collins flute and a fluttering Keith Tippett piano arpeggio gently usher in the first verse.

Singer Boz Burrell also tends to be forgotten in the Crimson scheme of things, perhaps due to both his brief tenure and the many disparaging things the late bassist has said of his time in the band. Yet his vocal performance throughout is really quite excellent. Strange he veered away from lead singing after his KC stint ended.

The popular Ladies of the Road track has traditionally gotten the most attention here, yet I find the dynamic rich Sailor's Tale and the slow-building title track to be the showpieces of the album. Both those tracks also feature the only two mellotron presences on Islands, but indeed what incredible appearances they are!

This may not have been the most prolific period for the band as a number of melodic moments were hatched way back in the Giles, Giles & Fripp days. Yet everything still manages to sound so different on Islands, opening up an entirely new chapter of the band while still actually progressing from the previous album (the uber-adventurous Lizard).

A revisit to Islands is encouraged to all KC-minded fans who may have given this album short shrift over the years. And that goes to the present incarnation of King Crimson who I think could do a wonderful 21st century interpretation of Sailor's Tale, if they're amenable!

Steven in Atlanta | 4/5 |


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