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King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King CD (album) cover


King Crimson


Eclectic Prog

4.63 | 4094 ratings

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3 stars Recently, I reviewed Stg. Pepper's. It is an album which I am not very fond of musically, but an album whose influence is apparent and worthy of respect. I certainly am nowhere near as critical of the music on In the Court of the Crimson King as I am of Stg. Pepper's, but I think it is another album whose importance outweighs its quality.

Overall, In the Iourt of the Crimson King maintains a much higher musical standard that Stg. Pepper's. King Crimson are simply more talented players and the tracks which made the cut for the album are much more interesting. What I would consider to be the flaw with the album is just how long winded it is. The compositions all easily hold my attention at first, but then proceed to linger in the same ground for too long.

The influence of jazz music on In the Court of the Crimson King is very apparent. I think it must nearly qualify as a fusion album. Much like the fusion classic, Heavy Weather, In the Court jumps right up with the most exciting and entertaining piece on the album; probably one of the things which makes it so significant. The wailing guitars and saxophone along with the fuzzed out vocals are perfect for the aptly named 21st Century Schizoid Man. Taken on its own this song is a masterpiece.

Again like Heavy Weather, the album takes an abrupt drop off in intensity. Unlike Heavy Weather however, it scarcely recovers any of that intensity. What I can say though is that the slow portions or In the Court are far more entertaining than those on Heavy Weather. I think owing to a difference in pop-music intentions. The first track of the rest of the album is I Talk to the Wind. It is a flighty psychedelic piece. The lyrics, vocals and that smooth jazz influenced drumming are excellent. The rest of the piece is made up primarily of woodwinds making for a very gentle journey; one which might end in a journey straight to bed. I Talk to the Wind is representative of the aforementioned long winded quality of the album.

After 21st Century Schizoid Man, Epitaph is the most interesting piece. Greg Lake is again excellent, this time instead of woodwinds the primary backing music is a distant mellotron later joined by an acoustic guitar. I would say it is sonically superior to its predecessor and therefore easier to forgive it when it drags out a bit through the middle.

In my review for ELP's eponymous album, I was critical of the unstructured improvisational style. It's unpredictable and often responsible for more harm than good. This criticism surfaces again on Moonchild. Interestingly enough like on ELP, I really just wish Greg Lake kept singing. Moonchild is very sparse and I often lose interest during its extended improvisation. Closing out the album is the not quite title track, the Court of the Crimson King. This is probably the liveliest piece after the opener, but it is still nowhere close. I think its closest relative on the album is I talk to the Wind for its vocal style and use of flutes. The singing does get more intense at times and it is cut up by Epitaph style mellotron stretches. I don't really know what to make of the dissonant staccato keyboard portion, not really a fan.

In the Court of the Crimson King is a stronger more entertaining album than any of the others which I brought up throughout the review. I can see why to certain tastes this album would qualify as a four or more often five star entry. However, I find following the frantic introduction in stays at a near coma level of activity. There is some really good stuff in there, but not when you compare it to the elephant on the album. Schizoid Man is essential, but the album as a whole really only qualifies as good, three out of five stars.

R-A-N-M-A | 3/5 |


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