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King Crimson - Epitaph, Volumes Three & Four CD (album) cover


King Crimson

Eclectic Prog

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4 stars Like so many live recordings from this period, Epitaph is a bittersweet experience. With the exception of the track "Epitaph" the set list was pretty much identical for the two recordings and so it's just as well to review vol. IV. The crusty, lo-fi quality of the recording is both endearing and regrettable and yet everything, more or less, made it into the mix; a remarkable achievement when one considers the equipment available to capture the band's performance. "Get thy Bearings", weighing in at 18+minutes, is a wonderful example of how much freedom bands had during this period where Ian McDonald for example is given any amount of time to extract tortured sounds from his horn followed by a guitar solo that clearly indicates where Robert Fripp was heading on the instrument; dark, apocolyptic and very disturbed. Giles was in great form at the time and was no doubt influential among his peers; moving comfortably from heavy driving grooves (involving great articulation) through cruisy jazz feels and all the while being flexible enough to improvise percussive ideas on the spot in response to his bandmates. The interplay in "Bearings" is really quite exciting with so many twists and turns, mood swings and Schizoid moments that, but for the album details, one is forgiven for second-guessing the end of the piece on several occasions. Their interpretation of Holst's "Mars" is extraordinary and with a distorted bottom end growl that was light years ahead of its time sonically. Even at this early stage King Crimson had entirely broken away from any attachment to mainstream forms and were charting a course that would ultimately cement them into a rare strata of bands that persist as institutions of higher learning in their own right. One need look no further than Epitaph vol. IV to appreciate why this band is considered by many to be the greatest progressive rock band ever.
Report this review (#64649)
Posted Friday, January 13, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars If the first two volumes of this collection didn't exist, then these would be much more important. In fact, all of the songs here, save for the improvs, are on the first two volumes, and with better sound.

The sound is the biggest problem with this collection. I understand that the recordings were almost three decades old, and from dubious sources at the time of this release, and many of the songs were pieced together (sometimes too obviously) from multiple sources. But still, the fidelity is at best fair, and sometimes poor. Who really wants to hear a tinny drum solo?

The material is very good, although I wish the band played a few different songs from time to time. Where is I Talk To The Wind, Moon Child?

Still for historical significance, I'll give it three stars.

Report this review (#283512)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2010 | Review Permalink

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