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King Crimson

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King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King album cover
4.64 | 4679 ratings | 466 reviews | 79% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1969

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 21st Century Schizoid Man (7:20) :
- a. Mirrors
2. I Talk to the Wind (6:05)
3. Epitaph (8:47) :
- a. March for No Reason
- b. Tomorrow and Tomorrow
4. Moonchild (12:11) :
- a. The Dream
- b. The Illusion
5. The Court of the Crimson King (9:22) :
- a. The Return of the Fire Witch
- b. The Dance of the Puppets

Total Time 43:45

2LP 2019 Steven Wilson remix/remaster, 2nd Disc (alternative album):

C1. 21st Century Schizoid Man (June 1969 take with 2019 overdubs)
C2. I Talk to the Wind (alternate 2019 mix)
C3. Epitaph (alternate take, 2019 mix)
D1. Epitaph (vocals isolated/highlighted, 2019 mix)
D2. Moonchild (take 1, 2019 mix)
D3. The Court of the Crimson King (June 1969 take, 2019 mix)
D4. 21st Century Schizoid Man (trio version, 2019 mix)

Line-up / Musicians

- Greg Lake / lead vocals, bass
- Robert Fripp / guitars
- Ian McDonald / sax, flute, clarinets, vibes, harpsichord, piano, organ, Mellotron, backing vocals
- Michael Giles / drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Peter Sinfield / lyrics and illumination
- Jakko Jakszyk / guitar, vocal and keyboard overdubs (C1)
- Mel Collins / saxophone overdubs (C1)

Releases information

Artwork: Barry Godber

LP Island Records ‎- ILPS 9111 (1969, UK)
LP Atlantic - SD 8245 (1969, US)
LP EG - EGLP-1 (1987, Italy)
2LP Panegyric, Discipline Global Mobile, Inner Knot, Wowow Entertainment, Inc. - KCLPX2019 (2019, Europe) - Mixed by Steven Wilson. 2nd disc contains the alternate version of the album.

CD Polydor ‎- 800 030-2 (1983, Germany)
CD EG - EGCD-1 (1989, UK) Remastered by Robert Fripp & Tony Arnold
CD Caroline - CAR1502 (1999, US) 24-bit remaster by David Singleton, Robert Fripp & Simon Heyworth
CD Virgin ‎- CDVKC 1 (1999, Europe) 30th Anniv. 24-bit remaster by D. Singleton, R. Fripp & S. Heyworth
CD Discipline Global Mobile ‎- DGM0501 (2004, Europe) 24-bit remaster by Simon Heyworth from the Original Master tapes discovered in 2003

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KING CRIMSON In the Court of the Crimson King ratings distribution

(4679 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(79%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(16%)
Good, but non-essential (4%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

KING CRIMSON In the Court of the Crimson King reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
5 stars Almost unarguably the first, most quintessential prog-rock album ever, Court virtually came out of nowhere, and almost single-handedly defined "prog-rock" at its infancy. Taking "metal" and "experimental" to their extremes, and making use of some of the first truly textured "atmospheres" (fuzz paranoia in Schizoid Man, dreamy surreality in Wind, etc.), Fripp & Co. put prog-rock on the map with this flawless, in-your-face album. In addition to introducing us to Fripp's schizo-paranoid madness, you can hear how much Bruford learned from Michael Giles. Court belongs to a small pantheon of albums that includes Sgt. Pepper, Dark Side, The Lamb, The Wall and maybe half a dozen other absolutely must-have albums.
Review by loserboy
5 stars This is one of the all time greatest progressive rock recordings and a highly influential- seminal piece of prog rock! This was the classic CRIMSON line up which provided a 70's warm-up with this release. Moods and atmospheres range from the serene moments of Mirrors to the Loud crashing of "21st Century Schzoid Man". This is a very thorough album and remains today one of my favorites.
Review by Menswear
5 stars I won't say much, because everything's been said. A thing I don't get is so much people raging after the instrumental part of Moonchild. Being a prog fan is sometimes hard, but this is not harder (well, less hard) to listen than contemporary music or most electro-acoustic music. It's barely experiemental. A trick, picture yourself what you hear. Most of ELP fans knows what I'm talking about. Let go your imagination, the jam will be more appreciable. This is a soothing jam, made to dream of what you want; even King Crimson rehearsing in front of you....(that's my trick...actually, I imagine myself on bass and let Lake sing alone..hee hee).

Also, Bad Religion (skilled pop-punk band) inspired themselves from this album. In fact, their guitarist Brett Gurewitz (owner and founder of Epitaph record!) wrote a song called ' 21st Century Digital Boy' (from the Stranger than Fiction album). It's actually a very good song.

Also, try the Moonchild reprise by The Doves on 'The Last Broadcast'. It's neat. If you have some more time, check out the cover done by Steve Hackett on the Tokyo Tapes DVD. Wetton on bass/vocals, McDonald on flute and keys, Hackett on guitar and Thompson on drums. A real moment.

Review by lor68
3 stars Well this album represents the birth of Progressive Rock, even though actually these KING CRIMSON were a "Proto-progressive" band and a bit ingenuous at that time, with a Romantic orientation and such seminal ideas for the "Art-Rock" genre as well (nowadays under this label you find for instance bands such as Don CABARELLO, DJAM KARET and in some circumstances also the most known band from Island SIGUR ROS. But - apart from these considerations - this surprising debut album contains a couple of stunning jewels such as "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "21st Century Schizoid Man", and also a couple of tepid songs (an exception is represented by the mythical "Epitaph"): for this reason the actual score of this work should be "3 stars and an half"; nevertheless its importance is worth the maximum score. Highly recommended in every kind of discography as an historical document, but from the artistic point of view is not completely essential, as well as the repetitive ballads inside!!
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Many say this is the very first progressive rock album. At least, it is certainly reasonable to believe it is among the first ones! For 1969, this record is outstanding and original.

Greg Lake (from Emerson Lake & Palmer) is the lead singer: his voice is absolutely legendary! There are some mellow & delicate tracks like "I talk to the wind": it has relaxing flutes, placid vocals and gentle drums.

"21st century schizoid man" has jazzy sax parts, OUTSTANDING fast and complex drums, and a very melodic, present and complex bass. Fripp's electric guitar is mind troubling, already being bizarre and experimental. The unbelievably fast and loaded end of the track sounds a bit like the fast and free jazz album "Song X" by Pat Metheny.

"Epitaph" has very poignant floating mellotron streams a la Genesis (Nursery cryme). Greg's lead vocals are emotional and passionate. Fripp uses peaceful guitars, mostly acoustic.

"Moonchild" is catchy and addictive, particularly Greg's voice. Fripp's guitar follows more the rhythm and the melody of this track, despite his electric guitar solos in the background are a bit irritating.

One of the best tracks is definitely the last one, "The court of the crimson king", which has full of intensely floating mellotron, heroic backing vocals, soothing flutes, accessible guitar sounds and varied drums. Near the end, there is an excellent childish part of woodwind instruments: very charming!

Rating: 4.5 stars

Review by Carl floyd fan
4 stars This is one of the most amazing debuts by any band of any time. The first track blew my mind and sounds years ahead of its time. moonchild is kind of a boring song, hence the four stars, but the rest of the album is awesome and Greg Lakes voice is great! Pick this album up any way you can, its a prog rock essential!
Review by daveconn
5 stars An eye-opening debut if ever there was, there was, there was. That bespectacled musical mage, ROBERT FRIPP, indeed assembled a court of kings for this adventure: MICHAEL GILES, GREG LAKE, IAN MCDONALD, PETER SINFIELD. Most would remain for Crimson's next voyage, but already the band was writing their epitaph. With such a sense of urgency, the band takes pains to get it right the first time, and they do. In fact, beyond peradventure, no band had sallied forth into the forest for the first time and achieved this measure of fame on their return. When the dust had settled, KING CRIMSON was crowned rock's new champion, ushering in a golden age of music where brute force and beauty commingle with the sounds of distant worlds. That such powerful songs could be rendered with as deft a touch was a revelation. Cream had aspired to this place with "Tales of Brave Ulysses", the Moodies had sought to soar so high on their mellotron one "Tuesday Afternoon", but both were revealed as pretenders to the crown by "The Court of the Crimson King". The album also set the stage for the further adventures of ELP and the progressive paladins who followed. Though perhaps inspired by the psychedelic spelunkering of THE BEATLES, PINK FLOYD and CREAM, KING CRIMSON was birthed a titan, fully formed in body and in vision. Everyone has their appointed post, and all perform their duties with skill and imagination. They were in some sense the original sonic sculptors; with the exception of the instrumental experimentation of "Moonchild", the outcome is pre-arranged and the players have but to execute their parts to bring their work of art to life. No other flower in the prog garden has bloomed so brightly in its first season. Subsequent albums may have exceeded their first in execution, but never in artistry.

"In The Court of the Crimson King" remains the cornerstone of the temple, and thus a cornerstone of any progressive rock collection.

Review by richardh
5 stars I can't really add anything to what has been said before but any prog collection that doesn't have this is not complete.'21st Century Schizoid Man' has intricate rythyms that would baffle all but the most acomplished of musicians.'Epitaph' features a beautifull vocal performance from Greg Lake and is one of the most poignant of all prog songs.The title track is magnificient epic prog that has rarely been equalled.Ok there are a couple of not so great offerings 'I Talk To The Wind' is merely pleasant while 'Moonchild' screams FILLER but it matters not ,this is a ground breaking album that is an essential part of any prog collection.
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars All the Crimson you'll ever need

For me, this is the only really good album King Crimson have ever done. Unlike much of their subsequent output, most of the music here is pure prog rock. "Epitaph" is the best of the bunch, with Greg Lake in excellent form vocally, backed by swirling mellotron. The track is preceded by "I talk to the wind", a beautiful soft ballad with lilting flute. This provides the perfect lead in to "Epitaph" which crashes in majestically as "I talk to the wind" fades.

The title track is a lengthy, but essentially simple song, with various instrumental breaks interrupting what would otherwise be a pretty commercial piece.

In total there are five tracks on the album, the other two being the heavy rock of "21st Century schizoid man", and the fragile but all too dull "Moonchild".

The band started to disintegrate as soon as this album was put together, and they never regained the form which led to the creation of this classic. For this who appreciate the vast output which has come from the band since, this album may seem somewhat out of place, for those looking for prog rock (as opposed to jazz rock) this is the only King Crimson album you need.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars God listened "In the Court of the Crimson King" and saw that it was good. God divided Progressive Rock from the rest of the music.

I can't find other words to describe the first 100% progressive Rock album and the one that defined the genre, perfect album from start to end, goes from frenetic to symphonic in a matter of seconds, sadly King Crimson (In my humble opinion of course) never released any album that could even be near in quality or imagination to "In The Court of the Crimson King", but in their defense it was not an easy task.

"21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors)" is an absolutely frantic song, seems chaotic but it's perfect, the band expresses a sensation of frustration and anger that is transmitted to the listener, has abrupt changes, complex instrumentation and innovative sound, just what Progressive Rock means, brilliant.

"Talk to the Wind" is precisely the other side of the coin, starts with a soft flute by Ian Mc Donald and soon melts with Greg Lake's beautiful voice, seems simple, only a soft ballad, but it's more than that, mostly because of the way they combine the instruments, in a way that only some jazz virtuoso musicians did before.

"Epitaph" is a darker song with very obscure pessimistic lyrics, Lake's voice adapts perfectly to Fripp's guitar and the melancholic mellotron, a very atmospheric style that would be developed later by Gabriel's Genesis. Some people believe it's a sad ballad, but really is a very complex track that combines different rhythms and timing, also must say percussion is brilliant.

"Moonchild" is the more jazz oriented track despite it keeps the Symphonic structure, starts calm and mellow with a very defined rhythm and an a unique guitar work, in the first listen you can get the impression that we are before another tune in the vein of "I Talk to the Wind", but around the 3 minutes the fusion begins, nothing so complex and lack of logical structure had been done before, almost as if the band was in a jam session McDonald and Fripp are outstanding in this song.

"In the Court of the Crimson King, including The Return of the Fire Witch and the Dance of the Puppets" is an absolute masterpiece, lyrics are incredibly descriptive and combine perfectly with the music creating the medieval atmosphere, this song has everything, beauty, rhythm, complexity and lots of imagination, words are not capable of describing it, the perfect closer for a perfect album.

The great achievement of KING CRIMSON is that in their debut release they managed to create an album that has 5 absolutely different songs that show 5 different aspects of prog rock: aggression, calm, darkness, fusion and the closer that blends all this aspects and more in an 9:22 minutes track.

Many bands released progressive or semi-progressive albums before, some of them are outstanding, but no other work can define the genre and set the status so high as" In the Court of the Crimson King", the path is ready for other bands to follow, but what a job to reach the level of this masterpiece.

5 Stars seem poor for such an album, if you don't own it, your prog' collection is not complete.

Review by frenchie
5 stars I would have to say that "In the Court of the Crimson King" is one of the best debut albums since Pink Floyd's "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn". This is one of the starting points of progressive rock and "art rock". In the Court of the Crimson King delivered a more obvious and exciting approach to the genre with its epic scale that ranges between grungy guitar based "21st Century Schizoid Man" to the heartfilled "Epitaph". The opening track is very explosive and shows off some of the bands best guitar work from robert fripp and the distorted vocals add the dark edge to the album. The rest of the songs are more mellow and can be moving and emotional, but may seem a bit more difficult to get into as they totally contradict the opening track.

Throughout the album the musicianship is perfect, with Greg Lake's dreamlike vocals often serving as the centrepiece of the album. The lyrics can be dark at times but exceed throughout the record. The guitar and percussion work show similarities to a sound that Yes would also develop. The wind instuments on this album are exquisite and one of the most original ideas that allows the band to compete easily with bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Genesis. The wind instruments fit in so well with songs like "I Talk to the Wind" and "Epitaph". Every track on this album shows off the glory and skill of king crimson. "Epitaph" and "I Talk to the Wind" are beautiful yet sad pieces and balance out the album well from the opening track. These three songs are masterpieces in their own right. "Moonchild" is perhaps too long and winding. This song contains lots of experimental guitar effects and although it plays well it can end up getting drowned out on the album. Perhaps too long even though it can be heaven to listen to at times. This technique of using stretchy effects of percussion and guitar was later reused in Pink Floyd's "More" and "Ummagumma" albums, as well as The Mars Volta's works. This is daring yet inspirational, just it can be very awkward to listen to at times. The title track is a brilliant send of and gives the album a concept feel to it. King Crimson may not have been able to better this but they certainly evolved from it in a great way. This is a masterpiece and really is one of the best examples of progressive rock you may ever find.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'd fallen in love with the band the first time I heard the just-released "Discipline", and soon rushed out to fill in the missing decade or so of their history. That was, in hindsight, probably a bad idea; not only did I have no guide like this website to help me sift through the prodigious discography, I didn't have anyone to tell me how different they sounded from album to album. Luckily, I immediately took to the raw power and delicate beauty of "Starless" and "Red" and "Lark's Tongues"...but their initial releases, even the almost universally lauded debut album, has always been in the second tier for me.

Each song on this album has impressive strengths but also some regrettable low points. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is a great way to start the album, and their career, with huge distorted riffs and caustic vocals. When the song speeds up, the musicianship becomes more apparent, even if the latter half of the song ("Mirrors"?) seems a bit unfocused and even unnecessary. "I Talk to the Wind" shows that the band has no fear of mellow sounds, and Giles' drums are quietly excellent. While the flute is nice, the extended improvisation over the same repeated chord structure seems a just a little too much, adding nothing important to the song's simple beauty. "Epitaph" demonstrates Lake's emotive power, with a moody backdrop saturated by dramatic washes of sound (including the relatively rare Fripp acoustic). McDonald isn't as creative a manipulator of the mellotron as some (Mike Pinder, for instance), and its slightly harsh presence can get a bit overbearing on this song, and the album as a whole. "Moonchild" is a different kind of drama, a dark pastoral mystery of a song that suffers from some strange instrumental decisions- why that banal cymbal rhythm is repeated, and so high in the mix during the verses, for instance. I won't criticize the extended, amorphous second part, as the band members have openly admitted that the album was too short and they had to fill space. Finally, the grand and immediately recognizable title track is a progger's dream; archaic flavors and instrumental exploration in balance, and truly evocative of the Frederick II (et cetera) courtly mood.

As my relationship with this album (and the band) matures, I have to come to the sad conclusion that Peter Sinfield and Ian McDonald are two of my least favorite major players; Sinfield has a pretentious, academic writing style that emphasizes Lake's latent pomposity instead of his singular pathos, and McDonald adds plenty of texture but little character- his parts are suitable, at best, but more often overbearing. My impression of KING CRIMSON is that of a band that combines raw, hard-hitting sonics with unconventional beauty via evocative, virtuoso musical exploration, and there isn't enough of any of those elements on this album. I think the main problem is that there's just not enough Fripp in the equation; sometimes the band of "In the Court of the Crimson King" sounds like one he was in before he found his musical calling, rather than the first chapter of a magnificent legacy. Don't get me wrong- it's a classic and you really should have it. Parts of it are magnificent and's just not the flawless masterpiece some would have you believe.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This must be up there in the top five prog rock albums of all time. Art rock is the perfect category for ' In the court...' It is almost theatre just listening to it, like SEBTP by Genesis it has such an awesome prescence that it leaves a visual imprint conceptually in your mind forever. That is what defines what is masterpiece and what isn't. I love Michael Gile's drumming also at it comes across simple but at the same time almost hypnotic in songs like the title track and ' Epitaph' ' I talk to the wind' is a great reminder that when things really get tough, get back in touch with nature, the wind and let the flute carry you away. I don't think prog rock would be quite the same without this important contribution.
Review by el böthy
5 stars There are times in life where certain events change one for ever, be it a great love, the birth of a child .etc. While my turning point was not as epic as the birth of ones child, I hold it just as important in this moment in time. That turning point, that great event was listening to "In the court of the Crimson King" for the first time. I knew right then and there it was the single greatest piece of music I had yet heard (even if I didn't realize it that much at the time, looking back I know I knew it right away). It was truly love at first sight. It literally opened up the doors of my personal perception, I knew there had to be music that pushed the boundaries further than that of the Beatles (or at least continuo pushing them like they did), Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple or such, I knew it, I just didn't knew "them". Of course I already had "The dark side of the moon" as any normal person on the face of the earth, yet, although I liked it quite a bit, I never thought of Pink Floyd in that way. I knew there had to be music more adventurous, with more arrangements and not just soloing, with a more intelligent approach, I just could not put my finger on it and say "this is it". not until "In the court of the Crimson King".

This is not so much of a review as it is a love letter to this album, where everything, every last note, tone, word, beat changed me. If it would be possible, from a totally subjective point of view, I would give this album 6 star, 7, as many as possible. I make this explanation because I don't think albums should be reviewed purely from a subjective point of view; objectivity (no matter how hard and even down right impossible) must be kept as a rule in a review. Having said that, this album deserves nothing less than 5 star.

I won't talk about the music itself, it has been done too many times and we all know this album by heart, or at least we all should, but I will say this: This album changed popular music like few did, and rarely does it get the credit it deserves. Only in sites like this it does, and it's a shame, just ask Pete Townsend or Jimi Hendrix (good look with that) or any Genesis, Yes, ELP, Renaissance, Anglagard, The Mars Volta. member, I doubt they will tell you any different.

Review by Alucard
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I just bought the 30th anniversary edition for the nice coverart (I would have preferred a nice article instead of the paper cut outs, which are not even complete) and by looking on the credits I realized for the first time that 3 of the 5 tracks were cowritten by the group and 2 by Ian Mc Donald.I always found that ITCOTCK is quiet atypical in the KC discography and now I think it is mainly due to the influence of Mc Donalds compositions and Greg Lake's voice. I believe that Robert Fripp always wanted to go into more improvisation, which he does on his later records.The track which reflects the most R.Fripp is TMHO Moonchild and especially the second half which would much easier fit into Lizard where Fripp's Jazz/improvisation influences are much stronger.Nevertheless it's still one of my all time favourite records.
Review by Sean Trane
5 stars I9n The Court Of The Giants!!

What can be said of this seminal album that hasn't been said 1000 times before and maybe 10 000 better than I ever could? A classic on which a genre was built, even if this is subject to discussion, very few others could really pretend to it. This unusual quintet, including a separate lyricist/light & sounds man in the person of Sinfield and the extraordinary Schizoid artwork to go with the album, all of this made for an outstanding and spectacular album that could only strike the public strongly enough for it to epitomize the "prog" genre.

Outside the soft-improvisation part (not nearly as much a turn-off as most would have you believe) of Moonchild, every track has been played hundreds if not thousands of times to these ears in every conceivable possibility or situation in my life, including mating. But for that particular occasion I made a Cd-r version that skips the opening Schizoid Man (really not suited for that use) and the long improvised section of Moonchild, meaning I'm left with a fairly romantic album that most women should appreciate enough to let themselves go.

Now in recent times, a 5.1 reissue has been released (as with all KC albums), but it's also a tad more than a remaster, but a remix as well. So the new "thing" is now a two-disc affair that includes the 2003 remaster plus a few bonus alternate tracks, and a DVD that contains two different configurations to listen to the new version as well as a five minutes poor-quality film footage of their legendary Hyde Park concert. If in other albums (LTIA and Red), the video material is absolutely essential, in this case, you won't watch it much and therefore is nothing worth acquiring the 5.1 reissue. As for the bonus tracks, the full version of Moonchild is included, but it doesn't change much the overall feel of the album if it had been included, instead of the abridged (of roughly 4-mins) version. As for the two Wind alternate takes, their rather interesting (especially the acoustic version) but not worth the price of admission (listen to GG&F's Brondesbury Tapes release instead), and to be honest, neither is the Epitaph backing track? as for the last "wind noise" bonus, it's a complete scam, IMHO. So overall, the bonus tracks are interesting for the major KC fan, but not really for the casual fan.

As for the 5.1 versions, I can't tell you much about it, since I don't have the proper equipment to test it. Nuff'said, I think!! Should you really want to know or read more, there are plenty of excellent reviews above and below mine.

Review by Guillermo
5 stars I listened to this album for the first time in 1975 or 1976, and I liked it a lot, and I still like this album a lot. The cover art is fantastic, and the music is fantastic, too. In my opinion, this album represents maybe the only line-up of this band which had a better balance between the members, all very good musicians. This is really a band`s abum. K.C. was a "real 5 member band" then, in my opinion. Robert Fripp wasn`t the leader then, I think. Ian McDonald`s work in this album is very good, and maybe he is the most "dominant" musician in this album, being a musician who plays several different instruments. In fact, he appears as composer in all the songs in this album, with lyricist Peter Sinfield too. The rest of the songs are credited to the five members of the band. Michael Giles is a very good drummer, and I don`t know why he and McDonald didn`t work in other bands for a long time after being in K.C. After leaving K.C., McDonald and Giles recorded a very good duet album called "McDONALD AND GILES" (with Peter Giles on bass guitar, and guests like Steve Winwood in one song, plus Sinfield`s lyrics in one song). The "dominant" instrument in this "In the Court..." album is the Mellotron, played by McDonald. This instrument gives the music a lot of "fantasy" to the sound of the songs (I don`t know why McDonald didn`t use it in the "McDonald and Giles" album). The Mellotron became a very important instrument in the Progressive Rock Music bands. "Schizoid Man" is the "heaviest " song in this album, with Fripp still developing his very original style of playing. In this song, Greg Lake and Michael Giles play very good jazz-rock sections, with McDonald`s saxes. "I Talk to the Wind" has very good flutes by McDonald. "Epitaph" is a sad song, but very powerful, with very good arrangements, and Lake`s sensitive vocals. "Moonchild" is maybe the first example of improvisation from this band, being a compostion with verses in the beginning, and later, this song has a "jam" section, with interesting parts. The song "In the Court of the Crimson King" has the Melloton as the main instrument, and it is maybe the best song in this album.Unfortunately, after the tour for this album, this line-up split, with Lake and Giles appearing in the next album almost as "guests" with other "guests" or "session" musicians. Fripp was almost left "alone" with Sinfield, and their next albums show mainly Fripp`s musical ideas. By late 1971, Sinfield also left K.C. This first K.C. line-up was maybe the best. I think that Fripp`s ego spoiled this line-up. Maybe he didn`t like other musicians who also "shone" like him. McDonald was one of these musicians, and years later he appeared as member of FOREIGNER between 1976 and 1980, and he also had problems in that band too, as guitarist Mick Jones wanted to be the only ""musical director" in the band (which led to their most commercial and successful album called "4", but that`s another history!). After being a very important member in K.C. and Foreigner, McDonald had to leave both bands due to "different musical ideas" with the guitarists.It is a shame that some good line-ups are spoiled by egos.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The album that started it all for me, introducing my fragile little mind to progressive rock and complex music in general. It took me ten listens to get past the menacing jazziness of the opening mayhem "Schizoid Man", probably the heaviest track ever written back in 1969, and if that's not enough the beauty of "I Talk to the Wind" caught me completely by surprise. Still two of my favorite songs ever, though the majestic quality of the title track is hard to pass by and pretty much defined progressive rock for years to come. The musicianship is brilliant and being a drummer myself I can't praise Michael Giles good enough as he provides some of the most melodic and creative rock drumming I've ever heard, being essentialy a jazz drummer but using the kit for the best effect possible. The last ten minutes of "Moonchild" might put people off but they can still enjoy the brilliant first part which is one of KC's most beautiful moments on tape. Not much else to say, this was and still is one of the most essential prog rock albums ever made and essential in every way possible. Not only for prog fans!

PS - The reason I ever got this album was because of the hilarious cover art. Best choice I ever did!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars By the time I post this review there had been 75 entries that talked about this seminal album (and some people called it as the first prog rock album on earth) of legendary band: King Crimson. I am not going to raise an issue whether or not this was the first or not; as for me personally, the first prog album was Yes "Fragile". Full stop. It does not matter if in fact the other album(s) came first. Well, .. it matters only when you try to review an album on the basis of "influence" of other bands. Let's put aside that.

So, why should I give the 76th entry then? As a matter of statistical vote to prove that this is a masterpiece? Or, to counter review for those reviewers who have given less than 4 stars? (Ahem . I always view that people have different views based on taste and background. So I have no problem with it at all). No no no no ..Not all of that things, my friends ..My reason is simple. I've just read a great story about the band from its inception (embryo stage) until "The Construction of Light" album through a well- researched book by Sid Smith (got nothing to do with Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd) titled In The Court of King Crimson (Helter Skelter Publishing, 2001 - reprinted 2003). It's a great book as it was written by a die-hard fan of the band. As Mr. Fripp put at book cover: "Sid Smith's opinion is worthy of respect".

Of course I won't tell you about the book in detail because it's 346 pages and also what would be "my view" if I take everything from the book? I don't want to be in the circle of plagiarism. But, the book has given me a powerful nuance and reference to review any album of King Crimson. (If you notice, this is my first review about the band and I want to do it right, with the best available references).

It's gonna be boring if I review track by track as I used to do it with other prog albums. This time I would do it at album level because you know it well track by track. Let's do it this way .

The result of a struggling band. This album was a culmination of concerted effort by the band members from the embryonic Giles, Giles & Fripp until it was formalized under the name of KC. It's important to notice how the band members were not aware at all that they did a great job. In the a.m. book it was mentioned that the making of "21st Century Schizoid Man" albeit it's the first track but was recorded the last. The song was made through collective efforts by its members and they did not feel that they accomplished something great that rocked the music industry later on. Each member did not pat others for example "Hey great, we did it one". No, not at all. They just said "OK, that's it". (page 59).

The Change master that inpires ... Yeah .. We know it that this album had created major change in music industry. At that time people never thought a music with powerful riffs and "very" distorted vocal as in the opening track "21st Century .". Even the first time I listened to this song (sometime in 1976) I thought that my cassette was in trouble. Couple months ago, our local newspaper in my country featured this album in a great details (reviewed by my colleague Tom Malik). What interesting was the prog discussion that followed after the article. It was discussed that the riffs have inspired many heavy metal bands. You may or may not agree with it.

The Music. Now, let's talk about the music. The overall album has a strong structure offering a variety of styles: progressive rock, ballad with classical touch and avant garde- and overall album offers dark nuance. The music demonstrates catchy and memorable melodies that still valid thru the passage of time. Having listened to "Epitaph" or "I Talk To The Wind" in decades I'm still touched by their melodies. Wonderfully crafted!

If I may advise, it's not a matter of recommendation. But, if you want to explore prog music, this album is must in your prog collection. Don't step into prog wagon if you do not own this album yet. Keep on progging! GW, Indonesia.

Note: With an earthquake disaster happening in my country and neighborhood, "Epitaph" might be best to play as condolences for twenty three thousand brothers and sisters who have lost their lives tragically ."Confusion will be my epitaph ." ..South East Asian countries are crying now .(Jakarta, 28 Dec 04)

Review by TRoTZ
5 stars Ladies and Gentleman, I do not want to fall in disgrace, but I am convict you are in the presence of the first majestic symphonic progressive rock album of the History. Of course we can say some other bands explored progressive motives before like, for example, the MOODY BLUES. In fact, King Crimson were not the first with progressive ideas, don't expect from a band to make a sudden total transition, that's absurd! But the tendencies, showed around by several bands, were fused by King Crimson creating this majestic album of pure symphonic progressive rock suites!

The instrumental architecture is defined by the symphonic mellotron, the jazz of the saxophone and the rock of the guitars and drums. Overall, dark suites full of nostalgia. The first track is a fine introduction, with some good saxo and mellotron arrangements, nice transition parts and a middle psychedelic guitar solo part. I Talk to The Wind cuts the strength of the first track with a very nice flute and mellow song, with dual vocals quite usual at that time. Epitah is another very sad song, full of nostalgia, one by one all instruments (acoustic guitars, mellotron, bass) show deep emotion! Moonchild is in the same line with the two predecessors, but with a quite long obscuring, imaginative, calm psychedelic mellotron solo. The last track is also sad but with the energy of the first track added by emotional chorus at refrains followed by a memorable classical mellotron.

This is an EXCELLENT album, not only for its history but for the music itself. Songs like Epitah or The Court of Crimson King are very deep, can make the most emotional of you cry. Surely one of the best progressive albums of ever, a MUST to every prog collector!

My rate: 9/10

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is a seminal Progressive Rock album, but not the first of the genre as some people claim. A search through the albums on ProgArchives will turn up earlier examples, and earlier albums of the genre also appear on Progressive Rock timelines on other Web sites. But certainly "In the Court Of The Crimson King" is a very early example of the genre.

'21st Century Schizoid Man', 'Epitaph' and 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' must be the most covered Progressive Rock tracks of all time, I would think. The music on the album is excellent, with only the extended noodling on 'Moonchild' being open to criticism. The first fifth of the track is a pleasant, laid-back song but the rest of the track is very subdued noodling. The latter does not bother me and could be claimed to be mood music, evocative of a moonlit garden or landscape. or, alternatively, it could just be noodling! I don't know whether the band was really trying to convey a mood (moonbeams flitting through the trees, that kind of thing), or were just at a loss for something better to do.

I had not thought of this until recently, but this album might have directly influenced some of PFM's early music.

Apart from the first track, which, as the name suggests, is hard-hitting, the music is symphonic and often subdued. So, if you've never heard the album before, don't expect very bombastic Progressive Rock (although 'Epitaph' and 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' are pompous, I suppose). The use of sax and vibes give the music a jazzy feel in places. Lake's voice is crystal clear and his singing is really on top form, as are Sinfield's poetic lyrics.

Just a note about the CD release I have: it's the Japanese company Universal Records' album UICE-9051 using the Microsoft HDCD (High Definition CD) system so, if your HI-FI supports HDCD, you will hear 20-bit digitised sound instead of the usual 16-bit Audio CD sound. However you don't need a HDCD-compatible HI-FI to play this CD - it will work on any CD player, although the HDCD Web site says that HDCD CDs sound better than normal Audio CDs on conventional CD players. I have to say that this CD does indeed sound very warm and less tinny than a conventional 16-bit Audio CD on my conventional HI-FI. The CD sleeve is of the mini-LP format and comes with a booklet with cuttings from Melody Maker, Rolling Stone etc. which is a nice touch.

As to the rating, such an important work could only merit 5 stars, and it should be in every Prog fan's collection.

Review by chessman
3 stars I have to say, considering this album's legacy, ie: practically inventing prog rock all on its own, I have always found it quite disappointing. A friend bought it years ago, until which time I had only heard snippets of it. I borrowed it from my friend and taped it.I have to say I am glad I never purchased the cd. Nor have I any intention of doing! Of course, it is an old album, but it really sounds dated, compared to some contemporary releases. Floyd's first two albums, and the debut album from Yes, all come across as far fresher, even if they are more pyschedelic than this. I think what put me off in the first place is the opener, "21st Century Schizoid Man". It stands out like a sore thumb compared to the mellowness that dominates the rest of the album. Greg Lake has always had one of those voices that irritate me. He has ruined more than one ELP song, as he just can't cut the mustard as a singer, not IMO anyway. His voice is too choral. "21st" is a mismatch of sounds that could have been the title song for some awful TV programme for children, or teenagers, aptly titled "Here comes 21st Century Schizoid Man!" Captain Scarlet comes to mind here. Anyway, moving on, the second track is far better. "I Talk To The Wind" has melody, nice flute work, and interesting guitar. We can see here why this album influenced the early Genesis line up. Also, the presence of the mellotron all over the album shows why Tony Banks in particular would enjoy this. After this we have "Epitaph", split into two sections. This isn't too bad either, and I, at this point, upon first hearing this, began to settle down and enjoy the thing. Unfortunately, the next piece, "Moonchild", again split into two parts, lets the whole thing down again. There is some very quiet, and quite pointless guitar doodling. I am all for improvisation, but this takes the biscuit. Then comes the finale, "The Court Of The Crimson King". This is somewhat better, although to me, it sounds very influenced by The Moody Blues. (Not that I dislike that group at all.) Anyway, the album is thoroughly harmless, quite innovative, boring and repetitive in parts, and very, very dated sounding. As an album that influenced a whole genre, and turned other groups into progressive giants, I would give it 4 stars. But as an album that I could listen to again and again, I would only give it 2 stars. Therefore, I take the difference and give it 3 stars. Fripp is undoubtedly talented though, and lucky to be married to a girl I used to like a lot, the amazing Toyah! For those who have never heard this, yes, it is a seminal album, but if you can, borrow it off a friend first, or try to buy it at a bargain price.
Review by con safo
5 stars The albums opens with the heavy, distorted song "21st Century Schizoid Man", which is accompanied by jazzy horns throughout. A great opener, and it really sets the stage for the soft ballad "I talk to the wind." The track is one of my favourites, with great vocals and very atmospheric feel. Moonchild has to be listened to to be appreciated. It's been the subject of alot of dislike when it comes to reviewers, but i myself enjoyed to song. I find if you commit yourself to sitting in a quiet place, close your eyes and listen to the soft interlude, its rather hypnotic. Very calming with some great guitarwork. The final track, and my favourite on the album, is reminiscent of the first track. A very good rock track with some ace backing vocals. The chorus is exceptionally well done. In my opinion, the best debut album aside from Pink Floyd - Piper at the gates.

You wont be dissapointed.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I don't doubt the historical value of this album, but though I love King Crimson, I seldom listen to this record. The album highlight for me is "Epitaph", the song which introduced me to this marvelous band. "I Talk to The Wind" is also a nice little ballad, both softening the A-side's hard opener "21st Century Schizoid Man". I like that song as a composition, but I don't think that the version presented here shows its full potential. The early band did much better version of it on BBC studios, a track that can be heard on "Epitaph" CD box. Also the upcoming Wetton-Cross line-up smashed great versions of this song on stage. I guess what makes it better as live is the actual co-playing of a concert performance. The studio versions sound often a bit powerless and sterile to me - a symptom which follows the most of the material of this band's releases during the 1960's and 1970's. The B-side of this album is yet still weaker. Though the beginning of "Moonchild" is pretty, the long drones following it are then very boring. Also the title song doesn't please me much, though the melody and its sounds are beautiful, it has been extended as composition too much for my taste. As an anecdote, British hard-rock group Saxon did a funny cover version of this song. Despite my criticism "In Court of The Crimson King" is an interesting album still, and it might please you much more than it did me.
Review by Marc Baum
5 stars What should I write about this record, which wasn't be written from a previous reviewer, who also gave this quintessential milestone in prog history the absolutely earned 5-star rating? Well, all that I can say is, that I agree with the many people who think "ITCOTCK" is the most important prog album of all time. Overnight they created a whole new genre with this debut-jewel (it was the very first pure prog record!). It influenced another (better be said the BIGGEST and BEST art rock band beside YES) great old band like Genesis, or later appearing prog heroes like Porcupine Tree or Psychotic Waltz, what you can hear for sure, when you listen to the albums from these bands. What I nearly had forgotten: A band like Tool never could exist without this record from KC. The opening track "21st Century Schizoid Man" is like (and for sure is, too) a revolution: A volcanic guitar sound by Robert Fripp, jazzy trumpets, pounding drums and the unforgettable voice of Greg Lake (the only REAL King Crimson-singer) make this song to one of the most memorable opening tracks in rock history. The next one is a beautiful chilling ballad "I Talk To The Wind", where you can relax after this hard rockin' monster-opener! But that's nothing in comparison which will come after: "Epitaph" is one of my absolutely favourite tracks in prog, it's so dramatical and got these genius lyrics that create an atmosphere, which will search itself. It reminds me very on some work that Genesis did 2 - 4 years later (listen to these keys!). You really can hear that Peter Gebriel & Co. often listened to KC and specially this track. "Moonchild" starts as a ballad, but throughout the track it turns to a very experimental sound building. The track flues into the mighty, monumental title track, definitely one of the most legendary title tracks ever created. Any rating less than the highest possible would be a bad joke for this undestroyable classic, it always deserves the perfect one. Because it's so important for the whole rock genre (right, not only prog!) with all it's differneces, this web page for example and holds fantastic, memoriable music behind the legendary Crimson King face-cover artwork, that will for sure stand the test of time, even when we are in year 2040. One word: TIMELESS! Second word: GENIUS!
Review by Yanns
5 stars Began prog? Possibly. The album, as a whole, is a surreal experience. It transports you to an entirely different world. It is, arguably, the greatest album of all time, and it is fully and completely appreciated when listened to beginning to end.

21st Century Schizoid Man is an extremely famous progressive track, and for good reason. The blasting riff in this song is probably the greatest I have ever heard. As for the middle section, I have never heard a better fusion of jazz and rock, if you can even call it jazz. It really has to be heard to be believed.

I Talk to the Wind: The first time I heard this song, my attention drifted away. After that blasting opener, this quiet little song made me lose interest in a way. HOWEVER, this song is one of the most beautiful songs of all time. Listen to the song 4 times, and you will have a slight inkling as to what this song accomplishes. It takes the album down from the insane intro, and keeps the album on that level.

Epitaph: There is no conceivable way to convey to anyone the power of this song. It could very well be the greatest song of all time. It is so emotional, so incredible, that it is impossible to explain it.

Moonchild is the one song that is picked on in this album. Everyone (including me) agrees that the first 2 and a half minutes are incredible. Such a beautiful melody. Then, the song enters 10 minutes of improvisation. This is where fans separate themselves. Most people believe that this 10 minutes is garbage, pure nothingness. This is what I thought for a little while. However, sit down, close your eyes, open your mind, put this song on, and listen. You will find that it is very, very good. One review I read once described it as a bunch of little kids going into the studio and playing with the instruments. But I disagree. Listen, and form your own opinion.

The Court of the Crimson King: Could easily be the most moving, haunting piece of music ever made. The opening mellotron riff could be the most memorable riff ever. Then, when you think it's over, it goes into a small little flute section, then blasts back into the mellotron section. It makes one of the all-time greatest album closers ever.

Robert Fripp is, in every way, a genius. I have always loved Greg Lake as a vocalist, and on this album, he does an amazing job. Also, who knew Lake could play bass like this? Listen to the bass in the middle section of Schizoid Man. It will blow your mind. Also, Michael Giles has always been a favorite drummer of mine. His style is very memorable, and it fits King Crimson perfectly.

This album surpasses 5 stars. It is an experience unlike any other. 5/5 stars.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album was arguably the first progressive record released. Many consider it to be a gem, and that there are no flaws within it's snazzy cover. I like to think that this is a good album, but it shows that there were a lot more good things to come. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy this album, there are many songs that are quite good. But there are a few that go from tedious to even boring.

The highlights of this album to meare 21st Century Schizoid Man, In the Court of the Crimson King, and Epitaph. I truly enjoy the agressive guitar work on 21st Century Schizoid Man, and Ian McDonald adds many textures with his woodwinds throughout the album, and Mike Giles drum work is one of the finest performances I've ever heard, and a good performance by Greg Lake as well throughout. The title track is a mellotron led tune with a more laid back sound. I really find the way Lake says, "The cracked brass bells will ring", it gets me every time. Epitaph is a really melancolic tune with some very beautiful guitar on Robert Fripp's part, and some very emotional vocals from Greg Lake.

In between those 2 gems are what I call filler. They are good tracks, but they aren't as complete as the 2 mentioned above. I Talk to the Wind has very beautiful flute work. And Moonchild to me is completely worthless, just a lot of quietness that leads into the madness of In the Court of the Crimson King.

Overall, I give this album a 3 out of 5 for those stellar tracks in the beginning, middle, and end. I recommend it to any fan of King Crimson, and to any fan of Progressive Rock, but it just doesn't satisfy me.

Review by FishyMonkey
4 stars People say this is what started prog, this album planted the roots for the prog scene for other major names like YES, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator, all of them. It's the pinnacle of prog music, they say. An absolute masterpiece; a must-have. Well, I'd agree with the creation of prog part: this album was entirely new, everything about it. A brand new band with no experience, turmoil within their ranks already, made an album that changed everything. Prog before prog really came to be, that's what this was. It was a landmark.

But honestly, while I can give it credit for being the original, the creator of it all (although that too can be contested), is it honestly the pinnacle? The best? Well, not everyone says that. But many do, and to those of you who do, I say no. People seem to prop this album just because it is the original. It's certainly not the best, though. Krimson themselves have done about four better albums, honestly, and don't even let me go into other bands. On a list of favorite albums, this might barely make the top 15. Don't get me wrong; it's an excellent album. There's just better out there.

21st Century Schizoid Man: Well, I do like this song a lot. It's heavy metal before heavy metal existed. Brutal, rough, great lyrics (even though they are against Vietnam, which I don't like, I still know they are good and creative), and a great...well, I'd call it a jam session halfway through where the whole band goes nuts. Besides Fripps' screeching guitar which is a bit painful on the ears, not because it's bad but because it honestly SCREECHES, this song is GREAT. 9.5/10

I Talk To The Wind: Good song, some beautiful memorable sections and great singing that adds to the gentle mood of the song. Onthe upside, it's very pretty, with great flute all around and memorable melodies. On the downside, it seems uninspired at points, kind of just noodling along with no real aim. Still, I like it. Tends to get stale after repeated listens. 8/10

Epitaph: An emotional song here. I'll be honest, people love this song but it just doesn't do it for me. Sure, it's got a good chorus section, but other than that, it's eight minutes of semi-powerful musicianship. It repeats itself a lot. Some sections are absolutely amazing, but most of it is just pretty good. 8/10

Moonchild: Blegh. First three minutes are actually really good, some of my favorite passages in the whole album. The first three minutes are better than I Talk To The Wind and just as good as the titletrackwhich is great. But...the last nine minutes...well, it's basically a jam session. But not a formulated jam session. This is honestly guys screwing around on their instruments for nine minutes, practicing whatever they want with no sense of structure or melody. It's...crap. For this song ,just because of the last nine minutes, 6/10

The Court of the Crimson King: Good song. Memorable opening mellotronbit in the beginning that kicks into the lyrical part. The lyrics are descriptive and colorful and work well. The flute is back and sounds great. It drags on a bit longer than it should, but most of the itme it's great music. 8.5/10 because I like it, but don't love it.

So yes, it created prog. But no, it's not the best of prog.

Review by erik neuteboom
5 stars The CD release of King Crimson's masterpiece "In the court of the crimson king" was the ultimate confrontation with the visual limitations of this invention. You almost need a looking glass to watch that mindblowing cover from the late Barry Godber, the Hobbits must have thought this was a special edition for them! But on the other hand: no more scratches and I got the opportunity to delete that weird track "Moonchild". The other four compositions are very innovative and pivotal progrock. The jazzy inspired opener "21st century schizoid man" features fiery brass work and agressive guitar, the lyrics and vocals evokes an ominous climate. "I talk to the wind" sounds pleasant with the warm vocals and fine flute and "Epitaph" and "The court of the crimson king" (I can listen to it every moment of the day) are timeless beauties delivering wonderful waves of the Mellotron. This unique instrument was cherished by all great rock groups at that time and now seems embraced again by both prog and a whole bunch of new pop and rock band. Radiohead was one of the first and they named King Crimson as an inspiration, say no more!
Review by NetsNJFan
5 stars King Crimson's 1969 debut, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING, stands as one of the cornerstones of the progressive rock genre. Many consider this the album that started Prog rock. King Crimson was comprised of Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) playing bass and handling vocals, Robert Fripp playing the guitars and Michael Giles handling the Drums (formerly of Giles, Giles & Fripp). Ian McDonald rounded out the lineup by playing saxophone, flute, and keyboards, as well as the new Mellotron, the instrument besides synths most associated with progressive rock. Robert Fripp was the driving force behind this innovative new band, and had the most creative control. Peter Sinfield wrote the poetic, though overblown lyrics. Sinfield later rose to greater fame as he also wrote ELP's lyrics after 1973. This is an exceptional album, with historic qualities. It opens with the near-metal of 21st Century Schizoid Man, an amazing song featuring jazz-metal instrumentation mixed with Lake's distorted vocals. This song became an instant Crimson classic, and a concert stalwart. Sinfield's lyrics are particularly good here. The paranoia and fear of this track is displayed in the album cover artwork, a painting of a screaming man. This hectic, frightening track segues instantly into the beautiful I Talk to the Wind, which features very pleasant flute from McDonald. This was the first in a long string of similar, acoustic pieces by King Crimson, like Cadence and Cascade on the next album. Epitaph is the most powerful piece on the album, due in large part to Sinfield's striking chorus: "Confusion will be my Epitaph/As I crawl, a cracked and broken path/If we make it, we can all, sit down and laugh/but I fear tomorrow I'll be crying...". This song is a singing critique of society's use of science for military purposes, and is quite effective. It also features Lake's strongest vocals on the album. This song is probably the first symphonic rock piece as we know it today, and has complex and bold arrangements to augment the lyrics. It has a slow build up, but when it climaxes, it is flawless. Moonchild is the only weak point on this album. The first two minutes are great, featuring incredibly haunting music and lyrics. It can creep out the listener. The next ten minutes, however, has the band "experimenting" on their instruments. This is pointless, boring noodling, and is reminiscent of some of Pink Floyd's druggier work. This hints at the rampant experimentation of King Crimson's later work, like LARKS' TONGUES IN ASPIC. Making up for this waste of time, the albums closer and title track are amazing. In the Court of the Crimson King is a multi part mini-suite, and has the strongest playing on the album, as well excellent lyrics again from Sinfield. This is the most bombastic track, hinting at the extravagances of ELP. This is also Robert Fripp's first experimentation with musical 'suites', and this song has a couple of distinct and brilliantly interwoven sections. Fripp's guitar is also flawless throughout the course of this album. This is the most popular and most symphonic King Crimson album, and is also their best (climbing to #4 on the British charts). Soon, they would be ravaged by personnel changes and would drift towards jazzier improvisation. This lineup would barely survive its first album, as Michael Giles and Ian McDonald leave over creative differences in 1970, with Lake exiting to form ELP soon after. IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is still a monument in the world of Prog, and hinted at the progressive rock to come. IN THE COURT... is King Crimson's most symphonic, and many consider, their best easily earns it's five star rating, and contains some of the best progressive rock to be found.
Review by Tony Fisher
3 stars I appreciate that many reviewers are extremely attached to this album. I also appreciate the importance of this album as (perhaps) the first truly prog album. However, I do not really think that this album deserves its reputation; in absolute terms, it is an extremely mixed bag. I sold my vinyl copy recently and taped only two tracks for posterity; Epitaph (a masterpiece) and the title track which is also very good. I am pretty indifferent to I Talk to the Wind, Schizoid Man is fairly bad and Moonchild is actually pretty abysmal towards the end. Sure, there's some lovely flute and mellotron work, usually excellent lyrics and Greg Lake does a fine job on vocals but it has not stood the test of time well and sounds oh so dated now. And this is the King Crimson album I like best, which doesn't say a lot for the rest. I shall now duck as the flak flies my way!!!
Review by Zitro
3 stars This album is historical and is probably the first real Prog album ... but ... It is very flawed, and some parts are horrible (moonchild)

1. 21st Century schizoid man Mirrors 10/10 : This track is a classic, the riffs are legendary, and everything you hear in this has influenced many future artists. A heavy Jazz-rock epic with plenty of memorable moments.

2. I talk to the wind 6/10 : This is a very pretty and melodic song with nice flute melodies. Nothing too extraordinary.

3. Epitaph 9/10 : One of the best Songs from the band. The mellotron usage is at its best here, and the vocals are some of the best you would ever hear from Greg Lake. It is a long ballad.

Moonchild Dream 8/10 : It starts promising and it is a gorgeous soft song. Moonchild Illusion 0/10 : 10 minutes of pointless music ... trust me, I know what I am talking about.

5. The court of the crimson king 6/10 : This is an ok track with good mellotron and a memorable chorus, yet ... it drags a lot!

I am not a big fan of King Crimson, so I probably should not have reviewed this album, but I believe they got better in 'Red'

My Grade : C

Review by Bob Greece
2 stars A 2-star review for this seminal prog album?! I will duck and wait for the s**t to hit the fan. 2 stars is what I honestly feel about this album though. It has 5 songs and only 2 are any good. It starts off with the great 21st Century Schizoid Man which is a heavy rocking track with some great jamming. A good start but the momentum is not maintained. We then head off into 2 ballads. I hate ballads and Greg Lake's vocals are particularly annoying. Then we get Moonchild. It starts off as another another disappointing ballad and then ... it gets worse! It heads off into nonsense. The album redeems itself slightly with the final title track but it's not that great. It's very repetitive. Obviously the album was something special at the time it was released but I think now we have so many more prog albums that are better.
Review by Watcheroftheskies
5 stars This album is probably one of the most defining moments in rock, period. I'll begin with that. In 1969, a band came out with a uniquely dark sound that had musical complexity like no other band had before. It had talent like Greg Lake (THE Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, and Michael Giles. The music made was like no other band I have been able to listen to from this early in rock's history. Maybe there is a band out there that did this kind of music but I haven't heard them.

'21st Century Schizoid Man' comes out very powerfully and continues it's power all the way to the end of the song. It's as if they combined the heaviest sounds from different periods. Distorted guitar and voice from the modern age, swing like raspy jazz from the early 20th century, and a snappy rhythm and disjointed syncopation that would have been used by composers of old to exemplify ire. The slow brooding guitar which clashes with the speedy jazz ensemble provide a genuine 'Schizoid' experience. This is a good strong opening for the album.

Next comes in 'I Talk to the Wind' which is a very, very mellow song and completely switches the mood in a shocking, but well executed fashion. The lyrics and the melody for the vocals are (if you are familiar with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer), very much dominated by Greg Lake's influence in retrospect. You can kind of see how his presence shapes the band in this song. Note the end of the song, there is some beautiful woodwind work here with the flute.

'Epitaph' is next and again, Lake's singing is excellent. His vocals rip though the music like a bullet directing the song in it's ebbs and flows. The string sounds from the mellotron make this song sound epic as they course though the music. The music brings you in and out of the throes of depression. You can imagine a man ripped apart by confusion and frustration. In fact, the song is so sad, if you get too much into it (which is easy to do) you'll go down with it. As a sidenote, after listening to 'Epitaph' and 'I Talk to the Wind', one wonders if Lake took a little bit of King Crimson with him when he began with ELP. 'Take a Pebble' which is from ELP's first album, is reminiscent of this sound.

'Moonchild' is a very dreamy song and is quite psychedelic in nature. Especially 'The Dream' which is a subpart of the song. When Radiohead names this band as an influence you can see it distinctly from this song here. This song is very spatial and trippy, Fripp's guitar work and McDonald's keyboard work are awesome in this song and you have to listen hard to tell that there are 2 different instruments being played for awhile. The two musicians are so together and so in sync that they make the experiments in this song sound as if they are being played by the same person. The drumming, which comes in later is very well done and never overpowering. This is an experimental song, which is not everyone's cup of tea. It's mine, however, so I pretty much would rave all day about this track if I don't cut it short here.

Then, immediately after all of the quietus of 'Moonchild' comes the very powerful and majestic 'In the Court of the Crimson King'. Like a king's army marching through your quiet village, unannounced, it makes it's appearance. The lyrics and music bring you into a fantasy world while the chorus of powerful singing and chords ring with the majesty and power you would expect from a king. There are no real intricate instrumentals or complicated guitar solos to speak of, which is good because it would actually pull away from the song too much if there were. There are a couple of good segues from the song though that, like the rest of this album, are masterfully constructed.

This whole album is an emotional roller coaster. It goes from frustrated, crazy, and angry to content and happy. From happy, to tormented and sad, and from that, to dreams and awe. This album has everything you need to make this a good album. You have all of the base human emotions, good music composition, talented musicians, and creative lyrics and structure. This is one of the best prog albums ever made and you most definately should have this album in your collection, no question. If you like prog, you'll love this album! I give it a well deserved 5 because there are only 5 stars to give.

Review by Eclipse
4 stars What a way to arrive on the world of music!

KING CRIMSON is one of those rare bands that have made a debut album which deserves a lot of praising by people, but i think that all the praising go a bit too far sometimes. Of course, it is a very good work, but come on, there's albums of better quality like Lizard and Lark's Tongues in Aspic that don't receive the same attention as this one. I love Court, but i think that it is slightly overrated. Of course, it has masterpieces like "I Talk to the Wind" and "Epitaph", but it also has weaker parts like the unnecessary 10-minute non-sense on "Moonchild" and a very repetitive sounding title track, as well as an out-of-place, but not bad, opening song - "21st Century Schizoid Man", that shows some of the best jamming by the FRIPP boys. I can't give this five stars due to the reasons i mentioned above, so this gets a proper "excellent, but not a masterpiece" rating.

Their next album is the one of those rare occasions KC maintained the formula, and it is a bit inferior than this one, but still good.

4 stars - beautiful but a bit inconsistent album.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For my very first review, I've chosen the very first prog album I listened to in its entirety, some thirty years ago. At the time, as a teenager, I was deeply intrigued by the record's frightening cover, so I borrowed it from a prog-loving friend of mine. I will always remember when "21st Century Schizoid Man" came crashing out of the amps... It was my first encounter with unadulterated, fully-fledged heavy metal! After that, my love affair with prog rock has been through several ups and downs (just like every other relationship), but now that I'm older and wiser I can say prog will always be my favourite kind of music.

"In the Court of the Crimson King" is said by many to have been the first prog album. To me, however, it is just a practically perfect record which contains all the defining elements of progressive rock music: suitably esoteric, vaguely disturbing lyrics, a lead vocalist to die for, accomplished musicianship, and no fear at all of crossing any boundaries between musical genres. Though King Crimson's unique brand of prog may not be easy on the ear (far from that!), they've never sold out as others have done.

The album strikes the right balance between melody and aggression, from the initial wallop delivered by "21st Century Schizoid Man" to the idyllic, pastoral atmosphere of "I Talk to the Wind", reaching a climax in what is perhaps the ultimate prog track, the wonderful "Epitaph". "Moonchild" exemplifies the nature of the album itself, split as it is between the ethereal feel of the vocal parts and the jazzy improvisation of the instrumental section; then "The Court of the Crimson King" brings everything majestically to a close.

On this record Greg Lake proves himself to be THE voice of prog: his performance in "Epitaph" is absolutely stunning, especially when, at the end of the song, his vocals merge with the waves of sound produced by the Mellotron. Fripp is... well, Fripp: perhaps an acquired taste to some, but without any doubt an extremely innovative and daring musician. Michael Giles' drumming stands on a par with Bruford's, and Ian McDonald's performance on both keyboards and woodwind instrument is superlative. The chemistry between the four musicians is nothing short of incredible, and Sinfield's lyrics - even though not to everyone's taste - blend perfectly with the music created by the fantastic foursome.

"In the Court..." is 36 years old now, but it hasn't aged one day. Like all masterpieces, it has that timeless quality so many strive for without ever hoping to attain it. You can hate it (and some unfortunately do), but you will never be able to ignore it.

Review by Starette
4 stars Apparently, this is one of the very first Progressive Rock albums. As usual (given the fact this is another one of those things where it all boils down to opinion) there's controversy surrounding this idea. I'm quite happy either way. I could moan and say "What about the Moody Blues?" or I could say "This King Crimson album sounds way better than anything before it's time therefore it IS the first Prog album!" Or I could be extremely wise: I don't give a toss whether or not an album can even be considered 'Progressive' or not; it's on this website, it sounds fantastic and I'm reviewing it!! Again- the lovely Greg Lake thrills me with his voice but I'm keeping in mind the fact that he's younger than he was the last time I heard him (on various ELP songs) and I'm also keeping in mind that (unlike in ELP) he didn't write the lyrics for the songs on this album. Not all by himself anyway. For example- we've got Ian McDonald and Peter Sinfield to thank for the bizarre lyrics of the legendary In the Court of the Crimson King that the whole album takes its' name from. The lyrics of some of the songs have a streak of melodrama in them (eg: Epitaph) but there's also some GREAT poetry there. The first ever King Crimson song I heard was 21st Century Schizoid Man and I have to admit that I was not thrilled. But the first ever time I heard the beautiful In the Court of the Crimson King was on a friends mp3- player at university. There were people talking all around and my ex-boyfriend was comically miming the words as I was listening to them- but neither of these distractions stopped me from getting the full blast of the songs' beauty and realising how much I needed the album..if not just the song! As for the album cover, that put me off a bit when I first saw it, but I suppose we all have to look down the throat and nostrils of a hideous, red-faced, insanely paranoid-looking man at some point in our lives..don't we? Enough of my babbling! On to the album.

21st Century Schizoid Man: Is this what one could call Jazz Fusion? I've never heard any real Jazz Fusion before, not that I know of anyway, but I consider this particular song very 'jazzy' indeed- what with the saxophones and various brass instruments that feature on this track, not to mention the way in which they're backed up by Michael Giles drums. At first we hear a rather large audience in the distance- they're cheering or revelling, or so it sounds like anyway. On top of this, we hear the tuning of instruments (eg: a blatant electric-guitar pluck is heard) and then BANG! We're into the song which jumps out at us unexpected. The brass instruments play a very cool tune and the drum-work is doubly impressive. Then Lake comes in, singing into a microphone that distorts him voice. The lyrics consist of three separate verses, all with the same melody and all ending in "21st Century Schizoid Man!" For the record, someone who can be described as 'schizoid' has a long-term mental disorder in which they suffer fantasy mixing with reality and enjoy their solitude more than they should. There's your random fact for the day! To be honest, the melody and singing-style reminds me of old Rock 'n Roll. The Saxophones tend to take-over throughout the song. Two minutes into the song, we have a funky instrumental break in which the brass and bass dance around to ever- changing beats. Then Robert Fripp's electric guitar improvises for a while. This is also my first taste of Robert Fripp and I see why everyone says he's such a great guitarist- however he's not so much showing off his powers as a musician as much as he is just toodling around for this part of the song. Still sounds great though. After this, Ian McDonald's reed-instruments fool around. I have to say though, if it wasn't for Greg Lake's bass playing which holds everything together, then this bit would be crap. The saxophones *squeal* for goodness sake! Then the drums and brass work together, playing a little ditty- very funky. And now we're back to the riff he heard at the beginning and Greg Lake sings the last verse. The lyrics for this song are all depressing descriptions. Eg: "Death seed, blind man's greed! Poets' starving children bleed!" Bizarre but good for trying to jump into the mind of a very disturbed 'schizoid-man'. The end is nothing short of bizarre as well: after you think the song's already ended, the saxophones and guitar act like a bunch of frightened animals and squeal/scream/moan, all on different notes, once more.

I Talk to the Wind: And now for something completely different! This is a very sweet and gentle song. Ian McDonald and his two flutes play a pretty introduction. "Said the straight man, to the late man, 'where have you been?' " There is nothing more pretty than the way the snare-friendly drums work with the flutes in this piece, also with Greg Lake's choir-boy voice over the top of that. "I talk to the wind..the wind does not hear. The wind cannot hear." This melody is repetitive but the flute improvises on it all the way. Watch out for the very 60s 'cool-cat' flute solo with the sliding-up-and-down electric guitar. It may be short but what I like about it is the fact that it's basically another back-up for the main melody but this is hard to tell as it's so innovative and beautiful in itself. Then Greg Lake sings the first verse again: "I've been here and I've been there and.I've been inbetween." This is a song about a more optimistic view on solitude: how comforting it can be. However- that's only MY interpretation. The flutes play the introduction again, then one flute plays another improvisation- very gorgeous. Eventually an oboe joins it and it fades out. But not before the drum-roll comes in to lead us up to Epitaph.

Epitaph: The drum-rolling and crashing repeats a number of times at the start, backed up by the mellotron. The string-sounds and guitar stay together while Greg Lake sings at his most 'sultry' (if that's the word). When I think about it, this is a very dark song. "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying." Here- the mellotron picks up. Part of me believes that King Crimson (all band members contributed to the lyrics for this song) knew how overly-romantic some of these lyrics are so the passionate music was a play of how cheesy they could be- making it sound somewhat melodramatic. On the other hand some of the lyrics seem to have a deep meaningful side: "Knowledge is a deadly friend when no one sets the rules. The fate of all mankind I see is in the hands of fools." After this, there's a slow climax of the strings and a gentle guitar plays. Reed-instruments sound over the top of that. Then we're back to Greg Lake singing the chorus for the last time and that wonderful mellotron. "Confusion will be my Epitaph." He gets a lot more passionate for the last few "Cryyyyying!" s- it's great! The mellotron 'baps' towards the end and a piano is heard playing along in the distance as the track fades out.

Moonchild: The start of this is very 60s indeed. A whining electric guitar plays with an acoustic while the mellotron controls the background. Pulsing, echoing vibes are heard in the distance and they 'water-down' everything in contrast with the very vivid percussion. (The drum-set focuses on the hi-hat for this track) The lyrics are cute: "She's a moonchild, gathering the flowers in a garden. Lovely moonchild, drifting on the echoes of the hours." They remind me of my cat- Artemis- as she plays in my backyard. This is very much like a ballad. The lyrics are also slightly sad and melancholy: ".waiting for a smile from a sunchild." Dream: This is the transition to 'fooling around'. The gentle pulsing vibes in the background are brought to the front and the guitar starts a slow improvisation. Every now and then Giles decides to hit part of his drum-kit. This is beautiful at first but it soon becomes tedious. Then it becomes frustrating due to the constant feeling that it's actually leading up to something! After the distorted guitar and drums make a few clanking sounds, the vibes go crazy. We *know* they're just fooling around. Some riffs are pretty good: one example being when the snare picks up with the guitar. Finally, when the guitar resorts to a slow strumming- the piece ends on a major chord.

In the Court of the Crimson King: The best! This is also a personal favourite of one of my best mates who was brought-up listening to Prog as a result of having parents with a decent music-taste and a large selection of King Crimson records..the lucky girl. The drums are the first thing heard but the singing mellotron is the main fruit of this song. When you think about it- the lyrics of Uriah Heeps' 'Magician's Birthday' are like this song: descriptions of a fantasy land. However, while Uriah Heep is all happy-clappy, this song has a much darker tone. "The choir softly sings.three lullabies in an ancient tongue For the COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING..Aah!" (No,no- you *can't* deny the "Aah!"s.) Everyone sings at this point. For the verse, a sad guitar and drums accompany Lake but it's the title of the song/album that takes the full blast of the whole band. Later, Robert Fripp picks up on the guitar and the keyboard is tapped faster as the mellotron does its' own beautiful solo. Then, of course, back to those wonderful "Aah!"s. This may be a repeated melody but sometimes repeated is better- this is a good tune to get stuck in your head. A verse starts where the guitar is slightly more distorted and you can tell from Greg Lake's voice how much he's loving this. "The gardener plants an evergreen, whilst trampling on a flower." This is what I mean by the dark- undertone. This song is filled with conventionally cute but cruel fantasy-characters! After yet another "Aah!" we have a lovely flute. King Crimson love their flutes on this album. This flute starts off slow and improvising then gets frantic and trills into the last verse. "The yellow jester does not play but gently pulls the strings and smiles as the puppets dance in the COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING." By now we should be closing our eyes and lying back in bliss to the sound of this chorus. Just when we think it's ended, The Puppet's Dance begins! Ian McDonald plays clown-like flutes and recorders to find the right sound for this part. They do a duet version of the chorus' melody- Lets go to the Circus! Then the drums make a slow grand-entrance and we hear the *real* chorus music with the mellotron again. Except it's made somewhat amusing this time with the brass instruments in the background. The ending is crazy- it ends on one chord but it's not unlike that of the ending to 21st Century Schizoid man.

Overall- this is the King Crimson album to start with if you don't know where to begin. It's the very first one anyway, so why not? They're beautiful sounding- that's what they are. Beautiful but bizarre= two forces that should always be together when it comes to good music (in my opinion anyway). As for the lyrics of the album, they're indirectly dark- not depressing but melancholy. It's slightly sad poetry but not overly tragic (except maybe Epitaph). Personally, I don't think Greg Lake's vocal-techniques changed one bit between his King Crimson and ELP days. I would give this a 5-star rating but some of the songs can be quite repetitive (you know the ones I mean) and Moonchild just got silly in the end. But the truth is that this album IS fantastic. Listen to the last track and see what I mean.

Review by Atkingani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars This fantastic album reminds me of my teenage years, back in the 70s when being a mere high-school student I had to rely, in terms of economics, on dad's monthly wages or some savings from different sources - and the money received or saved had many uses, not only to purchase my dear prog albums! By chance other friends liked the genre and we relayed on acquisitions and we also provided the natural exchanges in order to better appreciate the works we bought. The case is that ITCotCK vinyl that I listened to was a borrow that remained time enough with me to respond when I called and to hide when the real owner appeared. Years later after returning the vinyl to its legitimate master I bought my own copy which I keep until today even not counting with the turntable facility at home.

And what to say about the band and the album? The line-up, well, this is probably the best King Crimson have shown and some names are real legends in the contemporary music scene, beginning with leader Bob Fripp, a great guitar player and composer, continuing with Greg Lake, the bass player and vocalist, listed among the best for both acts and the underlooked ones: Ian McDonald, responsible for some memorable moments in this album and drummer Michael Giles with his outstanding performance in "21st century..." made my eldest son forget the drums and take the acoustic guitar. There's also poet Pete Sinfield and it was the first time I saw the lyricist and illuminator being lined-up - maybe it is the reason why they say that George Martin is the 5th Beatle; but Sinfield's lyrics are great indeed. The cover art is a kind of registered mark not only for the band but for the prog-rock as a whole. One friend used to frighten his little sister showing her that desperate face stamped in the front cover; when she was older and wise she decided to investigate the content and became a great KC fan - a rare deed for a woman.

The songs: '21st century schizoid man', still the most astonishing opening for a debut album ever, the first hearing is always nervous with those 28 seconds of strange sounds until the band really start and carry us to a distant and marvelous musical world, then appears the distorted Lake's voice shouting in angry, disturbing us, introducing the magnificent instrumental part: the several changes in times and tunes, the stops, the sax and guitar solos - the almost perfect song.

'I talk to the wind' is a beautiful song that refreshes us after the impact of opening track; now the vocal is soft, lazy, loose - another voyage, another dream; followed by 'Epitaph', a great song, an epic, another piece to be placed in the pantheon of the great modern works. The moment guitar enters being fingerstyled is one of the greatest in the history of prog-rock. Magnificent!

Then comes 'Moonchild', a real divisory song, some hate while some love and sides are always prepared to war. When I was a teenager I generally skipped that one, until the day I got courage and solved to go till the end - there are 2 songs (as observed in the track list), being the first one, a lovely ballad and the second, an experimental work, instigating once you bite the bait.

The ending, the title-song is another awesome epic, where mediaeval and future themes collide to shape an incredible piece; mellotron and flute sounds are unforgetable as well as the splendid vocal solo and supporting choir - a sensation of emptiness embraces us when it finishes; it's like to know that the world will never be the same.

When a single output is able to change completely your concepts about music, about art, about life we are truly facing a magnum opus, 'uma obra-prima', a MASTERPIECE. Total: 5 plus!

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It is hard to simply overlook this album in regard to any deliberation on "prog rock" and it can't be easily overestimated. It might not have been the very first "progressive" rock album or it might had some inconsistencies in its production. But, the matallic frenzy of "Schizoid", the "symphonic" epics of "Epitaph" and the title track, the pastoral ease of "Wind" and the ambient experiment of "Moonchild" helped made an authoritative blueprint of all the "ambitious" rock works to come, up until now. If an alien comes asking "what's that so-called progressive rock music?" - you can hardly give 'em a better testimony than this one.
Review by belz
3 stars 3.4/5.0

Usually I agree with most of the prog 'experts' here with the vast majority of the classics. This is not the case here. As much as I enjoy this album, I don't believe this is a masterpiece. I enjoy "21st Century Schizoid Man", "Epitaph" and "The Court of the Crimson King" very much. "I talk to the wind" is a great song too, even if not was good. However, I don't consider that an album overall rating should be based on the sum of its part, and the big problem on this album has a name: "Moonchild". I am deeply sorry, but Moonchild is actually boring me to death. I think I would prefer silence to the 9 minutes deeply boring improvisation.

This is not something 100% rational. I just don't like that song, so each time I listen to this album I have to jump over this song, and whatever the reason I never have to jump any song on albums to which I give 5 or even 4 stars. This is why I think 3.4/5.0 is the highest rating I can give.

This is still worth a listening if you like proto-prog or rock. This album is a milestone this is for sure. But I am not rating albums on their importance for future, but for their own merit. This is a good album, but if I was on a desert Island I would take with me at least 30-40 albums before this one.

Review by The Wizard
5 stars Deciding what rating I should give "In the Court of the Crimson King" was difficult. The album, while in my opinion not the first prog album (The Mothers of Invention get that honor), it was certainly the album established the genre of symphonic prog, thus making it essential to any collection of progressive music. But the actual quality of the album can be questioned, but I'll get to that later. Lets look at this this track by track:

1) The album opens with the demonic madness of 21st Century Schizoid man, which was without a dought the darkest and heaviest song of it's time. Exploding into a riff combining sax and distorted guitar, this certainly did scare The Moody Blues! The lyrics are just as dark, distorted into what sounds like a demented android on killing spree, lamenting the innocents raped by napalm fire and poets who starve as children bleed. It is little recognized as a protest song, but it certainly is. After the main riff it explodes into a jazz-fusion instrumental that could be compared to being mugged by brain surgeons. The guitar and sax interplay screams away while Giles pounds away at the drums and Lake provides an excellent jazzy bassline. Another great thing about this song is that it hasn't dated at all since it was released and sounds quite contemporary. This, my friend, is what apocalyptic madness sounds like.

2) The song I talk to the wind dosn't really work well after having your brains blown out by Schizoid man. The dreamy flutes and lyrics show the lighter side of symphonic prog. There is a wonderful flute solo and Giles proves no slouch on drums, but it's unlikey that the listener would be in the mood for such a song after the apocalytic madness of Shizoid man. Don't get me wrong; it's wonderful song, and while it hasn't dated as well as some other tracks (It is obvious it was made in the sixties), it still sounds good today.

3) Epitaph is a wonder song, drenched in mellotrons and jazzy drumming. Fripp provides some amazing acoustic guitar and Greg Lake soulfully sings the dark lyrics "Confusion; wil be my epitah!". The mellotron cresndos are very dark and suspenseful and are absolutely perfect for the song. There are also some wonderful woodwinds that and to the symphonic scope of the song. Sadly, this song hasn't dated as well becasue of the use of mellotrons and such, but that dosn't detract from it's quality.

4) Moonchild is wonderful at the start. The most psychedelic song on the album, with strange guitar effects and cosmic lyrics. This only goes on for two minutes, and the song is twleve minutes long. So instead of epic King Crimson rock, we get pointless and boring noodling. This isn't the good kind of noodling that you hear on Starless and Bible Black that evolves into song at the end. This noodling leads to nowhere but boredom. While it may serve as an effective lead in to the epic 'In the Court of the Crimson King', why make it 10 minutes long? It's just filler and is the achilles heel to this monolithic release.

5) Another mellotron drenched epic with effective acoustic guitar, this is what must have been what most symphonic prog referenced to. Sinfield's imagery lyrics are at there best and most effective here drawing an image of an Evil King in his court, with Fire witches and funeral marches. Intreseting sound effects are all about, and midway it breaks into a flute solo accompanied by cymbal drumming that speeds up, leading back to the song. Very Effective, as is Fripps lovely acoustic guitar. The mellotrons are also amazing, adding to the imagrey of the song. Wonderful woodwinds also are present at the end, with Fripp stacatto electric guitar. Some of the sound effects are somewhat annoying, and the use of mellotron hasn't dated well, but it's still an amazing an epic song to close (for the most) an amazing and epic album.

While the qaulity of Moonchild would normally hurt the rating, I make an exception here because of historical importance. This album established symphonic prog and should therefore be in every proggers collection. 5 stars and an essential part of any serious prog collection.

Review by thellama73
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Considered by many to be the record that defined Prog Rock, this was also the record that got me into the genre. It is truly a masterpiece and unlike anything that came before it (or since for that matter.)

21st Century Schizoid Man opens the album with a fiery ferocity hitherto unknown in rock. The distorted vocals, and the blindingly fast horn and guitar lines in unison are light years ahead of their time. This is before Robert Fripp became overly self- indulgent in his playing and there is no fat on the track at all. I Talk To The Wind takes things down a notch and adds flute and classical influence. In fact, the overall Medieval feel of the album is one of the things that makes it endure as one of my favorites. I regret that Greg Lake didn't stay with the band longer, as his voice is perfect for it. What I regret even more is that Michael Giles left after this album. I'm no percussion expert, but his drumming sounds like nothing I've ever heard. He blows Bruford out of the park. Epitaph, although at first glance seems pretty straightforward, has become my favorite track on the album. It's incredibly dark and intense while holding up the pretense of being mellow.

And of course the infamous Moonchild, which so many people complain about. The beginning is gorgeous, and while it does go on a tad long, I feel that it lends the album some much needed breathing space, after the intensity of the preceding songs. Finally, In The Court of the Crimson King closes the record appropriately. It is an epic in the truest sense of the word, with sweeping guitars and keyboards and pounding drums. The sound of this piece is absolutely HUGE.

In short, this is an album that no Prog fan should be without. It paved the way for things to come and still holds up wonderfully after all these years. Buy it!

Review by King of Loss
3 stars I'm going to hit it straight with you that this album is in my humble opinion one of the most hyped, overrated albums in all of Prog? Why is it, there are a lot of details that I will provide, but I'm reviewing the album, not listing reasons why this album is no better than 3 stars in my mind.

The album starts off with a rocker, reminds me heavily of earlier heavy metal, with great vocals, a great start to the album, but not one of the better starts to an album. This track is probably the only track I listen on ITCHYCOCK as of recently, because of the "locomotive-like start" and the "intense vocals".

I talk to the Wind is a very interesting song I'd say, but that's all I'm going to say. Many people above me have called this a very beautiful music, but I can't really hear the passion or the beauty that these people say. This song is basically in my opinion a mediocre King Crimson song without much conviction, even though it is there. Definitely a downer after the very good album beginner.

Then the songs after that really go downhill, I talk to the Wind was the beginning of the end for me on this album. Epitaph is a great tune for showing off Prog vocals but nothing more, as it does nothing for me. Moonchild starts beautifully, but then I don't understand how it drags on and on and on and on and on, really not that great, a lot of it is filler IMO. And the last track... Well it makes a lot of ELP seem like it wasn't filler, as much as I enjoy Lake's voice and Fripp's sense of instrumentation, I just can't comprehend the filler and the waste of my time. I probably last listened to this track a full year ago.


21st Century- 90% I Talk to the Wind- 80% Epitaph- 75% Moonchild- 70% ITCHYCOCK (Title track)- 65%

As you see, the tracks all go downhill for me, but overall I don't think of this album as that bad. Its a worth listen once in a while and is a pretty good debut album, much better than the Rush or Genesis albums respectively, but it is not the best first album I've heard.

Instead I'd recommend Red, Lizard, Discipline or Larks for the first time listener.

Overall I'd rank it about a


Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars Note: I am judging this on the quality of the art and not the fact that I believe everyone should have this record.

First does not equal best. We learn from our mistakes and build upon our successes, and the same can be said here. An outstanding debut into a genre that did not exist yet, King Crimson laid the groundwork for others to follow. Although arguably there was bound to be a breakthrough, with many other bands following similar trends at the time.

The album starts with one of my favorites and a KC classic, 21st Century Schizoid Man, with one of the most powerful choruses of any genre. Unfortunately, the following several tracks really have little to them, with some nice creative ideas that really need to be expounded upon, yet perhaps the songwriting is a bit lacking at this point. Moonchild especially can become a bit boresome. The closer however recovers the album, a nice, almost ambient finish that really polishes the record off.

If you really want to get into Crimson aside from this almost necessary part of a prog collection, I would pick up Red, which is the most accessible point. This is a wonderful foray into the world of progressive music, and a must have for your collection if you call yourself a lover of all things prog, but it's not the best, and not even KC's best!

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars It's difficult to put into words how significant this album is in the realm of Progressive Rock. It is masterful at creating a mood, and there's never been an album cover like this one.

The first time I heard "21st Century Schizoid Man" was a cover by the Canadian band APRIL WINE. I like when it picks up 2 minutes in with some nice bass by Lake and Fripp's angular guitar (not worthy !). Check out Giles before 5 1/2 minutes. "I Talk To The Wind" is a pastoral song, laden with flute that sounds like a hippy, sixties song. Fragile vocals from Lake. Flute and a brighter sound before 5 minutes. Great tune. "Epitaph" and the next two tracks are truly a mellotron lovers delight. "Epitaph" is so utterly majestic. Gulp. A mellotron storm after 2 minutes. A calm with acoustic guitar after 4 minutes. Vocals and mellotron return before 5 1/2 minutes. A classic !

"Moonchild" is very special to me, and i'm not sure why, I just get pulled into this song and go for a dreamy ride, one of my favourites, although I could get along without the 10 minute improv to end it. "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is all about the mellotron, and again there is something otherworldly about this song that transports me in my mind, it's incredibly uplifting ! Nice contrasts too. And the vocal harmonies are a nice touch.

Five awesome songs ! One majestic and influential album ! 5 stars!

Review by 1800iareyay
5 stars In The Court of the Crimson King is without question the first fully prog album and is arguably the finest album in the genre. In 1969, the failed trio of Giles, Giles and Fripp split up, but guitarist Robert Fripp and drummer Michael Giles weren't ready to throw in the towel. They found multi-instrumentalist Ian Macdonald, future legend bassist/vocalist Greg Lake, and the gifted songwriter Peter Sinfield to complete their lineup. The group immedaitely caused a buzz in Europe and played nearly every major rock concert at ta time when it seems all rock concerts were major.

A&R reps at Atlantic were salivating over the potential this band had and were waiting to milk the band for all it was worth. When this album finally hit stores, it climbed to the upper crust of Europe's album charts. Never before had an album had so much experimentation.

The albums opens with near silence, as a faint noise is heard in the background. Suddenly, about thirty seconds in, the band crashes in with KC's most recognizable song, 21st Century Schizoid Man. This song manages to highlight each member's instrumental prowess. Fripp's solo is one of, if not, his best, solos ever. Giles' drumming is one of the finest drum performance by any person. Lake's bass hints at his future triumphs with ELP, and Ian's mellotron has much of the spotlight. This song launched a movement that had been slowly forming since the advent of psychedelia.

I Talk to the Wind reworks a GGF tune with Ian's flute in the forefront. His playing is simply beautiful. It's a soft song and a good contrast to the hard edge of the opener.

Epitaph show Sinfield stepping up his game for some of his finest lyrics. It's dark tone hints at later heaviness on albums like Red, and Lake's vox are fantastic.

Moonchild starts with harmony before entering King Crimson's first proper improv in the studio number. It sounds out of place on the first few listens, but the more you listen to KC, the more you "get it." This track is the only one on the album I did not immediately enjoy, but now I revere it as essential Crimson.

The grandiose title track closes the album with classical guitar and Lake's grewat vocals, especially on the chorus. It doesn't match the bleakness of Epitaph, but it's probably the second darkest and heaviest song on the album.

This album kickstarted symphonic prg, considered to be the first true progressive sub- genre. People argue over which album is the greatest, but ITOTCK is really without a doubt the most important album in prog. If this hadn't come along, Zappa might not have broken through to his progressive masterpieces when he did. Like Eric Larson said, prog would have started, just not when it did. This is my favorite progressive album of all time and it stands the test of time as an absolute masterpiece. Long live the King.

Review by evenless
3 stars Is "In The Court Of The Crimson King" an essential album? To progressive rock music in itself I'm sure it was! But is it essential to have it stored on your CD-shelf? Well, actually I don't really think so. It's probably just a nice complementation of your progressive rock music collection.

As I really like "newer" progressive rock bands like ARENA, BLACKFIELD, IQ, MARILLION, PENDRAGON, PORCUPINE TREE, RADIOHEAD, RIVERSIDE and SYLVAN, I decided to go all the way back to their "progressive roots" to find out what KING CRIMSON was all about. I started with their supposedly best album: In The Court.

I did not dare burning my hands on this one for a long time, because it is supposed to be so good! I had the same problem submitting a review on ELP's Brain Salad Surgery. Another highly praised album, that I particular don't really like. Sorry guys!

Well, about the album, what can I really add? I must say the first two tracks start quite promising and track three "EPITAPH" sung by Greg Lake is simply beautiful! This track is definitely the highlight of this album! But right after this comes the big problem of this album called MOONCHILD. The first two minutes start quite promising again, but after that. Boy oh boy, some experimental jamming session that lasts over 10 minutes! Why did those guys deteriorate this album like this? Maybe because 33 minutes is a bit short for a progressive rock album? So at least now the album lasts almost 45 minutes which was considered to be "standard" for an LP? I would have liked the album a lot more if this track simply would have been deleted! I would not give one single star for this track: 0 stars for MOONCHILD!For this track alone I would never consider this album a masterpiece. IMHO each track from a 5 track album should be a highlight in that case!

The last track "The Court Of The Crimson King" is actually the 2nd best track on this album, just after EPITAPH. Nice one, but unfortunately most of the time I have already fallen asleep during MOONCHILD.

All and all 1 firm star for each track, except for MOONCHILD. As a matter of fact; for MOONCHILD I subtract half a star. 3.5 stars total: good, but non-essential.

Review by Sagichim
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Another review will have no effect but here goes.

First of all i have to say that for me , king crimson is the best progressive band ever walked the face of the earth!!!. there ...i said it. i can explain too. getting started like this is phenomenal, there are a lot of great debuts but this one is ground breaking , revolutionary and the most influential of them all. the fact that this band never managed to get a proper consistant band playing for more than 2 or 3 years but did manage to record an album every year , never having a real crapy album , like a lot of giant prog bands did shows that this is a force!

Is it the first prog album or not?? a question that the leaders of the world couldn't answer! , well i'll tell you what i think... i heard some albums that started fusing rock with jazz or classical or whatever prior to 1969 for ex. the moody blues , touch and more , BUT this one is the most complete and to the point , never trying to be nice , just a 100% progressive rock album , leaving anything you knew behind and presenting you with something completely new, every second is essential you can not change anything it is complete!! it's the MATERPIECE!! the sound is also never heard before and deserves 5 stars too - 1969 REALLY?? , it doesn't have that clear sound where everything shines , it has it's own sound , drums are from another planet - giles is not just backing the band , he is as vital as everybody creating this magnificent sound. he's drum sentences are masterful! another thing that i like about KC and this album is that they can really kick your ass but the next they are as gentle as a baby ( you can play it to a baby trying to get him to sleep , i'm not kidding ).

No need to get through the songs but i will comment on one song the one that everybody seems to be so partial about - "moonchild" everybody likes the first part , but i definitely like the rest too, it calmes me down and doesn't feel like noodling to me, it goes from one idea to the next quickly but still sounds constructed to me, it is just beautiful simple as that.

Making it short i'll say this one is a one of a kind , i heard a lot of 5 stars albums or masterpieces but the height of this album had been reached not by many ( KC did it again with "RED" ). there should be a 5+ rating that belongs to masterpieces. this one is one of them!!

Review by Chicapah
5 stars Before I knew of this group I read in a music magazine that Pete Townsend of The Who had pronounced the first King Crimson album as being "an uncanny masterpiece." Coming from one of my heroes I considered this an overwhelming endorsement and looked forward to hearing it. In late 1969 many of us young rock music aficionados felt that we had "heard it all" and there was nothing new under the sun but we were dead wrong. Once this album was unleashed we knew there were still vast, uncharted territories out there to explore as we entered the next decade.

"21st Century Schizoid Man including Mirrors" (no one, absolutely no one had song titles like these guys!) hit the still free and unsanitized FM airwaves like an aural sledgehammer with its stunning combination of saxophone and distorted guitar blasting through the speakers. Greg Lake's electronically altered vocal was additionally effective in creating what could only be considered "new music." As the song progressed into passages featuring Michael Giles' maniacal drum patterns and Robert Fripp's bizarre guitar riffs we knew that this band was unlike any other on the face of the planet and it was exciting beyond description. The stark contrast they presented with the next cut was definitely straight out of left field. "I Talk to the Wind" is a quiet, peaceful tune that features a gorgeous flute solo from Ian McDonald and a subtle guitar lead. Giles, instead of laying down a normal beat for a ballad, doesn't stay still and plays deftly all around the song but never interferes with the cool ambiance. Huge Mellotron chords draw us into "Epitaph including March for No Reason & Tomorrow and Tomorrow." This is Lake's finest vocal on the album and the lyrics supplied by Pete Sinfield on this tune were the easiest to relate to. It was a turbulent year for the planet and words like "The fate of all mankind, I fear, is in the hands of fools" rang disturbingly true for most of us. After a brooding dirge from the woodwinds we hear Lake's mournful "I feel tomorrow I'll be crying" repeated over and over. Giles' drum work is extraordinarily unconventional throughout the record but especially toward the end of this song. By now we thought we had a bead on this group but not so. "Moonchild including The Dream and The Illusion" is yet another sharp curve in the road. Starting out as another peaceful ballad, Fripp then surprises us all with a delicate jazz guitar passage, then a long give-and-take sequence with the drums and vibes. It's totally unexpected and brilliantly performed. "The Court of the Crimson King including The Return of the Fire Witch and The Dance of the Puppets" is the fifth and final tune and what a monster it is! McDonald's massive Mellotron sound creates a cavernous atmosphere, Giles continues to fly all over the skins, and Lake provides an ominous vocal as this signature song moves in like a swirling, hot sand storm. It has everything that makes this album unique yet accessible. A Mellotron lead, another fantastic flute performance, a false ending and a calliope precedes the return to the memorable chorus melody featuring Giles' most energetic moments on the drums. Spectacular.

To call this a landmark album is an enormous understatement. It influenced countless musicians and opened up minds to a myriad of possibilities. Unfortunately, this particular lineup would not survive their tour of the USA and one can only wonder what they might have created beyond this. As we now know, King Crimson was to become a temporary harbor for many talented musicians in the years to come and we learned to always anticipate the unexpected from Mr. Fripp & company for better and for worse. However, only a handful of albums can claim to have shocked the music world as much as this one did.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Back to those glory days of the late sixties, very few bands will produce a great album such as this one. I refer to most of the giants on this site.

Is this the first prog album ? I do not know. What I know, is that it is my preferred KC one (by far as you will read in further reviews).

In The Court was my entry album to KC (in 1974). At first sight, I really loved three songs, and half appreciated one. KC has never been a favorite of mine, but I have to humbly admit that this album set the pace for a whole lot of things to come in our beloved progressive music history.

"21st Century Schizoid Man" is a typical Crimson song but I never liked the vocal part of it. The instrumental portion will definitely inspire bands like VDGG. This frenetic jazz improv features a wild bass playing by Gregg (this guy is really incredible, but we all know this, right) ? It's quite a difficult song to approach. I do not listen to it frequently, but I reckon that it is an influent track. The end sounds completely disjointed.

When you listen to "I Talk to the Wind", it is rather difficult to imagine that it is the same band that is playing this wonderful, subtle, melodious, marvelous track. It features beautiful and deeply inspired vocals from Greg and superb flute. My first KC love. It's obvious to me, that "Trespass" will be very much inspired by the mood of this track. Some might find it mellowish and naive, but this is KC as like. But such effort won't be repeated too much in their repertoire, alas. It is the most emotional KC song to my ears. A great, great moment.

"Epitaph". Almost nine minutes of pure glory. A mellotron orgy combined to a fantastic melodic tune. Again, IMO, some early Genesis inspiration came from here (Salmacis, here am I). Confusion, will be my epitaph (maybe, I will like to have this written on mine...). It is a fantastic number and probably one of my KC all time fave. The grandeur of the intro makes this song one of the best symphonic I know. Gregg is again very convincing in his lead vocal role.

Next comes the lenghty "Moonchild". Twelve minutes thirteen seconds that should have been reduced to three minutes to make it a good track. Instead, we get a good and veeeeeery quiet intro and then a loooooong and boooooooooring improv which is really a P.I.T.A. It lasts unfortunately for about nine minutes. Pure "avant-garde" and experimental "music".

The title track closes the album in a brilliant manner : Greg at his best, great melody again, fantastic mellotron, some flute work of the best vein. This is a marvelous voyage to the court of KC or CK. Once one believes the tracks ends, we get an incredible good news : another two minutes of the best KC music. This is the third masterpiece of this great album.

It is remarkable to know that two of the best songs of this album "I Talk To The Wind" and "The Court ..." are co-written by Mc Donald and Sinfield (who will be credited on the liner notes for "words and illuminatons"). I bet you ! He was damned well illuminated !

I will rate this one four stars (only). This is due of course to the rather poor "Moonchild".

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

What is there to add a comment on this awesome album! There have been over 460 reviews already written about this album. So i am not going to descibe the album, which song comes after this one, etc... You are on PA, i would assume that everyone of you has the album or CD at home.

This album is considered the first prog album, the one that started it all! We are in 1969, but at this time the MOODY BLUES have already 2 or 3 albums under the belt and ''Days Of Future Passed'' has a shot at being viewed as the first ''prog'' album. The same goes for PINK FLOYD with ''A Saucerful Of Secrets'' or SOFT MACHINE first album that came out in 1968. If those 2 albums are not prog, what is it then?

But what is certain about ITCOTKC, it is the album that opened the door for hundreds of bands, the album that put prog on the map, a musical movement which will rule until 1977. King crimson came with a new sound, beautiful symphonies as in the title track or ''Epitath'' noisy and disjointed as in ''Schizoid Man'' A mixture of beauty and raw energy. This album can be seen like the bible of prog music where all other prog bands got their inspiration and found the strength to go further and break (musical) boundaries.

A big thank to all those superstars playing on this album, the biggest one to IAN MCDONALD as he was then the main songwriter, being part of the 5 tunes of the album.And he is responsible for the incredible sound too using the mellotron and wood winds.(R.Fripp only 3). Too bad I, MC DONALD left just after the release of this album.

Now should we give 4 or 5 stars to this album? (you know , the ''Moonchild'' part 2!) Because of its importance and the beauty of all the tracks ( yes, Moonchild part 1 is magnificent) i will give the total of 5 stars as, anyway, experimentation is a trademark of prog.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The fate of all mankind I see.Is in the hands of fools"

This is one of those classics that I put in the "tad overrated" category (although the way some people throw 5 star ratings around lately, sadly, I'm not sure why I worry about it.)

In my view we have three outstanding tracks here, one that is OK and one clunker. The clunker would be Moonchild with its unforgivably long section where they apparently gave their instruments to local school children and went outside for a joint.

The OK track would be 21st Century Schizoid Man. The other three songs are all elegant early progressive gems with the strangest mood to them. I've never been able to put my finger on exactly what this feeling is, sometimes like dread, sometimes longing. The playfulness and mix of fantasy/reality themes provide quite a strange trip which although it hasn't aged particularly well, is still very pleasant to take on occasion.

It goes without saying that the playing would be outstanding given the individuals involved here and the sound on the 30th anniversary CD that I have is superb. The gatefold artwork is also classic.

I don't mean to take anything away from an album so many consider a masterpiece, but I honestly can't go that far myself. 4 stars.

Review by kenethlevine
5 stars This album provides the blueprint for probably a half dozen forms of progressive rock - prog metal (Schizoid), prog pysch (I Talk to the Wind), symphonic prog (Epitaph), prog jazz (Moonchild), and space prog (In the Court). I'm sure you could add your own to this. While the album is not totally original - there are echoes of Moody Blues in the more symphonic parts - it is as close to pioneering status as you are likely to get.

As a fan of the mellower side, I nonetheless find the opener to be very appealing thanks to the monster riff, imaginative vocal parts, well developed and structured middle section, and use of brass. As in the other tracks, Michael Giles trebly sounding drums are peerless, and his combination with Greg Lake's bass shows this is no simple improve. Giles' agility and drum kit are so rarely imitated. A few parts in the middle get to be a bit much, but I can still appreciate it.

When Schizoid ends, we see the true dichotomy in prog, and one which is a source of much debate. I happen to think there was no other song to follow Schizoid than "I Talk to the Wind", a lovely ballad as gentle as the previous track is vicious, and yet every bit as potent. The resigned vocals and lyrics, the bass, the ethereal flute, even the melodious lead guitar all work synergistically.

The segue into the drum roll of "Epitaph" is almost imperceptible at first and in seconds becomes deafening. This is yet another flawless piece of work and probably one of the most mellotron drenched songs ever. The lyrics are actually quite understandable and aching with regret and sadness. Yet the music is uplifting too, partly because it's Greg Lake's most heartfelt vocal performance ever.

Moonchild starts as a gentle ballad a la "I Talk to the Wind" but a bit spacier. Then it becomes a quiet improv with a variety of plucked noises, good to meditate to. This is a drop off in quality but not enough to deduct even a half star, as it seems to be filling the need for greater artistic expression than the more structure pieces could achieve. It's almost like the band knew how seminal the album would be, and planned it accordingly, by plying as many sub genres as possible from the as yet unnamed style.

The title track shocks us back into the here and now, or is it the 13th century? Perhaps the dark plague, where no good can befall us. A truly beautiful, lengthy yet structured piece with no waste. More hard hitting vocals and chorus line, flutes, mellotrons, and a mind blowing close. This is transformative music, and a perfect close to one of the most groundbreaking albums ever, in any genre.

Review by Dim
4 stars I guess it's time for me to throw in my two cents to the first progressive rock album ever! I think it's personally one of the most emotive albums I own, surley not my favirote, but very exciting. It's also one of the only albums I'll pop in my cd player more than once a month. It's just too amazing to disregard no matter what kind of prog fan you are.

21'st century schizoid man- This song is on my top five favirote aggressive prog songs! It's just full of energy and constant controlled chaos. Between Mike Giles furious drumming, Friips incredible solo, and the horns that pack the mai riff, it's a flawless song in every way. My favirote part is the distorted vocals that go perfectly with Sinfield creepy lyrics. This song also happens to be my screen name if you didnt notice.5/5

I talk to the wind- An excellent slow song to relieve yourself from the opening track. Gregs voice is beautiful as ever and Ian Mcdonalds Flute solo is worthy of Ian Andersons standards! Another flawless sond. 5/5

Epitaph- This song just might be the most apacalyptic song Sinfield has ever written, (and he has made a couple of those) with lyrics that that speak of hope, but then bash them down as if there is no such thing. Also a great part to this song is the mellotron played by the very versitile McDonnald, and of course the bluesy dark solo by Fripp. This song I think is a little "out there" for Crimson at the time. 4/5

Moon child- This song is what I believe, is the first attempt at a prog rock epic. The first part of the song is very pretty with Gregs soothing and trippy vocals flowing through the song for the first three minuetes, then improv jamming... for nine minuetes! I will admit after the firs two it does get a little boring. 3.5/5

In the court of the crimson king- THE first prog epic! barely under ten minuetes, a masterpiece with every element needed to close the album. How can you listen to the opening riff with the acoustic guitar and mellotron and not be completely blown away. Just to soup that riff up, after the versus, everybody (except Fripp) sings with the Riff to completely give it the whole kick-in-the-face feeling! And Just when you think the song is over They start a whole other jam session with that same riff but with a very heavy and brutal distorted guitar! The best way to complete an album!

4 stars

Review by fuxi
4 stars In some respects IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING has dated badly, as Fripp himself points out in his extensive liner notes to the FRAME BY FRAME box set. The album's apocalyptic themes seem overblown - a problem which is exacerbated by the sheer awfulness of the lyrics, and by Greg Lake's portentous delivery. "The wall on which the prophets wrote / is cracking at the seams" etc. etc. - when I was sixteen, I thought such words sounded deep, but now they make me squirm with embarrassment. I also feel the title track goes on for too long. Its 'psychedelic nursery' theme hasn't worn well (even if Steve Hackett would build his whole career on similar subjects), and the song was ruined once and for all, to my ears, when a friend pointed out the "aah- aah-aah-aah-aah" refrain sounded exactly like the melodramatic ballads which once used to dominate the Eurovision Song Contest.

However, if you consider this album (and especially its original A-side) from a purely sonic point of view, its importance cannot be overestimated. Fripp's blistering lead guitar and the entire band's "Rite of Spring"-type riffing on "Schizoid man"; the delicate interplay between flute, keyboard and guitar on "I Talk to the Wind" (superbly accompanied on drums); and the grand, mellotron- drenched crescendos of "Epitaph": all these have been imitated by so many other bands (starting with classics like Yes, Genesis and PFM) that 'Crimso' must be said to have spawned the very genre of progressive rock - or at least a great deal of it.

Review by Kotro

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. This phrase - with no clear origin, but often attributed to the likes of Zappa, Eno, Elvis Costello and Laurie Anderson - sounds awfully goofy. Yet there might be some truth in it. At least, on what it intends to state: that music is to be listened, not dissected in writing. I can relate to that - I don't generally like to write about music - or read about it, for that matter - when I can instead listen to it or make it myself.

However, the question should be posed: who has ever tried dancing about architecture? Have you ever tried? Have you ever been compelled to move those feet to the white silence of a minimalist building? If you have, Kraftwerk would probably be the soundtrack while you slide your feet and dance like a robot. Walking through the streets of Vienna, don't you just feel like waltzing? Don't you feel like swinging on the floor of the American lunchwagon lighted by the luminous jukebox? And don't tell me you don't hear Soft Machine and Caravan in the old walls of Canterbury.

Culture is all around us, and all intertwined, just like the human senses - sight and surround can evoke sound, and sound and rhythm will have physical effect on our bodies. So it possible, in a sense, to dance about architecture. And so, the same might be said regarding writing about music.

Writing about music can, however, be a pain in the but, especially if your knowledge of music theory is close to zero. How to describe the feelings produced by a certain listen? How do speak and write about the notes on a song, the tone and pitch of the singer, the use of instruentation - what are the proper adjectives to use? How do you write an album review? The only answer I can think of is "with honesty, and as best as you can".

As a musically unaware toddler, I had the good fortune and good guidance of a father who, not being entirely a prog-head, had an hear for fine music. At an age when pop and three minute radio singles should be making my day, he made me sat in the living room listening to Ravel's Bolero and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. My mother balanced things a bit by providing me with Queen and Spandau Ballet. Rock music was progressively growing on me, and it was only natural that my father presented me to a few other gems in his small music collection - Led Zeppelin II, This is the Moody Blues, CSN&Y's Dejā Vú. Seeing that I was very much into that music, my father had the brilliant idea of showing me something "a little different". Enter the Crimson King.

How impressed I was, aged 8 or so, at the sight of the grotesque face in the enormous gatefold, telling me instantly that what I was about to hear was. not normal. As the needle touched the vinyl surface, I couldn't hear a thing. My father told to get near the speaker, and listen carefully, and so I did. I began hearing strange, electro-metalic sounds, but very faint. Then, out of nowhere - BAAM BAM BARAM BAM BAAM (I swear to you, my right ear never recovered. Thanks, Dad.)

Greg Lake's distorted vocals, Frippy's guitar, Ian's sax - all love at first listen in 2st Century Schizoid Man, the most delightfully wicked cacophony ever made. This track, with it's heavy sound and swift changes quickly became an all-time favorite. After such a sonic orgy, it is followed by the gentle I Talk To The Wind, one of the most beautiful songs ever with that exquisite flute playing. The mellotron-drenched, apocalyptic Epitaph (my fathers favourite) also became one of my favourites, although not as much as the first track. Still, what an ending to the first side! I remember the speakers trembling during the ending, what a rush!

The beginning of side two. It starts wonderfully, with my favourite guitar work by Fripp ever in Moonchild - this song could have been great. It was, in fact, great, for 3 and half minutes or so. After that, it was just a nice improvisational piece, with a few curious moments. Not a bad piece per si, but sub-par when compared with the rest of the album. However, even if long, it was still a good prelude to The Court of The Crimson King. The delicate instrumentation with slight nods to medieval music, the emphatic vocal chorus, the general sense of drama in the song - what is there not to like? An almost perfect closer. It ends the album on the same note as the beginning - delicate electronic sounds fading away before the main structure of the song is repeated, with that mellotron bringing the whole show to an end in a juicier, more bombastic ending. By now, I forget the initial surprise. My ears are thankful for this experience. Both to the band and to my father, and their demented sense of humour.

Review by russellk
4 stars This album and band certainly isn't the Adam and Eve of progressive rock, but it certainly is the moment the other animals in the Garden of Music realised a new, dominant species had been created.

Of course 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is essential: by the criteria listed in Progarchives, this must rate five stars. Everyone interested in Progressive Rock must own it. Yet I must confess I don't much like it. I didn't like it when I first heard it thirty-five years ago, and I don't like it now. I can't stand Greg LAKE'S voice, which makes the album unlistenable. He reminds me of poor ROD EVANS and so many other late sixties vocalists, all GERRY MARSDEN knockoffs, refugees from the British Invasion. Have a listen to LAKE singing on 'Epitaph' and think 'Ferry Across The Mersey.' Well don't, actually, it'll ruin the album for you. LAKE'S voice is far too proper and polite for such a record as this, which is why, I presume, Fripp distorted it in '21st Century Schizoid Man'. 'I Talk To The Wind' is fluff. 'Epitaph' has more substance, 'Moonchild' is fun after LAKE stops singing, and the title track closes the album as powerfully as 'Schizoid Man' opened it.

I've bagged LAKE, so to be fair I must praise MCDONALD, SINFIELD, GILES and of course FRIPP. They are superb musicians (as is LAKE when he's not singing), and thanks to their virtuosity and FRIPP'S vision this record covers the gamut of progressive sensibilities. Symphonic, jazz-rock fusion, space rock, experimental, progressive metal and psychedelic rock are all here. FRIPP went on to influence virtually everyone in the progressive movement and many beyond it, and even people beyond music (Stephen King, for example).

So, the opening roar of progressive rock wasn't entirely convincing, but at least it got everyone's attention. As did the cover! See KING CRIMSON roar!

Review by Flucktrot
5 stars All right...I have been "lurking" this site daily for well over a year, so it's time to get to reviewing! The goal is one a day for however long it takes (hopefully it never ends!).

Fittingly, this album is my first review. It represents my "gateway drug" for prog, which means that when you buy this album, you have made the crossover from mainstream rock to full-on prog. It is then only a matter of time (and patience!) before you "get it". I also have a few friends to back this theory. When I first bought the album and saw that frightened cartoon face on the cover, I knew I was in for something different, and I didn't know if I was ready for it. Here's a song-by-song breakdown microcosm of my prog evolution:

21st Century Schizoid Man. This song defined the term "freak out" for me. I now have prog rock freak-outs regularly with friends, all based on this. This song breaks musical barriers, from Lake's distorted vocals to the tasty original instrumental to the chaotic ending.

I Talk to the Wind. I certainly did not see this coming. Absolutely brilliant transition, and a great song to boot. Nice vocals, flute, and laid back jam at the end.

Epitaph. AWESOME SONG. Highlights are the mellotron crescendo and the fade-out ending--one of the rare songs that I wouldn't change a single thing about.

Moonchild. I'll admit it: I don't "get" the instrumental part. The ONLY thing that makes sense to me is that when you sit through the entirety of Moonchild, the introduction to the final song is MINDBLOWING! Thus, I view most of Moonchild as an extended transition to set up the finale...

The Court of the Crimson King. More than enough has already been written about this gem. Great melodies, imagery, and of course the ending is perfectly fitting for a freak-out album.

All in all, nothing less than five stars will suffice (of course!). Diverse, creative, inspiring, attention to detail (especially transitions) and (mostly) great melodies make for a classic, must-own album--a one-of-a-kind experience. This is naturally the opinion of most viewers of this site, and I am thrilled that I honestly share it with them!

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars Recognized by reviewers’ majority as a flawless masterpiece and the first REAL Prog album, ITCOTCK nevertheless has some lacks. You definitely aware of what I’m talking about. Yes, this is “Moonchild”’s jamming that has stolen one star from my rating. I appreciate KC’s longing for making cacophony, they are Masters there, they’re good improvisators, skilled musicians, talented songwriters, blah-blah-blah. But please, do this on live shows instead of studio efforts! I wonder what prevented them from making the whole album entitled “Moonchild” – a producer’s sanity? Anyway, this is the only black spot here, other songs are great, from heavy craziness of “Schizoid” to mellotroned namesake opus. Gotta mention both “Epitaph” and “I Talk to the Wind” as well – very good mellow songs, one is from the light side and the next one is from the dark side of human mind. After all, definitely an essential album and highly recommended (if you managed to avoid it still!), but you were warned!
Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Legendary, unique, innovative, powerful, yadda-yadda... "In the Court of the Crimson King" is a sweeping genesis to the genre that is overflowing with musical enjoyment and is essential for historical significance alone. However, sitting through this album can sometimes feel like a chore, with its extended empty passages and emphasis on mellotron chords.

With the obvious exception of "21st Century Schizoid Man" (which will positively destroy the listener with delight), these songs are exceptionally slow and generally boring. Fripp's guitar sounds like little more than airy noddling throughout, and displays none of his famed prowess, nor do the other players demonstrate anything especially memorable. This may sound like a pretty huge complaint against "In the Court", but there are still plenty of merits to attract the burgeoning progressive rock fan. The vibe of "In the Court" will appeal to anyone feeling moody, the instrumental work offers some hidden gems for the ambitious (and patient) listener. Greg Lake's vocals remain a highpoint for me as well. Fans discovering this highly praised relic of the genre for the first time should be prepared for one slow-paced chord after the other, and shouldn't hold their breath waiting for a second guitar solo. Still, mandatory listening for fans of classic prog.

Songwriting 4 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 4 Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is widely believed to be the first ever progressive rock album. It is the beginning of it all and is an essential listen for anyone who listens to progessive rock music and wants to have some understanding of the history of progressive rock music. There is a good possibility that at least at some point while listening to an album that portends to be progressive rock music you will hear some influence from In the Court of the Crimson King.

21st Century Schizoid Man is not only the first song on the first prog album but it is also quite possibly the first ever prog metal song. Greg Lake sings/screams the chorus in a dutiful metal fashion.

I Talk to the Wind is a beautiful, mellow song that features Greg Lake's trademark vocals and Ian McDonald playing some of the most fascinating flute to be heard on a progressive rock album. Possibly this is the first ever prog folk song.

Epitaph is another excellent mellow song featuring Greg Lake's trademark vocals and some beautiful mellotron.

Moonmadness starts out as a beautiful mellow song that turns into a very quiet instrumental in which you really need to turn up the volume to hear what is happening. Really nothing to exciting in the instrumental portion of the song. Some nice drums and guitar work, but really quite quiet. To me this an indication as of to what is to become of King Crimson in the 90's and 00's as they become more of an improvisational instrumental band.

In the Court of the Crimson King is another amazing rocker and quite possibly the quintessential prog rock song. Excellent lead and backing vocals, excellent music and time signature changes, and of course Mr. Fripp on guitar.

I know that I really haven't anything additional to the other 550+ reviews that were done for this album, but I believe that it is an album that all archive members should definitely give a listen, and also it is an essential album that requires a review.

Review by sean
5 stars This is where prog legends King Crimson got their start. The album starts off with a song every prog-rock fan should know, "21st Century Schizoid Man", a spastic and sometimes dissonant, but brilliant piece with a completely insane instrumental section. After this, we're given the chance to relax with the beautiful ballad, "I Talk to the Wind", which features Ian Macdonald's melodic flute lines. Next is "Epitaph", a very moving symphonic piece with some powerful lyrics and that mellotron sound that characterized prog. After that is the underrated "Moonchild". Unlike a lot of people, I like the end, although it can be tedious after a while if you're not in the right mood. The album closes with "The Court of the Crimson King", which has a similar mood to "Epitaph". My personal favourite song on this album is "Epitaph", but they are all great and this album is a true masterpiece.
Review by jammun
5 stars Back in the days of yore, before we even knew there was a genre called 'prog', a friend of mine put a new album on his turntable and cranked up the volume. What ensued was a jaw-dropping listening experience, though I admit I didn't know quite what to think of it initially. This was something different, something familiar yet stunningly new. This was King Crimson.

The guitarist was obviously accomplished, but didn't quite have the requisite facility of the standard Clapton/Page/Beck blues licks. No, he was going off on another tangent altogether. The use of mellotron was interesting, even radical. The singer -- who's this Greg Lake? -- was decent enough, but there was perhaps too much post-processing of the voice on that opening track. Good rhythm section though.

Well, those may have been my first thoughts, but about twenty listens later it all sank in and I became a KC fan for life. This album is almost perfect. What's amazing is the range of music presented here. Any regular to this site is familiar with the shock and awe of 21st Century Schizoid Man, but what's rare is for a such a song to be followed up with a song a gentle as I Talk To the Wind, which in turn is followed by the other-worldliness of Epitaph. Moonchild presents minor problems for some listeners, but in the context of this album and of music in general at the time, it's another great song. And of course the title cut eventually gathers all of these elements into an organic whole.

The musicianship is first-rate throughout. I won't get into the argument of whether or not this was the first prog album, but Fripp and company certainly took us on an exploratory trip into previously uncharted musical waters here. Worth every star of the five I give it; in fact I would call this mandatory listening for anyone with more than a passing interest in prog, or any music for that matter.

Review by FruMp
4 stars A groundbreaking album in the history of progressive rock and KING CRIMSON's finest album.

This was one of the first prog recordings I ever heard and it still stands as one of my favourites (and many other's too obviously), it ventured into uncharted territories with it's dark and at the time very experimental sounds. The album is heavily influenced by jazz, Particularly evident in Michael Giles groovy drumming most notably during 21st century schizoid man which ranks up there with the best progressive rocks songs of it's time although it lends itself more to fusion than to prog. I talk to the wind is another fantastic song, very sombre with some great flute and our first ever taste of Robert Fripp's signature 'Frippertronics', there are some great sound textures and nuances here. Epitaph is a very sombre song with some great mellotron sounds probably one of the weaker songs on the album but still fantastic.

My main problem with this album is Moonchild, I'm into avant-garde/experimental/noise/you-name-it music and I just see no merit in the song, it's a waste of 12 minutes on such an otherwise fantastic album, it's very quiet and not a lot happens in it at all and this is one of the things that I really dislike about KING CRIMSON. The triumphant eponymous track is well worth sitting through Moonchild though with it's fantastic mellotron washed choral harmonies, it's an exceptional song.

Overall this is a great album essential to any serious fan of progressive rock and although I really dislike Moonchild the other 4 songs make up for it and the sheer influence and the innovativeness of this album merits the 5 star rating.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A place to start

In the Court of the Crimson King helped to define what progressive rock would become. The album itself was still to rooted in psychedelia to be considered, in my opinion, a true split from its psychedelic rock roots. The album has what most consider 3 progressive anthems: 21st Century Schizoid Man, Epitaph and the title track. The songs are co-mingled withthe ever allusory to Haight headshops "I Talk to the Wind" and, the flitty "Moonchild".

21st Century Schizoid Man is the most important song on the album. Hard, psychotic and rooted in blues, it takes a simple theme to extreme. Solid song structure with contrasting bridge give a true sense of journey to the song. Its frantic pace true to the schizoid theme.

I talk to the Wind could have very well been cut into ten 30 second clips and used to sell househould products in TV ads.

Epitaph is a good song, the only problem is it sounds a little to much like it came straight off of Moody Blues Days of the Future Passed. I can smell the sandlewood as Moonchild opens, then comes the birth of what I find the least enjoyable aspect of King Crimson, the "where did the song go" improv.

ITCOTCK is *the* KC song to many. It is a very touching song, despite the lyrics. Solid verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, bridge, chorus structure.

ITCOTCK is a good start. It is a sign of great things to come for KC, and some not so great. 3 .3 stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars KING CRIMSON were found in 1967 in Bournemouth,UK by mastermind guitarist Robert Fripp.Their first album was released in 1969 entitled ''In the court of the crimson king'' and it is considered the first trully progressive rock album and one of the timeless masterpieces in progressive rock history.The band combined succesfully elements from psychedelic music and jazz rock dressed in masterful symphonic orchestrations due to the fantastic mellotron work of Ian McDonald.The vocals of Greg Lake are ethereal and fit amazingly with the band's musicianship.KING CRIMSON leave a lot of space for orchestral development and bring to surface really astonishing atmospheres!An album and a group ages ahead of its/their time and a must-have for any music lover!
Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In the beginning was the sound, and the sound was with Harry Chamberlain, and the sound was good...

Look, I'm not trying to say that Mr Chamberlain is God or anything, but hey - as far as Prog Rock is concerned, well, bone up on your history if you don't know who he is.

Because when God created Prog Rock, on the first day of Prog, he surely told Harry that his invention was of great importance - and, Lo! The Bradley brothers did put his idea into manufacturing, with proper backing and everything, and behold - the Mellotron was born, and without it was not a Prog Rock record of any substance made.

And Ian MacDonald heard what the Moody Blues did with the Mellotron, and it was good. So he, together with Mike Giles and Robert Fripp, unable to withstand the cheerful insanity any longer, teamed up with Gods' bass player, got a gig supporting the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park, and life was good - even though, by many accounts, the Stones were not.

Much has been written about this album, including academic theses exploring the deep significance of the key associations, relationships and modal tonalities, the subject matter of the lyrics, the use of technical devices such as ritornello, ground bass, obbligatos - and of course, the huge Tierce de Picardie at the end.

One particular musing mentioned the magical - and allegedly, mystical number 5: 5 band members. 5 Songs. Songs that, somehow, to a twisted mind, display workings of the number 5 in their forms and structures. 5 - in numerology variously, the number of Dischord, Motion, Erratic, Adventure, Passion, Expansion, Travel, Unpredictability, Information, the planet Mercury, communication, networking, translation, communities of information.

The 5th verse of the Bible runs thus; And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

And the evening and the morning were the first day.

You may well ask WTF?

As did I.

The Meanings...

See, people really do hunt for meanings in the early works of Prog Rock in a way that makes you think; "Hang on - these guys are missing the whole point!", but also in ways that appear to have some kind of hidden code - first day of Prog Rock?.

It's rock music, albeit a "higher" expression of that format. It's the next generation of Progressive music on from the "movement" that started approximately at the point Bob Dylan shocked the world by "going electric" at the Newport Folk Festival 4 years previously. The sound of his guitar being plugged in, even to that dodgy sound system, was by far the quieter of the big bangs caused by that single event.

But, the thing that really stood out to me from one particular essay was this simple phrase; "'Moonchild' is perhaps one of the more remarkable pieces ever conceived in the history of rock music.". The writer goes on to link the Moon and number 4 and all kinds of stuff to do with modes, counterpoint, pedals, magical light and flashes of timbral light...

"Moonchild" really is both the best track on the album, and one of the most remarkable pieces in rock - a fact that most people overlook, painfully missing the point by describing it as "boring", "noodle" and using other similar terms that would indicate a lack of patience, narrow tastes in music and, well, simply not liking it, so writing it off as therefore a bad thing.

Not so.

And so it is that I'm going to take this track offline and work on an analysis to help you understand just why it is so spectacular.

Moon Child - one of the most remarkable pieces in rock music

Cue up the start of the piece. Ready?

Here we have drifts of mellotron, and a repeating picked guitar figure, which is soon joined by a short, repeating guitar figure that is important. Listen carefully to it's soaring tones - those opening notes are remarkably similar to "Au Clair de Lune" by Claude Debussy.

Greg picks up on this quickly with the vocal line - a two-part affair that picks up on this figure, appending an answering phrase, and acquiring a light accompaniment comprising bell-like cymbals, and a regular falling soft tom-tom pattern. This is repeated, then the second part of the verse picks for an additional answer. The solo guitar takes the 1st "theme" and plays with it, before the second verse is presented with the ongoing light percussion.

Little tension is built - but the song does not demand it. This is not a dramatic song, and that is part of its progressive nature - it is painting, with striking lights and shades, a kind of watercolour-hued portrait of the Moon Child that is non-linear, which kind of pushes against the intrinsically linear nature of music, yet covers many angles;

"Dancing in the shallows of a river", "Dreaming in the shadow of the willow", "Talking to the trees of the cobweb strange". None of this necessarily describes a person, real or ficticious - to me, it describes the effects of moonlight on earth - the reflection in the river or fountain, the moonbeams "dancing" and "Waving silver wands", and the interplay of the moon's light on flowers, cobwebs and the sun dial. "Sailing on the wind in a milk white gown" and "Waiting for a smile from a sun child" are self- explanatory, and "Playing hide and seek with the ghosts of dawn" clearly refers to clouds.

So the music expresses the soul of these ideas - the subtle keyboard changes highlight this best.

You'll note that this is not standard song structure - there is a 3-part idea that is repeated 3 times for this first section, which could be seen as verse/chorus/instrumental x3, except that the "chorus" is in no way a chorus, but an extension of the verse.

Then we have the instrumental section, which continues this expression - it seems a bit pointless to map it all out, but the first section appears to represent the rippling waters of the river - the willow, of course, will be on the river bank, and the slightly sinister edge that the music acquires could be expressing this.

We continue in the branches of the trees, "talking of the cobweb strange" - 5:28 might be expressing this, with tiny strands of melodic runs that pick up from each other. Just re-read the lyrics as this section plays out - it's not too hard to make your own mind up about what's being expressed.

The music of this section has an atonal feel to it - and some of the stylisations are strikingly similar to music in "Pierrot Lunaire", by Arnold Schoenberg. Listen to "Der Kranken Mond" - particularly the flute backing. An online recording of the entire work may be found online - note also that there are 4 sections of Pierrot directly concerned with the moon.

The interplay between the instrumentalists here is remarkable - all aiming for an overall series of pictures, or, rather continual moving image, with none taking centre stage, going into personal space every now and again, then rejoining the conversation, using a predefined set of ideas. This is not aimless noodle - this is carefully constructed. The point at which it all comes back together (around 10:45) is masterly - all parts drifting slowly towards each other, and the little major chord on the guitar clearly showing the "smile from the sun child" - all music from this point has this upbeat feel of morning approaching and the darkness lifting.

All of which serves to underline "Moon Child"'s position in the album - as the penultimate piece, it provides the necessary contrast from which to kick into the grand splendour of "The Court of the Crimson King". Indeed, if you have your stereo at the necessary volume to catch each and every tiny detail in "Moon Child", the title track is like a mighty rush of wind, and somewhat overwhelming. It's in this dynamic perspective that the true power of this album may be experienced - and you probably won't get it listening to compressed mp3s on your computer speakers or headphones. On a half-decent stereo, this contrast will blow your socks off. On a decent system, it's like hearing it properly for the first time - every time.

Everything Else

Let's have a quick blast in real time around the other 4 tracks, in what seems to be a concept album on an artistic level; Each song painting a portrait that is strikingly impersonal, yet full of unique and colourful character. Each nostalgic, and infused with the individual sounds of the musicians, whilst coming together as a unified whole - a 5-part symphony structure after a fashion.

"21st Century Schizoid Man": Here's where we set the volume level to maximise our listening experience. If you can't hear every little detail in the first 30 seconds or so, then you've set it too quiet. Do try not to listen to mp3 or other form of over-compressed media - and make sure the neighbours are out, if you're not listening on headphones. When the riff kicks in, that sucker should nail you to the back of the sofa with its intended hugeness, ferocity and awesome power. There are plenty of descriptions of Greg's distorted voices, the huge and unique sound of the riff topped with sax, so let's have a look at the song construction;

The first thing that jumps out is the identical nature it shares with "Moon Child" - although pared down to 2 iterations, we have essentially 2 sections to the verses, with an instrumental section linking them. The big difference is in the construction of the verses, which comprise 3 declamatory statements rounded off with a single statement of the title. This really gives punch and drive to the song - and, of course, obliterates standard song structure.

After a mere 2 minutes, the instrumental bridge kicks in, developing the introduction riff - I always think that the underlying riff sounds like the Mission Impossible theme. Anyway, this continues into part-improv, part composed mayhem, Fripp producing guitar work that's both modal and atonal - and this whole section is polyrhythmic and more jazz than rock-inspired, yet maintains a solid rock feel. At 4:40, this is all brought together in a tight composition based on the rhythm and melodic fragments of the "improvisation".

Then, to round off the nod and wink to "First Movement" form, the verse idea is recapitulated (albeit still in the tonic), followed by the build-up that initially led to the "Development", which descends into screaming noise.

Continuing in the Symphonic vein, the next "movement" is a slow one. This time we have a balladic song that is in a more traditional verse/chorus format. The drumming, however, is notably not that of a standard ballad - and the woodwind backing seems to infer orchestral music more than it infers jazz. The prominence of the wind instruments is clearly intentional - and the short instrumental bridge is a thing of beauty. The coda, led by the flute, is a bit of a surprise when it kicks in around 4:50. This is tightly reined in, and simply plays, wind-like, with the melodies presented in the verses and choruses.

"Epitaph" would be an odd choice for a final movement - so it's a good job that this is, in fact, central and pivotal. It begins with material from "I Talk To The Wind", and feels more like an extension of the former than a new piece per se. This song appears to be based on the symphonic sound style of the Moody Blues - although that modulation around 3:45 is something else - a bit reminiscent of the orchestral build-up in "A Day In The Life". This moves on to "March For No Reason", via an instrumental passage strongly based on the earlier material. Oddly, the strong beat is on the second beat of the bar! The original verse/chorus is reprised, then there's a magnificent burn-out with some amazing percussion.

"In The Court..." follows on from "Moon Child" utterly naturally, the contemplative mood inspired by the previous 3 pieces suddenly roused - we know this is the finale. Here we see the quiet/loud structure emerging - something Nirvana were to use as their single most important song element more than 20 years later. Structurally, this song is not very interesting until we reach the instrumental section (Return of the Fire Witch) at 4:15 or so, when the flute melody and bass takes us into a new dimension - the bass reminding me more than a bit of Pete Trawavas. Sadly, this only lasts a minute and a bit, then we're back to the song already.

Moving swiftly on, there is another instrumental section (Dance of the Puppets) at 7:00, just after it feels that the piece might have ended. A jaunty, almost comical pipe organ plays with the thematic material for just under a minute, before returning once again to the majestic chorus material, broken up rhythmically, and with all kinds of little experimental details in the instrumental parts - none taking center stage, all playing their little parts in the crowd and creating a sbutly shifting texture that suddenly comes together in noise to finish the album in a blaze of atonality.

In case you were in any doubt, this is an essential masterpiece of Progressive Rock, arguably the very first Prog Rock album in the sense of the Classic idea of Prog Rock - if you don't like this, you don't like Prog.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars Maybe the first true prog album of all times. At least as we know and love symphonic prog. Anyway, In The Court Of The Crimson King remains one of my top ten favorites and one of the albums that make me fall in love with prog music. The music inside this CD was so beautiful and groundbreaking at the time, small wonder it became so successful and influential. I was sorry this band could not produce another album with those same guys.

Looking back, however, it is only natural to see that they could not stay together too long. There were simply too many talented people in a small room. But what a hell of an album they produced! Since the first chords of 21st Century Schzoid Man (one of the heaviest and novel songs for the sixties) to the very last notes of the title track this a major work. Not that I like every minute of it: I canīt stand to hear the complete Moonchild with all that music concreté second part. Still I also canīt deny that even that is bold and inovative for 1969.

The music is so interesting and rich, it stood well the test of time. Almost 40 years after its release it still relevant and captivating. Epitaph and the title track are among my favorite prog songs, with lots of the best mellotron I have ever heard and Lakeīs most passionate vocals. The band soars through the whole album.

It is simply a masterpiece of music, a must have for any prog lover. And for anyone who wants to know one of progīs landmarks. Classic!

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars Hoorah for the birth of progressive rock! Quite a genius, this Robert Fripp is. In the Court of the Crimson King effectively changed the world of rock music with its crazy genre-crossing, sloppy playing and aimless noodling. And hey, it's even enjoyable half of the time! Wow, you almost have to own this just because its so historically important! I wonder if Robert Fripp knew he only had to make King Crimson's debut half-good in order for it to be called a masterpiece by everybody. That man had to have been playing somewhat of a joke on us with "Moonchild." "Hey guys here's what we're going to do: play this song I wrote, and then when I finish my guitar solo, let's hit random notes lightly for 7-8 minutes." I don't think anyone else has been able to receive praise for that approach. Goodness this must have been a fun album to make. And check out those drum fills! How did those get on the album? I guess if an album is as innovative as this, it doesn't matter how well it's played. I need to figure out how to make this work for my band! Did they realize how sloppy those fills were? It sounds like Giles had the chance to play a fill and couldn't figure out what he wanted to do, practically every single time! Now, I understand that technology at the time wouldn't allow an easy way to correct the fills, but man, Giles must have been at least a little disappointed with himself. Fripp certainly reassured him that it is inconsequential and hey, everyone else sounded great so all is well. There is no way those fills would have passed in the past two decades. Lucky guys. It's especially surprising that the drum work is the best on the fastest, most difficult drum song on the album, "21st Century Schizoid Man." I'll be fair, not all of the drum fills are bad, but it's hard to get over some of those fills.

And yet, after all that bashing, I can still say that this is a very good album. "21st Century Schizoid Man" could possibly be the anthem of progressive rock. It is gritty, it rocks hard, and has an awesome jazzy mid-section. "I Talk to Wind" is nice and the music, especially the flute work, is beautiful. "Epitaph" is possibly Greg Lake's most passionate vocal performance of his career (which is sad because it's just starting here, but you don't have to view it that way if you don't want to) and its a great song in general, "Moonchild" is another nice tune before the band invented the concept of filler, and "In the Court of the Crimson King" is a great closer.

It goes without saying that this album holds probably the most importance of all prog rock albums, but unlike a lot of the band's other innovative albums, this one still manages to be quite captivating and enjoyable, at least most of the time. The dissonant side doesn't show a lot, but oh man will it soon. There are few King Crimson albums I could recommened to somebody in this day and age, and their debut manages to be one of them.

Review by The Pessimist
4 stars i think this is a msterpiece of prog if you cut the massive lump of pointless crap at the end of moonchild. It is just noodling, and lets face it, improvisation doesn't sound very musical when its play by 3-4 blokes at the same time! I honestly don't blame Greg Lake for walking out at this one.

21st Century Schizoid Man is an extremely good jazz piece, not necessarily prog, but it is an awesome piece and deserves merit. The middle jamming section is very influential and needs to be recognised more. I Talk to the Wind is a memorable ballad with one of the best flute solos I've ever heard at the end, and some lovely jazz-esque guitar work from Fripp. Epitaph is a very dark, depressing song, but nonetheless genius and musically enjoyable: it probably was and still is the main building block of gothic chord progressions in modern music. Moonchild brings the album down one notch. They should have left the song alone imho, and i think this song is the foundation of Fripp's insanity used for the wrong reasons. 10 solid minutes of directionless improvisation is too much for me. In the Court... is the highlight of the album. Truely a great song, and a masterpiece in the way that it kicked of the whole prog legacy. Without its world class musicianship, dark lyrics and inventiveness, would prog still be the same today? I doubt it somehow, so all progheads have a lot to owe this song i think.

21st Century Schizoid Man - (10/10) I Talk to the Wind - (8/10) Epitaph - (8/10) Moonchild - (5/10) In the Court of the Crimson King - (10/10)

Review by Fight Club
5 stars "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying."

Because they just don't make music this good anymore. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, simple early rock and Beatles clones plagued the radio airwaves. I can't say I remember that time (considering my existence had yet to even be conceived), but I can only imagine the patience it took to endure acts such as The Dave Clark Five and Gary Lewis & the Playboys. By the late 60's it seemed music was beginning to evolve, however. Artists such as The Moody Blues and Procol Harum were just making their debut on the rock scene, and their response was well received. By the time 1969 came around, In the Court of the Crimson King must have felt like a rejuvenating breath of fresh air among a polluted atmosphere.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is it - the one historical recording that renders all those preceding it obsolete. The instant "21st Century Schizoid Man's" thunderous chords strike down upon the listener's ears, he can tell this will be a storm unlike any the 60's had ever seen. Never before had classical structures been interwoven with rock and roll aesthetics before, nor with such energy. Actually, "21st Century Schizoid Man" may in fact be the first metal song ever recorded. Honestly, can one listen to the history of rock and roll chronologically and say that anything pre-1969 sounded like this? Coming to this realization triggered a heightened appreciation for the album that I did not initially hold.

Don't be fooled though, this album may be one of the most important landmarks in history, but that does not overshadow the overall musical quality. Each musician performs at the top of his game, and is never bombastic or ridiculous as later King Crimson would show. The completely unexpected (and in my opinion unnecessary) noodling in "Moonchild" may be the only sign of pretentiousness on the entire album. Honestly, this section tests my patience to the point where instead I almost wish I was listening to my mom babble on about soap operas. Sadly, it's the one part I skip over nearly every listen. Can someone please explain why they included this on the album? In addition to the random tuning "Moonchild", In the Court of the Crimson King has its faults - one of these being the overall length of the album, which in my opinion falls way too short. I have to admit though; this is a problem I find with many "old" albums. I guess one could only fit so much time on a single LP!

Even though the album has its flaws, the high points are so pronounced that I cannot give this album anything less than a full five stars. "Epitaph" and the title track have rightfully earned their places amongst the most profound pieces of music to ever enter my life. The walls are down and the emotions flood loose, submerging the listener in a wave of minor key despair. "Epitaph's" opening washes of mellotron never fail to send a chill spiraling down my spine, offering me a sense of euphoria that just cannot be found elsewhere. I am carried off into an mystical land, and it is times like this that I think "this must be what heaven is like." Other points as well, such as the mellotron interlude in the title track, cause me to wonder how mere humans are capable of producing such extraordinary power. It is almost as if ancient, earthly spirit is channeling its will into these musicians, in an attempt to convey a long lost message. Honestly, I feel like this music is supernatural at times!

Anyway, I think those familiar to prog have already arrived at a consensus that this is one of the great art works of our time. As for anyone making an attempt at their first progressive recipe, In the Court of the Crimson King is one of its absolute essential ingredients.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "In the Court of the Crimson King" is the debut full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act King Crimson. The album was released through Island Records (UK) and Atlantic Records (US) in October 1969. King Crimson officially formed in November 1968, but the history of the band began in August 1967 when brothers Michael Giles (drums) and Peter Giles (bass) recruited guitarist Robert Fripp and formed the band Giles, Giles and Fripp. Although the trio were clearly skilled composers and gifted musicians, they only managed to release a couple of singles and the 1968 "The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles, Giles & Fripp" album, before disbanding as a consequence of a lack of commercial success. Maybe disbanding isnīt the correct word to use though as Giles, Giles and Fripp more or less just sequed into being King Crimson with the departure of Peter Giles and the addition of Ian McDonald (keyboards, reeds and woodwinds), Greg Lake (vocals, bass) and Peter Sinfield (lyrics, illumination).

"In the Court of the Crimson King" is quite the adventurous and progressive musical journey and itīs obvious that especially the addition of Ian McDonald and his contributions on the mellotron and the flute had a major impact on the bandīs sound. Lake doesnīt have the most distinct sounding voice, but his delivery is pleasant and suits the music perfectly (helped along by the incredibly beautiful melody lines and abstract psychadelic lyrics, which sometimes also feature more direct political/social references). The musical influences are many and ranges from heavy blues rock, jazz, to classical music. As mentioned above the album is a journey, and as a listening experience itīs best appreciated in full. From the ultra heavy opening track "21st Century Schizoid Man", which not only features a proto-doom metal riff of crushingly heavy proportions, but also a pretty complex saxophone driven jazz rock middle section and a couple of avant gardish moments. Not that itīs a contest but "21st Century Schizoid Man" is arguably heavier and also pre-dates the proto-doom metal riffs on Black Sabbathīs February 1970 debut album.

Opening the album with such a noisy, heavy, and incredibly busy track, the mellow nature, soaring beautiful melody lines and soft folky flute playing on "I Talk to the Wind" do come as a bit of a surprise to the listener, but the effect of light and dark and heavy and mellow are contrasts often used on "In the Court of the Crimson King". "Epitaph" follows and itīs an epic track featuring massive and effectful use of the mellotron. I feel like Lake is telling me a dark and gloomy fairytale about the end of the world, and Iīm moved by the words and how they are performed. Thereīs a little glimmer of hope, but ultimately the narrator (Lake) isnīt holding on to any illusions.

The next track is "Moonchild". The 12:11 minutes long track is divided into two parts. The first part only last around 2:30 minutes and itīs a beautiful and gloomy folky opening to the full track. The almost 10 minutes of remaning playing time of "Moonchild" are not quite as interesting to my ears. In fact it more or less just sounds like the band improvise and play little noodly bits of notes. Itīs uneventful, quite tedious, and a little pointless, not to mention that it seriously disrupts the flow of the album. Thankfully the album closes with the the effectful and epic "The Court of the Crimson King". The mellotron is again used to great effect and the there is a great ominous atmosphere surrounding the track, which suits the mood of the rest of the album.

It can not be argued how important and monumental the release of "In the Court of the Crimson King" was for the progressive rock movement. Itīs one of the seminal releases of the genre and of course mandatory listening for those interested in late 60s/early 70s progressive rock. It features everything you could wish for on a progressive rock album. Heavy riffs, acoustic guitar parts, jazz rock influences, epic mellotron driven moments, organic folky parts with flute, majestic and beautuful vocal melodies, and a healthy dose of musical experimentation. The latter unfortunately is a bit too much on "Moonchild" and the improvised section of that track does drag my rating down a bit. Had that part of the album featured something equal in quality to the rest of the material on the album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" would have been a sure 5 star (100%) rating from me, but as it is, a 4 star (80%) rating it is.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by friso
5 stars King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)

Well, most of us know this is one of the most important recordings of the progressive rock genre. It was my first 'classic period' prog record and it still is one of my favorite progressive albums ever made. It's majestic appeal, atmosphere and cover are legendary and it's innovative and professional approach on symphonic music can been seen as a foundation for the genre. Furthermore it was the first great achievement for Robert Fripp, Greg Lake (later to join ELP) and lyricist Peter Sinfield (KC, ELP, PFM).

21th Century Schizoid Man is an up-tempo jazz-rock track with an interesting wind-section, heavy guitars and THE perfect bass-lines. The couplet theme with it's distinct distorted guitar and vocals is strange and very very catchy. The instrumental parts of the song are legendary with as a highlight the parts with the short silences between the melodies played by the band.

I talk to the Wind is one of my favorite ballads of all time. It's atmosphere and devotion is so good that it remains a one-of-a-kind song today. The wind-section is particularly good with amazing flutes played by McDonald. The guitar plays a gentle role and the vocals are intimate. The lyrics are the lyrics ever written by Sinfield in my opinion. This songs has nothing to do with the rock genre, but no-one I know off has yet disliked it. It's magic on a record.

Epitaph is one of the first epics of KC. With an impressive and bombastic main theme with mellotrons (yeeeeh!) and a intimate couplet theme with lyrics about the inglorious side of war, fear and the philosophical approach on how mankind's ethics are not ready for it's technology yet. Another magical songs with an impressive and incredible influential sound.

Moonchild on side two has two parts. The first two and a halve minutes are filled with an amazing magical song, perhaps a bit like I talk to the Wind. The other ten minutes of the recording are filled with the band improvising in a seemingly meaningless fashion. A lot of random sounds, no repetition, no logic. This long sit can be seen as an atmospheric interpretation. A lot of people have found themselves having trouble with strange part of the album. It's quality isn't as high as all the other material and the term 'failed experiment' comes to mind. Still this part can grow on you as it did on me and it does make the next some much better somehow...

In the Court of the Crimson King. An indescribable song of in-human genius. One of a kind, one of the best. It's main-theme is hypnotically attractive and it's lyrics are very inspired. The many instrumental parts are innovative and the comeback at the end with it's almost metal guitar shrieks are amazing. One of the best epics of the progressive genre.

Conclusion. BUY.

Review by Hercules
2 stars This may have been the first true prog album, but that doesn't make it one of the best; indeed, listening to it now 35 years after I bought it, its flaws are all too obvious. The crashing chords, dissonant sax and distorted vocals of Twenty Furst Century Schizoid Man do not form a good start and nothing can redeem the track, not even the jazzy section in the middle where the drums, bass and sax produce an excellent basis which is spoilt by a dreadful guitar solo without melody or form. I Talk to the Wind is simply boring. Epitaph raises the standard considerably with Greg Lake giving a superb vocal performance on a track which is by far the highlight of the album and epic in a low key way. Then follows Moonchild which, after the first minute or so descends into 10 minutes of utterly aimless, pointless improvisation which is a total waste of vinyl. The title track manages to salvage something with its swathes of mellotron and another fine vocal performance from Lake, who emerges from the album with considerable credit.

I would have to say that it is a good job that prog progressed greatly from this experimental and ground breaking release, otherwise I would never have become a fan. I guess King Crimson just isn't my cup of tea.

Review by Sinusoid
5 stars (Review re-edit 5/16/2009)

I can't but agree that IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is one of THE seminal albums in progressive rock. It's very debatable whether or not this is the first ever progressive rock album, but I do feel that the ''classic'' progressive rock sound was first achieved here, and this served as a blueprint for future prog rock bands.

The main weapon here is the mellotron. Tracks 2-5 feature the instrument quite heavily in spots, notably the title track. I think the reason why so many people melt over the mellotron passages on this album is because they act as a surrogate orchestra, therefore giving the pieces an overt classical type feel without overdoing it with an actual orchestra. Plus, the sound is very majestic and grandiose which fit prog rock well.

The trump card here is ''21st Century Schizoid Man'', a dark, loud, urgent piece of music that just begs for you to pay attention. This was the very first Crimson piece I ever heard, and as a consequence of the heavy guitars, amazing sax figures, offbeat unison sections and most notably, that recognisable riff, I quickly became latched onto the song and the band itself. It's only after a few listens that I've discovered how manic the bass and drums are, particularly in the middle instrumental section.

The only song that might give you a headache would be ''Moonchild''. I tend to think the ballad at the beginning is quite boring, but after two minutes the song goes into some weird improvisational stuff that can be best described as goofing around in the studio. Otherwise, I'd say that this might be a key album in understanding how progressive rock works. Although several other albums might do this as well, IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING is one of the bigger ones that can serve as a gateway into progressive rock.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars We might argue whether this album represents the beginning of the prog rock movement or not, but it certainly set some standards in rock music. It's NOT about incorporating passages of classical music into rock - it's about cohesive and intelligent overall picture. It's about DETAILS.

Hence, this is The Thing. And a great one at that. It's not perfect, or 100% suitable for my taste, but it's a masterpiece - in a real meaning of that word.

Does it sound dated a little bit nowadays? It's up to you. However, try to imagine how it was back in the 1969 when the album hit the market. Way ahead its time! Production, the sound, approach...Mellotrons, processed vocals, futuristic/fantasy themes...a stellar album compared to your average muddy blues record of the era.

Here's why is this album important: it represents The Very Answer what The Progressive Rock is. You may dislike it, but if you think that at least some aspect of it is progressive, take it and apply it in any way you like: that's it.

If you absolutely dislike it, that's fine. But if you think this record does not contain a single element of progressiveness in music, I really doubt you know what the progressive music is.

Review by TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 17, In the Court Of the Crimson King, King Crimson, 1969


An old crush, that I can never, no matter how hard I try, get rid of. I have managed to persuade myself at different times that it's not that groundbreaking, decide that Court itself is way too bombastic, and that the mellotron is too thick for me, that the improvisation on The Illusion is utterly pointless, that this album doesn't deserve even five stars. However, every time I hear the first throb of 21st Century Schizoid Man, all these delusions disappear. An absolutely stunning album from start to finish. Much like ELP's debut, this is only made more amazing by the variety of material on the album: jazz rock, softer songs, an extended improvised section, grandiose emotional pieces with a very epic feel. Artistic and emotive, very musically tight and diverse, and with Sinfield's amazing lyrics fitting each song perfectly. Just perfect. An almost unique six star rating (the other being Larks' Tongues In Aspic).

21st Century Schizoid Man is, in my opinion, the greatest opener ever, perhaps even the greatest song ever. Two subdued throbs on a mellotron give way to a driving, powerful sax riff, Fripp's guitar with fuzz box hammering through behind it, stunning drumming from Mike Giles and Lake's almost-spat out, distorted vocals. After the second verse, it moves into a stunning jazzy 'jam' (I don't know quite how to describe it: too organised and tight to be a 'jam') with bass, sax, drums and jazz guitar emerging from the mix at different moments, and then a forceful, brilliant return to the main riff. The last verse takes the song to another peak, and it ends with an insane, chaotic splintering combination of the instruments. Sinfield provides brilliant, gripping, evocative lyrics, perfectly fitting the music. Designed to be played in a dark room at an obscene volume. This song alone has more merit than most complete albums.

I Talk To The Wind is a very sharp contrast to the opener, but it works superbly in the context. A very soft song, particularly showcasing Greg Lake's voice, a beautiful flute part from Ian McDonald and Mike Giles' enchanting percussion. The vocal and instrumental sections both stand out. Truly magical. Sinfield's lyrics again fit in very neatly, and can really transport the listener to another state of mind. Very simple in format, but nonetheless perfect. Not your average ballad.

Epitaph can only be described by itself. Pure emotion trapped inside 8 minutes and 47 seconds of music. Again, a completely outstanding song, with more of Sinfield's superb lyrical contributions. Greg Lake's vocals, Fripp's acoustic guitar, McDonald's mellotron and piano and Mike Giles' drumming especially stand out. In fact, everything stands out. Another dose of musical perfection, and another dose of imagery.

Moonchild is the strangest of the expressions in the album, but no less effective. It begins with the haunting Dream, with the sublime guitar part from Fripp, a bit of subtly used Mellotron and Greg Lake's beautiful vocals introducing the idea: moonlight. Mike Giles provides more of his unusual percussion. After a few minutes, the largely improvised (according to most things I've heard about it) 'The Illusion' section begins. It echoes and brings up the lyrics and the imagery, cycling through the actions of the moonlight described by Sinfield's lyrics. The improvisation leads fluently to another arranged section, suggesting a slow dawn, and the shadows of the night gradually vanishing. A musical painting, and a greatly under-rated one.

In The Court Of The Crimson King crashes into existence with a thu-thu-thu-thub from Mike Giles and the suffocating, thick mellotron riff that is the core of the song. The verses are composed mainly of pretty acoustic guitar, vocals and a careful, directing drum part, and have a very medieval feel. As it moves onto the repeated 'chorus' line, perhaps the most impressive use of block vocals in rock history, the choking mellotron returns. Sinfield again provides superb lyrics with a very bitter, dark edge. Of especial note are the instrumental Return Of The Fire Witch, highlighting Ian McDonald's skill on the flute, with a sort of weird borderline improvisation around it from Lake, Fripp and Giles, and the double-conclusion. The first conclusion is a relatively simple vocal or mellotron (can't really tell which) fade out, probably responsible for the end of Genesis' Visions Of Angels. Giles provides a couple of taps on the percussion, and a mocking reed organ begins playing. We are treated to a brief solo from Mike Giles, and then McDonald and the band return to provide a full overblown repeat of the main riff, driving slowly towards a superb and hectic conclusion, echoing the end of Schizoid Man.

One of my introductions to prog rock, and yet still improving with every listen. Mike Giles' drumming here is perhaps my joint favourite for any album overall (together with ELP's Tarkus), and demonstrates how you can escape the mould for a musician even as a drummer. If not for Robert Fripp's ability to go on and keep making superb material with several completely different line-ups of King Crimson, the departure of Lake, Giles and McDonald after this album would be an utter tragedy. This album is genuine art as music. Peter Sinfield's lyrics, as I have pointed out earlier, are absolutely the best throughout this album, on a par with Roger Waters' Echoes. A stunning series of images, and a true observation. Art at its finest.

Rating: Six Stars. It's the other Larks' Tongues In Aspic.

Favourite Track: 21st Century Schizoid Man

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Of course I felt nervous while playing In The Court Of The Crimson King for the first time. So many glowing reviews, such a milestone in progressive music. What if I don't like it?

But I did. I really did, and it's been a real pleasure listening to ITCOTCK next to Lizard for a while now. A diverse and rewarding album which has a unique characteristic in that it is so utterly fresh (for its time) and still feels very rooted in an older tradition of music, whatever that one might be. Stunning from beginning to end, its freshness hasn't faded, even though I'm listening to it almost forty years after its release. It's quite a warm album, mixed with enchanting melancholia and fantastic surrealistic musical landscapes, painted both by the instrumental and vocal performances and the madness of Peter Sinfield's vision. The album is so strong in imagery. Few other efforts match it, especially with the highly expressive and omnipresent Mellotron, enriching the album with an atmosphere only that instrument can create. There isn't a single weak spot to be found. I've tried to find them, for a while I even wanted to find them, just so I could say that ITCOTCK is flawed. It's not. There are dips in the quality though, I admit that. But as with any other masterpiece album, they are never below 'really good'.

21st Century Schizoid Man is a musical slap in the face, from start to finish, and just as its title suggest it's an exposé of a twisted mind. Distorted, disturbing vocals from Greg Lake and powerful drumming together with a crushingly loud riff before everything falls apart in a wild, frantic jazzy section with saxophone all over the place. Raging along together in a paranoid fashion with Fripp's evil guitar soloing on top of everything, it eventually returns to the main theme of the song, only to fall into chaos again by the finishing cacophony.

Quite a jump then to the beauty of I Talk To The Wind. Nice ballad with a soothing performance from both Lake and Fripp, hovering on delicate flute. Weakest song on the album according to me, as it isn't as instantly commanding as the others. Strangely accessible for Crimson as well. Still has its function here though, and wonderfully relaxing. Epitaph on the other hand, is just stunning. One of those songs that really can't be described by words alone. Trapped emotion, perhaps? And the soaring Mellotron together with all of that makes it one of the best tracks here.

It's perfectly reasonable that Moonchild is loathed by many, with a drawn-out improvised section. Uncertain, meandering and yet very delicate and beautiful, I just like it. Some music has the power to take you to unexpected places and Moonchild is made of such material.

What finally concludes the album, is also the best of the best. The title track, a powerful, abstract story riddled with mystery and imagination unleashes the mellotron in all its glory and has one of the best refrains I've heard so far in rock music. A choir effect, be it from the assembled vocals of the band or from the mellotron, always makes me smile. Perfection. Enter the flute for a great interlude with careful percussion until Lake returns for the main theme once again. And just as you think the song is over, you're served another interlude with a delicately careful organ until a spiced-up, last reprisal of the main riff is played once again and then.just a touch of the initial madness found on 21st Century Schizoid Man. And there it is: a full circle!



Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Neurosurgeons scream for more

Well, we all do when it comes to this album. Often proclaimed the first progressive album (or at least the most influential), this is certainly a debut release that had magnitude to it. This album is very far ahead of its time (as Crimson often was), it's Jazz-rock fusion sounding almost (almost) like an early form of metal. It's heavy, that for sure, especially at a time when most prog albums were playing it more psychedelic.

There isn't much to say about this album that hasn't been said before, so I'll be brief to avoid being too redundant. This is an album that sounds like it could eat you. You don't listen to this album - It makes you hear it. Blasting guitars shift to calm and chilling segments fueled by a multitude of instruments ranging from guitar to sax and the emotional voice of Greg Lake. 21st Century Schizoid Man is a prog classic, it's frantic pace and solos demand any listener to revisit it over and over again. I Talk To The Wind is best described as sounding like an evil version of Pink Floyd as the boys in the band decide to slow things down for a minute. Epitaph is a terrifying thrill-ride that's propelled further by Greg Lake's excellent delivery of the sad lyrics, ''confusion will be my epitaph''.

Often complained about, Moonchild remains an essential song in the Crimson catalog. It starts with those soft and soothing vocals and then moves into a long and reflective quiet section in which simplicity becomes a thing of majestic beauty. It all closes with that ever classic In The Court Of The Crimson King, another almost scary song which sees the band going back into the Epitaph and 21st Century mood.

Like I said before, it's really hard to add anything to this album that hasn't already been said. This one is definitely essential to every prog rock collection. If you don't already have it, I recommend you try it out to see what all the fuss is about. You won't be disappointed.

PS - this is the 666th review of the album... sweet

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars For my 100th review I knew that I had to pick a very special album and what can be more special than my all-time favorite album? Yes folks, this is the album that turned me overnight from a punk loving schoolboy into a fan of progressive rock.

It has been nearly 10 years since I've heard In The Court Of The Crimson King for the first time but listening to it today it feels almost as fresh and new as the first time, something I consider to be quite extraordinary! If I remember correctly this was not my introduction album to progressive rock, I owe the to either Thick As A Brick or maybe some Pink Floyd-album that my parents had exposed me to as a child. Non-the-less it was this King Crimson debut that made me re-evaluate my musical tastes and values! After listening to it I realized that there was no way I could ever go back to listening to punk and hardcore ever again and up to this day I actually honestly say that I never have!

There is no reason to do a track-by-track walk-through, or even segment-by-segment one for that matter, because after 800+ rating/reviews here on Prog Archives I'm certain that many have managed to do a quite excellent job at that. Instead I shall tell you why I personally consider it to be my favorite album. It's just a beautiful, melodic, instrumental, technical masterpiece in all possible categories. The only tiny flaw I can think of is the prolonged Moonchild instrumental section that drags on for too long but it by no way makes me think less of this fantastic progressive rock debut album.

Masterpiece that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!

***** star songs: 21st Century Schizoid Man (7:21) I Talk To The Wind (6:05) Epitaph (8:47) The Court Of The Crimson King (9:25)

**** star song: Moonchild (12:13)

Total Rating: 4,72

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars This album is a very important one for progressive rock, it was one of the first prog rock albums ever and it was extremely influential on other prog groups. All the five songs here are prog classics, especially the opening and closing tracks.

Why is this not a masterpiece of progressive music then? Well, in terms of being a groundbreaking album with a huge influence on others it is. However, the tedious experimental part of Moonchild stops me from giving this five stars. I simply cannot believe that they chose to include this boring improvisation on this album. This shows very bad judgement. But what a relief it is when the title track kicks in.

I should add that this album is the best album by King Crimson by an extremely wide margin. They never again made anything even close to the standards set by this one.

In The Court Of The Crimson King is a classic but not quite a masterpiece.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars In The Court Of The Crimson King has become not only one of the most important albums of King Crimson but also one of the quintessential albums that spawned the progressive rock movement. Often quoted as the birth of prog rock, the album certainly encompasses all of the characteristics of the genre that we have grown to love: weird, jagged guitar licks, devastating drum time signatures that move outside the standard 4/4 rock signature, keyboards and mellotron pieces that balance the insanity, and all this punctuated by blazing blasts of saxophone that spiral out of control. In other words King Crimson at their best.

The influences of Jazz are prominent throughout and the band are so tight the music tends to punch holes within the fabric of the musicscapes. An example of this is in the awesome '21st Century Schizoid Man'. This song introduced me to the band and I have never looked back, getting hold of any King Crimson I can, I am proud to say I have been Krimsonized. You have to love a band that uses music to express themselves the way King Crimson does. Greg Lake's vocals in '21stCSM' are processed through a vocal transposer that make him sound like some terrible alien machine that is telling mankind where he is going wrong: "Politician's funeral pyre, Innocents raped with Napalm Fire."The lyrics are as potent as the Crim's can be. The feeling of alienation and a barren soundscape are exemplified in the way the song is structured. During the lyrics, a sense of minimalism is produced, then the wall of sound kicks in. The incredible sax and Robert Fripp's screaming guitar complement each other brilliantly throughout the opening half, and then it slows down for a moment before the time signature changes completely and there is an erratic saxophone that locks in and continues while a strange lead guitar howls and reverberates. One of the best things about this section is the way the music seems slightly off kilter, almost out of tune but not quite. There are moments where all instruments cease at once, pause and then begin on cue only to stop again in various rhythm patterns. It is quintessential listening for anyone interested in progressive rock.

Following this maelstrom of sound, the album settles down surprisingly, for where else could it go, into a very melancholy type of song, 'I Talk to the Wind'. This features Ian McDonald's woodwind and the soft vocals of Greg Lake. To be honest, it's not one of my favourite pieces, it all seems so safe and tranquil in comparison to the rest of the album, but I guess as a contrast it works well enough. 'Epitath' is a great track that has been partly resurrected by Greg Lake on ELP's excellent live epic 'Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends' (the last few seconds on CD 1). It has a symphonic component that is created with a heavy blend of mellotron, keyboards and vibes. The lyrics are thought provoking "the wall on which the prophets write is cracking at the seams, upon the instruments of death the sunlight brightly gleams, when every man is torn apart with nightmares and with dreams..." this is where prog rock got its reputation for thought provoking lyrics. The stanzas are confusing, though enlightening and the lyrics revitalise the music, rather than detract. The two cannot exist without the other and are of equal importance. Peter Sinfield was responsible for some of the most provocative lyrics of the prog movement and he is credited on this album for 'words and illumination' interestingly enough.

'Moonchild' is the longest track and annoyingly tends to just go on and on, almost as a complete improvisation in the studio recorded without forethought at times. I know this is one of the most annoying things about this band that I love, but it is also the reason that they are outstanding; they do improvise in concert substantially, and it has garnered their reputation for jazz fusion. So it's a catch 22 - if you are into a band as experimental as King Crimson there are going to be moments in their repertoire that will infuriate you. Michael Giles drum patterns are interesting enough but unfortunately, as far as I am concerned, 'Moonchild' is just about the worst they have recorded. It should have been cut by about 6 minutes and there is too little going on for my tastes to even make this memorable. It is more or less a jazz improvisation and doesn't really go anywhere. Maybe this is why some fans adore it.

'The Court of The Crimson King' ends the album on a positive high note, although the album cover looks like the Crimson King is slowly being tortured to death. I absolutely cherish this song and it is one of the best prog tracks I have heard. Lake's vocals have never been better, and there are amazing flourishes of sweeping keyboards that send a chill down your spine. The sound goes from intense to very soft in waves and all is complimented by a stirring lyrical content: "The black queen chants the funeral march, the cracked brass bells will ring, to summon back the fire witch in the court of the crimson king."

On that note, in conclusion I will end this by stating the facts: if you care about the birth of progressive rock, if you like your prog jazzed up with a fusion of heavy mellotron, if you love saxophone interlaced with jagged guitar rhythms, if you have heard of this album but were worried to purchase it because it's so old, if you are into Emerson Lake & Palmer: look no further! This album encompasses all that makes prog rock so enticing, and in a sense it captures all that made King Crimson one of the leading progressive masters, brilliant but flawed geniuses. The Court of The Crimson King is, hands down, an essential purchase.

Review by LiquidEternity
5 stars This is a tough album to review, because while it is not perfect, it is one of the most historically significant prog releases, and King Crimson is one of the most historically progressive bands ever to adopt the label.

What we have here is the very first release from Robert Fripp, a man of few words (if I remember right, he's written one line of lyrics ever in his forty years of producing important music) but of much ambition. While he will eventually come to be known as a guitar great, this album features very little in the way of Fripp showcasing his fretting talents. Instead, we have spacey and melancholic music punctuated by superb drumming from Giles. Do not get the impression that this album is boring, though. Vast oceans of mellotron and such like it, while they have become more or less a prog cliche by this day, give this release a wonderfully dark vibe. Greg Lake's voice, one I've always felt was underused in ELP (and, for the most part, in King Crimson, too) shines above much of the music with a fervor that is downright inspiring. His bass work also foreshadows the efforts he would put into ELP, except in the context of King Crimson, I find his playing both more exciting and more tasteful. In the Court of the Crimson King is a perfect debut for King Crimson, displaying their range of styles from highly aggressive to softly melancholic to experimental.

The album opens with a vicious kick, 21st Century Schizoid Man. This song became an anthem of sorts to King Crimson, inspiring a lot of bad puns over the next number of decades. Here we have distorted vocals from Lake (and terrifying bass playing), wild drumming from Giles, some unique guitar work from Fripp, and so forth. Oh, and we have lots of brass that pumps this song into full gear. Dark and menacing vibes just pour out of this track, while the energy levels and the tempo hit peaks that the band won't really touch again till Larks' Tongues or Red. This song perfectly showcases the aggressive, nearly heavy metal side of the band. On my first listen, I was blown away by this song but then uninspired by the rest. Be forewarned: this is not a song representative of the rest of the album. So when you first put this record in, do not expect an album full of upbeat and aggressive tunes.

In direct support of that last statement comes the album's gentle ballad of sorts, I Talk to the Wind. The music is lovely, and some gorgeous flute tinkles over the pastoral setting evoked by the music. Greg's quiet vocals on here are not terribly impressive compared to the rest of the tracks, but the harmonies they hit work quite, quite well. Probably the least unique and inspiring song on the album, but it nevertheless fails to be worthless.

The last song on side one then opens, the spacious Epitaph. Here is where Greg's vocals truly shine. Veritable choirs of mellotron back an anguished and impassioned vocal line. Here is the band's foray into space rock and psychedelia. Overall a very neat song, and a solid way to end that side of the album.

The next half kicks off with the album's longest song, Moonchild. If you are unfamiliar with King Crimson, I can imagine this song being a surprise after the carefully constructed first three songs. Psychedelic strains of this and that populate most of the song, creating an ambiance, an atmosphere, of sad and old music. Not that it's anything rehashed or uninspired. But trust me, chances are this will be every new listener's least favorite track off the bat; however, this one does grow on you. It fits the mood of the album perfectly, and it provides absolutely haunting sounds to bring the album to its conclusion, the title track.

The aforementioned title track kicks the album into the highest gear it's seen since 21st Century Schizoid Man, but don't mistake that sentence to mean that this is remotely similar to that song. Rather, we have a verse from Greg Lake that sounds almost minstrelsy. Each verse culminates in a haunting (that word again) harmony among several voices set to sound like a choir, all riding on top of a wave of thick keyboard sounds. The drums get a serious workout in this track. This tune is, despite its odd chorus of sorts and for the most part lack of words, strangely catchy. It wraps up the album with a gentle punch to the nose.

In the end, this is probably one of the most important prog albums ever written. It was instrumental in the wave of 70s progression, and still stands today as an interesting and unique experience. I don't see how any fan of any sort of classic prog could get by without owning some King Crimson, and I don't see how any fan of King Crimson can get by without owning this album. This is almost a necessary addition to any prog music collection, in my opinion. It's not perfect, but it is about as close as they come.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimson's debut is considered by many to be a cornerstone of progressive rock music. My feelings about it change for better or for worse each time I hear it. One overwhelmingly positive thing I can say about not just this album, but the first four King Crimson albums, regard Peter Sinfield's lyrical contributions. His words are full of intrigue and taciturn wisdom, using enigmatic phrases and mysterious concepts that give the hearer something to contemplate, and people have done plenty of that, what with the rampant speculation involving Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire and the identity of the Crimson King. Where the lyrics succeed, however, the music fails; the latter tends to be either repetitive or anarchic, or both. A generous portion of the album is filler, plain and simple. The argument that one should like King Crimson (or the Beatles, for that matter) because of how influential they were, and that we wouldn't have progressive rock as we know it if it weren't for Robert Fripp, is specious at best. It's tantamount to claiming that if one enjoys the work of a certain author, one must likewise think highly of the literature of those who influenced said author. This reviewer is young, and I believe I have an advantage in being able to judge the music on its own merits rather than through the heavy bias of historic musical importance.

"21st Century Schizoid Man" The first track is the most boisterous, with crunchy electric guitars, wailing saxophone, heavy tom fills, and the greatly distorted voice of a young Greg Lake. The music runs through several time signatures (including free time). The lyrics consist of mostly sentence fragments describing (at least in part) the perceived chaos of the Vietnam War; before a live audience, Fripp stated that the song was dedicated "an American political personality whom we all know and love dearly. His name is Spiro Agnew." There are other valid interpretations that are worth exploring that will not be recounted here. The song concludes with cacophonic improvisation.

"I Talk to the Wind" What the first song is, this song isn't. The distortion is gone from Lake's voice, and only a velvety harmony remains. The song is flute-laden, and is perhaps comparable to early Camel in sound and structure. It is pleasant in many ways, calming even.

"Epitaph" The heavy waves of Mellotron and the acoustic guitar that open "Epitaph" is one of the best moments of this album. Lake's voice is undeniably good here, and the strikes of acoustic guitar that punctuate the piece are impressive even though it's a small addition. The Mellotron's saturation of this piece is also part of what makes this one of the better tracks present. The problem with this song is that there's simply too much of it; at almost nine minutes, there are no noteworthy changes in pace or structure, only in intensity, so the song has a propensity to become tired after so long.

"Moonchild" One might not expect a third soft song in a row, but this is as quiet as it gets on this album. The vocal section is very good, though, with guitar work that was the harbinger of Fripp's sound. There's not much more one can say after that: Everything after four minutes is directionless improvisation. This is the musical equivalent of an artist who is hailed as genius for randomly smearing and splattering paint on a canvas. It could be forgivable, but no- it takes up three-quarters of the album's longest track. Quite a bit of what is going on here makes me think the band left the studio unlocked, with everything still running, and a gaggle of seven-year-olds with a couple of dogs snuck in and began enjoying themselves. It's unbelievable.

"The Court of the Crimson King" Once again we have a song that overstays its welcome, at nearly ten minutes. The Mellotron riff is a classic example of its use in progressive rock, although it is seriously overused throughout the song (and especially at the end). It is heard at least nine times, not counting instances when there are no vocals. The verse sections are fantastically written, and the words are haunting. The first instrumental section is upbeat but brief. The flute-led second instrumental section in the middle is simply beautiful. Regardless of the above criticisms, the song stands as one of the best offerings from King Crimson, and the reason I can't rate this album less than three stars.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars King Crimson - 'In the Court of the Crimson King' 5 stars

No, this wasn't the start of progressive rock. Whether I like to admit it or not, I consider maybe The Beatles, Franz Zappa or the Moody Blues to be a start for this genre to the best of my knowledge. It is undeniable though, that this is the album that put prog on the map. I don't give it extra stars for that reason; it put prog on the map because it was just a great album by itself. I find it to indeed be one of the best albums in the 60's.

At this time, there was no leader like there is now. This band was made up by Robert Fripp (guitar), Ian McDonald (winds, sax, keyboard, mellotron, everything etc.), Greg Lake (bass, vocals), Micheal Giles (drums, percussion) and Peter Sinfeld (lyrics). It is important to recognize every member that has ever been in King Crimson. The pretty much all are virtuosos at their instruments and each form something magical after their go-around with King Crimson. Basically, this band is just full of high- standards.

21st Century Schizoid Man is the opening number. Probably the most chaotic thing to hit the music scene at this time, with some really heavy, distorted guitar with the drums and saxophone blasting away also. Greg Lake's voice is also heavily distorted giving this track a pre-heavy metal feel. Quickly going into a time signature shift thereafter with some jazz licks, the track just goes into chaos. There is a spacey guitar solo in here as well. The track closes out with a sort of 'free-improv' section where everyone is doing their own thing at the same time instead of focusing on one musician. Very creative.

Not content to keep the same format, the next track starts out with a flute intro, very calm and relaxing. The track features Greg Lake finally getting some clean vocals done, which sounds great and some fantastic guitar interplay by Fripp.

Epitaph is one of the most depressing songs I have ever heard. This track uses the mellotron to its deepest appeal.

Moonchild is the most important track on the album. The guitar intro by Fripp is very unconventional to me even now, after hearing so many different things. It is all over the place, but remains so melodic and smooth. The track really feels like a song for about 3 minutes until there is just minimalism, short bursts of sound and very little improv for a good number of minutes. It really leaves it open to interpretation. I just feel a sense of curiosity and calming when it's done, it really speaks out to me as something different.

In the Court of the Crimson King closes out this brilliant album. Plenty of mellotron and chanted vocals giving this a really really old song appeal from the medieval times. The lyrics fit so well accordingly too. Can't really argue here, this song is a masterpiece of music.

This wonderful and diverse album deserves no less than five stars in my opinion. It put prog on the map, because it was a good album, it is already clear it wasn't the first.

Review by Negoba
3 stars If you consider yourself a prog fan you have to have this album. That doesn't mean that it's one of the best, but its historical place is unarguable. So in one sense it's essential, but if I were to grade it on its music alone, I would give a simple good rating of 3 stars.

For all the claims of this being the originator of prog, King Crimson borrow alot of their sound from the Moody Blues. Classically influenced, organ / mellotron dominated, ethereal atmospheres, all of these signature elements were well established by the Moodies quite awhile before this album emerged. 21st Century Schizoid Man's riffing certainly establishes a heavy psychedelia that upped the ante at the time, but it was but one step in a long line of great headbangers. The rest of the album really is the airy post-Moody material I mentioned before. The sound has never wowed me, never seemed truly challenging or ever all that innovative. Probably so many have borrowed from the album, and the sounds are so overused, that the once original sound long ago has become the norm. (Similarly, I remember Pearl Jam's Ten sounding original at one point. Now, it's a good album, but hardly unique or challenging) At the same time, however, if you go back and listened to classics like the Beatles' Rubber Soul, Yes' Close to the Edge, or Led Zeppelin IV, they still come across as amazing pieces of work. Certainly those albums have been borrowed from extensively as well, but their power still dazzles.

ITCOTK is, to me, a good album more valuable for it's place in history than for music that still inspires me. It's great to have in the library, but it's not an album I listen to all that often. (Though later KC does have a place in the rotation.)

Review by horsewithteeth11
3 stars Historical? Yes. Masterpiece? Oh heck no. Now let the hate mail commence.

Well, I do agree with many people on this being one of the starting points of true progressive rock. But to say it's THE starting point and THE progressive rock album...give me a break. That to me is like saying that all prog fans must like The Beatles because without them, progressive rock would never have existed. Prog rock would still have come about with or without The Beatles. It would just have been different. Just like how progressive rock would have come about even without this album. Also, being someone who is young and wasn't alive during prog's heyday, I fell that I can make a fairly good judgment on this album.

I will give the critics here this: this is actually a fairly good album. My issues with this album however are: 1) many instrumental parts feel too repetitive, 2) Moonchild and Epitaph are just too long for their own good, and 3) large portions of this album have filler. I can't put it any nicer than that. I know me saying such things may upset some people, but it's honestly why I can't give this album any more than 3 stars. To be honest, 21st Century Schizoid Man saves this from me giving it 2 stars. The King Crimson what I have come to know and love, the one with avant-garde, jazz, and lots of experimental and eclectic natures lacks quite a bit on this album. Besides the first track, the vocals also serve as one of the redeeming qualities. I'm sorry, but an album with this much filler is begging for a 3 star rating. I've tried and tried and tried yet some more to give this album a chance, but noodling isn't going to get me to like it anymore.

Review by ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I grew up listening to this album and when I rediscovered it a few years ago after listening (and loving) The Dark Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd), it introduced me to the genre. In the Court.... shows everything that is magnificent about prog:

1)Musical virtuosity

2)Long epics

3)Crazy improvisations (21rst Century Schizoid Man)

4)Beautiful ballads (Epitaph)

5)Amazing lyrical content, from the surrealistic I Talk to the Wind to the realistic Epitaph and the Orwellesque pesimistic vision of the world of 21rst Century...

+ it features Greg Lake's vocals which adds something really special to the music

-21rst century... is one of the best oppeners to an album that i've ever heard, you'll never expect something like this even in your wildest dreams. With high expectations and a bit skeptical, you put on a record with a great (and really weird) cover art and you're told that it is one of the greatest things on earth (something hard to believe), and then... it HITS you, its like dreaming but then you realize that you are awake and listening to a bunch of musicians that are easily among the best in the world just madly jamming... when the track finishes you have to stop the record to listen to it again, then you realize the amazing (and distorted) singer, the lyrics, which really mean something (they aren't just silly words glued with silly music), and the well defined role of each instrument from the leading guitar and winds to the rhythm and backing section.

-In contrast with the previous crazyness follows the quieter and surrealistic (more amazing lyrics provided by Peter Sinfield) I Talk To the Wind, which immerses you into the spirit of the album and transports you through a different universe to the beauty of Epitaph and Moonchild.

-Epitaph is kind of a quiet ballad in which Lake shows his ability as one of the most talented singers in music, this song surrounds you with a magnificent and beautiful, yet sad atmosphere. (I really love the mellotron work here)

-Moonchild continues in the same mood, but is a bit too long (nonetheless, is always fun and interesting to listen to Crimsonian experimentation).

-The album finishes with the title track, which really transports you to the Court of the Crimson King (or kings?) where the band displays what they can do with their talent, knowledge and a few instruments. Great mellotron usage, beautiful instrumentation (specially the instrumental sections, and the flute is simply outstanding) and lyrical content that only a poet could write. A masterpiece ending for a masterpiece record...

This album is almost orchestral, in the way that each instrument has its own role and none is superfluous, even the backing mellotron has its well defined place in the piece...(well its a symphonic prog album after all).

A masterpiece of prog and rock in general and a must have in any serious rock collection, specially recomended to first timers in the the words of Jimmi Hendrix, King Crimson is...the best band in the world!...5 stars aren't enough...

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Once again, although definately not needed I'm going to review one of the masterpieces. In the Court of the Crimson King could be, (and probably is,) the best prog debut album ever released. Then again it's no wonder when it has tracks like 21st Century Schizoid Man, the crazy tune with the amazing blend of guitar and saxophone, which to me sounds like a 60's version of Ozzy Osbourne (funny i think that because Ozzy did do a cover of it). I Talk to the Wind is an excellent ballad in which Steve Lake's vocals are perfect all through the track. Epitaph is a very beautiful song once again polished by Greg Lake's voice taking the superb lyrics to a completely new dimension. Moonchild is not as good as the other tracks but is still well above-par. The title track is undoubtedly my favorite being a prog masterpiece from start to finish. It has everything you could want, good lyrics, nice vocals, and a good rhythm. People shouldn't even question why this is a masterpiece.
Review by J-Man
4 stars This was one of the very first prog albums on the face of the Earth, and no one can deny that. Without "In the Court of the Crimson King", we might not be where we are right now. This is equally (and possibly more) important than classic proto-prog albums such as Sgt. Pepper and Tommy. So why am I giving this four stars? Well, it just isn't absolutely essential. This is all great music that any prog music fan should own, and I highly recommend it to anybody. Essential? Not quite. Excellent music? Certainly.

The Music:

"21st Century Schizoid Man"- This is an almost hard rock song, and is a great way to open the album. This has excellent use of saxophones from Ian McDonald with Robert Fripp's excellent playing. This has an improvised jam in the middle that builds and progresses incredibly back into a reprise of the opening. This is an excellent way to open up the album.

"I Talk To the Wind"- This is a much mellower song in contrast to the previous heavier song. This isn't a particularly interesting song, and is actually kind of boring at times. It does, however, have a very catchy melody with some nice woodwinds, but isn't exactly a "standout" track.

"Epitaph"- Another softer (but more epic) song, with no really "aggressive" sections. I like this song much than the previous song that somewhat bored me, and this is one of the best songs off the album. This has an excellent chorus and great use of a Mellotron.

"Moonchild"- Well, this is the one reason this album is a rounded down to a four, not rounded up to a five. It has a nice (if not very memorable) melody at the beginning, but for the last 9 or 10 minutes it's just pure improvisation. It's very directionless, doesn't build at all, and I have never been a huge fan of free time, so by default I shouldn't like most of this song. I always stop this song at three minutes.

"In the Court of the Crimson King"- This is the masterpiece on the album. There are a few other great songs, but this is the climax of the album, and is a great closer. It, once again, has exceptionally good use of the Mellotron and I wouldn't argue that this song is anything short of a masterpiece.


I do highly recommend this album to any progressive rock fan, and I won't deny this is a very important album historically and that this is a classic prog album. It has a few flaws, but they can all be excused in the presence of some of the greatest progressive rock ever recorded.

4/5 stars

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' - King Crimson (9/10)

Bill Bruford once said 'if you want to hear where music is going in the future, you put on a King Crimson album.' While this sounds a bit oddly self-serving coming from the drummer of the band, it is undeniably true. This album was working around with so many genres, some of which would not even come to fruition until a decade later.

There are few albums that still sound fresh years after they are put on the market, especially not from the realm of prog. Many prog albums from the 60s and 70s era have not aged well, to the point of the derogatory term 'dinosaur prog' being used in fair abundance. King Crimson's opus 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' however, demonstrates how fresh an album can remain if it has the right level of innovation in it.... and this album is in no short storage of innovation.

The album starts off with one of the heaviest songs of that generation, '21st Century Schizoid Man.' Never have I ever heard a song from the 1960s that sounded so heavy and 'metal.' From the first jazz-infused chords, it's clear that this is something special and an album worthy of it's praise. The tightness of the musicians is almost unparelleled, and despite such grim subject matter (a bleak, post-apocalyptic future) there still manages to be an energetic groove; especially in the middle, frantic section. To this day, '21st Century Schizoid Man' stands as being one of the most groundbreaking, landmark songs in all of rock music, and the obvious highlight to this already-superb album.

The two highlights of the album are the opener and closer; both classic tracks. It's easy to see why King Crimson is considered 'eclectic prog' from listening to this album. The aforementioned first track for example ,delves into jazz-fusion and proto-metal, whereas the title track has a heavy symphonic influence. I would not want to be the guy entrusted to properly catalogue a band as diverse as this!

The only downside of the album is the second half of the song 'Moonchild.' While the three 'middle' tracks aren't quite as memorable as the two monsters, they are all beautiful and melodic, except for the second half of 'Moonchild,' which really hurts the flow of the album. After a very calming ballad progresses for a few minutes, the songwriting and composition breaks down into a random jam, which would have been fine except for the fact that the jam is too mellow to retain much real interest for the listener. It's more or less a few minutes of relative silence until the great closer. Disregarding this however, the album is fantastic.

'In The Court Of The Crimson King' is an album that every prog fan owes himself to listen to. A dominating contender for my favourite King Crimson album (only challenged by 'The Power Believe.')

A progressive masterpiece, and King Crimson's quintessential work.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
2 stars Far from a masterpiece!!!

Here, finally it's time for me to review the debut album of King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King. Probably I have to begin with the fact I don't hear all these things the other members of the PA have heard. Moreover, I think very much people doesn't rate what they' ve heard, but something else - they rate the importance of this album for the birth of progressive rock as a genre with 5 stars, but not the album as a value for itself with 5 stars. It has been converted into a symbol of the genre and this overshadow the judgements of the real musical quality.

It contains some really good moments like precise voice of Greg Lake, the beginning of Moonchild and the last homonymous song - The Court of the Crimson King, which is the sole I could rate so high as 3.5 stars. On the other side: everything else are early samples of 60s rock music, I'll put the scraping on the first song - 21st Century Schizoid Man, middle- class songwriting and mediocre musicianship of the band members and I don't want to forget it is full of boring repetitions.

Yeah... the importance of this release can't be denied, because it is one of the first progressive rock albums. So what? All people repeat this. At the dawn of progressive rock music, it's obvious impossible to make something really good. It's a new genre - you have to pass through the worst things before reach the best. It's not necessary the first one to be one of the best. It's just the first one and nothing more. But here comes my next thought. It's not even the first one. Pink Floyd's A Saucerful of Secrets is earlier and it's progressive rock, too. But it's not a symbol of the genre.

So it's not the first, it's not the best from firsts... What's then? I suppose it's the debut album by British progressive rock band King Crimson. I'm looking forward to the next King Crimson album to be reviewed soon by me. For the debut not more than 2.5 stars!!!

Review by JJLehto
4 stars Just like "Black Sabbath" by said band and it's unimaginable impact on music, the same must be said for this album. Sure, prog has its roots in jazz, classical music and artists such as The Beatles and Frank Zappa but "In the Court of the Crimson King" is what cemented it. This is the first Progressive Rock album, the very foundation off which every progressive band is built on. Not to mention bands such as Tool and even more progressive metal bands owe some influence to King Crimson.

I am not going into too much detail since this album has already been reviewed to death. Also, you just have to listen for yourself. So I will just say this is a great album. Robert Fripp is of course the undisputed God of prog but what I enjoy most about this album is the drumming of Michael Giles. While this is a great album, it is not perfect. Some parts drag a bit, and some are downright boring. This is especially so on Moonchild. It starts off great and the huge improv section I like, at first. The soft part is wonderful and soothing, but starts to drag.The more, "upbeat" section starting at around 5 minutes left is also good for a while, but drags near the end, and I am glad the song is over.

I was going to give this album five stars right off the bat, for its historical standing. However, I can not. I pride myself on analyzing albums on solely their music, and not any outside forces. So even though this album is the birth of prog...I have to give it four stars. Some parts just go on for way too long. Now if you have the chance to get this album, GET IT! It is a wonderful work and it is like owning a piece of musical history. However, the album is not perfect. Based on that, I give "In the Court of the Crimson King

Four Stars

Review by progrules
5 stars Ok, I can't postpone it any longer now. Time to review the grand birth of prog rock. It's unofficially awarded most significant prog album in my own poll lately and guess what ... I can actually agree with this.

One of the reasons I waited so long with this review is my problem with rating it. This must be just about the only album in history I can actually reward with all 5 ratings. I will try to explain that by saying that in my most negative way of looking at this album I could give it one star because the music on it is not really my favorite style at all. I would pick all terrible moments (Moonchild's last ten minutes f.i.) and use them as a reason to give the one star. Same with two stars but then I would say there are some nice moments on some of the songs and use that as explanation. The most likely rating for my taste (and it has crossed my mind to actually give this) would be the three stars. Two very good songs (I talk to the wind and the title track), two that have good moments (Epitaph and the Schizoid song) and one that's more or less awful (Moonchild). This would justify a three star rating and in case I'm in a good and generous mood I could also give four stars for this view of the album.

But you know what I'm going to do ? I'm going to crank it up a notch and grant this album a bonus star for historical significance combined with my generosity and then I could give the full five here (like so many obviously did before me). And that's what it's going to be. I feel I've done enough harm to my reputation by giving the one star to Lark's Tongue (which I would do again if I could do it all over) and let's face it: this debut is indeed much much better and more bearable than the latter "masterpiece"'. So five it is and now if you'll excuse me I go back to my beloved neoprog where I belong ...

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm sure there's no need for recommending this album: you already own the vinyl album, two or more CD-masterings and a large poster in your bedroom of the album art of this prog rock masterpiece!

Even if you wouldn't like the music it's still a 5 star album as it's the landmark of prog rock. Not the best probably, but certainly the most important album of all. In the Court of the Crimson King kicked off a small decade of fruitful experimentation in rock, absorbed elements from classical music and jazz and ultimately created something that was bigger, louder and more ambitious then what rock used to be.

Granted, Crimson's album did not came out of nowhere: the Nice and many other bands had experimented with classical influences and Pink Floyd was (with Umma Gumma) even exploring deep space, but those bands where still rooted in the traditional 60's approach to rock song writing. They sure were extending the format, but did so with jamming your socks off inside the existing format. Instead, ItCotCK is something entirely new: long songs with alternating soft and loud parts that were fully composed, with crescendo's, climaxes, weird time signatures, instruments like the mellotron and so on and so on. No doubt. Progressive rock was born.

And historic relevance aside, the music is brilliant of course!

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I'm not really a great fan of KING CRIMSON. I own some of their albums but their music has never really connected with me. Their music leaves me cold. But even I can't deny that this album, "In the Court of the Crimson King", is an absolute masterpiece, and my only perfect experience with the band (the man).

From the beginning, with "21st Century Schizoid Man", the album is a constant delight of fantastic music. This dark, menacing track is followed by a really beautiful tune, "I Talk to the Wind", which almost takes us to a bucolic, pastoral scene, but one that is a little bit darker than what it looks like. Fripp and his bandmates could do melody, after all. Then we have another brilliant success: "Epitaph", a longer, slow song, with an epic feel to it, that reeks of 60s-70s magic, with a fantastic vocal performance. "Moonchild" is the reason many people either love or hate this record (around here we'll find more of the first ones, though). After a rather melodic start, we have about 8 minutes of pure sychedelic improvisation -or it it really-? Everything is just little details: few notes and chords here and there, dissonances, drum fills that are short and barely noticeable, a rock band ahead of its times, in a word. Finally, probably the best track in the album after "Epitaph" is the title-track, which follows directly and blends perfectly with "Moonchild". Another long epic, the chorus is just magnificent. A reaffirmation of the majestic, arrogant (in the best of ways) music we just have heard.

The musicianship is amazing, the flow of the album is perfect, with a symphonic feel to it. A perfect masterpiece that's considered the first proper progressive rock album, and that deserves all its accolades not because is the first, but because it's one of the very best. Anything lower than 5 stars is just unthinkable for me.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Something that basically started it all. Or at least this is what we were told and taught in school (hehe, I mean PA). My first try to start exploring prog music intentionally happened in May 2008. This was one of the first albums I've heard. I remember how keen about it, talking with Mororus, one of good friends I had in one online game I was playing then (but unfortunately, I was concentrating more on this game not so worth of attention [as any other online game], talking with people (I don't regret this, no way!) and listening a lot of prog while I was at it. OK, it wasn't so bad after all).

But first of them was ItCotCK (terrible acronym). Rocking first, calm ballad like second, philosophical third, jamming fourth and conclusion in fifth, take this as my epitaph to this album. Something like Marty was here, because for most people, this is well known album that they don't have to listen again. And even I feel like saying a lot about this record, what else can be said. So let's finish this with cliché

5(-) with one exception - Moonchild, where I'm not so sure that it's so exceptional song. More research needed. Anyway, before I entered PA forum. I though that it's shame song, really bad one, but certain people made me think about it. And so I did.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The release of In The Court Of The Crimson King was a milestone in rock music history, and the album itself was to a large extent instrumental in the invention of progressive rock. The album really needs no introduction to anyone visiting progarchives; it has already been reviewed extensively therefore another in-depth analysis of each track would be superfluous.

On this the band's debut album, King Crimson fused elements of rock, classical and jazz to produce a monumental epic. From the metal jazz-rock of 21st Century schizoid Man, to the pastoral balladry of I Talk To The Wind and the ambient soundscapes of Moonchild, this is a truly groundbreaking work. However, for me the most striking aspect of the recording is the prominence given to the Mellotron on the albums two orchestral pieces; the crescendo-laden Epitaph, and The Court Of The Crimson King, which features some of the most exhilarating use of the instrument to be heard anywhere. The feeling of incredible power in these two tracks is almost tangible.

I first heard this album in 1972 when a friend at school lent me his copy. He had told me that it was choc-full of swathes of Mellotron, therefore I had expected something akin to my beloved Moody Blues or Barclay James Harvest. Imagine my reaction when the strains of Schizoid Man erupted from my speakers! Of course, I soon grew to love this track along with all the others; I even enjoy listening to the much-maligned ambient improvisation of Moonchild.

From the reviews on PA it is evident that this album is held in great reverence by many prog fans, and rightly so. 5 stars... and then some!

Review by m2thek
5 stars In The Court Of The Crimson King, by King Crimson, is popularly considered to be the first true progressive rock album ever recorded. Over 40 years later, listening to it now, and comparing it to the music of the times, it's not hard to see why. This is the perfect starting point for anyone wanting to get into King Crimson, or even progressive rock in general. If you have never heard this album, do everything in your power to acquire it as soon as possible.

Unlike King Crimson's future works, which are more specialized brands of music, there's really something here for everyone. Whether you're looking for the frenetic pacing that KC is most known for, a soft ballad, grandiose symphonies, or weird experimentation, ITCOTCK will more than likely have at least one song that you'll fall in love with. About 85% of the album is sheer bliss, while some of the experimentation and jamming the band gets into is interesting the first few times around, but quickly becomes tiring.

I would not say that any one instrument really defines this album. It's really the combination, and the sheer chaos, of all of the instruments working together that make these songs such a joy to listen to. You might think that it would get out of hand (to be fair, it does occasionally), but these arrangements, while crazy, still manage to be very well structured. While you'd be hard pressed to find a guitar solo on this album, there are a few special moments that make you rewind and go, "wait, that was guitar?" that are among my favorite moments. Also to be noted is the use of Mellotron, which is simply fantastic, and is surely one of the top examples of the instrument. The vocals/lyrics are arguably the best that KC would ever achieve, and are truly a joy to listen to.

So 40 years later, whether it was the first prog album or not doesn't really matter. The simple fact is that this is a fantastic piece of music. Even though not every song is perfect, and you may even want to skip one every time, you simply must hear this to fully understand the genre.

Review by JLocke
4 stars Okay, I suppose it's time for my take on this work, finally. I've put it off for awhile, but I might as well get these 'giants' out of the way so that I can dig further into lesser-known territory in my reviews. This deserves my time, however, because it truly is a masterpiece in so many ways.

Already, virtually everything can be said about this album already has been said, and so this will be a very short review. But in a nutshell: this is one of highest-rated, most beloved Crimson records, and it's just their first release! These guys were amazing and revered before they even had a hit, and they weren't making music for commercial success or status; they simply wanted to make great music. And make great music, they did. I wish that attitude would be more common among so many of the modern-day Proggers.

Everything on this album has a magnificent sheen of brilliance and polish. From the kick-to-the-face Jazz-Rock epic opener that is ''21st Century Schizoid Man'' all the way to the majestic title tack album closer, this record is a resounding piece of musical history that should not be missed. I am one of those people who tends to look at the biggest hyped works of art with a closer eye than others, since I do believe a work can get 'too much credit', but in the case of In The Court of The Crimson King, all the praise is well-deserved.

Of course it can be argued that the band would later go on to do even better things in the future, but this is where their legacy began, and few other bands can say they hit it out of the park on the very first try. It's an enormous accomplishment and an iconic piece of music. Minor flaws here and there might be a huge deal to some, but as far as I am concerned, this is an album you shouldn't pass up. It's certainly one of the greater works of the decade, and while not fully 5-star material in my personal opinion, I think enough people have already given all the reasons why you should in fact pick up a copy of this monumental record.

So on a personal level, this is 4 out of 5, but don't fret; it's still one of the better records of the era, and a must-have for Psychedelic Jazz-Rock fans, or followers of King Crimson. Ideally, everybody should give this one a try once. It might be a little unevenly-paced for some, but as a complete experience, it was hard to beat at the time, and it's still a grand, well-loved work of art to this day.

Happy listening.

Review by jampa17
5 stars If you aren't a prog fan, you will be taken to the Court.of the Crimson King There's no other way.

Yeah, really, if you don't like prog or you don't "get it", this is the album you should listen to. It's very easy, everything is there: creative songwriting, unexpected melodies, conceptual ideas, great performance and a music way more sophisticated than what was fashionable at the time. Yeah, an album that has already 41 years old it's still the reference to "get" and enjoy prog. That's it.

King Crimson is basically Robert Fripps solo work. Well, at the time this was really a group but has changed line ups all the time, but at this time, this was a team work and everything is great about this album.

I don't have too many words to add to the others reviews. Just that if you are a prog fan and you still don't have heard this album, you should do it, right now and see where prog rock emerged. The melodies are creative, innovative, the orchestration is outstanding and the quality of the production is great. 5 stars. This is THE masterpiece. Go now and check it out. You won't regret it.

Review by thehallway
5 stars It is disputed as to whether or not this was the first "true" progressive rock album. If so, that's rather a neat little achievement for the humdrum county of Dorset; 2.5 square km of farmland and Jurassic coastlines that myself and the original members of King Crimson had the good fortune to be born within. It is indeed lucky that this debut album was as celebrated as it was; or we really would have to rely on "the second largest natural harbour in the world!"

In the illustrious 'Court of the Crimson King', one can discover five songs that blend whimsical folk melodies, dark jazz workouts and paranoid polyrhythms in an enormous symphonic vessel, drenched with thick mellotron and that 'quintessential English charm' that prog fans always bang on about. The lyrics are about as poetic as things get around here (think Thomas Hardy on acid?) and the instrumentalists deliver virtuosity and emotion in seemingly correct ratios; that is, constant lightning-fast drum fills trapped beneath melodic bass lines, with delicate yet calculated guitar and some beautiful flute decoration. Occasionally the saxophonist blows his own trumpet, resulting in confusion all around. The first track 'Schizoid Man' is deceptively cool. After a dosage of heavy jazz riffs and distorted vocals (Metallica take note) the whole affair shifts into an improvisational workout, carrying Fripp's first ever maniacal guitar solo, although perhaps thankfully the only one on this album. While something in the vein of Larks' Tongues in Aspic would benefit from the guitarist's angular and dissonant style, this record suits the modest, 'Wimbourne village' side of Fripp (since when were place names adjectives though?). Two double-tracked squealing saxes follow and the steadier opening theme is reprised. Structure brings clarity to chaos; a successful formula.

Remaining tracks fit into the epic symphonic category or the calm jazz one. Each one creates a mood; easier said than done, although it's notable that none of these moods are particularly optimistic. Medieval, apocalyptic, schizophrenic? it's no wonder Mr Fripp seeks to create mostly instrumental music these days! The highlights on this album come not from Peter Sinfield's baroque rambling, but rather the emotions bleeding from the Spanish guitars, woodwinds and of course, that omnipresent mellotron. An epic finale of a title-track leaves the listener satisfied and likely to come back for more, but the band would outgrow this style (and indeed most of these members) within the next couple of years.

Largely without flaws, 'In the Court of the Crimson King' retains a certain power each time I take it for a spin. Complimented by a strikingly apt cover image and an (unfortunately short-lived) chemistry within the band, this debut already says a lot about the genre it popularised. Things would get a lot more interesting from here on in.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars 10/10

"In The Court Of The Crimson King" is the quintessential Prog Rock album.

King Crimson are one of those bands that could be loved by anybody: their extremely proud of their eclecticism, as every album they've ever released is different in a way from the rest. In the case of their debut "In The Court Of The Crimson King", well, nothing sounded quite like that before, and much of progressive music sounded like it after. Indeed, it is absolutely the best, most important and influential Progressive Rock album of all time.

This mighty creature is the result of legendary guitarist Robert Fripp's genius, sided by a band that is to die for: Greg Lake on bass guitar and vocals, Ian McDonald on all wind instruments plus mellotron, Micheal Giles on drums, and last, but not least, Pete Sinfield, the lyricist. Together, they were King Crimson, however the lineup after this release will change on almost every album released. Before 1969, only a few Progressive Rock traces were around, and this album gave a huge push to the genre, bringing up all the elements of Prog, Art Rock, Jazz Fusion, carefully mixing them all together, all in a little more than forty minutes. ITCOTKC has, like I said, all the elements of progressive rock, before the genre was developed: it has the aggressive, virtuous, multi time changing song ("21st Century Schizoid Man"), the soft, flute based ballad ("I Talk To The Wind"), the melancholic, yet extremely apocalyptic and mellotron based song ("Epitah"), the minimalistic, the quirky tones mixed with free improvisation ("Moonchild"), the epic sounding soundscapes ("The Court Of The Crimson King"). This album has it all, even though, for the most skeptical ones, this album might seem inconsistent, like I use to feel, because it had one strong, in your face song and the rest were mellow. But it actually is, for the already explained reasons, one of the most complete albums in terms of sound.

Lyrically, the album is extremely enigmatic, fascinating, evoking fantastic situations, people and creatures: dancing puppets, witches, and what more, are present, especially in the last track; however, there are many other themes echoing all over the album, such as grief, confusion, worrying, frustration, but also cheerfulness and sweetness, but they are written with such a mysterious touch that they are not at all thorny and complex.

The opener "21st Century Schizoid Man" is one of the fundamental pieces of Progressive Rock, adding in strong elements of Jazz Fusion, thanks to the massive presence of the sax. The main riff has become pretty much a trademark for the genre. "I Talk To The Wind" easily is one of the best ballads of all time, the soft tones are just of an incredible power, that haven't aged a bit, thanks to the magical wind instruments that create them. "Epitah" a solemn, beautiful, mysterious song, with enigmatic lyrics, a great flow, and great instrumentation overall, especially concerning the mellotron. Most of "Moonchild" consists of a minimalistic instrumental improvisation, but the actual, only riff here is the softest you'll get from this album. A memorable and wonderful track, even counting the frequent odd moments. "The Court Of The Crimson King" is the perfect ending for an album, with an epic, once again solemn tone, with a gigantic riff and beautiful, soothing vocals; even in the quieter moments, the emotion is always there, just like in all the forty three minutes of music in the entire LP.

Even after more than forty years, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is and remains a masterpiece of modern music, a landmark achievement that will always be remembered. An essential listen not only for who loves Progressive Rock, but for everybody who listens to any kind of music.

Review by tarkus1980
5 stars It would be difficult to fathom a genre that owes more to a single album than does prog rock towards In the Court of the Crimson King. It's not as if it's the best prog album ever or anything like that - honestly, it would be hardpressed to crack my top ten. It's not even really the first prog album - even if you distinguish between "art rock" and "prog rock" (and you SHOULD), that honor arguably falls to The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack by The Nice (and arguments could probably be made for albums even earlier). There can be little question, however, that it is the most important prog rock album ever released. It's been occasionally referred to as the Sgt. Pepper's of prog, and that analogy is apt in more than a few ways. Not only did this album firmly establish the rules and potential of the genre, it also managed to popularize the genre all by its lonesome to a greater degree than could ever have been expected.

Of course, one should note that its impact and importance wasn't completely for the better. On the one hand, its overnight success inspired many bands that might not have otherwise done so to take up the prog genre, and that wasn't (at least in the short term) necessarily a good thing. It's no concidence for me that the outpouring of terrific prog albums began not one year later, but two years later - 1970 is filled to the brim with clumsy transitional albums by talented bands that wanted to be prog but hadn't quite figured out the genre's finer points. There were some exceptions (Gentle Giant, though it's VERY much like this album, or H to He by Van Der Graff Generator, though even they put out their own mediocre prog album that year in The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other, or ELP, which is nearly as good as this one is), but they were just that, exceptions.

There's also the fact that, ultimately, this album, in my humble opinion, helped shorten the shelf-life of "quality" prog (in its purest form). Most genres have a lengthy "embryonic" stage, where the rules and boundaries and positive qualities of the genre are established. Then there's a "peak" period, where a slew of solid albums are released within the genre, and afterwards there's a decline, where high quality output gets harder and harder to find. In the Court of the Crimson King had the interesting effect of completely eliminating the "embryonic" stage in one fell swoop. Ultimately, 95% of all the further developments of the genre were embellishments of the ideas presented here, and while that allowed for greatness for a good while, the possibilities were capped simply by this fact.

Alright, enough of the peripheral impact of this album, let's talk about the music. The most important member of the band at this point, despite what "Fripp runs everything" proponents might believe, was mellotronist/saxophonist/flautist Ian McDonald, who also played the biggest role in the songwriting. The melodies are heavily based in a classical, operatic tradition (except for the opener, of course), with some connections to regular pop but much more bombastic. Still, the melodies are GOOD, so even somebody who might hate the idea of pretense in music might still get a kick out of the quality tunes found here. The arrangements tend to follow suit - the mellotrons create an overwhelming symphonic effect at times, while the drumming (courtesy of Michael Giles) is deep, echoey and, yup, bombastic. Fripp is mostly downplayed (except, again, on the first track), yet makes his presence felt with some brilliantly beautiful electric and acoustic lines.

The vocals and lyrics also fit firmly into the bombast motif. Pete Sinfield contributes the lyrics (though nothing else), and while they're as pretentious as all get-out, they're not imageless by any means. It actually helps to listen to the lyrics the way you'd listen to the lyrics of an opera - listen to the sounds of the words, occasionally pick up on a moving or repeated line here and there, and just let them blend into the instrumentation. Granted, Sinfield turned out to be a HORRID influence, provoking whomever to jot down the most pretentious yet meaningless stuff imaginable ("All we are is dust in the wind!" - I'm grumpy towards Kansas, what can I say), and even he himself wasn't so great all the time, but on this album, he's more or less ok. And besides, it helps that he has Greg Lake to sing his lines - of all the voices in rock, I can't think of anybody more suited to bombastic, near operatic-singing, and he allows all the lines, good and bad, to come alive.

Now, at this point, I should start talking about the actual songs. Problem is, this album has been reviewed a 100 zillion times by people like mine, and I'm not sure there's ANYTHING left to say about them that hasn't been said. So here's the general breakdown - if you want more details, just piece them together from the other reviews on the net (including on this site).

"21st Century Schizoid Man": Booming guitar-based rhythm track, distorted screaming vocals, beautifully apocalyptic lyrics, incredible mid-song sax-guitar jam, WILD Hendrix- style guitar soloing.

"I Talk to the Wind": Lovely melody, lots of flutes, ultra-pretentious lyrics, nice breather between epics.

"Epitaph": Brilliant melody, layers of well-constructed bombast, lots of mellotron and woodwinds, terrific lyrics, AWESOME vocals, beautiful guitar solo, lengthy but not overlong fadeout.

"Moonchild": Major mis-hit of the album, first two minutes are a decent ballad, next ten are quiet and incoherent rambling jamming on vibes and bits of percussion. Blargh.

"In the Court of the Crimson King": Ultra-bombastic, brilliant melody, TERRIFIC harmonies following the chorus, lots of mellotron, lots of variation on the main theme.

There you have it. Again, if you go to this album looking for the pinnacle of prog, you'll be disappointed, but if you come here looking for where it all began AND why anybody cared in the first place, you won't be let down.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars Here it is. The granddaddy of progreesive rock albums.

It's not the first progressive rock album. Many bands were playing progressive rock at the time (not that it was called progressive rock). Pink Floyd, The Nice, Frank Zappa to name just a few were experimenting with the edges of what would become prog. But this album changed everything. This album was heavy. This album was deep. This album was dark. This album pushed the boundaries of rock music. And this album was pure prog. And it paved the way for many of our favorite bands, and helped them become the monster they were in the seventies.

Stangely enough, not one of the songs on this album come close to my list of favorite tracks, even by this band. But back in the early seventies, when I first heard the album, I could not stop listening to it. It was a gateway to ELP, Yes, Gentle Giant....

To me, it may have been surpassed my many other albums, but it is essential.

For that I give it five stars.

Review by Andy Webb
5 stars c. 1969: "What in the devil is that?"

King Crimson is well known for their experimentation. From distorted vocals to heavily affected guitars, through their 40+ year existence, Robert Fripp has been well known for his musical..... "anti"-genius, breaking down every single rule made for music to make some of the most inventive music of the time period. In the Court of the Crimson King, the pseudo self titled and debut album of the band, showed just how willing to experiment the band was. Each track has a tasty amount of prog, proto-metal, jazz, and King Crimson-esque noise.

21st Century Schizoid Man, one of the band's signature tracks, is an odd way to open up an album. Blasting forth with intense saxophone/guitar work, immediately one can see just how freely Fripp is willing to work. The distorted vocals add an intense metallic touch to the already intense music. The instrumental section is full of proggish virtuosity and jazzy fun, making the track just a blast to listen to. Overall, the track is easily one of the best openers I've heard, and certainly one of the better tracks the band has put out.

Being 1969, the band was in no position to put out an all "metal" album, and they needed to almost appease their critics. So, I Talk to the Wind, a beautiful melodic piece, contrasts the insanity of the previous track. Cool and melodic, the track is one of the more laid back the band has produced, and has many pleasant instrumental solos and vocal sections a la Greg Lake. Overall, the whole track is cool and melodic, making for a very relaxing ride.

Epitaph is next, a somber and again melodic journey. Featuring some of the most classic KC lyrics, the song is again one of the better tracks the band has released. With haunting mellotron chords and some very somber vocal work, the whole track is a beauty.

Moonchild is the strongest jazz influenced track on the album, featuring more jazzy guitar solos and softer keyboard. However, the track isn't purely jazz. The track has a certain degree of experimentation to it, not the type seen in 21st Century Schizoid Man, but a crazy avant type that featured random muted chords and eccentric drum splashes and such. Overall, a much more avant-garde and creative track is seen here, showing how willing to do what they wish the band truly is.

The "title track" The Court of the Crimson King is the last and one of the best tracks on the album. It features a very fantastic mix of everything that was played on the rest of the album, with heavy sections, somber melodic sections, uplifting melodic sections, and everything in between for a great overall experience, which ends an absolutely fantastic album.

ALBUM OVERALL: King Crimson sure knows how to compose music. With their debut album, the band fleshes out of the some of the best progressive music ever, holding it's wait even 40 years after it's release. The album holds virtually every element that is desirable in the genre, experimentation, great instrumental sections, melodic beauty, and so much more. Overall, In The Court of the Crimson King is certainly a masterpiece of progressive music. 5+ stars

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The most overrated album in the history of prog(whatever the hell prog is). Alright boys and girls, I'm going to turn this sacred cow into a Big Mac. Get some popcorn ready. I wonder how many people who give this album 5 stars actually listen to all 12 minutes of "Moonchild" every time they play the disc. Pointless noodling is just pointless noodling, it doesn't matter who's doing the pointless noodling. To call this the first prog album is nothing short of a complete slap in the face to artists like Zappa, Floyd, The Nice, Moody Blues, Procol Harum and East Of Eden and what they were doing before this album was released. Listen to Uncle Meat and Ummagumma(both released in 1969); those two albums make ITCOTCK sound like the Monkees! I bet some of the people who drool over this album are the same ones who refer to Trespass as Genesis' first album(ah, revisionist history, you gotta love it). This wasn't even the first symphonic prog album, that would be Days Of Future Passed. As much as I like what Crimson did from '69-'71, I really don't think they "found themselves" until LTIA(Oh that Bruford, he leaves Yes and they go to hell; he joins Crimson and they record their best album).

"21st Century Schizoid Man"-This sounds like a mix of Hendrix and Zappa. Seriously. There is nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking about this song. Is it heavy for 1969? Yep. But there were other songs that came out the same year that were just as heavy if not more so (check out Floyd's "The Nile Song" which came out in *early* 1969). The full-band writing credit on this song is misleading; Lake came up with the main riff, while Fripp and Giles came up with the jazzy middle section. If you took that middle section and added mallet percussion, it could have fit on Uncle Meat. If you removed that middle section from the rest of the song and got rid of the distorted vocals, it could have fit on Electric Ladyland. I don't think this song was very influential, however, there is a part on Soft Machine's "Facelift" that sounds very similar to a part in "Schizoid Man". ITCOTCK came out late '69, while Third was at least recorded early-mid 1970, so it may just be a coincidence.

"I Talk To The Wind"-pure Moodies except for the good drumwork, which is similar to the drumming of BJ Wilson of Procol. How influential was this song? I've heard a lot more songs from the '60s sound like this as compared to the 70s. "Epitaph"-pure Procol except for the Mellotron which sounds like the Moodies. In fact, if you want to hear a song from 1968 that sounds similar to this, listen to "In My First Mind" by Steve Miller(yes, *that* Steve Miller). Miller's song also has a slow tempo and is drenched in Mellotron. The lyrics on "Epitaph" are far superior of course. Lyric-wise this is my favourite Crimson song and Sinfield's finest hour as a lyricist. However, it is only slightly better than some of the lyrics Procol were coming up with at the time.

The first two minutes of "Moonchild" is a nice little ditty, nothing more. The rest is a perfect example of a band out of ideas. If you say you have listened to all 12 minutes of this song more than 10 times, then you: a)are lying, or b)have a greater tolerance for barely audible noodling than I do. Let's move on to the title track...more Moodies! Maybe a tad bit darker than the Moodies but wouldn't sound too out of place on In Search Of The Lost Chord. Of course the drumming is far superior to anything you'll find on a Moodies album, and maybe slightly more adventurous than what you would find on a Procol album.

So why the hype? The press loved it! People like Pete Townshend praised it to high heaven. It was Crimson's only gold album. It's considered the first prog album for no other reason than YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD SO! Compare this album to the Giles, Giles & Fripp album a year earlier. Worlds apart. Why? Because there are no Moodies, Procol, Hendrix and Zappa influences on that album...that's why. Keep in mind I am giving this 3 stars, not 1 or 2. Overrated as a all hell, but in general the music here is still pretty good. The drumming of Michael Giles in particular stands out. For an album recorded in the UK in 1969 on 8- track recording technology, this sounds incredible. In fact, the only other British release from 1969 that sounds better is Abbey Road. 3 stars it is.

Review by frippism
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Well considering KC is probably my favorite band, I must review everything in their collection. And unfortunately I have no choice but to also review the second or third most reviewed album on PA.

But wait! Shockingly this album is a masterpiece. An absolute perfect album (well at least very very close). And yet not KC's best, but hell a damn good debut if not the best debut album by any band ever. And now the songs!

21st Century Schizoid Man: Absolute classic opener. The guitar line is face melting. Lake's vocals (which I'm not a huge fan of in ELP) are great, especially with the distorted effects. Pete Sinfield provides incredible lyrics. He's probably my favorite lyricist of all time. The drumming is probably my favorite aspect in the song. Michael Giles is an incredible drummer and his drumming on Schizoid Man just weaves the song together so tightly even though it feels like the song is going to explode every second. Lakes bass playing isn't amazing, but it's not bad. Ian McDonald's sax playing sounds like a swine being sacrificed to the devil. Absolutely ferocious. Amazing beginning.

I Talk To The Wind: The ballad that is still getting radio play today. I might say this is one of the best ballads of all time, and I would probably be right. McDonald's flute is gorgeous. It's surprising to hear such a dynamic change between his insane brutal sax to this beautiful melodic flute. The song has all the great aspects. And Fripp's minimal guitar playing is just so beautiful it can jerk you to tears. It's surprising to hear such beauty after the insane explosion which was Schizoid Man.

Epitaph: Great song, though probably my least favorite of the album. Sinfield's lyrics here are the most controversial than they've been in any song here, criticizing organized religion. The song has great mellotron and even better vocals and the best acoustic guitar playing. Fripp is showing quietly his virtuosity, though his full potential is yet to be seen. The song can be a bit to dramatic, and it sometimes feels like the mellotron is making the song sound like, and an actual Epitaph.

Moonchild: Most controversial song on the album. The vocals in the beginning are probably Lake's best ever. The lyrics are also beautiful. In my opinion the instrumental passage in the middle is incredible. It's showing a future KC, and while some might hate it for being dull and uneventful (which is legitimate), I love it for being challenging and surprising. Most challenging part of the album, and possibly most rewarding.

In The Court Of The Crimson King: Best song of the album. Beautiful mellotron in the beginning makes you feel like you're in this depressing ceremony. The lyrics are very interesting as poetry alone, and talk about the rule of a corrupt... ruler. Beautiful instrumental passages, beautiful vocals. Beautiful ending. Very emotional and very powerful.

This album is (shockingly!) a must have for any self-respecting prog rock fan. But even if you accidentally stumbled on this website you probably know this. So. Yeah.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars The album that brought it all to a synthesized head: all before was but labor pains; all to follow but variations on a theme? Not quite, but, after Sgt. Pepper's Hearts Club Band, ITCotCK is the album that most affected musicians, listeners, and even the direction a whole host of musicians would take for the next five or six years. Still, this is by no means a perfect album; many do not like the "waste of time and vinyl" that is a big chunk of "Moonchild;" some find the music of "21st Century Schizoid Man" too abrasive, too discordant, too distorted; some find many of the slower-paced songs too syrupy--especially the lyrics and their presentation; I find the drumming of Michael Giles to be tedious, uninspired, and rather rote (and am always painfully aware when any other artist tries to emulate it). Flutes, Mellotron, moods conveyed, structure and innovation are what make this album so unique and groundbreaking to my mind. For 40 years now I've found myself singing "Epitaph" to myself almost daily, "I Talk to the Wind" whenever I go outside, and "The Court of the Crimson Ki-i-i-i-i, i-i-i-i--i-i-i-ing" many time a week. The album definitely makes a permanent imprint, affects neural development, and opens up one's mind to start asking bigger questions. For these reasons, and many more that I'll think of later, I can only grant this album masterpiece status. Any true prog lover should not, cannot call themselves a prog lover without owning this music.
Review by Anthony H.
5 stars King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King [1969]

Rating: 10/10

In the Court of the Crimson King does not need my commentary. This is the album that is most often labeled as the first progressive rock album. Although artists such as The Bealtes, Frank Zappa, and Pink Floyd built a heavy foundation for prog, this is the album that catapulted rock music into a new level of creativity and artistry. In the Court of the Crimson King was so radically ahead of its time that if it were to have come out yesterday, I think that this description could still be applied.

Every track here is a separate entity in and of itself. Each is stylistically unique, with distinct compositional styles and musical dynamics. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is one of progressive rock's most recognizable songs; the vocal hooks, inventive guitar work, staggering rhythm section, and jazz-rock insanity make it a true classic. "I Talk to the Wind" calms things down quite a bit. This is a pastoral, folky song centered on flute and soft vocals from Lake. "Epitaph" is a Mellotron-laden epic with some of my all-time favorite lyrics. Lake sounds emotional, Fripp's acoustic guitar is gorgeous, and the entire song is quite an experience. "Moonchild" is one of the most controversial songs within this genre of music. It begins fairly normally, with soft vocals and vibraphone, then transitions into a ten-minute-long minimalistic improvisation that I won't even try to describe. Many people see this song as ramblingly overlong pointlessness, but I enjoy it quite a bit. Both the vocal section and the abstract portion manage to create a distinct atmosphere; I envision a full moon overlooking a gnarled oak tree whenever I listen to this. The title track brings back the Mellotron and the grandiosity. This song moves seamlessly between epic passages and quieter, more subdued sections - all with a distinct Renaissance feel.

In the Court of the Crimson King may be innovative, historical, and revolutionary, but these factors are not what make it such a masterpiece. Even if this wasn't the first progressive rock album, it would still be one of the greatest. Every moment of this album is memorable; the composition, musicianship, lyrics, and musical textures are some of the best ever recorded. This is one of those excessively-praised albums that actually deserves all of the love it receives; it is essential to anybody who is a fan of music.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars There isn't much to say about this album that hasn't already been said. In The Court of the Crimson King is King Crimson's beautiful debut album and is one of the earliest progressive rock albums ever released. This music was absolutely wild for the time when it was originally released, and still holds a high standard for progressive rock bands to attempt to reach. Before this came out, there was nothing quite like it. It's beautiful, it's harsh, it's got jazz, it's got epic lush atmosphere. It's the complete progressive rock package slammed into one nearly perfect album. A definite classic, and this serves as the perfect introduction to an entire genre that this album single handedly created.
Review by Warthur
5 stars So many words have been written on the merits of this album, so I'll refrain from getting too deep into them and instead address what is often cited as the album's one flaw: Moonchild, the first song on the second side, which begins unusually gently given the tone of the rest of the album (loud, paranoid, bombastic, sweeping, dramatic, and all the other words that have been applied to it...) and ends up seemingly losing its way in a long quiet section of freeform improvisation which lasts for around 9 minutes or so. (Indeed, in the most recent round of remasters this section was shortened). Taken on its own, the song is highly dissatisfying, but taken as a prelude to the spine-tingling album closer of In the Court of the Crimson King I actually think the free-playing segment works quite well, the improvisation coming together into a gentle but foreboding atmosphere before the first chords of In the Court blare forth.

So, I will join with the masses in giving this one five stars, even though some of the individual songs might only be three star compositions, because this is one of those very few albums which you can say are greater than the sum of their parts.

Review by Starhammer
4 stars Not just a pretty face...

This debut release from King Crimson was light-years ahead of its time and is widely considered to be a cornerstone for all progressive rock.

The Good: The opening track is just a mindblasting composition and arguably the strongest start to any album, ever. It's sometimes easy to forget that this was released in 1969, a year when Get Back, Honky Tonk Woman and I Heard it on the Grapevine were dominating the charts. The shear heaviness and down right audacity of this song was like nothing else that had come before it . Forget groundbreaking, 21st Century Schizoid Man split the Earth in two, sucked every living thing into oblivion, then welded it back together all in the space of seven mintutes and twenty seconds. It bears all the hallmarks of a true classic with countless artists having covered it including most recently, Shining and Von Hertzen Brothers, and was even sampled sampled on a Kanye West track as well as appearing on Guitar Hero. There are very few songs which remain just as musically relevant over 40 years after they changed the world.

Anyone expecting more of the same could be in for a shock as Talk to the Wind could not be more different with its dulcit tones and subtle drum and flute interplay, a far cry from the bombastic orgy which came before it. This incredibly peaceful composition perfectly compliments its predecessor whilst setting a more minimalistic tone for the two tracks which follow it.

The Bad: For me Epitaph is a bit of a waste of time. Whilst quite an interesting piece on its own, when listened to in the context of the album it pales in comparison to the majestic title track and feels like a shiny door knocker which is completely forgotten by the time you're feasting in the grand hall. In addition, the experimental meanderings of Moonchild are a bit hit and miss and far too drawn out for my liking, but that is just down to personal preference.

The Verdict: This album pretty much defines eclectic prog as there are countless facets to be discovered, yet it still clings to a continuous recognisable sound throughout. In terms of quality I would say: one masterpiece, two excellent additions and two good but non-essential... 3.8 rounded up to 4 for musical significance.

Review by baz91
5 stars The Birth of Progressive Rock?

Well no, not quite. There are certainly quite a few albums before this that had a progressive feel to them, 'Shine On Brightly' by Procol Harum being a perfect example. 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' was more the kickstart that prog needed to become a fully fledged genre of it's own. Because of songs like Epitaph, many bands decided to buy themselves mellotrons and create longer pieces of music. Without this album, it's safe to say that prog rock would not exist the way it does today.

One of the many prog traditions this album adheres to (possibly by founding altogether!) is 5 tracks on a single album. You may not have noticed before, but 5 seems to be the magical number that assures a brilliant album (at least on vinyl anyway). Other albums that follow this tradition include Mirage by Camel, In the Land of Grey and Pink by Caravan, Ys by Il Balletto Di Bronzo, Tales from the Lush Attic by IQ, Red by King Crimson, Per Un Amico by Premiata Forneria Marconi, H to He, Who am the Only One, Still Life and World Record by Van Der Graaf Generator and Going For The One by Yes. There's just something about having either 2 songs on one side and 3 on the other or 1 side long song with 4 others that keeps the album simple yet complex. The 5 songs on this album are all unique and memorable.

The first of these tracks is the tour de force 21st Century Schizoid Man. Beginning with a 30 second wind sample (another great prog tradition), this is a really energetic song. Despite being over 7 minutes long, the structure is quite simple: two short verses, a mammoth breakneck instrumental, and another verse at the end. This 'instrumental sandwich' is yet another prog tradition that has been followed in songs like By-Tor and the Snow Dog and Firth of Fifth. The astounding thing about this song is that it was recorded in it's entirety, without vocals or multi-tracked guitars, in just one take! All the stops have been pulled out to make this a brilliant and memorable song.

Surprisingly, the next track is far more mellow. As one might be able to tell from the opening bars, I Talk To The Wind is dominated by the flute. This is a beautiful, melodic track which shows the pastoral side of King Crimson. The flute solo in the middle and near the end are both very pretty indeed.

Next up is Epitaph, a slow sombre track. If you didn't know who he was already, you might be able to guess the singer was Greg Lake from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, because of his dramatic singing on this track. The most memorable thing about this song is the use of mellotron. Without being overpowering, the keyboard gives this song an otherworldly feel that other bands would try and copy in years to come. This is the most drawn out song on the whole record, and in 9 minutes there are just two choruses. ELP would occasionally cover this song, as they do during Tarkus on their live album 'Welcome back my friends...'

Just as Revolution 9 seperates fans on the Beatles' White Album, Moonchild does so for this album. While the track is listed as being twelve minutes in length, the song itself is only 2:23 in length, and is followed by a ten-minute improvisation. The song part is lovely, with beautiful lyrics and instrumentation which makes me think of an Avatar-esque world. The improvisation is a completely different kettle of fish. On the first few listens, it sounds like Fripp and co. are happy to play notes randomly. On the whole, this is a very quiet section. When you listen more closely, you notice that the improvisation starts slowly and semi-melodically, gets more cacophonous towards the centre, and then reaches something of a happy and cute conclusion towards the end. This ever-so-subtle change in dynamics and style is really quite remarkable, although I can't say that I enjoy listening to it that often. This track deserves more credit than people usually give to it. It seems Fripp himself is in the bad camp about this song, as he edited over 3 minutes of the improv out for the latest remaster.

After the quiet Moonchild, The Court Of The Crimson King really wakes you up with a loud drum fill. This anthemic song has 4 verses interspersed with various instrumentals. The lyrics are brilliant and memorable, and the extension of the word 'King' over the mellotron is just breathtaking. After 7 minutes the song comes to an end before an instrumental epilogue begins. This epilogue uses the theme from the title track. All in all, a brilliant end to a revolutionary album.

Housed in a beautiful gatefold cover (another great prog tradition), this album has become the archetype of all that is progressive. The screaming man on the cover has become a mascot for the genre. With such radically different songs to all that had gone before, King Crimson knew they were the start of something special. Even without the history and significance, this is still a fun and interesting album to listen to. Everything about this album screams progressive, and if this isn't an essential album then I don't know what is!

Review by GruvanDahlman
5 stars I dare say, this is one my personal Top 5-albums of all time. Sorry, no. It's my Top 1-favorite of all time. Not only did the cover captivate me as a child, the music, when I got around listening to it, blew me right off the face of the Earth. Now, I realise that for many a listener the later KC-albums tends to be more challenging and rewarding but for me "In the court..." is the perfect progrock-album. It holds all things dear to me. What you get with this album is not only, as I see it, the true birthplace of prog but certainly the most atmospheric, diverse and enchanting pieces of music ever recorded. Surely there are other albums worthy of such a description but remember this is 1969, the dawn of a much turbulent musical 70's. The songs sums up what seems to be hundreds of years of music, without giving away too much of it's inspirations. There's the proto-metal (how I dislike that term) of "21st century schizoid man" to the sweeping beauty of "Epitaph". There's that wonderful feeling of sagas, history, mystery and beauty. And in abundance at that. I realise now, when writing about the album, how much I love it. Actually, I love it so much I'm loss for words.
Review by admireArt
5 stars What else can be said about the manual for "Perfectly Crafted Progressive Music" I guess that if the 5 stars rating is not unattainable, who else but this guys deserve it? Really. This is the kind of record I wish I could hear again for the first time. Nothing compared to it. Strange and unique fall short; but at the same time quiet universal. I have never stopped being surprised by the wide variety of species which belong to the "Crimsonsīs Court"... There are things that happen by luck, accident and law, this is one of those. Out of nowhere; back in those days 1969; music creativity was emerging simultaneously like grass (Hendrix, Beatles, Yes 1, Zeppelin 1, Miles Davis, early european Progs and a long etc); it really was complicated to outstand in any other way but talent. And more important than that creative talent; without limits, but yours; it was your choice. Creativity transforms the established language; and to find onesīs own language is the name of the game. This music is one of the best examples. Fripp was not new at this game; he had some pre-Crimson musical encounters with future Crimson founders. Greg Lake was a long time childhood chump, they both learned to play the guitar when young. Prog as such changed for better with the arrival of this "Monster!" (as with The Beatles Sgt. Pepper or Hendrixīs "Are you experienced?". The standards changed dramatically for every prog fan and musician. To put it "Crimsonly" this was the music for the 21st. century schizoid fans. 5 stars top
Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars So here is where it all began for the band that I consider the best of all the prog artists. I never really knew that a lot of people considered this album to be the work that is responsible for progressive rock though until I started coming to this site. I mean, look at Frank Zappa, the Beatles and a few others. They were around before KC was and they ventured into prog territory without even knowing they were doing it. But it hadn't been invented yet. What these artists were doing was stretching the boundaries of rock, and thank God they did that. But, as for this album, why is it considered the beginning of Progressive Rock? I think it is because this is the first time a band or an album was formed and created solely for the purpose of expanding and exploring rock music. Robert Fripp was and is a very innovative musician and that is why when Bill Bruford says that if he wants to know where rock is going that he just listens to King Crimson. Mr. Fripp is a man ahead of his time. But, what really made this album so special and why are so many artists influenced by the music of King Crimson? This album explores where rock music can go if you don't have any rules. There.....that is what progressive rock is about, no rules. This is why KC is always changing and progressing. You can almost always hear progression from one album to the next. Suddenly, the tie between blues and rock was mostly broken by this album. When people picked this album up and played it for the first time, they didn't know what to think at first for the most part. This was so different, almost like a completely new form of music. And look at what has come from this album. Wow, talk about influence. So yes this is not only a masterpiece, but it is a landmark album of musical historical proportions. So anyway, my love of King Crimson predates any knowledge or realization of this on my own part. But the reasons I love the band in its many incarnations and the man behind the band that has been at the helm from the beginning is because they are not afraid of experimenting and exploring, of stretching the boundaries of not just rock, but of music, and it doesn't matter much if it sells or not at the time, as time goes on people come to appreciate it more. Ahead of their time....this phrase belongs to King Crimson more that anyone. Pioneers. Innovators. Yes I realize I should be reviewing this album, but that has been done so many times already on this page, just look at all of the reviews. I have to say, that I love this album and would give it 5 stars anyway even if it wasn't as essential as it is. But, I am also happy to report that it is not my favorite album from them, and the reason that is a good thing is because this was the band's first album and they had so much more music to create and explore, and it also means they are living up to the name of the genre, KC is progressing or at least trying to progress from one album to the next. I have to say that this album, as wonderful as it is, is not always indicative of KC's sound. It represent more the mellower side (except for the amazingly bombastic "21st Century Schizoid Man") of the band. There are other albums that represent the louder side of KC including "Red" "Larks Tongue" and "Thrak" You can't just listen to one KC album and say, "Okay, I know what to expect from them now." If your exploration of KC's music ends at this album, then you lose. So, everyone can complain now that I didn't really review this album. That has been done a thousand times already and I really don't think I can add anything else to what has been said. What is important to convey here for me is not how beautiful and innovative this album is, but the reason why it is important for all proggers to listen to it and know it well. Because, love it or hate it, it has been the biggest influence for the whole of progressive rock. Robert Fripp and KC are continuing to influence everything about progressive rock also now and for the future. This is essential listening for progressive rock music. This is a masterpiece. This is Progressive Rock 101.
Review by rogerthat
5 stars King Crimson's first strike, In The Court of the Crimson King, is often hailed - rather unjustifiably in my opinion - as the first prog rock album or as the album that birthed prog rock. It is certainly a hugely influential album for our beloved genre and has been much imitated - with or without imagination - since its release in 1969.

And yet, what struck me when I listened to the album today was how unlike some of the leading lights of prog rock it is. With all due respect to the likes of Genesis, Yes or ELP, I must submit that ITCOTCK is on a higher plane aesthetically than some of the best work of those bands. This view is probably 'influenced' by the fact that I have listened to all these albums well after the fact and my frame of reference is therefore very different from those who experienced this music in the 70s.

I can say for sure that to me this album has a timeless quality that I find elusive in a lot of 'big band' prog from the 70s. ITCOTCK utilises very elegant and tasteful tones seemingly chosen with a lot of care and restraint and played with scintillating understatement. There is not a moment in the album that I felt assaulted by a very 70s sounding keyboard tone, a sensation that I frequently get while listening to the other aforementioned bands. Just the most beautiful wall of mellotron pervading the music like a cloud. In that sense, Foxtrot is the closest in generating that sensation for me (from amongst the albums of those bands). And I only cite this example because I can't find any better words to express this. Camel's Mirage is overall the closest in terms of a parallel in the sense of being another album in a style that is not exactly in fashion today and to which time has yet been kind.

But what even Mirage doesn't really evoke for me is the powerful sense of melancholy that comes through in this music. I have 'moved on' long since from ITCOTCK to the Reds and the Disciplines so this facet of KC's music surprised me today when I listened to it again. It really makes sense to me now why this album still exerts a magnetic pull on prog listeners, with many insisting that this is their best album and some of them going on to suggest everything else they made was a waste and an insult to the name of King Crimson.

I personally would not go that far for reasons that have more to do with personal taste. This album doesn't really offer the infectious, irreverent energy of Discipline and the overpowering muscle of Red. Which is perfectly alright except that those qualities draw me a little more to the music I listen to. In comparison, ITCOTCK, with the exception of the monstrous Schizoid, plays like a collection of evening music. Er, evening prog, you could say. And I was in fact listening to it on a rainy, cloudy evening. Perfect weather for this kind of music, if you ask me (and also for Steely Dan's Aja but that's another review).

I can't judge how much the recording quality (which sounded great to my uneducated ears) has contributed to the beauty of this music but most of it is down to the musicians. As I already said, this is a different side of KC from the Wetton/Belew years. This is music that unfolds beautifully before the ears, like watching a painting in making. The quality of musicianship reveals itself in significant details, like Giles's delicate snare and the lovely manner in which Fripp's guitar weaves around the soaring mellotron. All of which is a big help because the songwriting, while very focused save for Moonchild (which I will address in a bit), can get a bit predictable and it is the execution that often carries the day and how! Greg Lake delivers powerful but understated vocals that are very true to the character of the album.

As for Moonchild, I do think it has a place in the overall context of the album. Standalone it might be hard to make sense of but it works very well as a (long) precursor to the title track. Actually, if you really do want to make sense of it, you could read Mark's review for clues. As an intuitive listener, I focus more on the experience as far as this track goes as it is beyond me to attempt to dissect it critically.

With that 'impediment' out of the way, I have no hesitation in giving it all five stars. But I would only like to note that it's a 'lesser' five star for me compared to Red and Discipline. On a scale of 100, I could draw fine lines of distinction between these three magnificent KC albums. But on 1 to 5, I can only be too liberal to one album and too harsh on the others and I would not like to do either.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Although rock music had been becoming more progressive before this release with such artists as the Beatles, Zappa, the Moody Blues and others slowly chipping away at the damn of the progressive reservoir, it was this album that burst open the floodgates and took progressive rock music to a whole new level by stripping away the blues influence and replacing it with classical, jazz and avant-garde.

A very eclectic playlist with mostly accessible songs like '21st Century Schizoid Man' and 'The Court of the Crimson King' but also included the inaccessible 'Moonchild' which does seem like an exercise of tolerance at times but ultimately is an interesting piece after forcing you to change your musical mindset. A style they would go on to incorporate on future releases.

The album took the world by storm making progressive rock popular and ushering in the next golden age of music. Although it took me longer to love parts of this album than others I ultimately succumbed to its charm and have to give this album no less than 5 stars for its unadulterated brilliance, boldness and importance in music history.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars As time passes by, perspectives can change, and how much more true can that be than for King Crimson's debut? After all, it's been almost 50 years since the initial release of "In The Court of The Crimson King". Many will call this the "first prog album", but try to post that in the PA forums and you'll get berated, shanked and shadow-banned by a horde of angry raving progheads. "Court" may not have been the first piece of prog rock; the genre was definitely brewing across England by the end of the 60's, from the Moody Blues as well as a few dozen obscure hippie bands. However, what I think we can agree on is that "Court" is perhaps the earliest definitive example of the genre, and the fact that it's still being talked about as frequently and highly as it is today, almost 50 years later, must mean that there's something special going on here. I don't know about you, but I think this is queuing up for a track-by-track.

Ah, "21st Century Schizoid Man", the game changer for many an impressionable listener. Say what you like about the state of prog prior to this, "Schizoid Man" is an innovative piece of music. A seamless fusion of jazz, psychedelic rock, and heavy metal, all in one explosive package. While you're fiddling around with the volume knob on your stereo trying to get the album to play over all the static, Fripp, McDonald and Giles burst in, causing your heart to skip a beat (or several). And with that inaugural burst of musical machine gun fire, you've stumbled upon a wholly new sound; you've entered the Court of the Crimson King. As an aside, it's worth clearing a common misconception at this point. The screaming face on the cover of the album is not "The Crimson King" (that title goes to the smiling, fanged figure on the inner gatefold); the face on the cover is the 21st Century Schizoid Man. Plenty more can be said about the strength of this opening track, one notable strength being the fact that the heavy distortion effects on Greg Lake's voice really help to heighten the tension and intensity of the track, whereas the potential is certainly there for it to sound trite and cheesy. Bravo, King Crimson, for pulling it off!

"I Talk To The Wind", follows completely unnaturally from the hectic, dissonant train wreck that is the end of "Schizoid Man". Not only is the contrast from noise to serenity incredibly stark, but it's also worth noting that the key of "I Talk To The Wind" is one semitone higher than the preceding track (C minor to C# minor). This creates a very neat effect; although the abrupt stop of the band mutilating their instruments and getting replaced by the lush feel of McDonald's flute should sound very relieving and resolved, the sudden key change actually adds a bit of uneasiness to the music. This effectively sets the tone for the remainder of the album: lush, but uneasy.

As the album continues on, this mood stays consistent. The sombre instrumental performances and Peter Sinfield's lyrics weave a web of dark emotions; loneliness, futility, fear, despair. As such, "Court" is one of King Crimson's most artistically cohesive projects. And, even if I take greater interest in the many tangents that they delved into on later releases, this one is still critical as a template, having set the frame for many of their later efforts. Historically, the importance of this album cannot be understated. Of course, in this sense it's a bit difficult for me to compare this album to other King Crimson releases; most of my admiration for their work stems from the fact that each album should offer something wholly unique.

On that note, "Court" actually falters somewhat when placed in the context of the greater King Crimson discography. Side one in particular has not aged quite as gracefully as some of the band's later material. "21st Century Schizoid Man" is still a fine track, of course, but it falls flat compared to other heavy King Crimson tracks. Even compared to "Pictures of A City", which was written around the same time, it sounds brash and misshapen, with the "Wake of Poseidon" opener sounding better produced, giving more intense dynamic contrasts, and delivering even more hectic, complex performances during its uptempo breakdown. And that's not even going into the improvements that King Crimson had made to their sound by the time "Larks' Tongues In Aspic" or "Red" had rolled around.

King Crimson really were masters of creating profound, morose ballads, but "I Talk To The Wind" and "Epitaph" don't see that talent brought to its full potential. "I Talk To The Wind", although perfectly placed in the context of the album, is simply a dull sounding track. And "Epitaph" may very well be the most dated sounding song in the entire prog canon. The mellotrons, majestic as they are, sound ancient, as though the string samples were recorded on Edison cylinders, or perhaps even scribbled onto the sides of Babylonian pottery. In addition to the production, the majority of side one simply doesn't develop much at all. All 9 minutes of "Epitaph" more or less play off of the same few themes, the only real change throughout being the volume level. So from a very visceral standpoint, much of the album just doesn't do the trick for me, no matter how significant it may be.

Having said that, and perhaps more relevant to my original critique of the album, is what does set it apart from other King Crimson releases. The truly unique bounty that "Court" offers is its second side, and in particular, "Moonchild". People often complain about "Moonchild", with common criticisms being that it's long and aimless, or that it's an experiment gone wrong. I couldn't disagree more, though. I feel that anyone with a bit of patience, a bit of imagination, and an open mind should be able to find plenty of joy from this beautiful song. For best results, I encourage you to listen to this one on a clear autumn night, looking out the window as you listen, with no other distractions. Peter Sinfield's lyrics, which personify the moonlight as the namesake "Moonchild", are absolutely haunting. The simplicity of the music during "The Dream" also serves very well to highlight the innocent, naive nature of the subject. The brilliance makes itself more apparent, however, with the second section, "The Illusion".

With a meandering instrumental jam, King Crimson invites you to listen to what you just heard a second time. This time, though, it's presented completely differently. "The Dream" set the scene, and "The Illusion" plays it back in a more intimate, yet cryptic manner. With a bit of reflection, you can tell that Robert Fripp's initial soft guitar strumming once again describes the Moonchild "dancing in the shallows of a river"; his velvety tone is reminiscent of the ripples in a pond, or a softly bubbling brook, with the moonlight reflecting off of it. Then, as Giles joins in on percussion, we're brought inland. Perhaps into a forest, perhaps a garden. The wind has certainly picked up, as soft cymbal crashes and brief flurries of sound coalesce, not unlike the beating of branches in the nocturnal woods. Some time later, the mood lightens. Fripp plays alone once again. He switches to a major key, lightly strumming away. It may just be me, but I hear hints of the Allman Brothers in his playing during this final minute of the piece (think the end of "Mountain Jam"). The wind is gone, and dawn has calmed the scene. The Moonchild is done playing for tonight and we eagerly await the smile of a Sunchild.

As you can imagine, "Moonchild" isn't the sort of music you put on for instant gratification, to be grabbed by a catchy hook and carried along, but rather a sort of sonic portrait that drifts by at its own pace, inviting you to sit down and relax, to simply open your ears and appreciate the magic of the sounds. It's a very non-linear form of expression, but it's absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth the time span. And once it all comes to a close, the album's title track brings its valiant conclusion. These two songs together, "Moonchild" and "The Court of The Crimson King" present something truly special in King Crimson's catalogue, a sophisticated simplicity, a certain pastoral, folk-like quality. This quality permeates less so on "The Court" than on "Moonchild", but it still comes out strong during the flute solo. While King Crimson would touch on this sort of atmosphere selectively throughout their career, such as in "Cadence and Cascade" or "Lady of the Dancing Water", it is only on "Court" that they devote an extensive framework to develop and integrate it into a larger sound.

So there you have it. A historically significant album, with a perfect structure, utter cohesion, and it even presents a facet of the King Crimson sound that stands out as unique. What's not to love? In fact, although "I Talk To The Wind" and "Epitaph" haven't been the most replayable, there's still something to be said for them. Though the mellotrons in "Epitaph" haven't aged quite so well, there is still a certain power and majesty to them. As well, while much of Peter Sinfield's later writing is beautiful sounding, it doesn't necessarily resonate as powerfully as the bleakly human lyrics to "Epitaph".

So I guess it just goes to show that try as I might to pick this album apart, it always manages to give a rebuttal. Even after 47 years, "In The Court of the Crimson King" is still one of the most talked about, and played, prog albums, which really is a testament to just how incredible it is. As well, I would definitely recommend "Court" as a gateway album. Either this one or "Red" are both fantastic starting points for those interested in delving into the deep and diverse universe of King Crimson. From a purely listening standpoint I may only give this one 4 stars, but it truly is a masterpiece. As it stands, 5 stars.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nš 10

In 1967, guitarist Robert Fripp, drummer Michael Giles and his bass player brother Peter Giles, joined together and formed the band Giles, Giles & Fripp. They can be considered as the genesis of King Crimson, founded two years later, in 1969. King Crimson is considered the foundational progressive rock band in the history of progressive rock music.

"In The Court Of The Crimson King" is the debut studio album by King Crimson and was released in 1969. It reached third place on the British charts and was certified gold in the United States. The album is a mix of symphonic and jazz elements. It has long been considered the first progressive album of ever, and is also one of the most beloved and legendary albums that still stands the test of time, even than more of forty years have passed after its release.

The line up on the album is Robert Fripp (guitars), Greg Lake (lead vocals and bass guitar), Ian McDonald (baking vocals, woodwinds (saxophone, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet), keyboards (mellotron, harpsichord, piano and organ) and vibraphone, Michael Giles (backing vocals, drums and percussion) and Peter Sinfield (lyrics and illumination).

After the album, both, McDonald and Michael Giles left King Crimson for to pursue their solo musical careers. They also recorded an album together, in 1970, before dissolving their partnership. McDonald later became one of the founder members of the American New Yorker rock band, Foreigner, in 1976.

"In The Court Of The Crimson King" has five tracks. The first track "21st Century Schizoid Man" written by Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles and Sinfield is the heaviest song on the album and is very close to the hard rock style. Lyrically, it consists of a short metaphoric poem that makes references to the Vietnam War. Musically, it's a notable track with great musical improvisation and great jazz influence. The song is also accompanied by a Lake's notable distorted vocals. It must have been quite a shock for the listeners in those days, because it was unlike any of the music they had heard before. This was the track that became so important and influent to the future birth of the progressive metal style. The second track "I Talk To The Wind" written by McDonald and Sinfield is the most melodic song on the album and makes a complete musical contrast with the previous one. It's a serene, simple and peaceful song commanded by McDonald's flute, very well accompanied by Sinfield's lyrics and sung beautifully by Lake, in a very quiet mood. The third track "Epitaph" written by Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles and Sinfield is a notable and beautiful track, which would become one of the best and most beautiful symbols of progressive music. It's one of my favourite progressive songs, and the band also used its name as a live album's title. The fourth track "Moonchild" written by Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles and Sinfield is the lengthiest song on the album. It starts as a peaceful ballad, but after a few minutes, it changes completely to a free instrumental improvisation by the entire group, which lasts until the end of the song. It's probably the most progressive song on the album and it's also one the most difficult to listen to. This is a very experimental track. The fifth track is the title track "In The Court Of The Crimson King". It was written by McDonald and Sinfield and is the second lengthiest track on the album. It became, with "Epitaph", one of the best and most beautiful symbols of progressive rock. It represents a really hymn to the symphonic progressive music.

The art cover of the album was painted by Barry Godber, an artist and computer programmer. Unfortunately, it would become his only album cover. He died in February 1970 of a heart attack, shortly after the album's release.

Conclusion: "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is one of the most important and influential albums in the progressive music, contributing to the development of the psychedelic rock, symphonic rock and heavy metal. The album combines an exceptional musical quality with really great poetic lyrics. I want to say three more things about this masterpiece work. In the first place, I want to detach the beautiful and massive use of the mellotron orchestrations on the album, especially on two of their tracks, "Epitaph" and "In The Court Of The Crimson King". In the second place, we have the quality and the originality of Sinfield's visionary lyrics. He also contributed with some other future musical works of the group. Finally, the clear, beautiful and distinctive Lake's voice, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the best, most striking and unmistakable voices in progressive music. "In The Court Of The Crimson King" was universally very well received by critics and public, and it has also the respected compliments of Peter Townshend. The Who's guitarist, called the album "an uncanny masterpiece". Concluding, I must confess, that "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Red" are, for me, the two best studio musical albums from the group, and they are also two of the best and most important progressive albums ever made.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by jamesbaldwin
5 stars In my opinion, this album is one of the best album in the history of rock music (not only of prog).

"21st Century Schizoid Man" is one of the best song of rock music (vote 10). It is avanguarde, jazz and rock; it is improvisation and austerity. It is the voice of Greg Lake, that sound like a nightmare. Neither Genesis, nor Jethro Tull, nor Yes have reached a climax like that.

"I Talk to the Wind" (written by McDonald) is pastoral and it is the best melody of the album (vote 8+). Greg Lake's voice sound like an angel. Losing McDonald since the next Lp, never more King Crimson will be so romantic and tender.

"Epitaph" (vote 9) is the icon of epic. Greg Lake's voice sound like a preacher, like a prophet which howls in the storm (the mellotron). Again: neither Genesis, nor Jethro Tull, nor Yes have reached a climax like that.

In these three songs Greg Lake's performances are beautiful, I guess the best vocal performances you can listen to a KC album. The other singers of the band, Haskell, Boz Burrell and Wetton, are not at the height of Lake, not even close. Belew is the nearest.

"Moonchild" (vote 7+) starts very well, with a very good melody, but the instrumental part, a jazz improvisation, is too long and a little boring. This is the only defect of this masterpiece.

"The Court of the Crimson King" (again McDonald) is another great epic song. His beauty is near to Epitaph (vote 8,5),

A great great album, masterpiece of rock music. Masterpiece of romantic progressive rock. Maybe this album is the baptism of progressive rock. And maybe no prog band or musician has done better than this. Medium quality: 8,6. Vote: 9,5,

Five stars.

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars In The Court Of The Crimson King is commonly known as the first "true" progressive rock album and is one of the most celebrated works of the genre. Whether you agree with that statement or not (I do not) this is an undeniably important work that laid foundation for prog rock to come. King Crimson created an imaginary world of "fire witches", "Court Of The Crimson King", and "the keeper of the city keys". The band talks about apocalyplse, politics, and war through the imaginary fantastic medieval land. Musically, the album builds on symphonic clasical music ("In The Court Of The Crimson King"), English folk ("Moonchild", "Epitath", "I Talk To The Wind", ("In The Court Of The Crimson King"), and Mingus-style hard-bop ("21st Century Schizoid Man"). For 1969, it was all way ahead of its time - both lyrically and musically. Everything is played with exceptional musical intelligence and precision. All in all, a very unique album and a true classic. This should be a gateway to progressive rock for every new listener. However, us, prog rock veterans often overlook the work regarding it as "pop" of the genre. I recommend listening to the album without any influence of others'.
Review by The Prognaut
5 stars Arguably, the best progressive rock record of all time. Unarguably, a cornerstone to understand the complexity and depths of the genre. Over the years, this record specifically has been target of several and endless debates between experts, fans and music enthusiasts of whether it defines the origins of Progressive Rock in its whole or not. "In The Court of The Crimson King" is as core musical creation just as any other that emerged alongside at the time the genre was being conceived. What makes ITCOTCK outstand from the rest, is its pure and unique blend of trademark sounds, the eerie mysticism, the overwhelming mixture of profound lyrics and the heavenly powerful lineup.

When the first notes of "21st Century Schizoid Man" rumble to the common ear, a feeling of panicking vertigo and lightheaded symptoms strike irreparably. It's a sense of collapsing discomfort that you end up getting used to over time and oddly how, enjoying endwise. The elaboration is brilliantly terrifying, almost as subtle as strange with a pinch of uttered mildness. In the years to come, this piece will turn into one of the most meaningful progressive rock songs of all time to all those own and strange to the genre.

Right after, "I Talk to the Wind" flutters shyly through delicate fluty notes that lead the way to a beautiful ballad. The words come out suitably exquisite to intertwine with the musical passage where a dreamlike scene takes places before your eyes.

And just when you start feeling this reassuring feel of detachment from the world outside your head, "Epitaph" jumps right in to blur away all that. This third piece in the album can be plainly defined as "mind-blowing". It's quite ironic to believe that a song can make you feel as gloomy as happy in a matter of almost nine endless minutes. There's no question about how magnificent was Greg LAKE behind the mic during his time with KING CRIMSON and in my humble opinion, this song is mainly carved in our minds due to the devoted voice of this man.

"Moonchild" is to me, a much underrated song that undoubtedly suits the wholeness of the record. It floats through enigmatic and comforting sounds, the instrumental section slowly reveals the enchantment of the track as it goes forward, letting us appreciate some intricate guitar and cymbal notes in between that create this moody ambiance all around the song.

Last but not least impressive, "The Court of the Crimson King" blasts away to wind up this 1969 record superbly. This piece was determinant to embrace the spirit of KING CRIMSON then and now of course. The song has turned into this sort of hymn, mandatory to refer to any entry in the history book of this iconic band. To me, it's not possible to think of KING CRIMSON's legacy without bringing this composition to the table. And far beyond from all that, this song seems to hold the essence, the origin, the birth and the entireness of the band that has lasted and prevailed for almost 50 years. Long live the King.

Review by The Crow
4 stars Finally, I get to write a short review of In The Court of the Crimson King!

This album comes from an era where a brave group of musicians were trying to create something new and stimulant with roots in classical, jazz and psychedelic music. This movement was especially active in the UK and it supposed the birth of progressive rock.

And despite not being the first symphonic rock album (do you recall The Moody Blues?), King Crimson were one of the first to create a true milestone of prog rock with this record, which is a perfect mix between jazz, folk and the primal hard rock of the end of the 60's.

Some tracks like the incredibly well-crafted 21st Century Schizoid Man and the solemn Epitaph still sound actual today, while others like the folk-rock I Talk to the Wind and The Court of the Crimson King are authentic mellotron feasts, truly enchanting and melodic.

The production was also very good and the engineering just crazy. The band spent hours creating melodies and mellotron tracks for this album, and this love and affection for their own music can be felt through the whole record.

Best Tracks: I love every song in this album! With the exception of the improvised part of Moonchild, which a find annoying and just nonsensical. You can blame it on me!

Conclusion: In the Court of The Crimson King is an incredible album from these true pioneers of prog and fusion. It's not a perfect disc because Moonchild is not at the same level of the rest tracks, and it's a veeeeery long song. For this reason, I can't give this album five stars.

Nevertheless, if you haven't heard this essential piece of music, you need to do it. You will discover the roots of many modern prog-rock bands and artists here, and for this reason it still sounds actual and modern almost fifty years after its release!

My rating: ****

Review by patrickq
3 stars Clearly, In the Court of the Crimson King is a historically important work. As a Yes fan, I recognize the unlikelihood that Close to the Edge would exist without the influence of In the Court of the Crimson King. Along with Van der Graaf Generator's early work, the use of syncopated reed-instrument parts on In the Court of the Crimson King would be emulated by bands for years. Beyond that, this album seems to have prefigured a whole strain of non-blues-based "heavy prog," and, I have to believe, a progenitor of many works by progressive metal bands.

But while In the Court of the Crimson King has been one of the most influential progressive rock albums ever, the album (and the band) isn't without its own influences, some of which, to me, seem fairly clear. For example, the heavier songs owe a debt to "In- A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and to groups like Vanilla Fudge. There are also echoes, so to speak, of Pink Floyd in these songs, as well as in some of the experimental sections of the album. Parts of "I Talk to the Wind" sounds a little like Traffic, and all of "Epitaph" sounds a lot like the Moody Blues. Nonetheless, In the Court of the Crimson King is an original amalgam of a number of styles; as a whole, it is anything but derivative.

In the Court of the Crimson King relies as much on production as on composition or musicianship, and the production is superb. Fripp's use of effects on vocals and instruments is appropriately offbeat. The sound quality is also top-notch. (In terms of sound, the edition I'm reviewing here - - the fortieth anniversary CD with the 2009 Steven Wilson / Robert Fripp remixes - - sounds like it was recorded yesterday. In terms of mixing, it doesn't vary radically from versions of these songs on The 21st Century Guide to King Crimson - - Volume One: 1969-1974, which contains nearly the entirety of In the Court of the Crimson King.)

The performances range from good to very good, and rarely detract from the listening experience. The only exception is the vocal harmonizing on "I Talk to the Wind," which wavers off-key a bit too much for my taste. While Michael Giles's drumming is good throughout, it's occurred to me more than once that it made sense that King Crimson bandleader Robert Fripp would eventually covet Bill Bruford for the band.

The relative weakness of In the Court of the Crimson King is in its composition. The quality of the songwriting is within the normal range for artistic rock of the period. I acknowledge that Peter Sinfield's lyrics are more sophisticated than were those of nearly any rock lyricist of the time, but like Neil Peart's early works, each clever turn of phrase is matched by an equally clumsy one elsewhere. Repeated listens have illuminated aspects of the presentation of the songs on In the Court of the Crimson King, but, for me, have not deepened my understanding of the composition.

I'm assigning this album three stars. It's hard to say that an album as important as In the Court of the Crimson King is "not essential," which is part of what a three-star rating means on this site. This album has been essential to the development of Steven Wilson, Andy Tillison, and many other great modern prog musicians. But as a part of a prog-rock record collection, I'd suggest first purchasing one of the band's 1980s albums with Adrian Belew, or perhaps Red, King Crimson's last 1970s album.

Review by Wicket
5 stars As of writing this review, King Crimson recently (and finally) put their discography out on Spotify (my go-to media listening solution now), and all the world rejoiced.

And by the world, I mean me. Just me, basically.

And it's a shame, really. When Tool put their discography on Spotify just days earlier to celebrate their new album (which the world also rejoiced), everyone freaked out. Tool, even to fans of mainstream hard rock is like considered THE cult band, at least amongst my friends. But King Crimson? Never mentioned. Never uttered. Even when I tell people who like "Power" by Kanye West about the sample used, they're like "yeah cool whatever".

And that's just a damn shame.

To me, "Sgt. Pepper" was the birth of prog rock. Lyrically, sonically, musically, it was revolutionary on so many fronts thanks to its Indian and psychedelic influences. But I do NOT consider it prog rock.

This album, to me, is the first truly progressive rock album. One that stands the test of time, and will continue to stand the test of time so long as humanity exists.

Everything about the music bucked the norm. "21st Century Schizoid Man" begins with one of the most iconic intro riffs of all time. Lyrically it was unique, sonically the jams just kicked ass, the late Greg Lake with his signature voice (which he would later contribute to his work in Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and just the cacophonic outro. This is one of their most iconic songs, with a kickass hook that just plays on repeat in your head once it's there, and then the legendary Robert Fripp just rocks your head off. Accessible, yet so distinctly prog, it's the best of both worlds honestly. One of my all time favorite tracks.

From the ridiculous to the sublime, "I Talk to the Wind" almost hearkens the softer ballad type love songs from British Invasion groups like the Hollies, the Zombies, Herman's Hermits and the like, only elongated and exaggerated in typical progressive fashion, with subtle guitar licks and wonderful flute playing. Just a wonderful little tune that provides a nice sharp contrast to "Schizoid Man". "Epitaph" takes that same formula and adds some extra drama in the form of background synths and an almost operatic singing approach from Lake, a slow and plodding monster heavy on the chords.

"Moonchild" is by far the black sheep of the lot. The longest and most difficult of the songs on this album, it begins in a similar fashion to "I Talk to the Wind", but veers hard into classical and contemporary influences, essentially turning into a contemporary percussion ensemble six minutes in. Scatter vibes, stuttering guitars, frantic drumming and stick clicking, all key elements in contemporary and new music ensembles (I've played my fair share of them). In reality, the first few minutes are nothing like the rest of the track, as the vocals disappear and popular music song structure is completely abolished. This wouldn't be the first song in popular music to emulate contemporary composers (see the Beatles "Revolution 9" for an example), but I believe the classically influenced prog works to follow (Such as that of ELP) could be traced back here, only simplified to make it more pleasing for the casual audience listener.

The capstone self titled track is also a classic that doesn't really need an introduction. The moment it starts it begins just as bombastic as when it ends. The magic in this song has nothing to do with the structure or musicality (although the bridges and interludes break up and add some different texture from the verses and choruses) , but more with Greg Lake's storytelling. There's an eerie air, of drama and circumstance, of twisted worlds and twisted minds, and subtle sounds and textures such as the mellotron organ roughly seven minutes in add to that effect. Is it a bit repetitive? Absolutely, for a 10 minute closer it's unnecessarily massive, and the weird organ sounds at the end after like 40 seconds of silence is redundant.

In fact, if there's a negative connotation to take from this album, I'd say that each song is just a tad too long. The weird 20 second build up in "Schizoid Man", the end of "Crimson King" and you could easily take a minute out of "Epitaph" and a few minutes out of "Moonchild" and none of the drama and effect would be lost. Regardless, it was polarizing then and it's still polarizing now. All of these songs have influenced future King Crimson lineups and indeed future prog bands to begin their own projects, and "Schizoid Man" remains one of my all time favorite jams, live versions especially (check the Night Watch from Amsterdam '73).

And the world rejoices...

Latest members reviews

5 stars This album is the gold standard for prog rock, in fact to me, it literally defines prog rock. When I first heard "21st Century Schizoid Man" when I was about 13, for a second there I thought it was recorded much more recently, only to find out that it was from 1969. To me it sounded very futuristi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2923534) | Posted by exoticprog | Tuesday, May 9, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of those albums that hasn't aged, and more artists have cited as an influence than I could care to name. From the mind- boggling opening '21st Century Schizoid Man' to the closing lyrics of 'In the Court of the Crimson King', you'll enjoy every second, 'Moonchild' goes on a bit too long howev ... (read more)

Report this review (#2923138) | Posted by Frets N Worries | Monday, May 8, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars With this being a revolutionary album where just about every Prog album is measured, and being over 50 years old it makes it intriging how many perspectives people would have on this album. Of course those of us who are not writing about hearing this album for the first time in 1969 envy those w ... (read more)

Report this review (#2896621) | Posted by altered_beast | Sunday, March 5, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Yes of course, like everyone else I had this album in my collection when I was 15, if only for the spectacular sleeve. An astonishing start by any measure. But now it makes me wince. Sorry to say but it sounds very dated. Listening 50 years on, It seems to be a logical extension of the Beatles' ... (read more)

Report this review (#2895712) | Posted by telefunk | Thursday, March 2, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my first Review, and it is about my first progressive-rock album i've ever heard. "In The Court of the Crimson King" is a truly masterpiece indeed, there is nothing to counter that statement, however as first listening for an outsider,not just for progressive-rock but for Music in gener ... (read more)

Report this review (#2881146) | Posted by Nickqrbd | Wednesday, February 8, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King" is a masterpiece of progressive rock that deserves a 5-star rating. Released in 1969, the album features an unparalleled combination of technical musicianship, emotive vocals, and poetic lyrics that set a new standard for the genre. Each track is a w ... (read more)

Report this review (#2874117) | Posted by Prog Network | Monday, January 9, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A essential for everyone, highly recomended Review #2 This album is very special to me, as some of the first progressive rock songs I heard are from this album. ITCOTCK has a very particular sound that I think no later album has. Now a brief review of all the songs on "In The Court of ... (read more)

Report this review (#2737974) | Posted by CosmeFulanito | Sunday, April 17, 2022 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Impressive and perfect debut album. Highly influential, highly engaging, no weak track on this one. 21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors) - What a way to start an album and what an introduction to King Crimson. The whole band shines, but I want to highlight the brilliant drumming by Mic ... (read more)

Report this review (#2654968) | Posted by WJA-K | Thursday, December 23, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of the most important albums in proggressive rock, "In the Court..." represents the start of King Crimson, and sets a standard which few of their later efforts can even be said to be close in quality to. And it's brilliant, but I cannot say it's perfect, for the simple reason of eight minutes be ... (read more)

Report this review (#2589523) | Posted by Progressive Enjoyer | Friday, August 27, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A essential for everyone, highly recomended This album is very special to me, as some of the first progressive rock songs I heard are from this album. ITCOTCK has a very particular sound that I think no later album has. Now a brief review of all the songs on "In The Court of The Crimson ... (read more)

Report this review (#2582899) | Posted by Idiotock | Sunday, August 1, 2021 | Review Permanlink

3 stars King Crimson's most iconic album, and their third best! (Sorry, Larks and Red are just too good) There's a big reason why I can't give it five stars, and that reason is Moonchild. I don't think I can name another track in an important prog release that brings its respective album down as ... (read more)

Report this review (#2533176) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Thursday, April 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What a fun album, cool artwork, very British singing and all around confident music. Track 1 I don't like very much, it isn't bad but it isn't excellent. The heavily processed vocals are a tad to much for me, I wish this one was just an instrumental with more crazy saxophone parts. Track 2 set ... (read more)

Report this review (#2522173) | Posted by Beautiful Scarlet | Monday, March 8, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson is what many people consider to be the birthplace of prog, and I cant really argue. Its at the very least a early masterpiece of the genre. You hear a bit of jazz influence, which that will progress any music genre, and its a very welcome addition ... (read more)

Report this review (#2507618) | Posted by Lieutenant_Lan | Sunday, February 21, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars REVIEW #18 - "In the Court of the Crimson King" by King Crimson, (1969) Arguably the first, and even more controversially the most monumental, progressive rock album of all time, King Crimson's debut album shook the music world in a way bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath did around ... (read more)

Report this review (#2492690) | Posted by PacificProghead | Monday, January 11, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #24 Wow!! I clearly remember the first time I listened to "In the court of the Crimson King": I was sixteen years old and a friend of my dad borrowed me the album; I recognized the cover because my oldest cousin had it. I knew King Crimson only by name so when I got home and played the alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#2476875) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Tuesday, November 17, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Audacious and avant-garde: those are the words that better describe In the Court of the Crimson King. The albumīs success is Robert Frippīs merit, as well as the team of fabulous musicians that surrounded him: Greg Lake with his voice and bass; Ian McDonald with the mellotron; and Michael Giles ... (read more)

Report this review (#2457501) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Monday, October 19, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Essential in the context of it being part of the origins of prog. An outstanding opening and closing, and personally 20th century schizoid man is the highlight of high drama ahead of the title track. Sadly the middle of the album, while it is far better than filler material, does seem a little t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2413509) | Posted by bartymj | Tuesday, June 16, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am 65 years old. I first learned of the only track "The Court of the Crimson King" from a friend. Then a few years later, I decided to acquire the LP. And it was a total shock, wow! Almost everything is fantastic: the rhythm, the atmosphere, the melodies and the arrangements. I'm not a music tech ... (read more)

Report this review (#2345744) | Posted by sarpedon | Saturday, March 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In 'Les fils de l'homme' we hear it, there is everything in it, hard rock, jazzy sessions, spleen, emotion; I'm told in the headset that this album was found near a monolith and more, in short, it's off on a journey inside oneself. 1.' 21st Century Schizoid Man' make it or break it; the strident ... (read more)

Report this review (#2310855) | Posted by alainPP | Thursday, January 30, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars So, how do you feel 21st Century Schizoid Man? Has the techno-mindrape driven you insane? That's okay just jack into your temple-vision and travel through endless utopian cyberspace realms. Well, what can really be said about this album. An album that launched a million Prog Rock dreams in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2243717) | Posted by Skull | Wednesday, August 14, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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