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King Crimson Lizard album cover
4.13 | 2446 ratings | 206 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Cirkus (including Entry of the Chameleons) (6:27)
2. Indoor Games (5:37)
3. Happy Family (4:22)
4. Lady of the Dancing Water (2:47)
5. Lizard (23:15) :
- a. Prince Rupert Awakes (4:34)
- b. Bolero - The Peacock's Tale (6:32)
- c. The Battle of the Glass Tears (11:01)
- i) Dawn Song
- ii) Last Skirmish
- iii) Prince Rupert's Lament
- d. Big Top (1:08)

Total Time 42:28

Bonus tracks from 40th Anniversary Series (2009) :
6. Lady of the Dancing Water (alternate take) (2:50)
7. Bolero (from 'Frame by Frame') (6:48)
8. Cirkus (studio run-through with guide vocal from original sessions) (6:31)

Line-up / Musicians

- Robert Fripp / guitar, Mellotron (1,2,5), synth & organ (2), electronics, co-producer
- Mel Collins / flute, saxophones
- Gordon Haskell / bass, vocals
- Andy McCulloch / drums
- Peter Sinfield / lyrics, VCS3 synth (2,3), co-producer

- Jon Anderson / vocals (5a)
- Keith Tippet / piano, electric piano
- Robin Miller / oboe, cor anglais
- Mark Charig / cornet
- Nick Evans / trombone

Releases information

Artwork: Gini Barris with Peter Sinfield (concept)

LP Island - ILPS9141 (1970, UK)

CD EG ‎- EGCD 4 (1987, UK)
CD EG ‎- EGCD 4 (1989, US) Remastered by Robert Fripp & Tony Arnold
CD Virgin - CDVKCX3 (2000, UK) 30th Anniv. 24-bit remaster by Robert Fripp & Simon Heyworth
CD Discipline Global Mobile - DGM 0503 (2005, US) Reissue of 2000 Anniv. edition

CD+DVD Discipline Global Mobile - KCSP3, Panegyric - KCSP3 (2009)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KING CRIMSON Lizard ratings distribution

(2446 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (2%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

KING CRIMSON Lizard reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Fripp is the King Lizard

This is probably the toughest Crimson album to get into (but what a superb artwork), but it is well worth the effort. As with Poseidon, Keith Tippet makes another appearance but this time he brings along the reed players from his own group - Charig, Miller, Evans etc... so the jazz-tinged prog developed in the present album is of course not easily that accessible. Very few of these tracks were played live and this line-up never toured. Circus is a fine opener but the Indoor Games is along with Happy Family some of the stranger tunes ever from Crimson. Lady is another tune in the mould of Cadence or Talk to the Wind. Of course everyone waits for LIZARD and its 23+ min. The first part most everybody knows because of the Yes-man on vocals and is quite fine. Comes a very delicate Bolero (a better version on the 4 cd box-set) that is the only one that does honour to Ravel and then comes the heart of the album - the Battle - savage war-like drumming flying reeds and mellotron layers making it my fave number from Crimson.

Lizard is definitely not easy album to master, but once you will, there is absolutely no doubt you'll find it one of Crimson's best album. By the time the album had been released, singer Gordon Haskell, pretending to hate this album, left the band and had returned to his solo career, prompting drummer Andy McCullough to follow suit. So for the second straight album Crimson was unable to tour to promote their album.

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars LIZARD is perhaps the most "difficult" of the early King Crimson albums, yet, for that very reason, it is also ultimately one of the most rewarding. The third release from Robert Fripp and company sees the band moving in a new and radical direction. The classically-inspired sweeping grandeur and controlled cacophony that typified the first two Crimson discs has been here largely (but not entirely) replaced by a sound that has its roots much more deeply embedded in jazz.

LIZARD was highly avant-garde and demanding of its audience when it was released in 1970, and it remains a powerfully unique, almost disquieting listening experience today. While IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON's sardonic "Cat Food" may have hinted at the path about to be explored, nothing could have fully prepared fans for the truly bizarre, almost eerie colours of abstract sound paintings like LIZARD's first three songs: "Cirkus," "Indoor Games," and "Happy Family." Much of the credit for the feel of these tracks must be accorded to new vocalist Gordon Haskell, who had supplied the almost ethereal vocals for Poseidon's lovely "Cadence and Cascade." With Greg Lake departed for ELP, Haskell gets the space to reveal a voice of power and depth, which is by turns intimate, theatrical, scornful, fey and raving. The end of "Indoor Games" finds him cackling like a madman, but the delicately pretty "Lady of the Dancing Water" (the disc's most immediately accessible song) sees him don the guise of a sensitive poet-troubadour, paying court to his lady-love on the bank of a laughing stream.

The second half of the disc (the old LP's side two) is given to the title suite. The first section of this masterful three-part song cycle features Jon Anderson of Yes on vocals, providing yet another savory flavour for LIZARD's exotic musical mélange. There is less of the jazzy experimentation which was heard on previous tracks; the direction here is more conventionally "progressive rock," with grandiose mellotrons, courtly subject-matter, and classically-oriented arrangements -- at this point almost a welcome respite from (or counter-balance to) the overt strangeness of the first half. The final installment, "Big Top," fades up to repeat the "Cirkus" theme, before diminishing hauntingly away, thus neatly framing this unique work of art. (Indeed, as art, this album is the total package -- the cover artwork is breathtaking, and the Pete Sinfield lyrics, with lines such as "Night, her sable dome scattered with diamonds," are some of the best poetry he has ever written.)

LIZARD may be an acquired taste, but it has stood the test of time as a lustrous example of early progressive rock at its most inventive. It is decidedly not for the faint-of-heart, but it is well worth taking the time to appreciate!

Review by loserboy
3 stars KING CRIMSON albums have mostly all been either reviewed in positive light or pulled apart by some rock 'n roll "analyst" a million times, with "Lizard" being no exception. I must admit that KC have always held a special place in my heart as one of the real corner stones in the genre we know as "progressive rock" as "Lizard" is one of their classic outputs which needs to be mentioned here. Not unlike early KING CRIMSON's "In The Court Of The Crimson King" I find "Lizard" builds on this work with increased exploratory sights and a much heavier jazz-rock portrayal. Lyrics have been well crafted by Peter Sinfield and are sung by Gordon Haskell, guitar and mellotron skillfully used by Robert Fripp throughout and even a guest appearance of a very youthful sounding Jon Anderson (YES). For years one of my most beloved tracks of all time is the title track "Lizard" which is the epic track on the album and opens with Jon Anderson's angelic voice... I always wished that he did the whole album with Fripp and friends as he sounds superb with this band... "Lizard" is a delicate yet highly intricate album which moves in and out of many different caverns and carries a high dream like quality to it. Instrumentation is brilliant and if you are able to pick up the new re-mastered version on HDCD you will be absolutely blown away as the well preserved sound capability on this 30 year old treasure.
Review by lor68
4 stars The most jazzy album by KING CRIMSON, characterized by the presence of such guest stars, including Jon ANDERSON from YES; but the dark tone of "Circus" and generally the dark tone of the whole mini-suite, make this album very interesting. The use of sax is very clever and the guitar style very well balanced, even though better things had to come after. After all the present issue is one of the most underrated albums by K.C., as it's more accessible in comparison to their music standard, moreover containing that famous suite in which even Jon Anderson made a special performance!! In fact their use of strings was more jazzy once again, while They were able to alternate the melodic moments with those darkest ones (the track "Circus" is the best example), characterized by interesting harmonic solutions at the guitar, that I prefer...ok don't get me wrong, I like the atonal scales by R. Fripp and his "brainy" style, but from time to time I need to hear something easier, always at the condition that K.C. preserve a certain originality, in spite of searching for an immediate contamination between rock and jazz (usually in a few circumstances). Here They tried to compose a number of pretty melodic lines, yet sometimes being uneven.never mind, cause Fripp & C. often reached this goal (otherwise however being helped by important session men) and therefore, despite of remarking its important distance in comparison to their best (actually a few ones) experimental accessible works, "Lizard" is more versatile and worth checking out at the add another half star at least, despite of the arrangements being sometimes uneven.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is their most jazzy album. Some floating mellotrons, omnipresence of brass instruments, small wind instruments. FRIPP's guitar is electric but very acoustic too. There are electric piano parts too. There is the presence of Jon ANDERSON's voice on the last song. The lead vocals are mellow and very good. The compositions are well structured and FRIPP is not really experimental here.
Review by Carl floyd fan
4 stars This cd starts out with a bang! Its very good and has a dark feel to it. But by the time Jon Anderson comes in (granted he is superb with Yes) I kinda get bored and lose interest. Still, the first half of this cd is prog at its best and is probably KCs third best.
Review by daveconn
4 stars I had something here before about dark towers and deep libraries, which sounds about right, since that's where "Lizard" takes me. What I failed to mention is how brilliant this is. Standoffish, yes, noisier and more complicated than it needs to be, which I find by turns fascinating and forbidding. Today it's the former, and even the little black imp is dancing on the bookcase like a pinned insect, limbs akimbo. So much music gets swirled into the mix, horns and piano and mellotron and tripping snare rolls, that musical indigestion is a distinct possibility. The devastating force of earlier albums remains, but it competes with dissonant jazzy nonsense some of the time. (At the moment, I'm lost in the mid-song maze of "Happy Family" and there doesn't seem to be any way out of it.) If you seek the respite of "Cadence and Cascade", there is "Lady of the Dancing Water", featuring the lovely flute work of MEL COLLINS. It's not quite the sublime creature of Cadence; oddly, it's another vocal anomaly (Jon Anderson) who changes the tone of the record this time. As much as "Lizard" wants to assume its own landscape, the arrangements are too self-conscious to fully transport me. I suppose that's where the tower and the library come into play. It's a beautiful world glimpsed from a distance, FRIPP intruding into the picture with black and sour commentary to yank the listener out of their immersion in "Lizard"'s warm protection. Interesting though the ANDERSON cameo is, it's not the sympathetic setting he'd find on "The Yes Album", instead siding more with the overwrought "Time And A Word". Better by far is GORDON HASKELL on "Cirkus", though tampering with his voice on "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" lessens the stakes of his dulcet throat. Joining them (and expanding Crimson's musical dialogue considerably) are pianist KEITH TIPPET, drummer ANDY MCCULLOCH and a trio of horn players.

It's arguably one of CRIMSON's most accomplished lineups, underscored by the fact that "Islands" was found lacking with the departure of McCulloch and Haskell. Adorned with delicate passages, "Lizard" could be seen as a sinister cousin to ANTHONY PHILLIPS "The Geese & The Ghost" (he wrote, guilty of greasing Geese's sales again). Ornate, ornery and orfully good, CRIMSON's third is a diabolical cirkus of the senses.

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Amazing how much they'd changed over the last year or so- compare the fading antique tapestry of "In the Court of the Crimson King" with the detailed, vivid surrealism of "Cirkus"; both communicate a dystopian pomp with undertones of mystery and menace, but this time through an off-kilter modern arrangement featuring such rare elements as Fripp's acoustic and a brass section (including the amazing Mel Collins, obviously a good friend of the prog community). Hearing the acoustic and electric piano parts on this album made me realize how conspicuous their absence is in much of KING CRIMSON's music. McCullogh's drumming never seems to settle down; it's hard to decide if it's effective or irritating as he rolls and fills at every turn. The jazzy improvisation urge has won out for the most part on this album, a stark contrast to the often plodding pomp of the first two, and it's obvious to hear that Fripp doesn't quite know how to reconcile all the disparate elements. Partly as a result and partly by choice, Sinfield's lyrics now resemble antique nursery ryhmes, or Lewis Carroll, lending a bit more humor and playfulness (albiet of a dark sort) that many listeners will connect with "Nursery Cryme"-era GENESIS; "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" both laugh, but you may not laugh along with them. Although indeed sometimes resembling early Gabriel, Haskell's delivery sounds very similar to past Greg Lake and future John Wetton. On the delicate "Lady of the Dancing Water", the medieval grace attempted on "Moonchild" and "I Talk to the Wind" is achieved, but only by sacrificing much of the band's dinstinctiveness- if you hadn't known, would you have guessed this song is by KING CRIMSON? However, the Jon Anderson-voiced "Prince Rupert Awakes" maintains some stylistic ties- including a lovely reverse guitar sound and the Mellotron, both of which demonstrate Fripp's lighter touch. Prog catalogers should note that "Lizard" is both unique in the bands' discography and most like a typical prog epic: an extended piece, broken up into named movements and sub-movements, ostensibly following a storyline. The arrangements here are anything but typical, however; the brass parts sometimes elicit jazzy impressions, and sometimes a sloppy classical grandeur more akin to PINK FLOYD's "Atom Heart Mother". You can feel Fripp being torn by two opposing forces: the lush, large-toned narrative romanticism which characterized the original albums and the modern, raw, experimental approach that blossomed in the later works. For the duration of "Lizard", however, the battle still rages; listeners will most likely be torn as well, finding much to appreciate but also much that resists enjoyment.
Review by Guillermo
3 stars This album was released nearly 34 years ago (in December 1970, as several "written information sources" say). In November of that year, the "McDONALD AND GILES" album and also "EMERSON, LAKE & PALMER"`s first album were released. So, in those two months the original members and original former members of KING CRIMSON released three very good albums recorded by 3 different bands.This "Lizard" album is good, and sometimes very good. It also has a very good cover design, with even THE BEATLES, who split some months before, in April, included in the cover painting! (the cover idea was by Peter Sinfield).The composers of the music and the lyrics in this album and also the producers are Fripp and Sinfield, the remaining original members of the band. This short- lived line-up never toured for this album, and they split after the recording of this album. Drummer Andy McCulloch is very good, similar in style to Michael Giles. Mel Collins plays very good saxes and flute. Gordon Haskell plays bass and sings lead vocals, but in my opinion his voice sometimes shows some difficulties because it seems to me that the music wasn`t adapted very much to his voice. So, he sounds forced sometimes, trying to reach the low tones of the music. He is a good singer, but I prefer Wetton or Lake instead for King Crimson. Robert Fripp plays the mellotron in this album apart from his guitars and other electric keyboards and "Devices". There are some acoustic guitars in this album, a thing Fripp later diminished in other albums. The additional musicians are good, too, particularly Keith Tippet on pianos. The "Side One" of the L.P. has some good songs, particularly "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water". But the best part of this L.P. is the "Lizard" long song which has several parts ,and it is included in the "Side Two". Jon Anderson sings lead and backing vocals in "Prince Rupert Awakes", with very good mellotron arrangements, but in my opinion, Anderson`s vocals sound a bit forced when he sings the low tones. Maybe Fripp and Sinfield didn`t have enough time to adapt the songs to the lead singers, so the singers had some difficulties with the low tones in the songs. "Bolero-The Peacock`s Tale" is a very good instrumental section which sounds improvised a bit and with some jazz influences from Tippet and the wind instruments musicians. "The Battle of Glass Tears" is darker in mood. The album is finished with a brief instrumental piece called "Big Top", which has some variations in tape speed."Prince Rupert Awakes" and "Bolero-The Peacock`s Tale" are the best parts of "Lizard", in my opinion.
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A tough one to review, and definetely Crimson's most challenging work of their earliest records. I was pleasently surprised when I spinned this one for the first time and the monolithic "Cirkus" really grabs your attention as well as letting you know that this Crimson album will be very different from before. The rest of the album is not bad either with several jazzy nods and quirky twists and turns and the excellent "Lady of the Dancing Water" working as a perfect prelude to the epic album conclusion. This time around Fripp toys a lot more with contemporary jazz and classical in his compositions, something that's especially prominent in the massive title track that moves through four very different and somewhat eerie but very diciplined movements. This track might not be Crimson's most focused work but still a great experience.

Fripp presents a whole new line-up here (a trend within Crimson later on) with Mel Collins on saxes and flute; Gordon Haskell on bass and vocals and Andy McCullough (later Greenslade) on the drums, and they all do a damn fine job here though not as brilliant as the 'In The Court' line-up, but that's only my opinion. If you liked KC's two first, check out this one. It's somewhat messier to get along with but it'll grow on you for sure.

Review by el böthy
4 stars Lizard is a pretty unique album, even for Crimsonīs standards. Very adventurous, very dinamic, with a wide range of instruments that gives the sound a sort of big band, fusion, orchestra feel, the end product is something that has not been done after. This is quite rare, as so many bands took influences from every period and even every album the Crimsons did... but I honestly canīt hear anything from Lizard in any of those. And why is that? Maybe this sort of music would have reached a dead end very quickly, maybe other bands where not interested in making this sort of music, prefering the dense mellotrons passages and the fiery guitars, bass and drums combo... who knows... But this is actually good, it gives the album another dimension, a sort of bonus point for standing out among the rest, not only for itīs quality, but for itīs originality too.

Each song is, if not radically, very diferent from the other (with only Indoor games and Happy family having anything to do with each other) yet the album feels like a whole, nothing is out of place. An interesting feature on this album is the VCS3 synth which, if Iīm not wrong, would mark the first recording it would deliver in comercial music. My favorite tracks are Cirkus and the 23 minutes epic Lizard. Even though the album is full of inprovisation and soloing, specially when it comes to the saxes from Mel Collins, the album is (just as all of the first period of the band) is incredibly well composed, the songwritting is excellent and Sinfield delivers some of his best lyrics so far.

A must in every Crimson collection, thatīs for sure, and a strong contender for album of the year (1970 that is...). This music is not even ahead of itīs time, itīfrom another time and space...

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The third album by the band has it's great moments, but also some terrible songs too. The opener "Cirkus" is my favorite, as it has very powerful and oppressing elements on it. Also some runs with acoustic guitar here are truly stunning! GORDON HASKELL was doing the singing and bass playing too, which I found as an interesting anecdote. Some of his bass lines are actually quite good! The title epic on the B-side is interesting, having a short quest visit by JON ANDERSON on vocals. "Lady of The Dancing Water" is then a pretty little fairy ballad, but I found both "Indoor games" and "Happy family" extremely irritating songs. Controversial LP, but worth of a listening though.
Review by Matti
4 stars Amusing that a singer-bassist of King Crimson wins decades later commercial success as a singer for a wide audience. But seriously: should I give this 5 stars since this undoubtedly IS a masterpiece of jazzy prog rock? No, I should rate it as I personally like it. I do think it's a hell of an album with all those fantastic musicians from Keith Tippett (p) to Mel Collins (fl,sax) and other blowers. Full of cheerful insanity to put it fripply. But I don't like Haskell's throaty voice very much. Maybe Greg Lake would fit here? (Not John Wetton, that's for sure.) Jon Anderson suits perfectly into the opening movement of the Lizard suite. It's a marvelous but rather difficult epic to digest as a whole, mainly because of some ear- teasing faint/loud contrasts. But each track in this album is genuine Crimson. Perhaps my favourite one after the debut. Obligatory to any friend of both fusion and progressive rock.
Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars Wow! Totally surprised by this one. When you ask people about KC, Lizard is very rarely a response you get. This is really a fantastic album. All the songs are really really solid. The playing is absolutly fantastic. I particulariy love Happy Family and Lizard. (Again, an instance where I should give five stars just for one song.) Lizard is probably the most underrated KC song. Wonderful blend of jazz, classical, and progressive rock. There are only two problems with this album. It takes a while for you to like it, or at least that's how i felt. I downloaded Circus from the site, and i didn't care for it first. After about four or five listens, i started to like it and decided to buy the album. The second problem is, there are two minutes in Lizard (the song) that i don't care for, but the good outwieghs the bad expoentially. Despite those things this is really a great album. It is really catchy and jazzy and complex. Certainly the jazz peak of KC, there are traces of almost every type of jazz...straight, jazz-rock, avant jazz, etc. The complexity and un-ear friendlyness of a few of the songs can put some people off. Thus, this is not one to start with. A fantastic album recommended to the KC fans with adventerous ears.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars While still struggling (unsuccessfully) to keep a permanent line-up on the road, Fripp and Sinfield managed to keep KC busy on studio recording. Their constant (and at times conflictive) flow of creativity allowed them to bring out material for a third album, "Lizard", not too long after their previous "Poseidon" album - it turned out to be their most ambitious 69-72 era work. The scores and arrangements are labyrinthine, which is to a large degree due to the heavy use of wind instruments (the oboe, trombone and cornet join Collins' saxes and flutes here and there) and keyboards (the role Tippett's grand and electric pianos becomes as crucial as that of the guitar and mellotron, in charge of Fripp). There's also the fact that the vinyl's B-side was exclusively absorbed by the sidelong namesake suite, a monumental piece that comprises lots of epic passages and majestic multi-layered orchestrations. But the symphonic factor is not the only featured element here: in fact, the symphonic stuff is more evident in the structure of most of the album's tracks than in the performing style per se. When it comes down to the solos (mostly on wind instruments), interplays and McCullough's confidently intricate drumming, you can tell that the most prominent musical colors are tinted in jazzy tones and nuances. The funny, exquisite 'Indoor Games' is a showcase for that, and so is the Beatles parody-tribute 'Happy Family', which takes up the jazz thing to the explosive realms of free jazz in a disturbing, yet captivating manner. The acoustic ballad 'Lady of the Dancing Water' creates a bucolic portrait of gentle love slightly based on Renaissance ambiences: the trombone textures that appear during the lust sung verse add, once again, a touch of jazz that, oddly enough, melts into the song's evocative spirit quite fluidly. The sinister opener 'Cirkus' and the aforementioned 'Lizard' suite are the tracks that mix symphonic prog and jazz with a delicate sense of balance, something that shouldn't be mistaken by lack of energy: on the contrary, the band's typical energy can easily be sensed here, only if wrapped under a more sophisticated clothing and a more polished sense of ensemble shared by all musicians involved. 'Cirkus' makes an impressive opener, since it maintains a solid cohesiveness all throughout its mood shifts and diverse adornments employed for the recurring main themes: a special mention goes to the excellent acoustic guitar flourishes delivered by Fripp. The main virtues of the 'Lizard' suite lie on the accomplished elaboration of a sense of drama, in this way creating the impression of story telling even in the instrumental passages (which are many, since the lyrics are not too abundant). Its most prominent highlights are: the beautiful opening section, featuring Jon Anderson's lead voice and a dreamy mellotron-driven climax; the eerie oboe motif in the 'Bolero'; the interaction between the mellotron and the horns in 'The Battle of Glass Tears', robustly sustained by McCullough; the soaring guitar solo for 'Prince Rupert's Lament', coming to the listener's ears like a chocking wail in the distance. The only minus (and it's a very minus minus in the grand scheme of "Lizard" things) for this album is incarnated in Gordon Haskell's persona. His bass playing is merely precise, certainly not as solid as to complement his talented rhythm partner McCullough competently; what's more, his baritone timber can only work in the softer numbers, since it feels too weak and inexpressive for the most energetic passages (his successor Burrell did a great job in 'Cirkus' on tour, although I'm not a big fan of his obsessively bluesy style neither., but anyway, that's a matter for a different review.), almost ruining the overall result. Fortunately, he's not as powerful as to cause an artistic disaster for "Lizard" - in fact, this my favourite Sinfield- era KC album, and so, I label it as a masterpiece, no less than that.
Review by NetsNJFan
4 stars In 1970, King Crimson was an unstable band, that surprisingly managed to produce excellent albums, landmarks in progressive rock. At this point, much of the original band had departed, with the exception of band leader Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield. Luckily, they bring in many talented musicians in to round out the band. This lineup only lasted for the recording of LIZARD and never toured. Gordon Haskell is brought on as vocalist/bassist to replace Greg Lake, and does an admirable job. His raspy, brooding vocals fit the material perfectly. Andy McCulloch is competent as drummer, and his presence is felt, giving pace to the often chaotic jazz interludes. The addition of many woodwind and brass players gave King Crimson a much richer, jazzier sound. Keith Tippet's strongly Jazz flavored keys are an added plus (Keith was asked to join the band, but passed). The material found on LIZARD also has a much jazzier edge than its two predecessors, and is also much darker and complex. While it does mark a step towards Jazz-Fusion, that's not to say this is The Soft Machine style free- Jazz; LIZARD is much more composed, and it is still very much in the Progressive Rock camp, with prominent guitars and stereotypical 'epic' progressive lyrics. One gets the feeling Robert Fripp and Sinfield carefully orchestrated this whole album, and it successfully builds a certain (creepy-demented) theme throughout.

LIZARD opens strongly with Cirkus, a frightening track featuring Crimson at their most insane. This track features excellent acoustic guitar from Fripp, as well as dramatic vocals by the underrated Haskell, and wonderfully arranged horns and keyboard flourishes. It alternates perfectly between soft vocal segments, and cacophonous jazz flavored instrumental bridges, creating a true circus atmosphere, with a sinister twist. This is a near perfect early-Crimson track, and shows just how scary these guys could be. The next piece lightens up a bit, featuring a wonderful jazz introduction from the brass section. Haskell's distinctive vocals give the song it's Crimson touch. Overall, it is quite good, but not nearly as interesting as the other tracks found here, and follows a more straight-jazz approach, with occasional Fripp Guitar breaks. Happy Family resumes the dark feel of Cirkus, with eerie distorted vocals, and more guitar and keyboards than on the previous tracks. It also has great flute touches. (note: It is rumored that this track was written by Sinfield about the Beatles' breakup, and many further contend that the figures found on the elaborate record sleeve under the 'I' are the Beatles...This is also one of the best cover's ever on a Crimson album, designed by Sinfield). Side One closes with Lady of the Dancing Water. This represents the obligatory, light acoustic piece on a King Crimson album, and is much in the vein of Cadence and Cascade and I Talk to the Wind. It is very enjoyable and light, providing a brief respite from the insanity surrounding it, but by this point, the formula was getting old for this sort of song. Side Two features the side- long epic, Lizard. The title track is a twenty-three minute suite, with four distinct movements. This piece is one of the most ambitious songs ever attempted by Fripp and Co. It opens with Prince Rupert Awakens. Surprisingly, Jon Anderson of Yes sings vocals on this piece, as Gordon Haskell never finished. This is an excellent touch. Anderson's light, ethereal vocals give the folksy-traditional prog song a definite boost. This song has beautiful melodies, and it is nice to hear Anderson sing semi-coherent lyrics, as oppose to his Yes work. The next two sections, Bolero and The Battle... are Jazz pieces, and feature impressive playing from all members. McCulloch's drums are especially good, giving The Battle... a warlike feel. The horn section is also excellent. These pieces are well done, but a bit drawn out and longwinded. Lizard closes with Big Top, a short reprise of Cirkus, giving the album a fitting close and a cyclical feel.

Many fans and Robert Fripp himself do not like this album, and it is not easy to define. LIZARD is King Crimson's darkest, and least accessible album. It is also their farthest removed from traditional rock. It is a progression over their last album, IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON (1970), and it is a shame that this potent lineup didn't last. Four stars, due to some weak moments on Lizard. This is one that rewards repeated listens, a definite essential for fans of King Crimson or Jazzier Rock.

Review by Eclipse
5 stars My (currently, and probably forever) favorite KC album - and extremely underrated, this one is very unique and rich of instrumental exploration, even more than their other masterpiece "Lark's Tongues in Aspic". It manages to be even more complex and therefore harder to get the attention of the occasional listener, and it is the perfect mix of sad, romantic / mellow and fun parts. The most amazing is that all these different music styles all flow very well without losing path during the album! Something that only Fripp and Co. would be able to make with their eccletic musical characteristics that we find through KC's vast discography.

The fun moments are "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family", those are 2 songs that work very well together, since they show the most pleasant side of jazz that i could ever appreciate in this genre which i never enjoyed too much (i absolutely can't stand KENNY G). After a crazy laugh by Mr. Haskell at the ending of "Indoor Games", the album leads to "Happy Family". Some people will find this track annoying due to the vocal distortion and the bitting piano that flows during it, but i have to admit that this is one of the most different "fun" songs i've ever had the pleasure to hear, and it doesn't annoy me at all! It makes me feel happy and full with energy. It ends in an inoccent way with Haskell singing for two or three seconds alone in a childish manner. The next song, "Lady of the dancing water" is an example of the mellow and romantic side of this album, and the flute is the instrument that leads it together with a soft guitar at the background. Haskell sings in a very beautiful way here, very different from "Cirkus", the first track and another member of the KC's romantic side. In "Cirkus" (which has a good intro) we have a more serious and cold vocal performance, on the other hand the 4th track shows a softer tone of Gordon's voice. But the best is still to come. The title song arrives and...does anyone recognize this guy? He is YES' vocalist JON ANDERSON, making a wonderful performance in this epic. This song shows the sad and the romantic sides put together in a bolero-like performance after the vocals on the first part named "Prince Rupert awakes". On this first part we have Jon singing in a so passionate way leading to the album's climax, where he delivers his "aa-aaaaaahs" followed by the great mellotron solo, a sad and beautiful moment, and the best one of this album. Part 2, the bolero one, shows the fun side again after some seconds, in a not-so crazy KC jam, a very natural one, not sounding so forced like the one in "21st Century Schizoid Man", mixing VARIOUS instruments together and making a very complex arrangement. After the jam, the bolero recovers its original mellow pace, reaching the second climax of the album on around the 30th minute of the album. "The battle of the glass tears", the last part of the most wonderful KC song ever done, brings Gordon Haskell back to scene, and it is firstly based on a quiet vocal performance with a wind instrument on the background, and delivers a similar feel of the early years of your childhood, giving memories of your mom telling stories to you before going to sleep. But this mellow tone doesn't last too much, as a more noisy part kicks in with some nice drums, mellotron, sax, flute and bass work, all put together in perfect shape. This may seem like another successful and not forced jam by the band, and it is a very well estructured one i might say. The piano may sound a bit bluesy sometimes after a while, but the main thing here is top quality jazzy jam, which lasts a bit too long but i really don't mind. A drum beat than interrupts the jam, and Fripp's unique guitar notes start to flow, and some great bass work begin to rise the jam back from the ashes, this time being more insane and heavy than ever, but again not so forced on the point of becoming annoying. Some weird noises looking like footsteps on the above floor appear after the jam's end and a chaotic and quiet at the same time guitar arrives. A great guitar solo, leading to the epic's glorious end. This is without question the best song the King has ever done, much better than my also beloved "Starless", which i considered for a long time my fav KC number. Some mellotron notes then born, on the 1 minute finale "Big Top", giving a disturbing and schizofrenic true circus feel, and the album ends in a golden shape.

One more thing that i would like to add is that Gordon Haskell is the most underrated vocalist of all times! I couldn't stand him some time ago, but i now realised that he was just the perfect guy for this album. GREG LAKE would probably not do this one so much justice, and even though i consider him one of the best vocalists of all times, i think that Haskell (despite being technically not as great as the awesome voice master that shows his deeper skills on songs like "Epitaph" and "In the Wake of Poseidon"), was a fortunate choice to sing here mainly due to the fact that his "old man" voice seems to fit more with the jazzy feel we get in this album.

And for the ones who haven't listened to this which is one of the best progressive recordings of all time, do it NOW. Really, this is the peak point of King Crimson, and the only near they would get to this masterpiece would be three years later on the weirdly titled "Lark's Tongues in Aspic", but it still doesn't have the same brilliance showed on "Lizard". Together with "Wish You Were Here", "Foxtrot" and "Pawn Hearts" this one would make an honorable mention to a "the best album of all times" contest. And it surely is worthy of such unique mention.

Review by Philo
3 stars King Crimson's third album comes across as something of a crisis. The first two albums were so very alike in construction and arrangement that listeníng to Lizard injects a nervous tension, in both listener and perhaps the musicians when they recorded it. "Cirkus" starts off in a strong well meaning manner but soon after a chaotic free form jumble of sounds is let loose as the musicians weave a heady mix of classical jazz and what not. It has a few reminders of the past and a little hint of the future but Lizard is certainly standing alone in the King Crimson catalogue, which in itself is odd since many of the King Crimson albums can be paired or form a trio with others to form a set. The first two are like this and so are the trio of albums released between 1972 and 1974 including the monumental Red. And though the album that followed this one, Islands, may have a little in common with Lizard what they would have in common would tend to fall on the side of their oddity rather than strength of the music contained within. King Crimson have been labeled as a progressive rock band but the tag is too simple for a band so complex and unique and if anything those traits come to the fore on Lizard. Yes they are progressive but are they really a prog band? The term in my opinion is almost generic now, but King Crimson were never generic. This album is a band crashing while waiting. For what? Who knew. But it was still a way off. Robert Fripp is certainly a visionary and always worked for the now. Lizard is an album that takes getting used to while never becoming accessible.
Review by Yanns
4 stars I am very tempted to give this album the full 5 stars. However, I will refrain. The reason for this is that it is one of my favorite Crimson albums, full of its own unique originality. Still, to put it on the same level as In the Court of the Crimson King and other albums like Close to the Edge and Wish You Were Here would not be right in my mind. Hence, the 4 star album, which I still hold in extremely high regard.

I was introduced to Lizard after learning ITCOTCK, ITWOP, and Lark's Tongues, and I had also recently acquired Islands. It came to me in a shipment along with Red and Discipline. I immediately set to work learning them. Lizard caught me off-guard on my first listen. I knew everyone called it the jazzy album by Crimso, but whoa, I wasn't expecting this much of a turnaround from ITWOP. Complete sax and jazz everywhere. Once I got used to it though, it proved to be one of the most rewarding albums in my collection.

One thing that also should be noted is that every song (other than Lady of the Dancing Water) has improv jazz sections in them. They vary in length, but 4 of the 5 songs have them. Some may see them as noodling. That's up to you. For me, they are brilliant.

Cirkus: A very haunting opener. Haskell, who is by no means as good as Greg Lake, still does well for himself. I can only imagine the power the album would have had if Lake was still here... anywho, Haskell's vocals do work here, and that strange yet amazing riff that appears between his singing verses is absolutely phenomenal. The perfect opener for the album.

Indoor Games: I laughed out loud at this song the first time I heard it. I thought it was the goofiest, silliest thing I'd ever heard. However, I have great respect for this song now. It just seemed so goofy, for lack of a better word, at first, but, of course, with more listens, it became a fantastic song.

Happy Family: In contrast to the previous song, I absolutely loved the opening to this song when I first heard it. Something about it just hit me, and it is still one of my favorite openings to a song. Then, Haskell's weird vocals set in. I say weird because they did something very strange with it in the studio. It took me a while to get over it, but now I find it extremely listenable.

Lady of the Dancing Water: In terms of the short Crimso songs, this is probably my favorite. Ending Side 1, it's a short yet absolutely beautiful song that closes out the first half of the album spectacularly. I don't know where'd I be without this song. It strikes a chord deep within me.

Lizard: An absolutely brilliant, I repeat, brilliant, track. Jon Anderson's vocals are heavenly. And, on a sidenote, I see strong, strong influences from his section of the song on Tales. Honestly, I could see this section of the song being on TFTO. I don't know if I'm the only person to think that, but, anywho, on with Lizard. Very different than, say, songs like Epitaph. It's a different Crimson here, and one must remember that. Part of the reason that I disliked Lark's Tongues (my second Crimso album) on my first listen was because it was so different than ITCOTCK, which I wasn't ready to let go of. Remember that it's a differed KC. Then you'll be able to recognize the majesty of this album, especially this song. Brilliant.

This one does pain me a bit, but I feel 5 stars would be too generous for it. Perhaps it is a 4.5 or so. However, I do not round numbers up to a 5. For me, an album has to be a 5 to get a 5. So, perhaps it's a 4, perhaps it's a 4.5 (more likely), but either way, I highly recommend it to the Crimson fan. If not a Crimson fan, DO NOT START HERE. That I'm sure about. Start with their debut. Work up to this one. I'll go with my original 4/5 stars. I don't want to get into decimals.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.50 stars, really - musically speaking it would probably be a 5, but the vocals bring the rating considerably down. As a matter of fact, Gordon Haskell (whose performance on "Cadence and Cascade" was adequate, though nothing earth-shaking) was the worst possible choice that Fripp could have made when he had to replace Lake. Just listen to the initial "Cirkus", an otherwise excellent song with lyrics that reflect the content of the stunningly beautiful cover artwork: Haskell's voice has an odd timbre, low but at the same time metallic and almost tuneless, which may perhaps fit the heavily jazz-influenced music, but makes listening an ordeal. "Prince Rupert Awakes", featuring Jon Anderson's angelic vocals, definitely soothes the ears battered by Haskell's so-called singing.

On the other hand, the musicianship here is quite astounding. Fripp brought on board a group of jazz musicians, including Keith Tippett, who had already graced "Cat Food" with his deranged piano runs. The presence of brass and woodwind instruments is quite prominent too, giving the album a weird orchestral feel. Together with the already- mentioned "Cirkus", the varied, complex title-track is the highlight of the record; while I'm not crazy about "Lady of the Dancing Water", which to my mind cannot hold a candle to "I Talk to the Wind" or "Moonchild". Sinfield's lyrics also deserve a particular mention for their sharpness and irony: I know he's not to everyone's taste as a lyricist, but I must admit he's one of my favourites - I really enjoy his way with words.

I think "Lizard" may be very well summarised by this short statement: great music indeed - shame about the vocals!

Review by FishyMonkey
5 stars This one caught me completely off guard. After loving LTIA, Red and Discipline and liking the the rest, I was expecting Lizard to be a good album. What I got...well, was much better than a good album. In fact, I have absolutely no qualms with placing this next to CTTE, SEBTP, ITCOTCK and Thick as a Brick as an essential prog masterpiece. While CTTE and SEBTP givewell-rounded and mature perspectives of the genre, Thick as a Brick gives a more fun, accessible perpective to the genre, and ITCOTCK just defines the genre, this album defines the creativity that prog is so known for. Every second I listened to this, something interesting owuld be happening. I think at one point there were five or six solos going on at the same time, making for one crazy trip. There are little solos and shots of intrsuments thrown in everywhere to make it very itneresting. I promise you each time you listen to this album, you will hear something new. People told me this was going to be the hardest KC album to get into, which made me a bit ambivalent, On the contrary, I loved this album from the beginning, and this really defines creative jazz prog rock. This is excellent stuff.

The album opens with Cirkus, which starts very quiet and slowly builds throughout the whole song to grand proportions. The singing is not all too phenomenal, but I have never truly liked a King Crimson vocalist, to my knowledge. Teh truly highlight is of course Fripp's guitar and the insane song itself. The sax solo maybe a third of the way through backed by the mellotron is lovely, and Fripp's guitar at 4:51 is awesoem to listen to. I think this part suits as an excellent example of the intense layering in this album, with so much going at one time. The song finishes with another nice (frantic and not happy, but nice) sax solo, then a trumpet solo of similiar style, and it's done. Phenomenal track. I like this one almost as much as Schizoid Man, definitely. 9.5/10

Next is Indoor Games, which is a real funky piece, with saxes providing the main melody most of the time. The acoustic chord hit when Gordon sings indoor games is lovely, and Fripp's little feature at 2:38 is really refreshing. The song kinda meanders along with various solos and general jazz stuff people may or may not enjoy. I personally do. At 4:46 the song returns to the main theme, finishes strongly and ends with some slightly maniacal laughter, which I thin symbolizes the insanity of the next song. I love this track. 9.5/10

Holy crap. This song, Happy Family, is trippy as hell. I imagine this is the soundtrack to a stoner's paradise. This fetaures just about every intrsument possible, I believe, to floaty flute to classic mellotron, to bluesy piano to sax to a bitchin' trombone. This song is just insane, and at one time has about three solos going in the right ear with another three in the left. Yup, this is what I meant when I said about 6-8 solos at one time. This song is not for the faint of heart or for non-fans of jazz, but I doubt real prog fans will have a problem with it, as good music is good music, no matter what the style. 9.5/10

Lady of the Dancing Water has some bad singing. Like real bad. Kinda a shame. I like the flute on this song and the general melody, but god, this man cannot sing well. I always flinch when I hear him go flat, which is a lot. Besides that, the flute melody is pretty and it's a nice peaceful track after the last three insane ones. I really like the trombone part halfway through too. Meh. 8/10

Lizard! The epic 23:15 song! It begins with some slightly chilling mellotron and piano and vocals from Jon Anderson of Yes. Anderson comes through with flying color and does an excellent job. The song builds for the next four minutes or so, quite nicely. Then you hear that telltale trumpet come in. You can almost hear Fripp standing there, nodding while saying, "Alright guys. Have fun for the next seven minutes or so. Go nuts." And they do go nuts. Like Happy Family, this song has about every instrument imaginable in a "rock" song. At around 12:00 minutes in, the painful vocals come in again. Then the song starts bulding with some real nice jazzy parts that make you wanna be like..."Yea!". I love that sax in minute fourteen with the flute going nuts in the background. So funky. The song builds off that sax part in grand proportions and just grooves! I can imagine people getting bored, but not I, with so much going on. It just...grooves. Like, damn. And it's awesome. The song fades out slowly, and ends with Fripp playing his guitar in the style of Jimi Hendrix, which I found a bit odd but whatever. This whole album has been odd. Anyway, this song gets a 10/10 for sure, it's just awesome. Not for everyone yes, but awesome. 10/10

So there ya have it. One of the msot insane jazz prog albums ever created. Not for the faint of heart and/or people who dislike jazz, but with an open mind (which is what prog is all about), this album rocks. It grooves, it moves it solos and it does it all right. Awesomeness. A masterpiece no doubt.

Review by Menswear
4 stars As great as the cover!

Lizard is the craziest record of my Crimso collection. I was just finishing Wake of Poseidon when I popped Lizard in my walkman and frankly, I got scared. Scared of making the wrong purchase and wasting a good amount of money, those 30th anniversary cds are not the cheapest.

Ooof! After many (headphones) listens, it really kicked in. Wow, this album has a lots of kick! Strong saxes riffs a la Gentle Giant, great Beatlesque acoustic guitars, truck loads of dreamy mellotron, burlesque but poetic lyrics and many good VCS3 effects. Not forgetting the ever important drum techs which got even more jazzier again. Many saxes solos on top of that, Lizard is indeed a weird pet, but in the end, there's enough meat around the bone to feed you for a long time.

Taking time getting around Lizard is rewarding, unlike other classic albums. The general sound does ressembles to Court or Poseidon, but the textures are way less 'classic Crimso' and much more adventurous, like Cat Food was for instance. You get a lot of that here.

One line about the cover, every image is describing a moment in the album. How cool is that! To me this kind of artwork is definetely enhancing the pleasure of listening to the album, many times I'm just listening while gazing at the booklet.

A one-shot concept, never reapproached by the band, perhaps because the line-up was also as fragile as cristal.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Lizard" is usually taken hard by the uninitiated listeners, especially the novices acquired a taste of previous two classic "symphnonic" and Mellotron-filled predecessors.

To be sure the change of the course is taken radically on this album. More jazzy and avant-garde in approach and in arrangements, it is however a neclected masterpiece of early CRIMSON. If you are trained enough and equipped with good will and patience, "Lizard" will take you to another worlds. Simple as that - amazing stuff!

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album I consider as the band's early days album in the vein of "In The Court of The Crimson King" album. The band truly changed its direction in 1981 when Discipline was launched. As far as the "oldies", "Lizard" is one of my favorites because there are melodic and memorable track featured here. The cover artwork looks funny and is the case with the music which contains some humorous components like the following tracks: "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family". One of the masterpiece KC song ever is "Lady of the Dancing Waters" which became my favorite in the seventies. I knew the track the first time not through the Lizard album but from my friend who at the time lent me an LP titled: "The Young Persons Guide To King Crimson". Altogether with "Prince Rupert Awakes" this became my all-time favorite. The "Bolero" section is crafted beautifully. The segue into it from the "Prince Rupert" section is also very good.

On the whole, this is one of the most rewarding of the early King Crimson music. This album might be the most underrated record by the band. It's an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars King Crimson's third studio album has a different feel than the previous two. Maybe that's because the lineup is different than the one before. Maybe it's because it has the longest studio track Robert Fripp ever composed on it. Or maybe it's because the way the instruments were played and the way the music was written that it was different. Whatever it was, this album is on par with the debut, In the Court of the Crimson King, and is loads better than In the Wake of Poseidon. Vocalist and bassist (as well as childhood friend of Fripp) Gordon Haskell has a drastically different voice than Greg Lake, and fans got a sample of his voice on Cadence and Cascade on In the Wake of Poseidon. The music is comprised mainly of mystical acoustic interludes, wavy VSC3 synthesizers, melodic saxophones, cornets, and flutes, and anxious and sullen mellotrons, but it all works well within the mold of the group.

Cirkus opens the album, and from the beginning one can hear a difference in the group. Gordon Haskell's voice is certainly different than Greg Lake's, and he's probably my least favorite vocalist for King Crimson. He's too nasally in his approach and his bass work ranges from inspired to derivative. An interesting mellotron line is also presented. Fripp's acoustic work on this track is very fast and fluid, but I can't really get into the chaotic interludes, they feel to claustrophobic and no instrument really gets room to breathe. Indoor Games has an interesting walking bass line and some unison saxophones creating a groovy line. The whole song has this interesting groove and it is one of the better songs on the album. Fripp's guitar towards the end is a well conceived idea of jazzy guitar chords before more mixed horns and reeds take the forefront again.

Happy Family begins with an interesting synthesizer line that has quickly becomes an electic piano based tune, with some bland bass work and some okay vocal work (I'm still not too fond of Haskell's vocals). Lady of the Dancing Water begins with a pretty flute motif and a pretty underlying piano theme. A somber trumpet line is also played underneath the gentle piano and flute motifs. It's a pretty song that precedes the showcase of the album. Lizard is the longest studio King Crimson song, and it's their only side long epic. Jon Anderson (of Yes) is featured on this track as Prince Rupert, the main character of the story of the song. The song is an interesting mix of synthesizers, pianos, flutes, saxophones, dynamic drumming, and superb guitar. This is the best track on the album, by far. The vocals on this track are also a lot more refreshing as I've always liked Jon Anderson's vocals and Haskell's vocals really hurt the album.

In the end, Lizard has some fascinating pieces on it, but it also has some mediocre instrumentation, and I cannot stand the vocals. If you like more avant-garde jazzy symphonic prog, this album will be right up your alley. But if you're someone like me who got into later King Crimson first and aren't as keen on the symphonic era of the group, than this may not be for you. I liked this album, but it's not something I would call a masterpiece. The bottom line is, though, that this album is boring, and it's not one of my favorites at that. There are far better Crimson albums out there, and you should start with those before this one. 3/5

Review by Chus
4 stars King Crimson was the second progressive band I'd discovered, and, since then, I had broadened my horizons in the progressive music discography with such bands as Genesis, Yes, ELP, Carmen and Gentle Giant. So, for a long time now, King Crimson was no longer the focus of my ear's attention; I've found that, compared to many progressive bands, King Crimson was the most unbalanced band; their discography is very uneven and many of their albums were very flawed in many aspects. As for Robert as a musician, he could be an amazing guitar player and a proficient composer when he wanted to, but most of the time he wanted to experiment, and most of the time he didn't pull it off too well (a very good example of this: Starless and Bible Black and Islands).

Some call it "for die-hard fans only", but I'd dare to state another argument: since King Crimson fans had always been divided between the "Court" lovers, the "Bruford- Wetton-Fripp" or the "Belew-Fripp" admirers , this album (along with Islands) seems to be lost in a transition. I'm not a big fan of King Crimson, yet I found it to be their best and most eclectic work ever. Uneven? sure, but the epic title track manages to take most of the rating. It doesn't deserve the 5-star because some songs were very unnecessary and range from weird to completely ridiculous. But the title track alone has the merit of, at least, a 4.5 rating; maybe a half star less due to some minor flaws that I'll discuss further below. Here are the ups and downs:

- Mel Collins can play some beautiful flute sometimes, but he gets carried away too often. I never thought he was able to make a decent improvisation with it; and most of the time he sounds like trying to get the high notes off instead of focusing on harmonizing along the music (the best example of this on "Happy Family and "The Battle Of Glass Tears"). I'm not against the off-key notes, but this playing mode shouldn't be so persistent; once in a good while he should feed the music with notes on the intervals and here he just sounds like throwing random notes in a hit and miss attempt: most of the time he MISSES. However, his work on "Lady Of The Dancing Water" demonstrates how fluent and mellow he could sound. He's much better when he plays on obbligato rather than ad libitum.

- I don't like Gordon Haskell on this record; his voice is less fluent than on the "Cadance and Cascade" song, and he has led a bad reputation after the parts he played here. It's a shame because he wasn't a bad vocalist.

- As for Keith Tippett, I found out he was a great pianist on this record. I didn't like his work on "Cat Food" much, mostly due to it's intro.

- Indoor Games would have been a decent jazzy-rock song, were it not for the cheesy background synths. As for Happy Family, it was a simple rock song with a jazzy style that came out a bit flawed due to the aforementioned Mel Collins' flute, alongside the ridiculous synthetizers that only made it more unlistenable.

-"Cirkus" and "Lady Of The Dancing Water" are the highlights of Side A: I found the mellotron lines on "Cirkus" very interestesting in the harmony created along with the basslines and the acoustic guitar noodling by Fripp, and there were some nice feeds by Mel Collins on Alto Sax; Haskell also contributes greatly with the vocals, especially in the song's introduction. Lady Of The Dancing Water features the most beautiful flute display by Mel Collins and it's an oasis to rest your ears in after the horrible aftertaste left by "Happy Family".

- "Lizard" it's not a conventional prog rock epic. I wouldn't even consider it progressive ROCK, but opts more for a "progressive jazz" tag; that is, classical-oriented jazz music. The best example of this amalgam is present in the "Peacock's Tale": certainly has a classical bolero format "a la ravell" with free-form jazz style improvisations; it's the most sentimental segment, in my opinion, and the oboe lines (at least I think it's an oboe; I get confused with the woodwinds sometimes) brings this sentimentalism to a more acute level; so acute that your eyes will feel a bit wet after a while. "The Battle Of Glass Tears" offers an aggressive free-form jazz soaked in mellotrons to give it a classical enviroment; and, although it's a bit flawed by the random flute gibberish of Mel Collins, it doesn't manage to spoil it (Mel should put some low key notes every now and then, though). Plus, Sinfield felt like taking a rest after "Happy Family", so most of the synths are as great as absent on the 23-mintute long song (I think Sinfield was also in charge of the synthetizers, although I'm not really sure). Jon Anderson (of YES fame) sings on "Prince Rupert Awakes", the most rock-oriented part of the suite, and does it magnificently; I have no objections with his singing.

I think "Lizard" (the song) is one of the best episodal "epics" made in prog music, in competition with "Supper's Ready" (Genesis), "Close To The Edge" (Yes), "Thick As A Brick" and "A Passion Play" (Jethro Tull). Maybe it's the most original "progressive jazz" epic made by a progressive rock band, as it's not like the rest of the epics that would dominate the 70's prog outputs, starting with the dismissal of many indications of rock music in the arrangements. Fripp demonstrates that Ian McDonald's absence had no effect on the songwriting, creating one of the most beautiful and complex pieces ever made by King Crimson. Neither "Epitaph", nor "Court Of The Crimson King", nor "I Talk To The Wind" could hold a candle to this masterpiece, often dismissing the former pieces as practically "just a bunch of songs".

I think many Gentle Giant fans would appreciate this album better than many "die-hard" Crimson fans, because, as I mentioned above, the Crimson fandom is divided; and this period of King Crimson is the least considered, judging from what I've seen.

It's a shame that I'd have to rate this album lower than the title track merits. So a 3.5 star rating. although I'll round it to 4... The title track is really nothing short of breathtaking.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Fripp, Collins, Haskell and Tippett are back, but there's a new drummer in Andy McCulloch and some guests playing trombone, cornet and aboe.This was a difficult album to get into but it has grown on me just like "Islands" did. I find this such an interesting album to listen to now and applaud Fripp for making something completely different from the first two records. Lots of mellotron and we even get Jon Anderson singing on one track.

The opening song "Cirkus" is my favourite on this album.The intricate guitar playing of Fripp, along with the mellotron and sax all works wondrously. I even like Haskell's reserved vocals on this one. "Indoor Games" features lots of horns and mellotron. Vocals a minute in and some intricate guitar from Fripp. "Happy Family" opens with lots of bottom end.The vocals are interesting in a good way. Check out Tippett on piano. So much going on. Some flute too and the drumming is outstanding. I really like this one. I wonder if the band HAPPY FAMILY took their name from this song ?

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a gentle song with warm beautiful flute. Reserved vocals and acoustic guitar as well.The final song "Lizard" is a twenty minute epic that you might call mellotron soaked Jazz. Jon Anderson opens with vocals as piano plays along. It kicks in with vocal melodies then settles again. Sax follows then aboe as bass supports. Haskell comes in vocally after 12 minutes. It kicks back in around 13 1/2 minutes. Mellotron too. Great sound with lots of bottom end. Horns follow. It turns avant before 19 minutes as drums pound. Check out Fripp a minute later as it calms right down.

KING CRIMSON would continue to change styles and be innovative right up to this day.This one's for the adventerous.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Crimson had delivered two wonderful symphonic albums with their previous releases. So, I was kind of curious to discover their third album after the departure of Greg Lake who will have more exposure in ELP. Gordon Haskell will replace him (he was already featured on the previous album in one song), but he does not convince me. On his behalf, I must say that I am quite a Lake fan.

The opening track "Cirkus" is brilliant : great acoustic guitar work, melodious moments after the (average) vocal intro with lots of mellotron and very subtle sax from Mel. This song still show some complex structure. Still, it is one of the most accessible here.

"Indoor Games" is another story : jazzy improv ending up nowhere. The follower "Happy Family" is way too jazzy for me as well. Piano has the lead role (a bit of flute though ..). These two tracks kinda ruin this album.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" is a very quiet short number and provides a bit of relief after all this cacophony. Nice and subtle fluting from Mel Collins. My preferred number on "Lizard". At times, I feel like I'm listening back to "I Talk To The Wind". This always provides me with some pleasure.

The central piece of this album features a special guest on vocals in the first movement : Jon Anderson ! Nothing special to mention though. Sober and good. That's it. Vocals during the chorus are rather weak (Haskell taking the lead, I guess). It's a nice intro for this epic.

The second movement "The Bolero" starts OK but then again turned into a jazzy, and melody-less improv. Only the last minute has marvelous mellotron and is very melodic (symphonic actually) as during its initial phase.

Third and longest movement starts again very promisingly. Good vocals, scary music for most of this section (reminds me VDGG) at times. Rather difficult but good. This piece of music is of course not to be compared with other prog epics like "Supper's" or "Close" which are love at first sight. This one is more to be compared with "A Plague" from VDGG.

Still, one doesn't forget, that this number was written BEFORE all the other ones and therefore needs some credits as well. It needs to be listened and listened again to allow the listener to get into it (it is my case). The "finale" features a bit of everything in less than seventy-five seconds. I was expecting something "bigger" to close it.

Vocals have never gotten a dominent role in KC, but I feel that Lake's departure had a dramatic effect in that respect. I cannot be considered as a Crimson maniac. The Crimson side I prefer is its symphonic one. There weren't too many here. Still, there are good moments in this album ("Cirkus", "Lady" and the title track sometimes) but I can not rate this album higher than three stars.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars After the amazing debut and the not-quite-as-amazing follow up, my friends and I wondered as 1970 was drawing to a close just what the revamped lineup of King Crimson would produce with LP #3. If we harbored any ideas that they would continue making exactly the same kind of music as before those thoughts vanished within the first few minutes of listening to this. Of all things considered we never anticipated so much brass and woodwinds and what we quickly realized was that going forward we should only expect the unexpected from this group. For, while most bands were desperately trying to find and establish a bankable identity, Fripp and his cohorts were doing everything they could to force us to abandon our preconceived notions of what we thought they were or should be.

As the album begins a cheerful, tinkling piano fools you into thinking pleasant thoughts as bassist Gordon Haskell's cold voice slowly rises from what sounds like a darkened cell. Soon Andy McCulloch's drums introduce the ominous Mellotron melody that will accompany you throughout your tour of the "Cirkus." Peter Sinfield's confounding, macabre lyrics and Mel Collins' demonic saxophone fills join to create a menacing atmosphere that's surprisingly intimate and not as cavernous as previous albums were. Robert Fripp's distorted electric guitar has been replaced by an acoustic but it still has very sharp teeth. There's a palpable experimental jazz flavor here that was only hinted at before and it mesmerizes as the song's insane carnival aura builds to a dissonant ending. Sly, funky horns lead us to "Indoor Games" and more familiar territory. It is reminiscent of "Cat Food" from "In the Wake of Poseidon" but not as captivating. By now it becomes obvious that a little of Haskell's singing goes a long way and that he's not close to being in the same league as his predecessor, Greg Lake. He holds this tune back. The satiric message gets through but the music drifts a bit before Collins' twisted sax finally adds some spice.

"Happy Family" is next and it is sarcastically aimed right at the Fab Four who had broken up about a year earlier. I detect a clever innuendo of "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "She's So Heavy" in the recurring theme of the song but the jazzy ambience stops it from turning into an unfair lampoon of The Beatles. The flute and electric piano blend is very creative and the fact that they electronically manipulate the vocal keeps Gordon from becoming an albatross around the neck of the proceedings. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a short, serene song that fascinates by uniting acoustic guitar, flute and Nick Evans' uncharacteristically delicate trombone to slow the pace. Now that you've sampled the appetizers it's time for the main course, the impressive "Lizard." It was a stroke of genius in recruiting Yes' Jon Anderson to lend his angelic vocals to "Prince Rupert Awakes" but at the same time it shines a glaring light on the shortcomings of Haskell as a singer. It's a welcome change to say the least. Keith Tippet's subdued but intricate piano swims just under the surface as the song's minor key verses give way to the major on the engaging chorus. Fripp's reversed guitar lines and gushing Mellotron create a magical feel that permeates the tune. At one point the drums begin to tap out a soft marching beat. The group rides it to segue seamlessly into "Bolero-The Peacock's Tale." This is the album's acme. Mark Charig's cornet, Robin Miller's oboe and cor anglais along with the trombone construct a prog classic that's part big band, part Dixieland yet arranged in an unorthodox manner that only King Crimson can deliver. Their timing is immaculate, evolving through different phases even though the drums never stray from the underlying bolero rhythm. This is great stuff.

"The Battle of Glass Tears" ensues with "Dawn Song" rerouting things down a more sinister road. Haskell is back with his shaky intonation but his return is blissfully brief as they transition into the fierce conflict that is "Last Skirmish." Here McCulloch does his best imitation of previous drummer Michael Giles and mimics his play-all-around-the-downbeat style admirably. The heavy Mellotron is a throwback to earlier works but the wild flute and trombone spasms keep the tune from becoming a retread. As songs depicting war go, this one is suitably noisy and unnerving. Fripp finally trots out his electric guitar for the somber "Prince Rupert's Lament" and it's well worth your wait. As if the prince is mournfully walking among the bodies of his slain soldiers, the throbbing bass emphasizes Robert's wailing cries that he squeezes out of his strings. It is stark and stunning. Then, almost as an afterthought, you are reminded that life can be a bizarre midway filled with warped mirrors and gruesome clowns as the surreal strains of "Big Top" float about, then fade away into the distance.

You could search for a very long time and never find another album that is as individually unique as this one is. Mastermind Fripp wasn't in the music trade to win popularity contests, he was earnestly trying to express what he heard in his head. His art. And love them or not, that's what made King Crimson the most eccentric group of the modern rock era. "Lizard" may not be a masterpiece but there are masterpieces within. 4.3 stars.

Review by ghost_of_morphy
2 stars I have to tell you, this is a hard album to summarize in words. One part of me wants to give this 4 stars, because it certainly is excellent, one could almost say unique, expression of the experimental spirit that infuses progressive rock.

But the experiment failed. 2 stars. This is only for collectors, fans, and people who are interested in seeing Fripp and Crimson redefining what we mean by fusion.

Make no mistake, that's what this album is all about. It's a uniquely fresh take on jazz rock fusion with the emphasis on planned spontaneity and unorthodxity that infuses all of the early Crimson albums prior to Red. Catfood off In the Wake of Poseidon foreshadowed clearly what direction KC was moving in.

When I say planned spontaneity, that's what the first half of this album is about. The King Crimson philosophy of all players adding to what is played instead of what is planned to be played is in full force. This leads to passages which seem muddled and just about to careen out of control, although they never quite do. Still, the first three tracks require a great deal of patience and attention to bring the listener to an appreciation of Fripp and Company are trying to accomplish.

"Lady of the Dancing Waters," on the other hand, demonstrates everything that went right in recording this. Mel Collins' work throughout the album is outstanding, and here we hear him featured. Fripp brings in a more classical guitar sound in the album, and again, you hear that on this track. Even Haskell's mediocre vocals sound good here.

That brings us to the final track, "Lizard." This is a generally more restrained composition that inteligently leads us through an amazing number of genre styles of playing. If you are prepared to listen and think, this track will be the most rewarding of the lot. Still, it stretches on longer than it should and runs out of gas eventually.

In good conscience, I cannot give this more than 2 stars. But the creativity and imagination brought to this album would have given it 4 stars if only it were more accessible to the listener.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars Crimson's Circus.

Speaking plainly, this is the best non-Bruford album in KC's catalog. This came right after the slightly disappointing In the Wake..., which many felt was a lesser quality version of the original gem ITCOTCK. That being said, this represented a stark change for the band, in what I consider their most unique release to date, merely because there is not another record that sounds quite like it. Rather than being edgy, and off-the-wall or having sweeping symphonic passages, this album presents itself in a much more humble and jazzy manner than any other output by the band.

The best vocals here come from guest Anderson, as I am not too much a fan of Haskell, who really lacked the prowess and insanity of Greg Lake. The opener is one of my favorite Crimson tunes, and I most closely assimilate it with 21st Century..., because of the compactness of the song (under 7 minutes but seeming as if epic in stature) and excellent ryhthms provided. Then there's Lizard, the epic before epics were born, and surprisingly it get's little credit when standing next to the CTTE's, Supper's Ready's, and TAAB's of the like. No, it's perhaps not quite as polished as other epic tracks, and there is some rambling bits that appear to head in no direction, but most of the song is quite enjoyable, and if nothing else, Yes fans can be pleased by Anderson's vocals in the beginning of the song.

Overall a very appealing record, and one that challenges us through every movement. It is a very rewarding experience, but ultimately I wouldn't get this till one has become fully adapted to the style of KC. This was Fripp's finest achievement until his grand opus of Larks Tongues in Aspic.

Review by Ricochet
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimson encloses in Lizard doubtless the most artistic movement of their early alter-fame and their avant-garde clever prog underscore. Or definitely the aesthetic one above all, out of everything surpassing, relentlessly, the "oh so normal" drifts of contemporary action and feedback. And heavy as torment's spontaneous as well, since that's apparently an enormous tag for its complexity. Unexpectedly this is one of my recent belief (opportunely, something like a good appreciation never actually drops down from a high view, once reaching it) on the album's worth and art endeavor, since for a good period I disliked the more experimental and florid achievements of early crimsoned "folly"; imperatively Islands in its dangle of sounds, but this one as well. Right now, the likes of it are actually more than fulfilling, for such elevated times (which giant, up to now, isn't consecrated by something mirobolant?) and also for such pretentious beliefs: the one of cataclysmic zeal, the one for a better symbolized flavor, the one for intense heaps of lonesome prog rock gem-hinging. Lizard is, by immensurable taste, legendary and effectively grand-scaled. But for me, the magic of it goes much deeper and much less in congruent, ordinary characters. It's a fact of a beautiful soreness towards the present and the real, but an intense wonder of a strange, undesirable almost, eclecticism. A "miniature" of escalation and deep feeling. An odd comfort in extraordinary chaos. And so on. In The Wake Of Poseidon remains my favorite early King Crimson, and, well, In The Court Of The Crimson King has a way of being considered an imperative untouchable master-class, master-power (etc.) (despite its own greatest beliefs being on a different note than it should). So Lizard is impeccable listening for a very.advanced type of music confounding. That's almost an irresistible and incontestable mania around the scales of both mesmerizing and simply impelling, opportunist pioneering, classic prog.

Moments of style are aversely fragmented and united.Lizard's a hectic experience of pure "acoustic" prog gleam, total jazz-(rock) drifts and illusions, soft arranged avant umber tones, bit classical (to actually incite the "bolero" steps to an art transposition), bit space-edged, experimental (better said: fieriest improvisational) drafts of general melting forms, nod-lifted diverse elements (a basic mood), "medievalism", "contemporary"!, close (self-) parody, narration or dispersion (lyrics, but also some fluent or disruptive chords!), thematic or repetitions, clueless acts of soar and reproach dynamics in contrast with rather mellow tranquil infusions. The whole set. The Crimson frantic worth array, that is. In an idea of actually placing the common sense of Fripp's (or Sinfield too) plain conventional magnitude, my favorite artists are Collins, with passages of sax insanity, and Tippets (showing the jazz retype of the album's value), by small clips of accommodative grins. From kaleidoscopic to cacophonous, from stringent to warm, from inquiring to revealing and from memorable to.what else?

I'm putting a walkthrough imitation, out of liking this discrete memento. Cirkus is a big unusual sentiment of tone-tune and obvious simple-headed expansion for me, through its dark "refrain", one that almost seems illusive, adamant and of eyesight subsides, but also through a clouded gift in lead singing and paraphrasing. A track of taste and of cumbrous notch. Indoor Games already moves to the swing of jazziness and the dash of lights and impends. Happy Family is a more retro/retrieved source of fainted spell, moving around a circle of motions and a known act of lyrical virulence/dramatic cadence. Lady Of The Dancing Water is even more sheltered (through the middle Lizard affection actually, the sharpness of pronounced changes is faintly blunted; these two pieces are for an impressionistic, also imprecise, metering set, rather than a best moment of gleams), but its prime effect is a shortly orientated avant meager pat, made for a lush of words in a less accurate sway. Finally (and not just finally: eventually; ultimately; continuously; incessantly; endlessly) the title epic resonates magnitude in composition and in hearth effect. Resembling the peak of dissonance experimentation, jazz craze pump, flawless instrumental and very tasty disarrangements. Lots of symbols speak in too short meanings. Great music power fancies too often conclusions.

Lastly, here's the actual magic I very much appreciate behind the concept drama and the mix of greatest mind fragments ever "miniaturized": the hidden humor in a cursive language, the juxtapose of beliefs, the distortion of valid sanity, the subdued verse of light and darkness, of tranquil and insane, of grief and grave, of music carnival-esque redress of style and caricature. The great groove motion. Strange ethos of sharing brilliance. And such, being not tangible features of a listening, but impression of a more unintentional aftertaste.

Lizard's a trace of essential listening, best atone for the taste of it inside the pleasure of a incandescent lightheartedness. Much recommended.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I have a funny relationship with this album. When i bought it growing up in the seventies, i never ''got'' it then! i remember i liked ''Cirkus'' and that's it. I never really dig into the ''LIZARD suite'' past the Jon Anderson vocals.

And a strange thing happened! a few years ago, i was buying back my KC collection -30th anniversarycollection in miniLP format- so i got LIZARD back. I played it on my system and i was blew away! what did i miss all these years!!; almost the perfect album. King Crimson at its best!! tender, melancholic, serene, then agitated, noisier, disjoncted then back to peaceful. King Crimson to resume. There is not one dull moment on this album. There is a lot of MEL COLLINS of this album;he is also helped by a bunch of other horn blowers that create a one of a kind of athmosphere like this spanish-jazz style part in the middle of the Lizard suite.

The mellotron is very present as well, so is the unique style of pianist Keith Tipett. Gordon Haskell has taken over the vocals and is doing an excellent job IMO. i know some of the reviewers don'y like him too much, but i think his voice mixes well with the music. About the music: thsi is definitely KC, no one else could have come up with a concept like that; a unique sound that makes Crimson the king of Prog music to many of us.

At this point, the band has only 2 original members :Robert Fripp and lyricist Pete Sinfield. But that doesn't affect the music at all as Fripp is in total charge by now. This album is what prog is all about. beautiful, adventurous, powerful,opening new grounds for the music to develop into uncharted new territories.

Only 5 stars can be attributed to LIZARD .

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars "Happy family, pale applause, each to his revolving door"

The turmoil in terms of line up changes which were to plague King Crimson over the years continued for the recording of "Lizard". Greg Lake had left during the making of the previous album ("Poseidon"), with Gordon Haskell taking over on lead vocals. Now we bizarrely see Jon Anderson turning up as vocalist on one track here. In addition to the other well documented and ongoing changes, a number of guests are brought in for "Lizard", primarily bringing with them wind instruments.

"Lizard" was released almost exactly a year after "In the court of the crimson king", yet the change of style and sound is so jarring as to suggest the albums are by two completely different bands (which in reality, it could be argued they are). Pretty much gone are the majestic mellotron sweeps and strong, tight melodies, to be replaced by an altogether much looser, more jazz orientated atmosphere.

On the face of it, the signs are largely positive, especially since the second side of the album contains a side long suite bearing the album's name. Indeed, the opening track "Cirkus" has echoes of both "21st Century schizoid man" and "Epitaph", the symphonic mellotrons spoilt only by Mel Collins sax noodling. The track has a rather disturbing atmosphere, driven on by a lyrical nightmare.

The mood quickly changes though with "Indoor games", a sort of jazz precursor to Peter Gabriel's "Games without frontiers". The improvised sections of the track give the distinct impression that the band is not quite sure what to play here! The lyrics of "Happy family" deal with the concurrent break up of the Beatles, but ironically they could also apply to the situation King Crimson found themselves in after the recording of this album. As with "Indoor games" though, the song is messy and unconvincing. No, actually if I am honest, it is quite awful! Side one closes with the brief ballad "Lady dancing on the water".

Those who, like me, grew up in the age of the LP record, will know what I mean when I say you could get some idea of the music on the record simply by looking at it. The grooves softer sections have a noticeably different appearance to the louder ones. Looking at the "Lizard" suite on side two of this album, it is immediately apparent that a considerable proportion of it is quiet. The opening "Prince Rupert awakes", the track which features Jon Anderson on vocals, is the best part of the entire album. Delicate soft passages alternate with mellotron driven louder ones, Anderson contributing a fine performance. As the suite develops, pleasant soft oboe and CorAnglais played by guest Robin Miller are unceremoniously pushed aside by Mel Collins and Keith Tippet, who appear to vie for centre stage. Unfortunately, neither seems intent on actually playing anything constructive, the piece rapidly degenerating in a wilderness of soft noise. There are bursts of melody as the suite progresses, spurred on by waves of mellotron, but all too soon, the jazz influences come to the fore once more. For me, the "Lizard" suite is too long and woefully unfocused. Undoubtedly, it does have some fine parts, but it simply fails to hang together and retain my attention for its 23 minutes (is that all it was?!).

For many, "Lizard" represents the final part of King Crimson's debut trilogy, and from a chronological standpoint, that is a fair assessment. From a musical perspective, I got off this particular bus at the stop before this one.

Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As usual I disagree with the general consensus, "Lark's Tonngues in Aspic" is seen as one of KING CRIMSON'S masterpieces and "Lizard" is underrated, but my opinion is exactly the opposite, I simply love "Lizard", because is the last of their albums in which they privileged the melody and sense of musicality over the adventurous but sometimes senseless experimentation.

It's obvious that we're before a band that is mutating, from a clear Symphonic birth they evolved into a Jazzy album with clear Symphonic leanings and the addition of orchestral instruments help to create this Medieval mood somehow closer to Canterbury scene than ever before or after.

"Cirkus" is an amazing song, the soft beginning announces a melodic soft track, but it's only a mirage, they never loose the melody but surely they make a lot of experimentation, maybe the only problem is Gordon Haskell's voice, but his strange range suits perfectly into the general atmosphere.

I always heard Robert Fripp is a guitar virtuoso, but only understood the magnitude of his abilities when I heard this album, just perfect or at least close to perfection. The arrangements are outstanding, every instrument appears in the precise moment, love the section when Gordon sings almost as a troubadour narrating a history, he hit the nail in the head, great material and you'd better believe this comment coming from somebody who is far from being a KING CRIMSON fan..

."Indoor Games" is much more jazzy with the wind instruments in contrapuntist performance, the vocals are weak in comparison with the previous track and the song seems a bit confusing but still is great material.

"Happy Family" starts violent and aggressive, somehow closer to free Jazz, the flute adds coherence to what seems a controlled cacophony, it's interesting to see the spirit of Jazz present because every instrument takes it's own path, but God knows how they keep control over a track that could had easily escaped from their hands at any moment, an excellent experiment of advanced fusion that I'm sure served as inspiration for Mahavishnu Orchestra.

"Lady of the dancing Water" is a medieval tune that starts with vocals, flute soft piano and a dreamy guitar and flows gently during the 2:45 minutes as an introduction to the epic that will close the album.

"Lizard" is a complete multipart epic in which even one of the parts is subdivided, Jon Anderson pays a short visit leaving his unique voice, that may not be my favorite but has a special flavor hard to imitate.

The chorus is simply breathtaking and the percussion is out of this world, if you add the classic piano and the Symphonic cadencies you got a masterpiece, but if you still add some jazzy touches, well this is something very special and deserves to be listened.

Of course there is a very complex instrumental section around the last quarter of the song that doesn't allow us to forget that Robert Fripp is capable of surprising even the most expert specialist on his music, again a very good track.

To be honest after this album I loose the interest in KING CRIMSON until "Red", because the Symphonic and melodically strong era is closed for ever with "Lizard", after that they will privilege the experimentation over the musical coherence and that's not my zone of comfort.

Now, I'm in a great problem, how in hell will I rate this album, not a masterpiece and not an excellent addition for everybody (I heard a lot of times this is the less accessible KING CRIMSON ALBUM), but it's more than just good, 3.5 stars will be perfect but I will have to go with 4 stars that seem a bit too much, but every system has limits and we must adjust ourselves to them.

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars This is the Crimso culmination. I like following “Islands” most from all Sinfield-era albums, but this deserves a credit as well. Being the most overlooked and the least accessible among all 69-71 albums, it’s filled with cold energy, fusion approach and intense atmosphere. Opening “Cirkus” is one of the best songs KC ever did; “Happy Family” is a BEATLES satire; and closing 23-min long eponymous epic proves that Progressive Rock was the most pretentious music at those times (though opening “Prince Rupert” movement with YES’s Anderson vocals is pretty radio-friendly). Cover layout must be mentioned as well – beautiful and artsy, as anything KC ever did. If you’re familiar with “Earth-Wind-Fire-Water concept” theory, which claims that first KC 4 albums are lyrically connected and tell a one and the same tale, it’s an another proof of KC’s overwhelming genius. Leave alone Fripp, Sinfield and Tippet deserve to be mentioned equally with Robert-The-Crafty-Guitarist. Highly recommended, it’s a grower.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars King Crimson's Lizard is pretty much among the best efforts released by the band, making an hybrid between classic progressive rock (for a few tumultuous mini epics & atmospheres), weird heavy guitars and jazzy brass sequences. "Cirkus" is a really attractive, mysterious composition featuring complex, quasi dark melodies. Indoor Game is a "comic", "sarcastic" song, including jazzy elements, various moods and nice bucolic flutes. A very pop-ish composition with rather weak, common melodies. It features some charming Mellotron parts and almost folkish guitars. "Happy family" is a stronger song that is into the avant rock, jazzy spectrum. A good mention to the ferocious guitars, curious keyboards arrengements, groovy flute sequences. The vocals tend to be ridiculous. The instrumental section really works. "Lady on the dancing water" is a poor, naive pop ballad with really kitsch atmospheres. "Prince Rupert Awakes" begins to alternate fragile pseudo poetical melodies, including obscure organ arrengements and ultimately painful, cheesy old fahshioned pop melodies. However there are some good keyboards parts that can remind "in the court of the king crimson"). As many King Crimson's albums I would like to classify this one as "mainstream progressive" rock.
Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars This complex web of symphonic textures, manic rhythms and challenging melodies makes "Lizard" a very deep album-- one that is exceptionally challenging to listen to and even harder to appreciate. Ultimately the verdict on this one will become a serious matter of taste; for my own part I find this incarnation of KC somewhat directionless, devoid of backbone and lacking any dazzling moments of song writing or instrumental performance to leave much impression-- the music here is just so abstract and meandering. I enjoy most of the soft guitar work throughout, and admit that after MANY listens "Lizard's" sound will start to come together, but it just isn't worth the effort when I have much more interesting King Crimson albums waiting for me. For serious fans of the band only.
Review by rushfan4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lizard is the third King Crimson album; or at least the third album by Robert Fripp using the King Crimson name. Gone are Giles and Giles and Lake. The only returning member was Mel Collins on sax and flutes. Gordon Haskell took over most of the lead vocal duties (he also appeared on Cascade and Credence on the previous album). This is as much a jazz album as it is a progressive rock album. While listening to it to prepare this review I actually enjoyed this album much more than I had at any previous time. There is a prevalent use of horns and flutes throughout this album. The highlights are Cirkus, Lady of the Dancing Water, and the title track Lizard. Lizard features Yes' lead singer Jon Anderson on vocals for the first part called Prince Rupert Awakes. I must admit that I am not a very big fan of Peter Sinfields lyrics. I suppose that some of their meanings are too abstract for me to comprehend.

Cirkus is a really good song with strange lyrics regarding a cirkus. Not sure if there is any other meaning to this or not. It does go along well with the album's cover artwork. Interestingly to me, is that although Jon Anderson does not sing on this song, he would go on to create and sing a strange song titled "Circus of Heaven". I wonder if this was in anyway an inspiration.

Indoor Games is musically a good rocking jazz song containing very strange lyrics, which do fit in nicely with the music. I suppose this song is in reference to the fun "Indoor Games" that ones participate in behind closed doors in the privacy of our own homes, and yet these games are being participated in in front of guests and servants. I suppose that this was age of love, peace, and happiness.

Happy Family is another musically good rocking song with very strange lyrics. Again they lyrics fit in nicely with the music and actually have a cool flow to them, but they are just strange. A previous reviewer mentioned it has something to do with the Beatles breaking up. Other than the reference to "four went on and none came back" I don't pick up on this reference.

Lady of the Dancing Water is a short melodic acoustical piece. No problems with the lyrics, singing or sound here. It is nice little song featuring lots of horns and flutes.

Lizard is the highlight of this album. As previously mentioned it features Jon Anderson on vocals, which for me is definitely a plus since he is one of my favorites. Lyrically however, I will be honest and say that I truly have no idea what this song is about. There are a couple very lengthy jazz instrumental passages in this song. For me these instrumental passage are far better than those that were on the song In the Wake of Poseidon. The playing here sounds organized because the instruments appear to be on the same page playing the same song versus having instrument play their own song and throwing it together.

In my opinion this album would be an excellent addition to any prog music collection strictly with the music alone, but because there are also strange lyrics and some strange singing I have to downgrade it to good, but not essential.

Review by jammun
4 stars Whoa, dude! If anyone thought that KC was dead following the departures of Lake, MacDonald, and Giles, they were in for a rude awakening with the release of Lizard.

Cirkus kicks things off, and there's those standard Fripp tritones driving yet another classic opening track. The difference this time around is Fripp's acoustic guitar, which somehow weaves itself in and out of the song, never overpowering its surroundings but always driving the song forward. To this day, still a remarkable performance that is unique in the KC catalog. Both Indoor Games and Happy Family are great KC songs, full of unexpected twists and turns, beautiful Mellotron segues, and other Fripp signatures. I truly do not understand why this album is such a flash point for KC fans, though Lady of the Dancing water is somewhat perfunctory. What was Side 2 of the original LP -- the Lizard suite -- is reasonably enjoyable but not great There are good moments -- the almost free-jazz of the Bolero section, the menace of the Battle -- but it doesn't hold together all that well.

So the quick summation: KC fans are divided on this album, but I rate it a 4 all the way. I can't imagine not having this one in my collection. It takes a while for it to work its way into your consciousness, but once it gets there it's not leaving.

Review by Easy Money
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars If progressive rock is supposed to be a mix of rock, jazz and concert hall music, then this album should be the poster child for the genre. I have heard that Fripp more or less disowns this album, which is a shame because I think it is one of the finest works he has ever produced. Anyway, Fripp is not the only star on this totally unique record, Keith Tippet, Mel Collins and Andy McCullough should also get a lot of credit for helping shape these songs.

If I had to pick a typical King Crimson song from any of their albums it would be this album's opener, "Cirkus", right down to the " is it modern or medevial" fake spelling. The song alternates uneasy psychedelic folk with spacey jazz while the lyrics deal with a paranoid nightmarish reaction to what is a fun occaison for most others. The song ends with an atonal march into madness similar to the ending of "I am the Walrus".

"Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" are both great funny avant-pop tunes from a distant future that will never happen. Both songs mix psychedelic pop with lounge exotica and free jazz and always sound new and modern in any era. The much maligned Pete Sinfield writes some of his best sarcastic lyrics on "Happy Family", which is a send-up of the Beatle's over publicized personal problems.

"The Battle of Glass Tears", towards the end of the second side, is where it all falls into place. It is on this piece that Fripp pulls the jazz, rock and concert hall influences all together. First of all. to his credit, Fripp does not look too far in the past for his influence from serious composers. A lot of his inspiration on this section comes from 20th century composers such as Bartok and Stravinsky. I don't think it is particularly "progressive" to take some antiquated musical qoute from the 18th century and stick it next to some mediocre rock and think you have somehow improved rock music by doing so. Unfortunately a lot of artists who pretty much do that get credit for being "progressive".

Anyway, what Fripp does on this section is take musical themes that build and contrast with each other, weaving them in and out till it all hits a bursting point. This is the essence of concert hall music. On top of this tightly wound compostion the horn players spit out their chaotic solos, and it is all done with a rock sound and energy. It is the perfect blend of all three elements.

Review by Moatilliatta
3 stars I'd like to reiterate that no matter how historically important an album is, it does not mean it's good, enjoyable or anything that so many people on here have for some reason convinced themselves goes along with importance. King Crimson's Lizard is yet another case in point from the band. While again pushing the boundaries of rock music, the album is terribly dissonant, aimless or tuneless half of the time, not to mention that vocalist Gordon Haskell is quite a poor one. The other half of the time, however, King Crimson strikes confounding brilliance. Of the average length tracks, "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water" are top-notch, the first with some effective dissonance, a great saxophone solo and a good vocal line (even if it's sung poorly) and the second is a beautiful ballad where the vocals actually sound good. "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" are pretty weak. There are some good ideas strewn about, but the arrangement is just chaotic and a lot of the embellishments do nothing to help the songs. The 23-minute epic title track is hard to explain. Harder than the other tracks, which I more or less didn't bother trying to describe as it is. Starting off nicely with guest vocals from Jon Anderson (before Yes was worth your time), the song then moves off into a mostly instrumental jam fest. It's a pretty sturcutred jam, but one does get the feeling that it isn't totally a coherent epic. Certainly it's filled with a lot of good material, but by the end it just doesn't seem like anything was accomplished. The ending movement is especially disconcerting. The song actually built into a climactic seemed-to-be ending and then just goes into some random final movement that seems rather unecessary.

I listen to my fair share of challenging music, and while this makes for a good starting point, obviously far beyond its time, other bands have tried similar things to greater sucess down the road.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars By mid-1970 Fripp and Sinfield had enough material to record a third album, but the formation of a stable line-up was still a problem.Thus, they asked Gordon Haskell and Mel Collins, who participated as guests in the previous effort, to join permanently and then they recruited Andy McCulloch on drums, formerly of Shy Limbs.The sophisticated sound of the pieces forced them to also recruit session musicians, Keith Tippett was once again among the guests along with cornet player Mark Charig, trombonist Nick Evans and oboe player Robin Miller as well as Jon Anderson of Yes, who sung the opening section of the title-track.The recordings took place between August?September 1970, again at the Wessex Sound Studios and ''Lizard'' was released in mid-December of the same year.

''Cirkus'' has to be among the ultimate classics of the Crimsonian's repertoire, a beautiful connection between the sound of the 69' debut with the slight psychedelic tunes and the Mellotron-denched haunting symphonicism with the jazzier lines, which will appear in this album, featuring great work on sax by Mel Collins and some great trumpet parts with Haskell delivering a nice singing performance.''Indoor games'' is more along the lines of GENTLE GIANT, the atmosphere is same as on the opener, albeit slightly jazzier, with impressive use of VCS3 synth by Sinfield and sweet organ and Mellotron parts with the sax prevailing and the acoustic guitars in evidence.The closing section features smooth but complex Jazz Rock of great inspiration.The naughty singing parts of ''Indoor games'' reappear in the following ''Happy family'', highlighted by Tippet's performance on electric piano, in contast with the complex Fripp-ian guitar moves, the VCS3 synth of Sinfield and the sax/flute alternations of Collins.The dissonances start to become a regular component in the sound of King Crimson.The short ''Lady of the dancing water'' is a relaxing ballad with flute and acoustic guitars and Haskell prooving to be a sensitive and expressive singer.''Lizard'' (taking up the whole flipside of the original version'') is the longest cut ever composed by King Crimson.A manifest of Classical, Jazz, Chamber and Experimental elements, wrappred up in a long suite, which has its moments, but sounds overall a bit stretched.From the opening minutes with Jon Anderson's vocals and the mellow atmosphere to the Classical-oriented parts with the Mellotron and the oboe creating an orchestral mood and even to the abstract jazzy improvisations with the wind instruments and piano in the forefront, King Crimson attempted to mix different music paths into an attractive blend, the composition is largely instrumental with the typical King Crimson-ian atmosphere, switching from romantic soundscapes and cinematic textures to sinister and complicated moods.

A controversial, excessive but extremely progressive work by King Crimson.Imagine elements of VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, GENTLE GIANT, THE SOFT MACHINE and THE ENID in the same album.Chaotic, but pretty elegant at the same time.Strongly recommended for all fans of messed-up yet genuine prog adventures...3.5 stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars For a long time in the 70īs me and most of my friends did not like this LP at all. It was a major shifting from their symphonic sound of their first two albums to a much more experimental, jazzy stuff. But it did included my favorite ever Crimson song, Prince Rupert Awakes (with Jon Anderson of Yes singing a marvelous lead). Later on I had the opportunity to listen to the album with less prejudice and found it to be very good. Actually, nowadays I think itīs really amazing that such a relative new band could achieve such efford that soon . They changed their sound (and, ok, musicians too) almost completely and yet they produced a classic, even if you donīt really wanted them to go that way.

Cirkus is the opener and itīs also one of KC greatest songs, the melody and arrangement matching the lyrics and theme with rare talent and impact. This haunting song is one true great achivement and Robert Fripp does a fantastic acoustic guitar solo in the middle that is completely astonishing! (beginning with a different tempo from the rest of the band, it must have been very difficult to record). Happy Family and Indoor Games are less memorable, but still interesting jazzy stuff. Lady Of The Dancing Water is a wonderful acoustic ballad with some amazing flute playing by Mel Collins. Side two of the vinyl LP was filled by the long Lizard suite, quite bold act at the time. I donīt think this piece was a complete success, but it has its moments.

All in all it was a bit obvious that Fripp, working with so many jazz veterans, would eventually be influenced by them. Nevertheless, it was a big surprise that it turned out THAT different. With hindsight we can see that the group in general and Fripp in particular were very talented musicians and Lizard is a quite amazing album, even if you did not like their changes in style. If youīre going to listen to this album for the first time please try not to compare it with In The Court Of The Crimson King neither to In The Wake Of Poseidon. With an opened mind and ears, youīll be rewarded by an outstanding album done by one of progīs most important and groundbreaking bands ever.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." [R. Fripp]

King Crimson at its core is the vision of Robert Fripp, the lord of progressive music and certainly one of its most influential artists. While I've never seen Crimson live I did see Bob with the "League of Crafty Guitarists" in a small venue that allowed me to witness the seriousness of his approach up close. It was an insight into how he could pull off something like Lizard just about half a year after the second album, while at the same time dealing the personnel changes. Incredible when you think about how these days some bands take 6 months just to rehearse some tracks or plan a tour. Furthermore, Lizard would change the course of the first two albums to encompass a wider range of musical styles and improvisation making it a notable influence for what many Crimson peers would be doing over the next several years.

"Cirkus" is such a cool track with the amazing acoustic guitar work, sprightly and nimble, over the mellotron. With the outstanding drumming and brass it makes for a powerful opening, and the ominous dark current running through the song ties in nicely with the feeling on many Crimson albums I've heard, an indescribable and nagging unease. The outstanding production values must also be noted. Lizard sounds fabulous with every instrument crisp as hell and with plenty of space for them to lounge about, allowing the album to age far better than many contemporaries. "Indoor Games" is a great laid back improv with plenty of the "space" I just mentioned. "Happy Family" is almost psych-jazz with dense sound, compressed vocals, and mischievous piano/sax running all over the madness. I can only imagine what fans of the gentle symphonic moments of the first two albums were thinking in 1970, as I'm sure Fripp no doubt relished thinking the same thought. Many complain about the vocalist on this album but I think he does just fine. You don't listen to Crimson for the vocals anyway, they're really just there for some contrast. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a perfect pastoral break with nice flute and acoustic. "Lizard" is Crimson at their experimental best and a track which took me years to fully appreciate. I still have to be in the mood for it because it demands attention especially in the long improv sections, it's not exactly the best music for strapping on to go jogging. But it is a wonderful document of the early Crimson sound and solidifies this album as an essential title for serious proggers. A 23 minute ode to progressive exploration with many outstanding, memorable moments. I love how Fripp states in one of the booklet clippings that this album will require an effort of the listener: "After hearing it two dozen times you should be getting there." He also laments recording as being inhibiting because "you are aware that you will have to live with that solo for the rest of your life." True enough, but I think he has little to worry about in that regard.

The 2000 Virgin Records mini is a great edition with a nice gatefold reproduction and a fabulous booklet of period press clippings that Robert is apparently fond of collecting. A legendary album and one of Crimson's very best. Probably my favorite. 4 ― but rounding up, because while some critisice this for straying too far from the Crimson sound, I think perhaps that should be rewarded, not penalized. Then they might say it's an experiment that failed. How? Was it the immaculate performances that failed, or the wonderful variety of new sounds and thoughtful improvisation? I don't think it fails in anyway except perhaps not meeting the expectations of those who wanted another ITCOTCK. It succeeds beautifully at what it attempts and holds up well.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Not, jazz, not rock, not symphonic, but all of the above. Avantgarde overtones, but but nothing an average symphonic fan couldn't digest after a few listenings. Of course, it offers much more than it will reveal after a dozen's just so difficult to describe WHAT exactly it offers to a listener. An entire palette of colours, but they all belong to different shades of brown perhaps?

Is that thing slapping my face a bassoon or an overdriven organ? That thing is an unusual melody able to be pretty and unusual at the same time...a little overbearing at the moments perhaps, but certainly very rewarding.

Imagine a good Prerafaelite picture: a young, long haired lady sitting in the grass on the river bank. The picture has a story, a beauty, a balance, and a certain eroticism. Now imagine the same theme painted in a cubist style a la Picasso - but still able to maintain that eroticism and still being able to be bold and fragile at the same time - because of the master's angular stroke of the brush; or master's angular guitar melody. That's it. Nothing less, nothing more: to be treasured.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimsonīs third album Lizard shows a lot of progress from the two first albums that were kind of siblings and thatīs even though Lizard was released in the same year as In the Wake of Poseidon. Gordon Haskell has taken over the vocal duties from Greg Lake who had by this time moved on to ELP. Gordon Haskell has also taken over the bass duties from Peter Giles. Drummer Michael Giles has been replaced by Andy McCulloch. The only member still in the lineup from In the Wake of Poseidon in addition to Robert Fripp is Mel Collins on flute and saxes. I think it can be heard in the music that new faces have been added to the lineup. The rythms are far more complex than on the two first albums and it seems like Robert Fripp has had oppertunity to play some things he has been longing for. Lizard seems very inspired in my ears.

The music is pretty symphonic even though there are traces of jazz and classical and avant garde music in the compositions. The closing epic is very symphonic and features a guest appearence by Jon Anderson of Yes on the first movement of that song called Prince Rupert awakes. Lots of mellotron is used throughout the album and of course Robert Frippīs guitar is omnipresent. Gordon Haskell has a very similar voice to that of Greg Lake so no big changes in that department. Personally I never felt King Crimson had a really good vocalist ever, but that is just my opinion. Gordon Haskell is no exception, he has a pretty trivial and unremarkable voice IMO.

The production is excellent. Absolutely one of the best productions from that time. Itīs produced by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield and that is even more remarkable. A real joy to listen to.

This is a landmark album in the history of prog rock just like King Crimsonīs debut album, but as I have a hard time fully appreciating Gordon Haskellīs voice I can only rate this album 4 stars. It is really excellent though and if you like Gordonīs voice Iīm sure youīll like this better than me. Highly recommendable.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Just when you think you're perfectly acquainted with a band, an album like Lizard shows its ugly face and turns all those preconceptions upside down. Being my second venture from the Wetton years (the first was Discipline), this 1970 effort from King Crimson has quickly been crowned my favourite with the band. And yes, that includes the almighty In The Court Of The Crimson King, which I picked up at the same time as Lizard.

Never have King Crimson sounded livelier, more adventurous and yet as fragile as here. The sheer aggression and/or chilling atmosphere of the Wetton-albums are replaced with a mixture of disturbing joyfulness and melancholic yearning...almost dreamy at times. I've never heard anything quite like it. I'm pretty sure I never will again. One of those albums that leave me wondering - how is it even possible to assemble all this music, all these different influences, and still get something so perfectly natural in the end?

A great number of different instruments, including woodwind and brass. As often as they rise from the mix in short jazzy solo parts they take part in creating a constantly evolving musical landscape. Complicated enough to make me breathless it is swirling (no - dancing!) in a seemingly confused, yet perfectly coordinated way before it assembles, forming a rich background for Fripp's acoustic excursions. Hearing Fripp acoustic like this is for me probably the highlight of what I've heard from the man so far. No piercing, meandering or 'backwards' electric guitar anywhere in the neighbourhood. But even without that he makes the sound his own. Expressive, frantic picking and outbursts in just that dark, menacing way one have come to expect. If an acoustic guitar can be used explosively, that is what you experience while listening to Lizard, side by side with the mellow, pleasing side of the instrument most of us are used to.

Keith Tippet is my other hero on the album. Adding lonely, ringing tones from those pianos of his, he's one of the chief architects behind the delicacy, fragility and solitude (and madness?) found on the album, not to mention the great work he performs in the somehow ordered, jazzy chaos forming the backbone on many of the songs.

Vocalist Gordon Haskell is obviously not of everybody's liking. Overall he's got a rougher, throatier voice, somewhat lacking in range. His phrasing is also most likely to make some raise their eyebrows. I also had a slight problem with him in the beginning, but now that feels more like the standard initial skepticism coming with everything new. And if you by any chance can't learn to live with his voice, the objection has a tendency to vanish like dust in the wind when you start concentrating on the music. Jon Anderson from Yes also has the courtesy of dropping in for one of the songs on Lizards, namely the title track.

And what a title track it is. Twenty-three minutes of heaven, constantly shifting, covering many different moods and a perfect way of showcasing all the amassed skill present in the making of this epic. It's jazzy, it's symphonic, it's rocking. It's soothing, it's disturbing, it's cold and it's warm. And just like the album itself - a masterpiece.


Review by TGM: Orb
5 stars Review 20, Lizard, King Crimson, 1970


Lizard is really where King Crimson move mercilessly towards their classic formula of not having a formula. The songs on it bear almost no resemblance to earlier Crimson songs, and the band replaces many of its rock elements with jazz and, to a lesser extent, classical, ideas, which would be explored a little more on Islands. The new line-up produces a very interesting and powerful album, even if it's sometimes difficult to stomach, and Lizard fully merits five glittery stars. Sinfield's lyrics do work here, even if it took me a long time to get Lizard itself lyrically, and he moves through a lot of different styles with plenty of skill, though occasionally lacking the panache he possessed on Court and Wake. The album was really a grower for me, so I suggest giving it a little time to ferment before making a judgment.

The musicians have undergone a large transition of line-up, and, given how much Crimson albums are affected by the musicians involved, it's appropriate to examine it. Vocals (Jon Anderson's finest moment excluded) and bass are taken over by Gordon Haskell, who, whilst not a particularly good singer, suits the theatricality of the album, and handles the bass surprisingly well. Mike Giles has been replaced by the very capable Andy McCulloch. If there was one instrument on which the change could have been a massive mistake, it was the drums. Even a plain excellent drummer wouldn't do. McCulloch, however, was a very successful choice, I think. Keith Tippet takes a much more active role on piano and E-piano. Mel Collins really comes into his own a little more on saxes and flute. The biggest change, perhaps, are the studio contributions of Robin Miller on oboe and cor anglais, Mark Charig on cornet and Nick Evans on trombone. The diverse instrumentation is certainly something that marks the album's character, and it is merged with the previous Crimson line-up very well.

Cirkus, among a long list of classy Crimson openers, is among the best. Everything is utterly amazing: Keith Tippet's astral electric piano, the post-superb acoustic guitar work, the heavy jazzy mellotron (I think) riff, Andy McCulloch's curious, tapping percussion. A superb cornet solo. Gordon Haskell was made for this song, providing the appropriate delivery for Pete Sinfield's enchanting, biting abstract lyrics ('Elephants forgot, force-fed on stale chalk/Ate the floors of their cages'), and some superb crystalline bass. The gentle, spectral Entry Of The Chameleons works very neatly, preparing for some of the best interplay (acoustic guitar, piano and drums) that I have ever heard and a blaring jazz explosion and relaxation. Absolutely masterpiece material, with every musician more than standing out.

Indoor Games is one of the album's weirdest pieces, and I hated it on the first listen. Glad to say I've changed my mind on this. Pete Sinfield's lyrics are sarcastic, semi-nonsensical, and don't even seem to have a theme. The highlight is, again, the interplay and the way that the musicians come in and disappear without a seam. Fripp provides some very interesting strained electric guitar, and we get some amazing VCS3-Mellotron interplay on the middle section. The bass and drumming are seamless, and we get a cracking saxophone solo from Mel Collins to boot. Gordon Haskell's vocal and accompanying insane laughter is a grower, and Another masterpiece song, even if it took me a little while to get it.

The impact of satirising The Beatles' break-up is lost on me. Nonetheless, it sounds great, and Happy Family blares in very neatly at the end of Indoor Games, giving them a sort of one-song feel. Much more chaotic than the previous one, in its own way, with a distorted vocal from Haskell, a weird VCS3 (I think) riff that comes in every now and then, some flute and other soloing and a xylophone tapping on the conclusion. Very, very weird song.

Now we have the gorgeous Lady Of The Dancing Water. Perhaps the most beautiful ballad ever, with a combination of flute, trombone, acoustic guitar and piano that is genuinely able to reduce me to tears if I'm in the right mindframe. Pete Sinfield's lyrics could not be improved upon. Beautiful, beautiful song. Also an example of how to do a 'progressive' ballad.

Prince Rupert Awakes begins with an enchanting piano part that continues throughout the piece and a beautiful high vocal from Jon Anderson (Yes, the Jon Anderson), the uplifting, optimistic song continues with some acousticy Spanish-sounding and more typical guitar additions from Fripp and glistening, haunting mellotron, as well as superb VCS3, bass and drums on the chorus. A sweeping piano and drum crescendo leads us into one of the greatest mellotron-based sections of progressive music.

From the end of this chaos, a lone cornet turns up, and the rather loose, improvisational (I suspect) Bolero section begins, giving especial opportunities for Mel Collins and the four jazz-men to show off. Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch provide an odd rhythm section, while the others switch between solos and polyphonics, with Tippet providing an outstanding piano part. An oboe solo, combined with outstanding classical drumming, leads on to the haunting sax intro to Dawn Song.

The Battle Of Glass Tears begins with Gordon Haskell's hesitant, haunting, quiet vocal and backing, curious drumming and piano. What I presume is Last Skirmish kicks off with an eerie mellotron and rhythm section trio. The other instruments variously hammer in, including particularly exceptional flute and sax solos from Mel Collins as well as chaotic jazzy riffs and parts from all involved. Robert Fripp adds in shrieking electric guitar. Every section either escalates or builds tension, until it relaxes to a bass-and-drums beat over which Fripp lays the tragic Prince Rupert's Lament, a powerful, tense, emotional electric guitar solo. This would have been the perfect end to the epic song.

But it wasn't, for some reason, probably pertaining to Pete Sinfield's concept, the band tacked on a random Circus part to the end, which, while it might not be too bad in and of itself, damages the atmosphere, and I hate the speeding-up effect in all its shapes and forms.

This is, from what I've so far got, Mr. Fripp's high point as a guitarist. He never dominates or takes centre stage so bluntly that the other players don't have seem to have the space to develop, and he doesn't feel like he's made the conscious decision 'OK, we put a guitar solo here, a flute solo here, and then throw in a mellotron', but like he's organically fitted into his diabolical creation. The interplay and musicianship on the album is very dense, and it is almost flawless.

Five stars. Highly recommended to anyone interested in experimental music combinations, quality, diverse guitar-work and anyone who likes albums that take ages to grow on you.

Rating: Five Stars

Favourite Track: Cirkus

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars There are some very good moments on this album like the opening track Circus, the beautiful Lady of the Dancing Water and the first part of Lizard, sung beautifully by Jon Anderson. The rest of this album, however, is not that remarkable. This applies especially the the title track, it loses its direction toward the middle and it very little to do with the good first part. Lizard is therefore, despite being over 20 minutes in length, hardly an epic.

Some very good moments, some merely ok moments and some even boring ones. A good album overall, but not more than merely good.

Review by LiquidEternity
5 stars This is probably one of King Crimson's best albums ever, ranking up there with their debut and Red, but in a very different way.

The haunting and melancholy moods of the first few KC releases have now given way to the next direction the band will take: a more active, more energetic side of the band. Also, the melodies on this album finally get their feet. The whole way through, the vocals, though unfortunately no longer provided by Greg Lake, work with some wonderful tunes and produce a handful of songs that are still inspiring in their own way today. While fans of prog will, if completely unaware of King Crimson's style, be drawn to this album because of the sidelong track, the true beauty of this album is in its whole. Mel Collins is on fire throughout the release, playing saxophone like he was born with it in his hands and mouth. Robert Fripp takes more of a lead with his guitar work here, beginning to reveal to the world why they will soon refer to him as one of the greats of the guitar world (I'm referring to the aspect of the world that doesn't keep rating Kurt Cobain as the best guitarist of all time).

The album opens with the highly aggressive Circus, driven by some stellar six string loving from Robert Fripp. A catchy chorus and some nice saxophone in the middle turn this song into another unique opener for the band, proving that, though it hearkens back somewhat to their first two releases, they were never going to do the same thing again. Indoor Games continues the feel here, with distorted vocals and neat acoustic guitar. The saxophone gives the song a slightly goofy, lilting feel. A slightly meandering experimental middle section is punctuated by neat guitar and sax work, returning to the main theme of the song with a wild abandon after what might be the first true guitar solo by Robert Fripp. The next song, Happy Family, is another dark tune with a strange sense of disparate tempos. The vocals are once again lighthearted and odd, feeling built in to the music. The guitar builds a groundwork for some odd keyboard noodling that actually sounds cool here. The main musical theme here is a really menacing and progressing bit. The side wraps up with the quiet ballad Lady of the Dancing Water, which is somewhat a let-down after the previous few tracks. The flute, however, is gorgeous here.

Then, of course, we have the second side, featuring the big old title track. Within moments, we notice something is odd. What happened to Gordon's voice? Jon Anderson of Yes makes a wonderful debut on the first three or four minutes of this song, sounding more perfect for this music than he usually does for his own (and I like Yes). The little chorus of this section is pure gold, a wonderful melody that just fits in timber and tone with Anderson's voice and the mood of the music. This is a wildly difficult song to digest, on the whole, as while most of it is great, a lot of the little bits go beyond experimental and into something more like RIO. When it all realigns each time, though, it's is splendid. I can't really break down this tune piece by piece, but I can tell you that it moves into a spacey bit about halfway through, which segues to one of the more aggressive moments on the song about 14 minutes in. The song builds off this, continuing to get darker and fuller. Lastly, the song dies down about 20 or so minutes in, throwing a mournful guitar over a bolero feel. Well, lastly meaning the song proper is about over, except then a strange circus bit comes in and tears the ending of the song to delightful pieces. This might be one of the strongest songs the band ever wrote, as weird and as inconsistent as it might seem. It just feels right on the whole.

In short, this is a wonderful release. One of the few essential releases by King Crimson. It's more along the lines of regular symphonic prog than most of the rest of their output, so it's a nice place to start if you are, say, a big Yes fan and always wondered what convinced Jon to throw some vocal tracks over here. A perfectly splendid album.

Review by CCVP
5 stars Lizard is the most different King Crimson album from the 70's, since King Crimson here has more classical music influence than whenever

Though Robert Fripp thinks this is not such a good album, Lizard is another King Crimson album that i love, but unlike most King Crimson's albums, Lizard is clearly more influenced by classical and folk music than any other King Crimson album, though it still retain some of the jazz instruments, like the trumpet, the sax and oboe.

Lizard is also another rebirth album for the band and that is probably why the music is so different. After King Crimson disbanded for the first time, in 1970 after the release of In the Wake of Poseidon, Fripp thought of leaving prog rock for good, but thanks to the Yes invitation (at that time Yes was searching for a new guitarist but things didn't worked out so well and then, thanked by the invitation, Fripp asked for Jon Anderson to do some vocals in Lizard), Fripp decided to keep King Crimson going. With a completely new band, things went differently in studio than in the previous albums and eventually resulted in Lizard's great outcome.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

The album is basically divided in two parts: the Lizard epic and the rest of the album. The epic looks like more like a symphonic prog piece, with a big deal of classical music influence, than Crimson's jazzy experimentalism, but this does not means it is a bad song (in fact it is an awesome song). Lizard (the song) also is mostly driven by the piano / mellotron / keyboard instead of the usual guitar work.

The rest of the album strives for wider horizons than Lizard, since it is more experimental and diverse than the title song, but, unfortunately, it is not as good as the epic.

The highlights go the the epic side-long song Lizard. It is just beautifully amazing.

Like most (or maybe all) Crimson albums, Lizard (the album) has some quite complex song to play. Because of that, the musicianship of all musicians is quite good, though this album is not as demanding as Lark's Tongues or Red. On a sidenote, it is remarkable how Gordon Haskell's and John Wetton's voices look alike.

Grade and Final Thoughts

As always, King Crimson reappears as something completely different as before and blows my mind (at least until Discipline) and since, in my opinion (although Robert Fripp may disagree), Lizard is the fourth best Crimson album of the 70's, i think it does deserve the masterpiece grade.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars King Crimson - 'Lizard' 5 stars

Crimon's unsung hero.

Lizard is King Crimson's hardest album to get into by a mile. It mars together some of music's toughest character, jazz and avant-garde. Also, with so many line-up changes, there is such a new flavor in a band that was still very new. What brings out the jazz flavor is the horn section, which is the most abundant on this album compared to any other, thanks to Mel Collins.

There is plenty acoustic guitar done by Robert Fripp on this album. He seems to be the driving force on this record, possibly due to him being the main composer of this album. 'Cirkus' is just about the only accessible track on the entire album. The rest all are some very challenging songs, but do have some of the strongest melodies, some being more apparent than others, for instance the electronic line in 'Lady of the Dancing Water' or the theme in the 23 minutes epic 'Lizard'. There are plenty throughout, but you must be able to discover them buried in the music.

King Crimson's least accessible album, but the most rewarding.

Review by The Quiet One
5 stars King Crimson goes Quirkier and Jazzier than ever!

After the un-inspiring, though excellent musically, In The Wake of Poseidon, Robert moved to ''dangerous'' grounds, jazz. With a whole bunch of new musicians, Greg Lake finally left to pursue with the Symphonic masters, ELP, so Gordon Haskell who had sang in Cadence And Cascade in their previous, now gets the role of singing in the entire album plus playing bass, his voice is nothing than an acquired taste, definitely not a appealing voice from the first listen, but with each listen it starts to grow on you, primarly because you notice his low-timbre really fits the music here. Also Mel Collins gets a much important role in this album, featuring his whole potential in the sax. But as some members were ''promoted'', others were ''demoted'', for example Robert Fripp, his role as a guitarist is diminished, while his important role on the mellotron still stands. On the other hand Keith Tippet who had played some few, though beautiful, notes, this time he gets a whole bunch of chords to play with his jazzy and quirky piano and electric piano.

Lizard gives you highly entertaining songs from the very beginning, through the dark and melancholic, psych-esque, Cirkus, in which the highlights are the haunting mellotron and the smooth/dissonant sax by Mel Collins. Then Indoor Games gives you a less haunting view of the album, though still complex, managing the KC fan stay focus on the album, with some quirky moog plus the quick change of moods. Later on KC delivers you a more powerful entry with Happy Family, though it soon fades away and gets into a dissonant, jazzy-style, song, with Gordon's voice twisted and delayed giving the dissonant feel, plus some entertaining flute that'll give the KC fan some memories of In The Court. Finally Robert gives you the smooth and gentle acoustic/flute lead moment with Lady of the Dancing Water, ala Cadence and Cascades or Peace from their previous effort.

But what really makes Lizard one of it's own, is the title track, with the highly original structure/composition developing all the potentials from the ''promoted'' members, plus the main incorporation of the jazz leanings all throughout the song, mainly lead by Mel's sax or Keith's keys. The first part features Jon Andersons' delicate voice, in which the songs develops from beauty to calm dramatic moments with the mellotron, in which in the second part it will all fade away, moving to the long-awaited jazzy territory with sax and piano. The third ''movement'' is the darkest and greatest, with a stunning dissonant, psych-esque climax, fully lead by Mel's aniquilating saxophone, along with crazy mellotron touches, and a impossible rythm to follow. Pittily the last part is quite dissapointing, being crazy, circus-esque, letting the epic fail in the end.

As nearly all KC albums of the 70's, each one is unique(with the exception of ITWOP and SBB) because of a certain mood or genre dominating it. Like I said in my Islands review, I highly recomend you to try non-stop with this album until you enjoy it, by the way it's the only KC album featuring a 20 minutes+ piece. Also highly recomended for those saxophone lovers, you won't find in any other Crimson album as much sax blast-off's as in this, with the exception of Islands.

A masterpiece. Lovers of quirky sounds, jazz, and complex, yet old 70's fashion, music, check this out.

Review by friso
5 stars By the time King Crimson had recorded 'Lizard' it would have perhaps become too artistic for its own following. Most listeners who enjoyed the magical debut find themselves unable to listen to it and even Robert Fripp recommended listening to it 'halve a dozen times'. Be that as it may, this might just be my favorite King Crimson album. The style of 'Lizard' is distinctly more (chamber type) avant-prog than eclectic prog; with the bizarre piano playing of Keith Tippet and a list of wind instrumentalist, of whom Mel Collins is of course the most well known. On side one 'Circus' sets the atmosphere with a magical display of symphonic prog, jazz rock and imaginative - almost day dream like - atmospheres. The dark and loud mellotron tones and maddening acoustic guitar of Fripp are distinctly original and effective. One of my favorite prog songs ever. 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family' have rather simple structures that are disrupted by odd rock instrumentation and avant-garde performances of all musicians. 'Lady Of The Dancing Water' is one of most beautiful artistic ballads the band ever recorded, a bit in the vein of 'I Talk To the Wind' and 'Cadance and Cascade'. The flute by Collins in heavenly and the vocal performance by Gordon Haskell (wouldn't call it singing per se) fits with the magical vibe. On side two the 'Lizard' suite launches it magic directly with a piece of abstract symphonic song-writing only King Crimson can deliver. Jon Anderson (of Yes fame) is flown in to sing these subtle melodic parts and in this landscape his otherwise whimsical voice is almost unrecognizable, quite a performance. After some grand symphonic structures with war drums and beautiful wind solo's the track grows into a heavy avant-garde blues rock piece. Some of it is a bit too much for my tastes, but near the ending 'Prince Rupert's Lament' has a beautiful atonal solo by Robert Fripp. The 'Big Top' after though is strange Carousel ride with tape manipulations. This - by the way beautifully recorded -album is an acquired taste and it proves that even progressive rock listeners can bare only so much progression. I for one am glad that a few records like this ('Pawn Hearts', 'In Praise of Learning' and 'Mice and Rats in the Loft' come to mind') were made.
Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Third KC album is different from it's predescesors. Much more complex, with strong jazz and avantgard elements, it stays aside of KC early works. As for me, it's really better, then soft ,almost romantic and mellow "Poseidon..". More energy, more drive, more experimental sounds. But far from masterpiece, sorry. Too many places sound as strong raw material, but not finished music.

I like about 50% of this album, but the other part is just ... accessible. I think, it is just my personal point of view, but under heavy experimentation I not always can feel the music there.

I like it's ROCK component, and some of jazz components too, but can see the melted sound of those two far away not everywhere.

Speaking about KC Mk I ( it is, before "Discipline"), I prefer "In The Court of CK" first and "Red" after. And I think "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" is third.

The problem is not in free jazz added ( I like Keith Tippett in his jazz-avantgard solo works very much!), but because I can't feel strong collaboration between prog and jazz section too often. For me it sounds more as experiment with some successful results, but not as finished serious work.

But, for sure, the album is enough interesting, as almost any KC album!

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars Side 2 of "In the Wake of Poseidon" introduced the new KING CRIMSON sound that would be carried forward to "Lizard" and "Islands". Only lyricist Peter Sinfield and guitarist Robert Fripp remains from the debut, with Fripp occupying the mellotron stool. Gone are the melodic and classically infused compositions, replaced by a more free form intentionally dissonant and cold jazzy ambiance. Gordon Haskell assumes most vocals although he is largely relegated to side 1. He's no Greg Lake, but that man's talents would have been wasted on "Lizard".

The album actually kicks off with one of the group's best tracks, the eclectic "Cirkus", with its surreal lyrics of a collapsing world under the big top, and its superb riff and instrumental breaks highlighting Fripp's idiosyncratic acoustic guitar style, Mel Collins' sax, and even some sweeping mellotron. The piece quiets down near the end to a slow buildup and calamitous climax, nothing new for an opening KC cut.

"Indoor Games" is a far more mature and effective reading of "Cat Food" that appeared on "In the Wake", with more thought-provoking lyrics and acoustic frippery. But "Happy Family" has to be one of the worst songs committed to vinyl, a blasphemous drug induced nursery rhyme without charm or insight. Luckily Side 1 ends with a ballad following in the footsteps of "I Talk to the Wind" and "Cadence and Cascade", shorter still, but with sparkling guitar and flute. I admit it has a burned out vibe, no doubt signaling the end of KC's run of sweet flute ballads.

Jon Anderson acquits himself well on "Prince Rupert Awakes", and it's hard to imagine giving the job of carrying this melody to Haskell. It's eerie and measured, with a choral mellotron ending to match. After this, the album moves fully into jazzy territory. "Bolero" is a lovely instrumental but with a bit too much heavy sax in the break. My edit would only include a little of this extravagance. But "Battle of Glass Tears" essentially introduces the even more devil may care style of "Islands". The themes that can be discerned are less interesting and more tempestuous, and far too drawn out.

I am not a fan of this style to be blunt, but, for what it is, "Lizard" is actually a pretty impressive critter, and could merit 4 stars if it were not so cold blooded.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lizard is a quite a unique album in the Crimson discography. By consequence, it has both its devoted fans and people that rate it below other KC albums. Whichever way you turn, I think it has excellent material and serves as a landmark album of the then still premature prog scene.

The opener Cirkus is simply amazing, it's a superb composition, alternating gentle verses and brilliant acoustic guitar picking with that big dramatic guitar theme. It has beautiful mellotron and nice jazzy elements and, in typical Crimson style, it ends in a big and almost chaotic climax.

This is probably the only King Crimson album that features some synths, a VCS3 to be precise. It's done very subtly as on Indoor Games. This song is less overwhelming then the opener but it grows with frequent listens. Also Happy Family features some keyboard, resulting in an eye-catching opening part. The core of the songs is difficult to get into though, and sounds more like a practical joke that got out of hand then like a regular Crimson track. Very 'circusy' indeed, this one. Lady of the Dancing Water must be one of PFM's main sources for inspiration. Very smooth and gentle but not really convincing.

Lizard lifts this album almost to 5 stars. Jon Anderson opens with amazing vocals, alternating subdued verses in typical Crimson style with a very uplifting chorus that bathes in dazzling Yes-light. Even the lalala is gorgeous. These first 4 minutes rate amongst the most beautiful of the classic symphonic rock style. They are followed with a soft jazzy section, improvising around the main theme of the chorus and borrowing the rhythm of Ravel's Bolero. Halfway in, there is a short piece on Oboe that is slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky, Gorden Haskell takes over vocal duties and the band launches in another 10 minute of experimental jazz rock drama and mellotron washes. The last 3 minutes before the short finale feature some very abstract guitar playing from Fripp.

An out of the ordinary Crimson album, incredibly dense and orchestrated compared to their usual stark sound. I think it's one of their brightest, most melodic and most playful albums. Lovers of symphonic prog shouldn't miss this.

Review by seventhsojourn
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lizard witnessed a fairly dramatic change of direction from King Crimson, rather than simply being a reproduction of the previous album as had largely been the case with In The Wake Of Poseidon. The sound here is geared more towards avant-garde and the album features several guest musicians drawn from the jazz world. Brass and woodwinds dominate the aural landscape along with Keith Tippett's pianos. On the whole, Robert Fripp's guitar is fairly restrained although there is some sublime acoustic work during the first half of the album. He also makes liberal use of Mellotron throughout the album and lyricist Pete Sinfield even gets in on the act, adding some interesting synthesized effects.

Fripp and Sinfield were still the principle members of KC at this point and had written all the material for the album. Reeds-man Mel Collins remained from ITWOP, with Gordon Haskell and Andy McCulloch joining as full members. McCulloch proved to be a more than adequate replacement for Michael Giles; his drumming is excellent and sounds similar in style to his predecessor. However, bassist and vocalist Gordon Haskell's singing is a sore point for me. In my opinion he can't sing; or rather, he doesn't sing. His vocal range is narrow while his delivery lacks articulation and falls somewhere between his speaking voice and a drone. If this criticism seems harsh, you only need to look to the fact that Jon Anderson was employed to sing the lead on Prince Rupert Awakes. On the subject of Jon Anderson, I've always felt that his voice sounds incongruous on a KC album; that and the handclaps make this song far too dainty for my liking.

The opening track, Cirkus, is arguably the main highlight of the album and features a menacing Mellotron that calls to mind The Devil's Triangle from ITWOP. The song itself is a curious hybrid of styles, alternating between the band's heavy and symphonic sides. The song ends in a cacophony of saxophone, brittle guitar, braying cornet and clattering drums. Indoor Games and Happy Family are a couple of quirky songs with hedonism and The Beatles as their subject matter respectively. Both these songs feature treated vocals; experimentation, or further evidence Haskell wasn't up to the job? Track 4, Lady Of The Dancing Water, features a lovely playful flute by Collins along with some trombone. This song is a throwback to I Talk To The Wind and Cadence And Cascade from the two previous albums. I'm surprised that KC continued to produce this type of song, and in fact would go on doing so after Lizard.

The title track consists of a 23-minute multi-part suite, beginning with the aforementioned Prince Rupert Awakes. This first piece is very much in KC's trademark symphonic style and features a lyrical electric guitar lead and Mellotron-laden crescendos. During the final verse a marching snare-drum beat joins in, which exquisitely heralds the forthcoming Bolero section. The initial cornet and piano of Bolero are soon joined by oboe. Reed and brass instruments then head into an improvised section, throwing in occasional motifs from the standards repertoire, underpinned by Tippett's manic piano. Fripp has been conspicuous by his absence so far in this section, but waves of Mellotron arrive during the reprise of the main theme. A distant cor anglais then introduces the lengthy Battle Of Glass Tears, which features dramatic contrasts of dynamics; another trademark of the KC sound. The brief Big Top closes the album, and along with the opener Cirkus these two songs nicely ring-fence the entire album.

Lizard has the reputation of being a difficult album, mainly as it is quite different to other early KC discs. It's certainly an album that requires repeated plays in order to fully appreciate its complexities. Despite the issues with the two vocalists highlighted above, it's an otherwise fine album and is worthy of a solid 3 stars.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars The most jazzy-oriented release by King Crimson

Lizard is an interesting release in the history of King Crimson, with being the most jazzy album of the band. One of their peaks, but without their distinctive and characteristic style. It saw the arrival of new vocalist - Gordon Haskell, who's very similar to Greg Lake's voice. The album could trully regarded as a jazz rock fusion album with only little moments outside jazz territory. This is probably one of the best King Crimson's album (following Red). It gets away of some unpleasant moments, situated in a couple of other KC albums. Despite that, there isn't something special in most of the short songs before homonymous epic Lizard. The essence of the album is been in the last one. It's deep, profound and catchy. Lizard features Jon Anderson from Yes on vocals at the beginning of the composition - called Prince Rupert Awakes. Prince Rupert Awakes is the only part not being jazzy as whole. All other parts of the composition are strongly jazz-oriented. Lizard is highly recommended album for jazz rock fusion fans and quite recommended for all others. 4 stars!!!

Review by thehallway
5 stars "Stake a Lizard by the throat", sings Jon Anderson in the ironically cheerful chorus to Prince Rupert Awakes, a line which blends theatrical humour with overbearing darkness. Such is true of the entire Lizard album. That dark feel is achieved by the band literally 'standing in the shadow' of their debut (the same can be said for 'Poseidon'), whilst the humour seems to come from the increasingly whimsical brain of Peter Sinfield. This, combined with the new line-up, the jazzy, brassy, and YES-y guest musicians, and the invention of the VCS3, is what makes Lizard so oddly unique amongst King Crimson's catalogue, and indeed in music generally.

...Not that that's a bad thing. Although in practise this appears to be a recipe for disaster, it seems to work to Bob Fripp's advantage on this record. There are medieval themes within the cover artwork and lyrics, something which you either like, or don't, and the music is similarly divided. But those who enjoy Crimson's offbeat original style, are bound to fall on the positive side. Side 1 treats us to 'Cirkus', which is reminiscent of the first album with it's poetic verses and chilling melltron breaks, although it distinguishes itself with the busy overdubbing of brass, flute and acoustic guitar. 'Indoor Games' and 'Happy Family' are less serious, working to their advantage. Their lyrics (which one can mull over and be none the wiser) are almost annoying, but the tunes are quirky and upbeat nonetheless, with interesting instrumental breaks that are worth grooving to. 'Lady of the Dancing Water' is a welcome break; very light, melodical and almost madrigal-like. I have to agree though, with the other people that have said it feels 'out of place' amongst the heavy-natured, jazz-rock tomfoolery that makes up 95% of Lizard.

The title track is very rewarding, once you get your head around the different sections and sub-sections. 'Prince Ruper Awakes' is almost a sing-along folk song, which Jon Anderson's voice is well suited to (just look at Yes's 'We Have Heaven'). This section blends nicely into the extended bolero, an excersise in jazz improvisation with increasing instrumentation that leads to a beautiful climax, decorated with more Tippet brass and tinkly piano. The battle that ensues (with it's brief introduction by Haskell, who at this point has already decided to leave the band), increases in intensity as well, this time with the signature Crimson darkness and paranoid complexity. This section is one of the finest moments of the album, dragging the listener through a battlefield of opposing mellotrons, guitars and saxophones, in a way which makes you want to turn up the volume, close your eyes, and bask in the wall of sound with the knowledge that you aren't involved in the fighting itself. After a funeral-esque guitar fanfare, and an out-of-place circus reprise, Lizard is over, and the entire 23 minute experience seems irritatingly brief. But overall, the track is worthy of closing an album such as 'Court of the Crimson King', for on Lizard, it is often overlooked. The song isn't perfect, at times messy; a 'fractured masterpiece', but it brings the listener a sense of fear and delight that makes you keep returning to it. This can be said of the whole album. For me, Lizard stands the test of time better than most other Crimson records.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars With Lizard, we get some of the best and worst of King Crimson. I love the experimentation and variety, and some of it works quite well, but we also have plenty of material that is probably not on par with what we know the band can produce, such as in the epic title track. I love the instrumentation, but I think there are some clear limitations in the songwriting department.

Things start out well, as Cirkus is certainly a fun song, with some very speedy guitar from Fripp, and delivered with such panache! On the other hand, some of the melody is just not that good, particularly the police-car-siren refrain. Indoor Games keeps up the quality, bouncing all over from playful jazz to a folksy chorus to a little instrumental freaking out. Good stuff!

Lizard for me is quite a mixed bag. I really only enjoy two sections--about 10 minutes worth--but boy are they good. The opening sequence, Prince Rupert Awakes, is very pleasant and dreamy, yet stately as well. Of course Anderson sounds great, but it's the combination of songwriting and performance that really makes this work. The following bolero section is a bit to free form and improv for me--just not sure what the point is here. However, it's worth getting through, because the final build (I'm intentionally leaving out the second ending), introduced by the menacing mellotron, and then replaced by menacing saxes, is a first class King Crimson freakout all the way. Probably the highlight of the album for me.

As you can tell, this is a frustrating album for me. On one hand, I really like how they are playing, but for some sections, I just don't care for what they are playing. Regardless, Lizard shows a fairly unique and side of King Crimson that is definitely worth having.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
5 stars With Lizard, King Crimson's third album, Robert Fripp has finally gotten rid of all that baggage weighing him down on the first two albums, save for lyricist Pete Sinfield (before I get flamed, that was a joke). Fripp somehow managed to create a work of brilliance with an all new cast of band members. This one to me ranks up there with the Wetton albums, but in a different way.

The songs are all quite lush, but also both delicate and ominous at the same time. A major reason for this is the unique piano style of Keith Tippett, who had added some of the best moments to In The Wake Of Poseidon. His piano and Fripp's guitar weave tapestries around each other, in compositions that walk a tightrope between symphonic prog and jazz fusion.

Special mention should also be given to Andy McCullogh, who's snare heavy drumming rolls the compositions along, and the ubiquitous Mel Collins, who has never sounded better than on this album.

The first half of the album is made up of shorter tunes, the best being Cirkus, with Fripp's guitar picking and fierce mellotron leading the ominous composition, and Happy Family, a thinly veiled tale of the Beatles' breakup. The latter appears to have been written around a riff that the original Crimson lineup would often play in their improvs (listen to the live collection Epitaph if you don't know what I mean).

The second half of the album is one long piece, Prince Rupert's Lament. This epic begins with some light opening vocal by a certain Jon Anderson, and then weaves it's way through what I would say is the finest pure symphonic prog Fripp has ever recorded.

There is not a bad moment on this masterpiece.

Review by tarkus1980
1 stars WARNING: If you like this album, run away now.

While it's good that Robert Fripp was so intent on avoiding a second 'clone' of Court, this is a clear example of my belief that change is only for the better if, well, it's for the better. Except for Fripp and Sinfield, all remnants of the Court lineup had been swept away by this time, and it's obvious that Robert wanted to make a clean break from the stylistics of the first two albums and establish his own identity. There are some people who played on Wake - Gordon Haskell is now the bassist and lead vocalist, Mel Collins is the fulltime woodwinds player, as well as a couple of others - but the sound couldn't possibly be more different from that on those albums.

The problem, though, isn't that the album is different. The problem is that the album sucks. Fripp may have had to assume the songwriting duties on Wake, but much of that merely constituted of slight tinkering with ideas from the first album (with a bit of structured avantgarde here and there). On Lizard, however, Fripp had to assume control of both the songwriting and the artistic direction, and it seems to me that shouldering both proved too much for him. With only a very small number of exceptions, Fripp's goal seemed not to lean towards any kind of memorability or even sense, but rather trying to be as complex and grandiose and epic and avantgarde as he could without considering whether or not these qualities served any purpose. For a hardcore prog fan, Lizard might seem fine for just those reasons; however, as much as I love my Close to the Edge and Foxtrot and Octopus, I require that complexity and its cousins in some way entertain me. Simply put, Lizard doesn't.

Fripp's songwriting, however, does not get full blame for how much I dislike this album. Gordon Haskell was an alright vocalist on "Cadence and Cascade," but this album is a whole other story. Basically, he's an incredibly mediocre tenor that sounds like he has a frog in his throat at all times. It's not just that he's worse than Lake - it's that he's worse than almost EVERY SINGLE VOCALIST I'VE EVER HEARD. However, in the area of the vocals, Haskell isn't even the biggest problem - rather, that honor goes to what he's singing. On this album, Sinfield simply went berzerk with his lyrics, penning such brilliancies as "Stake a lizard by the throat" (and that's a lyric from the best part of the album!). In short, awful vocals + awful lyrics + incredibly mediocre vocal melodies = bad music made worse.

So what about the songs? I can find some good things here and there, but wow I have to reach. The opening "Cirkus" is more or less tolerable - everything associated with the vocals is dumb (including the instrumentation under the vocal parts), but the mellotron- guitar breaks between verses are rather interesting, and some of the "soaring" mellotron parts provide a slight return to the well-done epic vibe of the first two albums. I also more or less enjoy the first section of side-two's sidelong title track, as it's basically just a nice pop song with guest vocals from Yes' Jon Anderson (hey, did you know there was a rumor of Robert Fripp joining Yes as Peter Banks' replacement? Imagine how THAT would have turned out...). The lyrics are of course utterly abominable, but I'm able to lose myself in the neat pop chorus and even in the more atmospheric parts of the verse melody. So yeah, there's some good stuff on the album after all.

However, that's more or less it as far as really good music goes. The rest of the first side is practically worthless - "Lady of the Dancing Water" is the best of these, and that's only because it does nothing instead of actively offend. And offend the others do. "Indoor Games" is a 4th-rate "Pictures of a City," with a laaaaazy saxophone riff that hasn't 1/100 of the intensity of that near masterpiece, nor a single decent hook throughout. Bear in mind, that's before the last chunk of the song, when we're greeted with the DUMBEST SOUNDING SYNTH EVER, and a fadeout with Gordon laughing "menacingly" for no apparent reason. This in turn leads to "Happy Family," one of the most abominable songs I've ever heard. The instrumental parts are just about the very definition of mindless, directionless jamming, with seemingly random piano and synth and guitar noise and whatever for some of the worst four minutes of my life. This is compounded by the fact that Fripp found the one way to make Haskell's voice more unbearable - he encoded it in distortion, and suddenly Haskell's obnoxious human voice became an obnoxious android voice.

Now the second side (after "Prince Rupert Awakes") is a bit strange for me. I like PARTS of it (at least, after many many listens), but as a whole, I consider the track a failure. "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale" is an attempt to fuse jazz ideas with modern classical ripoffs, and while it mostly bores me, it does have a reeeeally pretty mellotron line that pops up a couple of times. During the next part, the ten-minute "The Battle of Glass Tears" (with three parts of its own), the music just kinda goes and goes, though there is a reasonably interesting theme that parts of it seem to be based on. I also kinda like "Prince Rupert's Lament," the only time of the album where Fripp's guitar is prominent (not in shred mode at all, but the tone and note choices are quintessential Fripp), and the ending "Big Top" is amusing in a kitcsh sort of way. Again, though, a couple of decent moments in a track this long just doesn't cut it for me.

In short, this album is, in my mind, one of the great failures of British progressive rock. This is the sort of album that gives a bad name to prog rock, one filled with pretense and poorly executed ambition, hoping to get by on bombast and weirdness with no substance. There's some good material, but not even enough to get it up to **.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is my personal favorite Crimson album. Not even sure the reason, something about it just makes it my favorite King Crimson listen. It probably isn't even their best album musically and the lineup was only there for an extremely short while.

Maybe it's just such a rare gem that I love it for that reason but anyways...

We begin with the soft opening of Cirkus which gives us our first taste of those silly- sounding vocals by the one-time vocalist Gordon Haskell. He doesn't try to sound silly I don't think but he sure does to me haha. Then suddenly without warning there is a heavy and dark turn in the music with Fripp's guitar and Mel Collin's sax which gives a very ominous jazzy feel. The feeling stays for pretty much the remainder of the song except when Haskell sings the soft verses. There is a jazzy sort of improvisation in the middle of the song which is very beautiful.

Indoor Games and Happy Family to me are very similar tracks. Both sort of playful but with seemingly darker hidden meanings. Haskell's vocals create this playfulness I believe, but I'm not really sure. Both have the jazzy feel of the previous track and are very catchy for full- blown prog.

Lady of the Dancing Water is a soft acoustic end to the first side of the record which sets the mood for the beast to come. The vocals are sung with perfection and the mood is set like a table.

The second side of the album is the monstrous Lizard suite which starts with some guest vocals by none other than Jon, the-Yes-guy, Anderson. His vocals suit the track perfectly and it starts as a very majestic and dark piece of music. Then there is a interlude in which we have some excellent trumpet playing which is soon succeeded by more soloing. Then the jazzy feel is revived with some excellent brass instruments battling over marching drums. After that comes to it's end the mood gets calm again and Haskell starts his vocals. He sounds alot less silly in this track (I guess it is possible!) and the calm mood remains all the while he sings. Soon though, things get pretty extreme with another burst of jazziness and the sax starts to plow through everything in it's way. This section is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard, the sax is just so powerful in it. This wonderful section continues on for some time before eventually coming to a screeching halt. The main theme keeps playing but in a softer way with the piano tingling in the background. The song starts winding down for it's majestic close with Fripp playing some beautiful guitar parts. Then when you think all is said and done sounds of a carnival come and go to end the album.

Masterpiece in my book, I get the feeling it's a pretty misunderstood little record. It's got so much to love though. A total 5 star.

Review by Dobermensch
5 stars My favourite KC album by some distance. This one is their least 'rocky' and probably the most difficult to get into. At times it sounds utterly chaotic with sudden changes in style and tempo. There's also an awful lot going on in this record with an almost uncountable number of instruments. I bet they wished they had 48 tracks to play with rather than the 16 while recording in 1970. Is it just me, or do all KC albums save the dark and threatening track for the opener? 'Cirkus' begins off nicely enough, then a big ugly mellotron rears it's head immediately followed by a doom laden bass. Fripp does some serious Flamenco style finger plucking on acoustic guitar which adds to the clash of styles present. Oh - and I reckon it's 'Cirkus' with the letter 'k' for King to go along with the 'c' for Crimson. That annoyed me for months before working it out! They always seem to be playing with those K&C letters.

'Indoor Games' is about as straight as things get and would probably have been the only possible choice as a 7"single.

'Happy Families' has some crazy filter through the vocals and again with lots going on in the background and a lot of stereo panning.

'Lady Of The Dancing Water' is somewhat similar to 'I Talk to the Wind' on their first album.

The main highlight is the side long title track which comes in at a whopping 23 minutes. Entirely scored with no Crimprovisation. Another head is reared during this tune - this time it's the ugly head of Jon Anderson of 'Yes' fame. Thankfully he doesn't sound out of place - but he must have wondered what the hell he'd let himself in for. Robert Fripp's guitar disappears after the first few minutes, then everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown in. There's a lot more Jazz than Rock on 'Lizard'. I get the impression Robert Fripp doesn't really like this record and it's also done poorly for them in royalties and sales but I think it's a brilliant experimental success despite the continual implosion of the band.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Even though Lizard was released the same year as In The Wake Of Poseidon, it was an entirely different album that moved away from Symponic Prog by adding experimental jazz arrangement into the mix. This direction can be attributed to the changes in the lineup. Giles brothers were out and Gordon Haskell had now replaced Greg Lake on vocals and bass guitar.

Since Lizard was one of my earliest King Crimson albums I really had no expectations when it came to its direction and that's a highly recommended approach. The opening mini-opus track Cirkus starts off in a subtle fashion while slowly increasing the volume level until the electric keyboards take over and mesmerize the unexpected listener. Gordon Haskell's vocals might not be as memorable as those by Greg Lake or John Wetton but he does an excellent job on Cirkus and Lady Of The Dancing Water which together show the complete spectrum of his capabilities.

The only way I can describe Indoor Games is that it's pure fun that still manages to maintain an adequate level of complexity outside of the Symponic Prog realm with prominent saxophone arrangements by Mel Collins. Happy Family has never been one of my personal favorites but it manages to progress the music very fluently from the unexpected twist of events that occurred on Indoor Games. Finally we have a magnificent ballad titled Lady Of The Dancing Water concluding side one on another highlight.

At the end of the day your final opinion of this album will depend on the 23 minute long title track that occupies the entire side two. As many have mentioned before me, Supper's Ready or Close To The Edge it is not. I find the progression of the piece to be very disjointed and outside of the beautiful intro section titled Prince Rupert Awakes and the later Prince Rupert's Lament the rest of the material just feels long, poorly produced and unsatisfying. Originally I assumed that the very down-mixed sound production had to do with my unremastered CD version of the record but after hearing the 30th anniversary edition of the album I felt that the sound was still very much the same.

Lizard is another unique album in King Crimson's discography which might not be saying much considering the band's persistence with changing their approach to music making. Still, this is as close to jazz that the band would ever get and that should count for something!

***** star songs: Cirkus (6:28) Indoor Games (5:41) Lady Of The Dancing Water (2:44)

**** star songs: Happy Family (4:16) Lizard (23:15)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Okay, it's finally time to post a review of this well-regarded album. My first and most important comment is that I much like the voice and vocal sytlings of bassist Gordon Haskell. But then, anything is preferable, in my esteem, to those of the horrid and grossly over-rated John Wetton. 1. "Cirkus" asking drummer Andy McCulloch to do Michael Giles-type drumming is criminal. I like the addition/stronger presence of horns. Still, it's too close to the sound and stylings of the band's previous two albums. (8/10) 2. "Indoor Games" Crimson does avant jazz! (I hear a little KINKS in there, too.) (7.5/10) 3. "Happy Family" King Crimson tries psychedelic blues! I actually like all the different things happening at the same time on different tracks--with widely diverse effects. The flute is my favorite. (8/10) 4. "Lady of the Dancing Water" Mel Collins is so talented! No wonder he has been the most popular guest in Prog World over the past 50 years! (8.5/10) 5. "Lizard" over its 23 minutes, the title song takes the listener through an interesting and entertaining epic journey. Unfortunately, it's sound engineering and Jon Anderson/Gordon Haskell vocals and lyrics make it sound like a 1960s rendering for television. This is a nice confirmation that the band has left behind the now-monotonous sound and stylings of their debut (something they, unfortunately, chose to try to replicate in their sophomore effort, he ill-fated Poseidon Adventure). Mellotrons are still used, but a new jazziness is being prominently displayed through extended use of piano, horns, and reeds. One might say that there is a rather pleasant pastoral, even mediæval feel to much of the first 14 minutes. But then we break into a kind of Beat-Generation display of free coffee-shop jazz that builds into a ind of LEONARD BERNSTEIN crescendo before breaking into alternating pause and explosions. At 19:30 things stop, quiet, and shift to a spacious room of interesting time signatured bass and tom supporting a gradually moving-to-the-fore Fripp solo. (46/50)

A solid four star contribution to Prog World and a nice show of a (finally) evolving King Crimson.

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The best pre-LTIA album Crimson released. The vocals are not too great, but vocals were never an important part of this groups music. At least after Lake left. Only Fripp and lyricist Sinfield remain from the debut. Mel Collins and Keith Tippet are back from the last album. Bassist/vocalist Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch are the new boys in town. They would only appear together on this album; this line-up never toured. For the longest time, Fripp hated this album. This was recently reissued with a re-mix by Steven Wilson.

Compared to the first two albums, this is a bit jazzier and less symphonic. Fripp wrote all the music here, but you rarely get to hear his electric guitar. Instead, you get some instruments that are a real surprise: organ, electric piano and the VCS3 synthesizer. You would never hear any synth on a Crimson album again until the guitar synths on the '80s albums. McCulloch seems to be obsessed with the snare drum. Haskell's bass playing is adequate but his singing voice is not very good. There are some guest musicians here besides pianist Tippet, playing oboe, cornet and trombone.

"Cirkus" is one of Crimson's best songs, and I think was the only song from Lizard ever played in concert by the Islands band. Opens with some harpsichord sounding electric piano along with Gordon's vocals. A short drum fill and then the first appearance of the main Mellotron riff. Fripp only plays acoustic guitar here; very fast at one point. Nice mix of Mellotron and sax in the middle, followed by some lovely electric piano. Love the buildup at the end with the trombone. "Indoor Games" begins with a jazzy groove before the vocals and guitar appear. Both electric and acoustic guitar here. Changes to a more mellow section with organ, Mellotron and VCS3. A little jam follows. I like the mix of synth and sax in this song. Ends with laughing.

The lyrics of "Happy Family" are about the Beatles, released the same year they broke up. You can even see the Fab Four on the album cover. The vocals in this song were processed through the VCS3. The most avant song here. "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a ballad based on electric piano that is similar to both "I Talk To The Wind" and "Cadence & Cascade". The latter of course was sung by Haskell as well. This song is really filler. Next is the only side-long epic Crimson ever did, the title track.

Some nobody named Jon Anderson sings at the beginning. 'Prince Rupert Awakes' is musically probably the closest to Yes that KC ever got, but Yes themselves were still trying to find their sound at the time. Jon's vocals work very well here. This was around the time that Fripp was asked to join Yes; he declined. Great 'chorus' in the "stake a lizard by the throat" part. This part ends very symphonic while marching drums come in beginning the next part, 'Bolero-The Peacock's Tale'. Some gorgeous trombone and piano playing. Then a flute solo. Then an oboe solo. All of a sudden it changes to jazzy piano and trombone while the drums are still marching away.

'The Battle Of Glass Tears' is itself divided into 3 different sections (an epic within an epic?). This starts very mellow and subdued with a some wind instrument playing. Some electric piano and Gordon sings his only lyrics in the epic. Some nice Mellotron leads to a part with a sax riff; the other instruments play looser and freer. Some cool tape-altered Mellotron at one point. After some dissonant cacophony, goes into an easy going jazzy part before it gets all crazy and dissonant again. Music takes a breath of air for a second then goes back for more. 'Prince Rupert's Lament' is the last part of 'Glass Tears'. Features a repeated one-note bassline with Fripp doing his best impersonation of bagpipes. The music fades out and then a brief moment of silence. The very last part fades in with bizarre circus music.

This and Islands really stand out in the Crimson discography. But this is better. More forward thinking than the first two albums. The production for 1970 is really good. The only real low points about Lizard are Haskell's vocals and the song "Lady Of The Dancing Water". The epic title track is fantastic. One of the better prog albums of 1970. 4 stars.

Review by colorofmoney91
4 stars Lizard is arguably King Crimson's jazziest record, which makes it one of my favorites from early era King Crimson. The change in vocalist is largely unimportant, as the vocals were never a strong point in King Crimson's music, and I've always felt that the band created a greater atmosphere as instrumental writers. Most of the songs here are slightly comparable to "Cat Food" on the previous album in that they are all strongly jazz-influenced compositions with fantastic improvisations, but overall sound better and more thought out, but that may just be my imagination. Whereas the last album was very gloomy in atmosphere, this album manages to be quite playful and fun among the incredible musicianship and creative writing.

Highly recommended.

Review by Anthony H.
5 stars King Crimson: Lizard [1970]

Rating: 9/10

After the disappointing In the Wake of Poseidon, King Crimson solidified their lineup by making Gordon Haskell a permanent member and by recruiting Mel Collins and Andy McCulloguh on sax/flute and drums, respectively. Like all pre-Larks arrangements, this lineup proved to be short-lived. However, it managed to work magnificently. One of the major criticisms of ItWoP was that it sounded too similar to the debut. Thus, Fripp completely overhauled the band's sound. The result was King Crimson's jazziest, most abstract, and most unique album. Lizard was a big risk for the band, and it remains controversial to this day. It's generally a "love it or hate it" album, and I fall into the former category.

"Cirkus" is a gorgeous opener. It begins with quiet keys and vocals. Classical guitar joins in, and a menacing rhythm is contrasted with the Mellotronic soft passages. Collins plays two wonderful sax solos, as well. "Indoor Games" is a whimsical track with distorted vocals and disharmonious guitar/sax lines. This is probably the weirdest song here, but that certainly isn't a bad thing. "Happy Family" has a (relatively) catchy main hook, more distorted vocals and dissonant guitar, and some excellent flute work. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is another gorgeous song, and probably the track here most reminiscent of classic Crimson. It's a soft song centered upon flute, acoustic guitar, and excellent vocals from Haskell. Brass instruments make a quiet appearance as well. And then we have the title track, the only side-long epic King Crimson ever recorded. This song is cavernous, strangely beautiful, and rewardingly dense. Guest vocals from Jon Anderson (automatic bonus points for me) open the piece, backed by piano and Mellotron. A medieval-themed section follows, dominated by a hypnotizing snare drum bolero. Dual sax solos come next, accompanied by jazzy piano. Things then suddenly quiet down, and soft vocals enter. The Mellotron enters with an infectious motif, and then the brass and flutes bring back the intensity. Fripp plays a signature guitar solo that slowly fades out, ending one of the greatest songs King Crimson ever recorded.

Lizard is definitely a challenging album, and it almost certainly will not be appreciated upon first listen. Fripp and company have always had an immense talent for creating innovative and inventive music, but this album is unique even by King Crimson standards. This is indeed a controversial album, and many Crimson fans (particularly those lacking penchant for jazz) don't even appreciate it. Regardless, I find Lizard to be a deeply rewarding and fascinating masterwork, and I think many multi-dimensional prog fans will (to a certain extent) agree.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Sporting a medievally-flavoured cover that might fool the unwary listener into thinking this is King Crimson's answer to Genesis's Trespass, Lizard is instead a jazzy development of the sound that coalesced on In the Wake of Poseidon. The contributions of Graham Haskell are much-lauded, though I think Boz Boorer did a better job of singing in a broadly comparable style on Islands. Indeed, the friction between Haskell, Fripp, and the other musicians involved in the album are the stuff of legend, and this was yet one more Crimson album born out of confusion and conflict within the lineup.

The album's crown jewel is the sidelong epic Lizard, which features a wide range of instrumental flavours, superior musicianship and compositional chops when compared with the side one material, and a marvellous guest appearance from Jon Anderson, capturing Anderson's vocal talents just as he hit on his classic style (this album being recorded between Yes recording Time and a Word and The Yes Album).

The material on the first side of the album, meanwhile, is somewhat less interesting; Lady of the Dancing Waters is yet another quiet tune in a similar vein to Cadence and Cascade or I Talk to the Wind, and whilst it's a reasonable enough song by its own, we're clearly suffering diminishing returns at this point. It doesn't help that Happy Family is a whimsical novelty song about the breakup of the Beatles, and if there's one area Fripp and Sinfield aren't so strong in it's whimsical novelty. That said, Cirkus and Indoor Games are interesting attempts to integrate this jazzier style of playing into the King Crimson sound.

Like many I underrated this album a bit until Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp sat down to turn out a new master for the 40th Anniversary edition. I've been a little sceptical of the craze for having Wilson tinker with your back catalogue in the past, but in the case of this album he more than justifies the endeavour, with a subtle hand teasing out aspects of the music which had passed me by on previous editions. Hell, not even Robert Fripp liked this album until Wilson worked his magic on it; after that, the current Crimson lineup began increasingly incorporating more material from it into their repertoire. When even King Fripp himself is taking pleasure in rediscovering the subtleties of this album, now's a great time to join in. I'd say three stars for the first side, four stars for the second.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Cirkus is coming to town! Grab your kids and run for your life!

What a great opening track. Its ominous demented mellotron melody combined with spooky bells and Fripp's strange acoustic guitar abuse form one deliriously haunting track with weird and bleak lyrics topping things off. It's one of my favorite tracks by the band as it mixes up some jazziness and a dark rockish flair with just enough avant garde sensibilities to give this tune a genuinely uneasy vibe, as opposed to some band just trying to sound scary. This is the real deal, and it works magnificently.

I'd be better off just writing about "Cirkus" for a few more paragraphs, but unfortunately there's the rest of the album to deal with, which never really fulfills the promise "Cirkus" offered to my ears. Made in the same year as In The Wake Of Poseidon, this was quite a busy year for the band, not just recording and playing the music, but members leaving and joining the group in such a rampant fashion that Fripp must have walked into the studio one day and bleated "WHO THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE?" Lizard comes across as a pretty hectic recording itself, as if it didn't really know what it wanted to be, so thought "screw it" and went crazy every once in a while.

"Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" really bring things down a number of notches. They're like sloppy jazz rock with a splash of acid thrown in. Haskell sounds like he's reciting these ridiculous lyrics against his will, as if he really wants to just toss the damn sheets into the fire and start wailing "I love you baby, Gimme all you got!". Only the laughter at the end of "Indoor Games" has any meaning. It's like he's laughing at this weird song and weirder lyrics coming out of his mouth. Greg Lake seemed to thrive and sing his heart out with a greater commitment if the lyrics were more insane, pointless or fantastical. Haskell, on the other hand, sounds like he just wants to jump in a hole during most of this stuff, and it was probably good that he did after this album.

"Lady Of The Dancing Water" is an ok if uneventful ballad, but the monstrous title track is where things get interesting again. When the singing began, I thought "Damn Haskell should suck the helium balloons more often" until the voice soon became familiar enough for me to recognize Mr. Anderson's high registered croon. In fact, the first part of this song is right up there with "Cirkus" as a highpoint; not as menacing, but memorable and cool. Then we get lots of jazzy stuff that goes on and on, then there's a mellotron fest, then some other stuff...oh, and a cool solo near the song's end, before the circus music pops in again like an encore nobody wanted. The epic is a pretty good track overall, and I respect the devil- may-care sense of adventure in all the jamming out, but it's not something that's ever captured my imagination despite sections boasting titles such as "The Battle Of The Glass Tears".

It's quite a feat for a band to put out something this ambitious in such a short time, as if they needed another stamp on 1970. The sound of the band is changing as the members change, making this an interesting document as to where they would likely head in the future, plus it somewhat displays the confused state the group seemed to be in at this time quite well.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

"Lizard" evokes fantastic medieval sceneries as if it were a long fable.

The third album by King Crimson is too many times underrated. "Lizard" was and still is one of the most overlooked albums released by the band, being once again victim of negative comparisons with the previous KC works.

"Lizard" happens to be one unique album, whether you like it or not: it is a sort of modest and humble release, where, I have to admit, there is nothing new brought to the table. However, it is a new direction for the band itself: the music is jazzier than ever, with more sax here than any release of theirs, even though ironically it is one of the most melodic and accessible LP's from the band. There are still plenty of mellotron moments, which are always extremely either melancholy or mysterious, and it definitely still is a Progressive album, thanks also to other instruments such as flutes and a typical Progressive sound overall.

The atmospheres the band brings are almost magical and reminiscent of a fairy tale, of medieval times, of great castles, battles, fair ladies, and fantastic monsters. This setting is very credible at times, and truly brings you amidst these worlds. This is probably the best thing this album has going for, because, like it was mentioned, the melodies and the music itself in general are pretty standard for the genre, not being anything particularly innovating.

The first side of the album has four songs: a melancholy and mysterious, almost menacing at times piece (the mellotron-driven opener "Cirkus"), the much more light and cheerful duo "Indoor Games", the better one, and "Happy Family". The really pleasant acoustic interlude "Lady In The Water" is also worth mentioning. The heart of the album however lies in the second side, consisting solely of a more than twenty minute suite, the title track, which, even though not being at all as convincing and spectacular as other epics such as "Supper's Ready", "Close To The Edge" or "A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers", it has some spectacular and haunting moments here and there that very effectively evoke those fantastic images.

"Lizard" is an experience that is essential for any King Crimson fan, and is always too underrated. The atmospheres and feelings of the album are so vivid and magical, despite not having amazing, groundbreaking melodies, and it's a shame that people don't recognize it.

Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars The Crimson King's 3rd album in 2 years has an incredible shift in sound, direction, personnel, instrumentation and composition. Even if all the Crimsonian fundamentals, such as Robert Fripp's virtuosic guitar playing, blaring mellotron, inventive sax charts and complex arrangements are in place, he has chosen to augment the line-up to include various players from the jazz scene, notably those who have helped SOFT MACHINE give their sound a broader pallette at the time of their Third and Fourth albums, recorded around the same time as 'Lizard'. The talents of woodwinds man Robin Miller, trombonist Nick Evans, cornet player Mark Charig and jazz-pianist Keith Tippet along with regular sax-player Mel Collins give this album a good dose of jazziness, with parts of looseness and free-form jamming and, at times, a great baroque soundscape - especially side two's 4-part epic 'Lizard'. We also get to hear JON ANDERSON sing on part 1. The main vocalist here though is Gordon Haskell, who also contributes some crunching bass guitar. His voice was heard on the previous album's 'Cadence and Cascade', and for those that are interested, he has a charming solo album called 'It Is And It Isn't', featuring the likes of John Wetton, Dave Kaffinetti, Alan Barry etc. Fripp has challenged himself and everyone around him with mastery of eclectic composition, almost crushed them all with his searing mellotron work, but also incorporated enough quirks to make light of the complexities displayed, such as amusing synth sounds and vocal treatments (Indoor Games, Happy Family) or the pitch-shifting carnival merry-go-round mellotron piece 'Big Top'. The lyrics of Peter Sinfield can be described as remarkably inspired and eccentric. So much can be said, has been said and will be said about this wonderful album, both positive and negative, from fans and non-fans alike. I have been delighted with this album since 1987 - masterpiece.....
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars King Crimson's album of quirky chaotic jazz and symphonic virtuosity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Lizard is King Crimson at their jazziest and most avant-garde, yet it does not at all abandon the symphonic and heavy textures that are present in their first two albums. I enjoy Gordon Haskell's voice, but the way it is presented here is somewhat unfortunate, with a certain level of distortion and delay that doesn't always suit him. I must confess that the first time I heard this album, I thought Bill Bruford was drumming, given the loose attacks and reliance on the snare, so I was surprised to learn of Andy McCulloch, and I grew to appreciate his unconventional style, which makes these compositions very different than what they would have been with a more straightforward technique. Robert Fripp's presence is evident but far more inconspicuous.

"Cirkus (including Entry of the Chameleons)" Entering in a dreamlike manner that becomes clearer, as though waking up, Haskell sings over a lullaby-like introduction. Jarring brass and electric guitar saw through, interrupting the magical mood. The mystical acoustic guitar runs are a fabulous aspect. Then enters the glorious Mellotron and saxophone.

"Indoor Games" Taking a jazzier approach, the main theme makes me think of gumshoes, mobsters, and desperate dames. The verses incorporate blasts from acoustic guitar.

"Happy Family" I love the heavy, almost symphonic introduction here, but the song devolves into the token goofy track it seem each early King Crimson album must have. This is the "Cat Food" of the album, as it were- seemingly silly vocals (evidently singing about the disbanding of The Beatles) and various instruments competing in almost free-form fashion.

"Lady of the Dancing Water" Light flute and vocals provide a peaceful moment on an otherwise boisterous album. Like "Cadence and Cascade," this is a tranquil yet fleeting masterpiece- very sweet.

"Lizard" The appearance of Jon Anderson of Yes is a treat. The verses of the first section of this lengthy composition are dreamlike and quiet. However, the loudness of the Mellotron swells reach a piercingly painful level (I find myself reaching for the volume knob many times). The refrain is upbeat and happy. The second section offers mostly pleasant jazz in bolero fashion, playing on the melodies that came prior. The next theme begins in a lonesome manner (only to be later interpreted in discord with a Mellotron and ascending bass). I think Anderson's voice would have been better suited for the hushed vocal part in the third section, as Haskell's delivery is low and dull. The piece grows more cacophonic, with raucous brass and a chaotic interaction of instruments. Fripp provides a Hackett-like guitar solo over a thudding bass in one segment of the track. The suite concludes with an unsettling rendition of circus music.

Review by stefro
4 stars Criticized in some quarters for producing a virtual facsimile follow-up to their seminal 1969 debut 'In The Court Of The Crimson King', 'Lizard' would prove a stark departure from the ethereal, mellotron-washed blueprint King Crimson had dusted down for 'In The Wake Of Poseidon'. Although a very similar album, both in sound and structure, 'In The Wake Of Poseidon' was still a fine slice of post-psychedelic grandeur; 'Lizard', however, would find Robert Fripp and company heading in a different direction. A dense and difficult affair, this is progressive rock in it's most ambitious guise, featuring a multitude of differing instrumental climates, a daunting atmospheric coating and a sonic palette stuffed with enough ideas to fill several albums over. No doubt stung by the criticism flung at 'In The Wake Of Poseidon', this is very much a case of King Crimson performing in almost deliberately contrarian fashion, crafting a lengthy, multi-chaptered concept album that makes it's predecessors seem simple in comparison. This is best summed up on the twenty-three minute long title-track, a four-part prog marathon which takes the listener on a spellbinding journey through carefully-crafted segments of rich chamber rock layered with intricate free-jazz cul-de-sacs, warm acoustic medleys, medieval- styled passages and squalling metallic attacks, thus producing a truly mesmerizing experience. It's a powerful if somewhat humourless and occasionally stiff reading of the progressive rock genre in all it's cerebral glory, yet the display of pure musical imagination offered up deserves real kudos. The shorter tracks also stand up to careful observation, with both the chromatic opener 'Cirkus' and the delicate, acid-dipped folk-jazz of 'Happy Family' glowing with a dark and mysterious ambience, whilst 'Indoor Games' adds a confident, fiery and almost jocular tinge to proceedings, exhibiting a deft ear for melody sometimes crowded out by the sheer volume of instrumental ideas. Although maybe not in the same exulted class as their genre-defining debut, 'Lizard' is nevertheless a powerful and original statement from one of progressive rock's pre-eminent outfits. This is highly cerebral music for those with the time to appreciate such things and it is only after multiple listens that one can truly appreciate the album's multi-faceted musical architecture. Some will find this 1970 effort deliberately obfuscating and pompous, others no doubt will point to the radical instrumental approach and technical prowess as proof of it's singular musical vision. Album's such as 'Lizard' are rare; the raw creativity showcased throughout even more so.


Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This album has the worst vocals of all of King Crimson's lineups (except for the first movement of Lizard which features Jon Anderson), which makes this one really hard to listen to. The instrumentals, however, are brilliant, ever changing at any second going from harsh and dissonant to beautiful and melodic. The contrast at times is stunning and amazing. This one is also a lot jazzier than most of their albums and has a generous amount of brass and reed instruments mixed by crazy guitar and otherworldly mellotron. This is an album for expert level proggers and not for the general public. Once again KC proves that they are ahead of their time, taking prog to another level, the level of quasi avant-garde or even breaking into post punk/rock territory even before it was even a twinkle in anyone's mind. This one is way out there and it would take a long time for the music industry to embrace it. Even for a die hard KC fan, it's hard to rate this above 4 stars because of the vocals, but the instrumentals make up for it in a big way. With 4 medium to short songs and 1 gigantic suite over 20 minutes long, this is definitely an interesting album.
Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The third release from King Crimson in the span of 14 months, the third of the band's countless line-ups and the third of their 5 star, knock-it-out-of-the-park prog masterpieces. After "In The Wake Of Poseidon", which drew many parallels to the band's debut, "Lizard" ventures into largely unknown territory, focusing on a seamless fusion of symphonic and jazz-based prog. And it works wonderfully.

Side one features four songs sung by Gordon Haskell, who sang on the lovely "Cadence And Cascade" from "Wake Of Poseidon", that are all among the finest in King Crimson's catalog. Songs like "Cirkus" feature plenty of jazzy saxophone melodies interspersed among neo-classical acoustic guitar and "Indoor Games" takes on a similar vibe as the earlier release, "Cat Food". "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is a brief duet between vocals and acoustic guitar that ends side one and acts as a prelude of sorts to the album's side-long, self-titled epic, "Lizard". The title track continues the fusion of jazz, classical and symphonic textures but perfects it to an art. Some of the band's most beautiful, lyrical woodwind arrangements can be found counteracted by some of the funkiest, most refined heavy jazz soundscapes to be found in prog as well as spectacular vocals by Yes' Jon Anderson in the epic's introduction section.

Many other reviewers warn of this album being one of the more difficult King Crimson albums to get into though I couldn't find that to be less true. "Lizard" is an album that will floor any King Crimson fan (and most prog fans) with very few listens and delivers some of the most beautiful, most creative and most varied output in the band's catalog. Perhaps the second best King Crimson album after their debut and a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
5 stars L

While KING CRIMSON took the world by storm only a year previous in 1969 with their game changing debut, their follow up "In The Wake Of Poseidon" has always felt to me like a collection of B-sides from the leftover bin of tracks from the initial sessions that created them. With LIZARD, the second album of 1970 and third album overall, it feels like Robert Fripp and company took the whole project to a new level of complexity by not only keeping the previous elements that came before but also by upping the ante in pretty much every way. While not the only top class album to take complexity to new levels in the year 1970 (to my knowledge only Marsupalami, Soft Machine and Magma were contenders at this level), Robert Fripp steered his KING CRIMSON project into new grounds a mere fourteen months after the extraordinary "In The Court Of The Crimson King" was unleashed on an unsuspecting public and proved that he was a serious force to be reckoned with. LIZARD is a testament to a focused individual driven to evolve light years above the newly aroused competition nipping at his heals. LIZARD hasn't always been a bonafide masterpiece in my world but i can happily say that i've reached a point of understanding where it all makes perfect sense.


Only two years into the band's formation, Fripp was already seeing a rotating door policy of musicians who just couldn't jive with his ambitious visions. In only a year since the debut that ignited the progressive rock powder keg, vocalist and bassist Greg Lake jumped ship to join Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Drummer Michael Giles and wind instrumentalist Ian McDonald would jump ship together to create a lighter version of KC called McDonald And Giles (but McDonald would reunite on "Red") leaving Fripp as the only original member on LIZARD. The new KING CRIMSON circa last half of 1970 featured Fripp on guitar, Mellotron, synth, organs and other sundries, Mel Collins (Circus) on sax and flute, Andy McCulloch (Manfred Mann, Fields, Greenslade, Crazy World Of Arthur Brown) on drums and Gordon Haskell (Les Fleur de Lys), a long time school friend of Fripp who had contributed one vocal track previously on "Poseidon" and now took the role as lead vocalist on side one. Jon Anderson of Yes would join in for the long behemoth title track that encompassed the entire second half of the original LP release. Also on board were the phenomenal Keith Tippett who also played as a session keyboardists on "Poseidon" as well as other session musicians who added oboe, cornet, trombone and extra vocals.


Everything about LIZARD is more ornate than anything before starting with the album art cover itself. The original LP release was graced by two sides of medieval art with one side spelling KING and the other CRIMSON. While the music doesn't exactly lead to anything medieval per se save a few classical guitar workouts by Fripp, the album does display a sense of Renaissance in the music scene with its relentless fusion of classical, rock and jazz with the greatest emphasis on the latter. The jazz elements on here are off the hook with saxophone solos, jazzified song structures within the tracks and even segments of progressive big band interaction in full swing. Therefore if you don't haven't gotten an A in your jazz appreciation course you probably won't enjoy this as much as the full-blown jazz fusionist lovers. Miles Davis appears to have been a major influence on this one since the very same year as the KC debut, Davis himself was adopting rock into the jazz world. A year later and following in the footsteps of other rock to jazz fusionists like Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, KING CRIMSON was gracefully taking it on to create equally complex and sophisticated music.


Just to give you a sense of how complex this album is, most of the lyrics are actually represented in the art work itself. For example, the "I" in CRIMSON is a caricature of The Beatles and is a direct reference to the track "Happy Family" which referred to the breakup of the band. The lyrics get even more detailed about certain aspects of the band. The artwork and lyrics go hand in hand to create a much larger story as does the music thus creating a never ending level of complexity that the listener can delve into as deeply as the listener wants. The downside to all this complexity including the hardcore jazz aspects is that it is a bit alienating for the uninitiated and non-adventurous listeners especially following much more digestible tracks like "20th Century Schizoid Man" that had put KING CRIMSON in the eyes and ears of a totally new generation of music lovers only a year prior. LIZARD perhaps had gone too far too fast for many fans, however this album is not without its instant gratification. There are melodies aplenty to be savored albeit with allusions to all kinds of obscurities in the mix, both lyrically and musically. The music literally has taken decades for fans to catch up with.


The album seems to be as divided musically as it is divided from the front and back side of the album cover. Side one sporting Haskill's vocals is the jazzier of the two sides which focuses more on the jazz meets rock aspects fueled with dissonant yet melodic hooks and horn heavy segments with occasional avant meanderings, whilst side two is much more in the symphonic prog world with Jon Anderson displaying sublime vocals and a glimpse into his future solo career projects. It also has a propensity to delve into the world of free jazz and the avant-garde including warped time perception and utter detachment from the musical world altogether. While the two album sides are clearly delineated by style, they somehow form a cohesive mood and feel after many listens. The prog behemoth that constitutes the title track includes four segments with the third being subdivided into three subparts and successfully manages to create a frenzied prog workout that takes the listener on a true musical journey very much in accord with classical music symphonies, operas, concertos and sonatas. The transitions from one style to another are somewhat subtle as they never just jump into each other's turf. The transitions are gradual like gentle sand dunes slowly changing the topography of a vast desert where mirages from a camel ride slowly merge into each other. It's really hard to grasp upon just a listen or two how much was put into this one.


The simple truth is that LIZARD is one of the very first progressive rock albums that is like climbing Mt Everest. You need to acclimate yourself to comprehend its sheer intensity. For the uninitiated this is the equivalent of a sea level dweller accustomed to an ample air supply gasping for air in an oxygen depleted environment and thus will come across like an atmospheric hypoxia induced sleepless night at the base camp where only groggy faded memories of what occurred will semi-percolate into the consciousness. This is an album that is a true 10 on the progometer scale. A code red, 3rd degree progressive jazz/classical/rock behemoth of the ages. That means that it requires several stages of musical development to truly "get it." You must not only have your rock and classical musical sensibilities in top shape but you will go nowhere until your jazz appreciation skills have been fine tuned and honed to the point that mutli-genre fusion is like second nature. A true work of art that was perhaps overly ambitious for its era but sophisticated enough to evoke a sheer sense of timelessness.

Review by jamesbaldwin
4 stars With Lizard the first phase of King Crimson continues without preserving any of the musicians of the first, seminal, epochal, album (of course except Fripp and Sinfield) . The progrock of KC is no longer romantic, epic, as it was on "In the Court of ..." The crystalline melodies of McDonald are now part of the past. Lake's celestial singing is gone. The music has become abstract, glacial, liquid; at times the atmosphere is mysterious and subtle. There is not even the bombastic existential angst of "21st Century Schizoid Man".

There is, if anything, the development of the long jazz improvisation of "Moonchild" in songs dominated by the keyboards (Keith Tippet, remained from the previous album); orchestral, obsessive and paranoid songs. The jazz, after peeping into "Cat Food" (In The Wake of Poseidon) here is expanded and developed with piano, keyboards, saxophones (the faithful Mel Collins) and horns (trombone, cornet) and wooden instruments (cor anglais) an overflowing battery (Andy McCulloch), which is never content to keep the rhythm. The guitar is almost absent: Fripp is limited to being the conductor and to play Mellotron, synth and organ.

Side A. "Cirkus" (including Entry Of The Chameleons, vote 8+) is a half past six minutes song dominated by the horns, which trace a threatening and obsessive melody that reaches epic moments. The drums are sometimes excessive while Fripp's acoustic guitar solo is fantastic. The voice of Gordon Haskell is powerful but definitely devoid of charisma, and lacks those romantic and delicate nuances that Greg Lake was capable of. Anyway, it's a great initial piece, which gives to KC a new sound and that immediately makes it clear that the carat of this album is greater than the one of "In The Wake of Poseidon", which began quietly and repeated the patterns of the debut.

The second song (Indoor Games, vote 7+) and the third (Happy Family, vote 6,5), dedicated to the dissolution of the Beatles, are clearly inferior to the opening piece but maintain the jazzy sound that characterizes the abum: carpet of keyboards, horns to trace the melody, an iconic drum that follows a completely unpredictable rhythmic line, acoustic and rhythmic (electric) guitar in a secondary role, instrumental pieces with jazz dissonant improvisations (especially in Happy Family, where the piano played by Tippet in the foreground is nothing but jazz). The dissonance in Happy Family makes it very difficult to listen. The fourth track, "Lady Of The Dancing Water" (vote 7) is a short song (almost three minutes), nice, melodic (acoustic guitar and flute) but not remarkable. Haskell's voice does not have the nuances suited to the atmosphere of the piece. The side, after the excellent start, ends in a fall of inspiration but still it remains good for the quality of the sound and arrangement. In This side good melodies are missing. Medium quality side A: 7,33 (wihout Lady). Vote side A: 8+.

Side B is completely dedicated to the suite called "Lizard". divided into 4 movements. The first, "Prince Rupert Awakes", with Jon Anderson singing (the effect is wonderful), is the only catchy piece of the entire album, and it is a simple song strophe-refrain. Then, starts the second movement: "Bolero - The Peacock's Tale", instrumental, where the melody of the first movement is developed by a chamber ensemble halfway between classical music and jazz, reaching enchanting, very poignant, romantic moments; then, when it is about to become cloying, the melody is distorted, becomes dissonant, undergoes variations that lead to jazz improvisation. The third movement, "The Battle Of The Glass Tears" opens with "Dawn Song" where the cor anglais accompains the whisper of Haskell; is a calm, almost sad moment. "Last Skirmish", the next piece, is an instrumental that reaches moments of dissonance and cacophony never touched by the KC; the sound is symphonic thanks to the use of Mellotron, and the trombone and the piece is prolonged in a totally dissonant free jazz, which sometimes resume the initial melody, touching peaks that only "21st Century Schizoid Man" had reached. McCulloch can unleash himself in this piece, demonstrating his virtuosity. In the end, the last piece ("Prince Rupert's Lament") of the third movement takes over, led by Fripp's electric guitar (it still exists!) and by the bass of Haskell.

The fouth movement, "Big Top" (one minute and 13 seconds) is an ironic joke in "crescendo"; the sound is that of a circus clown. Lizard is a wonderful suite, maybe only too repetitive and dilated in some moments. Vote side B: 8,5/9. Overall the suite that occupies all the second side, perhaps the first case in the history of rock music, is better than the 4 songs of the first. The album is close to being a masterpiece both for this suite and for the menacing and jazzy liquid sound that Fripp managed to build. What is missing, to be a true masterpiece, are better songs on the first side and a wider range of varieties and good melodies (and a better singer).

Average of the sides: 8,04. Vote album: 8,5/9. Rating: Four (and a half) Stars.

Review by patrickq
3 stars A number of reviewers have described Lizard as 'challenging,' 'difficult to get into,' 'not easy to master,' and requiring 'an open mind' to appreciate. Of course, while that's said of many albums - - and certainly of many King Crimson albums - - it's almost as if there's something defective about those of us who don't recognize Lizard as a masterpiece: we haven't yet mastered it, or perhaps we haven't approached it with an open mind. Perhaps we're not up to the challenge.

Who knows? Maybe a personal shortcoming prevents me from recognizing Lizard as a four- or five-star album. On the other hand, perhaps this LP is only a good album. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp, who co-wrote and co-produced the album, has judged it quite harshly for years (e.g., "I am unable to recommend that anyone part with their hard-earned pay for this one"). It's true that a post on the band's website says Fripp 'was finally reconciled with the album,' though that's hardly a glowing endorsement. The opinion of Lizard lead vocalist and bassist Gordon Haskell has been no kinder.

During its first phase (1969 to 1972), King Crimson seems to have been an emperor in continuous search of not just new clothes, but of whatever garments are the least like whatever he wore yesterday - - and as different as possible from anyone else's. For King Crimson enthusiasts, this shape-shifting is confirmation of the band's eminence. Indeed, this is in part what drove Bill Bruford, one of the greatest prog-rock drummers ever, to quit Yes immediately after Close to the Edge, one of the greatest prog-rock albums ever. King Crimson's risk-taking and innovation were too much for him to resist.

As good as the drumming on Lizard is, I get the sense that Andy McCulloch's playing wasn't quite up to the vision Fripp had for the album. McCulloch was let go after the album, and his replacement appeared on only one studio LP (though he lasted fifteen months, compared to McCulloch's two). It seems like these guys were keeping the drum stool warm for Bruford's eventual induction into the group. When Bruford and bassist-vocalist John Wetton joined in 1972, Fripp fired the entire band - - even the lyricist was given a pink slip. After four albums with three different bassist-vocalists and three different drummers, the Fripp/Bruford/Wetton troika produced three consecutive albums (with percussionist Jamie Muir on one and violinist-keyboardist David Cross on two). The quality and consistency of these three albums - - Larks' Tongues in Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974), and Red (1974) - - surpasses most of the band's first four LPs.

But back in 1971, the emperor was several years away from finding a comfortable clothing style. Accordingly, Lizard is a mixture of experiments, both fruitful and futile. Most of the less successful material comprises Side One, which hits a low point on the second track, the inane 'Indoor Games.' It's not funny-inane, or even amusing-inane, and not even tolerable-inane. Haskell has claimed that his laughter at the end of the song was a reflection of the ridiculousness: 'the truth of the matter is, it was a lousy song, the lyrics were ludicrous and my singing was atrocious so I just burst out laughing.' Apparently, in an effort to continue to evolve, the band (or, perhaps more correctly, Fripp) seems to have jettisoned the relative cohesiveness of In the Court of the Crimson King, especially on Side One.

Side Two, which is taken by the suite 'Lizard,' is substantially better. Like Side One, 'Lizard' is comprised four songs, but these four make much more sense. To some degree, then, Side One is a rough draft of the twenty-three-minute title suite. Most of the ingredients of 'Lizard' are exercised on the first side: the dramatic syncopated vamps, the odd rhythms of the vocals, the free guitar and (especially) sax solos, and the overdriven studio effects. In selecting and sequencing the recording for the album, Fripp and his co- producer Peter Sinfield may have been observing the maxim which begins 'if at first you don't succeed' - - or maybe they were challenging the listener, intentionally making the album 'difficult to master.'

Whatever the case, King Crimson would undergo two more costume changes over the next two years before finding a more comfortable wardrobe. Maybe, to drag the metaphor out just a bit more, Lizard is a document of an emperor at the mirror, trying on one outfit after another. The final result is good, though not as good as his subjects contend.

Review by Wicket
4 stars Another year, another Crimson record.

This time with an actual band (and unfortunately Gordon Haskell on full vocal duties), the song remains basically the same. Fripp playing pretty much everything, Sinfield doing all the producing. Although it's still sax heavy, there's even more of a bebop-influenced sound, and Sinfield takes a much more hands on approach by using more distorted sounds and synth effects. "Cirkus" errs a bit towards classic Crimson, but "Indoor Games" features more synth sounds and effects while "Happy Family" plays around with more distortion on Haskell's vocals, while also messing with faders to pitch sounds all around the place. The guitar and organ sound like they're crunched up next to the mike while the flutes sound like they're in another continent, but to good effect, while "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a typical folk influenced ballad.

The title track is the meat of the album, with Yes frontman Jon Anderson taking center stage. This is a big song, not just because it clocks in at a whopping 23:19, but because the entirety of the Crimson sound up to now is showcased here to stunning effect. From medieval salutes to jazz breakdowns to bebop shizophrenia, this one's got it all. It's an absolute stunning masterpiece of a progressive rock work. It's just a shame it doesn't feel like it has an actual ending. It feels basically like one big improv that Sinfield just faded away when he realized he completely used up all the time on the track.

The bare bones are still Crimson, but now there's advancement in terms of sound and technology is concerned. It's a step more towards production wizardry and tech gadgetry and a step away from the sax heavy, bebop spastic theme heavily populating the previous two records. The title track obviously is the main highlight, but all the song aren't terribly bad. It's a fresh enough record to place it above "Poseidon", but below, say, "Red" (which has grown on me only because the heaviness of the record feels like they took a page out of Deep Purple's playbook [and I love me some Deep Purple]).

Honestly, the main downside to this album is Haskell. Never been a fan and probably never will. His singing just doesn't do it for me, it feels too half-assed. Can't take him seriously when he tries to be slightly comical and neurotic on "Happy Family", but I can't take him seriously even when he's serious. It's just a style that doesn't fit with the music, honestly. Hell, Jon Anderson sounded better on a Crimson track than Haskell. and Anderson's a bubbly, high pitched, soaring eagle of a singer. He doesn't do neurotic. Yeah, something feels wrong about that picture, doesn't it? Nevertheless, this is an important album in foreshadowing the transitional phase between the "Crimson King" sound and the more production and synth based sound of future albums.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 329

King Crimson always was a band where members often changed and Robert Fripp has been the sole consistent member throughout the group's history and acts as their leader. In fact, Fripp is one of the most respected musicians and guitarists in the universe of the progressive rock music. Even young musicians like Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, love King Crimson and admire him at the point of inviting the guitarist to participate in 'Fear Of A Blank Planet'.

'Lizard' is their third studio album and was released in 1970. Again we have changes on the line up. This would be the first and only album to feature the bassist and vocalist Gordon Haskell, apart from his appearance on the song 'Cadence And Cascade' from their previous album, and drummer Andy McCulloch as official members of the group. So, the line up on this album is Robert Fripp (guitar, Mellotron, electric keyboards and devices), Mel Collins (flute and saxophones), Gordon Haskell (vocals and bass guitar), Andy McCulloch (drums) and Peter Sinfield (words and pictures). Jon Anderson of Yes (vocals on 'Prince Rupert Awakes'), Mark Charing (cornet), Nick Evans (trombone), Robin Miller (oboe and cor anglais) and Keith Tippet (piano and electric piano) participated on the album as guests, too.

'Lizard' is an album with five tracks. All tracks were written by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield. The first track 'Cirkus' (Including 'Entry Of The Chameleons)' is the perfect opener for this so peculiar album. Gordon Haskell, who is no way as good as Greg Lake, sings very well on this track. We have also here a nice acoustic guitar work and the sound of the Mellotron is absolutely superb. Despite this track shows some complex structure, still remains as one of the most accessible tracks on the album. This is my second favourite track on the album. The second track 'Indoor Games' is the most peculiar and weird song on the album. It's a very jazzy improvised and dissonant song with a funny and interesting musical introduction. This time Gordon Haskell sings in a very strange way and the song has also a nice acoustic guitar sound. In the beginning I didn't like this track, but now I have a great respect for it. The third track 'Happy Family' is the other weird song on the album. Once more Gordon Haskell sings this song in a very strange way. It's another jazzy and difficult dissonant song. Musically, this is a very good song but despite of that, it continues to be my less favourite song on the album. The fourth track 'Lady Of The Dancing Water' is a very mellow, soft and nice ballad, very classically inspired. This is the shortest song on the album but it's also one of the best. The sound of the flute of Mel Collins is absolutely beautiful and gives the perfect and magical atmosphere to the song. The fifth and last track 'Lizard' who gaves its name to the album is divided into four parts: The first part 'Prince Rupert Awakes', the second part 'Bolero - The Peacock's Tale', the third part 'The Battle Of Glass Tears' who is also divided in 'Dawn Song', 'Last Skirmish' and 'Prince Rupert's Lament' and the fourth part 'Big Top'. So, this is the lengthiest and the epic track on the album and represents a great closer for it. This track sounds not like one only piece of music but it sounds more like four different pieces. 'Prince Rupert Awakes' sounds, without any doub,t as the best music on the album. It's absolutely wonderful with the beautiful Jon Anderson's voice and where the sound of the Mellotron is also absolutely superb. 'Bolero' is another fantastic music, probably the second best on the album. 'The Battle Of The Glass Tears' is also a great music once more with the beautiful sound of the Mellotron, but, in my opinion, is less good than the two previous, and a bit too long. 'Big Top' is very short and is simply the reprise of the first track 'Cirkus'. Despite the track be composed by several pieces, this is a brilliant track, one of the best ever made by King Crimson. I continue thinking that despite the lack of a cohesive structure all over the track it remains, for me, an excellent track.

Conclusion: 'Lizard' was, for me, one of the most difficult King Crimon's albums to rate until this moment. This is a very complex album, one of the most experimental, bizarre, strange, creative, original, and one of the most innovative albums ever. It's also a unique album of King Crimson. This is an album that clearly represents a break with their two previous works. 'Lizard' is a very jazzy oriented album, very progressive and with long pieces of music with extensive developmental sections, with more ornate lyrics and also with a more exotic subject matter. By the other hand, it's no secret for those who read my previous King Crimson's reviews, that this isn't, in any way, one of my favourite band's line up. As I wrote before, I prefer the line up on 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' and the line up on 'Red'. So, I must confess that after my first spins of the album I was very disappointed with it and my first impulse was to rate it with 3 stars and considered it one the worst King Crimson's studio albums of the 70's. However, with repeated listenings it grown up on me all over the years. Despite be a very weird album, 'Lizard' is a fundamental album in the discography of the band and it's an album with some of the best and most beautiful musical moments created by them.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars Barely six months after the release of "In the Wake of Poseidon", King Crimson are back with the third album in their discography, the reptilian and defiant "Lizard". From the disturbed "Cirkus (including Entry of the Chameleons)" with Gordon Haskell's pained singing, the sordid mellotron co ... (read more)

Report this review (#2957359) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Wednesday, October 4, 2023 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The title track alone already makes this album a must-listen. I like Cirkus and Indoor Games too. The other tracks appeal to me a tiny bit less. Many, including Fripp, regarded this album as a step down compared to the two first records. But I must wholeheartedly disagree. Yes, we see some le ... (read more)

Report this review (#2691289) | Posted by WJA-K | Friday, February 11, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars REVIEW #20 - "Lizard" by King Crimson, (1970) For the longest time, "Lizard" was considered the red-headed stepchild of sorts of the King Crimson discography. Panned by Robert Fripp himself, who went so far as to deem those who liked it "strange", marked the band's first major shift in sound, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2493212) | Posted by PacificProghead | Tuesday, January 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #26 A new Crimson, a new style "Lizard" was released in December 1970, seven months after "In the wake of Poseidon" and with a brand new line-up; Michael Giles left the band to join Ian McDonald in a new group called McDonald & Giles while Greg Lake did the same to join Emerson, Lake & ... (read more)

Report this review (#2477428) | Posted by Uruk_hai | Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ah, Lizard. The King Crimson album that former band members seemed to hate and disown. Particularly guitarist/mellotron meister and creative mastermind Robert Fripp. Short tenured bassist and vocalist Gordon Haskell took it a step further and actually disowned Mr. Fripp himself after the recordi ... (read more)

Report this review (#2460698) | Posted by SteveG | Wednesday, October 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Life isn't perfect and neither is the music of prog gods, King Crimson. Robert Fripp's 23-minute epic Lizard beginning with Prince Rupert's awakening has Jon Anderson singing the opening verse and chorus. Keith Tippet's piano moves it along till a lone trombone retraces the main theme in Peacock ... (read more)

Report this review (#2435176) | Posted by iluvmarillion | Wednesday, August 5, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ah. the third installment of the King Crimson bloodline, This one deserves a solid 7.5 out of 10. Jazzier sounding than the predecessors, this LP explores a lot of interesting musical territory. Mellotron, horns, Jon Anderson of Yes.. lots to indulge in with this release. It will take a while to g ... (read more)

Report this review (#2184267) | Posted by canterburied45 | Friday, April 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars On this third King Crimson album Lizard from 1970 (same year as its precursor In The Wake Of Poseidon) mastermind and selfclaimed leader of the pack Robert Fripp is the only original musician from the first line-up. Because Pete Sinfield was only the song writer on ITCOTCK, now he was allowed to ... (read more)

Report this review (#2136849) | Posted by TenYearsAfter | Saturday, February 16, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Lizard is an album that pokes out in the King Crimson discography, because it sounds very strange in my opinion. The weird thing about this album is that lots of people really enjoy this album. I have seen people online put it in their top three King Crimson albums, which in my opinion is strange be ... (read more)

Report this review (#2119440) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Saturday, January 19, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the release of "In The Wake Of Poseidon" and most of the original band going off to pursue other musical avenues, most bands would just part ways, not bounce back to release the eclectic masterpiece that is "Lizard." Not only did King Crimson managed to pull the impossible off like they al ... (read more)

Report this review (#1938959) | Posted by Ludenberger | Thursday, June 14, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Planned spontaneity: 10/10 Clown, juggler, acrobat, sword swallower, lion tamer, it can only mean one thing... the circus has come to town! For their upcoming show, they have brought along a special guest: the iconoclastic and now jazzy KING CRIMSON, featuring Robert Fripp, Gordon Haskell, Mel Co ... (read more)

Report this review (#1802469) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Nice to have more jazz, but musically mixed. Lizard continues the formula of Poseidon, but without Greg Lake and Michael Giles. Fripp relied on his old friend (which would, because of this experience, cease being a friend) Gordon Haskell to sing like Lake (except on one tune), and Sinfield to con ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696027) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Another fantastic Crimson album. Ive been asked to review this album by a fellow PA member so im just going to jump right into it. For some reason, King Crimsons early albums (after ITC, before Larks Tongues) have been sort of overlooked. Being my second favorite band of all time, I can enjo ... (read more)

Report this review (#1644464) | Posted by ProgBlob | Friday, November 18, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I cannot comprehend how this album is 'hard to get into', because for me it is the King Crimson album where everything works perfectly. In my opinion this is the best King Crimson album. The songs basically get better and better until the best song on the album, the title track, which is easily a to ... (read more)

Report this review (#1421419) | Posted by VELTYR | Friday, May 29, 2015 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Another King Crimson album from a piecemeal line-up that wouldn't even last weeks after it's release. Bobby Fripp takes the helm firmly with an iron fist utilizing a gaggle of available musicians. Amazingly none from the original group from just the year prior. One member, the lead singer/bass ... (read more)

Report this review (#1031354) | Posted by ster | Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a difficult album to review, being a mixture of almost bland sweetness at times, combined with avante garde noodling. My view is the opposite of the usual critique of this work, I hear side one as being much the stronger of the two, with side two falling into shapeless self indulgence. ... (read more)

Report this review (#936228) | Posted by Cheesehoven | Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hey all in the land of the prog archives, here is the 3rd album by Prog Rock practitioners King Crimson (or whom I like to call the great Crimson King). By this point in the band's history Greg Lake and Michael Giles (uh oh, it's not good that he left, ouch!!!) had left and were replaced by Gordon H ... (read more)

Report this review (#885284) | Posted by ProgMetaller2112 | Monday, December 31, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Oh this album. This can be a slog to get through at times, but it is worth it. In 1970, King Crimson was in some weird line-up changes and had a core band consisting of Robert Fripp on guitar and mellotron, Peter Sinfield on lyrics, Gordon Haskell on bass and vocals, Mel Collins on sax, flute ... (read more)

Report this review (#833979) | Posted by criticdrummer94 | Saturday, October 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars To me, Lizard is King Crimson's most unique, complex, and atmospheric album. It stands out from all the rest, and is hands down my favorite King Crimson album. Partly, this is because it is their most jazzy album, but at the same time it is one of the most stylish and bad ass albums I have ever h ... (read more)

Report this review (#786772) | Posted by pfloyd | Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I usually get my source of music information from reading reviews from online nonprofessional web critics. In regards to Lizard, a good chunk of them who aren't based solely in a progressive rock site are not very fond of it, considering this to be one of the nadirs of King Crimson and the majority ... (read more)

Report this review (#786703) | Posted by KingCrInuYasha | Thursday, July 12, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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