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King Crimson Three of a Perfect Pair album cover
3.28 | 1395 ratings | 77 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

- "Left Side" -
1. Three of a Perfect Pair (4:11)
2. Model Man (3:56)
3. Sleepless (5:20)
4. Man with an Open Heart (3:00)
5. Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds) (4:42)
- "Right Side" -
6. Industry (7:22)
7. Dig Me (2:59)
8. No Warning (3:28)
9. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part III (6:01)

Total Time 40:59

Bonus tracks on 2001 Virgin edition:
- "The Other Side" -
10. The King Crimson Barber Shop (1:37)
11. Industrial Zone A (1:44)
12. Industrial Zone B (4:33)
13. Sleepless (Tony Levin mix) (7:26)
14. Sleepless (Bob Clearmountain mix) (5:24)
15. Sleepless (Franįois Kevorkian dance mix) (6:17)

Line-up / Musicians

- Adrian Belew / lead vocals, fretted & fretless guitars, synth
- Robert Fripp / guitar, synth
- Tony Levin / Chapman Stick, bass, synth, backing vocals
- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electric drums

Releases information

Artwork: Timothy Earnes with Peter Willis (symbol)

LP Warner Bros. - 25071 (1984, US)

CD EG ‎- EGCD 55 (1984, UK)
CD EG ‎- EGCD 55 (1989, US) Remastered by Robert Fripp & Tony Arnold
CD Virgin ‎- CDVKC10 (2001, UK) 30th Anniv. remaster by Fripp & Simon Heyworth w/ 6 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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KING CRIMSON Three of a Perfect Pair ratings distribution

(1395 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (13%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

KING CRIMSON Three of a Perfect Pair reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars 2,5 stars at most!!

The third album of this KC evolution did not change much from the previous two albums, that even the title is apt: more of the same. And believe me, if you are no fan of that very same (check out my reviews of Discipline and Beat albums for those very reasons of why I am no fan), this album can be a plain bore.

There are still a few interesting moments on this album (mostly on the flipside), not least the rather strange tribute to Lark's Tongue (here is the pt3) closing the album and to a lesser extent, the lengthier Industry. But there is little else on this album to arouse my interest. Actually, listening to any of these three 80's albums irritates me slightly as I am simply not fond of this cold and technical pop sound all too typified by the 80's, as can be witnessed on the A-side of ToaPP poppy material (Sleepless and Open Heart). There are some fairly annoying or bizarre tracks as well, like the thankfully Dig Me

As I pointed out this and Beat do not add anything new to Discipline and by now the recipe is wearing thin. The fact is that, this line-up never did much to me as the levels "technicity" and dexterity and complexity (relative, given some of the poppier tracks) of the musicians is of course awesome but leaves me rather cold. Best avoided IMHO, despite some highlights on the flipside. Actually in some ways, ToaPP might be slightly more interesting than Beat, due to its more experimental flipside.

Review by loserboy
5 stars "Beat", "Three Of A Perfect Pair" & "Discipline"... 3 Of the classic CRIMSON prog albums which are too hard to distinguish for me. All 3 albums remain a highlight in my progressive rock collecting years and a milestone in the genre. Each album contain brilliant and highly sophisticated prog music with amazing musicianship. If you are not amazed with Fripp's Frippertronics, or Levin's commanding bass lines, or Belew's talents (too many to mention) or Brufords Jazz like complex drumming then there is something wrong with your head!. At times songs border on the line of Industrial genre, but are careful to never go over the edge. Highly conceptual and highly recommended!
Review by daveconn
3 stars A reserved and relatively accessible alternative to the last two CRIMSON albums, "Three of a Perfect Pair" led to speculation by some that ADRIAN BELEW's influence had grown unduly large within the band. Gone were the dizzying instrumental workouts, the impossibly tight relationships between guitar, stick and drums, and in their place was open space. The first side of the record does resemble Lone Rhino's droppings: "Model Man" and "Man With An Open Heart" especially are aligned with BELEW's musical sensibilities. Otherwise the band gives a nod back to "Beat", replicating that album's opener ("Neal and Jack and Me") with ""Three of a Perfect Pair"", while FRIPP unlocks the sounds of Scary Monsters with the instrumental "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III". TONY LEVIN and BILL BRUFORD appear to be the odd men out here; they provide an interesting if understated percolating bed of rhythm behind "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)", but confined talent turns to restlessness on "Industry." As for ROBERT FRIPP, he too favors space and texture over superlative fretwork this time, suggesting a cross between the recent CRIMSON and Andy Summers' instrumental music. Perhaps it was inevitable that outside interests would bleed into CRIMSON's work. No longer was the band comprised of four superlative musicians surrendering their identity to the good of the whole, but instead they were allowing extracurricular activities to inform their contributions. Because "Discipline" and "Beat" were so similar by design, Three's departure from the path was seen by some as an unwelcome surprise. Songs that factored in a cuteness quotient and chaotic instrumentals that fail to coalesce reveal an album plagued by lax "Discipline" rather than a lack of talent. And so KING CRIMSON slipped into hibernation again for another long winter.
Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The final installment of the 80's trilogy, and one that manages to achieve much- but maybe not what many were hoping for. This is a much more "commercial" album than any of the previous KC releases, even "Beat", with several songs that come close to being radio friendly. In fact, I used to hear selections from this album played alongside such strange bedfellows as SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES and DINOSAUR JR. on my local "alternative" station back in the mid/late 80's. I really don't think Fripp & co. were trying for a commercial success ( when had that ever been a main goal of the band? ), but suddenly I could hear a lot more "hooks" in the songs. The first four songs are perfect examples of this, standalone songs that can be appreciated on their own terms (the hauntingly personal chorus to "Model Man" stays in my mind, as do the spooky vocal harmonies on the title track). The days when you could put KC on and go on a 40+ minute journey are by this point fading quickly, but not totally gone- the extended pieces ( "Nuages" and then most of the second side) retain some of this transcendant power. The problem many have in appreciating the "new" KC is similar to the debate over analog versus digital. Certainly the sound is more precise, and as on "Sleepless", almost funky at times. The scary parts are a little harsher (compare the violent sound of "Dig Me" with the more creeping menace of "The Mincer", for instance). This incarnation of KC proves over and over that they are not just being consumed by the 80s ( the way poor YES and GENESIS were, for example ), but are instead once again utilizing everything at their disposal to break new musical ground. For better or worse, this meant that Fripp was pulling in some of his Frippertronics (which always reminded me of a guitar trying to sound like a synth arpeggiator...extremely clinical), and Belew was drawing from his own personal palette as well (good if it was like the best parts of "Lone Rhino", bad if it was anything like THE BEARS). The album is a nice way to wrap up this version of KC; they explored the corners of the room they inhabited on "Discipline" and "Beat", and left us with some memorable moments.
Review by philippe
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's better to be charged with this album. There's almost nothing in common with KC original and typical sound. "Three of a Perfect Pair"confirms a new musical direction taken by the band, closer to the 80s spirit. So we can hear a lot of electronic drummings parts, slap bass guitars...However don't be disconcerted, it remains prog despite that it shows us a more alternative pop and synthetic side of KC's music. In the track "Nuages" we come back to Fripp original and touching guitar style. A calm and mysterious piece... Also a great mention to Adrian Belew harmonised and groovy vocals. "Three of a perfect Pair" is not essential and not the first you need to listen to for a first approach to KC's musical creativity but a recommended album for the band's lovers.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars TOAPP was definitely a more technical album than Beat. The compositions work better together and that is not saying Beat is poor. On the contrary. Although these 80's releases seem to get unfair criticism in the main I have to challenge those sceptical to return to Three of a Perfect Pair and listen to the title track, ' Warning', the quirky ' Model Man' and Adrian Belew's pleading on ' Man with an open Heart'. I have said it before and I will repeat it again Adrian Belew was a key member of KC in the 80's. His level of enthusiasm and cutting edge vocals gave kC sound the added impetus it so very much needed.
Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars The end of an era. This is the last KC release in the 80s. IMO, it is the second best. There are some really quality songs here. There are also a few bad songs, but they come early and not that noticable. Three of A Perfect Pair is an awesome song. Great guitar/stick work in this one. Belew is also right on the money with the vocals. Next is Model Man. I think this is probably the worst song in the Crimson lline-up, EVER. It is very poppy, and mainstream. It is very simple, and almost loses the KC vibe (which is slighly present although bearing breathing). Next is Sleepless. A great bass line perculates thoughout this whole song. Levin does great work. The song is not bad, but not the best. Next comes Man With An Open Heart. This song sounds like it is by Talking Heads, with the eerie and subtle guitar work and wailing vocal. Belew is again great with vocals, and he sounds just like David Byrne. It is still a good song though. From this point on the album is really really solid. a good instramental. It really sets the stage for the second half of the album. Strange arrangments, odd sounds, and an overall eerie feel, is that atmosphere for the second half. Industry is the first from side two. It is an excellent piece of work. One of thier best. Great drumming by Bruford, great bass/stick work by Levin, and fantastic, although pecular, guitar work by Fripp and Belew. Again, a great song. Next comes the equally great, if not greater, song: Dig Me. Reminiscent of Indiscipline, and Neuortica, it is a very jumpy paranoid like song. Belew gives a great performance here. Drumming is agian top-notch. The lyrics are superb as well. The chours is beautiful. There is really no weak point to the song, except that it should be longer. Next comes No Warning. A strange song, that i feel is the weakest song on the back. It is still good, it's just all over the place. LTIA Part III finishes the album off. A nice version, not my favorite, but still very very very good. Great guitar/drum work here. And Levin is also good on this one, but not as good as the others.

All in all, this is a great album with soild playing, lyrics, vocal (how it is sung), progressiveness, and writing. This, unfortunately, is the end of KC 'till the early 90's. Get this is you are a fan of the band or just a fan of great music. Recommended!

Review by Philo
3 stars Hard to believe but King Crimson at this stage held together the same line-up (Fripp/Belew/Levin/Bruford) for three consecutive albums! And even more importantly changed musical direction and still retained a high critical acclaim in doing so. Discipline was an exceptional album but like In Wake Of Poseidon was a clone of In The Court Of The Crimson King, the eighties version of King Crimson tried to do the same thing and release not one but two clones of the successful Discipline album. Well more or less any way, the cover artwork for the three albums, including the middle one Beat augment each other well but like the down side and negatives that arise when cloning, each album gets relatively less better-I'm being too kind here- weaker all the time. This album could never be a match for the Discipline album that was fresh and energetic and completely new to Crimson fans, but I find this album ordinary enough without anything as stellar as "Matte Kudasai" or "Frame By Frame" to bring it to a comfort zone. "Larks Tongues In Aspic Part III" bears [%*!#] all resemblance to the sonic, brutal and powerful tracks that bookended that same self titled album released more than a decade earlier and I was really expecting some decent trade-offs and guitar pyromania but was left rather cold. If you like talking heads this would be somewhat more of a turn on and perhaps a Bowie fan might appreciate it but right now I guess it will sit in my record collection for a while gathering dust and unfavorable comments. Discipline is a great album but I find it hard to see the comparison between that release and Three Of A Perfect Pair, especially so in the song writing and where Fripp and Belew combined well and played off each others unique and very individual guitar playing talent to a great extent I sense a distance between the two on the cuts that make up the Three Of A Perfect Pair album. Maybe it's more experimental but thats not always a good thing.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This and the previous two discipline albums truly make a three of a perfect pair! It's difficult to say which one of them is the best. Maybe if they had done just two albums from the material of these three, they would have made two albums worth of five stars. Here the experimental and popular material are more divided to other sides of the vinyl than on the last two previous albums. The voyage from "Nuages" to "Larks' Tonques in Aspic - part three" truly makes a powerful trip! I have also heard a recent remastered CD of this album, which includes some rehearsal material and different mixes of "Sleepless". There are also some funny photographs and a wish list for their concert backstage runner including "Space Invaders machine".
Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One half pop driven art rock and the other half abstract instrumental works. This is the last album of the 80's Crimson line-up, the next album would consist of the double trio. Adrian Belew, who often doesn't get enough credit for his guitarwork, makes notice on this album with precision playing while singing; Robert Fripp continues his refined and identifiable style as well as creates rich synth atmospheres; Tony Levin uses the standard bass guitar more than the stick on this album, and his technique is superb, often using a popping/slap sound to give the songs a meaty feel; and Bill Bruford, who drums with precision, although the sound of his kit on this album is not up to par with the rest of the band.

The first half of the album consists of vocal driven songs, the highlights of which being Three of a Perfect Pair, which features a startingly tricky 6/8 riff that Belew plays and sings with remarkable ease. Man With an Open Heart is one of the poppier tunes on the album, but it has a consistent riff (although part of it reminds me of Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science") and some strong lyrics and vocals. Sleepless was the single from the album, and it is a strong track. Starting with an amazingly catchy Levin bass line, and some great guitar work from the two wizards, this and the next song, the instrumental Nuages, end the first side. The second side opens with Industry, which is a very slow instrumental. It starts out with snare and synth, but as time progresses, the sounds get more and more layered and many things go on at once. It's a favorite of mine on the album. Dig Me is the closest thing King Crimson ever got to a Captain Beefheart type atmosphere. Belew's disjointed, almost atonal, chords mix with the mayhem during the verses, but the chorus is catchy and makes the song worthwhile. No Warning is essentially a prelude to Lark's Tongue in Aspic Part III, which is a continuation of the famed Lark's Tongue in Aspic series. This is a more synthesized effort, but it nonetheless captures the LTIA atmosphere from 10 years before.

Overall, this is a very strong finale to the 80's incarnation of King Crimson. I recommend it highly. 4/5.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the third album under "New" King Crimson where since they released "discipline", the new line-up embarked on totally new different concept. Some people blame the addition of Adrian Belew made King Crimson music poppier. This is proved by Adrian Belew's song-oriented material on the album's first side. But some people reckoned that Belew has helped revitalized the King Crimson sound to keep up with recent development of prog music. Remember, at the time new wave and punk were sweeping music industry. To my ears, "Three of A Perfect Pair" and "Beat" are replicas of "Discipline" (the band's debut with new line-up).

The instrumental track "Industry" came into my attention when I watched the Live in Japan laser disc because I can see how the band plays it and I spin back my CD to have another listen which I enjoy very much - provided good circumstances. What I mean with "good circumstances" is the right time to enjoy silent music - probably during midnight. "Dig Me", the track immediately following, is no less incredible -- with words written by Belew about an abandoned auto wreck. It might be a good illustration of how pop touches can be almost completely presented. "No Warning" represents another breakthrough into untapped territory. "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part III" is something free-form material especially in the opening guitar solo. "Three Of A Perfect Pair" and "Sleepless" are excellent pop songs with unique bass lines by Levin. "Sleepless" contains multi-layered instrumentation.

It's not best Crimson album but if you love the band, it's must having it. I just upgraded my CD into a remastered replica version. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by 1800iareyay
3 stars Three of a Perfect Pair was the last KC studio album of the 80s. After the bold restart of Discipline and the letdown of Beat, the pressure was on for Fripp's next effort. This album marks three KC albums in a row with the same lineup, a record among King Crimson. Unfortunately, this album is also a letdown.

Instrumentally, the band is, as always, strong beyond compare. Yet the lyrics are a bit silly, sometimes intentional, sometimes not. Essentially the first half contains the "danceable" songs akin to those founs on the first two outing of the 80s, while the second is more proggy.

Tony's bass is the redeeming quality of this album like he was for Beat. I defy you not to love the stickline in Sleepless.

Three of a Perfect Pair is one of the light-hearted songs and the lyrics are amusing.

Model Man is catchy but lacks substance

The aformentioned Sleepless in Tony's finest bassline since Thela Hun Ginjeet from Discipline. Belew's voice is a bit spooky, and helps the song to be the best of the poppy efforts. It almost sounds as if Bootsy Collins picked up the stick to contribute.

Man With An Open Heart reflects Model Man's emptiness, and is not very memorable.

Nuages marks the start of the more serious songs, and it is a fine way to close the first side with its gentle progression

Industry is rather sinister and interesting, though it tends to repeat itself

Dig Me is built upon the countermelodies of Belew and Fripp

No Warning features great drumming from the demigod Bill Bruford

Larks Tongue Part III revisits the second part from KC's masterpiece, and spruces it up for the new wave. It's neat, and it's the most instrumentally sound track on the album, but I get wary when my beloved Larks' is redone. This comes from hearing part IV on ConstruKion of Light.

Overall, Three of a Perfect Pair was not nearly the swan song that Red was. However, most of the songs are strong and the light attitude provides a stark contrast to the 70s output. For example, the King Crimson Barber Shop track from the remaster is hilarious. Three of a Perfect Pair was a bit hard for me to come by, so if you see it, go ahead and pick it up, but reserve judgement if you are new to Crimson.

Review by OpethGuitarist
2 stars Pop prog, and other adventures of KC's years in the 80's.

Three of a Perfect Pair closes what I would consider the KC side project. The band altered their direction and sound, although they had not lost their abilities (as would be seen again in the 90's). I consider the first of this output to be the best, and Beat the cellar of all King Crimson works. This album continues in a similar fashion to Beat, but it redeems itself towards the end. However, Lt Pt 3 is my least favorite of the Larks Tongues renditions.

I guess a shining moment from this set of outputs would be the amazing find of Adrian Belew and his talents and idiosyncrasies, which matched up quite well with Fripp, even if the two had vastly different styles and approaches to composition. In short, I'd look at the 80's catalog after you have all the other KC material, except for Discipline, which is quite good with the 80's effects. That being said, prog on. King Crimson would come back with a vengeance on some of their 90's and 00's material.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I have to give KING CRIMSON credit for not doing another "Beat" record. I thought they did do that after the first 4 songs but the rest of the album consists of a lot of good experimental, instrumental music. I was very impressed to hear they didn't continue further down that poppy eighties road like so many of their contemperaries did. It would be over ten years before they would release another studio record after this one. In hindsight that was probably a good move.

"Three Of A Perfect Pair' is a great opening track, with Fripp's guitar melodies throughout and light drums. "Model Man" is pretty good, this one is all about Belew's vocals. "Sleepless" is a very enjoyable song. I really like the vocals and the drumming of Bruford is omnipresent. The guitar melodies come and go.This is the song where Levin's bass work shines the most. "Man With An Open Heart" is the one I dislike the most. All I can think about is the TALKING HEADS.

"Nuages (that which passes, passes like clouds)" is where it starts to get experimental sounding with slow paced guitar and percussion. "Industry" is similar to the previous song except there are instrumental outbursts throughout. This song slowly builds. "Dig Me" is still experimental sounding but this time there are vocals. Some strange guitar sounds and odd metered drumming are contrasted with the "normal" vocal and drum melody. "No Warning" is more of the same instrumentally. "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III" isn't as good as parts one and two but I still like it a lot. The angular guitar melodies and great drumming make this a good one.

I rate this one at 3.5 stars, a half star better than "Beat" and worth checking out.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

I read at the time when this album came out that there were two different sides of music on this album: the poppy side in the BEAT spirit and some kind of experimental side. So i was curious what it means and bought again a CRIMSON album when it was released.

Same kind of cover design than the last 2 ones, just a change of color and once again, we are getting the same musicians for a third time in a row! what a CRIMSON record!

Side one (the left side as mentioned on the cover) starts with 4 pop songs,i have to admit some of them are not bad at all, but the musicianship is kind of generic (B. Bruford is not trying anything out of this world and is just giving the beat) And all of a sudden, unexpectedly, we are treated to a beautiful piece of music (no vocals;yeah!)named ''Nuages'' (clouds in French) reminding me of the spacy athmosphere of TERJE RYPDAL, a great Norwegian guitarist.

Then it starts to build up nicely with another instrumental INDUSTRY on the ''right side'' where some of old KC trademark sounds are coming back to light with some ''organised chaos''. Remind me a little bit of the DEVILS TRIANGLE suite on ITWOP. Not bad at all! We're far from HEARTBEAT. But Belew vocals are sadly back on the disposable DIG ME. Then we go back to experimental instrumental tracks to end the album.NO WARNING could be named INDUSTRY part 2 and it' s followed by, yes LARKS TONGUE IN ASPIC part 3 (more parts to come in the future) which bear not too much ressemblance with the first 2. The powerful hard-edged sound of the guitar is somewhat missing, but that's not bad.

In the 30th anniversary KC collection , the CD comes with bonus tracks with the funny THE KING CRIMSON BARBER SHOP and yes,some dance mix of SLEEPLESS.

A very strange album, but some old KCRIMSON spirit is back. 3 stars; that's a good album!

Review by fuxi
3 stars This album is frustrating and exhilerating in turns. Frustrating, because most of the tracks on the original A-side (here called "Left side") sound immensely annoying. Lacking the intricate instrumental arrangements of their counterparts on DISCIPLINE, and the heartfelt emotions of the best songs on BEAT, they mainly irritate, thanks to Adrian Belew's neurotic, narcissistic lead vocals. Not a pretty picture. Not a voice I long to hear often. Still, even that A-side can be exhilerating, because right in the middle of it you'll find "Sleepless", one of the most haunting Crimson tunes of all time. The side ends on a pretty but moody instrumental entitled "Nuages" - which happens to be French for clouds. (Hence, it's a little puzzling that the band gave this piece the 'poetic' subtitle "that which passes, passes like clouds"...)

The "Right Side" mainly consists of dark, ominous instrumentals. In his excellent book on King Crimson Sid Smith complains that tracks like "Industry" and "No Warning" don't mean much, since they've got 'little substance' and 'compared to other practitioners in the free improvisation sphere, this is pretty plain fare'. Well, when I listen to King Crimson I don't usually expect the sort of virtuosity that characterises John Abercrombie or other jazz improvisers. Still, I always find Crimso's efforts worth hearing. The "Right Side" may not reach the exceptional level of "Trio", "Asbury Park", "Neurotica" or other earlier KC workouts, but about once a year I take time to listen to it and enjoy it thoroughly. But then again, I'll gladly try ANYTHING that has Fripp, Bruford and Levin playing together. The closing number, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III", is GREAT FUN, even. It proves, once and for all, that the musicians involved are the true heirs to classic King Crimson and is therefore well worth playing to obstinate old fans who believe this band gave up the ghost in 1974.

As you may notice, the 30th anniversary edition comes with a generous load of bonus tracks, including no less than three remixes of "Sleepless". Fascinating.

Review by Prog Leviathan
1 stars With the groovy exception of some funktastic stick work by Levin, there is only aggrevation to be found in this giganticly mediocre mess of an album. Maybe Fripp just gave up, and decided to experiement with useless guitar effects while Belew warbled out meaningless lyrics in a feeble attempt to play at '80's frontman. At any rate, "Three of a Perfect Pair" is for the Krimson Kompletionist only, and offers none of the exciting song writing or playing worthy of the band's name.
Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Not a model album - but still good

The third and last of the King Crimson 80s trilogy, this album sees the band disband and end yet another era of their works. This album, much like the other two before it is very influenced by the 80s New Wave movement, and while it may not be on the same level as the fantastic Discipline it is still a very good album that fans of the band's 80s era should not go without. Defined by all the complexities and layers of music that we're used to from this incarnation of the band it's a very thick album to listen to. Not that that's a bad thing, since the first spin shows this album as a very strange record while repeated listens reveal more and more to like about each song. Fripp's guitars are malevolent as ever, even if they seem a bit more calm because of Mr. Belew's contributions, and Levin's playing makes for a very funky record.

What's unfortunate about the record is that it falls victim to the ''beginning has all the best songs'' syndrome. While there are a couple of good songs throughout the album wears thin after the first three exquisite songs. The title track Three Of A Perfect Pair brings back heavy memories of Discipline and makes for a very good opening number. Mid paced and eerie this one sets the tone very well for what's coming. Model Man is an unexpectedly great song considering its length and structure. This one is some of the closest the band will come to leaving prog and becoming totally new wave. But with all it's complexities and within the context of the album it fits very well. One very redeeming thing about the song is the underlying riffing that Fripp performs. The song is very much a riff based song especially coming into the chorus where Fripp unleashes a terrifyingly chilling riff, Belew making light of it overhead. Sleepless is another very good track, more of a rocker than the last two and propelled by a very cool section of rhythm. Beatarific would be the word (made up or not) for this one I suppose.

While the rest of the album is quite good it unfortunately does not compare with the beginning of the album. The two instrumental songs on the album that make for a segue between the two sides are both evil, but not quite up to par with some of the other Krimson instrumental masterpieces. Nuages and Industry make up for a large chunk of the album coming in at around 12-minutes between the two of them, and while the instrumentals are certainly appreciated they come off as a tad slow on the context of the album. Fortunately the final instrumental and closing track of the album, Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt III makes for a very fast and complex track with its very fast pace and time signature. Maybe not up to par with the other Larks Tongues... tracks, but I suppose that is the simple misfortune of naming - people's expectations would be very high seeing that name with a pt. III at the end. The other songs are also quite good, even if none of them stand out above the rest. Dig Me probably being the best of the bunch, the others being fairly average fairs.

This is a very good album. It's very appreciable to those who enjoyed Krimson's other 80s outputs, but for those who didn't this album is not necessary. Good but not essential, this one is 3 of a perfect 5. Recommended for those who don't mind a bit of the New Wave feel and those who like a bit of funk in their prog.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Three of a Perfect Pair is the third eighties studio album from King Crimson and the last from this incarnation of the band. The album continues the style which was started on Discipline from 1981 and developed further on Beat from 1982. Iīm a big fan of Discipline while Iīm a bit less excited about Beat. Three of a Perfect Pair takes a bit from both albums but never reaces the hights of Discipline.

The music is still based on the complimenting guitar playing from Adrian Belew and only original member Robert Fripp. The rythm section which consists of Bill Bruford ( Yes) on drums and Tony Levin ( Peter Gabriel, Liquied Tension Experiment) on bass makes the lineup and the music complete. Itīs actually quite astonishing that King Crimson for the third time in a row had a stable lineup when you think of all the lineup changes in the past. Adrian Belew sounds quite a bit like David Byrne ( Talking Heads) but he fits nicely in King Crimson.

I partially enjoy the album and songs like the first four songs, Three of a Perfect Pair, Model Man, Sleepless and Man With an Open Heart, are all good songs. Then the album turns into new age ambient muzak mode and Iīm totally lost. I donīt enjoy neither Nuages (that which passes, passes like clouds) or Industry one bit. On the original LP version at least you had to turn the LP between those two songs and you would know that it was a new song playing. You donīt have that luxury on the CD version. I donīt know when Nuages ends and Industry starts thatīs how similar they are in style. The songs are not annoying as such but they are totally indifferent. The album continues with Dig Me and No Warning which are mediocre at best and then the good ending song Larks' tongues in aspic part III.

The musicianship is excellent but I didnīt expect less from accomplished musicians like these.

The productions is typical for the eighties, even though King Crimson is no typical eighties band.

Iīm not very impressed with Three of a Perfect Pair and even Beat which I wasnīt really happy about beats this one. Iīm on the verge of giving Three of a Perfect Pair 2 stars but the quality is too high afterall and reluctantly Iīll give it 3 small stars. There are definitely some good songs here but there are also some really useless ones that are best ignored. I can only recommend that you purchase Discipline if you are curious about eighties King Crimson before purchasing both Beat and Three of a Perfect Pair.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars Not a great King Crimson release, but it's a good step up from the weak Beat.

The album is another one of those divided in half, with the first being more concerned with accessibility and energy and the second with a little creative freedom. On the whole, the songs are not nearly so complicated and deep as they are on Discipline, but for what they are, they are pretty darn good tunes. Tony Levin once more stretches his wings and takes a bite out of the glass house, clearly proving that there's a reason he ends up on half the progressive releases these days. His bass work is once again stunning and entertaining. The guitars back up once more, allowing a little room for synths and other sorts of sounds that do certainly date this as an 80s album but don't really detract from its charm at all. Belew's vocals are maybe not at Discipline level heights again, but they certain are more interesting than they were on Beat.

The first half opens with the title track, a vaguely poppish tune with an interesting beat and syncopated feel that hearkens quite nicely to tracks like Frame by Frame or Indiscipline. Model Man is a bit more standard in a pop way, being a nice song but probably, aside from Belew's vocals, one of the more uninteresting tunes here. Sleepless gives Levin some room really to open up, and the bass riff that drives this song is one of pure beauty. The chorus isn't bad, either, but I have serious difficutly listening to anything except that hammering on the bass strings. Man with an Open Heart is similar to Model Man in my mind, and not just because of the title. The side closes with the first really experimental or progressive track here, Nuages. Featuring an interesting and liquid soundscape, a strange sounding guitar builds on top of a sequence of synths. Unfortunately, the song doesn't really go anywhere.

Industry starts side two with a menacing bass bit, applying subtle amounts of whale-noise synths here and there. The song starts to gain some steam with some heavy and distorted guitar, some cool drumming, and some wicked slap bass (I'm not going to lie, I have a serious soft spot for slap bass). This one builds like a soundscape as well, much more menacing in the vein of Providence or The Talking Drum. It closes with some terrifying keyboard noises. Dig Me comes next, a shorter piece with a very weird rhythm and instrument interplay. It took a few listens to actually begin to digest this one. Belew rides over the top with some creepy spoken word bits that sound like something you'd hear in a sci fi movie. But then all the weirdness drops away, and the band surprises you wonderfully: a stunningly beautiful and creative chorus out of nowhere. It's this dramatic intersection of experimental confusion and clean softness. Easily the best tune on the disc. No Warning is a jarring and dissonant jam bit that I don't really care for. And finally, we come to the next installment in the Larks' Tongues in Aspic. Fans of the original album may fear for the quality of this piece, but really, it sounds nice here. It's not so focused as either of the first two parts, but the band does a nice job of taking some of their classic riffs and implementing them into their new sound. It's not perfect, but it is fun.

Fans of Discipline, look here. This is the best successor that album has, and it has some really neat ideas and inspirations. However, those unfamiliar with King Crimson should never start here. It would just be terribly confusing, I would think. A good album, a bit uneven, but with some tunes that fans of the band should at least hear a few times.

Review by friso
2 stars The three King Crimson records from the early eighties have a lot in common; modernized progressive rock with a wave sound and strong pop influences. The musical experimentation of the band was put in a mold that was thought to fit the times, but ends up leaking over the edges; making side two of the record of both 1982's 'Beat' and this 'Three of a Perfect Pair' particularly hard to enjoy. On this latest of the trio of albums, which started with the fairly fresh and good 'Discipline', the band has run out of enthusiasm and sound dull on both its poppy and its experimental tracks. The wave pop songs on the first side are a drag as well with Andrew Bellew having to take to much of a center stage. The guitar shrieks of Robert Fripp on songs like 'Industry' and 'LTIA pt III' just sound like a fish out of the water to me. I can't really recommend this record beyond those who loved its two predecessors.
Review by ProgBagel
3 stars King Crimson - 'Three of a Perfect Pair' 3 stars

Beat part two.

I find this to be slightly better than the horrific 'Beat' before it. There is still a pop element that just isn't working with this line-up. However, the band did redeem themselves, because this album does contain a few good selection of tracks, and another Larks' Tongue, but it isn't what the first two were.

If you are a fan of the Crimson 80's work then you should get this after the amazing 'Discipline' album. I would recommend works from any other period before picking up the rest of the 80's trilogy, which includes this album and 'Beat'.

Review by MovingPictures07
4 stars King Crimson shows here that even through the 80s that they're willing to create something fresh, innovative, and progressive, though not even near close in comparison to their previous periods. If you're expecting In the Court., then don't buy this.

1. Three of a Perfect Pair- Very solid and enjoyable song with fantastic vocals by Belew. The man is an incredibly overlooked vocalist, frontman, and guitarist, and that still shows on this album. This song continues the disciplined sound of the previous two albums and it compares quite well in that regard. Solid instrumental work all around, great song! It gets more experimental towards the end and definitely isn't a typical 80s song, despite what some people may think. 9/10

2. Model Man- Again an incredibly enjoyable song that is more than a typical composition. Having the Neal and Jack and Me DVD (which I highly recommend) also helps an appreciation of these type of Crimson 80s songs. The guitar work again on here is experimental and very good, and the other instruments are also up to par. Belew's vocals shine once again. Still maintains that straightforward, disciplined song structure, however. "Take me as I am!!" 8/10

3. Sleepless- Atypical Crimson intro! Beware, but keep listening because this is another good song. Instrumentalists again are fantastic here (what else could you expect?), but a 1970s Symphonic fan might be turned off by this. Perhaps the most 80s-tinged song on here, but still pretty good. My least favorite on here. 6/10

4. Man with an Open Heart- Oddly designed song here that continues the same type of art-rock compositions. It has a demented feel to it almost. Neat song, but still in poppier vein. 7/10

5. Nuages- Oooooh, now here comes the real interesting music! This is a haunting 80s Crimson instrumental with great structure and instrumentation. Really awesome song and a very excellent mood. 9/10

6. Industry- Fantastic! This is truly a groundbreaking piece of music that manages to take progressive elements even much further than the previous song. If you have your doubts that 80s Crimson ever accomplished anything progressive, give this a listen. The song majestically builds perfectly over the span of 7 minutes, fitting its title quite well. Mechanical, yet incredibly beautiful in its structure. every instrument shines extremely here. Bruford's drums are especially powerful for my tastes. This is definitely the best song on here. 10/10

7. Dig Me- This is probably Crimson's most experimental song from the 80s. It is incredibly enjoyable and twisted, with fantastic instrumentation and great vocals from Belew once again. I like how the song switches between madness and stability all throughout its short length. Fabulous. 9/10

8. No Warning- Further in the realms of more experimental art-rock with this song, similar in mood to Industry and Nuages in that it is quite haunting. The instrumentation and mood again are stellar, perfectly crafting a song of unique form. 9/10

9. Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 3- Don't compare to this Parts 1 or 2, or you will inevitably be disappointed. I made that mistake at first, but this really is a decent composition on its own. It isn't really the best closer, however. There's nothing wrong with the instrumentation; the composition just does not hit the bar that was raised so well by the previous 4 songs. Still decent Crimsonian work. 7/10

An overlooked and underrated album in the Crimson catalogue because it is from the 1980s and gets branded with a label of "pop" or not really King Crimson. Don't judge it based on that, but listen to the album for the music, and you should not be disappointed.

An extremely excellent addition to any prog collection. Just be warned that this is King Crimson and that King Crimson never sounds the same for any period longer than 3 albums, so do not have any preconceptions.

Review by horsewithteeth11
4 stars To highlight another of my oddities, the Belew era happens to be my favorite era of KC (although Starless, LTIA, and Red also rank up there as some of my favorite KC albums). This concludes the 80s trilogy of their work, which includes the magnificent Beat and Discipline. In listening to this album, you have to keep an open mind about it. This is NOT 70s era King Crimson anymore. Sure it has more pop tendencies, but it's still a very progressive sound. I firmly believe that King Crimson fully adhered to the cores of progressive rock more so than any of the other important 70s prog rock bands because they constantly were changing and revamping their style from album to album while still retaining their own unique sound. Now onto the music:

1. Three of a Perfect Pair - I think I sing along to this song every time I listen to it. It's so psychedelic and yet still fairly catchy. This song has very groovy synths as well. Absolutely perfect in every way. 10+/10

2. Model Man - This is a very groovy song, and the bass really helps add to that. Another good song as well, despite poppy tendencies. 9/10

3. Sleepless - Almost disco-like at times. Belew's voice almost makes me feel like I'm about to be drawn into a spinning vortex that looks like a moving kaleidoscope. Again excellent bass on this song. Bruford feels especially hypnotic on this song. The guitars have a whining feel to them at times. A very emotional song in a really twisted way. 8/10

4. Man with an Open Heart - WOULDN'T MATTER TO A MAN WITH...well, you get the picture. Another song I love singing along to. Exciting, breathtaking, dazzling, those are only some of the words I could possibly use to describe this song. 9/10

5. Nuages - Starts with a slow, very psychedelic guitar opening with a similar beat in the background. This song also has a very Middle Eastern feel to it. 8/10

6. Industry - This song starts off very, VERY dark with a strange, almost mechanical drum beat and sobering synths. The drums change a bit after 2 minutes in and bass and guitar come in as well, making the song even darker, which really says something considering how dark the song starts out. Quite an appropriate title as well. It makes me picture gears and heavy machinery cranking monotonously in a dimly-lit factory. One of the best tracks from this era of KC. 10+/10

7. Dig Me - Starts almost as dark as Industry before some groovy synths and guitar come in. The tempo is very strange on this song. Another excellent track. 9/10

8. No Warning - An instrumental song. This one is very dark like Industry, but unlike that song it has a slight psychedelic tinge to it. Also very enjoyable. 9/10

9. Larks Tongues in Aspic (Part 3) - Don't expect this song to sound like the previous two versions. Very groovy and psychedelic with funky bass and guitar as well as almost manic drumming. It really has a feel of all the musicians trying to throw in all they've got into the last song. A great closer to this album. 10+/10

So in conclusion...well, my mind is somewhat mush right now, but I can say that this is a highly underrated KC album. Like I said, 80s KC is my favorite era of the band, but this is probably the weakest of the 3 albums. It's very good to say the least once you keep your ears and mind open to it and give it repeated listens, but it's not quite a masterpiece. 4/5 stars.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I must be an even odder person than I thought, since, unlike most people, I think Three of a Perfect Pair is inferior to its vastly underrated predecessor, Beat. Now, when talking about King Crimson, 'inferior' does not in any way imply 'bad' - Fripp's crew have never released anything less than adequate, and are to be commended for the consistent high quality of their output. However, as in all things human, it is impossible to achieve complete perfection every time, so the band's back catalogue inevitably contains its share of weaker efforts. This album, the third instalment of KC's Eighties trilogy, falls into the latter category: good in comparison with some of the dross the former Seventies prog glories produced in their decline, but by no means showing the band at their best.

While Beat largely paralleled the structure of the stunning Discipline, Three of a Perfect Pair is neatly divided in two parts, the 'left side' and the 'right side' (with a number of bonus tracks labelled as 'the other side') - a device, of course, already used by other bands. The 'left side' comprises four songs plus an instrumental, the 'right' four instrumentals. As a whole, the songs are less impressive than the ones on either Discipline or Beat, though making the most of Adrian Belew's unique vocal style. The exception is Sleepless, a song that most hardcore proggers will surely hate because of its funky, danceable beat (it was in fact also released as a dance mix). Being reasonably open-minded, I do not hate 'dance music' as such - just when it is bad (which unfortunately happens all too often). Moreover, Sleepless has a killer bass intro, and Levin's performance throughout the song is textbook-perfect. On the 'other side' three alternative versions are featured, including the notorious dance mix.

As I said before, the other songs, while not bad, are definitely not as interesting - and not because they are 'poppy' (which they are). On the other hand, the instrumentals (one of the band's strongest points since their inception) should have a stronger appeal to long-time KC fans. The atmospheric Nuages, which closes the 'left' side', reprises the ambient-like mood of the marvellous The Sheltering Sky (notice the common theme) on Discipline. However, the only really standout track here is the dark, brooding Industry, basically a continuation of Nuages in the vein of the band's most experimental offerings, like Providence. The heavy, distorted Dig Me, in the style of Indiscipline and Neurotica, does feature some very creepy vocals (and lyrics... Dig me, but don't bury me!); while Larks' Tongues in Aspic III, though perfectly competent, does not really resemble its majestic predecessors of the Seventies, or even the fourth part included in 2003's The Power to Believe.

On the whole, I think Three of a Perfect Pair reflects the definition of a three-star rating: good, but not essential. Personally, I believe it was a good move for Fripp to dissolve the band after this album, because all the signs pointed to a formula that was in danger of becoming stale. Obviously, if you are a fan of the band like I am, you will find it essential to own it in order to get the complete picture, and I think there are far worse albums you could spend your hard-earned cash on. Just don't expect to be bowled over..

Review by TGM: Orb
2 stars Three Of A Perfect Pair, 1984

My big criticism's of 80s Crimson's last studio effort are two-fold. One: it sounds much better live. Two: it sounds much worse in the studio. The first side consists of, largely, decent pop songs plus a calmer ambient number, the second of three weird instrumentals and an absolutely thrilling Belew freakout. Everyone involved, of course, plays excellently, the production is strong. The songs, however, really come out of their shell live, and this studio thing ends up rather as a thing of interest than of beauty. Don't get me wrong, it's good, sometimes enjoyable music, but its artistic pull is greater than its emotional one.

Three of a Perfect Pair, the opener, showcases some of the pop capabilities of 80s Crimson: they make an obtuse song catchy. The guitar loops are eclectic as anything, Fripp's solo sounds like a UFO's malfunction, Levin comes up with a crisp, cold bassline, and Bruford's drumming is irritatingly difficult to follow in its own way. And yet it's a very sympathetic, winning and catchy song. The lyrics are fairly good, following in the 'awkward in theory: but we'll make it work' principle of 80s Crimson. Levin's devastating groove is a highlight, the switches between verse and chorus are clear, well-prepared and effective, and the vocals work just right. Excellent.

Model Man is going after the same ideal, I suspect, but it doesn't succeed as well on either the weird or the catchy bit. A deliberately quirky and extremely subtle guitar part underlines the chorus bit, Levin provides some more memorable bass/stick/whatever parts, Belew's voice is still great, but he doesn't use it as effectively, and the lyrics aren't as individual as some he pulls out. Finally, a note about Bruford's performance on this one: it's not dazzling in the conventional sense, in a way it can be seen as pretty bland and a one-trick-pony. However, the sheer feel and detail he manages to put into the crescendos at the start of the chorus bit is awe-inspiringly new, and show a control of sound which few progressive drummers can really boast.

I'm afraid I can no longer listen to the studio take of Sleepless. I just can't. Not because it's bad, but simply because it is a ghastly, insipid shadow of the roaring dance/industrial number on Absent Lovers: Live In Montreal. The studio version's big highlights are the complex rhythm parts being played a bit more clearly, and the bing-abingbing guitars. Belew's voice is back in force, the lyrics are a bit light, but they fit the song well enough. Again, Bruford is working with sound more than material, which suits some better than others. Anyway, a great song, but the version on Live In Montreal is simply leagues ahead in terms of energy, force and compactness. Also, the band's only (and well-deserved) 'hit', for some reason.

Man With An Open Heart is another committed pop song, albeit with Crimson trademarks throughout, including some very complete guitar phrases, some of the Tama electronic drums coming out to good effect, and a memorable and someone sarcastic bass part. The vocals are maybe less wowing than they have been elsewhere, and the song ends up as more of a kitsch piece than a stunner.

Nuyages (What Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds) is an atmospheric piece with blanketing synthesised or guitar-synth (or something) sounds and a gloopy, complex rhythm part filling out the expanses of sky. The highlight, though, is the superb Spanish-sounding guitars, later shifted to a full, mournful electric. A clear and interesting experimental and emotive piece, maybe this incarnation doesn't always have the force that Wetton/Fripp/Bruford/Cross carried, but they're still producing good, interesting music.

Industry is a similar creature. Again, the synth-things are ubiquitous and blanketing. On the other hand, there's a chilling, militaristic bass part from Levin, vicious energy in the guitar part, and some muted breakaways by Bruford, as well as a more incisively vicious guitar solo. This is sort of the dark counterpart to Nuyages, and a fairly neat opening to the experimental side of the album.

It transitions smoothly to the insane, enticing guitar-lines of Dig Me. Belew's distorted, metallic vocal mockingly rattles off the tale of an abandoned guitar, and the chaotic control of Bruford and Belew gives a uniquely gripping effect. The plain, almost folk-tinged, style of the chorus contrasts interestingly with the more unusual material, and the immense skill of all the players involved comes out here if you listen carefully. A gripping, out-there monster of a track. Vital listening for Crimson fans.

The potent No Warning is another of the more atmospheric numbers, I'm afraid. To its credit, it is very good, with a real soloistic attack from Bruford that he's been restraining for most of the 80s Crimson line-up, as well as thumping bass and tense, moody guitars wailing away in the background. Dark and effective.

A twisted quote from Larks' One opens Larks' Three, which hints at the attack and verve that live 80s Crimson had, producing a full band beast in a way that you feel Belew/Bruford/Fripp/Levin generally tried to avoid. A particularly gritty guitar wails on at times, and the general effect is strong, though not overwhelming in the way that the first two parts were.

The bonus goodies aren't stunning, a light Barber-Shop Quartet is hilarious, Industrial Zones A and B are forgettable and Sleepless is a great song, but clearly the band were so excited about their underground hit that they've put three mixes in here. The Dance Mix is the most interesting in its own way, but the version of Absent Lovers is basically the definitive one for me.

Listening to this one again, the thing that's most impressed me is the roundedness of the players. The precise detail in their parts is truly impressive, even for a non-musician like me. Unfortunately, the songwriting here is rarely as strong as that of Discipline or even Beat, with most of the atmospheric pieces not registering in the brain at all after they've finished, and only two truly good pop numbers. A very interesting album to listen to, but Absent Lovers: Live At Montreal is the essential 80s Crimson purchase and this is, if you have that, little more than an occasional curiosity listen, something to be admired perhaps more than it is to be enjoyed. Two stars from me, but keep in mind that I definitely appreciate the album (and it's a damn sight better than some I've thrown three stars at), I just wouldn't even try to recommend it to someone who isn't otherwise interested in 80s Crimson.

Rating: Two stars, I'm afraid, not poor, but definitely a fans' selection rather than a general choice Favourite Track: Dig Me

Review by Chicapah
4 stars When King Crimson disbanded in the mid 70s I somehow got over that tragedy, moved on with my life and, out of spite, didn't bother to sample any of the recordings they made after they got back together a few years down the line. I guess I felt I'd been betrayed and, therefore, they deserved my eternal scorn. Recently I came across this LP sitting by its lonesome in the bins and, in a gesture of forgiveness, decided to check it out. On the first listen I jumped to all sorts of conclusions and began to rub my hands together like Snidely Whiplash in anticipation of skewering it mercilessly as being a sad specimen of yet another progressive rock giant falling victim to the cursed MTV virus of the 80s that nearly obliterated our revered musical genre. I envisioned how I would amuse readers with pithy, sarcastic prose in which I would spew out clever metaphors right and left, equating it to Picasso opting to raise some quick moola by churning out a slew of fluorescent-paint portraits of a scantily-garbed Selma Hayek posed as a busty Latino Wonder Woman slaying a fire-breathing dragon on black felt. And that was just for starters. But then something happened that I hadn't anticipated:

The damned thing grew on me like lichen on a boulder.

Seriously, for about a solid week I didn't want to hear anything else. Once I peered under the album's deceivingly glossy coat of metal-flake that merely reflected the era it was created in I found the rebellious, unconventional heart of King Crimson alive, intact and beating like a jackhammer. This group never stood still and to hear that they morphed and continued to grow even during the most stifling and constrictive of times restores a lot of my admiration for this brave band. While most of their peers were trying to figure out how they could best dumb down their imaginations and make entertaining videos, these guys were busy trying to incorporate ever-advancing recording technology and digital innovations into their own unique brand of aural art. And, like most KC product, it doesn't sound like anybody else.

Take the opener. "Three of a Perfect Pair" is so far removed from what the group did on "Red," for example, that it took me a few spins to adjust my mindset. Mainly due to the vocal stylings of Adrian Belew. It's light-years away from the ghostly crooning of John Wetton. Not bad, just different. What the dream team rhythm section of drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Tony Levin do with the standard 4/4 of the verse is delicious and the way they smooth out the 7/8 time signature of the chorus is just as savory. The lead section is wonderfully weird, allaying any notions that this is some kind of profit-mongering sell-out. And Adrian's lyrics about a volatile, dysfunctional and ultimately hopeless man/woman love relationship are intelligent and sharp as a razor. "He has his contradicting views/she has her cyclothymic moods/they make a study in despair/three of a perfect pair," he sings.

Like its predecessor, "Model Man" has a straight rock beat on the verse and then another 7/8 jaunt for the chorus but there the similarity ends. Belew's voice is a strange but pleasing hybrid of Jeff Lynne meets David Byrne and the guitar mannerisms are fabulously atypical yet not annoying. Their minimalist approach to this song is endearing while they maintain a healthy respect for their eclectic heritage. "Not a model man/not a savior or a saint/imperfect in a word/make no mistake/but I give you everything I have/take me as I am," Adrian humbly intones. "Sleepless" follows and, despite Tony's crisp, alarming bass tone and the slurring guitars that unleash a palpable suspense, it proves to be the low point of the album. Here the New Wave influence is too dominant and I get the feeling that they may've unintentionally weakened and succumbed to current trends on this track. Nonetheless, the abstract words go a long way in retaining a modicum of integrity. "Silhouettes like shivering ancient feelings/they cover my foreign floors and walls/submarines are lurking in my foggy ceiling/they keep me sleepless at night," Belew warbles with just a hint of unease.

"Man with an Open Heart" is next and it has a slightly twisted oriental flavor that burrows into your brain like a hungry zombie earwig. Levin's dry-as-toast tone is exactly what was needed to compliment the elusive guitar spasms that flitter about like orphaned moths. Add to that the tune's memorable melody and a chanting refrain that they probably surreptitiously ripped off from a bunch of tipsy Oompa-Loompas during happy hour at the Wonka Bar and you've got a winner on your hands, folks. The lyrics describe a smitten man who loves his lady unconditionally. "Her wild and wise womanly introspectiveness/her faults and files of foolishness/wouldn't matter to a man with an open heart," he croons. "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)" is the first of four instrumentals to come down the pike and its wispy, synthesized mimicry of the trusty Mellotron is a bit of a throwback to their earliest offerings without degenerating into a nostalgic cop-out. Tony's bass creates a bubbling, oozing sensation akin to sidling up to the La Brea tar pits, stirring up a primordial aura that is hypnotizing and Bruford's electronic percussion is intriguing as it bounces along beneath Fripp's meandering guitar lines. The impression the piece leaves behind is dense and guttural.

Clocking in at 7:22, "Industry" is the album's longest cut and it's more of what I expected from this incarnation of King Crimson. With a pulsating throb in 9/8 as its foundation and airy synths drifting overhead like clouds of lethal smog, this number builds slowly but surely in a "Starless and Bible Black" sort of way with ripping, grinding noises providing the climax before it drifts away over the horizon. There's an overriding malevolence implied in this music that contains all the greed, cruelty and inhumanity that the song's title encompasses. It's mesmerizing. "Dig Me" at first seems an exercise in cacophony run amok but once you realize that it's coming from the point of view of a once-proud high-end luxury automobile that now finds itself rusting away in a junk yard "unhinged and sleeping in the jungle of motor block manifolds and metal relics" it begins to make perfect sense. It's like a musical version of one of the aforementioned Pablo's synthetic cubist renderings. The arresting arrhythmia of the verses is followed by a slick, smooth chorus in which the anguished sedan cries out "I'm ready to leave/I wanna get out of here/I'm ready to ride away/I don't wanna die in here/I'm ready to ride." (Never thought I'd feel sympathy for a Ferrari.) Say what you will about this track but boring it ain't. It's fascinatingly original.

They end with back-to-back instrumentals beginning with "No Warning." The electrical tension generated at the front of this tune is intriguing but it soon turns into an unscripted free-form expression of random impulses and the result is basically three and a half minutes of chaos. I think I know what they were aiming for but it does nothing for me at all. "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III" serves as the finale and a fine one it is. Robert's frantic guitar runs escalate into a 7/8 rocker with hard accentuations and punches that knock you off your feet. After they hit you with a diabolic guitar break they drop down into a driving groove that stalks beneath what sounds like a cosmic puma with its tail caught in a steel bear trap. It's terrifying and exhilarating at the same time and wholly worthy of its namesake.

Seems like every time I think I've got a handle on what King Crimson is, was and always will be they show me a side of their collective personality that I didn't know existed and that's exactly what they did on "Three of a Perfect Pair." Their music has always been for the more adventurous of proggers in general and I can see why many of their diehard fans dismissed this album as being too accessible. I beg to differ with that appraisal, though. When I consider what tawdry shape the music industry was in when they released this record and how everything seemed to be aimed squarely at the public's lowest common denominator I only wish I'd found this album about a quarter of a century earlier. I would've celebrated the fact that it proved progressive music still had a pulse in 1984 and I would've played this LP till the diamond-tipped phonograph needle dulled itself to a nub. 4.1 stars.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After the inconsistent album Beat, Crimson allowed for a two years break inbetween albums. The resulting Three of a Perfect Pair doesn't differ all that much from the preceding releases but shows a new-found inspiration. This incarnation of Crimson is far from popular with the progressive rock crowd but it isn't any less relevant or outstanding. The album is another proof that King Crimson never conformed to fans' expectations but would stick to the principle of continuing the development of rock music into new directions.

Just like Beat this album starts impressively strong. Three of a Perfect Pair and Sleepless have a lonely spot at the top of my favourite pop song list. Also Model Man is very gripping and Adrian Belew further establishes himself as an amazingly powerful singer. Sleepless brings gloomy new wave sounds into the King Crimson sound, it's a very sophisticated piece of music with amazing bass slapping and an grooving dance rhythm. Man With An Open Heart sounds similar to something from David Bowie but I can't put my finger on it.

With Nuages, the album turns into an entirely different direction, it expands the industrial music sounds that cropped up on Sleepless. It's a beautiful ambient piece, not entirely unlike Peter Gabriel's soundtrack material. As the song title suggests, also Industry continues the ambient industrial experiments. If you thought King Crimson wasn't at the top of the game anymore in 1984, then these tracks should prove you wrong. Of course this doesn't 'rock', but it is fascinating, original and amazing music.

Dig Me is one of Crimson's neurotic attacks and not a recommended listen if you have to focus on any other straining task. No Warning and Lark's Tongues pt iii are two more instrumental pieces. The name of the last one is bound to catch the attention of any old fans and the music does it justice. I miss the power from the previous King Crimson incarnation but it is good to hear them exploring their musical roots from 10 years earlier for a change.

Overall this album is almost as impressive as Discipline. Because of the balance between quality pop, industrial experiments and rocking instrumentals, it should have a great appeal to most Crimson fans.

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A study in despair

A view from someone that does not know a lot about King Crimson is probably an exemption in this site. Pure coincidence has led this ambiguous album to my possession and I have always had unclear views about its quality and objectives. The obscurity of KC's music has not yet 'clicked' for me but I have given this record a fair amount of spins (required) to form a relatively rounded opinion.

What is interesting for someone to observe is the 'division' of TOAPP in two parts: side 1 deals with more vocals and relatively structured (for KC standards...) forms, while side 2 is a completely bizarre expression of musicianship in the form of obscure synths and amorphous compositions. The main points of interest lie in the opening title track and the experimental closing track. The former is definitely the more attractive and melodic composition and its vocal lines and guitar patterns are undoubtedly memorable, even if the track bears an aura of simplicity. Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III is the most complex moment in the album that shows challenging riffs and large amounts of improvisation.

The influence of pop music is apparent throughout side 1 of the album, while a few interesting melodies can be retrieved particularly in Model Man and Man With An Open Heart although the majority of the compositions can be described as monotonous. Nuages and Industry reveal Tony Levin's aspirations in synths and bass guitar respectively; dark atmospheres and repetitious tunes comprise these rather dark and 'cold' tracks. Vocals in side 2 return only in Dig Me in a bizarre fashion of industrial sounds and minor touches of melody in the refrain.

Probably not the best reference in KC's music, this effort could be a genre of its own: obscure eclectic pop-prog. Although not really a bad album, I would not really strongly recommend it apart from the magnificent opening track. While it could potentially be heard pleasantly, the combination of several uninteresting moments and unnecessary minutes of instrumental music makes me rate it with no more than 2.5 stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars The LP sleeve from this release designates the album sides as "left side" and "right side". It should have called them "wrong side" and "right side". The "left side" is easily the worst album side ever created by the mighty King Crimson. Other than Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds), the songs mostly sound like bland Adrian Belew solo tracks. The saving graces (barely) to this mess are the above mentioned song, which is an okay Fripp solo over a light backing track, and Tony Levin's innovative bass line in Sleeples (but only a hair as innovative as his work on Elephant Talk, so don't get your hopes up).

The "right side" is much better. Industry is an experimental, somewhat electronic bolero, that builds to a climax quite nicely. Dig Me has a Beefheart-like angular guitared verse secion, but is marred by a Belew-ridden chorus. It all leads to Larks' Tongues In aspic - Part III. This song is better than just about anything by this Crimson lineup, but still pales next to the other three parts.

"Left side", 1.5 stars. "Right side", 3.5 stars - total 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Things could only only get better after Beat and even though Three Of A Perfect Pair still had its share of lesser material, the band once again showed signs of creativity previously depicted on Discipline.

The album's title track is a perfect example of how you can combine creative instrumental approach with a commercially oriented melodic tune. Unfortunately this approach is not used on Model Man, Sleepless and Man With An Open Heart. These tunes go from great, to funky, to plain ridiculous and without a proper front man like David Bowie, these tunes lack the charisma they require to make their mark. The pop orientation of the band's sound was never much of a hit with me and it was only right for Robert Fripp to place all of this material on side one while giving us more of the experimental sound of Discipline on side two.

Side two begins with a 7 minute sound collage titled Industry, featuring a wide arrange of sounds and sights but in the end it falls a bit short of excellence since the composition sounds more like a traveling distance to somewhere else than the ride itself. Things do pick up with the short but highly memorable Dig Me which can be described as an indirect continuation of Indiscipline. Still, it's the album's final track that really pushes this album up a notch by featuring a continuation of the Larks' Tongues In Aspic-suite. Part III kicks off with the sounds that remind me a lot of Part II but this time with new sounds of '80s electronica filling out the overall soundscape.

I might come off sounding very ludicrous for liking this album much more than Beat, but to me Three Of A Perfect Pair is more of the continuation of Discipline than Beat would ever be. There are definite signs of genius here that work well within the King Crimson sound which is something that can't be said about its predecessor. I would also like to recommend the bonus track 30th Anniversary edition of the album since it features a neat surprise of The King Crimson Barber Shop. Well worth the money, even though the rest of the bonus material isn't all that noteworthy.

***** star songs: Three Of A Perfect Pair (4:11)

**** star songs: Model Man (3:56) Sleepless (5:20) Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds) (4:42) Dig Me (2:59) Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III (6:01)

*** star songs: Man With An Open Heart (3:00) Industry (7:22) No Warning (3:28)

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The third album in four years from the Tony LEVIN-Adrian BELEW-Robert FRIPP-Bill BRUFORD version of King Crimson seems to display a side of KC that is more straightforward, more poppy and less prone to dive into the complicated polyrhythmic structures and sounds of their previous two albums--and when they do they sound old, used up, retreaded. Plus I know how much stress was being placed on Bill Bruford to be reined in to straight times--or at least to provide the steady beat for the other musicians to play off of. (Thus the "click" track in "Sleepless.") Not Bill's suit. Still, the band managed to create and record one of my favorite KC songs in "Sleepless" (5:21) (10/10) (I especially love the extended EP version) and both "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part 3" (6:01) (8/10) and the title song (4:13) (8/10) are pretty decent. "Industry" (7:05) (7/10) would have been better were it condensed into a shorter time frame or were more exciting things happening throughout its seven minutes. Again there almost seems to be a song order formula for this album as if it has to be similar to that of Discipline (and Beat). While the musicanship is still top notch, I fear that the inspiration and creativity are down--which is reflected in the performances. It is no wonder that King Crimson version three collapsed after this album.
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars King Crimson continued their new 80s sound begun with "Discipline" and continuing with "Beat". This third album in the trilogy sounds familiar, with those repetitive guitar patterns of the mesmirising Fripp, and Belew's estranged vocals. Levin and Bruford are the rhythm machine and continue to hang with the band at this point. King Crimson were rock solid in this period of their career, tight and performing some innovative music.

It begins with the much heralded 'Three of a Perfect Pair', a great start with some progressive instrumentals and a terrific vocal performance.

'Model Man' follows sounding similar to anything from their previous 2 albums. But it is a good sound with strong melodies and very powerful vocals.

'Sleepless' was a startling revelation to me as it is the theme to all night music TV programme in Australia, "Rage" and it makes sense using 'Sleepless' as that show has managed to keep me up all night on a few occasions. The bass on this is stunning; Levin is a machine keeping a consistent funkadelic rhythm and the vocals are again fabulous.

'Man with an Open Heart' is a strange pop song, and 'Nuages' is an ethereal instrumental with an eerie atmosphere.

'Industry' is one of the most progressive tracks sounding at times like a steel factory, a mechanised symphony of machinery effects. It is a wonderful track from this album showcasing Bruford's inimitable drumming prowess.

'Dig Me' is wildly experimental with some weird time sig changes and fantastical lyrics.

'No Warning' is another strange track with weird instrumental sounds and finally 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 3' ends the album with an instrumental though is is not up to the standard of the first 2 parts.

In conclusion, this is another solid 80s album from the prog masters. It is no masterpiece and a bit patchy in places but certainly good enough for 3 stars, and well worth checking out.

Review by colorofmoney91
5 stars Three Of A Perfect Pair is in my opinion the best album of King Crimson's '80s material. It's of average length, but it divided into two halves; the first half is made of tracks that are more conventional and the second half is very experimental tracks. I love both halves. This album marks when King Crimson has found out how to use the sounds of the '80s to their own creative advantage. The first half is basically progressive pop-rock songs with slight avant-garde touches that are at first barely noticeable, but become more apparent after multiple listens. The second half is mostly dissonant and experimental instrumental tracks utilizing tons of electronic effects that most people would find to be a turn off. This is not beginner material and can come off as quite off-putting if you're not expecting this sort of experimental sound. Truly a masterpiece of exceptional King Crimson quality and the best of their '80s material.

Highly, highly recommended!

Review by Wicket
3 stars Technically, since I would give "Beat" one star, I should be giving this album two. However, I'm not an asshole.

Out of "Discipline", "Beat" and "Three Of A Perfect Pair", only "Thela Hun Ginjeet", "Lars' Tongue In Aspic, Pt. III" and the title track of the final aforementioned album are of any value to listen to.

Now, this is no insult to Adrian Belew (I fancy his solo work) or Tony Levin (I burn through at least 2 Liquid Tension Experiment tracks every day), but these three albums just don't live up to the name "King Crimson". In fact, I might as well just review all three albums right now, since they don't deserve three reviews each.

I must admit though, the best track on the album is the title track...covered by Between The Buried And Me. Normally, cover songs by bands such as BTBAM are terrible, but this album is, eh, mediocre to begin with, it actually sounds better by them. Although the original ain't bad either. It's best than the filler in the middle of the album. At least King Crimson managed to bookend the album with the best two tracks on the disc.

Although, I will admit, the only other track that caught my attention was "Industry", with it's slow grinding intro followed by the syncopated drumming, stop-start synth effects and the sound effect that sounds like Sonic The Hedgehog flying down the roll curled up in a ball like in his video games. These sound effects, of course, for a track named "Industry", make sense, for it's the band's interpretation of sound effects in a foundry, industrial plant, iron mill or other industrial place.

Skip two more tracks and you end with "Lars', Pt. III". Let me tell you, if your kids loved listening to the tracks in the middle of this album, you don't want to listen to the beginning of "Lars'". The atonal (and masterful) playing of Robert Fripp (and/or Adrian Belew) continue to carry the band through it's dog-days of the 1980's, but the "Lars'" tracks have always been good tracks. The atonal picking in the first 40 seconds would normally give me hope that the entire album has something good to give me, but alas, the album is almost over, and all hope is lost. But, for better or worst, it's King Crimson going out in style, as no album released later than this would ever, EVER bring me back over to the dark side.

Unfortunately. I want to go back over to the dark side. They have really good cookies.

"The ConstruKtion Of Light" was all disjointed and whatnot and "THRAK" was just down right awful. I still like listening to "Lars', Pt. III" every now and then, but every time I listen to it, I still hear the cheesy monotonous bass-snare kryptonite that is "the sound of the 80's". Every album ever released in the '80's has that sound, and is what transitioned from the era of drugs, booze and rock and roll, to drugs, booze and retarded men and women who think they're artists when they don't make music but they make tons of money.

Go figure, I thought that's what the '70's were all about.

All in all, if you're a diehard King Crimson fan, this album is probably right up your alley, but if you're looking for prog epics, you ain't gonna find any from King Crimson here on out. Best to check their older albums first. Or, I also recommend "The Great Deceiver", where they play their best tracks with some good "improv" songs, which are basically kick ass jams. However, if you're going to end up paying for this album, don't. It's not even worth your money.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars The third of three strongly imperfect albums

Three Of A Perfect Pair was the third out of three albums that King Crimson released in the 80's. When listening to Three Of A Perfect Pair's first four tracks, you can easily be led to think that the overly experimental and improvisational side of the band that plagued most of Beat and parts of Discipline has been left behind, as these four tracks are among the most accessible of the band's career, but the rest of the album forcefully diminishes that hope. Many King Crimson fans probably prefer the experimental and improvisational side of the band over the Pop-Prog of tracks Man With An Open Heart, Model Man and the title-track, but this reviewer strongly prefers the latter over the former; I prefer the (rarely showcased) more accessible, melodic and harmonic side of King Crimson. Indeed, I find the first side of the present album to be strongest individual album-side of a King Crimson album since the Red album in 1974, but the second side of this album is every bit as tedious and even unlistenable to these ears as the bulk of the previous Beat album. That previous album too had a couple of more accessible tracks on its first side, but they were generally not up to the standards of the best tracks from the present album.

King Crimson's three 80's albums were all based on the same formula that mixed more accessible vocal tracks with instrumental improvisations and sound-experiments. The latter are, for me, dull at beast and downright painful at worst. The seven minute Industry is a good case in point - an utterly tedious affair. Dig Me is an absolute musical atrocity in which the worst side of Adrian Belew's indulgent monologues reaches its "peak". The closing track is part three of Lark's Tongues In Aspic (parts one and two are on the 70's album on the same name). This third part adds very little of value to the originals which were overlong already as they were in my opinion.

If they had taken the best and most listenable tracks from the three 80's albums and put on one and the same album, King Crimson could have made a pretty decent album. But as they stand these three albums are all weak. I would give the first half of Three Of A Perfect Pair a weak three stars and the second side of the album one star, making a weak two stars the appropriate final rating. After this album King Crimson would once again fall into hibernation and not return until 11 years later.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Whilst I do agree that Three of a Perfect Pair does not meet the high standards of Discipline - and it's certainly not as easy to like as the accessible Beat - I also think it's been rather underrated over the years. The plan of arranging the album to include all the avant-garde material on one side and all the accessible stuff at the front of the album sounds good in theory, but in practice it means that the album doesn't flow at all well; the improvisations on the second side may be a little overlong, but listened to in isolation they aren't so bad; what really makes the second side drag is the fact that there's one dense Frippian soundscape after the next without any rhythmic New Wave rave-ups to split them up.

But the songs on the first side are all wonderful - I particularly like Sleepless, which has an absolutely killer bassline from Tony Levin - and I think if you listen to the album in a different order, shuffling the accessible and experimental pieces together, you can get a much more satisfying listen. So, a decent piece altogether, hampered a little by misguided decisions about the running order.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This is the third of the 3 King Crimson albums from the 80s that everyone likes to lump together into a series. "Three of a Perfect Pair" however is almost as different from any of KC's albums as any of them. With "Discipline" you got the new KC sound, and even though it experimented around with the new sounds which was actually a conjoining of the different styles and sounds the artists had been exploring on their own. You get a more metallic sound with that album and Fripp and Belew are working out their new almost industrial style with their twin guitars. With "Beat", you got a more accessible sound, thought it was still new and unique, the band was getting comfortable with their sound. But with ToaPP, everyone was comfortable and ready to expand and experiment.

ToaPP starts with the side of the album called "Left Side", which is the more accessible part of the album that was a bit more like the previous album, but with the band feeling more secure in their sound. The beginning track, which is the title track, is the best of the tracks on this side with a sound close to "Neal and Jack and Me" from the previous album, and a perfect song to open the album with. There are 4 songs in a row here that are of the more accessible style, but you can hear the band itching to really show off what they had been experimenting with even though there are tastes of this sound in these four tracks. Finally, when it comes to "Nuyages", the experimentation really starts. You can hear the Frippertronics meshing well with Belew's monster sounding guitar and it works well. This track is the first instrumental on the album and is more of an ambient sound with minimal percussion and more atmospherics.

The next side of the album is called "Right Side" and starts right where the "Left Side" left off. Atmospheric noise and more Frippertronics, but this time it all comes together as Levin's bass starts calling everything together and it finally touches off a rhythm this time around as the whole band joins in full force. The track is also an instrumental and once the rhythm settles in, it takes off quite nicely. "Dig Me" is the only track on this side with vocals, and it is rather noisy and disjointed (on purpose) as it beings with Belew doing spoken vocals with the lyrics until he gets to the chorus and starts to sing and that is when everything suddenly fits together, that is until it falls apart again. "No Warning" is another instrumental, but is quite noisy with Fripp's monstrosity guitar playing against Belew's screeching guitar and we get to hear them be tortured of a bit over 3 minutes, but its all good noise. Levin and Bruford improvise also and it is nothing like an automatic rhythm section as they both go crazy on their own. Also, if you listen closely, you will hear what sounds like the guitars repeating the words "No warning". Last but definitely not least on this side is "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, Part 3" which takes the idea from the previous two episodes and melds it all together with the new style, and it works well. Almost halfway through, the beat gets heavy and drives everyone into a frenzy of amazingness and ingenuity. This is great stuff and I love it as much as any of the KC albums. The organized noise and experimental sound is actually what drove me towards exploring KC in the first place.

Those that got the 2001 reissue were pleasantly surprised by some bonus tracks, enough music here to make up what would be know as "The Other Side". To start this one off, you get the "King Crimson Barber Shop" which sounds like Fripp, Bruford, Belew and Levin singing accapella barber shop music which is funny in and of itself, but it is actually just Levin doing all the voices with the help of a harmonizer. After this brief silliness, there are two very experimental noise tracks that are a foreshadowing of where the band was going to go with the upcoming Projekcts. I still love these tracks because it is amazing the sounds they can get out of the twin guitars. These are not melodic tracks at all, but are in reality avant-garde and experimental. The last three tracks are 3 different remixes of "Sleepless" which are all okay, but quite similar sounding, and were added against the wishes of the band.

I know there are many opinions of this album, some great and some not, but that is understandable. This sound was quite a bit different from anything the entire band had been involved with before, but it served as an introduction to the Projekcts, mostly improvised and experimental music and sound collages, which I still find quite interesting because I love the sound that can come out of their sessions. Anyway, I give this a 4 star rating. I like it better than the other 2 80s albums, but the 3 remixes tend to bring down the entire album, even if they are bonus tracks.

Review by patrickq
3 stars King Crimson released three albums in the 1980s - - Discipline (1981), Beat (1982), and Three of a Perfect Pair (1984). To me, each is a three-star album: good, but not great. But my favorite of the three is Three of a Perfect Pair.

Like Discipline and Beat, Three of a Perfect Pair mixes offbeat but nonetheless pop-rock-oriented songs with experimental pieces. The first four tracks, "Three of a Perfect Pair," "Model Man," "Sleepless" and "Man With an Open Heart," are the relatively accessible songs, with varying levels of new-wave favor. The next five, "Nuages," "Industry" (the first song on Side Two, the "Right Side"), "Dig Me," "No Warning," "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, part III," are more experimental. All of these are instrumentals except "Dig Me."

As good as "Man With an Open Heart," "Model Man," and "Sleepless" are, the standout here is the title song. Like most 1980s King Crimson vocal songs, "Three of a Perfect Pair" has a verse-chorus structure. But even without a bridge section (the obligatory guitar solo - - or Frippertronics solo - - is based on the verse), the two sections are strong enough to carry the song. To me, this is the crowning achievement of this version of the band, a near-perfect blend of pointillist style and new-waviness.

I'm less enamored with the remaining tracks, some of which may simply have been selected from among dozens of unrehearsed jams. Yeah - - I'm looking at you, "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)."* Just as Discipline had closed with its strongest math-rock instrumental, the final song on Three of a Perfect Pair, "Lark's Tongue in Aspic, part III," is the best of the instrumentals on the album.

The 2001 edition of this album contains six bonus tracks constituting the "Other Side" (these also appear on the inevitable subsequent reissues). In addition to two experimental pieces which expand on "Industry," there are three remixes of "Sleepless" and bassist Tony Levin's "The King Crimson Barber Shop." Another oddity, "Barber Shop" is an a capella ditty that probably never had any chance of being released on the album, or even as a b-side, in 1984.

Whereas Beat was at the low end of the three-star range, Three of a Perfect Pair is at the high end. It's a good effort, and while it lacks Beat's concept, the material on Three of a Perfect Pair is superior.

*Nothing wrong with a little unrehearsed jamming, by the way; the problem is when it's both unrehearsed and uninspired.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nš 307

King Crimson is one of the most innovative and experimental prog bands that already ever existed. The band, in fact, incorporated diverse and many influences and instrumentation during their long history, including symphonic, jazz, classical, psychedelic, heavy metal, hard rock, folk, and electronic music. So, somehow, we can say that King Crimson is a truly eclectic progressive band, probably the most eclectic progressive rock band that already ever existed.

"Three Of A Perfect Pair" is the tenth studio album of King Crimson and was released in 1984. The album is a balance between the more experimental "Discipline" and the more commercial and accessible "Beat". It's divided into the left side and the right side, with a third side added in 2001 with six bonus tracks. The album and title song's concept is based on the idea of perfect opposites and three sides to every story with, his or hers, and with an objective truth.

The line up on the album is Robert Fripp (guitar), Adrian Belew (lead vocals, fretted guitar and fretless guitar), Tony Levin (backing vocals, bass guitar, Chapman stick and synthesizer) and Bill Bruford (acoustic and electronic drums).

"Three Of A Perfect Pair" has nine tracks. All songs were written by all band's members. The left side has five tracks. The first track is the title track "Three Of A Perfect Pair". It opens the album with tight harmony vocals from Belew that soar over top of some intricate guitar work from Fripp and a great drum work of Bruford. This is a very solid track that continues the King Crimson's sound of the previous two albums and it can be compared with some of those songs. The second track "Model Man" is a lovely and emotional ballad that sounds as an 80's new wave song. It isn't a great song, but once again Belew's singing it wonderfully, besides developing his musical taste. The guitar work is experimental and very good again and all the other instruments are also played very well. The third track "Sleepless" begins with a fast bass line that is soon joined by Bruford's bass drum beat and Fripp's altered guitar sound. This is probably the most 80's song on the album, but it still sounds very nice. However, this is probably my least favourite song on it. The fourth track "Man With An Open Heart" is a very solid rock ballad with some clever and interesting Japanese motifs, that reminds me of David Bowie and Talking Heads. This is probably the closest to 80's pop sound that they ever got and give us the opportunity to enjoy some cooler guitar lines and the smooth singing of Belew. The fifth track "Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds)" is a very soft track cool and moody, that might fit very well on an earlier 70's science fiction film. It has beautiful mellotron passages with that Fripp groovy guitar tone that he first experienced on "Epitaph", which sounds as a koto, picking high up on the string and leading a weird Asian accent to the piece of music. The right side has four tracks. The sixth track "Industry" is an instrumental track with its ominous drums and stick bass sounds very melodic with its delicate synthesizer work. It sounds positively very industrial and it probably represents the pinnacle of a new musical approach of the group, on this right side. This is an excellent track that musically explodes in all variety of directions and where all bands members show the full limits of their creativity. The seventh track "Dig Me" is one of the most King Crimson's experimental songs from the 80's. It's a very impressive track with an incredible musical execution that sounds very strange and with a disturbed vocal harmony that swings in all the chaos. The song switches between madness and stability, a song on the verge of falling apart completely. The eighth track "No Warning" is another instrumental and experimental track that sounds very dark like "Industry". It's another very enjoyable song with a slight psychedelic touch. Its instrumental and mood again are strange and experimental creating a final result with a very unique form very dark and effective. The ninth and last track "Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part III)" has nothing to do with the previous two versions. It features familiar rhythms to the first two sections, but it's much different. The sound is far more electronic and is the shortest part of the trilogy. It sounds like a modernistic update version and it's not as bad as some detractors have claimed. It seems to me an appropriate end to this album.

Conclusion: "Three Of A Perfect Pair" is divided into three parts. We have the left side, the right side and a mysterious third side. So, as the name indicates, we have three of a perfect pair. Confused? I can see why. Even I'm not totally sure about it. But we may say there is a relative separation between the pop and the progressive parts. Still, this dichotomy isn't absolute. There are a number of interesting effects on the left side, especially on the title track, but there is also "Man With An Open Heart", which is one of the weakest King Crimson's songs. However, the majesty of the right side largely compensates the weaknesses of the left side. The style of the right side reminds me the masterpiece of Davis Bowie, "Low". So, "Discipline" is one of the essential King Crimson's albums and "Beat" is, somehow, a mixed bag and is clearly the weakest of the trilogy. "Three Of A Perfect Pair" is between the other two. So, it's strongly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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2 stars King Crimson's next album was 1984's Three of a Perfect Pair. Its oxymoronic title belies the somewhat jumbled nature of its writing, with the two sides of the record having their own themes. Side one (called "The Left Side") features poppier, more accessible music, and side two ("The Right Side") l ... (read more)

Report this review (#3037507) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Monday, April 15, 2024 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Review #149! A cruelly underrated KC record. Discipline was too artsy to most for commercial, despite its efforts. However, although it still got overlooked, Three Of A Perfect Pair was an overall better dive for the mainstream, not necessarily a better album. The band didn't aim for less c ... (read more)

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3 stars Three of a Perfect Pair beats Beat in every way. This is an inspiring album with absolutely great tunes on side one and an industrial journey on side two. Side two is the most experimental side of all the records of their 80's era. I love it. Three of a Perfect Pair - I love this track. This is ... (read more)

Report this review (#2688092) | Posted by WJA-K | Monday, January 31, 2022 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#2233319) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, June 26, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A tired, second-generation King Crimson: 6/10 For people who aren't familiarized of KING CRIMSON's, and particularly, Robert Fripp's peculiarities - the paradigmatic frontman -, the philosophy that moves them is based on expanding the boundaries of music and exploring the most enigmatic melod ... (read more)

Report this review (#1734232) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Thursday, June 15, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Original, excellent. This album is better than Beat, but not as good as Discipline. By this time, Fripp was in a sulky mood. The new lineup was, it turns out, even more talented than he was (and of course, Fripp is exceptionally talented). Beat showed that Adrian Belew had even stronger songwrit ... (read more)

Report this review (#1696035) | Posted by Walkscore | Wednesday, February 22, 2017 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Beginning like an approaching engine, the vocals come in with the title track in a perfect harmony. This song is very similar to tracks from "Discipline" - it has Adrian Belew's influence all over it. It is complex but, also very catchy and you want to listen to it multiple times (or at least I di ... (read more)

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4 stars King Crimson's third consecutive album with the Belew/Levin/Fripp/Bruford lineup (and I'll say right away that I think this is one of the best lineups any band could hope to have) diverges from Discipline in two different directions: its songs are either more accessible (mostly on the "Left Side") o ... (read more)

Report this review (#749797) | Posted by Zargasheth | Sunday, May 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars When in 1974 Robert Fripp disbanded King Crimson after the masterpiece "Red," fans were shocked . But they must have been quite happy when it was announced seven years later that King Crimson would come back with an album called "Discipline ". Man, I wanted to be in 1981 to see people's react ... (read more)

Report this review (#472406) | Posted by voliveira | Wednesday, June 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The last of the 3 works from the "80's" version of King Crimson. A continuation of the new- wavy type of sound that began with DISCIPLINE and BEAT. While many progressive fans don't like this version of King Crimson, it is still pretty good music, and is way better than most music that was push ... (read more)

Report this review (#449437) | Posted by mohaveman | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A HIGHLY ENJOYABLE ALBUM FROM KING CRIMSON BACKGROUND: This was the third 80's influenced King Crimson album. It came after the successful 'Discipline' and then 'Beat', this was the third. These two albums were more 80's / new-wave influenced than their 70's material. This was third continuing i ... (read more)

Report this review (#359348) | Posted by Brendan | Tuesday, December 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Somehow this album got saddled with a pretty nasty reputation, and I'm not quite sure how it happened. Three of a Perfect Pair is not King Crimson's finest hour, but it is quite good, and it deftly lays the groundwork for their later, more experimental ventures. The title track starts us off ... (read more)

Report this review (#299316) | Posted by 40footwolf | Wednesday, September 15, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First I didn't love this album (and this King Crimson era, the 80's), but now, even I'll never love this era more than the 1969-1974 era, I really love it. "Three Of A Perfect Pair" is as great as "Discipline", and much better than "Beat" (which is just good). One side is accessible, pop, perf ... (read more)

Report this review (#248842) | Posted by Zardoz | Sunday, November 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The yellow one After the blue and red album we got this, the last album from the 4-man-lineup, here we see that maybe something is changed but still we got the impression that we are listening some Discipline reworks. Great job from the whole group in the technical side, but I sense the work f ... (read more)

Report this review (#224202) | Posted by Erik Nymas | Thursday, July 2, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Out of all the KC albums I have ever bought, this is the only one which, I'm sad to say, left me completely and utterly unsatisfied. As all prog fans, I am usually VERY cautious when looking into the 80's catalogue of 70's prog giants. Unless I absolutely LOVE the band, I won't bother at all. Na ... (read more)

Report this review (#212774) | Posted by Eapo_q42 | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I agree almost entirely with the review by site monitor, Man with Hat. It's well-known that the album was divided into two parts: the first four tracks (pop-ish, accessible) and the last five tracks (not as accessible and generally much more interesting ;). Three of A Perfect Pair is the stro ... (read more)

Report this review (#196372) | Posted by dragonspirit | Monday, December 29, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars This is definately the worst King Crimson album. One of those rare missteps in their long career. It actually starts pretty well with a tittle track and ends even better with Lark's tongues in aspic part three. But the tunes between the opening and the closing track are many far from being memor ... (read more)

Report this review (#183501) | Posted by PurpleCobra | Thursday, September 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I actually prefer beat to this album, but I know that prog fans might prefer this one, because the second half is so much better because of its progginess to them. Oh how they are mistaken. Deny it they may, but looking at the reviews for this album and beat, many here are very elitest. As a mat ... (read more)

Report this review (#157818) | Posted by Nuke | Saturday, January 5, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Three of a Perfect Pair represents a step up from Beat, but just one step. The focus by the band on this recording is more on atmospheric textures than it is on virtuosic or technically stunning play. Some of the more interesting moments come in the guitar line on "Sleepless" and in a number of ... (read more)

Report this review (#151179) | Posted by LARKSTONGUE | Friday, November 16, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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