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King Crimson Ladies of the Road album cover
4.00 | 178 ratings | 10 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Live, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

Disc 1: (58:54)
1. Pictures of a City (8:46)
2. The Letters (4:42)
3. Formentera Lady (abridged) (6:40)
4. The Sailors Tale (5:42)
5. Cirkus (7:57)
6. Groon (6:51)
7. Get Thy Bearings (8:32)
8. 21st Century Schizoid Man (8:57)
9. In the Court of the Crimson King (0:47)

Disc 2: (53:49)
1-11. Schizoid Man (solos)

Total Time 112:43

Line-up / Musicians

- Boz Burrell / bass & vocals
- Mel Collins / saxes, flute & mellotron
- Robert Fripp / guitar & mellotron
- Ian Wallace / drums
- Peter Sinfield / FOH sound & VCS3 on Volume One

Releases information


Thanks to silentman for the addition
and to silentman for the last updates
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Buy KING CRIMSON Ladies of the Road Music

KING CRIMSON Ladies of the Road ratings distribution

(178 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(49%)
Good, but non-essential (16%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

KING CRIMSON Ladies of the Road reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This album is so-called from Fripp's Collector Club along with a selection of other recordings from the final line-up of the first reign of our red coloured majesty. Most of the recording of that period ranging from 69 until this tour are generally atrocious sounding and the official album called Earthbound was typical, and even a bloody shame!!!!

While not perfect, this release offers a very correct-sounding (but no more) of that Island line-up which will tour extensively the US and making a name for themselves over there as a live group (which they were not before because of constant changes). Unsurprisingly, the track listing is mostly axed towards Island with touches into the first albums but rather sparsely. One of the biggest disappointments with this album is that the debut title track is only a 45 sec bluesy spoof, but a rare (and quite different than single or previous live version) of Groon makes this interesting.

The second disc is rather a curiosity of sorts but reserved for crimsonic monarchy absolutist since it has some 11 parts of Schizoid Man, mostly improvised parts. Interesting to a point, but rarely up for a regular spin in your deck unless you are a 21st Century Psychotic Man.

Although I have certainly not heard the other release on offer in that Collection, I think that this might be the best record you could own from that particular version of KC, with a rather interesting track listing.

Review by ProgressiveAttic
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is a live summary of what Fripp has done since In The Court... Great quality, alot of improvisations, very jazzy and a fun bluesy version of In the Court of the Crimson King (but it is too short). The first side gives the best from Islands, Lizard and The Wake Of Poseidon with the classic 21rst Century Schidzoid Man (one of the highlights of the first album). The second side is an improv. around 21rst Century... with a bunch of incredible solos.

EXCELLENT!, but not an essential. 4.25/5

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars For a King Crimson lineup that only recorded one studio album, there sure are a lot of live albums of the group now. I'll admit again that I have never been impressed with Islands, but I do enjoy these releases.

This one is actually a collection of what Robert Fripp, or someone at DGM, thinks are the better tracks from the band. For the most part, I agree with the selections, although there are some tracks (like Cat Food) I would have included.

While each track has it's merits, to me the highlight is Get Thy Bearings. I actually like this version better than any I've heard from The original Crimson group. I think Fripp and Mel Collins mesh together better than Fripp and Ian McDonald. And Ian Wallace is a fantastic drummer. The only drawback is Boz Burrell's bass. Fripp has simplified many of the basslines, and he just doesn't play up to the high standards of the rest of the band.

The second disk is a different animal. I think Fripp, getting tired of hearing requests for 21st Century Schizoid Man, took a bunch of solo sections from this group's recordings, and spliced them all together into the middle of the song. So what you get is an extremely long version of the song, with obvious splice, and Fripp and Collins trading great solos, with Wallace providing frenetic drumming throughout. Once again, Burrell's bass playing doesn't keep up with the rest of the band. But it still provides an interestin listening experience. But one I don't want to sit through too often.

Review by tarkus1980
4 stars Between Islands and the next album, Crimson originally released a live album entitled Earthbound. Supposedly, the sound quality is awful beyond all possible comprehension, and the performances are subpar, and as such I haven't sought out a copy (even though in 2002 it was, in fact, remastered and reissued). In any case, this archive release, a collection of live recordings from the Islands tour, makes that album irrelevant, so here we are.

The first disc is what you'd expect out of a standard live album - a bunch of performances taken from the tour and strung together to seem like a full (or at least a good chunk) concert. Frankly, the first disc isn't much to get excited about - some performances are great, some are just good, and some are quite ehn. The opening "Pictures of a City" loses the hard edge it once had, with the main riff becoming more lounge-jazzy to less-than-great effect. "The Letters" is done mostly pro forma, with one unfortunate exception - rather than belting out the "impaled on nails of ice" lines, he just sings them quietly, and while I guess that works in its own way, I'd much rather have some screaming there. And "Formentera Lady" is, well, "Formentera Lady" - starts out ok, then just becomes pointlessly wanky. There's also a pair of jazz improv thingamajigs that pop up on here - "Groon" (which kinda sucks, has no vocals, and takes up a whole seven minutes) and "Get Thy Bearings" (a Donovan cover with some needless vocals, that's at least better than "Groon"). If you can come up with better descriptions, I'd like to see you try.

On the other hand, "The Sailor's Tale" turns out to translate VERY well into a live environment - for whatever reason, my brain is more willing to accept a jam of that nature outside the studio than within. "Cirkus" also improves from before, primarily because Burrell's vocals are ten times what Haskell's were in the song - I almost find myself getting swayed by the meaningless imagery here, and that's something I wouldn't have said before. It's also taken at a slower tempo than on Lizard, and for whatever reason this seems to up the intensity of the piece enough to make it quite tolerable. There's also a terrific version of "Schizoid Man" on this disc, with the band booming and jamming in a way they don't even approach elsewhere on the disc - Burrell does a GREAT job of singing the verses, even without distortion, and the mid-song jam is just what you'd expect from a high quality "Schizoid Man." And finally, the disc closes out with one of the biggest surprises imaginable - a forty five second snippet of "In the Court of the Crimson King" ... done as a BLUES number. Yup, you read that right - I wish they'd included the whole track, but what's here is definitely nice for some giggles.

As you might guess, while the first disc is ok, it is definitely NOT the justification for giving this compilation a **** rating. Disc 2 is one of the best ideas Fripp has ever had in compiling an archive release - after the first track, which is the first verse of a live "Schizoid Man," the next 50-odd minutes are various "Schizoid" jams (from this same tour) strung together without break (well, sort of - for whatever reason, there's about a minute of silence in the middle of track 11, before we get yet another jam). Let me tell you something - if this disc is any indication, this was a GREAT era for "21st Century Schizoid Man." One incredible blast jam comes after another, waves of WILD saxophone and guitar solos keep pouring out, and it never EVER gets boring. Some solos are jazzier, some more psychedelic, and every last one of them is improvised jamming BLISS.

In short, NO fan of the band can possibly be without the second disc. The first disc could be done without quite easily, but it's still ok, so if you see this for a reasonable price, make sure to swipe it up.

Review by thehallway
4 stars This rather unpublicised gem holds the best document of KC music from the '71 touring line-up, with high sound quality relative to Earthbound (though not on disc 2) and a nice selection of songs that includes every album up to that point, albeit with a focus on 'Islands'.

Most songs transfer well into a live setting, particularly 'Pictures of a City', surprisingly 'The Letters, and obviously, '21st Century Schizoid Man'. The other two Islands cuts are actually a little inferior to the sudio versions, with 'Formentera Lady's abridgement making it seem rushed and 'Sailor's Tale' lacking its original fury (especially in the guitar department). But the loungey jazz application to the rest of the songs here works well with what sounds like a small but enthusiastic audience. 'Cirkus' has been changed the most; I like this version but almost as a totally different song, because the Lizard one is full of overdubbing of brass, keyboards and acuostic guitar. Our Cirkus here is slower, harder, and rawer with tense builds-ups and a shuffle rhythm towards the end, all being great but no longer reminiscent of circuses. The two improv pieces, 'Groon' and a Donovan cover, show this band's wonderful chemistry and some great music is to be found here, so do not ignore!!!

Burrell's singing is really top-notch and he applies as many relevant moods to the older songs as well as the Islands tracks, perhaps shining more towards the end of this album. Mel Collins delivers his usual standard of saxophoning: absolutely incredible stuff. Wallace is equally on the money and takes a couple of brief drum solos to really show us his style, which is rocky when neccesary but rooted in heavily-syncopated jazz flurrying. Fripp is dynamic as ever (despite being sat down the whole time).

Disc 2 of this collection encompasses 11 or so fragments of various middle solos from the "Schizoid Men" of this tour. They are without gappage, as if inviting one to indulge in an entire 53 minutes of noodling, but this is, I must admit, boring. Some solos are better than others anyway, and some are almost identical (there are a total of 12 guitar solos and 6 sax). The random silence on the final outgoing doesn't make sense either (but a jewel case sticker informs me that it is an artistic decision). The whole thing is a nice idea but not really as intense as I thought it would be. I can enjoy some of these solos individualy though.

In summary, a fantastic array of music abodes the first disc here, with only a few mere moments of bad stuff. The experiment following is not something one should get their hopes up for, but is also worth checking out. The band tonight are dynamic, rich, technical and poetic. Unquestionably better than Earthbound, this release will fill a void in your Crimso collection that needs to be filled.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. If your a fan of the amazing "Islands" disc then this live album is a must. I can't get over how good this lineup was with Boz Burrell singing and playing bass, Fripp on guitar and mellotron, Ian Wallace on drums and Mel Collins on flute, sax and mellotron. I have to say that Mel Collins really shines in this version of KING CRIMSON. He is a maniac on that sax with dissonant outbursts and his in your face style. Fripp is very aggressive at times with his guitar.This band liked to push the envelope and experiment and that's what I like about them.Very inventive stuff. In fact I did think of SOFT MACHINE at times.This is a two disc affair with the first being from various concerts in 1971 and 1972 from the "Islands" tour, while the second is a single 54 minute piece called "Schizoid Men" for good reason as we get 10 seperate sax and guitar solos spliced together from live "21st Century Schizoid Man" performances from 1971 and 1972. It doesn't sound like it would be good but this is incredible to hear Fripp and Collins just go nuts. Both discs are a blast !

"Pictures Of A City" is powerful to start then it settles down before kicking back in after a minute with vocals. Contrasts will continue. A change before 3 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up. A calm after 5 minutes then the sax starts to rip it up.Vocals are back after 7 1/2 minutes as Fripp makes some noise. "The Letters" opens with atmosphere as reserved vocals take over. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes.The bass is huge. It then settles again with bass, drums and sax.Vocals are back after 3 minutes.

"Formentera Lady" is led by flute early as other sounds come and go. Reserved vocals join in. When the vocals stop the sax takes over. It builds then picks up after 4 minutes as they jam. I like the drumming 5 1/2 minutes in as the sax continues. It settles late and blends into "The Sailors Tale" and check out Fripp before a minute as the tempo picks up and the sound gets fuller. Nice. Sax takes the lead then the guitar takes it's turn. Nice prominant bass here too along with excellent drum work. We get mellotron as well. Fripp turns aggressive before 3 1/2 minutes as the mellotron continues. Insane !

"Cirkus" opens with piano and vocals then here we go before a minute.This is powerful with mellotron. So good. It does settle back with vocals then sax.The mellotron is back 2 1/2 minutes in as the sax continues.Vocals are back then it turns heavy again after 4 minutes. Nice. Mellotron takes over then the vocals return. Hell yeah ! "Groon" starts with guitar, bass and drums. Sax before a minute. Great sound here.The sax is lighting it up before 3 minutes. Fripp to the fore after 4 minutes. Love this section. Fripp stops before 5 1/2 minutes then we get a drum solo as the guitar and sax make some avant sounds."Get Thy Bearings" is a Donovon cover that CRIMSON used to do live back in 1969 as well. Sax to start then vocals and drums take over before it settles right down. Contrasts continue. Some crazy sax excursions by Collins follows. A drum solo after 4 minutes then it turns experimental 5 1/2 minutes in. A calm follows then check out the sax. It kicks back in with vocals before another calm arrives.

"21st Century Schizoid Man" is an incredible version with Collins and Fripp in fine form to say the least. Some killer drumming as well. Boz is great here on vocals. Dissonant sax before 7 1/2 minutes. "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is a short blues version.Very cool to hear.

Very tempting to give that fifth star.This is what KING CRIMSON has always been about. Going where other bands fear to tread. Leaders not followers.

Review by Warthur
4 stars If you want to just get one live album from the Islands-era lineup of King Crimson... I'd still recommend the Summit Studios set, tracks from which feature here, since it simply has the best sound quality over its entire running time of any archival live release from the band. However, Ladies of the Road isn't a terrible choice either. Disc 1 offers a "best of" the work of this lineup, selecting songs from performances ranging from the 1971 gigs which led up to the recording of Islands to the ill-fated 1972 US tour which gave us Earthbound.

Disc 2, meanwhile, offers "Schizoid Man" - a bizarre 54 minute version of 21st Century Schizoid Man, stitched together from various performances so you're left with the familiar beginning of the song and then a mass of the best improvisations that the Islands lineup were able to pull out of the jam section in the middle of the song. It's an interesting experiment, reminiscent of Zappa's "xenochrony" idea of bringing together musical performances from different contexts to form a new whole, but it's a bit much. I suspect that disc 2 will see far less play than the first disc in this set.

Either disc 1 of this set or the Summit Studios session will convince you that this Crimson lineup was a far better prospect live than you might think if you'd only heard Earthbound. The usual caveat applies - if you really dig this era of King Crimson, you might want to consider the excellent value for money set which is Sailors' Tales, but if that's too much for you then Ladies of the Road can scratch the same itch, albeit much less extensively.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Plymouth, 1971 is for those who resent the jammy, partly improvised approach on "Earthbound" recorded in the same year. Here, the same line-up delivers classic KC numbers, most of which are poor renditions when compared with the original studio recordings. At this point the band must have bee ... (read more)

Report this review (#1308675) | Posted by Anon-E-Mouse | Sunday, November 16, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For sure "Ladies of the road" offers a great snapshot of the "Island" period live material and every KC fan should be saying "thank you" to DGM for releasing it, since the only previous record dealing with that was the horrid "Earthbound", one of the worst produced albums ever. The performance sm ... (read more)

Report this review (#263668) | Posted by Malve87 | Sunday, January 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I was lucky enough to get this one over a reasonable price. This album is actually a compilation of some of the King Crimson's Collector's Club albums that include this Crimson lineup. You'd better get this if you really wanna know what Earthbound sounds like with a good audio quality. i was stu ... (read more)

Report this review (#35021) | Posted by El_Progre | Tuesday, May 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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