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King Crimson
40th Anniversary Series Special Part I
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To celebrate the completion of Steven Wilson's acclaimed King Crimson 40th Anniversary Series, we here at DPRP have decided to put together a special retrospective review of the first eight King Crimson albums, commenting on the new editions simultaneously.

Merry Christmas and look out for Part II on New Year's Day...



In the Court of the Crimson King
King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (40th Anniversary Series)
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:CD + DVD-A
Record Label:Panegyric
Catalogue #:KCSP1
Year of Release:1969 / 2009
Time:78:11
Info:King Crimson
Samples:21st Century Schizoid Man

Tracklist:

CD: 21st Century Schizoid Man (7:24), I Talk To The Wind (6:00), Epitaph (8:53), Moonchild (9:02), The Court Of The Crimson King (9:31)

Bonus Tracks: Moonchild [Full Version] (12:16), I Talk To The Wind [Duo Version] (4:56), I Talk To The Wind [Alternative Mix] (6:37), Epitaph [Backing Track] (9:06), Wind Session (4:31)

DVD-A: Original Album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround

Original album mix (2004 master edition)

2009 stereo album mix, CD bonus tracks and Alternate takes album in MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) and PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)

Video Content (Audio Mono): 21st Century Schizoid Man - edit

Menno von Brucken Fock's Review

King Crimson are regarded as 'prog' legends like Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis. They were creators of a new style, later named 'progressive rock'. Unlike Genesis, Pink Floyd or Yes, KC has always been characterized by a coming and going of band members. The only person involved in all KC releases is the brilliant but eccentric guitarist and composer Robert Fripp. Because of all these changes in line-ups, there are considerable musical differences not only between separate eras but even within each single album.

The debut album of the first incarnation of King Crimson was In The Court Of The Crimson King in 1969. Whimsicalness, suddenness and overall excellence of the band is exuded by their first release which is considered to be one of the real classic 'prog' albums of all time. Of course the title track has been performed throughout the decades following its release by many, among others Steve Hackett, John Wetton, 21st Century Schizoid Band, American artist Michael Quatro and currently by the Flaming Lips. The remastering by Steve Wilson and Fripp led to a release matching the current standards of sound quality and is a stunning piece of work. This latest release from 2009 does justice to the great compositions on this album.

Line-up: Robert Fripp (guitar), Ian McDonald (woodwind, reeds, vibes, keyboards, mellotron, vocals), Greg Lake (bass guitar, lead vocals), Michael Giles (drums, percussion, vocals), Peter Sinfield (all lyrics and illumination).

21st Century Schizoid Man opens with a few strange sounds, uncommon, unique and in line with the total freedom most groups in the late sixties and seventies had to establish their own musical identity. The band joins in and because of the saxophone played by McDonald and the somewhat harsh riff, the fusion between rock and jazz can be recognized here. The distorted voice of Greg Lake sounds a bit awkward but again highly original and unique for those days. This track must have been of some influence to Bryan Ferry and his Roxy Music, who began to play in a similar style. The interlude is quite jazzy and leads to Fripp soloing in a way possibly adapted by Steve Howe a few years later, while the solos by McDonald probably have been a guiding influence to Klaus Doldinger's Passport. The drumming of Michael Giles, with all those fills and subtle breaks, must have been a source of inspiration to Bill Bruford who would join King Crimson at a later stage.

The next track, I Talk To The Wind is totally different. It's a sweet flowing ballad, two-part sung and in the style of the early Genesis. McDonald is the main composer and plays the flutes just like Gabriel did with Genesis, although McDonald is arguably much more skilled. The way Fripp plays the guitar resembles early Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips.

Alongside fellow artists like the Moody Blues, KC were one of the first bands to use the Mellotron - to its full extent I might add. Epitaph is such a track featuring the Mellotron and it has a distinguished "Lake-trademark". This is understandable, since he is credited as a composer. Without the context of King Crimson, this could easily have been one of the melodic tracks on an early ELP album, just like his composition Lucky Man on the first ELP album, to be released a year later.

It's obvious that Fripp and Co. shared the same sources of inspiration as his contemporaries in Genesis in that same era. The very same four musicians (Fripp, Lake, Giles & McDonald) responsible for composing Epitaph, are credited as the composers of Moonchild, once again an entirely different track. Lake sounds like he is singing from a phone-booth and at some point the music seems to be more of a jam than a documented composition. Essentially, the beginning of the track is a nice ballad with the same kind of chord sequence in the verses as, for example, in Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. It features the keyboards by McDonald, some percussion by Giles, and the guitar by Fripp who is almost using his electric guitar as if it were an acoustic. The whole second section sounds like an experimental piece of music that I would be inclined to call a jam session. Originally, this part was even longer and even more weird, but Fripp decided to cut a full three minutes for the reissue. To keep angry fans at bay, the original version has been included as a bonus track.

The title track to me is one of the best songs in prog ever written. It was penned by McDonald and as usual the lyrics came from Pete Sinfield. I can't imagine any prog fan who wouldn't know about this song. The majestic Mellotron rules in the choruses, which are sung by several members of the band, while the verses feature Lake's vocals, Fripp's guitar, Giles subtle drumming and McDonald's flute & keyboards. In the first interlude it's mainly McDonald's keyboards and mellotron, in the second one mainly flute, bass and guitar followed by an instrumental version of the chorus. The track seems to have ended but then McDonald continues the basic melody on a keyboard and fiddles around with it a bit, followed by the utterly bombastic instrumental outburst of the chorus with some harsh sounding keyboard-sounds on top of the instrumentation used before. The song ends in a instrumental chaos, fortunately of a short duration and obviously it was planned to shock the listener. The ultimate contrast form perfect order to complete chaos.

Apart from the original version of Moonchild, the bonus tracks are an instrumental version of Epitaph, an alternate version of I Talk To The Wind with different solos, there's a studio session with windy sounds and a conversation said to be the basis of the intro to 21st Century Schizoid Man.

Listening carefully to the 5.1 surround sound DVD-audio, there can be no denying that the sound quality is incredible, very detailed and a stunning piece of craftsmanship. Personally I'm not fond of surround sound audio because I always relate it to live concerts. Except for a few quadraphonic concerts, I can't think of any prog-band performing live in surround sound. Therefore, it sounds unnatural to me and I definitely prefer a good remastering of the stereo sound.

King Crimson to me has always been one of those bands I couldn't quite get into at a younger age just as the case was with ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd (before Dark Side Of The Moon), Frank Zappa and Soft Machine. The latter two I've still never fully appreciated. Most of those other bands however, I began to appreciate at a later stage but still not in the same way as Yes, Kansas, Camel and Renaissance whom I loved from the early days onwards. Today, in my late fifties, I still have trouble in appreciating all of King Crimson's work but I absolutely love most of the music that's been recorded on this album, the title track being one of my all time favorites.

Dave Baird's Review

Siblings aren't always the funniest thing to have about the house, but in the mid 70s - my early teens - my older brother Terry provided my first exposure to progressive rock through his extensive cassette tape and growing LP collection. Being already interested in science fiction and fantasy I tended towards the interesting album covers and of course with its arresting artwork by Barry Godber, In the Court of the Crimson King was a no-brainer to give a spin and thus one of the very first albums I "got into" some 35 years ago at the tender age of 11 and my lifelong love affair with the genre began with the very best.

Interestingly, what attracted me to the music then still holds true today: great composition, stunning musicianship, thought-provoking and challenging lyrics, bombast, jazz, metal and classical influence - really this album has it all and it has mostly stood the test of time very well, with just perhaps the meandering jam of Moonchild the only section that sounds truly dated.

To be honest, when I was a young teen I didn't really understand much about the lyrics to 21st Century Schizoid Man, but the apocalyptic verses of Epitaph struck home very clearly, gripped as we were in those days in the midst of the Cold War with an ever-present and very real threat of annihilation hanging over us. The fantastical gobbledegook of I Talk to the Wind, Moonchild and the title track I lapped up as it were a work of fiction, imagining the story and characters in my mind's eye with the evocative music setting a dramatic backdrop.

A couple of years later I treated myself to the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab pressing of the vinyl and when the turntable was superseded by the CD I swapped that record for an original EG CD - oh how short-sighted I was... To me it sounded good, especially being recorded at the ends of the 60's where most things to my ear sounded dated "something your dad would listen to". Indeed this record marks the beginning of the music I personally like, everything before it being too psychedelic in my opinion - no doubt there's some elements of that in early Crimson, certainly lyrically too, but it's less obvious that the other burgeoning prog acts of the day.

I'm not going to walk through the music as most of you will already own this album and know it very well (and if you don't, why not?), but what I will do is try to describe how this new mix sounds in comparison to the past. What I did was to listen to each track twice - first with my original version and then the new stereo mix. Both ripped via XLD @ 16/44 to Apple Lossless and played via iTunes streaming to an Airport Express, optical into a Matrix i-Mini DAC into which I plugged my Sennheiser HD600's. I don't yet have the means to stream 24/96 or play surround, but that's a pleasure I look to remedy in the near future.

As I listened I took notes, which I have reproduced below...

21st Century Schizoid Man: overall wider, brighter, tighter. Bass is less boomy and treble registers restored - sounds modern, more like Lake's tone in latter ELP. Cymbals sparkle & bass drum has more presence. Urgent and with more sonic separation. You can clearly distinguish the guitars, saxes and bass during the versus. Hiss is almost non-existent and distortion dramatically reduced. Natural resonances of the toms are fabulous. Tones of the sax are dramatically different, much lighter which lifts them out of the mix.

Each instrument has room to breathe, the drums in particular are simply stunning- you could never hear the busyness and intricacies before.

I Talk to the Wind: less obvious changes, but the tightness and brightness is still there - drums surprisingly perhaps being the highlight. Fripp's mellow jazzy guitar is less bassy. Maybe my imagination, but Lake's twin vocals sound a lot more synched. The flute sounds fresh.

Epitaph: super clear bass, all the boom is gone. Mellotron eases in beautifully as does the acoustic guitar. Mix is less wide than Schizoid and the reverbs more natural. Amazingly this sounds even fresher than Schizoid and could have been recorded yesterday - an incredible feat and the distortion on the Mellotron on the mid-point is gone, as is the booming reverb from the drums during the sax/flute interlude.

Absolutely astonishing!

Moonchild: bright and present, vocals sound sharp, cymbals right next to you in the room. Apparently this is three minutes shorter than the original, but to be honest I didn't notice the difference...

In the Court of the Crimson King: clarity and tightness - precision. Stereo separation similar to previous mixes. Chorus lacks the distortion and each instrument in the verses are clearly distinguishable - the acoustic guitar simply shimmers.

Once again the general boomy-ness is considerably diminished, as well as the the hiss. At the end of the first instrumental break there's a fading-in Mellotron chord that's been previously hidden due to the overbearing bass - amazing and delicate.

In the closing section the organ notes are clearly discernible, I can never recall hearing them much before.

It's like hearing the album for the first time. I'm astounded!

In general, every instrument now finds its own space and much of the distortion, hiss and boomy bass is now gone. Furthermore the band sound tighter than before and the reverbs are more natural, less gloopy. Apparently there's been quite a kerfuffle regarding Fripp's decision to shorted Moonchild by three minutes. I really couldn't tell you what's been cut, not without a careful analysis. In my opinion the extended jam serves to set the stage for the title track itself and even in its abridged format it still does this perfectly well.

On top of the original album there are some bonus tracks, but I'm not so interested in those, I'll let you discover the yourself. There's also the 5.1 surround mix and the high definition audio files - these I will savour another time. The artwork faithfully reproduces the original plus there's a host of interesting information in the booklet - a history of the band and the album up to that point, plus Robert himself gives his take on the album 40 years later. Very nicely done indeed.

I will make some bold claims now: I do believe this is the very first true progressive rock album. On top of that I believe it's one of the most important albums ever released, for any genre and undoubtedly stands atop the pinnacle of progressive rock. I cannot possibly imagine any progressive rock fan not liking this album.

If do you consider yourself a fan of the genre, but don't own this album then shame on you - get out on buy it now! If you already own and love this album then I would nevertheless urge you to dip your hand in your pocket once more to invest in this remarkable achievement, it's like finding a newly minted coin in your purse, all shiny and bright… Utterly essential purchase!!!

Conclusions:

MENNO VON BRUCKEN FOCK : 9 out of 10
DAVE BAIRD : 10 out of 10


In the Wake of Poseidon
King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon (40th Anniversary Series)
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:CD + DVD-A
Record Label:Panegyric
Catalogue #:KCSP2
Year of Release:1970 / 2010
Time:51:48
Info:King Crimson
Samples:Pictures of a City

Tracklist:

CD: Peace - A Beginning (0:51), Pictures Of A City (8:01), Cadence And Cascade (4:38), In The Wake Of Poseidon (8:26), Peace - A Theme (1:15), Cat Food (4:54), The Devil's Triangle (Part I) (3:46), The Devil's (Part II) (4:00), The Devil's Triangle (Part III) (3:45), Peace - An End (2:04)

Bonus Tracks: Groon (3:35), Peace - An End [Alternative Mix] (2:06), Cadence And Cascade [Greg Lake Vocal] (4:32)

DVD-A: Original Album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround

Original album mix (2004 master edition)

2010 stereo album mix and CD bonus tracks in MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) and PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)

Basil Francis' Review

Difficult second album? On some levels, this was a very difficult album to record, as the original King Crimson line-up had all but split up by this point. On the other hand, Fripp and Co. managed to pull through these troubling times and record another album full of music that is arguably just as brilliant as that heard on the band's debut. As the liner notes to the 40th Anniversary version put it, 'In The Wake Of Poseidon is the sound of an idea that simply refused to quit in the teeth of extreme adversity and apparently insurmountable odds.'

The line-up was essentially the same, although flautist and saxophonist Ian MacDonald had been replaced by guest star Mel Collins, who would feature on a few more Crimson albums before going off to do great things with Camel. Greg Lake had also been relieved of his bass duties, and would only act as the lead vocalist on this album. Instead, Peter Giles, brother of drummer Michael Giles and formerly in Giles, Giles & Fripp, would take over the bass role. All in all, this unstable line-up was reminiscent of past glory, and judging by the music, some might say that recreating past glory was Fripp's whole approach to this record.

You can't blame those who would think so: from an initial listen, the tracks on Side One of the album seem like carbon copies of the respective tracks from Side One of In the Court of the Crimson King: 21st Century Schizoid Man, I Talk To The Wind and Epitaph. The similarities cannot be denied, but surprisingly, this doesn't hamper my enjoyment of the album but actually increases it because I can enjoy listening for those similarities each time. Naturally, after the umpteenth listen of I Talk To The Wind, it's good to be able to enjoy a similar alternative. I like to think of this album's Side One as the Court from a parallel universe that has somehow come into our own.

In fact, despite these tracks' resemblance to their older siblings, they manage to stand up very well on their own. Pictures of a City is the natural follow-up to 21st Century Schizoid Man, a heavy yet catchy jazz-fusion rocker, with distorted Greg Lake vocals. Just like the former track, Pictures... also speeds up in the technically astonishing instrumental section. I'm pretty sure that the quiet, bass-heavy section of the instrumental was a direct influence for the similar segment in Rush's By-Tor and the Snow Dog. Cadence and Cascade is, if anything, superior to its predecessor, with a distinctly more pleasant melody, and wonderful flute work from Mel Collins. This track features Gordon Haskell on vocals, who lends a deeper, more earthy quality to the music. A version with Greg Lake singing is also available as a bonus track on the 40th Anniversary version, but I can see why Fripp went for the change. Haskell would take over as the band's lead singer on the subsequent album, Lizard.

For years, I wasn't able to understand or enjoy the album's title track, as I felt it was simply a poor man's Epitaph. However, I found myself one day craving those opening Mellotron notes, and once I'd taken another listen, I was hooked. There is no denying that the two tracks are incredibly similar, as they have nearly identical instrumentation, structure and even lyrical style. Nevertheless, if you can overlook the inherent similarities, you may find this doppelgänger track quite appealing.

Over to Side Two, and things get more interesting. While Side One was a farewell to the past, Side Two seems to hint at the future. Cat Food gives way to the jazzier side of King Crimson, with cacophonic piano rolls and changing time signatures. The song is probably best known for its surreal and rather jocose lyrics. Greg Lake's delivery is absolutely perfect. The structured part of the song ends about half way through, resulting in a cool jazzy improv section before the piece finishes properly.

If there was ever a track to divide King Crimson fans, it would have to be The Devil's Triangle, a mysterious, plodding eleven-minute instrumental which is unlike anything Crimson have recorded before or since. Steven Wilson laments that he was not able to source the original master tapes for this track, and was thus unable to do anything with the remix. As he puts it, 'it's like soup'. Even without Wilson's magical touch, however, this track manages to be just as eerie and terrifying as any other King Crimson song. For most of the track, the band slowly improvise over the distinctive 5/4 drum pattern from Mars by Gustav Holst. Near the beginning of the track, Fripp also plays an excerpt from Mars on the Mellotron, adding to the eerie tension of the song. Of course, all this tension is not without a climax: a petrifying Mellotron whir breaks up the piece at around 4 minutes, and then again at 8, before the band quicken the pace considerably. The band descend into chaos before the end of the track, and a snippet of The Court of the Crimson King is heard. While I can understand why people get impatient with this track, I believe that the experience of listening to this track at full volume without distractions is truly frightening, and it is certainly more rewarding than people give it credit for.

The album is bookended by a simple song entitled Peace. While the track heard at the beginning of the record is rather creepy, the Theme and ending sections are actually very beautiful and comforting: 'You look everywhere but not inside you'. This easy track also helps to make this album more digestible and seem like a whole, rather than a collection of disjointed tracks, which it would be otherwise.

The 40th Anniversary edition of this album is beautifully presented, with the gorgeous original gatefold artwork reproduced on the booklet, digipak and outer sleeve, so we are not simply stuck with one version that crops off or obscures valuable art. The watercolour inner gatefold is also reproduced underneath the discs, so artwork nuts like myself won't go mental. It would be unfair if Wilson didn't include the jazz instrumental B-side Groon in this set, so naturally he has done so. On the DVD, we hear some pretty interesting alternate takes of the album, including an especially insightful early version of The Devil's Triangle. Sadly no video material though.

While many Crimson fans will shrug this album off as a ...Court... lookalike, I believe that this album is as strong as any in the KC catalogue. It may not be as 'classic' as ...Court..., but the tunes on this album are just as memorable and enduring. In fact, nowadays, I find myself listening to ...Poseidon far more than I listen to ...Court..., which must say something about its quality. As Sid Smith's notes put it '...Poseidon deserves to be judged on its own merits and not merely as an adjunct of its more famous predecessor'. This is a wonderful overlooked album, and an essential piece of the King Crimson canon.

Menno von Brucken Fock's Review

By 1969/70, King Crimson had been playing music from their first two albums live. A small change in the line-up made a huge difference, because my favorites would be the tracks penned by Ian McDonald. Ian only contributed to one and a half tracks on this album and is no longer credited as a member of this illustrious outfit. Most of the tracks were composed by Fripp, the lyrics by Sinfield.

Line-up: Robert Fripp (guitar, Mellotron, devices), Mel Collins (saxes & flute) Greg Lake (lead vocals), Michael Giles (drums), Peter Giles (bass), Keith Tippet (piano), Gordon Haskell (vocals), Peter Sinfield (words).

The first track Peace - A Beginning is almost exclusively a soft vocal solo sung by Lake, followed by the more powerful Pictures Of A City, a mixture of rock, blues and jazz featuring the sax played by Mel Collins. The melodies and the way Greg Lake sings makes for easy comparisons with 21st Century Schizoid Man. The track fades away near the end but the band returns for a cacophonic finale.

In contrast with these last notes is the following track Cadence And Cascade, a subtle ballad featuring the acoustic guitar, Tippet's piano and Collins' flute. Giles' relaxed drumming contrasts his style just a few minutes previously when his playing was very busy, one fill after another. Peter Giles plays the bass in a way that matches the melancholic sound of the song.

The majestic sounds of the mighty Mellotron, played by Fripp, open the title track. In The Wake Of Poseidon is one of the few highlights on this album in my opinion and definitely in the vein of the melodic songs like Epitaph or ...Court... on the debut. While the music is slow and symphonic, the drumming of Giles is rather filling and mixed in the fore.

Peace - A Theme is a classically orientated guitar solo by Fripp. If you didn't know any better, you might think you were listening to Steve Hackett.

Cat Food is a bit weird because of the somewhat bluesy theme played by Giles, in the vein of Come Together by The Beatles. This piece has a good melody but the deliberatly harsh atonal piano sounds distract the listener from the simple but catchy melody while Lake sings in a more rocky fashion. The resemblance with some of the early works by Emerson, Lake & Palmer is striking.

The Devil's Triangle consists of three parts, part one is a rather slow, soft and symphonic introduction, followed by a bombastic piece played on the Mellotron which may have inspired Tony Banks to write the intro to Watcher Of The Skies. Part two, Hand Of Sceiron, shows the music getting more fierce, leading to a cacophonic climax, a la A Day In the Life by The Beatles. The last part, Garden Of Worm continues after a pause with a heavy Mellotron-sound, drums and bass. This is followed by a piece with more instruments, sounding like a spontaneous jam and to my disappointment delving into sheer noise. An interesting aspect is the chorus of In The Court... which can be heard just for an instant. In the final track, Greg Lake sings solo again with a part similar to the opening tune.

With their sophomore album, King Crimson was a disappointment to me because this album is far less melodic than the debut. The next step for Fripp and Sinfield would be to fill the gap of having no vocalist by recruiting Gordon Haskell whilst Greg Lake went on to form ELP. Later, when a fellow named John Wetton joined the band, things began to get more interesting in my opinion. Both musically and technically only parts of this album can measure up to the debut and albums like Starless And Bible Black, Larks' Tongues In Aspic and Red.

Conclusions:

BASIL FRANCIS : 9.5 out of 10
MENNO VON BRUCKEN FOCK : 4 out of 10


Lizard
King Crimson - Lizard (40th Anniversary Series)
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:CD + DVD-A
Record Label:Panegyric
Catalogue #:KCSP3
Year of Release:1970 / 2009
Time:59:06
Info:King Crimson
Samples:Indoor Games

Tracklist:

CD:Cirkus (6:42), Indoor Games (5:35), Happy Family (4:17), Lady Of The Dancing Water (2:49), Lizard (23:35)

Bonus Tracks: Lady Of The Dancing Water [Alternative Take] (2:51), Bolero [from Frame by Frame] (6:48), Cirkus [Studio Run Through] (6:31)

DVD-A: Original Album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround

Original album mix (2004 master edition)

2009 stereo album mix and CD bonus tracks in MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) and PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)

Raffaella Berry's Review

As a rule, I am not a fan of reissues/anniversary/remastered editions and the like, and King Crimson - even though they count as one of my all-time favourite bands - are no exception. Being neither a collector nor an audiophile, I am generally quite happy with the CDs I already have, and do not feel the need to buy what are essentially duplicates. At the time of writing, I only own one of the 40th Anniversary releases remastered by Steven Wilson, and that only because my original copy of that particular album was badly scratched and had to be replaced anyway. Therefore, this review of King Crimson's third album will be based on the original release, leaving any comments on the bonus material to my co-reviewer.

While In the Court of the Crimson King will always hold a strong sentimental value for me - having been one of the first international progressive albums I heard in its entirety in my early teens - and In the Wake of Poseidon still offers a lot of listening pleasure (especially on account of Greg Lake's magnificent vocal performance), I have what amounts to a love-hate relationship withLizard. The root of my conflicting feelings lies mostly with Gordon Haskell's vocals, whose distinctly idiosyncratic quality impairs what otherwise would be one of the band's top albums in terms of musical construction and instrumental performances. Haskell - a school friend of Robert Fripp's whose main influences lay in folk and rhythm and blues - had already guested on In the Wake of Poseidon, and his vocal contribution on the rather risqué ballad Cadence and Cascade had been adequate, though not exactly life-altering. As a keen admirer of Greg Lake's singing on King Crimson's first two albums (a true benchmark of excellence in my view), I could not help finding Haskell's performance anticlimactic, and occasionally even jarring. His low-pitched, somewhat off-key timbre with a faint metallic tinge - like a sort of unpleasant aftertaste - has been praised by some (especially those who are into the more left-field fringes of prog, such as Krautrock or RIO/Avant) but to these ears it feels very much like an irritant, and mars the listening experience to a considerable extent.

On the other hand, Lizard's musical content, just like Gini Barris' striking cover artwork - inspired by the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages, though juxtaposing ancient and modern imagery - is quite astounding in its own unique way - the most effective term of comparison being the previous album's wacky Cat Food, which had featured Keith Tippett's slightly deranged, highly expressive piano flurries to complement Lake's unusually off-the-wall vocals. The prominent role of brass and woodwind instruments (courtesy of a bunch of distinguished jazz musicians - Mark Charig, Robin Miller and Nick Evans, as well as the already-mentioned Tippett - brought on board by Fripp for this project) gives the album a weird, quasi-orchestral feel - clearly influenced by jazz and contemporary classical music - that is quite at odds with the stately, Mellotron-laden "symphonic" direction of King Crimson's first two releases. The experimental drive, however, is harnessed so as to produce a coherent result, quite unlike the rambling, unstructured second half of Moonchild on the band's debut.

Together with opener Cirkus, with its slow, ominous build-up and explosions of guitar, keyboards and saxophone, the masterfully constructed title-track is the album's undisputed highlight. While the structure and individual titles might point to a conventional prog epic, the mostly instrumental Lizard combines the ethereal atmosphere of Prince Rupert Awakes - in which the angelic voice of Yes' Jon Anderson (in one of his best-ever performances) comes as a respite from Haskell's abrasive tones - to the looser, reeds-based Bolero, culminating in the controlled chaos of The Battle of Glass Tears, built upon successive repetitions of a main theme. The deceptively upbeat, off-kilter tunes of Indoor Games and Happy Family (the latter dedicated to The Beatles' breakup, which had just occurred at the time of Lizard's release) are interesting examples of proto-RIO in whose context Haskell's off-key delivery and wacky bouts of laughter make sense. On the other hand, the subdued, folksy ballad Lady of the Dancing Water pursues the direction of I Talk to the Wind or Cadence and Cascade, though with less successful results; Mel Collins' flute parts, however, are quite noteworthy, even if a voice like Lake's (or even Wetton's on Red) would have been a much better fit for the song.

The line-up put together by Robert Fripp for Lizard did not survive long, torn as it was between the more mainstream tendencies of Haskell and drummer Andy McCulloch and Fripp's constant striving towards new forms of expression. The album remains as a testimony of a daring experiment that might easily be seen as one of the forerunners of the RIO/Avant movement of almost ten years later (at least in musical terms). It also offers an intriguing, even though somewhat frustrating, case of dichotomy between music and vocals - which contributes to making the album even more of an acquired taste than the rest of King Crimson's not always accessible output. Incidentally, the band's next release, Islands, would prove almost as divisive as its predecessor - though for completely different reasons. In any case, though somewhat of a flawed experiment in spite of its many flashes of brilliance, and almost inevitably marked as a one-off right from the start, Lizard deserves its reputation as one of the most original - and potentially trail-blazing - albums in the KC catalogue.

Basil Francis' Review

Roll up, roll up! Robert Fripp and Steven Wilson cordially invite you to a party in your ears. The party features King Crimson with a number of special guests, and all you need is a CD player, the 40th Anniversary edition of Lizard and a pair of speakers.

Released a mere seven months after In The Wake Of Poseidon, Lizard is a transitional masterpiece. Like its predecessor, this album also tends to divide the fans, although I err on the side of believing that this may be King Crimson's best album. For one thing, the line-up is spectacular. Alongside the unfaltering Robert Fripp, Mel Collins would remain from the previous album, taking care of the flute and saxophone on this album. Gordon Haskell, whose husky voice had until now only been heard on Cat Food, would now become a full member of the band, and take on the King Crimson standard role of bass and vocals. The line-up would be completed by the impeccable Andy McCulloch, whose crisp and crunchy drumming would provide the perfect replacement for Michael Giles. Later, McCulloch would feature in other timeless progressive groups such as Fields and Greenslade); coincidentally, both these bands were named after their respective founding members.

Besides the light-hearted jazzy madness of Cat Food acting as a precursor, there was no other way that King Crimson fans could have known what to expect from Lizard. Among the other early King Crimson albums, Lizard is arguably the most berserk and is rather difficult to get into. On the other hand, with repeated listens, Lizard opens up like a flower, and the experience is very rewarding. After many dozens of listens, I'm still excited when I turn on Indoor Games or the title track, as I know what sonic delights are in store.

The album begins with the haunting Cirkus, which sets the stage for the rest of the album. The track alternates between softly quiet and bombastically loud sections, and relies quite heavily on Fripp's Mellotron. On a couple of occasions, Fripp whips out his acoustic guitar and delivers some blindingly fast notes on top of the madness in the background. Really, this piece was made to prove that King Crimson weren't playing 'straight' prog any more, if such a thing ever existed.

Next up is the album's flawless track, Indoor Games. A brief flick on the keyboard sets the light-hearted tone for this song, and what ensues is sheer jazz-prog brilliance. For a start, Sinfield's jocose lyrics are unforgettable: 'Whilst you silk in your sauna 'cos you lost your jig-saw corner...'. The production is just right, and with Steven Wilson at the helm, I can hear each instrument loud and clear. However, it has to be the instrumental section that makes this track so perfect. shows a band that is completely in sync, making music that is powerful in its execution. McCulloch's drums, despite appearing erratic, keep perfect time and are the perfect foil for the rest of the band to solo over. I've always thought that the appeal of odd time signatures in progressive rock is that once you understand how they work in a track, you can enjoy the sensation of 'dancing in your head', as reviewer Roger Trenwith puts it. The meters on Indoor Games are no different, and I can't imagine that any prog fan would deny how awesome the performances are in this song. The piece ends with a distorted tape of Haskell laughing, apparently cracking up over the final line of the song: 'Hey ho!'.

But not a second has passed before we're plunged into the next piece, Happy Family. If Indoor Games was crazy, Happy Family is on another level completely. This track shows the band experimenting with multi-track tapes and sound effects. Haskell is barely intelligible, although it's generally accepted that the lyrics are a metaphor for the then-recent breakup of The Beatles. This claim becomes more believable when you note the four hairy figures gathered around the 'I' in Crimson on the cover.

Lady of the Dancing Water is the obligatory 'pretty' track on this album, although I can't say it's quite as good as Cadence and Cascade. Haskell's vocals seem strained, and I can't help thinking he sounds slightly Dutch. Collins's flute on this track is just as beautiful as it ever was.

Ahh, now we move to the centrepiece of this album, the 23-minute epic Lizard. All the major prog bands in the '70s had at least one twenty minute opus, so it would have been unfair if King Crimson hadn't had a go. When most prog fans discuss their favourite sidelong epics, Close To The Edge and Supper's Ready will almost certainly turn up in conversation, but Lizard remains overlooked and forgotten. Personally, I think that this is baloney, since Lizard is every bit as good as its contemporaries, if not better!

Almost as soon as this piece begins, a familiar sound greets the ears. That's right, it's good ol' Jon Anderson singing about staking lizards by the throat. What you have to remember is that by this point, Yes hadn't even released their seminal Yes Album with classics like Yours Is No Disgrace and Starship Trooper, meaning that they were not yet the prog rock giants they would grow to be. Why exactly Anderson was chosen for the part, I may never know, but it's clear that Fripp has a good eye for potential proggers. In fact, Lizard is a concept suite, a progressive cliché if there ever was one, about a certain Prince Rupert, who, in the latter part of the song, goes to war. Anderson's vocals on Prince Rupert Awakes, are warm and very pleasant, even though the lyrics are rather quite sinister. The fantastic Keith Tippet provides backing piano in this beautiful piece.

This gives way to a repetitive, though well executed bolero section. Rather uncharacteristically, and perhaps disappointingly, McCulloch takes a back seat and obediently repeats the same pattern for the next six minutes. On the other hand, we get to hear a number of guests, namely Mark Charig, Nick Evans and Robin Miller, all adding texture to the piece. Until this album was remixed by Steven Wilson, this piece remained Fripp's favourite part of the album calling the main theme by Miller 'a gift'. Personally, I have to be in the mood for this lengthy instrumental, and I often find that it just delays the more interesting parts of the suite.

After the bolero ends, the track takes a dark turn. The Battle of Glass Tears is a section of Lizard which is in itself divided further into three subsections. Dawn Song features Haskell once again on vocals, delivering an ominous couple of verses, building up the tension. Astonishingly, the music erupts into a loud bombastic instrumental, showing each of the band members on top form. McCulloch, who has had to sit still for most of the song finally shows his chops and drums with such force that you think he may break the skins. Each member of the band is doing something very different, but somehow it manages to fit together in one glorious whole. On top of this, they are all incredibly noisy. The polyrhythms are make this a nightmare to 'head dance' to, but once you understand them they become immensely satisfying. Just as quickly as the instrumental comes, it dies away for a segment resembling a funeral march, while Fripp delivers a slow guitar solo that was apparently achieved in one take. The suite ends with Big Top, a short piece that sounds like circus music, perhaps tying the album together conceptually.

The 40th Anniversary edition of this album doesn't contain quite as many bonus tracks as the other albums. What we get is an alternate take of Lady of the Dancing Water, an alternate mix of Bolero from Frame by Frame and studio run through of Cirkus, all of which are very welcome, though aren't particularly revelatory. However, the real bonus on this album are the liner notes, where Fripp personally shares his view on the album. It appears that until quite recently, he had never liked the album, his view being "Lots of ideas, mostly presented simultaneously and very few of which work". He also believes that it was also one of the least popular of the Crimson albums among fans, calling the folks who actually enjoyed it "very-strange-Lizard-lovers". Nevertheless, with Steven Wilson's undying enthusiasm and hard work, Fripp now admits that "For the first time I have head the Music in the music." In a recent interview with DPRP's Dave Baird, Steven Wilson proclaimed "One of the greatest vindications for me was having Robert Fripp acknowledge retrospectively that Lizard is an important piece of work in his catalogue, and not, as he previously said, an unlistenable mess". Maybe Fripp has been too self-deprecating over the years, but I'm glad that he now sees clearly what an astonishing album this is. Like Wilson states in the notes, "In terms of fusing free-jazz with progressive rock ... there's almost no parallel."

I find this album to be wonderful for many different reasons. To get Robert Fripp, Jon Anderson and Andy McCulloch, three of my progressive heroes, on one blistering 23 minute track... I may as well have died and gone to prog heaven. The performances are faultless, and perfectly in sync. It's a shame this line-up didn't last longer, as I feel this record provides some of King Crimson's most satisfying music. While to Fripp I may be a very-strange-Lizard-lover, I can't help but feel that there's nothing strange about enjoying well-choreographed and beautifully executed music, especially when it's on an epic scale.

Conclusions:

RAFFAELLA BERRY : 7.5 out of 10
BASIL FRANCIS : 9.5 out of 10


Islands
King Crimson - Islands (40th Anniversary Series)
Country of Origin:U.K.
Format:CD + DVD-A
Record Label:Panegyric
Catalogue #:KCSP4
Year of Release:1971 / 2010
Time:64:32
Info:King Crimson
Samples:Islands

Tracklist:

CD: Formentera Lady (10:17), Sailor's Tale (7:35), The Letters (4:29), Ladies Of The Road (5:34), Prelude: Song Of The Gulls (4:17), Islands (12:02)

Bonus Tracks: Islands [Studio Run Through] (2:02), Formentera Lady [Take 2] (2:23), Sailor's Tale [Alternate Mix/Edit] (3:37), A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls (3:55), The Letters [Rehearsal/Outtake] (2:43), Ladies Of The Road [Robert Fripp & David Singleton Remix] (5:43)

DVD-A: Original Album remixed in MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround and DTS 5.1 Digital Surround

Original album mix (2004 master edition)

2010 stereo album mix, CD bonus tracks and Alternate takes album in MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96), PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48) and Stereo (16/48)

John O'Boyle's Review

First things first; King Crimson releases are renowned for their artwork and Islands, if I'm not wrong, features the Trifid Nebula situated in the Sagittarius constellation. Sagittarius is commonly represented as a Centaur drawing a bow, mythical creatures that were half human, half horse and often treated as liminal beings - ones that can't easily be placed in a category of existence. Liminal beings are ambiguous, and challenge cultural paths of social classification, caught between two natures, embodied in myth and untamed nature. This statement may baffle some in its context but on deeper reflection, it basically sums up Islands, and for the want of extrapolating further, the whole ethos of KC's artistic creativity.

King Crimson is a very reverential band that has inspired and influenced many artists, a band that for want of a better description really spawned the genre of prog in the modern term. The first album I heard by KC was the stunning In the Court of the Crimson King but my most favourite of their albums is Islands, the first KC album I put my hands into my pockets for. Some years ago I did happen to chance across of a copy of this said item on CD, but alas for the want of a better description, the sound quality was very poor. Well, what I can say is that this issue has been addressed with the release of this 40th Anniversary Remaster put together by Steve Wilson and Robert Fripp.

In observance of what is on offer here, at first listen it is not easy on the ear. We are offered a multitude of presentations that define many emotional pathways that furrow away at your psyche. We see the use of sedate passionate melody, fascinating harmonies, discordant soundstages, perfect avant-garde interludes, lonely singular frameworks, angular soundstages, intelligent constructions that provoke thought, musical journeys that offer both light and darkness. As a band KC were never afraid to challenge, very much mavericks in their artistic ventures, never conforming to the norm, provoking reactions, which is in essence the perfect art form. Cleverly the constructs are addictive as they draw you back repeatedly making you question what you have just heard; rewarding you each time you do so. In theory this approach should not work but all in all Islands and more importantly KC proved that it did. Sadly this was the last KC album to feature Pete Sinfield and the traditional progressive and symphonic approach per se before the band embarked on phase three of their development.

Out of the six original pieces that the albums comprised of, four contain lyrical passage, three of which were misogynistic in approach, sexually objectifying women, with their references of permissiveness and infidelities. One only has to look at the lyrics of Formentera Lady, Ladies of the Road and The Letters: “Time's grey hand won't catch me while the sun shine down Untie and unlatch me while the stars shine Formentera lady dance your dance for me Formentera lady, dark lover” “Two fingered levi'd sister, Said Peace, I stopped I kissed her. Said I'm a male resister, I smiled and just unzipped her. High diving Chinese Trender, Black hair and black suspender. Said Please me no surrender, Just love to feel your Fender” “With quill and silver knife She carved the poison pen Wrote to her lover's wife "Your husband's seed has fed my flesh".

Formentera Lady opens up the album with exuberance and dynamic dexterity, a grandeur that is to behold, a theme that is prevalent throughout the song and for that matter the whole album. It travels through its subject matter with balance and finesse, gracefully setting out its stall, a fine display of electric and wind instruments confirming to its audience that these two approaches can co-exist in perfect harmony. Sailor's Tale, the first of the two instrumentals, is driven by Ian Wallace's percussive work with a meter that has urgency. On top of all this, eloquent tones layer the piece out, whilst Mel Collins adds his anarchic burning tones as do Fripp and Burrell, expediting the execution of the piece with efficiency, promptly delivering such a memorable passage and framework. The Letters offers sedateness but for me this song has the most acerbic lyrical approach of all the songs on the album, which on the initial lead in are barren and stark; but that doesn't hold for long, as the trademark sounds of this album kick in, seeing the band as a whole really participating in the chaotic structures, which at times sounds like they weren't even in the same room, a delivery that must have confused many in its day. Some may deem Boz Burrell's vocals as laid back and at times weak, lacking intensity and personality; well Ladies of the Road dispels that thought process as it is probably the nearest thing on the album to that proverbial hit single. Again lyrically the band really challenged with their subject matter but the stars of the song are the Beatles inflected harmonies and the spontaneous mania of the mellotron, horns and strings.

The majestic and pastoral instrumental Prelude: Song of the Gulls offered opposition to Ladies of the Road and is the perfect footnote to Islands, complimenting perfectly Islands' soundstage; the long and dreamy passages that coloured the palette of the previous passages proving that the approach of KC wasn't just about trying to be out there; it is a piece that has stunning sedateness, a sadness that tugs at the heartstrings with both its musical personality and poetic prose. Now if that isn't enough, then I'm not too sure what is.

Many have seen Islands as the weakest of the first set of albums released by King Crimson (for some the weakest of all), seeing the album as less innovative, somewhat restrained, uneven sounding and awkwardly pretentious. That is an argument I can understand, but I feel that King Crimson wanted to make a statement, make an album that was dark and edgy, and boy did they succeed. This 40th Anniversary remixed version really lets the music breathe with clarity and precision, demonstrating how dark and edgy Islands really is.

I could spend copious amounts of time going through the various extras on this album. We see differing versions, takes, demos and mixes of this album, which will really spark the imagination of the KC aficionado. The highlight for me though is the 5:1 surround sound mix. I highly recommend that you hear Islands this way and for those long-term fans that see it as a weak link, you will be surprised. Islands was an album where the listener was pretty much looking deep into the eyes of the artistic integrity and creative force that is King Crimson.

Jez Rowden's Review

By the time King Crimson came to release their fourth album at the tail end of 1971, they had been through numerous upheavals and already only Robert Fripp and lyricist Peter Sinfield remained from the original band who changed the musical landscape in 1969. 1970's Lizard had been a transitional album from a line-up that never stabilised and disintegrated before either playing live or commencing work on a follow-up so Fripp and Sinfield had to return to the drawing board and construct a new band.

Retaining sax and flute man Mel Collins from Lizard, they recruited Ian Wallace as drummer and future Bad Company man "Boz" Burrell to sing but the bass vacancy remained resolutely unfilled. In desperation Fripp and Wallace taught Boz to play bass and the new band was complete. This short-lived formation returned the band to the stage for their first shows since 1969 but only lasted until 1972 and Islands was the last KC album to feature a contribution from Sinfield who departed leaving Fripp to build yet another line-up from scratch.

The 1971-72 Crimson line-up has received bad press over the years, but when Fripp released further live material in the new millennium as part of the King Crimson Collectors' Club series as well as the Ladies of the Road live album on more general release a reappraisal occurred that has resulted in a rehabilitation of the band's reputation. Nevertheless, Islands is still often seen as a poor relation to the great Crimson albums of the '70s. That said it has always been one that I return to with pleasure; never my favourite but certainly worthy, flawed but not without merit.

With four of the six tracks being Fripp/Sinfield co-writes and Fripp contributing the remaining pair of instrumental pieces, there was no scope to include material by other band members. This led to internal disagreements and was a key reason why the band eventually imploded. But Fripp was already on a path that would lead to some revelatory music over the next three years or so, before he put the band on ice in 1974 in what seemed like a terminal move. Musically Islands, produced by Fripp and Sinfield, covers a lot of ground – some that fits in well with other eras and versions of King Crimson, and some that is unique to this period of experimentation and feet-finding – and that is what makes re-discovering this album with the 40th Anniversary edition such a treat. From the striking cover artwork of the Trifid Nebula in Sagittarius, that did not originally feature either the band name or album title, Islands appeals to the senses, and the scope of the newly available archive material included certainly enhances the understanding and viability of this strange little backwater of the mighty Crimson catalogue.

The album opens with Sinfield's sun-drenched vision of the Mediterranean island paradise where he had recently holidayed. The heat and dust ooze out of Formentera Lady, a piece that alternates between sax, flute, piano and percussion mood verses. Boz's warm and cultured vocal is a perfect fit, with the rest of the band featuring in the chorus, Fripp on acoustic and Burrell's heartbeat bass line seldom varying from a single note. There are guest performances all over this one from the bowed double bass of Harry Miller starting things off, Keith Tippett adding some fine piano colour with the tension being ramped up later on with Paulina Lucas' spine-tingling wordless vocal pushing things towards dark psychedelia. This track appears almost throwaway to begin with but it develops into a particularly rewarding piece with fine performances throughout.

Formentera Lady runs straight into the key track on the album, Fripp's Sailor's Tale, whose brooding presence is a pointer towards material that would arise from the next band to bear the KC name featuring John Wetton and Bill Bruford. Wallace adds more jazz than you would expect to find on a King Crimson album and Boz's bass is as solid as a rock without getting too fancy, allowing Fripp to try all manner of new things and provide some moments of true wonder. Collins adds some lovely playing early on and the Mellotron after the kick in tempo is great, but Fripp's unorthodox solo based on banjo techniques is a frighteningly powerful thing that he pulled out of nothing at the last minute in the studio driven by tiredness, stress and impending deadlines. This is a man who clearly works well under pressure. For me though it is Wallace's performance that makes the track; busy yet reliable with some great cymbal work he is the perfect foil to Fripp's flailing scream.

The basis of The Letters was forged from elements of Drop In from the repertoire of the '69 line-up which in turn was derived from the Giles, Giles and Fripp song Why Don't You Just Drop In. Lyrically the track is essentially gothic melodrama but the burst of energy in the free-jazz middle section is in stark contrast and throws the track into a wonderful turmoil.

Next up is the most controversial track on the album, Ladies of the Road, which received criticism for its misogynistic view of band life on tour. It does indeed sound of its time, quite near the bone - literally! - and out of character with other work under the King Crimson banner. Atypical as it is, this was apparently the one track on the album that everyone in the band liked (one unnamed member going so far as to describe the more relaxed parts of Islands as "airy-fairy shit") and there is a true rock band feel to this unlike anything else on the album. Ladies of the Road shows that this is where the heart of most of the players really lay so it is no surprise that Fripp ultimately decided that a new band would be required in order to proceed in his desired musical direction. Despite personal problems throughout the year the band was together, things were more positive towards the end and the rest of the band wanted to continue, but Fripp called time and dissolved the band. We'll never know what they would have produced had they stayed together, but it would certainly have been different to the music of the successive line-up. Ladies of the Road itself is drenched with more earthly thoughts than the rest of the album and Collins' sax just drips with sleaze and pent up lust.

Prelude: Song of the Gulls is just gorgeous, Fripp experimenting with a string section with none of the band contributing; a unique occurrence in the King Crimson canon. It is delicate with sweeping passages and a lovely melody from Robin Miller's oboe that conjures images of the gulls of the title, the plucked stings giving it a lightness of touch that makes you wish that Fripp had done more of this. Maybe he would have, if the behemoth that was the 1972-74 Crimson was not waiting just around the corner.

The title track ends the album nicely as it bookends well with Formentera Lady, both in content and style. Collins' flute and some delicious piano from Tippett sets the relaxing mood, before a wonderful cornet solo from Mark Charig gives the track a completely different feel. Boz sounds great against this backdrop and then Fripp's harmonium and Mellotron coupled with oboe from Miller opens out the sound. Wallace adds an easy rhythm and Fripp's laid back guitar arrives to support Charig again, the track building to a lovely climax. It is just beautiful how this track flows and the new mixes are revelatory, the additional clarity unveiling it in all its glory. This album has certainly never sounded so good. The studio clip of Fripp rehearsing the string section is still there at the end, a quaint yet fascinating insight into the recording process, the album closing with Fripp's count in of "One, two, three; two, two, three..." then silence.

This really is an album of many facets - the psychedelia of Formentera... and the title track, the hard rock of Ladies..., the chamber music of Prelude..., the visceral howl of Sailor's... With all these features, Islands occupies a unique place in the King Crimson discography. Unlike the previous pair of albums which were studio creations - never taken on the road by a performing band - most of the Islands material was played live. Yet the album manages to offer continuity with the earlier albums, showcasing Fripp's growth as a composer and arranger in pieces such as the title track and Prelude..., while simultaneously projecting the classic Crimson sonic assault via Sailor's Tale. The latter piece was ideally suited to being performed live and was one that would stretch and alter with each new performance, becoming integral to the band's more improvisatory future.

The 40th Anniversary edition includes new stereo and 5.1 surround mixes by Fripp and Steven Wilson, extra tracks, run-throughs, alternate versions and outtakes plus sleeve notes by Sid Smith. The DVD-A is packed with goodies and a complete treasure trove with almost 90 minutes of additional material, most of it previously unreleased, in addition to the new mixes etc. The material covers everything from early rehearsals of Islands material plus Pictures of a City from In the Wake of Poseidon and the previously unheard A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls that showcases early ideas and elements that would later appear in Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt.1 and Lament. There's a tiny fragment of Fripp playing the title track's theme on a Mellotron and a blistering live Sailor's Tale from the Zoom Club that sees Collins blowing up a storm. There's also a clip of Wallace beating the hell out of his kit and Fripp incorporating a lot of Mellotron and elements of A Peacemaking Stint.../Larks... into his playing. The 'alternate album' section on the DVD-A is interesting as the different mixes and edits turn Islands into a different beast entirely. The sound quality throughout is very good and this set is simply a completist's dream.

This release fully vindicates the claim that this line-up, short-lived as it may have been, could have had as much to offer musically as any of the more well known King Crimson incarnations had it had the chance to grow. Islands is a laid back album that reveals its charms gradually and only occasionally decides that the listener needs to be beaten over the head with the full power of the band. Not many people have had the same level of insight as Steven Wilson and in the liner notes he comments that "the economy and the space in the recording of Islands ... has a quiet, stately beauty and elegance about it that you do appreciate the more you hear it".

I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment and the 40th Anniversary edition is a great opportunity for both fans and newcomers alike to rediscover a lost classic.

Conclusions:

JOHN O'BOYLE : 10 out of 10
JEZ ROWDEN : 8.5 out of 10

DPRP Team Rankings for these albums:

Court
Poseidon
Lizard
Islands
Basil
10
9.5
9.5
8.5
Raff
9
8
7.5
6.5
Mark
7
6
7
8
Roger
10
8
8
9
Menno
9
4
6
6
Leo
9
7
8
7
Dave
10
8
7
6
Jez
8.5
7
7.5
8.5
Jonno
10
7.5
8
10
Tom
9
7.5
7
7
Average
9.15
7.25
7.55
7.65

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