JUNE 7 Judy Dyble and Ian McDonald visit and join Giles, Giles and Fripp which becomes a quintet. Several demos are made at home, including "I Talk to the Wind" and "Under The Sky".
JUNE 28 Release of Giles, Giles and Fripp single for Deram "One in a Million/Newly Weds".
JUNE 29 Disc: Giles, Giles and Fripp sound like a firm of solicitors, but sound dull as "One in a Million".
JULY 6 Melody Maker. Blind Date with Keith Moon: Another record? Will they never end?! This is a John Sebastian type tune. There are hundreds of these songs with the same backing and slightly al- tered words. The violins are in the bathroom. Good riddance to that.
JULY Judy Dyble leaves Giles, Giles and Fripp a quartet. Peter Sinfield in- troduced as lyricist by his friend, Ian McDonald.
SEPTEMBER 12 Giles, Giles and Fripp accompany Al Stewart on BBC Radio show "My Kind of Folk" as a trio.
SEPTEMBER 13 Release of "The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp" LP for Deram, producer Wayne Bickerton, recorded in 4 days March/April 1968.
SEPTEMBER 19 Bournemouth Echo 19.09.68. Headline: Local Boys Make Good. A new pop group formed by three local boys seem to be going places. Last night Giles, Giles and Fripp backed the Al Stewart "My Kind of Music" programme on radio.
SEPTEMBER 28 Sun: Quaint little songs interrupted by an odd monologue. (The first Giles, Giles and Fripp review).
OCTOBER 11 Release of Giles, Giles and Fripp single "Thursday Morning/Elephant Song" from the album but with Ian McDonald's overdubbed clarinet and vocals on "Thursday Morning".
OCTOBER 12 Decca advert: Giles, Giles and Fripp are three young men with enough musical talent for a whole gang! They have a remarkable album out at the moment that's selling like crazy and their new single release is taken from this. It's called "Thursday Morning" and you'll find that when you've heard it once, you'll want to play it again and again! Every time you listen to it you hear something new.
OCTOBER 12 Disc: Giles, Giles and Fripp are not a firm of solicitors, but have lovely voices and a very pretty uncommercial record.
OCTOBER 12 Record Mirror: It's rather a nice, subdued but musicianly sound.
OCTOBER 17 Earmonn Andrews TV Show. "The Elephant Song" live.
OCTOBER 19 Record Mirror: Their popularity around their native Bournemouth area is rapidly being extended to include many other parts of the country.
NOVEMBER 2 Disc: John Peel: Curious album on Deram you should try to hear sometime.
NOVEMBER 9 Record Mirror: This really is a splendid album, performed with a stack of personality too. (The last Giles, Giles and Fripp review).
NOVEMBER 15 Between midnight and 4am King Crimson formed in outline between Fripp and Michael Giles in the kitchen following a fruitless session of Giles, Giles and Fripp at Decca.
NOVEMBER 16 Colour Me Pop BBC TV. Show filmed. Backing track recorded in the front room of 93A Brondesbury Road on an old Revox manipulated by Peter Giles. I in- form Peter Giles that Greg Lake could replace either myself or Peter at the decision of Michael Giles and Ian McDonald. - Robert Fripp.
NOVEMBER 30 Colour Me Pop broadcast. Attracted attention of managers David Enthoven and John Gaydon.
The dissolution of Giles, Giles and Fripp followed some 15 months of failure and struggle. We were unable to find even one gig. World sales of the album within the first year were under 600. My first royalty statement showed sales in Canada of 40 and Sweden of 1. Peter Giles left to become a computer operator and finally a solicitor's clerk, although played on sessions for a while, notably "Poseidon" and "McDonald and Giles". - Robert Fripp.
DECEMBER 2 Greg Lake moves to London. Equipment is purchased with a loan from a benevolent uncle.
JANUARY 13 Official beginning of King Crimson comprising Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Greg Lake and Michael Giles with commencement of rehearsals in the basement of the Fulham Palace Cafe, 193 Fulham Palace Road, London, W6., courtesy of Peter and George Calatychos: King Crimson rehearsal room for 2 1/2 years. "Michael from Mountains" and "Lucy in the Sky" among the first tunes.
Peter Sinfield is road manager, shortly joined by Dik Fraser. Peter Sinfield builds stage lights out of baking foiland plywood.
JANUARY 27 Fripp's Journal: Invited audience to rehearsals. Success. This band will be bigger than we anticipated. Enthoven and Gaydon committed themselves to management.
FEBRUARY 13 Tony Clark visited, wanted to produce King Crimson as the first act on Threshold.
FEBRUARY 18 Muff Winwood visited. He thought the music was remarkable but the group had no image and needed a hit before touring.
FEBRUARY 23 - MARCH 1 Booked as Giles, Giles and Fripp at the Change Is, Newcastle for a trial week. The first night, the mellotron broke down. The manager, Ron Markham (Romark) introduced the group's second set: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Giles, Giles and Fripp who for reasons best known to themselves have changed their name to King Crimson, will have a freak-out without the aid of pot, LSD or any other drugs".
Roadies Peter Sinfield and Dik Fraser each receive f10 for the week. The group have f4.11.4 1/2d. between them.
FEBRUARY 28 Simon Stable in International Times: About to burst forth, "King Crimson" - enquiries to Stuart Lyons. The first time in print.
MARCH 24 The song "In the Court of the Crimson King" begins rehearsal.
MARCH 26 Justin Hayward, Graham Edge and Tony Clark are impressed. Prospective UK tour by the Moodies with King Crimson in support. The Moodies dropped the idea shortly afterwards. David Enthoven found the reason from Graham after altering his state of consciousness one evening: King Crimson were simply too strong. - Robert Fripp.
MARCH 28 International Times. Simon Stable: A cafe in the Fulham Palace Road is keeping within its bowels an incredible sound. The sound is made by a group called King Crimson and if you can imagine a combination of The Family, The Pretty Things and The Moody Blues all rolled into one you'll have a pretty good idea what they sound like.
During this first period playing for friends in the cafe basement became a custom. B.P. Fallon, Andy Dunkley and Simon Stable were among those who were re-oriented by King Crimson's energy and intensity, confined within the small space of the basement. Following several years of failure, we regarded King Crimson as a last attempt at playing something we believed in. Creative frustration was a main reason for the group's desperate energy. We set ourselves impossibly high standards, but worked to realise them, and with a history of unemployment, palais and army bands, everyone was staggered by the favourable reactions from visitors. In discussing pre- sentation, we didn't plan for the possibility of applause. With the fervour of those months I could write for a publicity handout: "The fundemental aim of King Crimson is to organise anarchy, to utilise the latent power of chaos and to allow the varying influences to interact and find their own equilibrium. The music, therefore, naturally evolves rather than develops along predetermined lines. The widely differing repertoire has a common theme in that it represents the changing moods of the same five people". - Robert Fripp.
APRIL 9 First official King Crimson gig at the Speakeasy. Fripp's journal: "Massive success. The word starts to creep about in the business".
APRIL 11 Lyceum, London. Supporting Tyrannosaurus Rex. Bill Bruford walks all the way home at 5:30am talking about what he had just seen.
APRIL 19 Melody Maker: King Crimson a rave at the Speakeasy. Which doesn't mean we actually like them!
APRIl 25 International Times. Mark Williams: The Lyceum is a big venue that is clear and comfortable without being too plastic...Last week people were charged 30/- to see a British duo and support bill that contained little of merit save for the incredible King Crimson.
MAY 2 Booked as a soul band by mistake: at a dance at the Top Rank Suite, Bristol, supporting Geno Washington. "Schizoid Man" clears the floor.
MAY 6 Top Gear, BBC Radio, recording. "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Schizoid", "I Talk to the Wind", broadcast 11 May.
MAY 14 Revolution, London. A personal turning point following a discussion on presentation: I sit down after 8 gigs standing. Hendrix, dressed in white with his right arm in a sling, approached me afterwards and said, "Shake my left hand, man, it's nearer to my heart". - Robert Fripp.
MAY 16 Marquee, London, supporting Steppenwolf. John Kay overheard at the back of the club: "Follow that. They sound like a bleeding orchestra".
Marquee Club, May Newsletter. John Gee: The other exciting development this month is a series of sessions...subtitled "New Paths". There has been considerable discussion of late about the mer- ger of jazz and popular music as so superbly demonstrated by Blood, Sweat and Tears. The Marquee is most interested in this form of development and proud to introduce a magnificent discovery called King Crimson...plus the most exciting British jazz musician playing today...John Surman and his group.
This began a residency of 12 weeks for King Crimson.
MAY 23 International Times. Mark Williams: In case you weren't aware, King Crimson are the most beautiful, tight, original group to emerge on the British scene in at least 2 years...I seriously advise you to see them while you can because I strongly believe that in six months time their appearences will be few and admission prices high.
MAY 30 Speakeasy, London. Donovan sits in and jiving was begun by David Bowie who asked a lady named Angie to dance. - Robert Fripp.
JUNE 7 Simon Stable. Top Pops: Wherever they perform they create a sort of musical magic which involves their entire audience...a performance by them is similar to a visit to a classical concert.
JUNE 12 Recording begins at Morgan Studios with Tony Clark and Andy Johns.
JUNE 13 Andy Johns collapses.
JUNE 18 Recording abandoned with all tapes.
JUNE International Times. Mark Williams: Please, please see them. Cynicism will be forgotten, appetites whetted. Rock music can discover its identity in King Crimson; so can you.
JUNE 28 Rolling Stone (UK): Not content with having his senses caressed and flattened in quick succession by the quite astounding King Crimson, Donovan got up and requested a jam with them. Eventually the whole scene developed into something like a "Donovan and King Crimson play the great rock'n'roll hits of the 50's" session with Donovan shouting the lyrics of such numbers as "Kansas City".
JULY 5 Hyde Park free concert with Rolling Stones, Battered Ornaments, Third Ear Band, Alexis Korner, Family and Screw. Estimated 650,000 audience.
JULY 7 The Guardian. Richard Gott: Most of the music, with the exception of a sensational group called King Crimson, was indifferent.
JULY 7-10. Recording at Wessex Studios with Tony Clark.
JULY 10 The Listener. Richard Gilbert: Star musical attraction the night I chose to go (Goldsmith's College) was the remarkable King Crimson band...which the underground connoisseurs acclaim as the most original and exciting playing today. They occupy a place in the affections of the underground that was once held by the Pink Floyd. But King Crimson's music has a versatility and precision that the Floyd never had in their early days. Balancing arranged numbers with improvisations, King Crimson make nonsense of the "It's not jazz - it's pop" categorisation. Like Jethro Tull and Family, King Crimson are electric instrumentalists. Their use of electrified saxaphone must have curdled the sleep of many innocent Lewisham burghers the other night in the field behind Goldsmith's. A pulsating light show added to the music, for once, instead of interfering with it. King Crimson played again at the Rolling Stones concert in Hyde Park and their confidence in...careering from the gritty to the lyrical won them a massive and deserved ovation... if their records can match their live performances they will survive all the bandwagon leaping.
JULY 12 Melody Maker. B.P. Fallon: King Crimson are going to be giants. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps. Give it a year and we'll know. No dammit. Six months will do. Really...
JULY 16 Recording: dissolution with Tony Clark and abandoment of all tapes.
JULY 17 Recording with King Crimson producing.
JULY 21-25 Recording.
JULY 29 Recording. David Enthoven mortgages his house to pay the recording bill.
AUGUST 5 Speakeasy, London. Several of the audience, including members of the Deviants and Tyrannosaurus Rex, got up on stage and prevented the band from doing their thing. (Rolling Stone, UK, 20 September, Mark Williams). I had the premonition as I arrived that something would happen and told John Gaydon that it might be good or bad - I had no idea. The strength of the antipathy came as a shock and represented the first reaction against our sudden acclaim. Russ Hunter apologised to me afterwards about the scene - he had been too embarrassed to take part. - Robert Fripp.
AUGUST 18 International Times, letter from Rory O'Flute: Who wants to read about Jim Morris an his doors on all dem Bossom Tomes an dat King Crimso when ye've herd band like "Blast".
This letter gives King Crimson their nickname of "Crimso".
AUGUST 20 Final recording: at 8:30am of the 21st. "In the Court of the Crimson King" is finished.
AUGUST 29 The Irish Press. B.P. Fallon: Last night the first era of King Crimson was almost completed. The group and friends gathered together in an Earls Court flat to listen to the com- pleted tapes of their forthcoming first LP.
AUGUST 29 International Times letter from Fripp: Chris Welch thought the (Hyde Park) concert marked the end of an era in music. If it ended the hard sounds of the sixties perhaps it augered in the music of the seventies, which would seem to be music that is more self-conscious than before to the degree that...different forms are sought, ones which expect a reaction from the head rather more than from the foot.
SEPTEMBER 20 Melody Maker. Mick Farren of the Deviants to Richard Williams: I think we've been going against what's been happening on the so called "underground" pop scene. We're not interested in dexterity, in this big technical thing represented by people like King Crimson. That's so sterile.
SEPTEMBER 20 Rolling Stone UK. Mark Williams: One gets the impression that King Crimson have happened too fast and at the wrong time...Petty jealousies and incredulous criticisms are put to work to try and erode the idealogical stamina of the band...Then there have been the physical obstacles that have been put before them, the recording problems... and the legal altercations with Decca.
SEPTEMBER 26 International Times. Reply to Fripp's earlier letter. Dave Arbus: I was totally bambozzled by it and I'm a progressive pop musician, so what the fuck anyone outside the underground encampment is supposed to make of it God only knows...Fripp is either hugely ignorant or hugely phoney, possibly both.
OCTOBER 10 Release of first King Crimson album. Pete Townshend: An uncanny masterpiece.
OCTOBER 10 International Times. Mark Williams: The Ultimate Album...Written, arranged, played and produced by the most original group since.........(Fill in and send your answers to Apple Limited, Savile Row, London, for instance).
OCTOBER 17 Fairfield Hall concert supporting The Nice.
OCTOBER 18 Rolling Stone. Johnathan Green: King Crimson, the group who manage to combine a loathing for any form of hype with a reputation as the next Beatles, have finally released their first album...Considering this aversion of theirs for the corruptions and false values of the pop business, the sub-title of the album "An Ob- servation By King Crimson" is incredibly pretentious.
"Confusion is my epitapth" they sing on "Moonchild" and confusion cer- tianly sums up this album...The confusion comes in the mixture of styles on the LP...The difficulties come through the lack of positive force on the whole LP...the essential problem with groups like King Crimson. Relying to a great extent on the atmosphere that accompanies their per- formance to enhance the music itself, the recording of the music and thus the sacrifice of this atmosphere inevitably deprives the music of a great deal of its force. In judging this LP one must discriminate between their live performance and the result of their time in the studios...Bob Fripp, lead guitarist, admits willingly that the group play for themselves. Hearing this album, they may well be bored.
OCTOBER 20 Financial Times. Antony Thorncroft reviewing Fairfield Hall concert: The first half of the concert was given over to the brilliant King Crimson, who closed their set with an interpretation of "Mars"...This is how modern music should regenerate the classics. King Crimson, a loud, beautifully timed, underground quintet, deserve to be the next cult group and they will be.
OCTOBER 24 Sussex Express. Pat Caley: A tortured, agonised face bellows silently at you from the cover. It's hideous, sickening, and yet strangely compelling...As near perfection as one can probably go without rendering the music sterile and emotionless...
OCTOBER 24 Hendon Times. R. Woodburn: The quality of the recording is excellent and good use is made of stereo. There is a minimum of surface noise and little time wasted between numbers. Together with the rather uncanny cover in stiff cardboard and the added benefit of the lyrics reprinted inside the sleeve, the album is excellent value for the money: one of the best buys on the current market.
OCTOBER 25 Melody Maker. Alan Lewis: They created an almost overpowering atmosphere of power and evil.
OCTOBER 25 Melody Maker. P.P. Arnold in Blind Date, "In the Court": Is that a mellotron? It sounds like one. I like it, nice vocal, nice production, very pretty. Is it The Moody Blues? It sounds very much like them. King Crimson? I've heard of them. I don't know if it will be a hit, but it's nice. They remind me of The Nice a bit but they're not quite as aggressive.
Giles, Giles and Fripp attended, but did not play at a P.P. Arnold audition when The Nice left as her backing group. - Robert Fripp.
OCTOBER 25 Melody Maker album review: Confirms their reputation as one of the most important new groups for some time. It gives little idea of their true power on stage, but still packs tremendous impact.
OCTOBER 25 Disc single review: A doom-laden two-sided track that owes alot to The Moody Blues and Procul Harum.
OCTOBER 25 Disc. Johnathan King: I don't say they're very good or very different - the LP is all soft/loud contrasts and rubbish lyrics. Even on stage they look and sound pretentious. But I'm sure these eldery purveyors of trend music will make number one.
OCTOBER 26 Sunday Times. Derek Jewell reviews Fairfield Hall concert: Crimson are bursting with musicality and ideas but in public they over- respond like too many progressive groups to the easy lure of sensationalism, destructive decibals and corny lighting effects. To play a hiccoughing monotone for five minutes as the introduction to "Mars"...is a plain bore. They elongate their numbers mercilessly, which is roughly what happened to jazz when the LP replaced the 78 and encouraged the indolent structuring of solos. With editing their music would be stronger, less evil. They're too good to be too heavy.
OCTOBER 28 Daily Sketch. Anne Nightingale: If you want to know where pop music is going in the 70's, listen to this. It is magnificent.
OCTOBER 29 Goddard College, Vermont. King Crimson's first US gig to an audience with a high proportion tripping and expecting a happy soul band. We began with "Schizoid Man". The audience never recovered from the first shock, their condition being delicate anyway. I had the impression of the crowd being squashed. - Robert Fripp.
OCTOBER 31 Observer. Mick Watts: I'm not too keen myself. The standard of musicianship is high but the album's besetting fault is that it is derivative. "I Talk to the Wind" sounds like a straight nick off Paul McCartney and the rest of the numbers combine Pink Floyd psychedelia ("21st Century Schizoid Man") and with mellotron- produced strings and orchestral sound of The Moody Blues ("Epitapth"). My other criticism is levelled against their trite lyrics. They are no more awful than lyrics of lots of other so-called "underground" groups, but it is about time they left behind puerile fairy-tale lines about "moonchildren" and "purple pipers playing their tunes" and put some spunk into their writing. Not every group can be an Incredible String Band. In fact, King Crimson are by far the most successful when they are putting the boot in, as in "21st Century Schizoid Man"....Now that I liked!
NOVEMBER 1 Nottinghamshire Guardian. Adrian Tame: King Crimson might, I think, be the band to whom Dylan or the Beatles or the Stones could pass on the torch if and when they were ready to lay it down...King Crimson are going to be THE band...They are Robert Fripp, who sits on a stool on stage and plays his guitar as if it were his last hold on sanity; Ian McDonald who plays woodwind with the seductive passion of Pan and mellotron with a touch that leaves one wondering from what dimension he gets his inspiration; Greg Lake whose voice takes every last syllable of meaning from every line he sings; and Michael Giles drumming never imposes but always adds...
NOVEMBER 1 Record Retailer Top LP's. First King Crimson chart entry at #5.
NOVEMBER 7 Kinetic Playground, Chicago. Shortly after the gig, gangsters fired the club and destroyed the roof and light show. I was told later that the promoter's insurance wasn't paid. The fire brigade ruined more equipment than the mob. Iron Butterfly lost alot. We lost a mellotron. - Fripp.
NOVEMBER 8 Melody Maker. Letter from Johnny "The Gripper" Swag: I am a common, simple skinhead and I am sick and tired of all these hairy twits trying to intellectualise pop music. They're all pseuds and their "art" is about as constructive as me getting "the boot in". As far as these "progressive" groups like King Crimson, they have as much idea about melody as a porcupine feeling at home in a balloon factory. Give me Leapy Lee or Desmond Dekker any day.
NOVEMBER 8 Disc. David Hughes: In just 6 short months King Crimson have taken over Britain...Now their debut LP...is set to take over from Abbey Road at the top of the LP chart. All this with virtually no radio play, no TV appearences and no publicity. They have never employed anyone to preach their message and arrival to the pop press and have no intentions of doing so now...Already in the short time King Crimson have been in operation (Fripp) is aware of the stresses and strains that success can bring. "We're already suffering from very unkind remarks and also from too kind remarks. People seem to be either violently pro or anti us. And if there's one thing we have not learned to do properly yet, that's how to balance our life correctly and work hard yet still remain healthy...Three of us have been ill during the past month"... They've learned the hazards of a reputation.
NOVEMBER 8 New Music Express. Nick Logan: Fashions are pleasent but can be dangerously short-lived. In roaring out from no-where in a matter of half a dozen months to become the fashionablew underground attraction of the day King Crimson have a problem. "It's very worrying", agreed drummer Mike Giles, speaking from their manager's Ken- sington mews house before the group left for its debut tour of America. "But I cannot see what on earth we can do about it".
NOVEMBER 8 The Scotsman. Alastair Clark: King Crimson are what the Beatles might just conceivably have been had they decided not to regress into dittyland.
NOVEMBER 29 New Music Express. Nick Logan: Considering it was 5:30 in the morning New York time, Mike sounded bright and cheerful as he consulted his diary for interesting things to pass on - but he admitted that in the first few weeks morale had sunk a little low. "Well, maybe not low, but it wasn't that good. It is improving now though". Many groups find that the variable luck prolonged travelling and inevitable periods of boredom have their compensation in serving to unite a band. "Yes, that is so," affirmed Mike. "We've found that is is knitting us to- gether, but we've yet to experiences the results of it".
NOVEMBER 30 Palm Beach Post-Times. John R. Thompson: Around the lobby of the Colonnades Beach Hotel, here the word is spreading that the King Crimson musical group are the one to keep your eyes on. Like the Beatles the King Crimson boys are English.
DECEMBER 5 LA Times. John Mendelsohn. King Crimson Opens Its Rock'n'Roll Stand: King Crimson, who opened Wednesday at Hollywood's Whiskey, is known in the pop press of its native England as a progressive rock group.
It is in all ways worthy of this label. Certainly an unbending four-four rhythm base and raw emotionalism and nonliterate lyrics and barely con- trolled three-minute energy bursts are not for these four.
They are rather quite civilized in performance (the guitarist even sits on a stool, demurely). They deal in poetic, image-laden lyrics, exude enviable restraint even while their organist is blowing frenetically on his alto sax, can play in a variety of meters and play nothing less than 10 minutes in length.
THEY'RE ARTISTS No, these boys are neither guitar-smashing rowdies nor pelvis-wriggling trouble-makers, but rather, artists, shrewd manipulators of myriad rock and other techniques. And they are boring beyond description.
Groups like this, rather than making rock more durable by cleverly stirring in the most convenient elements of such musical third-cousins as jazz, will surely bring the idiom to its knees in arthritic agony long before its time. Strip rock'n'roll of its power, of its flash and raw monster energy, as the Crimsons have done, and you may wind-up with art, but you'll have nothing that can shatter windows or set bodies to bopping at 10 paces.
DECEMBER 3-6 While in Los Angeles Mike and Ian decided to leave and told me while driving to Big Sun on the night of the 7th. My stomach dissapeared. King Crimson was everything to me. To keep the band together, I offered to leave instead but Ian said that the band was more me than them. - Robert Fripp.
Rolling Stone (US) album review, John Northland: This set was an ambitious project to say the least! King Crimson will probably be condemmed by some for pompousness, but that criticism really valid. They have combined aspects of many musical forms to create a surreal work of force and originality...How effectively this music can be on stage is ad- mittedly a big question. The answer is probably not too well. Still, King Crimson's first album is successful; hopefully, there is more to come.
DECEMBER 6 Billboard: King Crimson, royal relative and fellow heavy to Deep Purple, outweighed Joe Cocker and Reprise's Fleetwood Mac 10 tons to two, Nov. 21 at the Fillmore East, when the new Atlantic group glashed ear-splitting volume with well-integrated jazz, yielding a symphonic explosion that made listening compulsory, if not hazardous.
A heavy recipe from the cookbook of the late, great Cream, King Crimson can only be described as a monumental heavy, with the majesty - and tragedy - of Hell. Greg Lake, who snaps a cathartic bass guitar to the fore of the music, also sings lead like a hoody choirboy. But with all the volume controls open wide, both his bassline and voice resound like thunder in the night. Lake and his drama command the group in the fierce tradition of Jack Bruce, and like Cream's non-member Pete Brown, King Crimson performs the sung poems and Gothic texts of Peter Sinfield, whose foreboding poetry darkens the doomsday vision of the group's holocaustic blasts. In their irreverance and chaos, there is also pseudo-religious exaltation that the British group heightens with its rock interpretations of cosmic jazz.
King Crimson drove home the point of their musical philosophy with the volume turned up so high on their amplifiers that, had they been electric blankets, they would have all boiled to death, not to mention third-degree burns in the audience. The group's emmense towering force field, electrified by the energy of their almost frightening intensity, either pinned-down patrons or drove them out. Volume is total affirmation of their music just as no volume is the negation of rock, so threatening the sound barrier is part of their act of harnessing the hell of machines - in this case, amplifiers - gone berserk. Ian McDonald on keyboards, added flames to the big fire, which reached its peak on "Court of the Crimson King", a heavy, heady masterwork that should make hard rock nuts forget about Iron Butterfly and their "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita" epic. The presence of King Crimson, and it will be hard to miss them - have made rock a little harder.
DECEMBER 6 Cash Box. Fillmore East, New York: King Crimson is unabashedly a hype group. Yet King Crimson just may be able to live up to their own hype. All of the group's songs deal with Man's eternal fight with chaos, both within himself ("21st Century Schizoid Man") and in his environment ("Court of the Crimson King"). The problem for many people may be that Crimson owes as much to Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt as it does to The Moody Blues.
JANUARY 3 Melody Maker headline: New Year Pop Shocks: Bonzo Dog Band Split After Four Years, Steve Ellis Leave Love Affair, King Crimson Lose Two Members... King Crimson announced their split after a highly-successful trip to America. Ian McDonald (mellotron, saxes, flute) and Mike Giles (drums) have left the group. A spokesman for the group told the MM:
"The American thing was such a total experience of plasticity that Ian and Mike now feel that getting their feeling across on records is more important than performing to audiences. They will concentrate on writing and recording".
The remainder of the group - Robert Fripp, Greg Lake and Peter Sinfield - plan to sign two new members. They have cancelled all dates for January and February. They plan to spend some three months rehearsing before the new King Crimson appears in public, probably around April 5.
JANUARY 10 Music Now. Simon Stabler: Last week a rumour was circulating the London Swing Spots that Greg Field was leaving King Crimson to join one of Britain's better-known trios. This story isn't, in fact, true.
JANUARY 17 Although a "new" King Crimson will eventually appear, how can anyone be expected to believe that they will match-up to the King Crimson we all know and love so much?
JANUARY 24 New Music Express. Nick Logan: REPLACEMENTS With two so-far-unnamed replacements, the new King Crimson started re- hearsing last week in the same room beneath a seedy West London cafe that the old King Crimson started from...exactly one year ago.
Ian McDonald and Bob Fripp, demonstrating the amicability of the parting better than a carefully-phrased handout could, met the NME last week to explain both sides of the split.
"The situation", started Ian, "was that I was playing music I enjoyed, but I wanted to play music that was more personal to me. I was unable to do that with King Crimson.
"The group has a very broad mixture of music, but the average feel of the songs I was not happy with. It is not happy music. And I want to make music that says good things instead of evil things. The music will be more varied. I doubt if there will be much paranoia or aggression. There will be less frustration".
Their dissatisfaction with Crimso's music, said Ian, came to a head during the group's seven-week US Tour. They said that America either brings a group together or takes it apart and in the case of King Crimson it appears to have done both.
"It wasn't an impulsive decision. This had been building up since the group began. None of us saw King Crimson as an end product".
Bob nodded his agreement. So what then of King Crimson? Bob Fripp is more than anyone else the head of King Crimson, as far as the music is concerned, and he remains.
FEBRUARY Nineteen. Jeremy Pascall reviewing "In the Court": The one and only mistake - a track called "21st Century Schizoid Man", the pretentious and silly title of which may give you some clue as to the content. Personally, I feel this was a misconceived, ill-advised piece that would have been better left in the can. Ugly, cacophonous and without merit.
FEBRUARY 14 Record Mirror. Added Mike: Crimson rapidly escalated and became a god instead of a collective name. It overtook Ian and I. And now we've left, we can musically all work together without the group commitments.
Said Ian: "But we can't set a direction in which our music will be going. In broad terms it will be much happier of course than King Crimson, which was rather paranoic. Our new music will be more balanced".
FEBRUARY 28 New Music Express headline: Strange Crimson Line-Up. A new King Crimson single titled "Cat Food" is released by Island Records on March 13. For the purposes of this single...the personnel included regular members Bob Fripp and Greg Lake, it's former drummer Mike Giles and his brother Pete on bass, and jazz-pianist Keith Tippett. Giles played on the session because he and another ex-member, Ian McDonald, have not yet been replaced by the group. Commented Bob Fripp: "We haven't yet found a permanent working group, but we hope to be back on the road by May".
During February, Barry Godber, the painter of the first album cover, died of a heartattack at the age of 24.
MARCH 9 Daily Sketch. Anne Nightengale: It's called "Cat Food", but it doesn't seem to be enriched with any ex- citing, new flavour. I'm tempted to say they should have kept this one in the can!
MARCH 13 Cat Food/Groon Island single release in UK.
MARCH 13 Sussex Express. Pat Caley: Even without Ian McDonald and Mike Giles, King Crimson are still a great band destined for even greater peaks of fame. But please don't judge them on "Cat Food" - it's just a joke.
MARCH 14 MM Blind Date. Pete Drummond: Beautiful, a very very good production. This is so far above the average sort of single. There's nothing left to chance, everything is so well put together. I don't see how anyone can say anything detrimental about it apart from the fact that it's too short.
MARCH 14 NME. Nick Logan: Today sees the release of their totally superb "Cat Food" single; they're half-way through the second Crimson LP and a tour with the recently re- formed Traffic is in the offing. Guitarist Bob Fripp and vocalist Greg Lake journeyed up to the NME on Friday to put the record straight on Crimson's comings and goings. The last time I saw Bob he was excitedy hopping off to rehearsals to try out replacements for Mike and Ian.
"We've got got a sax and flute player for Ian," he told me on Friday, "but the replacement drummer didn't work out...we've tried out half a dozen or so drummers without success. Rather than hang about we thought we would get on with the album". So while they looked Mike Giles drummed-on to help with "Cat Food"...and on the album tracks recorded so far.
His brother Pete Giles who was formerly in computers, like lyricist and lights operator Pete Sinfield, has in the meantime joined the group on bass freeing Greg Lake to concentrate solely on vocals. They think, though, that they've now found a drummer.
"We're trying him out tonight," said Bob. "I've worked with him before and I think he'll be OK. We'll then be a six-piece group including Pete Sinfield".
MARCH 14 Sunderland Echo: Looking to the future of the group, it has been decided that Fripp, Sinfield and Lake will provide that stable foundation with various friends added as and when the situation demands. Explains Bob Fripp: "This way one doesn't have to be stuck with a certain number of musicians. It's a very flexible base from which to work and expand at will".
MARCH 14 Falkirk Herald. The Teen Scene: "Cat Food" is not the type of disc you can have burbling away while you play chess, have an orgy, read a book or knit for the boys in the trenches.
MARCH 21 Disc: New King Crimson Addition - Flautist Mel Collins from Circus.
MARCH 25 King Crimson on BBC TV "Top of the Pops": Fripp, Lake, Keith Tippett, Mike and Peter Giles perform "Cat Food".
MARCH 26 In the New year period Spooky Tooth, The Nice, Aynsley Dunbar, Blossom Toes, The Move, Blind Faith and Yes were all having personnel difficulties. Greg had always wanted to work with Keith Emerson and was, therefore, tempted to join The Nice. He spent Christmas thinking about it and then decided to stay with King Crimson. But increasingly it became obvious that there would be differences in direction if Greg remained, and he still really wanted to work with Keith. So I put him in a situation where he would have to leave by stipulating that unless I had the final say with the music, I wouldn't continue Crimson. When Greg joined Keith I had so much hope for what they could achieve that while we were working on Poseidon in Wessex I told Greg that I would be interested in working with them. He told me later that Keith was not keen to work with a guitarist. At the same time, Hendrix also expressed interest in joining.
Meantime, still while recording at Wessex, Yes phoned and asked me to replace Pete Banks. Bill Bruford and Chris Squire came round to my flat off the Portobello Road, and we played the Cat Food/Groon single. But I had the feeling that since I was very sure of what I wanted, I would have taken over the band which wasn't what they were offering. Two and a half years later, Bill told me that's what they had been offering. I never discussed this with any others from Yes on any occasion.
In the same period, Aynsley Dunbar phoned and asked me to join Blue Whale. I asked him if he'd like to join Crimson. - Robert Fripp.
APRIL 4 Disc: Headline: Nice split and Keith Emerson forms group with Crimson man.
APRIL 5 Sunday Sun. Phil Penfold and Ian Key "Cat Food" review: We'll go so far as to say it's the biggest load of codswallop we've had to listen to since we started this column. It definitely qualifies for the S.S.O.R. (Sunday Sun Order of the Rasberry).
APRIL 11 NME: Keith Emerson - organist of The Nice - and King Crimson's bassist Greg Lake are forming a trio which will commence dates within two months.
APRIL 18 Record Mirror: King Crimson will not be on the Traffic tour in May...said a spokesman for Crimson: "It's a question of time rather than disputes over policy".
APRIL 25 Record Mirror: The future of King Crimson is uncertain after Greg Lake joined ex-Nice organist Keith Emerson. Said a spokesman for Crimson, "Our first object is to complete the album - which should be by next week...and then Bob Fripp and Pete Sinfield will have to decide on forming a new group".
MAY 9 Melody Maker headline: Crimson Ditch Live Dates: And there seems no likelihood of them reforming on a permanent basis. Instead guitarist and composer Bob Fripp will begin work on their third album...Fripp told the MM..."I'm going down to the rehearsal basement this week to start writing and arranging the next album". Fripp plans to use basically the same pool of musicians who produced "Poseidon" - "But the pool will probably be enlarged to take in a few more people" he said.
MAY 9 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: "Poseidon" is the result of alot of forces: the band's incredibly fast rise, their tour of the States, the ill-defined resignations of various members and long period away from the public eye. Listening to an early pressing in Bob Fripp's flat the other day, it was impossible not to be awed by the sheer size and scope of their music. It has a scale and grandeur unparalleled in rock and its inner complexities rival those of great classical composers. You get the feeling if Wagner were alive today, he'd be working with King Crimson.
MAY 9 NME. Nick Logan: This isn't a farewell album from King Crimson although you will be forgiven for wondering how a band that's been left with apparently only one original playing member can continue to function and proclaim that it's far from dead...Briefly what's happened to Crimson is that it's alive and can at will stretch from two people - guitarist Bob Fripp and lyricist Pete Sinfield - to a dozen or more...This is a superb album...polished like cut glass, beautifully produced, full of signposts to pop's future and confirmation if any were needed of a considerable music brain.
MAY 16 Disc: To the non-converted this second LP is a vast improvement on "In the Court of the Crimson King" - altogether more flowing, less freaky, and less disjointed. To the converted there may be a slight sense of dis- appointment in that the pattern is much the same.
MAY 16 Record Mirror: Robert Partridge: Crimson have grown-up. Their first album displayed their naivity with their almost paranoiaic excesses, but now "In the Wake of Poseidon" shows a tight discipline and a formidable control...The album has been impeccably produced and arranged and must rank as one of the most important con- tributions to progressive music for some time.
MAY 16 Music Now. Simon Stable: At first I thought, "Dear me, they've made a stereo copy of their first album. But after several gigs (playing the album at 100 watts per channel) I have come to the conclusion that the group should never have made their first album for general release, but should have said, "That is the sort of sound we want, give a year or so and produce a masterpiece". Here it is: "The King Crimson Sound"..."What about the record?" I hear you cry. "Why, it's a masterpiece!" he said.
MAY 22 Sussex Express. Pat Caley: It's almost as if the album had been deliberately written with the same pattern and same sequence of crescendo and climax as that first mas- terpiece. A great album and a dissapointing one. Perhaps I shall rewrite this review in a couple of months when I've had time to absorb the King's complexities. Until then, I feel cheated and frustrated by what could have been so great.
MAY 23 The Journal: Not so much a rebirth as an affirmation of continuing existence.
MAY 29 Beckenham Journal. Michael Walters: Their portentous, pretentious new package comes in an eye-catching charity Christmas card cover...Crimson serve-up a great phoney heavyweight of an album. And I love it.
MAY 30 Disc. David Hughes: King Crimson is a pyramid or cone with Bob Fripp and me sitting at the top. Underneath are various musicians and friends upon whom we can call, who form a very solid foundation. - Peter Sinfield.
King Crimson is an idea and a way of doing things. It's a way of getting people together to play music and a way of thinking about things. - Robert Fripp.
Two ways of describing King Crimson, still the most original musical con- cept to emerge in this country in recent years from the two men who form its nucleus.
JUNE 4 Halifax Evening Courier & Guardian. John Mitchell: A dreamy whispering of half-tones heard then WHAM! - They descend on the down-beat with a real springy tutti.
JUNE 6 The Scotsman. Alastair Clark: The last agonising scene in the epic screen production of "The King Crimson Story" will show the group's sole-surviving member, Robert Fripp, being slowly crunched to death in the jaws of his mellotron.
JUNE 12 Sussex Express. Pat Caley: King Crimson "In the Wake of Poseidon": This is by way of a second look at the Crimson King's second album (in my first review a couple of weeks back I said that I really needed more time to get into such a complex work).
Over the past fortnight I've really grown to love this album. That over- whelming sensation of enormous power on the title track and "The Devil's Triangle" is something which didn't hit me at first listening.
Everything about Crimson now seems stronger.
JUNE 27 Melody Maker. Russell Unwin: The most important aspect of the music of Soft Machine and Crimson is their readiness to use sound for its own sake...This puts the two bands in line with the contemporary avant-garde classicists.
AUGUST 15 Melody Maker: King Crimson is alive and well and rehearsing in a basement in London's Fulham Palace Road - with three new members. Bob Fripp and Peter Sinfield... have been joined by flautist/altoist Mel Collins from Circus, bass guitarist and singer Gordon Haskell and drummer Andy McCullough. Both McCullough and Haskell (who sang "Cadence and Cascade" on Crimson's last album) come from the same West Country district as Fripp, and in fact Gordon and Bob were at school together. Collins also made a couple of appearances on "In the Wake of Poseidon". The new group is currently learning and rehearsing several Fripp/Sinfield compositions for their next album and will not go on the road until the beginning of 1971.
OCTOBER 17 Sounds. Royston Eldridge: Fripp says he learn't alot with the first King Crimson: "Events just pro- ceeded around the band" and that the first band was somehow charmed but it was a charm which wore off. "It was blessed with something. A good fairy, if you like, but it was something intangible that wore off while we were making the first album in the June and July of last year".
NOVEMBER 7 Melody Maker: Gordon Haskell has quit the new King Crimson, leaving the group without a singer or bass guitarist. He left them late on Monday night during rehearsals and two days after the band's next album, "Lizard", had been completed. Commented Bob Fripp: "I suppose Crimson is a way of life. It's a very intense thing and I think Gordon realised that".
NOVEMBER 28 New Music Express: Next Week: The Uncertain World of the King Crimson.
DECEMBER 11 Release of "Lizard".
DECEMBER 12 Evening Standard: The perfect record for the person you like least of all, but are forced for one reason or another to buy them a present. I can discern neither melody nor sense in any of it so it's not for anyone with my plebian and simple tastes. The abyss where modern jazz and rock meet. Beautiful sleeve.
DECEMBER 19 Sounds. Steve Peacock: Having been more than a little dissapointed by Crimson's last album...which I found much too close to the first for comfort, I was relieved to find that this new one holds just as much freshness and interest as the first and that while it retains the sound that is unmistakably Crimson, it has moved on towards a more open, fluent style.
DECEMBER 19 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: King Crimson, and particularly Robert Fripp, have grasped the concept that rock can be built on scale to rival classical music and "Lizard" is the third installment, as unmistakably original as "Crimson King" and "Poseidon".
DECEMBER 19 Melody Maker: King Crimson have found a new drummer, but are now searching for a bassist and singer in order to start live appearences early in 1971. Robert Fripp wouldn't reveal the drummer's name for contractual reasons but told MM:
"What we really want is a bassist who sings but we'd be happy with a bassist and a singer seperately. They need to have very broad musical interests but the singer for interest might at this moment be a choirboy or even languishing in a hotel dance band. We're really trying very hard to find people".
Among those singers we auditioned were John Gaydon, one of our managers who had sung with The Band of Angels, and Bryan Ferry. Both were among the best although not suitable. I recommended Bryan to EG Management and some 18 months later they were handling Roxy Music. But this was a time of desperation and the auditions were quite awful. I asked Keith Tippett if he would join and bring Jools, Mark Charig and Nick Evans but he felt it was the wrong move for him. - Robert Fripp.
JANUARY 2 Melody Maker. Elton John in Blind Date. King Crimson "Cirkus": Definitely English. Crimson? Strange band. I really like them on record, but I saw them live once and was dissapointed. Their last album didn't do as well as the first, which was a pity because it was better. I like what they're doing, but I'm not 100% sure...I loved that single "Cat Food" though. That was great, and Bob Fripp has some great ideas. They really sound English, don't they? Never in a million years could an American band sound like that. I think Crimson should write a film score - they'd be excellent.
Elton had been booked to sing all the songs on "Poseidon" for f250 as a session singer and as I wasn't familiar with his work, Mark Fenwick of EG gave me a copy of Elton's first album. But his style didn't seem right for Crimson and the album was poor, so I cancelled the sessions. We were going to use a black singer instead who was to join full time but his manager became too ambitious. - Robert Fripp.
JANUARY 2 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: Pete Sinfield - computer operator, painter, lampshade-maker, tie-dyer, poet/lyricist, guitarist, light-show man, synthesizer operator. Pete Sinfield, who are you? For a start, he's one of the two remaining mem- bers of the original King Crimson, which is rather ironic when one con- siders that he was once, in his own words, their tame hippie and unpaid roadie.
It's odd, when one considers the crucial importance of his lyrics to the band's overall tone and approach, that more fuss isn't made of him. There's no doubt, for instance, that he's among the most imaginative lyricists within the ambit of rock, using a terse, epigrammatic style notable for its economy. Rare qualities, indeed, these days.
"I'd looned around playing guitar and singing - both very badly - in Spain and Morocco, and when I started the band, Ian (McDonald) was one of the three guitarists who only stayed a few days because we were so atrocious. He asked me to write some songs with him. He joined Giles, Giles and Fripp, and told them he had a guy who wrote words, so when Pete Giles left and Greg joined I became their pet hippie, because I could tell them where to go to buy the funny clothes that they saw everyone wearing.
"They were amazing musicians, and I advised them on what to wear...things like that. I'd been running a light show and I acted as unpaid roadie for three months, because I believed in them as musicians. In fact, I carved and hustled my way to where I am now. Bob says he uses me as a barometer, and I also thought up the name of the band. Actually, I don't know what I do - obviously the lyrics are the most important thing, but it's got to the stage where nothing on "Lizard" was passed without my approval, and I supervised the pressing and the sleeve while Bob was rehearsing with Centipede".
Crimso seems to have reached somthing of an impasse, with auditions being the order of the day and night so that the band can get on the road as soon as possible. It's been a rather discouraging year, but Pete says he's not worried for himself.
"I always wanted to write songs and get my name in the MM, and all the other things that pop stars do. I'm writing things with Ian again, which is nice for a change, and also by myself as well as with Bob. I need to do other things because...well...Bob is Bob, and it's limiting for me to write with one person all the time.
"I'm exhausted after all the hustles, but since I don't play an instrument it probably doesn't bother me as much as it bothers Bob. I really be- lieved in the first band, and whether I've got cynical during my two years in the music business I don't know, but I don't seem to believe in it as strongly now. No, seriously, two years is a long time in the music business. I just hope that when the new people come in, I'll believe in it as strongly again".
JANUARY 13 Evening Argus. Ray Miller: This album is simply an embellishment on some of the most significant and pleasing music of our time.
JANUARY 14 West Lancashire Evening Gazette. Peter Melling: A weird album exclusively for the friends. I am convinced that few others will understand Peter Sinfield's lyric imagery on "Lizard". It's a pity that this fine band couldn't divert more of its talent to instrumentals instead of cutting these odd, sometimes pretentious songs. Another thing Crimson should have borne in mind - Yes lead singer Jon Anderson...sounds far better than regular vocalist Gorden Haskell.
JANUARY 16 Disc: King Crimson got a letter the other day along the usual..."I am 16 and my friends tell me I can sing (haha)..." lines. Oh well, said Bob Fripp, come down to an audition. The boy turned up, sung one number and half way through the second number said "Oh dear, I think I'm going to faint!" and promptly did so!
This incident was recorded along with many other auditions. The young man collapsed back in a chair conveniently placed behind him during "Lady of the Dancing Water". - Robert Fripp.
JANUARY 19 Friends. Martin Shallon: King Crimson "Lizard": If one of the most highly-rated bands last year have sunken into virtual anonymity and oblivion, it can't really be said to be the fault of King Crimson's sound as that so many musicians just don't seem to be able to relate to Bob Fripp's surrealistic phantasies. I find it increasingly difficult to relate to it myself. I have the definite feeling that Crimso is Fripp's artistic vehicle more than a group consciousness, and I say this because despite the many recent changes of personnel, the content doesn't seem to have taken any drastic changes as a result.
It was such a long time ago since I heard "In the Court of the Crimson King", but I know that it grabbed me more than anything Crimson have done since. The musical structures that Crimson employed a year ago, are still apparent, seemingly rehashed and not as dynamic as of old. The energy that went into the first album seems to have spent itself, or it has changed, and Crimso didn't follow it. The liftoffs don't take you so high, the portentousness is climbing out of a rocking chair with the aid of a walking stick and some helping hands.
At his abstracted best, Peter Sinfield can write some brilliantly per- ceptive poetry, and this is the aspect of the album that is particularly praiseworthy. Dig "Indoor Games", which, to clue you in, I'll say has definitely nothing to do with horny living room scenes or ludo; or "Happy Family", which is, I think, about the Beatles but don't quote me. Incidently, would it be cool to refer to the "defunct Beatles"?
The circus, with its attendant weird associations, must really be the freakiest trip on the planet, but Crimso got pipped at this kind of imagery a long time ago, if you can remember "Strange Days" and the days of ampoule speed to help get those little paranoia-induced hob-goblins popping out of everything you dared to look at. Crimson's "Cirkus" comes nowhere near the musically ideal imagery, but the words, once again, are right on. King Crimson aren't about to make a pile of new converts, but lots of adherents will dig it.
JANUARY 22 Sussex Express. Pat Caley. King Crimson: "Lizard" (Island): Crimson have begun to fulfill the promise of those embryo days of "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "In the Wake of Poseidon".
Robert Fripp, Crimso's eternal light and guardian of all that is good and healthy in contemporary music, reckoned 75% of "Poseidon" was a success. "Lizard" must be more like 95% successful - and I've yet to find the 5% "failure".
I'm always wary of crediting such a complex work as this with total success - before drawing a final judgement one must take time to absorb and assimilate the album's own peculiar character and mood.
Right, with the snivelling, backslapping over, let me make an admission. When I first heard "Lizard" I was utterly bewildered, and (unjustly as I have since found) just a little dissapointed.
What at first hearing seemd a conflicting melee of complex sounds and ideas has with repeated late-night listening grown clearer and stronger. I've still to get to grips with alot of the ideas - they are baffling at times and constantly conceived with internal conflicts of mood and sound.
Anyone who enjoys brilliantly vivid contemporary music - played with wit, subtlety and invention - should find plenty to amuse, excite and tax the mind. Anyone who enjoys brilliantly in "Lizard", a rare, baffling, brooding masterpiece.
JANUARY 29 West Herts & Watford Observer: Forget the occasionally terrible, pseudo-romantic lyrics and listen to the music.
JANUARY 30 Disc: David Hughes: King Crimson remain remarkably cheerful against almost overwhelming odds: Last Wednesday the odds on King Crimson getting a working band together in the forseeable future were reckoned by Bob to be 80/20. By the following day they had dropped rapidly to 60/40. By today they could be anything from 90/10 to 50/50. Such is the precarious state of affairs after just 13 months of conscientious effort.
On Wednesday "Crimso" consisted of Bob Fripp and Peter Sinfield, Mel Collins ("who's joined King Crimson about 4 times in the past year"), a drummer whom they prefer to keep anonymous for the time being, possibly fearing that anything concrete like a name will spell even further trouble, a similarly anonymous bass player.
By Thursday the bass player, who after three days of rehearsals was be- ginning to be thought of as the right man at last (Crimson reckon they've auditioned 30 bass players, adding that 25 should never have turned up in the first place!), quit, saying he could never achieve what was expected of him.
"Mel Collins will be bitterly dissapointed," says Bob, who philosophically adds that perhaps he has learned to control his own outward dissapointment. "He's been with us for over a year now and still hasn't played a gig!".
Bob now sets himself a new target of forming a band - which is sadly almost rather a joke in the music business - by the third week in February, though he tempers this by adding that if the right musician cannot be free until later, then later it will be. "If we've waited 13 months, what difference does another week make?" he says.
"But if we've waited 13 months we could quite easily wait forever", says Peter Sinfield. That's one of the hazards, but also one of the endearing features of the two hardy perennial Crimsos; they frequently agree - and very amicably - to differ, often on seemingly crucial points.
The "anonymous bass player" was Rick Kemp who gave up after two days. On the following Sunday Boz picked up a bass which an auditioner had left behind and had a thrash. The next day he borrowed a bass from a friend and on Tuesday took one on approval from Top Gear. The decision that Boz should be the bass player was taken four days after that on Saturday 13th February. The following week John Wetton phoned looking for a job after the collapse of Mogul Thrash. - Robert Fripp.
FEBRUARY 6 Record Mirror. Rob Partridge: The almost traumatic events of the year have left their effect on the music and the musicians themselves. "For me, it's been quite a frustrating time", admitted Mel Collins, the group's saxaphonist. "Frustrating" is hardly the word - so far he's been a member of Crimson four times.
FEBRUARY 13 New Music Express. Nick Logan interviews Greg Lake:
There was some nice guitar work on this tape.
Yes, well I always used to be a guitarist. I only started on bass when I joined Crimso, having dabbled on bass with The Gods. But for 11 years I played guitar.
How did you first meet Bob Fripp?
I've known Bob for years and years. He's from Wimbourne, Dorset, and I'm from Poole, a few miles away. Mike Giles is from 'round there as well. We were all born in Dorset. Fripp and I went to the same guitar teacher. Bob was working then with Mike Giles.
I was in a local group and at the time Fripp was the rated guitarist and I was sort of second known. He started hearing about me and came along to a gig just to check out that I wasn't any competition for him.
I'd only heard his name, I didn't know him. He came up and started asking questions about how I played and I didn't think he knew anything about it and started explaining it to him in layman's terms how to play in that particular style. When I'd finished he took up the guitar and started playing and I found out who he was.
I have great respect for him. I've sat and heard him play in his room and he is a brilliant guitarist, possibly the best in the country. Yet he's never heard on record. No one ever hears what he can do. What he lays down on record is so limited compared to what is within his ability. There's this piece by Paganini that's too fast for anyone to play, yet Bob can play it.
I remember when Crimso split it was a great dissapointment but I was able to pull through. My musical career really started with Crimso. I would have been quite happy if my life had started with Crimso.
Crimso was the first chance I had, by degree, to express myself musically, and even then I was limited. It was the first time I had ever worked with professional people, with good musicians. And not only good musicians, but good people and it was successful too of course, which makes the whole thing worthwhile.
Had you maintained your friendship with Fripp and Giles over the interim period?
With Bob, but I never have been friendly with Mike Giles. I talk to him, he talks to me, we say "hello" and are pleasant with each other, but I've never really known him. Not like I've known Bob. With Bob and I, it's like I have something he needs and he has something I need. He has the willpower and staying-power which I lack, and I have a sort of spontaneous energy thing which he lacks.
I lived with Fripp when I was with Crimso and I don't think anybody else in the world could live with Fripp. It was only for three/four months, which may not seem like long, but when you're in a group and working together too, it's like living in each other's pockets all the time.
Crimso was a very strange band. There were four musicians who each had an energy of their own. As musicians we were totally unconnected but we managed to gel for a short period of time.
There were musical as well as personal differences then?
Musical and personal, yeah. With Giles, McDonald, Fripp and myself it was 50% musical incompatibility and 75% as people. I felt closer to Bob but respected their talent.
Crimso for me was probably a refining process because I was very raw. With them I began to appreciate the subtleties of music.
After those lost years, you felt out of your depth?
When I joined I was very much out of my depth. It was strange because they were at the time so much better than I was. I feel it evened out later.
The King Crimson split when Ian McDonald and Mike Giles quit after the American tour, was that personal or musical?
100% personal I think. I think the reasons given were musical directions etc...the real reason was completely a personality thing where Mike and Ian basically were of a different temperament to Bob and myself. That was the root of it all.
They explained their reasons to Bob and myself in terms of music but really it wasn't that. I think the tour in America freaked them; they are very quiet people. And in America, the whole thing is aggression.
According to Bob Fripp, Mike and Ian think he is mad...
I think he is too. Not mad insane, but if the criteria of judgement for madness is to be other than the majority he is certainly mad. But it is the kind of madness I prefer.
I don't think that they are mad. I think that they are weak, and I don't mean that nastily because weakness can be a quality. But I don't think they could stomach being in a group, which became too hard to take. Before, working in the studio, we had no pressures.
They didn't have the resilience of Bob and myself. He is more resilient than I am. He has stuck through the whole thing of Crimso since the split.
Did your decision to leave immediately follow Mike and Ian's?
When Mike and Ian split, Bob said "What should we do now?" The thought was that we should get two more players. I had the feeling that we should have just started a new group and forgotten Crimso. That is what Bob should have done. But Bob wanted to work to a situation where he was in the driving seat over the other musicians involved, which I can dig, but not for me. So I left around Christmas after Mike and Ian. I had seen Keith before in America, and he said "Had you thought about getting a band together?" Then all these difficulties arose.
Weighing everything up, I saw a whole future with Keith and myself, whereas I saw a lot of trouble in the King Crimson thing.
If Mike and Ian hadn't split, do you think you would have stuck with Crimso?
If the band hadn't split I would have still been with them...even if I didn't get on with the blokes I would have stayed because that musical force was that important.
The subsequent troubles of Crimso seem to prove your misgivings founded?
Yeah...I foresaw all this. I still feel Bob would have done better to have said "Let's knock it on the head and start a new band". He wants to say "I will employ musicians" and any musician good enough for what Bob wants doesn't want to be employed!
FEBRUARY 20 New Music Express. Nick Logan interviewing Greg Lake: It was always hard to tell from the records what exactly your contribution to King Crimson was...
The trouble is I never got credit for what I did in Crimson. Most of the songs on that King Crimson album (the first) I had a large part in creating. "Schizoid Man" - I wrote the riff and song; "Epitapth"; I wrote the melody line for "In the Court of the Crimson King". The things I do are like parts that make up something, but don't necessarily form a large part of the end product.
FEBRUARY 27 Music Now. Tony Norman interviewing Judy Dyble: The break from Fairport left her sad but not bitter..."Then Ian McDonald and myself joined Giles Giles and Fripp. I left and they became King Crimson. Why did I leave? Well, it was a personal thing really. I had been going out with Ian and when it broke up things were a little awkward. I also had a problem getting on with Bob Fripp, I think a lot of people do. Geniuses are always difficult to get on with. I often found working with him quite frightening".
FEBRUARY 27 Sounds. Ian McDonald to Ray Telford: I enjoy playing guitar alot, but with Crimso I never played at all. If you've got Bob Fripp in a band you just don't play guitar.
APRIL 12-15 Return to live gigs at the Zoom Club, Frankfurt.
APRIL 24 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: After more than a year off the road, King Crimson slid quietly back into public performance last week with a hush-hush four day stint in Germany.
The gig was a warm-up for the band's 12-day British tour, which takes place in May. It was their first live performance since Ian McDonald, Mike Giles, and Greg Lake left the group following their American trip in the winter of 1969.
The new personel consists of Bob Fripp and Pete Sinfield plus reedman Mel Collins, drummer Ian Wallace (formerly with The World) and singer Boz who also plays bass guitar.
In fact, Fripp taught Boz to play bass from scratch, starting two months ago, because they couldn't find a suitable bassist.
They played eight sets at Frankfurt's Zoom Club, all of which were taped, purely for reference. The recordings show that the band has grown to- gether in a remarkably short space of time, and is already developing its own personality, despite the fact that its repertoire is mostly songs also performed by the old band: "In the Court of the Crimson King", "Schizoid Man", "A Sailor's Tale", and so on.
It's a very strong blowing band, with particular emphasis on Collins' extraordinarily confident alto and tenor. Abetted by Wallace, he's never afraid to go "outside", and the tapes convey many moments of superb free playing.
Pete Sinfield's use of the VCS3 synthesizer is unusual and highly creative, and the way he mutates the sound of the drums will amaze many listeners. Wallace is not as precise as Mike Giles, but he has perhaps more fire, and makes intelligent use of space and silence. Boz's singing is ebullient and generally controlled, while on bass he's learning how to hold down the timing and tonality of Fripp's immensely complex compositions.
In short, the new band will be every bit as satisfying as the old, and the possibilities for growth appear limitless. Bob Fripp was almost bubbling over with joy, after having confessed extreme nervousness after such a long time away from audiences.
Conversation during rehearsals in the Fulham Palace Cafe:
Peter Sinfield to Boz: You're ignorant.
Robert Fripp: A cruel thrust.
Peter Sinfield: I'm honest - I have a sore throat, a headache, and I'm tired so I'm in no mood to mince words.
Boz: I've got a sore throat and headache, and I'm SINGING!
Peter Sinfield: That PROVES you're ignorant!
MAY 11 British Tour begins at the Plymouth Guildhall.
MAY 29 Sounds. Steve Peacock: King Crimson. Mel Collins said that they had been due for a bad gig and friends who saw them at Bristol the night before said they had been better then, but at their first London gig in nearly two years at the Lyceum on Wednesday King Crimson were far from dissapointing. There were indeed things in their set that didn't quite work - "Court of the Crimson King" - for the main and most uncomfortable example - and in other places you could see how the music could have come across to better effect, but in general the new band have found a way of expressing Crimson music that I find em- otionally and intellectually satisfying, and technically interesting. There isn't much more you can ask of any band.
Most of the songs in the set are familiar to people who know King Crimson's music but equally most take on new and different aspects as the ideas and personality of the players come through the basic structure. Significantly, it was the song that was closest to its original conception that - "In the Court of the Crimson King" - that was the least successful on Wednesday. Whereas on record it very often sounds as if the songs and the construction of the music is the end, on stage with the new band and the lighting effects by Peter Sinfield, what is more important is the way the songs are played. With many bands, recorded music and live music are different and separate experiences; with Crimson, a live performance adds extra dimensions to the experience we already have.
The framework is clearly defined, but within it there is a lot of space, and they use the space well. Mel Collin's solos were particularly outstanding at The Lyceum. Boz proved to be a more than adequate bass player, a great showman, and a vocalist who veered from excellence (often) to disasterous (occasionally) and Ian Wallace was impressive throughout, but particularly so when he turned a solo for drums through "VCS3" from a jokey piece of sounds knockout into a seriously intentioned and effective piece of music. But however much he may protest the role, Robert Fripp's guitar work remains central to Crimson's music, and though on Wednesday he never got the chance to shine through as a soloist (perhaps he didn't want to) his guitar playing has a subtle strength that was essentially the core of the band. Crimson may not be Fripp's band, but without him they would be very different.
From the gentleness of songs like "Cadence and Cascade" and "Lady of the Dancing Water" through the welling, layered sound of "Devil's Triangle" to the harsh contrast of "Teachers of a City" or "21st Century Schizoid Man", the return of King Crimson proved that despite a few things that weren't quite right that night, they are still one of Britain's most original and satisfying bands.
MAY 29 New Music Express. Roy Carr: There was something special in going to the Lyceum last Wednesday evening. With anticipation, out pilgrimage was more like an annual reunion, for well over 2000 strong were all there to welcome back an old friend, King Crimson.
After close on two years, everyone concerned could have been excused that if that evening had proven to be an anti-climax - but it wasn't - for it had the mystique of such rare events as seeing The Stones or Neil Young.
Indeed, it is a credit to both Bob Fripp and Peter Sinfield that Crimso '71 is even more exciting than the original '69 prototype. For though they perform re-works of a couple of their earliest classics, the new band doesn't in any way rest on reputation.
JUNE 10 Epsom & Ewell Herald. Ian Ward: King Crimson showed their capability as a group during their Fairfield Hall concert, but only confirmed the impression that so called "progressive" heavy-music originates from old-time rock - and is by no means as entertaining.
But to their fans their performance was electrifying and significant. Crimson droned their way through several new numbers and gave a forceful rendering of their most popular recording, "In the Court of the Crimson King".
As the fans dug Crimson's performance, it was clear that heavy music is a self-indulgent, academic form of rock - owing little to the traditional values of entertainment and strictly for the converted.
JUNE 11 South London Press. Rick Humphries: Kingpin of the band is guitarist Bob Fripp whose relaxed mannerisms and gentle yokel accent are a misleading front for the curly-haired and be- spectacles genius whose head must literally be bursting with new forms, sounds and ideas.
JUNE 24 Sounds. Steve Peacock reviews Watford concert: Before there was still the feeling that it was the new band playing the music of the old band with the numbers rather than the personalities of the players coming through strongest. On Thursday, it was much the other way round.
AUGUST 9 & 10 King Crimson returned to The Marquee after 2 years. Peter Green was in the bar and told me: "It's good to see you making a comeback". I replied: "I've never been away". "That's what I like to hear" he said. -Robert Fripp.
AUGUST 28 New Music Express. Nick Logan: Headline: Crimso Softens and Fripp Begins To Lose His Cool: Pete: This next album must be the last Fripp-Sinfield album. The other members' presence is already being felt. Bob writes an awful lot of things but...he will have to reach a compromise to a certain extent.
SEPTEMBER 11 Melody Maker. Raver: It's been another week of concert raving. At Hyde Park on Saturday your Raver was torn between the sights of Bob Fripp sitting side-saddle on a Motor-bike throughout most of the afternoon casually playing his guitar and that of Julie Ege...looking resplendent in faded denims (they were the only things that were fading).
SEPTEMBER 18 New Music Express. James Johnson interviewing Stray: Says vocalist Steve Gadd: I boil-up reading long articles in the papers about the so-called genius of Yes or King Crimson. The whole thing is kind of "Look at us play man. Aren't we great?" They're not. The truth is that anyone could play Yes or King Crimson music if they happened to learn those particular riffs. I'm not saying I mind Crimson's music, but I never could go and watch them work. Let's face it - Bob Fripp's a bit of a...on stage".
OCTOBER 8 Autumn tour of the UK.
OCTOBER 16 Sounds. King Crimson have completed their fourth album for Island Records to be entitled "Islands".
OCTOBER 30 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: An album which is at least novel - high above the rest of British art-rock.
John Wetton came round to Boz's flat, we played the new Family and King Crimson albums. Coincidently John had lived in this flat not long before Boz. I was hoping that John would join and leave Boz to concentrate on vocals, but Mel, Boz, and Ian wanted Boz to stay on bass and John didn't feel the men were right for him. - Robert Fripp.
NOVEMBER 10 American tour begins in London, Ontario.
NOVEMBER 13 Sounds. Steve Peacock: We were talking about how King Crimson nearly split-up during their recent tour...Fripp admitted that he was responsible for a lot of the tension be- cause instead of screaming at people he clammed-up and sulked.
"Word was laid on me...that I wasn't aware of the effect I was having on the rest of the band. In fact, Mel emptied the contents of a table over Ian in the middle of the night once - instead of doing it to me, which upset Ian a bit - and Ian said that at several gigs he wanted to come over and lay one on me, and I was ready to throw the electric piano back if that happened".
Eventually, it snapped and they talked it all out...the fast approaching American tour, said Fripp, "will bring out whatever's there".
DECEMBER 3 Release of "Islands".
DECEMBER 13 Return of King Crimson to England.
DECEMBER 18 New Music Express. Nick Logan: Even though "Islands" contains some of the band's best work, and undoubtably a Crimso classic in "Ladies of the Road", this fourth album finds the group on territory that sometimes sounds a little too familiar. After four albums, I reckon Bob Fripp had made the point. He is a composer of genius and the most dazzling and possibly cleverest manipulator of time and instrumentation at work in rock today, but I, as one Crimso afficianado, would welcome some sort of return to the kind of set-you-back-on-your-heels, hair-bristling rock that made their debut album so innovative and stunning.
Fripp is inclined to take the clever and difficult path when the obvious is often the raw meat of good rock music. I wouldn't have imagined that it could ever be said that Crimso were predictable, but in their sheer unpredicatablity they can be just that, if you follow what I mean.
My second criticism lies in the composition of the arrangements. That sort of breathless vocal intro that never fails to succomb to a mighty wallop from the bass and drums, or a snare from the sax, is in danger of becoming a cliche, and too often the new songs are too reminiscent of what has gone before.
"Islands" confirms a growing belief that Crimso have evolved into a skillful but somehow cold and dispassionate band. Warmth is what is lacking.
JANUARY 1 Sounds. Steve Peacock: Another album that somehow fails to sustain the impact it had when I first heard it. After hearing it once, I wrote in a preview that "I look forward to getting deeper into it, because I'm sure it has alot more to give". Which proves that you shouldn't write about records after hearing them only once. At the time I was probably a bit overwhelmed by the record - because there is a lot there; but having listened to it alot, I'm be- ginning to find less and less in it that I want to go back and hear. Having come to terms with the actual form of the music, I'm finding that beyond that there's not much to hold my attention.
The only aspect of the album that I don't really think comes up to the usual Crimson mark is Pete Sinfield's writing; in some places he's broken new ground very successfully - "Ladies of the Road" for instance was completely unexpected and exactly right - but in other parts he seems to be writing like a caricature of himself. "The Letters", for instance is melodramatic almost to the point of incredibility, and his other work on the album seems tinged with a most uncharacteristic slushy romanticism. That apart, I still feel that whatever the merits of "Islands", it doesn't really fulfill its promise. Or perhaps it just doesn't fulfill my expectations - maybe I expect too much.
JANUARY 1 Disc. Andrew Tyler: Peter Sinfield, King Crimson's compulsive poet and one man environment almost wishes he hadn't joined the group on the recent six-week US Tour. "It's not that we actually failed anywhere", he says. "We went down reasonably to very well but it's just not the same as on our English tours. I think I'd be happy to stay at home and write poetry". The problems were manifold...similar hazards re-occurred again and again and the resulting pressure on the group created much "internal turmoil". Sinfield returned a wreck.
JANUARY 1 New Music Express. Headline: Sinfield Leaves King Crimson: As the New Music Express closed for press on Wednesday it was learned officially that founder member Pete Sinfield has left King Crimson. Pete played VCS3 and was responsible for the group's lyrics, lighting and sound. The band will continue as a four piece but Sinfield's future plans are not yet known.
JANUARY 1 Sounds. Ray Telford: "Improvisation is a skilled art", says Yes drummer Bill Bruford, "but unfortunately most young white musicians attempting it are appalling" ...Bill cites Fairport Convention, Pete Townshend and maybe King Crimson as "laying down some kind of permanent roots for contemporary British music".
JANUARY 8 Disc. Andrew Taylor interview with Robert Fripp: "We've all gone through our various changes and Peter and I came out at different places".
JANUARY 8 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: Unknown to most, the Sinfield/Fripp parting of the ways had been coming for quite a long time. There were a variety of reasons, among them severe personality differences and a divergence of musical direction. "I suppose", said Fripp, "that the thing to say is that I felt the creative relationship between us had finished. I'd ceased to believe in Pete, and since we didn't want it to get into a personal nasty, the honest thing to say is that creatively, the relationship was finished some time ago.
"It got to the point where I didn't feel that by working together we'd improve on anything we'd already done...there would only be a decline in quality".
Sinfield's working of the light show was also becoming a point of dis- sention. Fripp commented: "The band often found the lights distracting. Pete's contribution to lights really came in 1969 - I've noticed his influence on a lot of bands who use light shows. But I don't feel he took them any further after '69".
Lest anyone should think their parting is acrimonious, it should be said that Fripp spoke his criticisms mildly, and totally without rancour. A couple of days after the annoucement, Sinfield was sounding more puzzled: "Bob rang me up and said 'I can't work with you'. I didn't ask him why... I'm not quite sure, really. We're both quite strong and difficult to work with, and we're bound to clash. The decision was entirely on Bob's side, although I'd already decided in my own mind that I wouldn't go back to the States again with the band, unless specific conditions were fulfilled, and I didn't expect them to be."
Once again, it seems, America has been a catalyst for Crimson. Two years ago, a similar trip to that States was directly responsible for the de- parture of Mike Giles and Ian McDonald - who called it "an experience in total plasticity".
JANUARY 8 Sounds. King Crimson will be doing three weeks rehearsal in January before starting another American tour on February 11.
JANUARY 8 Melody Maker. Emperor Rosko in Blind Date: King Crimson: "Ladies of the Road" from the album "Islands" (Island): I hope something happens soon. If you played this to me at 2 o'clock in the morning at home my outlook would probably be completely different than sitting in an office during the daytime. I was prepared not to like this, but is is getting nicer as it goes along. Once again it is difficult to get an impression on just the one listening to one track on an album. I don't know who it is, but I like the words.
They're doing something very different whoever they are. At first I thought they were very untogether, but now I can see that this track was very calculated. Type of Plastic Ono Band feel in there. It seems to go from the absurd through to a touch of "Ram". You can close your eyes and imagine "Ram" and Lennon's album being mixed together. You can hear the rough raucous Lennon and the melodic touches that McCartney gets over. This is the type of thing I would love to play if I had a three hour programme where I could play tracks like this. King Crimson!! I wouldn't have believed it! King Crimson. That is amazing!
JANUARY 8 New Music Express. Simon Stable: Headline: Pete Sinfield - It was Fripp or Me: One of Us Had to Quit. This headline was followed a week later by the headline: Robert Fripp - It was Sinfield or Me: One of Us Had to Quit. This is the most deliberate distortion by the press which I have known. The tone and manner of Peter's interview, the cassette of which I heard, was far removed from the rancour and unpleasantness given in the paper. Mainly to counter this impression, I agreed to reply and emphasised the inaccuracy of the article's presentation. The following week I found that the same deliberate distortion had taken place in my interview. - Robert Fripp.
JANUARY 15 Melody Maker. Month's best albums: King Crimson "Islands": Despite the shoddy packaging, this is one the most extraordinary albums ever to emerge out of the general idiom of rock. It's impossible to describe the warm, lambent feeling obtained by a juxtaposition of Mark Charig's cornet over a pedal harmonium on the title track's long, gradual climax or the breath-taking rightness of Fripp's splintery chorded solo on "A Sailor's Tale", and it's not pretentious and it's NOT self-indulgent.
JANUARY 15 Melody Maker: King Crimson will not play in Britain for at least a year, and it's unlikely that they will release another album in this country before the Spring of 1973.
"It's a question of how to develop the band with the greatest ease", Bob Fripp told the MM. "When we did the British tour, someone at Portsmouth wrote on the van, in lipstick: 'Play the old tunes - the new ones are crap'.
"Since the band will be developing a new corporate spirit and music, the pressures of having to fight pre-determined ideas of what the band should play would be to the detriment of our expansion. "If we're going to own up, a large measure of the success of the British tour was due not to the playing, but to the trickery associated with it...however fine it may have been. I'm thinking of the lights, and the general blood and thunder.
"In the next year we'll be involved in new ideas, and we'll need an environment unlike Britain, where the opinion of the band is probably too well fixed. We'll need somewhere which will act as a catalyst, which means America and possibly Europe as well. In America, they judge the band on how it's played - which is what we want.
"And as a personal thing, I'd like to say that I don't want the re- sponsibility of being held liable for everything King Crimson does".
It appears unlikely that Pete Sinfield, who left the band a couple of weeks ago, will be replaced.
JANUARY 22 Melody Maker. Headline: "Crimson Break-Up": King Crimson broke-up last week, after a row during a rehearsal in Bournemouth. Two days later, though, they came back together - but only on a temporary basis, to fulfill their obligation to tour America for six weeks, beginning February 5.
In all likelihood, that will be their last tour with the present lineup, although, as more than one member of the band told the MM, America can have a strange effect on Crimson, and it's just conceivable that they'll return intact.
The row is believed to have blown-up over a difference of musical opinion between the sole surviving founder member, Bob Fripp, on one hand, and the three comparatively new recruits - singer/bassist Boz, reedman Mel Collins, and drummer Ian Wallace - on the other.
"I've learned alot from Bob in the past year", Wallace told the MM. "But Mel and Boz and I have something of our own to offer, and he's got to accept it. It's a simple matter of acceptance...or compromise.
"It might not end", he added. "It's a very enigmatic band. America is a weird place, and we all enjoyed playing there, so...but it's possible that Boz, Mel and myself will carry on as a unit, perhaps adding another musician. We all enjoy being together, and playing together".
Fripp's comment on the affair: "Some days are better than others".
FEBRUARY 11 US Tour begins in Wilmington, Delaware.
FEBRUARY 19 Melody Maker. Letter from Fred Foster: Was it really necessary for Bob Fripp to criticise his group's audience because of a situation for which he must take full responsibility?
King Crimson was the group that made "In the Court of the Crimson King" and "In the Wake of Poseidon" and the following, new group that Bob has formed has no more right to the name King Crimson than ELP and McDonald & Giles.
To simply give a new group a new name would clear the confusion by showing that Crimson is dead, and in creating a better atmosphere for the group, would be much fairer to the majority of its British audience than abandoning them for a year or more.
MARCH 11 Melody Maker. Raver: Would you believe King Crimson blowing rock'n'roll in the States - sez drummer Ian Wallace? Bob Fripp is actually standing up to play guitar and the lad has been seen to smile on stage.
MARCH 27 King Crimson support Yes at the Aquarius Theatre. This is the last gig Bill plays with Yes.
APRIL 1 US Tour ends in Birmingham, Alabama.
APRIL 15 New Music Express. Chris Van Ness in Los Angeles: With all the on-off rumours about King Crimson splitting, I decided to corner Robert Fripp after the group's concert at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and ask about the future.
I asked him point-blank. Would the group remain together after the tour? He looked at me for a minute, shook his head, and said "No".
But he did say there would be one more King Crimson album, with cuts most likely taken from tapes of the current tour.
The next day it was a different story. I had lunch with Fripp at his hotel and he told me: "I was up until 6am with Boz and Ian (Wallace), and they don't want the group to break-up. They want to keep it together somehow". He stared into his coffee cup...
"We don't really differ that much on the music. I have written some songs they don't particularly like, but that's all right: our basic differences are philosophical. Sometimes we really do very well playing together; we just don't all think alike".
I decided to ask my point-blank question once again, Would the group stay together? "I don't know", said Fripp, "but if I had to give a definite answer I'd have to say, 'I doubt it'...We might do another tour though...".
Whatever happened to McDonald & Giles?
APRIL 22 Melody Maker. The Raver: Robert Fripp has returned from America with a lady he describes as "a witch". He's cutting an album with her. Abracadabra.
APRIL 22 Sounds. Steve Peacock: A week or so back from their most recent American tour Bill Bruford is already looking forward to putting ideas together for the next Yes project - the new album. But Bill Bruford...wants to play some wrong notes...or at least some unexpected ones...Did he feel he'd sometimes just like to be a roving musician rather than a member of Yes? "Possibly, but first you have to be a very good musician and you also have to have a sense of what you can do as a musician - neither of which I have yet. That's the point of being in a group, a group teaches you that. But basically, one should leave a group when one has learn't enough".
APRIL 29 Melody Maker. The Raver: Expect "Live in the USA" album from King Crimson in May. Robert Fripp is currently sorting out the best from several taped performances - and it'll almost certainly be the last from the band.
MAY 20 Melody Maker: Three members of King Crimson have linked up with Alexis Korner and Peter Thorup to form a new band called Alexis...Crimson split following their last tour of America, but Mel Collins (sax), Ian Wallace (drums) and Boz (bass) stayed in the States.
MAY 27 Disc. Caroline Boucher: Although a lot of people have wagged their fingers and shaken their heads sadly at the prospect of a continuing King Crimson, Robert is adamant that they are a thriving and healthy band. "Crimso is a very long way from being shelved. When it goes out again, it's a magic band".
JUNE 9 Release of "Earthbound" in England. US release declined by Atlantic on grounds of poor sound quality.
JUNE 17 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: King Crimson: "Earthbound" (Island): If you want to know why Fripp and the lads couldn't hold it together, lend an ear to this album, recorded during three American gigs this past February and March (and available at a very reasonable f1.35). The impression you get is that the band is like a catherine wheel: bright and flashing, but ephemeral and held together by centrifugal force.
Despite the moments of brilliance (and there are some), this is decidedly a band pulling in different directions - most of them adding up to some- thing other than Fripp's personal objectives for the outfit, I'd guess. It's very much a live album, recorded on stereo cassette equipment (albeit through a mixer), and the rough sound quality serves to add an extra dim- ension of immediacy which many have found lacking in Crimson's oh-so- carefully-constructed studio albums, with their days and weeks of over- dubbing. What we have here, essentially, is a blowing album - for Mel, Boz, and Ian are blowing musicians, and towed their leader into it, half-willingly but with interesting effect. The album starts with a blistering "Schizoid Man", featuring Boz's thoroughly scarifying VCS3- treated vocal and a stunningly intelligent alto solo from Mel, building from cool beginnings to a wild and gritty climax. Fripp throws himself completely into a searing guitar improvisation in which Wallace's con- tribution is outstanding - and Boz, too, manoeuvres his bass with agile sympathy. The ultimater riffing is breath-taking, and when played loud this is a performance of awesome proportions.
"Peoria" is a two-chord modal jam, funky but very ordinary, spotlighting Mel's baritone and Boz's improvised vocal over the leader's reticent wah-wah. It fades, and goes into the middle of a performance of "Sailor's Tale". Fripp's sustained lines on top of Collins' mellotron don't add up to much.
"Earthbound" begins the second side; this time it's a one-chord jam, with an outing for Collins' King-Curtis style tenor. Boz duets with him, rather meaninglessly, and Fripp plays a solo which sounds to me suspiciously like frustration. The generally barren quality of this track and "Peoria" are not in keeping with the lofty (and very worthy) objectives of early King Crimson variants - they could be almost anyone. But the last track is alone worth your money: it's a 15-minute version of "Groon", the instrumental which appeared on the B-side of "Cat Food". Here, Boz and Ian get rather more involved in playing music, rather than merely funking about. Collins' tenor work, trenchant-toned and ending with an Aylerish climax, attests to his high calibre (I'd like to hear him alongside some of the young jazzers - he'd hold his own), and Wallace plays with energy and power to spare in a solo which builds intelligently up to that extraordinary use of the VCS3 on the drums with which he stunned everybody on their British tour. Despite the loss of the important visual aspect, it comes across very effectively on record, and the album ends with a huge, shuddering coda and final guitar squeal. The applause has been edited off, which is maybe some kind of comment on producer Fripp's part, but despite the several longeurs this was an interesting band, and their album makes it historically, and almost musically.
JULY 15 Record Mirror: King Crimson: "Earthbound" (Island HELP 6): Unlike any of the other records in Islands f1.35 series, this actually does sound like a cheapie, and the whole thing's a great bring-down to the memory of the last Crimson concert I saw which was not remotely like this, though it was only a few months earlier. "Earthbound" was made in February in the States, and shows the band in tedious, showoffy mood not helped by poor recording. The title track is the best number, with some fine sax by Mel Collins, but two very effective studio records, "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Groon" become grossly protracted and barely listenable. R.M.
JULY 22 Melody Maker. Headline: Yes Man to Join Crimson: The new King Crimson rehearsed quietly in London this week - with Yes' Bill Bruford as drums alongside leader Bob Fripp. Also in the new group are bassist John Wetton from Family, percussionist Jamie Muir, and violinist David Cross.
JULY 29 Sounds. Steve Peacock: It was with a certain amount of surprise that I received the news that Fripp was forming a new King Crimson.
When he phoned to tell us about the new band with Bill Bruford, John Wetton, Jamie Muir, and David Cross, I couldn't help what he'd said back in Feb- ruary, before the last Crimson went on their final tour of the States.
"I don't feel I am King Crimson," he said, "Fripp, with new musicians how- ever good, is not King Crimson. I think it would be a gassy band, mind, but no".
Still, what does tha name matter? A band with that line-up has GOT to be pretty good. Fripp said they start rehearsals in the autumn, that there was no bad feeling with the other bands (Yes and Family) and that he was very happy.
Then his manager cancelled the full-length interview he'd agreed to do.
AUGUST 5 Melody Maker. The Raver: Bill Bruford quitting Yes was strange timing. All that work down the drain and for what? Gigs with King Crimson don't exactly last, at least on present form. But good luck to all parties...It's a bit like Rolls quitting Royce.
AUGUST 12 Disc. John Mendelsohn in Hollywood: Bernie Taupin is reportedly about to leave Elton John to join the new King Crimson on Maraccas. You sure have to hand it to that Fripp, magnetism wise, when you consider that Bern reportedly declined to step in for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles line-up.
AUGUST 19 Disc. John Mendelsohn in Hollywood: Popular Canadian pop-rock group The Guess Who played the Santa Monica Civic as the local stop of their farewell tour following which the entire band hopes to join King Crimson who, reliable sources relate, are going to call themselves Robert Fripp, Mad Dogs and Englishmen on their next tour.
SEPTEMBER 4 Rehearsals begin.
SEPTEMBER 30 New Music Express: Bob Fripp's new band is to take the road in late autumn for a string of major concert dates under his perennial name of King Crimson.
OCTOBER 13/14/15 Zoom Club, Frankfurt.
OCTOBER 17 Beat Club, Bremen TV.
OCTOBER 28 Sounds: Headline: Giant Crimson Tour. Twenty Six Major Venues.
OCTOBER 29 Redcar Jazz Club.
NOVEMBER 4 Sounds. Steve Peacock interviewing Fripp: "Earthbound" is a product of the corporate entity of that band, but the point was that having discovered what everybody wanted to do, I found I didn't want to do it...I appreciate the difficulty in some people's minds to grasp that King Crimson is...a tradition, a way of doing things, but King Crimson is, and always has been, far more than me - I'm really no more than a coincidence in its development.
NOVEMBER 4 Melody Maker. An article by Richard Williams on Captain Eno and myself, which Eno dates as the beginning of the end for his relationship with Roxy, discussed among other matters the "No Pussyfooting" tape recorded the previous month in Eno's front room and which was played by King Crimson at the beginning and end of their gigs. "No Pussyfooting" linked closely therefore to be beginning of both Fripp & Eno and King Crimson.
NOVEMBER 10 UK Tour begins at Hull Technical College. At one point I heard a whistling sound and leaned forward attentively as a heavy chain flew through the space that my head had just occupied. It had been spun around Jamie and then released with vigour. - Robert Fripp.
NOVEMBER 11 New Music Express. Tony Tyler interviews Fripp: "King Crimson's constitution is exactly like the British Constitution - it's unwritten and malleable"...Magic, he says, had a great deal to do with the formation of the new band.
NOVEMBER 11 Melody Maker. Raver's guide to the week: The new band is set fair to move popular music forward a notch or two. Look out for loony percussionist Jamie Muir and for John Wetton's world class bass.
NOVEMBER 18 Sounds. Steve Peacock to Bill Bruford in the Talk-In: But if they hadn't got another drummer, and couldn't conceive of anyone else to join, then I would have thought very hard about leaving, and probably wouldn't have left. But the situation was there, so away we went.
It did take them by surprise, all the same, didn't it?
Yes, I think it did. We'd rather said that anyone could work out anything within the format of Yes - if there was something I wanted to do, why didn't I do it within that framework? It's a good question, but the thing is that after four years I'd learned just about everything I was going to learn from those particular people, and doubtless anything of value that they were going to learn from me they'd learned a long time ago.
But I wouldn't have left for anyone either - Robert is about the only person I would have left for I think. He approached me, and when an opportunity like that comes up and hits you on the nose, I think you've got to be very insensitive to turn it down.
Did you know him well before then?
I knew him vaguely. He came and stayed here towards the closing stages of "Close to the Edge", and we discussed the idea and had a brief blow. I'd met Jamie briefly and knew of his work. I'd heard of John's very good reputation. I'd never heard of David but I was very impressed at that stage.
There were no auditions, nothing of that sort at all, everyone was there. That was great, a great way to start a group. All the signs were right, to put it in Robert's language - he would say that there were no coincidences, and in a way he's right. There are no coincidences because we were all there. He'd approached John Wetton for King Crimson before, and John had refused because it was the wrong particular musicians for him. But this time it was all there, and that's a nice way to form a band. The more you have to sweat and say "Please join my group", or audition people or any of that, the worse it is. But when they all walk into the same room together, you think "this is just a fantastic opportunity" and you really don't have the right to knock opportunities like that on the head.
Did you have any fears about the band, about working with Robert, knowing his reputation as a kind of hard task master?
No, not in the least about that. Merely that my musicianship wasn't sufficient for the calibre of the band, and I mean that quite seriously. In my naive concept of the musical world, the type of thing Jamie Muir was working in was what I considered to be almost the top of the tree, this was where the real musicians were at. And then here's Jamie steaming almost in the opposite direction, he's been there, knowing that some of it was very good and some of it was bullshit, but now he wants a big stage and a lot of people to listen to him, which is fair enough, and we sort of met in the middle.
We're developing in Crimson a nice sort of group improvisation where there is no particular soloist - I mean the idea of a guy blowing and the rest of the band vibing along is all a bit passe, and it's nice to have those areas where everyone's in, a kind of fantastic musical sparring match, which is great. Everyone participating.
Is it possible to define how it's changed you, being with this band?
It's given me much more self-confidence. I used to be the drummer with Yes, which was fine to a point, and now I'm Bill Bruford.
We have no idea how people are going to react, everyone might run out of the concert halls screaming as far as I know, they may hate us...life becomes dangerous again, decidedly dangerous, which is good. I'm re- ceiving criticism again too, working with Jamie and Robert has been very theraputic for me: no one told me I was a duff drummer for about three years, which is bad for you, and then someone tells you you're a duff drummer and why don't you go and learn what music's all about, and that's a very good thing to happen to you.
It does have a frightening overtone for me, this group, actually: because when I join a group I'm in, for sure, but one does consider the future, one does think about what's going to be happening in a year's time. But you largely go through groups thinking, 'well, this lot's all right, but it only uses major seventh chords, and I want to be in a group that uses nineths', and then you get in another group and you're thinking ahead to a group that uses thirteenths, but this group uses everything that I know about music. That's great, but on the other hand it's all I know, there's no one left for me to work with after this one, and the logical step is not to be a musician after this one, which is frightening.
There's a number of groups, fewish number, but a number of groups that are on the precipice in a way, beyond which there's a blackness, a kind of void, and they're peering into it hoping that it may go this way, but knowing that it may not go this way at all, it may be completely wrong.
I feel that King Crimson is now one of those groups. If you look ahead of King Crimson, this particular one, which is a particularly far ahead type of band, I just see a blank. I'm not nurturing any private dreams right now, they're all in this band.
NOVEMBER 18 New Music Express. Tony Tyler: Well, I heard it tonight for the first time and it IS something special. It's called King Crimson and it stars Robert Fripp, Jamie Muir, John Wetton, Bill Bruford, and David Cross. They played on Monday night at Guildford and, if I never hear another band, I'll be happy to go out with this one.
In fact, tonight was the third gig of the new reincarnation of Robert Fripp's Way Of Doing Things. Fripp afterwards told me there had been minor technical problems but we all know he's a perfectionist and, anyway, it sounded slightly amazing from where I was sitting.
And it works on several levels at once. Firstly, by accident or de- sign, the band has balanced itself into an even match of opposing forces. The two relative proteges, Jamie Muir and David Cross, are nicely balanced with two prestigious, totally professional musicians - John Wetton and Bill Bruford. With Robert Fripp as the fulcrum.
The intellectual balance is such that Fripp fails to dominate. His influence is felt, but the individual flairs of every musician in the band are allowed full play. The result is a solid piece of total musical and artistic assault.
Let me make a small prediction: King Crimson will now, four years late, achieve all that the first band was almost set to do but could somehow never clinch. I say this because, amazingly, the spiritual impact of the band that played on Monday was the same as that of the first King Crimson: enormous, with a real sense of discovery.
NOVEMBER 18 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: There's nothing more exciting than hearing a new band which, single- handedly and out of the blue, opens up completely new musical territory. Like stout Cortez, discovering the Pacific from a peak in Darien, one is silenced by a sudden vision of the unknown.
In recent years there's been the Soft Machine, Lifetime, the Mahavishnu Orchestra perhaps, and precious few others. The first King Crimson was in that category, certainly, but Robert Fripp's new band is even more so.
At Guildford Civic Hall on Monday night, the third gig of their in- augural tour, they played some of the most difficult, complex music yet to emerge from the context of rock - and emerged triumphant, having subjected the audience to a 90-minute barrage of phenomental creativity.
DECEMBER 2 New Music Express. Ian McDonald: In times gone by I have often mused upon the perturbing question of how a man of such acumen, self possession, energy, and good taste as Robert Fripp could be the driving force behind that wholly mysterious sequence of albums on the Island label which embodies the output of Britain's most enigmatic combo, King Crimson.
That question seems all the more puzzling in the light of my first hearing of Fripp's latest Crimso - because this band produced at least half an hour of the most miraculous rock I've ever heard.
The new Crimso is 90 percent improvisation. This is normal by jazz standards, a little daring for rock; but the chief innovation is that the "accompanied soloist" concept, adopted by almost everybody from Soft Machine to Black Sabbath, has been generally avoided in favour of a more collective approach. King Crimson aren't playing quieter than the average rock band so much for better balance or greater variety of dynamic as for togetherness. I.e. Not only do they want to be able to hear each other, they want to LISTEN. This runs directly contrary to the general aims of rockers for the past twenty years.
Crimso aren't so much about sound and physical impact as about improvised form, simultaneity, and ESP.
DECEMBER 2 Observer. Tony Palmer: They display the same barbaric splendour that once marked out Stravinsky and combine this with well-disciplined structured atonality...King Crimson's music, however, sounds as if a mind has been at work shaping it's dissonances and excitements into something more purposeful than a lengthy self-indulgent blow.
DECEMBER 2 Melody Maker. Band Breakdown. Richard Williams: Crimson Mk I, Ia, II and III followed a deliberate and obvious path of development...Mark IV though takes a giant leap ahead into the unknown and with luck will drag the rest of contemporary British rock along in its wake.
Jamie Muir: Bob called, I had a blow with them and there was no question of doing anything else. Right from the first talk on the phone it was inevitable.
Bill Bruford: I'm quite surprised that people seem to like it. After all, we walk on stage and play and hour and a quarter of music which isn't on record and they haven't heard before, often with no tonal or rhythmic centre.
John Wetton: I got into Crimso after Robert and I bumped into each other in Wimborne one afternoon - our paths have crossed roughly every six months for the past four years.
David Cross: It was obviously a big step for him to walk out of this un- assuming background and into the heaviness of the Crimson setup and he seems to have reacted by being quiet and reserved and by concentrating on the task of adapting:
It's difficult for me to relate very easilly to high-powered equipment. There's a difference between being part of an instrument and having it go through an amp, a monitor and a PA and then not even knowing the sound you're making.
DECEMBER 30 Sounds. Steve Peacock: Jamie Muir is the wild one. He's the one who bounces rather than walks on stage with King Crimson, wears what I can only describe as fur wings on his boiler suit, leaves his percussion periodically to writhe around the stage brandishing beaters, flails his gongs with chains, has been known to run screaming through the audience during a set, and climaxes a solo by spitting blood.
FEBRUARY 17 Melody Maker. Raver: King Crimson blew a fine pair of gigs at The Marquee. At the first, Jamie, having injured himself unaccountably the night before, dropped out and we played together as a quartet for the first time. Jamie never played with us again. - Robert Fripp
MARCH 16 UK Tour begins at Green's Playhouse, Glasgow.
MARCH 24 New Music Express. Ian MacDonald: On Sunday night, at that big weird place in Finsbury Park, Messrs, Derek Moss, Bart Brassert, Don Wilton and Rodney Frock most certainly did not qualify for The Golden Walnut Award. That, for people who like sugar in their cheese, means that King Crimson, despite being one down with four to go in injury time, socked it to us hypercritical London faces with force, verve, and a nice line in shiny, white suits.
The obvious question: Does the gap show? Well, Jamie Muir was and is a remarkable musician of total integrity and enviable resolve - and, in the sense that any band would be a lot saner with him in it, Crimso have suffered a loss. However, as a four-piece the group have obviously found their footing and obtained a clear view of their natural direction. Things are now comfortable and tight for them and they'll all, I'm sure, be much happier as a ROCK group instead of the uneasy compromise between rock and jazz they were when Jamie was there. Everybody's playing was so good that it seems mean to single out one person's, but I must point out that Robert Fripp's guitar work gets more extraordinary every time he goes on stage. There's certainly no one who sounds remotely like him anywhere else in rock and he's one more proof of my theory that a musician playing electric guitar is far more likely to understand the possibilities of the instrument than a guitarist. Everything he played was fascinating, and, if that's White Magic in action, I'm a believer.
But this is not to overshadow the vital contributions of the other three. From the Mahavishnu-Orchestra-In_Heartbreak-Hotel strains of the new opener, "Doctor Diamond", to the last chord of "Larks' Tongues Part 2", they were firmly together and delivering the goods with gusto - particularly, I'm glad to report, on the improvised sections.
In other words, King Crimson is now suitable for mass-consumption and guaranteed to charm off the most recalcitrant of warts.
MARCH 25 Last gig of UK Tour at Colston Hall, Bristol.
MARCH 30 First tour of Europe.
MARCH 31 Melody Maker. Richard Williams: King Crimson: "Larks' Tongues in Aspic": The ultimate failure of this, King Crimson's sixth album, lies in its acceptance of compromise. While the desire to soften the edges of experiment can draw in a wider section of the mass audience, it can never bring the rewards I believe Robert Fripp is looking for. The above, and everything that follows, is of course relative. At his very worst, Fripp could never descend to the kind of banalties we've heard lately from, say, The Moody Blues or Tempest. But he's aiming high, and must be judged accordingly. Anyone who's seen the current King Crimson in concert will know that it's a magical band, capable of bringing off the most daring musical coups with a panache unequalled on this side of the Atlantic, but when it comes to making this album, I fear they lost some of their collective nerve. The quintet was a fascinating blend: Wetton and Bruford representing the straight rock aspect (but with more intelligence and ability than the band that recorded "Earthbound"); Cross's violin and viola representing Fripp's love for the geometrical logic of classical music; and Muir standing for the launch into the unknown, with Fripp pulling all the strands together, symbolised by his own unique playing. Yet, instead of a reflection of the power and sheer audacity they displayed on stage, we have something akin to "the book of the film" - a rather wan, two-dimensional momento which rarely kindles accurate memories of what they can achieve.
There are, of course, excellent moments from all the players, but with this line-up Fripp had a chance to throw all his inhibitions to the wind, and produce something of greatness. It's a pity that he chose instead to tread water and settle for the merely adequate.
APRIL 18 US Tour begins in Warren, Ohio.
MAY 5 Billboard. "Dealers": Band has been around in several forms for a number of years and is well known. Display heavilly.
MAY 7 Zoo World. Gary Lucas: "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", King Crimson. One thing you gotta say about Robert Fripp, the auteur behind King Crimson, is that he's ambitious. After perfecting his mellotron-dominated "Death of the Universe" visions on the band's first three albums, three under-rated albums, his compositional hand has increasingly been attached to more serious, "complex" forms, a la modern day avant-garde jazz and orchestral music. "Island", the last Crimson album to be released in the States, contained one long piece for orchestra that filled an entire side. The thing was, the music was terrible, a stylistic smorgasboard that coagulated in the listener's head into one greasy meal. Apparently Fripp, like Zappa, was as queasy as most listeners about the validity of certain of his pieces, and like that other musician, in- cluded something to undermine its ponderous effect, in this case, a long gimmicky tape of the orchestra tuning up at rehearsal that only succeeded in adding to the pretentiousness of the music, rather than deflating it.
As far as Fripp's flirtation with jazz goes, the man, to be sure, has strong roots in a certain kind of jazz - cocktail lounge jazz, which is easily discernable by listening to the guitar work on Fripp's first record, the English "The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp". The schmaltzy Django-based diminshed chords and suspensions run throughout Fripp's compositions, orchestral and otherwise, though it should be added that Fripp is the absolute master of vicious, cold as steel pseudo-jazz guitar which draws heavily on studio gimcrackery - check out the well known break on "Schizoid Man" for example.
Last year Fripp broke up Crimson Mark III after a mediocre American tour that resulted in one pitiful live album that Atlantic had the good sense not to release here. Over the summer, Fripp began to make weighty pronouncements to the British musical press on the new band he was assembling which was to include Bill Bruford, from Yes, on drums, John Wetton from Family on bass and vocals, Jamie Muir on assorted percussion from an obscure English freak-out band named Boris, and young unknown entity David Cross on violin, and the band was supposed to play "white magic". Disc ran an unintentionally hilarious article about the spiritual basis for the band's music before a note had been played by any of them, word of their hermaphroditic collaberation with Roxy Music's Eno was spread, and the band went into the studios to record their first album. It's here, and what's the story Bobby?
They ain't Sun Ra and they ain't Pierre Boulez and they ain't even any of the cats that come in between those two incredible towers of strength. And there's nothing magical about this music. There is only one Magic Band, and this one isn't it. Instead of just telling you potential suckers out there not to waste your money, which I'd dearly like to do and leave it at that, I'm supposed to offer some sort of analysis of the music. Si tu dois partir...
1) There isn't one new orignal idea here that wasn't developed by Fripp or somebody else years ago. Forget anything you may ever have heard about them being avant-garde.
2) The music falls into two distinct categories - extended FAROUT in- strumentals and syrupy, straighter pop tunes. The instrumentals have absolutely nothing to recommend them except for Muir's thumb piano which opens side one. They all feature distinct "movements", a concept that was outdated at the turn of the century, and the customary obligatory electronics, some of them, like indistinct voices, so trite an effect that it's not even worth fiddling with the volume controls to make out what they're saying. There are also many TIME CHANGES, oh yes, real ones like 5/4 and 7/8, but they always let you know when they're gonna change the time signature by breaking off the "movement". If you like pop tunes, buy Kevin Ayer's "Joy of a Toy" if you can find it.
3) Jamie Muir isn't Airto, but his percussion effects are intermittently interesting, although at times it seems their purpose is to dis- tract the listener's attention away from the weak compositions and the rest of the band's instrumental defficiencies, Wetton's Jon Andersonish voice, so effective on Family's "Larf and Sing", is constantly double-tracked and filtered so he winds up singing like Boz, the former Mr.Machine vocalist for Crimson and one more example of Fripp's diabolical pervasive influence. David Cross suffers from a severe handicap - he can't play the violin, which is maybe why he is given only the most rudimentary instrumental lines. To paraphrase Pauline Kael, if a contest was held between David Cross and the violinist of String Driven Thing to determine who was the worst violinist, the violinist for String Driven Thing would lose.
4) Consolation - at least Peter Sinfield doesn't write lyrics for them anymore.
Well, one out of four ain't bad. -- Gary Lucas.
"The well known break on 'Schizoid Man'" did not draw heavily on "studio gimcrackery". -- Robert Fripp
MAY 22 American Tour ends in Quebec.
JULY 2 Tour of US ends at Kent State University.
JULY 18 Kite, Schenectady, NY. Bill Blina: King Crimson V is basically the creature of Robert Fripp, a musician whose compositional conceits and prowess with the mellotron have given him an overblown reputation - and a colossal ego.
"Larks' Tongues in Aspic" is a monument to self-indulgence and self-abuse that makes Fripp's previous excesses pale by comparison.
JULY 22 Ann Arbor News. JM: There aren't many bands that showed as much promise or deteriorated as thoroughly as King Crimson. Their debut album of three or four years ago, "In the Court of the Crimson King", was a macabre version of a dying ethical structure. Uneven, sometimes tedious, and a little bit pretentious, it nonetheless had its moments of stunning impact and virtuousity.
Four albums and mucho personel changes later, only the tedium and pre- tention is left. And guitar player Robert Fripp, who was hardly the heavyweight in a lineup that once included Greg Lake, Ian MacDonald, and Michael Giles.
JULY 28 Melody Maker. History of Pop: A new kind of rock based on technical expertise was filtering through Britain: King Crimson were sensational at a free Hyde Park concert featuring lavish use of mellotron, impossibly fast unison riffs and the mystical lyrics of Pete Sinfield. They seemed to be setting new standards.
AUGUST King Crimson in rehearsal: "Fracture", "The Nightwatch", "The Great Deceiver", and "Lament" emerged. Energy had reached such a low point that we were surprised we began again. - Robert Fripp
AUGUST 4 New Music Express. Ian MacDonald interviewing Bill Bruford: I must say that the six months Jamie was with us were invaluable in terms of experience and broadening of outlooks - mine in particular.
He caused me to review everything about my music and woke me up to many areas I only vaguely suspected existed.
The fascinating thing about this version of King Crimson was that it dramatised a central conflict in rock - one that, with the increasing sophistication of its terms and technology, is going to confuse music more and more in the next few years.
It's a conflict between the professional and the (for want of a better word) existentialist solution to a given musical problem: on the one hand the attitude epitomised by the jazz man's code of "T.C.B." ("taking care of business"), on the other, expression of self and situation rather than of the cooperative manifestation of purely musical consequences.
In a time when rock, taking on new associations and encountering new responsibilities, is as confused for both musicians and audience (not to mention record companies) as it ever will be, the only way to cut away the idealogical undergrowth is by the application of objective intelligence.
King Crimson play good music and that's sufficient enough reason for me to recommend them to you. But, far more importantly, they play to explore, not to pass the time; they're encountering problems that have destroyed other bands and they're solving them by thinking them out.
AUGUST 4 Melody Maker. Chris Charlesworth talking to Mel, Boz and Ian: "From my point of view it's a little restricting not being able to play live", chipped in Boz. "After the King Crimson and Alexis experiences it's a little bit of an anti-climax. But after King Crimson's com- plicated music we wanted to get back to the roots, and you can't get anywhere nearer the root than Alexis Korner. Fripp has all the technique but no feel while Alexis has all the feel but not enough technique.
"Crimson's music is not so much complicated as well-rehearsed so it comes over as impressive in much the same way as Yes. There is no spontaniety about it. When I was 16 I was impressed by the MJQ simply because I couldn't understand what they were playing, but now I realise you have to feel as well as technical ability".
"Music should be based on emotion and not statistics", said Wallace. "It should be played with sincerity. When the King Crimson band got together in the first place they played together very tightly, but it got so serious we didn't really enjoy it".
AUGUST 25 New Music Express. Ian MacDonald interviewing Robert Fripp: "I'm the lowest common denominator in the band and might accurately describe myself as a kind of glue".
AUGUST 30 Rolling Stone. Alan Niester: "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", King Crimson. Remember art rock? Well, it still lives. Every year or so Robert Fripp claws his way from a graveyard of past musical fads, emerging like something out of a Weird Tales Comic book, to snivel in an educated English accent that classicism in rock music lives on. He invariably brings with him a new band of recently interred English music veterans, a pretty new album cover, and a snide remark for the interviewer from Melody Maker. After a hastily conceived tour and small flurry of attention, he dissapears for another year or so.
"Larks' Tongues in Aspic" is nothing if not a real live return to this still-cherished genre. You can't dance to it, can't keep a beat to it, and it doesn't even make good background music for washing the dishes. To fully appreciate the album, you have to sit right up there with your head wedged in between the speakers, approach it with a completely open mind, and then try to decide whether it's legitamate, near brilliant musical experience or just another whole trainload of rotting codfish. I'm still not sure, although I suppose the truth lies about smack-dab in the middle.
Robert Fripp and King Crimson do not write or play songs - they perform compositions. The typical King Crimson composition these days is a total study in contrasts, especially in moods and tempos - blazing and electric one moment, soft and intricate the next. Even the volume level is controlled for you. One moment you think your stereo is on the fritz because the Chinese wind chimes are tinkling so softly, the next the mellotron and guitar lurches half knock you out of your seat.
Does a near-patchwork quilt of noise and technology amount to anything? The answer is yes, although one might get an argument from a diehard fan of Top 40 radio. I find myself often returning to this album that I hated the first three times I played it, and now merely dislike in- tensely. But I know I'll play the damn thing again tomorrow, if for no other reason than that I've found albums that are hard to enjoy in the beginning sometimes offer the most rewards and lasting pleasure in the long run.
SEPTEMBER 1 New Music Express. Ian MacDonald describing Fripp: If he were not a civilised hippy he'd be commuting into the city doing The Times crossword and solving problems in lateral thinking. Rock's gain of an idiosyncratic musician and a truly eccentric personality was British industry's loss of a great economist. Fripp is also daft and sex-crazed. But the best thing about Fripp is his honesty. It's his bluntness - ex members of King Crimson prefer to call it tactlessness - that makes him charming, for Robert Fripp's complexities remain internal and for the purposes of interpersonal communication he is a very simple man.
SEPTEMEBER 2 Denver Post. J. Johnson: There's been such rapid turnover in group personel recently they might be wise to install a revolving door in their studios.
SEPTEMEBER 8 Sounds. Pete Makowski interviewing Peter Sinfield on "Still": People should have realised that I was doing something that was very unviolent and very unsurprising because I've done all that with Crimson. Spent three years making violent, clever, pseudo-intellectual music and I wanted to do something that was not exactly muzak but was something pleasant on the ear.
Let It Rock. Chris Salewicz: "Larks' Tongues in Aspic": A near perfect miracle piece of vinyl.
SEPTEMBER 15 New Music Express. Tony Tyler in I Remember: Ian MacDonald...for his staggering and not sufficiently credited work on "In the Court of the Crimson King".
SEPTEMEBER 19 American Tour begins in Quebec.
SEPTEMEBER 24 A Boston newspaper. Allen Jones: Bill Bruford (formally of Yes) displays an almost childlike joy in his drumming, contrasting with Fripp's air of seriousness. And his in- credible percussive accents and counterpoints help create the vibrancy that makes their music so alive.
Playing off Bruford's drums and following Fripp's melodic path-finding, Rick Laird's inventive flair for bass proves him as competent a musician as the rest of band.
Laird's voice, though not terribly expressive, possesses strength and, due to its base in familiar melodic figures, provides an anchor for Fripp's Star Trek guitar.
As good as the band is, Fripp remains the leader and his way of handling the crowd displayed his charisma. It also confirmed the image he pro- jects of being a rather middle-class English gentleman who just happens to play progressive rock guitar.
Sitting on a high stool to play (none of this "shake your hips" jive), Fripp makes one realize that his harmonic advancement conception is so far advanced that other guitarists seem uneducated by comparison.
A particular point of King Crimson humour revolved around the misnaming of the musicians which comprised it, Bill Bruforg suffering the most. But this example I cannot follow. - Robert Fripp.
SEPTEMBER 29 Milwaukee Sentinel. Dean Jensen: Guitarist Robert Fripp, leader of the rock group, King Crimson, faced the sell-out crowd of 2,350 in Uihlein Hall Friday night and made a surprisingly honest confession.
"We're not to be enjoyed", he said of the four-man group from London. "We're an intellectual band".
Well, why not? There has been a conspicuous dearth of that ingredient called "entertainment value" in much of today's popular literature, art and stage and cinematic theater.
Why not strip the fun out of rock music, too.
We were surprised that so many people took everything we did seriously. - Robert Fripp.
OCTOBER 1 Chicago Sun Times: One of the most beuatifully presented evenings of rock music ever... Everything was just right: the lights...the sound...and the music itself which was simply stunning.
OCTOBER 12 Abraxes, Houston, Texas. Lester Boogie: When Captain Beyond left the stage I was sure that the real performance of the night was over. How could any band, King Crimson included com- pare with the show I had just seen; I was wrong. King Crimson began with the beautiful complexity of "Knats' Tongues in Aspic" which re- ceived one of the night's several standing ovations. I did not applaud; I was spellbound; the music had startled me into a state of consciousness seldom reached except through the intricate melodies of Ravi Shankar and his like.
Zig Zag. Michael Wale: A Long and Rambling Interview with Robert Fripp
recorded in the Hyatt House, Hollywood in June:
ZZ: Why have there always been these changes in Crimson?
RF: It's a prima facie case of instability. (Then) Re the first King Crimson, the band was united by the common denominator of intense frustration and animosity towards the world in general, and ourselves in particular. Mike Giles fell in love; which he did for the first time about the beginning of King Crimson, and Ian McDonald for the first time too, and as these relationships developed they found these relationships more satisfying than the band could offer, and as Ian became less frustrated his playing went completely to pot.
The band died during the recording of the first album, but it had gathered such a momentum that the impetus of the corpse twitched on until it finally fell over in San Francisco in December 1969. It was just down the road in a small motel just off Sunset Strip when Ian and Mike decided to leave. They leapt about the hotel in fits of excitement and glee that they had snuffed this burden of responsibility. I envied them considerably because I couldn't do the same.
I felt that King Crimson was too important a thing to let die.
OCTOBER 15 American Tour ends at Santa Monica.
OCTOBER 23 UK Tour begins at the Apollo, Glasgow. "We'll Let You Know" was recorded at this gig.
OCTOBER 29 Last gig in UK by King Crimson at Bristol's Colston Hall.
NOVEMBER 2 European Tour begins in Hamburg.
NOVEMBER 3 Melody Maker. Steve Lake: If I hadn't seen King Crimson three days previously at Glasgow's Apollo Theatre, I'd have been as knocked out as the rest of the full Rainbow Theatre was by their musical set. However, it seems that where this band are concerned, there's great nights and there's unbelievable nights. Glasgow fell into the latter category without a doubt, being one of those rare occasions when the music leaves absolutely nothing to be said.
There was just no way the sound could have been improved upon; all four of Crimso were continually inventive, taking enormous chances at times and always making them pay off. As a very positive plus, the Glasgow audience was really great, providing exactly the kind of encouragement that a band needs, listening attentively during the quiet passages and jumping to their feet and bellowing football crowd style at the end of every number.
The atmosphere was electric, and the Rainbow could do nothing but pale by comparison.
NOVEMBER 3 Melody Maker. The Raver: Robert Fripp was heard muttering backstage at the Rainbow that Crimso is going to abandon Britain entirely.
NOVEMBER 3 Sounds. Steve Peacock: The band as a whole seemed tired - there were magnificent moments from everyone, but where before I'd been astonished by a real sense of collective adventuring from King Crimson, this time it seemed as if everyone held back until it was their turn to take the spotlight.
Shining moments from four musicians yes...great music from a band no. From King Crimson, that wasn't enough.
NOVEMBER 15 "The Mincer" recorded at Parc des Exposition, Zurich.
NOVEMBER 23 "Fracture", "Starless & Bible Black", "Trio" and the beginning of "The Night Watch" recorded at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.
NOVEMBER 29 European Tour ends in Madrid.
DECEMBER 8 Sounds. Martin Hayman: Did you know that Frank Zappa draws 30,000 people in Rome and King Crimson 20,000?
JANUARY King Crimson recording at Air Studios.
FEBRUARY 2 New Music Express. Book of Rock: A wayward and uneven band Crimson have never made an entirely satisfying album.
FEBRUARY 9 Sounds. David Cross: "It sometimes worries me, what we do - we stretch so far and our music is often a frightening expression of certain aspects of the world and people. It is important to have songs as well-written material, to counter- balance that so they're not actually driven insane. We have to work very hard to achieve a balance. We've only had one moment of true peace in improvisation with this band, which was a thing we did with just violin, bass and guitar at a concert in Amsterdam. Most of the time our im- provisation comes out of horror and panic".
FEBRUARY 21 The Occidental: "Starless & Bible Black" is one of the most dramatic, if not among the finest, examples of improvisational avant guarde music today.
MARCH 16 New Music Express. Tony Tyler: There's alot of worldliness in this album - not the crassness of "Ladies of the Road", but a knowing polish that overlays almost everything else.
MARCH 19 European Tour begins at Udine Palaz Sport.
MARCH 23 Melody Maker. Michael Watts: Headline "Black is Beautiful": Probably as a consequence of greater personal stability, however, and possibly because of a more harmonious chemical balance within this particular set of musicians, this album strikes a happy medium between emotion and technique; it's neither as overweeningly grandiose and manic as the first two albums, nor as precious as "Islands".
APRIL 2 European Tour ends at Gottingen, Germany.
APRIL 11 American Tour begins at Paintersmill, Maryland.
APRIL 30 The Wesleyan Argus, Middletown, Connecticut. Evan Katter "Starless" review: Chipping away at the distinction between formal writing and improvisation.
MAY Shakin St. Gazette, Buffalo, NY. Chris Sajecki: That strange direction of freedom and rebellion within the structure of rock itself...What if Robert Fripp is trying to make a comeback as the Eric Clapton of underground, intellectual rock?
MAY 2 The Chronicle, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. Bill Donlon: Headline: Puzzling New Disc from King Crimson: Some folks will say that King Crimson's seventh album, "Starless & Bible Black" is godawful. Still others will deem it impeccably professional and creative. This review will straddle the broad channel between those two viewpoints.
Robert Fripp, Crimson's guitarist and mentor, is hard to stomach. He always has been. His amoeboid pretentions can make one as uncomfortable as a full-blown case of fungal overgrowth.
Aside from that, he is a prolific composer and performer with occasional flashes of brilliance. Much to his chagrin, he has had more bad moments than good ones.
MAY 2 Hatwich College, Oneota, NY. Michael E. Mondere: This is the kind of music that sneaks up behind you then steps on you...
Cape County Herald, Anaton, NJ. Charles Lamay: Even though they have a dedicated following they've never been able to find much success.
MAY 5 American Tour ends.
MAY 8 Anderson Herald: King Crimson completely lacks a coordinated sound synthesis. Unlike successful explorations in previous albums, Crimson seems to have set their music adrift in uncharted territory.
MAY 9 Village Voice. Frank Rose reviewing Felt Forum gig: King Crimson...is a band that always tries to dig up new dirt...while the audience sat, impassive and respectful, the four-man group produced music which was variously tumulturous and serene, dissonant and harmonious, but continuously fresh.
MAY 10 Market Square, Pittsburgh: King Crimson: The Grandaddy of Progressive Rock: The show was basically an aural experience...and it featured even more free-form, synthesized way-out warpings than is usually associated with Crimson.
MAY 18 Billboard. Barry Taylor reviewing Felt Forum: For years King Crimson has maintained a devout cult following, but if their exhuberant reception May 1 was any indication...they have finally emerged "above ground".
MAY 19 TV News, NYC. Kris Nicholson: "Starless & Bible Black" is no less than amazing, somewhat devastating and at times similar to the "dark satanic mills" Blake talks about... Suggestion: Don't listen to it if you're depressed or contemplating life after death.
JUNE 4 US Tour begins in San Antonio.
JUNE 6 Rolling Stone. Gordon Fletcher: Just as they were about to be classified among the living relics, Robert Fripp and friends have returned from a lengthy creative hiatus with an inventive new album. They've taken the disjointed pieces of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic", infused them with some life, and woven them into a package as stunningly powerful as "In the Court of the Crimson King", the LP that launched "mellotron rock".
Crimson displays a certain confidence here that hasn't before graced its efforts.
Where Yes would marvel at the world, Crimson prefers to grab it by the balls. But with "Trio" Crimson demonstrates that it's capable of main- taining tha balance between aggression and introspection, using the juxtaposition of viola and mellotron-flute tape to evoke a hauntingly, blissful serenity.
JUNE 6 Zoo World. Eric Van Lustbader: "Starless & Bible Black", King Crimson: The release of a new King Crimson album is a source of reassurance to me. Empires may crumble, the cosmic balance between Chaos and Law may change, but it's nice to know there'll always be a King Crimson.
Nice, because, in the end, the band always comes through any and all ad- versity sounding better than ever. Whether (as some people may believe) or not it is because of founder Robert Fripp, the group has gone through more personel changes since its inception than it would be practical to recount here. However that may be, it IS a fact that working in Crimson has always been a difficult thing. This is because Fripp allows the MAXIMUM degree of artistic freedom within certain stringent guide- lines and if this seems a contradiction on paper, in reality it most assuredly is not. But few musicians can or will measure up, hence the many changes.
For some totally inexplicable reason, this current King Crimson lineup: Fripp, Bill Bruford, John Wetton, and David Cross, was given very bad odds at survival by certain people. My feeling, after speaking to the band, hearing them live and now, listening to their two albums, is that this is the most stable group ever. Certainly Fripp and ex-Yes drummer Bruford seem perfectly harmonious, a far cry from the previous Mel Collins, Boz, Ian Wallace aggregate that was as certainly held together by Bob through a monumental act of will.
On stage there is no doubt that this is the best Crimson.
Sweet Freedom, Camden, NJ.: The new King Crimson crashes into reality like a bad dream I once had. The first song's introduction...also reminds me of an auto accident I had a while back. It's surely music to wreck your mind.
JUNE 28 "Asbury Park" recorded at Asbury Park Casino.
JUNE 29 Melody Maker. Todd Tolces in San Francisco: King Crimson received a standing ovation and torches of lighted matches at the Cow Palace last Thursday where they played second on the bill to Ten Years After. Leading off was The Strawbs. But it was Crimson who were the surprise of the evening by turning in a simply devastating set of mostly newer works.
JUNE 30 "Providence" and most of "USA" recorded at the Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island.
JULY 1 The final King Crimson gig in New York Central Park. We did not know this at the time. For me it was the most powerful since 1969 - Robert Fripp.
JULY 8 King Crimson as a trio begin to record "Red".
AUGUST Crawdaddy. Bruce Malamut: Back in '68 (he means '69 - Robert Fripp) King Crimson were full-blast electro-attack. With a vengeance, Fripp, Lake, Sinfield and Co. launched into their patented psycho-physical assault on the senses, society and the future. Their's was the thinking boy's "My Generation". After the second album they started to turn to an even bleaker vision of the universe - one that refused to fight back. The music during this period, as well as the lyrics, was characterized by its passive quietism...as if in reaction to that period Fripp has once again reverted to The Fury... While Henry Cow play blissfully in eternal ignorance of the rapidly approaching apocalypse, King Crimson are busy planning its orchestration.
SEPTEMBER Circus Raves, New York: Rating - One Deaf Ear: King Crimson "Starless & Bible Black", Atlantic: Bob Fripp and his band know more ways to be intelligent, dead serious, and fairly boring than anybody I know save for the Master of Musical Monotomy himself, John McLaughlin.
SEPTEMBER 28 New Music Express. Headline: Crimson Disband: Robert Fripp has disbanded King Crimson and it is understood he has no intention of ever reforming tha band. The official wording is that Crimson have "ceased to exist".
OCTOBER 5 Melody Maker. Robert Patridge: King Crimson finally abdicated last week. But the end came with a wim- per, an official statement merely commented that the band had "ceased to exist". There had been, apparently, no traumatic personality clashes within the band, no final bust-up. Robert Fripp had simply decided that "it was time for King Crimson to come to an end".
That decision was taken on the eve of the release of Crimson's eighth album, "Red", which promised a new chapter in the band's evolution. Ian McDonald, the mellotron player with the original band, was to have re-joined Crimson on a permanent basis.
The band had been together - in one form or another - since 1969. Only Fripp, however, remained from the first Crimson. In the intervening years the band had been through a constant permutation of musicians and, indeed, it was only three months ago that violinist David Cross left Crimson after an American tour. The final line-up was a trio: Fripp, drummer Bill Bruford, and bass player John Wetton.
The reasons behind Fripp's decision to split the band are complex and involved. There are musical considerations, of course, but Fripp also sees underlying philosophical reasons why Crimson should come to an end. He discussed those reasons with MM's Robert Partridge:
Why have you decided to call it a day? Is the experiment over?
Yes, and for three reasons. The first is that it represents a change in the world. Second, whereas I once considered being part of a band like Crimson to be the best liberal education a young man could receive, I know now that isn't so. And third, the energies involved in the particular lifestyle of the band and in the music are no longer of value to the way I live.
But to go back to the first point, the change in the world. At the moment we're going through a transition from the, if you like, old world to the new. The old world is characterized by what one con- temporary philosopher has termed "The Dinosaur Civilization", large and unwieldy, without much intelligence - just like a dinosaur.
An example of this would be, say America or any huge, world-wide power. Another example would be any large band with lots and lots of road managers...all these units originally start out to service a need, but now you have a situation where, being creative, they have to create needs in order that they may continue to exist. In other words, they've become vampiric.
The characteristics of the new world: small, independent, mobile and intelligent units. The transition will reach its most marked point in the years 1990 to 1999. Within that period will be the greatest friction.
Can we go on to the second reason for bringing Crimso to an end? You were talking about a "liberal education"...
Yes, in order to prepare myself for this critical decade I need to acquire certain skills and abilities. The education of King Crimson has taken me to this particular point, but it can no longer educate me in the fashion I need to be educated.
My education now needs to be different. Instead of King Crimson I now need, well, that brings me to my third point, about the energies in- volved in working with a band.
This also harks to that first point about the change in the world. For the work I now wish to be involved in, the energies are not those I get from King Crimson.
The energies involved weren't right. Getting on stage and having to fight the aggression of five thousand people, to beat them down to the point where they're listening...the band became very adept at going on stage and smacking straight through, but at the expense of creating something of a higher nature, if you like.
OCTOBER 5 Sounds. Steve Peacock: King Crimson "Red" Paul McCartney discovered that announcing a band break-up was a jolly way to sell records, and Bobby Fripp is taking a wee leaf from his book. I've lost count of the number of times Fripp has reformed versions of King Crimson, said this one was what he'd been after all along, said it was "for life" or something, and then broken it up. C'est la vie. Presumably now we all await with bated breath for The Next Venture - the people I feel sorry for are chaps like David Cross, Bill Bruford, and John Wetton; but I expect they'll survive OK. "Red", if the cover is any indication, refers to the danger/distortion level on studio dials (which I suppose is mean't to indicate that this Crimso is HEAVY).
The liner photo shows Wetton smiling, Bruford looking a cross between resignedly bemused and pissed-off, and Fripp looking as if he's pulling a moody - you know, the glass-eyed stare and the "I may not be con- ventionally good-looking, but I feel the power" gritting of the lips. Funnily enough, that photo reflects what I hear in the music. Fripp appears to be playing with confidence vastly in excess of his achievements on the album: Bruford plays well but doesn't seem to get too involved: Wetton plays his usual fluidy crucial bass and sings with a smoky prettiness the songs barely deserve - he carries himself with dignity. Overall, the album sounds like the epitome of Midlands English heavy rock, injected with excellent drumming, overlaid with Wetton voice parts, planed down without mercy, and polished up with a kind of aural beeswax. One admires, one adds to the collection, but one doesn't really derive an awful lot of pleasure from it. One does, in fact, long for the excellent base of Wetton and Bruford to be complemented with something less calculating and stylised than the composition and playing of Robert Fripp. On the evidence of "Red", it seems that - as happened in a different way with the last band - the musicians have outgrown the leader's concept of them. Maybe that's why it broke apart.
OCTOBER 5 New Music Express. Chris Salewicz: It's really quite curious and should, I suppose, be put down to some psychic state evolving from the demise of the band, but "Red" is truly the first Crimson album that I can find myself listening to over and over again. Would it be that same psychic state that makes me believe it's the best album ever made under the name of King Crimson?
OCTOBER 12 Record Mirror: King Crimson: "Red": The reasons for King Crimson's decision to call it a day should become clearer after a listen to this oblique swansong. In contrast to their last, "Starless & Bible Black", this one is difficult without really being the trouble of a studious listen. To be honest, I find it positively morbid music. They are musically precise and spritually lost. Former member and musical peer Dave Cross, is missing save in a guest role. This leaves the stripped down meanderings of Messrs Wetton, Bruford and Fripp, desolate and quite cold. All three are excellent rock innovators with both talent and technique, but these five final tracks - including "Starless Mark Two" - are a distant goodbye.
OCTOBER 12 Sounds. Mike Flood: You'd think Bill Bruford would be just a little mad, I mean there is Robert Fripp going around saying things like: "The world is in fact dead, and King Crimson with it", and muttering about becoming a small, in- dependent, intelligent and highly mobile unit with Eno, you'd think Bill Bruford would say "Oh! What about me?" and things like that. Unless you were Bill Bruford that is. The most he can muster-up to meet The King Is Dead number is "It is mildly irritating". This from a man who left Yes as they were about to become the holders of the keys to the Topographic Gold Mines, to join a King Crimson which he admits he had hoped would last another year or two, and when Robert Fripp calls him up last week to announce he's knocked that one on the head all our Crimson tympanist can summon up in the way of a retort is: "Mildly irritating"?!
I can't tell my editor that! He wants controversy; he wants scandal. He wants martial arts and blood between warring ex-Crimson Kings, not sweet harmony and concord. Can't you do better than this Bruford?
"I wish I could get upset about it, but I'm really not. It's served its purpose for me, and it's come to an end, but you move on. God forbid that one should get lumbered with a dinosaur".
God forbid indeed! The very words I was about to employ myself! Oh well, then Bruford, if you won't dish out the dirt, I suppose we had better let you tell it your way, and I'll start thinking of excuses for Big Ed.
"It is mildly irritating, because for my sins, I get attached and emotionally committed to materialistic things. There is a very fine group, an exquisite management company, the most devoted and loyal road crew you can find, and a plateau of album sales of at least 200,000 a shot, which is very close to the top. That's Top 50 in America which is a good position to be in to shoot for the Top 10 in America. An international band which has at its fingertips a tour of Japan, if it wants, or a tour of South America. It's fairly celebrated in Europe and not bad at all in America. And all this is the result of years of labour from various devoted people and you think: Yes, Robert. Now you're gonna knock all this on the head, right? And it's like having your favourite train set smashed. (Strong stuff at last! -Ed.) It's a pity in a way, but it's a false adherence to things".
And is he privy to things that lay behind the decision to lay the King to rest?
"I feel Robert's reasons are fairly clear-cut. I have no clearer inkling into the reasons than anyone else. It's his philosophy, which I largely agree with. I know he believes what he says himself absolutely. Whether it is the best way, whether splitting the group to become a 'small, mobile, intelligent unit' and so forth is the best way to achieve his ends, I do not know. But I wish him the very best of luck.
"Really, if you work with King Crimson you begin to live with things like that. It never has been for me a very SURE group. It's been quite experimental and there's been some fantastic music played, and some very interesting conversations, arguments and rage. We've been through some amazing scenes. (This is controversy, maybe? -Ed.) If for the musicians involved this thing called King Crimson has served their purposes, and it has served Robert's purposes, that's fine. I hadn't actually finished with it. That doesn't matter".
NOVEMBER 16 New Music Express. Chris Salewicz interviewing Bill Bruford: "England has a slight misconception about King Crimson...We were beginning to be seen as a very intellectualised group. It had reached the situation where people felt obliged to come and see us almost reverently - in a black tie"
...In the States, oddly enough, King Crimson equals killer heavy metal.
NOVEMBER 22 Time Out. Piers Sedge. King Crimson "Red": Another album from Crimson of immensely unbeautiful music to have night- mares by. The vocals seem a little unnecessary, and in places remind one of ELP - a harassing experience. All a little predictable and dull, with the seemingly obligatory quota of frantic jamming, weird noises, and mellotron overdubs. Without wishing to dismiss in an off-hand manner what is apparently a serious-minded band, all that can really be said is that this album is invaluable for those wishing to temporarily obliterate peace of mind from their lives, or precipitate irreversible neural damage.
FEBRUARY Musicians Classified, New York. Interview with Ian MacDonald: Why did you leave King Crimson? Ha, that question! There were alot of reasons. I was nuts. I didn't realise what a good thing we had going. But although I wrote most of the music I still felt I couldn't do all I wanted to do through the group...Anyway, it taught me never to quit a good thing.
APRIL 26 Sounds. Angus MacKinnon: Only "Asbury Park" hints at the energy levels they could and did attain on stage...However, the musicianship is super-super-efficient throughout; perhaps I expected too much. Anyway, play it loud.
MAY 3 Melody Maker. Steve Lake talks to John Wetton: Let's talk first of King Crimson and "USA", the new live album:
"All the time we were together, people would say 'what you really need is a live album and a hit single'. The latter was obviously out of the question, and the former came a little too late to save the band, but even so, I think it's really good, and if the others aren't in- terested in promoting it, I'll bloody well do it. Everything on it, in my opinion, is better than the original versions. A very ballsy album".
How did you react when Fripp announced that he was folding the band?
"Well, I was hardly stunned. The group had always existed on a day-to-day basis, tomorrow it might not be there, that kind of thing, but I was dissapointed in that I was looking forward to the next tour with Ian MacDonald...the rehearsals had given Bill (Bruford) and myself a shot in the arm..."
Crimson, says Wetton, was an adventure of sorts, he joined because he had nothing to lose. Bill Bruford, he concedes, made a greater com- mitment to the band than he did. The drummer actually gave up fame and fortune to go with Robert Fripp. Wetton gave up comparatively little. A gig with Family, a band who never cracked the States.
"If I had broken down and wept and said, 'My God, Robert, you can't do it, please don't let it happen,' he'd probably have kept turning it over for a while, as a favour, because that's the kind of person he is, but what would be the point? The group would simply have disintegrated after the tour".
Melody Maker, Steve Lake. Headline: "A King Best to Forget": This album is King Crimson's epitapth, yet strangely, although it con- sists largely of live versions of post "Larks' Tongues" cuts, it doesn't really have too much to do with any version of Crimson that ever gigged here.
Taken on its own terms, "USA" is an exceptionally muscular album, if much more basic than either of the last three studio releases. In a sense, it's a negation of the idealogy that launched the Jamie Muir/ Fripp/Cross/Wetton/Bruford version of the group.
This isn't a "magic" band, merely a rock'n'roll one, and this set adds credence to Wetton's departure for Uriah Heep. In the dehumanizing vast auditoriums of America, subtlety doesn't count for much.
The successful rock band strives for effect and the means to that end are generally a kind of self-caricature, only the barest bones of the music comprehensible to kids quarter of a mile away from the stage. Essentially, it's all back to bread and circuses, and I really don't find very much here that's in any sense elevating.
"USA" simply reworks old material into more immediately assimilable stuff, and what once seemed thoughtful and carefully realised here seems simply retailored for the downer freak. King Crimson were never exactly "light- weight" or "happy-go-lucky" but their apocalyptic doominess has seldom been so stultifyingly apparent as it is here. By comparison, Blue Oyster Cult's live album, "On Your Feet Or On Your Knees", almost comes across as a Fine Art Statement. And on previous form, I don't understand why that should be.
This isn't how I want to remember Crimson.
JUNE 7 Folkestone Herald: The last loudest and possibly heaviest record from Crimson who seem to have degenerated from a prima rock band to producing sheet after sheet of noise and towering barriers of sound.
SEPTEMBER 19 NME. Teasers: Robert Fripp (guitarist's guitarist semi-retired) currently compiling "A Young Person's Guide to Kind Crimson".
NOVEMBER 15 NME. Teasers: "Young Person's Guide to King Crimson", first ever Crimson double album (yawn) ---.
NOTE: Some of the mistakes included are deliberate; some are accidental - Fripp