Beat - Reviews
Date Submitted: 12-Apr-96
By: Joel M. Depper (jdepfam at bendnet dot com)
"I view Beat as the quintessential 80's Crimson album. The opening track, "Neal and Jack and Me" provides a more coherent meshing of Crimso's personalities than anything on Discipline. It contains their nearest shot at a hit single, "Heartbeat." It then moves on to an 80's Crimson jam, "Sartori in Tangier" which has wonderful Frippertronics in the middle system. In "Waiting Man," Bruford lays down one of the most influential synth drum beats of all time. "Neurotica" is a thrilling ride into Adrian Belew's "urban zoo" and has some of the funniest noises he has ever made with a guitar. "Two Hands" is a pleasant, if not extraordinary ballad. The strange rocker "The Howler" in next, and is both disturbing and exciting. The album closes with "Requiem," which contains 6 and 1/2 minutes of some of the most freaked out playing Robert Fripp has ever produced. My only complaint? The album is too short."
Date Submitted: 27-Apr-96
By: Tim Foster (FosDesign at aol dot com)
""Beat" carries on where "Discipline" leaves off. The familiar ingredients are there: Fripp's incredibly complicated rhythmic phrases (Neal and Jack and Me, Neurotica), Belew's feedback-laced solos (The Howler, Waiting Man), Levin's distinctive stick work (Sartori in Tangier, Neurotica) and Bruford's melodic drumming (Waiting Man, Two Hands). The album also offers up some pleasant surprises, a well-crafted, commercial ballad in "Heartbeat" and a frantic, brooding Fripp sound excursion in "Requiem". A bit more polished than "Discipline", "Beat" still manages to catch the listener off guard at times. Crimson always lived on the edge, the music sometimes venturing into uncharted territories, and while "Beat" offers up some light moments, the darkness and broodiness of tracks like "Requiem" and "The Howler" quickly crash in to remind you of who you're listening to. (****)"
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"This is a pretty good album, though Discipline and Thrak outclass it for its incarnation. Though the band sometimes gets too muddy (The Howler, Requiem) or too sappy (Heartbeat, Two Hands), it's pretty nice . "Sartori..." is cool, "Waiting Man", "Neal and Jack and Me", and "Two Hands" are sappy, but in a good way, and Neurotica is a fun, cacophonous explosion."
Date Submitted: 15-Jun-96
By: Chris Arnold (Ottoban at worldnet dot att dot net)
"By the time BEAT was released, I was overdosing (with pleasure) Discipline while in college and in love with a woman who's father forbid her to see me. My trips to our meeting place and time with her were often spent listening to the passionate and emotional sounds of a number of the BEAT songs. Heartbeat brings me right back to 82'... Neal, Jack and Me reminds me of the feeling I had then that the world was out there waiting for me to experience. BEAT has a truthfulness to it; it is quite innocent really, more an illustration than an interpretation. Neurotica IS New York or any great city seen from the street or any open windowed car in the dead of summer. Each of these songs represent exposures clearly sung by Mr. Belew."
Date Submitted: 31-Oct-96
By: PH (hynes at enteract dot com)
"Beat was my rediscovery of King Crimson. I had listened countless times to 21st Century Schizoid Man, et.al. in high school, not thinking KC could get any better. Then again, not thinking in high school was common. I had no idea Discipline was out yet. Though I quickly updated my collection. The new lineup was the next logical step for the band. In came Belew with his extraordinarily creative guitar and lyrical talent to add to the frippertronic genius' fretwork. Add Levin, the 10-string Emmitt stick bass player from Peter Gabriel, and Bill YES Bruford and you've got the first super group of the 80s that no one knew about because these songs were too progressive for progressive radio. (excepting one local Chicago station). Not until I read Kerouac did I realize an homage to the free verse of "On the Road "on Neal (Cassidy) and Jack (Kerouac) and me. Sure, Neil Young sings "long may you run" in one of his odes to a car, but leave it to Belew to BECOME the car in what appears to be a recount of a frantic Paris tour all the while experiencing jet lag. (By the way, I always thought it was: INSANE, alone at four a.m.) Heartbeat is a beautifully pulsing ballad. Neurotica explains itself perfectly. Two hands conjures up a solemn Hopper or Munch painting. (woman on the bed w/ wind blowing her hair clasping her fingers together) Though written with his wife, in what one would think was an apparent gesture of love, it only emotes longing and claustrophobia. Possibly a portent to his future divorce. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this stuff. I think I'll wrap this up and stop overanalyzing. I am just pleased to have known this one of a kind music. Keep up the good work w/ the web site. May the beat go on. (ok, bad pun)."
Date Submitted: 5-Jun-97
By: George Selinsky (selinsky at worldnet dot att dot net)
"Beat is a more structured album than Discipline, in that the compositions are more coherent, with more structured experimentation. Neal and Jack and Me is an energetic rock tune (I am still not sure if Neal, Jack, and the narrator are "absent lovers" of other women, or something a bit more kinky). Heartbeat is another typical 80's pop song, like Matte Kudesai. Satori in Tangier is a middle eastern flavored dance instrumental. This album also shows the leaning towards more non-western flavors in Waiting Man, a pop song with an intense African drum beat. Neurotica is a very intense, almost rap-flavored song about New York City (a Fripp theme dating back to Pictures of a City), with a sound montage of the city creatively interspersed, (which can catch you by surprise if it comes on while you're driving in NYC traffic!) together with intense Bruford. Two Hands is a soft delicate Belew tune. The Howler harks back to the ominous apocalyptic mood of Wetton/Cross King Crimson, naturally with Belew and Levin's prog-pop influence, with a strong recurring theme and intense singing. Finally, Requiem is something you'd expect to hear on Starless and Bible Black, an instrumental that has a long Fripp solo over an organ chord, and the other members chime in with odd time off key riffs. One can hear Fripp's conflict over the band's sound by clearly hearing where Fripp's progressiveness and Belew's popsiness fight against each other (i.e. Fripp in the verse, Belew in the chorus), with Fripp winning at the end of the album. This element of conflict makes the album quite exciting."
Date Submitted: 19-Aug-97
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at cybernex dot net)
"King Crimson's music never got old or stale. This was a band able to absorb the lessons of punk and New Wave. YES and ELP were still yammering about "Purple Goddesses on Golden Lawns," long after they should have been put to sleep. Art rock by this point was not defined by these bands as much it was defined by The Talking Heads, Pere Ubu, Gang of Four, and the re-formed King Crimson.
"Beat is a perfect example. KC remembered something that their stale contemporaries from the days of flowers and beads forgot---songs. On song after song here--Neal and Jack and Me, Heartbeat, the Howler--the three-minute-or-so pop format was used as a departure point for brilliant experimentation. In that sense, any KC's connection has to the past on Beat is not to YES or ELP, but to the Beatles or Brian Wilson. But, the reference points to the Talking Heads and the album's jungle grooves were totally contemporary for the time.
"But Beat has no pop songs, in the same way In The Court has no classical pieces. What KC do is redefine the boundaries of their chosen format to suit their own purposes, and the results, 9 out of ten times, are brilliant."
Date Submitted: 3-Apr-98
By: (myers.family at mcione dot com)
"The first side of Beat is one of the most perfect recordings I have heard. There is a very well realized blend of pop accessibility with progressive, experimental stuff. What makes for a lasting record in my mind (having been raised on the Beatles, and all the great 60's & 70's AM radio) is the quality of the SONGS. Yeah, I love cool instrumental stuff, but hang that on a memorable tune and I'm hooked! Beat (the first side in particular) has great songs...probably more than any other KC release.
"Having said that, one of my favorite parts of Beat is instrumental. There is a section of "Sartori in Tangier" when the music sssmmooths out into a sonic groove (whatever that means!) and I get this very visual image of zooming through a futuristic neon tunnel at great speed, smooth yet somewhat roller-coaster like, with the occasional Bruford-supplied bump, and then, SWWOOOSH!, out into the daylight as the music kick in full force again! I know this sounds somewhat psychotic, but this is such a strong, consistent image for me....surely someone else out there knows what I mean!
"I also thank Beat for introducing me to the world of the Beats."
Date Submitted: 16-Nov-98
By: James Crary (deafjim at webtv dot net)
"Almost nothing I could say about King Crimson's music would be less than worshipful, that is for the exception of BEAT. It took an impromptu a cappelo performance by a West Coast mezzo soprana opera star one night in Santa Cruz to attune me to what a good song "Howler" had the potential to be. I still remember telling someone that King Crimson's music was the staff of life, and having her show up a few days later on the brink of slapping my face, having bought BEAT and ruined her day. I remember thinking, "I forgot to tell her, don't, for God's sake, buy BEAT." Beat would be a terrible album if it had been recorded by Mott. The fact that it is an album by King Crimson, just confirms the testimony of Tony Levin. When they're bad...they're real bad. The blue on the cover wasn't even especially pretty."
Date Submitted: 29-Nov-98
By: (mph2 at ukc dot ac dot uk)
"It must have been the album cover that attracted me to it. Twelve square inches of such a lovely azure blue. Clean, polished and vaguely enigmatic. Just like the music.
"Thinking back I remember my first impressions related to how CLEAN the guitars sounded. Rich flange and chorus without mush. Crisp as a pre-dunk Rich Tea biscuit. And was this the same Bill Bruford I knew from 'Close To The Edge'? Why was he hardly playing anything at all on Heartbeat (maybe one of his arms was in a sling that day, I thought), and yet piling on wild contrapuntal excess in Neurotica? Then I realized the pattern. Nothing is ever in between with King Crimson. It's always TOO loud or TOO quiet or TOO complicated and stops TOO quickly or TOO... I loved it and inflicted it on the Sixth Form Common Room hi-fi on a regular basis. My Goth friends said the music was depressing and made them feel dizzy.
"Hearing it for the first time in 1986, it sounded to me like an album from the future, and for those of us who are now familiar with the 80s Crimson sound it's easy to forget just how shocking and invigorating that first encounter was. Try this game on your KC-naive friends: tell them it's a cyberpunk album, play it to them and then have them guess the year.
"'ToaPP' is a bit anaemic and suffers from creative anorexia. 'Discipline' is dark and occasionally won't let me in. 'Beat' is resolutely sociable, the most bright and upbeat of all the Crimson albums. Like when you buy new strings. Fond memories are conjured up by this album, which means that although others will quite justifiedly rave about 'Discipline', this will always be my personal favourite of the 80s albums.
"Last year a beat-poetry-loving pyromaniac friend of mine committed suicide. By some Nachtraglichkeit (or retroactive temporal quirk, for all you non-Freudians) this album has now become my way of remembering him. Thank you."
Date Submitted: 9-Jun-01
By: (Hematovore at aol dot com)
"'Beat' is easily my least favorite KC record. I never liked 'Heartbeat' or 'Two Hands'. Those tracks strike me as way too mushy, not what I look for from this band. Adrian's vocals, delivered like a painfully sensitive David Byrne without any trace of that man's good humor, are less than convincing on 'Waiting Man' and 'Neurotica' (though this is a really cool track...). And the overall production is entirely too flat. That being said, 'Sartori..' (glorious!) and 'Requiem' (darkly disturbed) are among my VERY favorite KC tracks; yeah, I'm partial to instrumental music."
Date Submitted: 24-Apr-02
By: (xavery.i at wp dot pl)
"It's a shame that it was the last KC studio album, that wasn't in my collection. IMHO it's brilliant. Maybe not as musically outstanding as other albums but it has mood and a kind of 'theme'. Something that many other Crimso releases lack. Those other 80's albums are kind of synthetic. Yeah, they're still great and more 'musically complicated', but Discipline is kind of plastic to me and TOAPP has a brass-like feel. They're a bit artificial.
"Beat is another story thought. I even like all of the Adrian's lyrics (none of them silly chit-chat), and I think he sang really well. Hands down, one of the best KC albums.
"I won't go through it song by song. Just buy and listen if you still don't have it like I did."
Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)
"Less astonishing than its predecessor but still interesting. This probably does lean a bit too much towards pop and down beat vocal songs, frankly, given this band’s capabilities. This is a holding pattern as much as it is a record."
Neal and Jack and Me
Date Submitted: 13-Apr-98
By: Etienne (fido.the.gnome at videotron dot ca)
"The first time i heard Neal and Jack and Me, i said to myself what a song! The guitar parts on this song are so perfect, the play between Belew & Fripp is incredible. No big solo on this one just pure and good music,this is the best Belew, Fripp, Levin, Bruford song of all the tree Red, Blue & Yellow albums."
Sartori in Tangier
Date Submitted: 16-Apr-98
By: Brian Mafi (Brian_Mafi at smtpgate dot mitchell dot com)
"Thought I'd throw in my 2 cents; a litle story to recount.
"I used to work at a Tower Records in the S.F. Bay Area. One day while working there, my request was on the turntable (I'm dating myself now!). The tune "Sartori In Tangier" was on, and just before the spacey middle section came up, there was an earthquake. I could hear this distant rumbling, the floor was sliding smoothly back & forth, and the middle section of the tune came in and IT WAS PERFECT! It was an incredibly appropriate piece of music for the moment, and the record didn't skip either! Afterwards, I found out it was a 4.5 Richter scale quake (fairly small). As no one was reported injured, I felt no guilt in enjoying such a cataclysmic moment with such bueatiful accompaniment..."
Date Submitted: 25-Jun-00
By: Adam Mizelle (adammizelle at earthlink dot net)
"Along with THRAK and Larks' Tongues Part IV, this is the post-Red work that transcends all periods and idioms to the core of what King Crimson is. Organized anarchy. Utilization of the latent power of chaos. Allowance of the varying influences to interact and find their own equilibrium. This track freakin' rocks. Belew recites lyrics from a zoology textbook, the rhythm section flexes its jazz chops, and Fripp is unobtrusive, the headmaster letting the rules play themselves out. Altenately slashing, lazy, heavy, dreamy, evocative, and explicit, "Neurotica" is the logical outcome of "21st Century Schizoid Man" (schizophrenia is a neurosis, no?). Seek out the live double trio versions on CLUB5-6 and Cirkus/Mexico City to see why this one was ahead of its time. Let's keep our fingers crossed that live versions from the eighties are forthcoming."
Date Submitted: 18-Sep-96
By: Mario Leone (mario-leone at augustana dot edu)
"'Two Hands' is a nice, tight tune that holds up well with the other songs on Beat. The guitars in the song are similar to the sound Robert Plant chose for his solo career in the early 80's. Belew sings with passion, but doesn't get too flashy (like on 'Three of a Perfect Pair'!). The song ends very simply with a multi-tracked Belew and a nice little Eastern-style guitar riff."