Cirkus: A Young Persons' Guide To King Crimson - Live 1969 - 1998

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Originally released: 1999


  • Various



Neon Heat Disease 1984-1998 (CD One)

  • Dinosaur (Mexico City, 1996)
  • Thela Hun Ginjeet (Montreal, 1984)
  • Red (Mexico City, 1996)
  • B'BOOM (Mexico City, 1996)
  • Thrak (Mexico City, 1996)
  • 1 ii 2 (P1 - Jazz Cafe, London, 1997)
  • Neurotica (Mexico City, 1996) => Reviews
  • Indiscipline (Tokyo, 1995)
  • VROOOM VROOOM (Mexico City, 1996)
  • Coda: Marine 75 (Mexico City, 1996)
  • Deception of the Thrush (P2 - Pearl St., MA, 1998)
  • Heavy ConstruKction (P2 - Pearl St., MA, 1998)
  • Three of a Perfect Pair (Montreal, 1984)
  • Sleepless (Montreal, 1984)
  • Elephant Talk (Tokyo, 1995)

Fractured 1969-1996 (CD Two)

  • 21st Century Schizoid Man (Jacksonville, 1972)
  • Ladies of the Road (Orlando, 1972)
  • A Man A City (Fillmore West, 1969)
  • In the Court of the Crimson King (Fillmore West, 1969)
  • Fracture (Toronto, 1974)
  • Easy Money (Amsterdam, 1973)
  • Improv: Besancon (Besancon, 1974)
  • The Talking Drum (Amsterdam, 1973)
  • Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part II) (Mexico City, 1996)
  • Starless (Pittsburgh, 1974)


Reviews are listed in chronological order within each section. Please retain a chronological order when adding new reviews.

Entire Release

Date Submitted: 11-Apr-99
By: Steven Sthole (sws at rmi dot net)

"The Crimson King is always at His best 'Live', so this 2-CD set of onstage performances from the last 29 years may eventually fill the bill as one of my personal favorites. It has certainly visited the CD player more than any other (Crim or non-Crim) purchase since 'The Night Watch'.

"What I like most about the compilation is the seamless transition between eras. This is most effective on the 'Fractured' disc. Especially effective is the 'Talking Drum' (1973 version) entry into 'Larks Tongues Pt 2' (1996 version). The crowd noise has been editted in such a way as to make the listener believe this was from the same concert: a very effective statement about the timelessness of the music being played.

"One complaint I have is that many of the chosen selections have been heard before. For example, 'The Talking Drum' is from the Amsterdam concert, but perhaps could be thought of as a "definitive version". The 'Schizoid Man' heard here was the from the Jacksonville ('Collector's Club'#2) gig. But we do get to hear an alternate version of 'Ladies of the Road', from Orlando, Florida. Also, on 'Neon Heat Disease' there are familiar selections from 1995 Tokyo concerts that have already been featured on both 'Deja Vrooom' and the 'Live in Japan 1995' video (specifically, 'Indiscipline' and 'Elephant Talk'); however, we are given the pleasure of previewing some upcoming live releases material from the Mexico City and (ProjeKct One) London concerts. A real treat is the live version of 'Neurotica', which may or may not be the fabled instrumental version (Adrian's vocals appear to be pre-(tape) recorded).

"The question then arises, especially with the addition in Disc One of three songs from the 'Absent Lovers' release: who is likely to purchase this 2 CD-set? Certainly the completists (like myself) will buy it simply to add to the collection. The less-than-hardcore Crimson fans who don't buy all the releases or belong to the DGM Collector's Club will be tempted to buy it, and perhaps even derive the most benefit from it, having scored many live versions of songs not yet a part of their collection. But I am sure there will be a cadre of listeners who will wonder why certain compostions were included from recent compliations, and other much-anticipated gems (where's that live version of 'The Sheltering Sky'?) were left out.

"For me, I have to admit to really enjoying the sequence of the material, and except for a few minor flaws, I really enjoy 'CIRKUS'."

Date Submitted: 13-Apr-99
By: (girlie at infonie dot be)

"I've bought CIRKUS as an import (a marvellous cds are in this shape, i'm collecting the Miles Davis' reissues also...why didn't they commercialized it that way first ? a real reduction of the vinyl, the pleasure of the contact is again renewed). Of course, it's sad to see some titles already available on other albums but that's the main problem with completist, didn't we ?

"On the other hand, it's through this one that i heard the future of KC and let's say it's a fantastic promise...ProjecKts are brilliant and i cannot stand myself for the P Box release (scheduled at last for this summer)...We have been waiting for too long!"

Date Submitted: 19-Apr-99
By: Alan Wilde (AlanWilde at compuserve dot com)

"I just received this release and I have to tell you it is a stunner. The Mexico City tracks are the best I've ever heard and Neurotica burns. B'Boom is far superior to the 1994 release and both Bill and Pat really shine here. The boys were hot those nights. For me this is the best division one KC live album to date. I think that the mixing job is very good and its appeal will find an audience outside of us fanatics.

"I really hope that DGM releases the whole Mexico City concerts and I can see why Robert gets excited about the material again after hearing this.

"The Fractured side is very good as well and I believe they have remastered the Great Deceiver tracks.

"Overall this is a very good release and I would suggest that you recommend it to anyone who is a novice KC listener"

Date Submitted: 9-Jun-99
By: (rtcozzol at students dot wisc dot edu)

"This, more than any release thus far makes a - fair or not - comparison of the technical ablity, commercial appeal, songwriting talent, intimate musicianship, interpretive skills, energy level, and "sense of the appropriate" among several King Crimson incarnations explicit and convenient.

"I stand by my criticism, posted at least once before on the DGM site, that the double trio fails to pop out of its own mold. Arguably, or at least to my ears, it seems painfully obvious here that the double trio does its best with its own material, but tends to render innocuous the majority of earlier pieces. Possible exceptions being those Belew mixed from 1995. But, if the energy level on the 1994-96 material is better in its originating hands, it again reveals much of it to be less adventurous or powerful. Perhaps time will tell, but i dunno...

"I am curious, disappointed, etc... by the odd balance of selections. There must be unreleased gems waiting to be revealed from KC's dates with Muir - non-Club recordings of the 1972 band, alternate '73-74 recordings (Red ever performed live by that group? - no taste of USA'a omitted material?), The Sheltering Sky from Frejus not here as a re-release in audio? I don't understand the selection process... Certainly a compilation serves a dual purpose as a fresh batch and persuasive sales-pitch towards other offerings, but the repetition of previous releases - though alternately mixed - and (gasp!) inclusion of Club tracks(!) is disturbing to the loyal enthusiast.

"It was a release I needed to acquire, because I am hopeful that at some point my mind will change about the double trio, and here it does slightly. I imagine Thrakattack will do wonders to me in converting. It is more convincing live than otherwise. And, I revel in the inclusion of a few previously unreleased un-1994-96 Crimson tracks. Part of the process, I am convinced that the next step will be miles beyond.

"I wait with baited breath."

Date Submitted: 15-Jun-99
By: Stephen De Prospero (StephenfromNY at webtv dot net)

"Good re-cap of the last 30 years of King Crimson. As soon as I could I bought a copy like every new release, but I'm disipointed the by the obvious omitting of any live stuff from the Lizard 1970 incarnination. For me its one of my very vavorite concept albums and would have loved it if they would have simply payed it the tribute it deserves."

Date Submitted: 18-Jun-99
By: Joachim Arnerholm (joachim.arnerholm at telia dot com)

"I for one think that King Crimson is a group that is at it's best in a "Live" situation. Also I notice that the band seems to choose a narrow choise of songs to perfom and sort of find the essence of the material. Nothing wrong with that, Grateful Dead used this approach quite succesful for some 25 years. I like to hear different versions of familiar songs, but are the average "Joe Blow"? Nevertheless I will continue to call myself a fan!"

Date Submitted: 21-Jul-99
By: Phil McKenna (PMcKenna at starmarket dot com)

"Overall, a good introduction for those who want to see what KC has to offer in all its many colors!! My favorites we're the 80's and 90's lineups just tearing it up! My other one was the achingly beautiful version of "Starless", definitely a track to be savored!!!

"I have to say though, given my drothers, the "Islands" band recordings would've been left off altogether. The version of "Schizoid Man" was in my opinion, embarrassingly bad, between Boz's weak vocalizing (made only worse by putting him through a fuzzbox), the weak bass work and Ian Wallace's plodding drumming. You could hear how frustrated Fripp was as he played. Mel Collins certainly can play, I guess I got frustrated listening to his CONSTANT atonal squawking (as opposed to how musically he played on the studio albums). "Ladies of the Road" fared only slightly better, but on the plus side, it was cool to hear Fripp delve into some bluesy territory, something fun to alleviate the frustration."

Date Submitted: 12-Aug-99
By: John-David Lucas (lraven at floodcity dot net)

"This is the album of live albums! the vinyl-esque packaging is a great touch as well. this and god hides/smiles should be with any collection. next to perfection,I mean,right next to,is Crimso'!

"hot date!!!!!!! I have musical prodigy due to this!"

Date Submitted: 14-Aug-99
By: Chris (TheKobaian at aol dot com)

"I've just recently gotten Cirkus, and I have to say, I find it disappointing. For one thing, a good sized portion of this has already been released, and thusly has already been purchased by myself. For instance, there's material from The Great Deciever (ok, maybe they sound quality is better than what was on the boxset, but I never had a problem with the sound there anyway) and The Night Watch, and, as I found out by visiting this web site, there's even a track from one of the Collector's Club releases (none of which I've gotten yes, because I'm kinda lazy when it comes to doing mail order). And the one improv (not counting the Projeckt tracks) he chose to include isn't even 2 minutes long.

"I would have much rather he had focused on material that hasn't been released before, and in particular, had chosen the 69-74 material better. It would have been nice if there had been more improvs (certainly longer ones would have been good too). If nothing else, I would have liked to have seen the inclusion of stuff from Earthbound and/or USA that haven't appeared on CD yet.

"That's not to say this release isn't worth having, though. The Projeckt selections are quite good, if brief. And I suppose if you don't have the various live releases that have appeared in the 90's, this is a good overview of what's available, as far as the 69-84 stuff is concerned.

"BTW, someone asked why there is nothing by the Lizard lineup. If I'm not mistaken, I don't think they ever performed in concert. I know Fripp once said the only time Keith Tippett ever performed with them was on TV appearances which were lip synched, so there may not be anything to release from that lineup.

"May you never thirst!"

Date Submitted: 13-Oct-99
By: John Spokus (Originalwtk at aol dot com)

"I enjoyed this release for the most part,but I think there is already enough material from the 73-74 era available. Why wasn't the live version of the title of this set included from one of the'71 shows? I own a boot version from the Academy Of Music Show, and that tune smokes. I am a little warmer to the 90's lineup after listening to disc one. I bought Vrooom back in '95 and wasn't real happy with it but I'm going to give all that material another chance now."

Date Submitted: 9-Nov-99
By: Brian White (bwhite at usd313 dot k12 dot ks dot us)

"As a recent discoverer of all things Crim, this was the album that introduced me to it very first KC purchase. Unfortunately, as is the case with many people, the only Crimson song I was really familiar with was...well, I don't think I need to even tell you the title. This compilation, however, is a wonderful introduction to all things Crim and has inspired me to do all the typical fan know, buy all the other CDs, join the KCCC, start exploring Fripp's other projects, etc., etc. I've grown particularly fond of the Mexico City versions of 'Neurotica' and 'Lark's Tongue pt.II'. As the title suggests, this is a tremendous introduction to not only the various live KC recordings now available but to the music of KC in general."

Date Submitted: 24-Aug-00
By: Eric Odijk (eric.odijk at grontmij dot nl)

"Although I miss a few Crimso-moments on this double cd, I would recommend this to anyone involved in playing any instrument. Being a drummer, this is an unfair record, since I don't think I can play more than a few minutes of each song. God, how great were these guys over the years? If only they had included Frame By Frame and Discipline to this release, it would have been perfect. Only thing is, I can barely listen to other music anymore, it is so intense. Apart from live Crimso cd's I only listen to live cd's by Pink Floyd, Deep Purple or Thin Lizzy. Those are the only live releases I still can stand to listen to after discovering the live Crimso recordings. Only songs I don't generally listen to are 1ii2 and the Boz songs. They should have taken 21st CSM from a recording with Lake, Giles and McDonald. Listening to the Cross/Fripp/Wetton/Bruford songs, which are quite present on thic cd (thanks for that) I think an extra song like Exiles would have been good.

"They could also have released the Mexico recordings as a separate album and then just include a lot of songs from that on this cd, then there would have been space enough for other songs. 4,5 out of 5, because of the above. Otherwise it would have been 5,5 out of 5."

Date Submitted: 20-Jan-01
By: Randall Hammill (Randall.Hammill at hartfordlife dot com)

"I picked this up as soon as I could find a copy when it first came out, but hadn't taken the time to post a review...

"This is a great introduction to KC live. The sequencing is very effective, I especially liked the segue from Thrak into 1 ii 2. I didn't even notice that Larks' 2 was from the Double Trio until I really paid attention to the CD. Great work!

"The Mexico City stuff smokes, and there is one track that was not on the download - but if you weren't able to get the download you have a good chunk of it here. A couple of nice surprises (especially when it came out - before the ProjeKct material was released). The Besancon Improv is nice, though short, Ladies from Orlando, etc.

"I have noticed a lot of complaints about the fact that a lot of material had been released elsewhere - I always thought that is what a compilation was. Anyhow, Robert had stated that the purpose of this release was to give a newcomer to the band an overview of KC live. Which is also why the selections are also a little more accessible for the newer listener - for instance 1 ii 2 is a little more straightforward than the rest of Thrak.

"With this in mind, I think it does a great job. Besides, from my count, when this was released 15 of the 25 tracks (3/5 of the CD) had not been released on CD yet, plus one that was only available to the KCCC. Of those 15, even now only 3 have been released on CD since then.

"So, if you haven't heard it, but you like your KC live, check it out. It gives a very good representation of the band's live repertoire, to that point anyway."

Date Submitted: 31-Mar-03
By: (mattbren at sonic dot net)

"I would just like to say that "Cirkus" is not only a wonderful Crimson release, but is one of my favorite live albums (disc one, anyway). The double trio format absolutely ROARS. Songs which were a little "eh..." on albums come to savage life ("Neurotica"). And songs which were good on the albums...well, just listen ("Thela Hun Ginjeet"). I think my favorite moments are "Dinosaur" (so seamless! No annoying pauses!) and the one-two punch of "Sleepless" and "Elephant Talk." "Sleepless" is such a tremendous song on this CD it's almost scary. That nightmare bass just doesn't stop. I can't say as much about FracKtured as I haven't listened to it as much. However, I can still recommend this CD whole-heartedly if only for the first half. Bruford and Mastelotto, Gunn and Levin, Fripp and Belew...of COURSE it's all good. This is a damn fine live album. Buy it first of the Crimso live recordings."


Date Submitted: 7-Jun-99
By: J.W. Stigter (j.w.stigter at dlg dot agro dot nl)

"Finally there's a live-version of Neurotica, without which no collection is complete. It seems this is already the definitve one: it's great! One should buy the Cirkus-CD only for this track, but nearly all other tracks (we already know) are very good. The only thing I miss is a seven-minute-version (or so) of Sartori in Tangier (that would be nice!). The version on Absent Lovers seems to be so short. And oh, this package design is top-Crimso. I would get rid of all my jewel-boxes if all CD's were packaged this way. This is great."