Islands - Reviews
Date Submitted: 1-Apr-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)
"Islands is one of the finest King Crimson albums. Except a traditional rock'n'roll song (Ladies of the Road), the music is coherent, proportional: a real concept album featuring long compositions. The music is rich in melodic and compositional ideas. Some musical concepts exploited in later KC or Fripp albums appear here for the first time. The record features some guest musicians (e.g. Keith Tippett on piano, Robin Miller on oboe and Mark Charig on cornet) whose contributions represent an important part of this work."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"Islands doesn't strike as King Crimson- it seems like a different band that would make a lot of records like this. This incarnation has a pretty weak core band (Boz has got big problems) and relies heavily on hired orchestras and overdubbing. It isn't a coherent piece, either- it goes from the dreaminess of Formentera Lady to the cacophony of a Sailor's tale to the ridiculous melodrama of The Letters. The second side sports Ladies of the Road, a musically hilarious mix of styles, but Song of the Gulls is just movie soundtrack material and Islands is too fluffy- though I'll admit it's a little haunting."
"This incarnation had serious problems- just listen to this horrible bootleg called "Formentera Memories" that I got ripped off on. Hearing them trying to pull of stuff like "...Schizoid Man" is embarrassing- mostly the vocals."
Date Submitted: 2-Aug-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)
"This albums has some really good stuff on it (Sailors Tale, Ladies of the Road). But the fact is, except for Fripp, these guys were in way, way over their heads. The fact that Fripp had to bring in an entire horn section (which, while it did amazing things on Lizard, didn't do much of anything here) and strings should tell you something. So should the fact that the lead singer (who Fripp had to teach how to play bass) and sax player wound up in Bad Company. (A good band but certainly not in Crimson's league.) Listening to Earthbound, you realize that this band could not do anything inventive without Fripp's studio know-how. A far cry from '69 '73 and '81.
"I must admit, however, that there is something very organic about Formantara Lady--you wouldn't think of Fripp doing anything like this. And hearing KC do blues on Ladies of the Road is real, real fun. (By the way, he surprises us the same way on Sex Eat Drink Dream which is actually a great companion piece to Ladies Of The Road. Conceptual Continuity? Who knows. Listen to them back to back.)
"I wonder where Fripp would have taken this band. An interesting but scary thought. But its obvious why Fripp drafted Wetton and Bruford next time around. Stick with the pros. ****"
Date Submitted: 28-Aug-96
By: Jim Stone (STONE967 at aol dot com)
"Every time I attempt to listen to this formation of Crimso I try to come with an open mind, but there is one thing that is inescapable here... Boz Burrel cannot sing. And since he could not sing, why oh why did Mr. Fripp teach him to play bass? My understanding is that John Wetton had just left Mogul Trash at this point. Heck, he could have sung and let Boz play bass. I mean, come one now, when Boz went to Bad Company how much singing did he do?
"The bright side of this album to me is that Crimso continues to grow. Musically, I like some of the stylistic changes. Some call it too jazzy, but I don't mind that side of it at all -- Fripp and Mel Collins do quite well improvisationally together. Obviously sailors tale rips guitar wise and I think there are subtle styles and techniques used by Fripp here that reappear in later incarnations of the band. It's just...that voice..."
Date Submitted: 27-Jan-97
By: John Almond (JA42396 at ggr dot co dot uk)
"I first bought this album when it came out in '71 and at the time thought it one of the best 'prog' releases to date. My musical tastes have moved onwards (but not necessarily upwards) since then and whilst I have always had a soft spot for the old Crimsos have not really heard anything since the early 80's.
"However I went back to Islands the other day and was surprised how well it had withstood test of time. Ok so some of the words are a bit cringeworthy and yes Boz can't sing , but musically it is very mature and adventurous. The combination of instruments on the title track is ridiculous but works a treat and I still think that the 'detuned banjo' guitar solo in Sailors tale is one of the all time best and most original ever recorded.
"I can only think of one or two other 'progressive' albums of that era that I might still play today , and yes it might be heresy to the KC diehards, but 'Court of the Crimson King' wouldn't be one of them."
Date Submitted: 11-Feb-97
By: George Selinsky (selinsky at worldnet dot att dot net)
"This is perhaps one of the most underrated albums that King Crimson ever recorded, with some critics giving it as low as one measly star. Islands is basically a fusion of "In the Wake of Poseidon" and "Lizard", taking the better elements from both albums. The lyrical style of Poseidon, the orchestration and improv on Lizard, and the experimentation with extended compositions on both albums reaches it's peak here, before Fripp went on to change direction in "Lark's". This band's incarnation was weak, and it soon broke up, so this album was mostly Fripp's and Sinfield's work. Sinfield's lyrics here are both great (the title track "Islands") and horrible ("Ladies on the Road" - who's lyrics are more for a punk band than KC). Boz Burrell's inclusion was a nod back to the vocal style of Greg Lake, but Boz can't quite give KC vocals the required punch that Lake, and later on, John Wetton were capable of (and it shows on tracks like "The Letters", and "Ladies of the Road"). Boz' groove oriented bass playing was carefully prescribed by Fripp, which worked miracles on this album - especially when you realize that Boz never picked up a bass before! Fripp also learned how to keep the horns and winds under control (unlike on "Lizard"), and orchestrated them beautifully. This album also shows Fripp's Mellotron playing at it's best, along with his arrangement and composition skills.
"Islands starts off with a lyrical song, "Formentera Lady", with some American Indian themes, and after a soprano improvisation (which is a little excessive) plunges into "Sailor's Tale" - perhaps the ultimate Fripp-strumental. "Sailor's Tale" takes it's cues from Devil's Triangle and Lizard in the way it is orchestrated, only with less chaos and more excitement. Fripp does an amazing guitar performance, and ends the piece with a big Mellotron swell and a chaotic guitar (or is it banjo) descending chord. "The Letters" is a dark song that is enhanced by Sinfield's strong dramatic lyrics. "Ladies of the Road" seems like an attempt at a jazzed up hard rock song, but Boz's voice and Sinfield's lyrics killed it's potential, making it look out of place on this album. "Prelude : Song of the Gulls" is a very well written piece of classical music, a la Mozart, and proves that Fripp defies the boundaries of "rock-musician" - composing and arranging something like "Prelude" is off limits to most of today's musicians! The title track "Islands" is a sad song, with dreamy lyrics and a brilliant instrumental arrangement. The horns here are not obtrusive, and the Mellotron is superb. The song ends with a gloomy Wagnerian harmonium chord which grabs you by the soul, a sure mark of Fripp's compositional genius. A minute or so of silence passes and then, in true "audio -verite" style, we hear the orchestra warming up, and someone (possibly Robert himself?) counting off for another take of "Prelude". It's a shame Fripp never continued in this direction, in many ways Island's strong points are much of what today's music (including the Discipline era King Crimson) has been missing."
Date Submitted: 15-Apr-97
By: Stephane Dufort (9664474 at collegebdeb dot qc dot ca)
"Islands is not a masterpiece as "Lark's Tongues in Aspic" will later be, but a musical analyse will show you some parts of genius in this album. It is one of the most strange and beautiful Crimson release. It is, indeed, a great quality album with some strange touches of musical light and darkness. In comparison to the normally easy-listening music of the '69 Crimson with Lake and McDonald, Islands is an absolute progress in the subtlety's direction. In the Court of the Crimson King was definitely one of the most important album in the progressive music history, but it is a very musically simple album in comparison of Islands. And those who say that Boz Burrell has an horrible voice are ignorant of the vocal art; he's not a great bassist, but please, don't stole him his only musical quality!"
Date Submitted: 18-Aug-97
By: Grant Colburn (grantco at webtv dot net)
"Contrary to some earlier opinions expressed about this album, this is one of my favorite albums prior to the "red" and "discipline" bands, a little below TCOTCC but above WAKE and miles above LIZARD, my least favorite. i think it shows fripp doing what he can with the band at hand, and although one gets the impression no other member had the slightest interest in progressive rock concepts, fripp goes more for texture than complexity in the musical structures. FORMENTERA LADY into SAILOR'S TALE i think are one of the best examples of crimson going for a psychedelic vibe with the tinkling bells, double bass, and freeform operatic soprano giving way to the now classic guitar solo and driving riff. THE LETTERS may be a bit melodramatic but it logically follows what preceded it. i especially like when the bari sax kicks in. next, we have probably my favorite early crimson song, LADIES OF THE ROAD. maybe unlike some crimson listeners i like SEX. there's something appealing to me about women being drawn to having sex with such a decadent sounding band, plus the 7 against 4 is always good for achieving a trippy feeling groove. we now come upon me least favorite piece on the album, PRELUDE: SONG OF THE GULLS. before anyone assumes this due to my dislike of classical, it's actually the exact opposite. i'm a musician trained in classical. my opinion is the same as eric tamm in his book. with mozart and bach already available, who needs an attempt by a young rock musician. actually it's not even the music itself, it's what zappa describes as the sound of jaded classical studio musicians slogging their way through another paying gig they don't want to play. no feeling, no dynamics. i would have much preferred hearing fripp on acoustic guitar with obligato oboe playing the melody. the final song, ISLANDS, returns us to the feeling of the album's opener, filled with multiple layers of extra musicians and no drums. i think this song finds fripp at his most melodic and beautiful, very low key ending with nice harmonium. this album maybe rocks less than most crimson, but it gives a different perspective on fripp's abilities, one without so much of the element of terror and fear, more a feeling of melancholy and finally, peace."
Date Submitted: 10-Sep-97
By: Rafael Zamora (rzamora at ciens dot ula dot ve)
"The ISLANDS album was for me a great album, maybe not the most representative but good enough. Differing to the other comments, I liked the Boz Burrell voice a lot. For me was the best voice in King Crimson and it was a pity he didn't sing any more (Bad Company had one of the best singers of rock:Mr Paul Rodgers and maybe there wasn't place for the Boz's voice).
"Another comment in the same topic. LIZARD was for me its best album. Again with the voice. Gordon Haskell was very different from Lake and Boz, but I liked so much. I think that his inclusion there was a great success."
Date Submitted: 13-Jan-98
By: Ted Zimmer (fyodor at mixcom dot com)
"I believe that this album belongs right at the top of the King Crimson list along with Larks toungue and itcotck. So, it's different. It's mellow and subdued, so what? Sometimes, dissonant riffs and deafening sound effects can a get little old. Contrary to popular belief, I think that BoZ Burrel's vocals are wonderful on this album and the fact that Fripp had to teach how to play the bass for Islands doesn't change the fact that the bassplaying on this album is very good. Formentara Lady is amazingly mellow and hypnotic. Sailors Tale is Also hypnotic, but in a different way. The pumping bass and drums and swirling mellotrons put you into a trance. I believe that this is one of the greatest instrumentals EVER! The letters is the weak song on the album but is nontheless good. Side 2 starts with Ladies on the road which is normal rock n roll song and people don't like kc playing rock. Well, regardless of what it is, its a great rock song. Prelude is a wonderfully simple, yet beatiful classical piece which no one else has for or since attempted on a rock album. Finnally, the title track is so mellow and beautiful, that it puts you to sleep, and I mean thAT IN A GOod sense. On top of all that, Islands has one of the best covers in album cover history."
Date Submitted: 19-Feb-98
By: Nate Olmos (royalscam at hotmail dot com)
""Islands" is not an artistic highlight of King Crimson's recorded legacy, nor is it an insubstantial piece of work. Stylistically, the album pretty much digs in its heels rather than progress forward, although this album is an exercise in subtlety rather than pure overkill (and whoever thought of King Crimson actually playing some basic rock 'n' roll song?). Just listen to "Formentera Lady", "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" and "Islands": all atmosphere and rich texture (in particular, "Islands"). Easy-listening King Crimson?
"The problem with the album is not with the music (however TOO relaxed it may be at points). It's with the band itself. I don't think any of the members (Mel Collins, Boz Burrell and Ian Wallace) had any idea of or enthusiasm for progressive rock in general. They all have a bash on one track ("Ladies of the Road"), but bring little else to the rest of the album, although "Sailor's Tale" GROOVES!! For all the complaints about Boz's vocals, I actually LIKE the way he sings. But, other than being able to groove on some songs, that's about all I can say about the group's quality.
"On this album, Peter Sinfield seems to come full-circle in his lyric writing, penning tales about idyllic fantasy ("Formentera Lady", "Islands), adultery ("The Letters") and (WHOAHH!) sex ("Ladies of the Road"). However, as accessible the lyrics might seem, the music doesn't seem to hold its weight to complement them. "The Letters" is a good example. As soon as the saxophones and guitar come in, the loudness emanated from the band literally pummels the lyrics into submission.
"Overall, this is NOT the worst album ever put out by King Crimson. Nor is it the BEST album (I have that reserved for "In the Court of the Crimson King"). For all that Robert Fripp and Sinfield went through trying to keep Crimson BREATHING, this album has its moments and should not be discounted. 3 stars out of 5 stars."
Date Submitted: 21-Apr-98
By: Jonleebass (Jonleebass at aol dot com)
"I think that Islands is a fine Crimso album. It represents the transition from the more "traditional" art rock of the first two into the later hardcore improvs of the Wetton line-up. It also has a much more jazzy element which was strongly forshadowed by Lizard.
"Anyone, though, who thinks that Boz can't sing evidently has no vocal ability or training of their own. Hmm...Boz can't sing...he stays in key...has pretty good enunciation...and has a good screech when needed (check out his performance of "Schizoid Man" on the "Schizoid Man" E.P.) interesting definition of "can't sing".
"As for his bass playing, listen to the "Strange Tales from the Sailors" boot and tell me Boz is a terrible bass player.
"Anyway, my personal fave tracks on Islands are: "The Sailor's Tale", "Formentera Lady", "Prelude" and "Islands" with the title track being a very haunting, sad piece.
"And that instument at the end of "Sailor's Tale" is not a banjo. It is the sound of a loosely strung guitar (the jangly-ness) through early seventies amplification. (a banjo?)
"So, if you are interested in a different shade of Crimso, the turning point if you will, then visit "Islands". With an open mind and ear, you won't be dissapointed."
Date Submitted: 9-Jun-98
By: Michael Coleman (mcoleman at nettally dot com)
"I really like" Islands".All my friends think I'm crazy!!!!my favorite musician on the album is mel collins.i think he's a great sax player and he definitely pulls off some crazy ayler/sanders stuff.Fripp is pretty subdued,but i think the title song is beautiful and the use of orchestra great.this is music we won't see or hear again and it makes me sad.This record probably stands the test of time better now than it was received then because it was probably compared to their other records.yes,I agree it's a little weaker than other kc albums,but at the same time I always tried toaccept each line-up on their own terms.In other words,i trusted Fripp.What's good enough for him is good enough for me.I've never been really let down and I'v often been surprised!!!I hope he plans a live set from this period...this band was really ridiculous from the bootlegs I've heard,but I dig it anyway.KC at their loosest!!!!!"
Date Submitted: 11-Jun-98
By: Hadert von Dicke (5107 at inf dot tsu dot ru)
"I have revised my attitude to this album, &I must apologize for my review that used to consider the title song: a fine song, indeed. The distant drums approaching by the end are great (BTW, the same trick appears on PJ Harvey's _Darling Be There_, though of cource she might have not heard _Islands_). And wrong are they who say Boz cannot sing: he can &does it great! I mean his singing fits the purpose aimed by RF perfectly, I really enjoy it. The rhythm section on _Sailor's Tale_ is something stunning, &the clanging gtr. solo is also fine. _Prelude:Song Of The Gulls_ is average, but later it resulted in _Trio_, so I think it was necessary...but not on this album! The matter is that all the songs from _Formentera Lady_ &to _Ladies Of The Road_ follow in a perfect consequence, forming a consistent (though stilistically different) suite, &_Prelude..._ is something entirely different from it all! &Then goes the title track, which could be a part of the suite, if not the _Prelude..._. Well, we can't help it now.
"I also want to disagree with those who wish that KC had more of such albums. NO! The greatest thing of it is that _Islands_ is the only KC's work into this direction. If there was another one, it would be awful: think it over &you'll agree with me.
"So the conclusion is: _Islands_ is not the best of KC, but still it's really great. It only requires a slightly different approach!"
Date Submitted: 15-Oct-98
By: (vedalanz at ix dot netcom dot com)
"Again, such diverse reviews. Either you love it or hate it. This wasn't one of my favorites, but their are some absolute GEMS! on it. Formentera Lady into Sailor's Tale, my god my hairs stand up from goose bumps. When it first came out I immediatly dismissed it, but a year or two later it didn't come off my turntable. The mellotron work in Sailor's just always makes my heart beat faster. Keith Tippet was God when he got near Fripp.Boz is Boz, I think it works."
Date Submitted: 23-Nov-98
By: Nick Bradey (nick at bradey dot freeserve dot co dot uk)
"This album is much underrated. It is superb "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" in particular provides an arresting corner of the Fripp repetoire that was not explored fully. Seeing this band live though was totally different from this record. The DGM collectors club up-coming release from this time period should provide an interesting comparison."
Date Submitted: 11-Mar-99
By: Antonio Recuenco (Ottia at gmx dot net)
"Even though this one is not completely perfect (the vocals of the second side are utterly unsatisfying, and the texts of Mr Sinfield are not my cup of tea), the music is enough to make this record my favourite of the whole KC discography; in no other work is the musical discourse so natural, and no other work provides the many suprises at the concentrated hearing as this does. Even the in my opinion weakest tracks ("Ladies of the Road" and "Islands") show an exquisite balance between experimentation and melody: in the first one a typical Fripp-guitar solo shares the room with the Beatle-like refrain, and in the second one the harmonium work is already worth a good mark. "The Letters" isn't the best thing the group has done, but the middle part is still exciting, above all the annoyed sax. "Prelude" contributes to the somehow eclectic mix with some classic aroma -of course bears no comparison to classic, but in the album succeeds in pleasing the ears-... the truly genial part of "Islands" is the beginning -"Formentera Lady" displays a rich instrumentation, a slowly developing atmosphere and a slight melancholic mood, whereas "Sailor's Tale", its continuation without any pause in between, is a powerful combination of jazzy solos, some of the best KC mellotron ever, the genuine "strung-out" guitar (the funky guitar in "Lark's Tongues in Aspic 1" stems from this one), a dark pedal voice underneath and precise drumming -not so mad as Bruford's though-. The band may not provide much, but Fripp does the rest. The result is outstanding."
Date Submitted: 31-Mar-99
By: Stephen Deprospero (StephenfromNY at webtv dot net)
"Islands is absolutly the most beautiful of all the King Crimson releases, and is a certain must for any true fan of the band. As for me I purchasesd the albums in numerical order, starting with In the Court... and so on. Formentera Lady starts the album off, and quite well I might add. It has this lazy dont worry be happy feel to it and it works well. And by the way I really dont see whats wrong with Boz's voice, it was Gorden's voice I had a tougher time getting use to. Sailor's Tale is simply awsome, loved it the second I had heard it, and to tell you the truth,it was the banjo/guitar solo that did it for me. Not to mention the balance between the bass and drums. The only thing was it was much to short!!! The Letters is my second favorite track from this wonderful album. Sinfelds lyrics somer what hit home and I connected with it. Ladies of the Road is a catchy blues, jazz riff thats a nice change up from the theme of the rest of the album. Prelude: Song of the Gulls is straight chamber music. Robert Fripp is truely a mastermind of his art. Than you dive into the rich tapistry of Islands the title track. This sub-epic piece is my favorite from the album. The ultimate climax is the cornet oboe solo which always leaves a tear in my eye for some reason or another. Overall this is a great album thats worthy to own in your collection. Its a shame that works like In the Wake... Lizard and Islands are so under rated."
Date Submitted: 18-Apr-99
By: Kevin Patrick MacNutt (kevin.macnutt at england dot com)
"The Crimso album that many love to hate, and with good reason since this album is marred with pretention and pointlessness, although there are a few diamonds wading around in the s---. These diamonds I speak of are "Formentera Lady/Sailor's Tale" and "Ladies Of The Road", which are all fine and exciting tracks, although "Ladies" sounds more like the Plastic Ono Band then good ol'Crimso. On the downside, "The Letters" is marred by Boz's dramatic crooning and pointless soloing, "Song Of The Gulls" sounds like an exercise in an elementary music lesson book and "Islands" is this album, maybe bands pretentiousness pinnicle. Simply put, it stinks!!!!!"
Date Submitted: 7-Jun-99
By: (Tarkus1986 at aol dot com)
"Boz Burrell sounds like Greg Lake or John Wetton compared to Gordon Haskell on Lizard. Gordon has the most God-Awful retarded singing voice I ever heard, especially on Happy Family..."
Date Submitted: 30-Jul-99
By: Phil McKenna (PMcKenna at starmarket dot com)
"Definitely a case of a potentially great album sabotaged by a weak core band (except Fripp and Mel Collins).
"In spite of it's many obvious weaknesses (Boz's weak vocals and bass work, Ian Wallace's plodding drumming, and some things being overextended), it did contain a lot that if given a good solid core band and a lot of judicious editing, could have revealed a gem!
"Formentera Lady could really have benefited from an overhaul, particularly if you faded out a little into the soprano solo, and then faded up into:
"Sailor's Tale: All this tune needed was a bit less atonal squawking on Collins part, and a better rhythm section, I could picture the double-trio lineup taking this one to the moon! It would've sounded really cool with the "Red" band as well! The solo on this one by Fripp is absolutely one of my all time favorites, love how he builds from a funky rhythmic chordal approach to an all out assault, love the ending with that D major chord somehow conveying a sense of having made it home safe, with the distant sounding menacing mellotron conveying the now distant chaos of open sea!!!
"The Letters probably should've stuck closer to the blueprint of it's predecessor, "Drop In", the near free-jazz rambling in the middle ruined it along w/ Boz's voice.
"Ladies of the Road musically was one the most unique KC moments, just trash those awful lyrics and you might have a real gem here.
"Prelude probably should've been omitted altogether,it's just too textbook and academic for it's own good.
"Islands: With a bit of editing, this would've been a tour de force!! The cornet solo was gorgeous with that haunting Mellotron for it to ride on top of. Can't say the harmonium did much for me, I much would've rather heard Fripp unleash some of that beautiful chordal work he did on cuts like "Book of Saturday" of "Cat Food". Again,a strong core band could've elevated this one to a masterpiece!
"Wouldn't it be cool if a new version of "Islands" could be recorded with a strong supporting cast?"
Date Submitted: 12-Jan-00
By: Adrian Bell (ba024 at greenwich dot ac dot uk)
"Back in 1995, 3 of us attended a King Crimson convention at Wimborne. Upon entering the room, we were each given a badge to write our names on (we became William Irn-Bru-ford, Fruit Pastilotto & Milk Trey Gunn, something to do with the conversation in the car coming down, which also dug up Mr Frippy, Tony Un-Levenned Bread and Adrian Belew-berry-flavoured-Hubba-Bubba... just don't ask, okay?) as well as a sheet of questions for us to answer. One of the questions was, "What was unique about the cover of Islands?"
"One of my friends rather cruelly wrote, " It contains a shit King Crimson album!" I suppose it was complimentary towards the rest of Crimso's back catalogue, but it was obvious he wasn't a fan of Islands on the whole! My own personal view is that it ain't that bad, it's just that it is so different to all their others. Formentera Lady always reminded me of Gong, and Sailor's Tale is a real KC classic moment. And the ending of the title track could bring tears to your eyes (& I mean that in a good way).
"Anyway, we didn't hang around long enough to find out what was unique about the cover. The video had moved on from Jamie Muir on the Beat Club, & was now showing John Wetton with Asia. We had stopped being overawed by Greg Lake's plectrum, Gordon Haskell's amp ("This may have been used in the recording of Lizard") & Andy McCulloch's drum skin, and Ian (sorry, Milk Trey) had made an arse of himself by not getting much of a tune out of a Chapman Stick (and this from someone who can get a tune out of a tomato & a polo).
""Gordon Haskell might be coming along later," said our host. We made our excuses and headed for the beach..."
Date Submitted: 4-Feb-00
By: Bryan Archambo (barchamb at samson dot com)
"This is in a league of its own. Just like REM's "Fables of the Reconstruction", it is either the best work they've ever done or the worst. I can't decide!"
Date Submitted: 29-Sep-00
By: Christopher Gipson (lotuscrown at hotmail dot com)
"I would just like to say that prior to listening to this album, Larks Tongues In Aspic was my all time favorite King Crimson album. At first I really had no idea of what to expect. Formentera Lady is a great opening tune. Kind of like the calm before the storm that is a Sailor's Tale. I could go on about the rest of the album, but I won't. It is my opinion that this is a KC album that is totally underrated. The line up is great, and I think it's too bad they only recorded one album. I almost skipped buying this one because other people had said bad things about it. I'm glad I did'nt listen to their advice."
Date Submitted: 21-Oct-00
By: Eric (ericodijk at wanadoo dot nl)
"First I think this album is an improvement over Lizard, which I consider their weakest album. On this one Mel Collins finally sounds like a regular band member, he more present than on the Poseidon and Lizard albums. Boz fits better to this album than Gordon did to Lizard. The band is not that bad and brings a completely new feel to Crimson. I only know KC for a few years now, so I wasn't aware of the impact all those albums had back then, but I can imagine that the die-hards back then felt strange about this album. As with any KC album you have to get used to it, but it pays off, it has some really great moments, like Sailors Tale, the violin intro to Formentera Lady, Ladies Of The Road and the title track.
"It is unfair to compare this line-up to the one that followed it, with Wetton and the like, because the people on Islands are into different styles and it shows. With Lark KC started to create art-rock, with this Islands album they were a cross between the old days and a bluesy/jazzy band. It is a DIFFERENT band and they did well on this album. Now honour this line-up with a good live album like the Summit recordings."
Date Submitted: 28-Jan-01
By: Peter Jones (Zozzy at tesco dot net)
"Without a doubt one of their best, and light years ahead of anything else that was going on at the time (only Miles Davis could have been this inspired). A sun-drenched dreamy atmosphere pervades the album, with future echoes of Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden (1988) and Mercury Rev's Deserter's Songs (1998)."
Date Submitted: 6-Apr-01
By: (Alioquin at aol dot com)
"Islands is the number 2 album behind in the court. Im not critical of Boz's vocals, he is perfect for this album. As far as poor musicianship, i believe in perfection, but also in character. This album came out 7 years before my birth and i see it as a masterpiece. Natural occurances and anomalies are blessings to me, and the studio noise at the end just makes me want to listen to the album all over again. Islands is the melancholic effort. The lonely cover, the wishfull thinking of formentera lady and ladies of the road, the angst under the surface in sailor's tale and the letters, and last but not least the blissful attempt at serenity in gulls and islands. A lot of the bands out there today could learn a lesson or two with this album.
"I have a theory: King Crimson inadvertantly spawned the groundwork for modern gothic music with In the Court of the Crimson King."
Date Submitted: 1-May-01
By: Stephan Wagner (braznaz at t-online dot de)
"Anyone who is haunted by the beauty of Harry Miller's double-bass introduction to "Formentera Lady" should dig "Klangspuren: Wege improvisierter Musik" by Bert Noglik [Fischer Taschenbuch; 1991] ( I have no idea whether an English version of this book exists). It contains a very profound 20+ page essay about this marvellous musician. Originating from South Africa, he continued to combine elements of kwela, jazz, and contemporary music touring and recording with numerous line-ups, including the likes of Keith Tippett, Willem Breuker and Radu Malfatti, until his untimely death in a car accident in 1983. Beyond that, Noglik's book gives perfect insight into the British improvised music scene (Tippett, Charig etc.) and its widely ignored connections to the forerunners of the more experimental approach to art rock (fripp, frith...)."
Date Submitted: 10-Feb-02
By: (ohjasichaim at sunpoint dot net)
"After reading all this Boz and Islands bashing in this comments-section, I HAD to write something here; although I initially had no intention of doing so. I am not what you would call a "diehard" Crimson fan. I`ve been familiar with their first album for several years, but only for a year or so, have I been buying the other albums. I`ve been enjoying them a heck of a lot. And, strangely enough, my absolute favourite is "Islands". With the exception of "The letters", the whole album is soooo beautiful and haunting. And most of all, I LOVE Boz`s voice!!! He absolutely shines on the first lines of "Formentera lady" and "Islands". Also, the verse in "Letters", which he screams, is awesome. I may have a bad taste, but I know what I like!"
Date Submitted: 12-Feb-02
By: Richard Vasiliy (tijemart at yahoo dot com)
"Record rating 8.
"Overall rating 13.
"Best song PRELUDE: SONG OF THE GULLS.
"Worst song SAILOR’S TALE.
"...almost as good as previous, though not so complicated and, I can say, it’s the continuation of the previous album in some senses. Also, it seems to me, ISLANDS has some influences of Beatles ’67-’68 as the previous one this album is conceptual but A SAILOR’S TALE (not a bad song!) is out of place here.
"The album begins with minor sounds of cello-playing of FORMENTERA LADY. This song is rather sad and gloomy; after the 3rd minute it transforms into very interesting slow-tempered psychedelic jazzy improvisation (oh, it’s not simply a stupid jam as some commentators wrote, but it has a strong melody and definite musical structure, believe me) with symbolic sound (it reminds me the compositions of Brahms, Gerschwinn and Schnitke). Cello and violin sound magically. Then (without pause) the next composition A SAILOR’S TALE follows, it’s very interesting song but this hard-jazzy one is so unsuitable for symphonically-sounding ISLANDS-album! Thus A SAILOR’S TALE seems to me as "a white raven" here. Also, I must say, KC never could play pure jazz-rock well (and the live-album EARTHBOUND shows it).
"But the nicest songs here are on the 2nd side of LP. To my opinion, LETTERS is one of the best examples of Sinfield’s poetry. It’s about two women and their battle for their husband and lover, and when I think about the wife of this man, I even want to help her in her unhappy way! It’s very impressive and nice ballad with rather heavy winds in the mid-section. Then LADIES ON THE ROAD follows, another excellent song, but its chorus has absolutely similar chords as on Beatles’s CRY BABY CRY. Anyway, excellent track! ...and then listener get a real surprise! This surprise is the 4-minuted PRELUDE: SONG OF THE GULLS recorded by Fripp and a string orchestra. Oh, it’s so great! This is the best confirmation that Fripp is a grate composer able to create as solid rock-numbers as such wonderful symphonies! Not worse than Haydn or Vivaldi! And then the last song, the title track sounds (as you can sign it’s named ISLANDS). It’s also Renesance-influented composition with nice dramatic singing of Boz Barrel and wonderful orchestral arrangement. Very nice symphonic ballad!
"Maybe this album even the nicest one of all KC’s albums. By the way this album was recorded with new bassist and vocalist Boz Barrell and new drummer Ian Wallace, but these changes of line-up didn’t made an important influences to the band’s sound; as Haskell, Barrell sometimes tries to sing as Lake, but drums playing is very limited here.
"ISLANDS always gives me a big bunch of positive impressions during listening, and I think that you’ll be enjoyed of it too. Also I want to say that I don’t agree with some commentators who said that ISLANDS is unsuccessful experiment with pseudoclassical music. It’s not pseudoclassical, it’s just basically pure polyphonic art-rock and PRELUDE: SONG OF THE GULLS is the case of pure classical suite. ...And this experiment is not unsuccessful."
Date Submitted: 19-Mar-02
By: David Gardner (dagardner at tiscali dot co dot uk)
"I personally thik this is King Crimson's best album. Although i am only 15 years old my i have been introduced to the world of Prog (he writes while listening to "Yes songs"). After listening to compolation of Crimson's best songs which my dad made many years ago along with 'Red', '21st century szchoid man' and 'Moon child' one track stood out that was 'Islands'. I straight away listened to the album and was taken away by 'Formentera Lady', amazed by 'Ladies of the road' and moved by 'Prelude: Song of the Gulls' and 'Island'. Nice one Fripp."
Date Submitted: 4-Apr-02
By: (WeatheredWall at aol dot com)
"The most pastoral record King Crimson has made is probably the least favored. This is a pity, because Islands has much to offer. From the beginning of Formentera Lady, we know we are in for something altogether different. By the mellotronic finish of A Sailor's Tale, there is little doubt that the beastly royal heart still beats the reddest blood.
"Unfortunately, thereafter follows a hotch-potch of material that, while interesting in its own way, falls quite long of the intro piece. After three pieces which sound almost as if they belong to a different album, the sense that inspired the joined tacks Formentera Lady and A Sailor's Tale returns in the album's title piece. Islands returns us to a place not visited since Moonchild.
"Sinfield has a pronounced effect upon this album, probably more here than on any other. He even designed the beautiful album cover - the best since Court. This album, although magnificent in many respects, might have been better if conceived as an EP. But even if Islands is seen as a failed venture, there is enough material well worth an occasional listen. Certainly the least interesting group of musicians to ever sport the KC banner. (Listening to Earthbound did nothing to change this impression.)"
Date Submitted: 27-Jul-02
By: Ernst Lustig (taoiste at gmx dot net)
"Formentera lady, to me, is one of the most beautiful songs ever. Warm and clear. Since I'm not much of a musician i can't tell about the musical quality or what, but formentera lady an sailors tale...! I haven't got any probs with the vocals, i think they fit in quite good and i completely agree with ohjasichaim at sunpoint dot net. The last two tracks are kind of boring, however. But it's a friendly calm album and i wish there'd be more songs like formentera and sailors tale in this world. Though I like ladies on the road as a track very much, I am not always sure whether I like it on that album, in the position that it's in... sometimes I do, on other times it seemst to break the mood that leads through the album... scuse my bad english."
Date Submitted: 10-Jan-03
By: John Rastatter (john.rastatter at verizon dot net)
"I purchased Islands as a 19 year old in 1971 and didn't like it as much as the previous 3 Crimson albums. As a 50 year old I am going back to much of my classic rock youth discarded for almost 30 years. I have found the Islands album to have a much more profound impression upon me. Formentera Lady and especially Islands are very enchanting tunes. Even my 70 year old mother likes these 2 tunes along with I talk to the Wind and some other early Crimson songs. I certainly prefer the 1st 4 King Crimson albums to anything else they have done and Islands is my current favorite."
Date Submitted: 6-Feb-03
By: (slayerrob at yahoo dot com)
"to those saying Boz can't sing--I sure as heck hope you aren't going to go praise John Wetton in the same sentence.
"None of King Crimson's singers have been without fault--Lake was good but not great, Haskell was pretty bad, Wetton sings flat all the time and without dynamics, and even Adrian Belew is an extremely nasal throaty singer at times.
"(yea , I'm a singer...but don't hold that against me)
"Boz's vocals rule. He has a very folksy sound on his clean vocals but he can also do the rock 'n rolly stuff very well. I'd rather have him than Wetton on this album."
Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)
"Since hearing “Earthbound”, much less the “Summit Studio Sessions”, I have felt that this lineup of Crimson was not up to par – these gentlemen simply were not capable of creating original music with much verve. When I listen to this LP/CD, I hear Fripp and Sinfield pulling off a miracle, creating a tasteful album from a band whose greatest ambition seemed to be blues jamming and rather pale imitations of Pharoah Sanders. (Which the first section of “The Sailor’s Tale” qualifies as). The album does hold together, at least the majority of it, and is a nice experience, even if the core band only play effectively for about 10 minutes’ time worth on here (“Ladies of the Road” and the guitar-driven portion of “The Sailor’s Tale”)."
Date Submitted: 4-Feb-98
By: Nate Olmos (Olmos_Nathan_Lee at student dot smc dot edu)
"On this rather middling album, this track stands out, along with 'Ladies of the Road' as an intriguing listening experience. As soon as that annoying soprano from 'Formentera Lady' fades off into the sunset, Ian Wallace's ride cymbal rhythms provides a sense of foreshadowing of what this piece will turn out to be. I really dig Boz's bass playing on this track, perhaps his best on the album overall. He and Wallace provide a steady groove in 6/8 time the moment they enter. Mel Collins can sure wail on that saxophone, spurring Fripp to one of his best guitar solos (the funky 'rhythm guitar' solo in 4/4 time). The moment the mellotron enters the picture, the mood is indeed transformed, as it becomes ever more ominous. It's as if the 'Sailor' is enduring a giant storm during his 'Tale'. The descending guitar chords crashing back to earth at the end give an imagery of the 'Sailor' trying to find his way back to land, with the final D chord symbolizing he has made it.
"This is a rather fascinating taste of jazz-rock, if that term can legitimately be applied to this track."
Date Submitted: 1-Apr-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)
"This short ballad closes the first side. The opening part is quite soft, the vocal is accompanied by bass and nice guitar riffs. Then in the middle, a brutal, loud saxophone solo breaks the song and the main theme is repeated on a painful ecstatic voice, with a nice flute line between. This part is slightly irritating."
Date Submitted: 6-Oct-96
By: Fernando Perdomo (FPerdomo at IX dot Netcom dot com)
"A beautiful tune hurt by an over artistic arrangement. I rearranged it for classical guitar and through it, the total beauty of this piece pops out."
Ladies of the Road
Date Submitted: 1-Apr-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)
"This is a straightforward rock song about groupies. Although a quite well written and performed song, breaks the coherency of the well-composed album and definitely the record's weakest point. It could have been omitted from Islands."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"In contrast to Mr. Rienz's opinion, I think that Islands is a pretty weak album in general and that Ladies of the Road is the best part."
Date Submitted: 7-May-97
By: Johannes Zmölnig (madman at sbox dot tu-graz dot ac dot at)
"In contrats to Mr. Riesz and Mr. Korein, I do think Islands is one of the best Crimson albums ever recorded, and Ladies of the Road is surely lovely, not the best song but not the worst song. I really would say, Islands itself (the last track) might be the weakest song, although partly well composed, but far too often losing anything like a 'main theme'."
Prelude: Song of the Gulls
Date Submitted: 1-Apr-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)
"This short piece is actually an introduction to the following song "Islands". No rock instruments are played. An ostinato string theme accompanies the melody line played on the oboe. Knowing Fripp's later musical concepts, this song appears to be a foregoer of songs like "Lark Tongues in Aspic 2". The song relaxes the listener after the heavy first side and the rocky "Ladies of the Road" and nicely prepares for the mood of the album closing title track."
Date Submitted: 1-Apr-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)
"This closing title track represents an excellent closure of the album. The song starts with a piano-accompanied vocal, joined later by the bass flute, followed by short solos on piano, cornet and oboe. The melody is sad, melancholic, but relaxing. The song continuously builds up: later a Harmonium line, drums and guitar join. Then the melotron enters and gradually takes over the main theme, leading to the song's climax in a cornet solo. There is a strange coda to this song (missing from the CD edition). The musicians making noise, play passages; like an episode from a rehearsal."
Date Submitted: 8-Nov-97
By: Hadert von Dicke (5107.inf.tsu at adm dot tsu dot tomsk dot su)
"Sleepy. The only one Crimson's sleepy song. I understand the idea of peaceful tranquility, that Fripp wanted to express, but it turns into NUMBNESS."
Date Submitted: 7-Apr-99
By: Stephen De Prospero (StephenfromNY at webtv dot net)
"Any way you slice it ladies and gentlemen, the title track is the by far the highlight of the album. Its strength is unparelled, simply on a different level of classicism that few understand and appriciate."
Date Submitted: 15-Nov-01
By: Robin Boer (j dot boer at chello dot nl)
"This really is a beautiful track. Burrel's vocals at the first half of the track, together with Fripp's mellotron and members from the Tippet band sounds amazing. The second part of the track features instumental work of the musicians and the mellotroncombined with allthe other instruments, like the cornet, oboe and pianogives you goosebumps and tears...."
Date Submitted: 2-Jan-97
By: Monica Didur (af716 at freenet dot hamilton dot on dot ca)
"The 'strange coda' commented on earlier (the musicians making noise, rehearsing, etc...) IS in fact on the cd. Let the last track play on for about 2-3 minutes and there it is! The cd ends with (possibly fripp) counting 1 2 2 3 2 2..... At least on the release I have."
Date Submitted: 18-Aug-97
By: Grant Colburn (grantco at webtv dot net)
"The count is 123, 223, counting the beats AND the measures."