Lizard - Reviews
Date Submitted: 28-Mar-96
By: Roger (andrew.cassidy at nene dot ac dot uk)
"Yeah, an absolutely timeless album. Even now I play it regularly, and find something new in the instrumentation. Some of side 2 (Prince Rupert's lament, Bolero, etc.) is as fresh as ever. Can't recommend it too highly. Don't agree about the schizo comment, though - the first 2 albums were far more so."
Date Submitted: 17-Apr-96
By: Bret Arenson (manorhouse at earthlink dot net)
"Though I love all of Crimson's albums "Lizard" must be my favorite due to the wonderful balance of arrangement and improvisation. The orchestration, though mostly acoustic, has the same intensity as the later mid-seventies electric recordings. There is also a balance of dynamics here that is typical in all Crimson recordings from very full and loud to quiet, simple and beautiful melodically. I especially like to listen to Andy McCulloch's drums and Keith Tippet's piano thoughout. The drumming is exceptional in it's phrasing and it seems Mr. Tippet was given free reign to improvise through the entire album. A unique and engaging recording."
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"The first side is pretty good, but on the second side they get lost."
Date Submitted: 2-Aug-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)
"RF's production on this album is unlike anything he has done before or since, and make Lizard a truly unique album both for KC and rock in general.
"Usually, Fripp uses his guitar to bang home hard realities--21st cen, RED, Dinosaur. On Lizard, his mellotron scapes, polished acoustic guitar and fairy-tale Fender Rodes are a far cry from the abrasive textures of Court and In the Wake, and a different universe from the metallic guitar webs of Aspic and Discipline. Usually, Fripps work deals--albeit obtusely--with the matter of fact, no-nonsense details [Elephant Talk, One More Red Nightmare.] Lizard creates a dark carnival, a children's book gone sour. Just listen to the surrealism of "Circus".
"One has to commend Fripp for even making Lizard. He was free for the first time, without Lake or McDonald to veto his ideas. He used this power to fuse styles to create a wonderful, absolutely original weirdness. These songs are soundtracks for fever dreams.
"It is one of the few truly unique albums in rock. Like Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, there is simply nothing else in rock quite like it. *****"
Date Submitted: 7-Feb-97
By: Joshua A. Blinder (blinder at erols dot com)
"I think that for me it would have to be a dead heat between LIZARD and LARKS TONGUE IN ASPIC for my personal favorite King Crimson albums. Chief among LIZARD's pleasures, though, are Jon Anderson's absolutely stunning vocals on the title track. This performance prefigure the heights he and Yes scaled to after this album was made and it's one of Anderson's best non-Yes showcases. Another special moment is Fripp's mournful solo on "Prince Rupert Laments," one of his best, but the whole album has a dark menace to it that's quite compelling nonetheless."
Date Submitted: 8-Feb-97
By: George Selinsky (selinsky at worldnet dot att dot net)
"Lizard has some really great moments on it, particularly side 1 (Cirkus, Indoor Games). Unfortunately, Gordon Haskell's rough bass voice is a far hoarse cry from Greg Lake's silvery tenor, which somewhat ruins the fun (I wish Greg had taken a week off ELP to do the vocals on this album!). The album has a great psychedelic atmosphere, that is sometimes over-peppered with jazzy interludes - which has it's moments as well as it's downsides. A lot of great mellotron, Tippet's twirling piano, an entire woodwind and brass section, experimental VCS-3 synth effects, and even some organ passages (very rare for KC) on this album, not to mention the standard Frippy guitar/bass/drums complement. It seems like this album is Fripp's first hand at composing for and conducting a large number of musicians, and he really puts himself to the test on the track "Lizard".
"The title track Lizard could have potentially have been a real winner, but the senseless over extended jazz improv's (A Peacock's Tale) at times make me forget about the album and think I'm sitting in a cocktail lounge, and looses the point of the composition, as do the over extended variations on Prince Rupert's Lament. Ian Anderson's falsetto voice does a decent performance of Prince Rupert's Wake, though he seems out of place on this album (musically). However, Pete Sinfield's lyrics and RF's music in The Battle of Glass Tears are beautiful, (even Gordon Haskell does a touching vocal delivery), and the very crafty ending, Big Top, swirls through your mind like it's an ending to a prog rock magnum opus. While this album is not exactly that, it's moments are definitely worth a listen and a buy."
Date Submitted: 19-Jun-97
By: Nick Paluzzi (leprakahn at sprynet dot com)
"Lizard points out the difference between true free-form improvisation and musical masturbation. I see alot of these bands make something formless and incoherent and then say "look at us, aren't we special?!" Fripp and company prove though, in Lizard, that free-form improvisation isn't just about being self indulgent but that there is an actual discipline to what they are doing and they also display their virtuosity in a perfect balance with uncompromising expressionism, it takes a real genius to do that. Some of the album, though, I find a bit intimidating like the title track...heady stuff, indeed! It took me a while to appreciate the free-form improvisation and sonic nuance of 'Lizard' but I gave it a chance and I discovered a vastly overlooked and underappreciated gem. 4/5 stars..."
Date Submitted: 26-Jul-97
By: Robin (robinbw at ix dot netcom dot com)
"While many Crimheads will name "In The Court Of...", "Lark's Tongue", "Starless", or even "Discipline" as their favorite, my vote goes to "Lizard". Sadly, this is easily King Crimson's most under appreciated album, which is a shame because it is, in fact, their masterpiece (so says I). From the very first time I played it about seven years ago, I just knew that King Crimson had achieved something truly magnificent with this record. Of course, I have great affection for their other albums, but for me, you just can't beat the beauty and atmospheres of tracks like "Cirkus" or the "Lizard" suite (featuring one of Jon Anderson's greatest vocals). The punch and fun of "Indoor Games" and the jazz-fused "Happy Family" is great stuff, indeed. Throw in the beautiful "Lady Of The Dancing Water" for extra measure and you've got a King Crimson masterwork. While this particular incarnation of Crimson would go no further than this one album, Robert Fripp, Gordon Haskell, and all should be very proud of what they achieved here (are you reading this, Robert?). For me, "Lizard" is King!"
Date Submitted: 1-Aug-97
By: JOVIC (jovic at prodigy dot net)
"LIZARD supera las aspiraciones del rock progresivo, desde el coverdisc, uno es embuido en una atmosfera, fuera de todo contorno, llega a limites insospechados; lizard crea dimensiones que a su vez son rodeadas por una serie de topicos, distintos entre si pero que intrinsecamente se relacionan, la musica es confusa se vuelve a veces difusa, a veces se pierde, pero despues uno se da cuenta que siempre ha estado ahi,y simplemente fluye la voz de Anderson se concatena con el aura de King Crimson y el resultado es mas que fructifero, mucho tiempo habra que esperar para oir algo mejor en rock."
Date Submitted: 2-Aug-97
By: Alan Caylow (al42 at webtv dot net)
"'Lizard' is King Crimson's masterpiece. Although a rather under appreciated album (and that's a shame), I think this particular Crimson line-up achieved something here that the other line-ups came damn close to, but didn't reach. Hey, I love "In The Court Of...", and all the others, too, but the moods, atmospheres, sounds, and fantastic musicianship displayed by the band on "Lizard" is truly magnificent. Tracks like "Cirkus" , the title suite, and "Lady Of The Dancing Water" just sweep me away. And the jazz-fusion fun of "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" is truly great stuff, indeed.
"What a shame that Robert Fripp doesn't seem to think very highly of this record, considering that the band has NEVER played anything from it in concert, and the album wasn't even given it's proper due on the "Frame By Frame" set. No matter. "Lizard" is my favorite Crimson record, and perhaps one day, Fripp will realize that he, Gordon Haskell , Andy McCulloch , and company didn't do so badly after all."
Date Submitted: 2-Sep-97
By: Terry Murphy (Fyrmann822 at aol dot com)
"In September of 1980, I had my first taste of KC. Excerpts from ITCOTKC were played at my friends house by his older brother. I was 16 and completely blown away. I had never heard music like this before. I proceeded to buy any and everything labeled KC. My first purchase was Court and I quickly wore the needle down and practically melted the vinyl with continual listening. After that I bought In The Wake. It was OK, but nothing(the one exception being Devils Triangle) hit me like Court. Then I discovered Lizard. I had decided to purchase albums (that's what they were called back then) in release date order to hear how the band had evolved. I stopped for some time after my purchase of Lizard. Gordon Haskell's voice was such a distance from Greg Lakes smooth sound, but it fit this album and its psychotic yet subtle sound perfectly. Both sides were so unique to each other yet belonged together. Piano, brass and woodwinds combined in a mix of eerie jazz that could be the soundtrack for any J.R.R. Tolkien story, and still not sound pretentious. I've never heard any band ever come out with music this powerful and original. I can see now as I've gotten older that this was Fripp's coming out. His first true solo masterpiece in writing."
Date Submitted: 12-Oct-97
By: Steven Nyland (sqmfa at aol dot com)
"When informed, knowledgable King Crimson fans ask me which record is my favorite, I invariably pick LIZARD because......it is so unique. Weird. Unprecedented, except by Crimson itself. I remember playing it for my 14yr old pot-smoking buddies back in '82 after DISCIPLINE was good 'n' worshipped by one and all.......and they were shocked. They hated it. How could THIS be Crimson? Where was the Craft guitar? The feedback loops? The weird noises?
"Well as I tried to tell them then, THEY'RE THERE! You just have to listen for it, and every last little crumb of the Crimson cake is to be found in this record. I am most impressed by Fripp's mellotron/keyboard forays on this record, as well as his ability to sit back and let other's shine through i.e. LIZARD's vast sea of musicians. This album proved that Robert Fripp was Crim Kingson, but that it wasn't just an ego trip: he wanted to be at the center of wonderful, inventive music. This is certainly one of the most "fun" Crimso albums, though forget about throwing it on at a party (try having a conversation during HAPPY FAMILY) and save it for you own brain cells.
"Regular people just won't get it. And the girls will leave."
Date Submitted: 23-Jan-98
By: Elessar Tetramariner (elessar at concentric dot net)
"Although I haven't counted, I'd bet that this lp has the least fans of any Crimso studio release, so I'd like to add my vote as it being my favorite King Crimson lp, overall. By this I mean there are less annoying (i.e., unfocused, pointless musical minutes on it than on any of their considerable releases).
"I've seen Crim 6 times, from '71 through '96, and I've almost always preferred the studio version to the live versions. Two of the "Lizard" tracks were played in concert during thelate 71-early 72 tour--"Cirkus" and "Lady Of The Dancing Water", but this is the least-translateable-to-live-performance-with-a-truncated-tour-band lp King Crimson ever made. Why?
"Well, for one thing, the number of studio players (9, including Jon Anderson singing "Prince Rupert Awakes", but not including Sinfield) exceeds *any* other lineup by 3. Strip this down to 4 on the road and few musicians would try to play pieces like the "Battle Of The Glass Tears" or "Bolero". Keith Emerson & company would, but they figured out how to do it in the studio with just 3 (another story...).
"For another thing, I've long felt that Keith Tippett was as important to the 70-72 Crimson as George Martin was to the 64-65 Beatles. That he refused to tour with Fripp & co, so he could focus on his own other projects was a crushing blow to the fragile structure of Crimson Mark II & IIa. Yet, some of the finest moments on lps 2-4 are due to Tippett, I feel. I've heard "Cat Food" without him & it's light years dimished without his scampering, yes, cat-like, piano frolicking. "Bolero:The Peacock's Tale" needs him for fruition, as does "Islands" (though the latter was performed live during the '71-'72 gigs.
"I've never especially loved Greg Lake's vocal work, but nor did I find it detractive. Ditto Gordon Haskell, who has been roundly thrashed here, by Fripp, and almost everywhere. His contribution of "(No One's More Important Than) The Earthworm to the reforming Stackridge around 1975, his first solo lp, and the kinda of murky, plaintive vocals he contributed to "Lizard" and "Poseidon" suited. Adrian has cut newer vocals for "Cadence and Cascade" and, they're ok, just not *right*. Fripp must really be embarassed or annoyed with Haskell even yet, but, hell, he could have lapsed in judgement & hired Bryan Ferry just as well--then WHERE would we all be?
"I agree that "Bolero" could stand better without the SSS ("squealy sax shit") in the third quarter of the piece, but I'm glad Fripp finally picked it alone to represent an lp he would rather not expose new listeners to, judging from all the retrospectives & live lps beginning with "Earthbound" in '72. If Crimson had been economically able to not Tour, but play a series of home audience concerts during 1971 and 1972, and thus Tippett, Miller, Charing, Evan could have joined Collins, Fripp, Haskell or Burrell and McCulloch or Wallace on stage, I feel then we might have seen some astonishing live work, and even more formidable improvisations. Lake is not an improv musician of note, and I rathe prefer Collins when he doesn't have to wing it alone "melodically".
"If McDonald on flute and mellotron, Tippett on piano, Mike Giles & Bill Bruford on drums, Jamie Muir on percussions, Tony Levin on bass, Collins on flute &sax, Fripp & Belew on guitars and Wetton & Lake sharing vocals (with appropriate additions from the Charig/Miller/Evans on the right pieces) EVER appeared together at the Great Gig in Someone's Sky, I'd be THERE and it wouldn't be too many folks at once on stage. Think back to the big ensemble at Carnegie Hall in '38 that blew the shit out of "Sing, Sing, Sing" [some of you might have heard that one]--if anyone could pull this off, I think Fripp andhis legion of sidemen past, present & future could.
"Anyway, I've loved "Lizard" since it's release, the first Crimso lp I heard within weeks of it's release."
Date Submitted: 29-Jan-98
By: Nate Olmos (Olmos_Nathan_Lee at student dot smc dot edu)
"While no King Crimson album that I've heard so far has disappointed me, I have rather mixed feelings for "Lizard", leaning more towards the positive than the negative. The music itself is a rather bold attempt by Robert Fripp to incorporate free-form jazz influences into the band's sonic palette. The results range from intriguing ("Indoor Games", "Lady of the Dancing Water", "Happy Family") to frustrating ("Bolero" from "Lizard"; how do you incorporate a big-band jazz improvisation within a classical section without losing the coherency of the piece?). In particular, the music on "Happy Family" compensates for the Gordon Haskell's terrible vocal (it's distorted during the second verse of the song) and awkwardly written lyrics by Peter Sinfield, which I will commentate on in a bit.
"My favorite tracks remain "Cirkus" and "Lady of the Dancing Water". I was completely fooled by Keith Tippet's tinkling electric piano and Gordon Haskell's hushed vocal on "Cirkus". Then the mellotron kicked in and I froze, eyes widened to the point of popping out of their sockets. It wasn't just the sound of the mellotron. It was how it was applied at the right moments in the piece. Robert Fripp's cross-picking acoustic guitar playing shone brightly on that track. "Lady of the Dancing Water" is a very gentle piece for acoustic guitar, flute, electric piano and trombone (though I still think the trombone should have been wiped out of the final mix). The production on this album is superb, as every element (the instruments) is clearly pronounced, yet never overbearing.
"Lyrically, Sinfield must have been suffering from a case of writer's block in composing the lyrics to "Lizard". Can anyone make any sense to "Indoor Games", "Happy Family" and parts of "Lizard"? I am absolutely clueless as to what Sinfield was trying to convey. Fortunately, on "Prince Rupert Awakes", Jon Anderson's delivery of the lyrics redeem them from their questioned literary quality. This must be the worst album that Sinfield penned words for.
"Overall, this is a decent record. It represents a further step in the ever-changing music of King Crimson. However, for anyone who would like to know what first album to buy of King Crimson, I wouldn't recommend this one. Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars."
Date Submitted: 3-Feb-98
By: Jeff DeFabio (defab4 at earthlink dot net)
"I don't want to make anybody mad so I'll just say it STINKS."
Date Submitted: 12-May-98
By: Clyde Waters (clyde at voicenet dot com)
"There is a reason why fripp doesn't include this album on any compilations -- it STINKS. all these people are just saying they like it to be hip. free-form improvisation... ha go buy an ornette coleman album. i'm sorry i just don't see this album or islands. don't waste your money on either. trust me. the improv is not that great."
Date Submitted: 14-May-98
By: Michael Irish (dhalgren at hotmail dot com)
"I received "Lizard" on CD format today, and it made fine change to the guitar overdrive of "Thrak," "B'Boom," and other recent Crimson recordings.
"I pretty much agree with the reveiws posted here, though I enjoyed the sax interlude in Bolero. I would have loved to hear Jon Anderson do the vocals for the entire album. Like Greg Lake, Jon Anderson has the type of voice that reigns in Pete Sinfield's tendency to overwrite lyrics, which I feel has contributed to the cliche that King Crimson is "pretentious" (I read that comment yet again in a reveiw of "Space Groove"); most bands should be as pretentious (or imaginative) as Crimson..
"I wish things had worked out with Mel Collins and Robert Fripp. Reading Boz's comments over the years, I get the impression it was hell on earth for Mel, Ian Wallace, and himself to work with Robert. Mel wailed on sax, and would have given an additional array of music for Crimson in recordings to come.
"An undervalued album that I'm happy to see has received recognition in the above reviews on ET."
Date Submitted: 20-May-98
By: (mph2 at ukc dot ac dot uk)
"'Lizard' is an artefact which reminds us how close the joke and the nightmare can be. Like the contemporaneous Monty Python, there is studious insanity occurring at all levels. The smoke-machine ominousness of the mellotron combined with the stark clarity of the acoustic guitar on 'Cirkus' is haunting to the utmost degree. I love the daring of the hiccupping, epileptic percussion on 'Indoor Games'. A friend of mine who listened to 'Indoor Games' perceptively said that the guitar interventions during the instrumental section sounded like Fripp ran into the studio, played a few random notes and then ran out again. 'Happy Family' is irritating on occasion, but it works better in combination with hallucinogenics. I haven't heard my favourite chord, the bittersweet Am/maj7, used anywhere as effectively as it is on 'Prince Rupert Awakes', except possibly in 'Something' by The Beatles. The highlight of the album for me has to be 'Bolero', so delicate, bubbly and very untypically jazzy for a band who would later become accustomed to writing such angular music. I'd vote it top candidate for 'piece of music most likely to precipitate synaesthesia'. The final skirmishes of the album provide many delights for people who want to hear the notes within the notes (listen out for the jack-in-the-box octave glissando and the flute being played in an entirely different key). The insane 'Big Top' provides the final punctuation to the album, a slap in the face of anybody eager to lambast the music for taking itself too seriously. A Borgesian labyrinth of an album, delightfully pointless like all the greatest art."
Date Submitted: 24-Jun-98
By: Will Henson (willhenson at aol dot com)
"I was in a flea market here in luverly downtown Roanoke (where Crimson once played during the Boz Burrel lineup) and found a clean LP copy of Lizard with the edge of the cover chewed off. Who knows?
"Anyway, I was glad to have a copy of it to add to my collection but I find it to be a somewhat depressing album. It sounds like the ramblings of a band who had once been successful but were now desperately trying to find it's identity again. I love the instumentations (Fripp always has good taste in production) but Gordon Haskell's vocals are horrible, like the spittings of an old man who hasn't seen daylight in 80 years. Jon Anderson's contribution is even worse. The redeeming value of Prince Rubert is that NOWHERE ELSE will you hear Anderson's lillywhite voice sing about staking reptiles by the throat!
"It's still fun to listen to if only just to marvel at how in the hell Fripp made the transition from this lost puttering version of Crimson to the sonic powerhouse version three years later!"
Date Submitted: 17-Jul-98
By: Jeffrey Jamison (luxuria30 at yahoo dot com)
"Just recently purchased this long-lost fave on CD and was thrilled to discover it every bit as wonderful and challenging as I recall from my, er, salad days. The first Crimso LP I bought upon release was "Lark's Tongues In Aspic". Within the year prior to its release I had chronologically caught up on its predecessors and while ITCOTCK remains the most striking (consider when it was released - 1969 when nothing with perhaps the exception of Procol Harum sounded remotely like it), LIZARD remains for me to this day the most daring, interesting, who-gives-a-shit album of King Crimson and Robert Fripp's career. Gordon Haskell's voice may be an acquired taste but he's absolutely ideal for the material Fripp & Sinfield composed for this LP. Greg Lake would not have been suitable on the first 3 tracks on side one (side two and "Lady of the Dancing Water" are debatable) -- he's too straight-laced a singer to do justice to the insanity of "Cirkus" or "Happy Family." Does anybody know if Gordon Haskell was black? I ask because the picture of the band on the cover illustration (sans Fripp) shows 3 musicians: a drummer who appears to be Andy McCulloch, a flautist that is most likely Mel Collins and a black bassist? Just curious. By the way for the person who asked what "Happy Family" was about: it's a thinly disguised observation on the dissolution of the Beatles (you'll notice their picture in one of the letters on the cover). As for "Indoor Games", my take on it is an acerbic peek through the keyhole at the jaded, corrupt, self-indulgent upper classes. "Cirkus" is anybody's guess but it's a fantastic lyric unlike most of the Swords and Sorcery mumbo jumbo on side two -- the Lizard suite (cool music though) and Sinfield's dreadful billion-selling lyrics for Celine Dion (of all people). Sinfield could be brilliantly oblique and intense or woefully pretentious and indulgent unlike his replacement Richard Palmer-James or the consistently fair-to-middling Adrian Belew. The instrumental work on this record is flawless even the jazzy improvised bits (which are usually anathema to me) particularly Fripp's awe-inspiring acoustic work on "Cirkus" and his surprisingly innovative and entertaining electric keyboard work, an attribute sadly underemployed during the remainder of his career. While "Red" comes closest in my mind to matching the heights of "Lizard" or "ITCOTCK" and the Wetton/Bruford/Fripp axis (really missed Jamie Muir after "Lark's Tongues") was undoubtedly the most consistent line-up musically, nothing Fripp and his various incarnations of KC ever recorded post- "Lizard" ever matched the inspired lunacy and haunting genius of "Lizard". Now if only Richard Palmer-James had penned the lyrics for Side Two (Lizard) -- Hey I can dream can't I?"
Date Submitted: 11-Oct-98
By: (Vicsevin at aol dot com)
"I have been a fan of Crimson since November '69. Bought first album then. Saw them at West Palm Beach Pop Festival in November '69. Twice.
"I have them seen on six other occasions in various incarnations. Have loved every version of the band. Could go on talking forever about the band.
"But, back to Lizard.
"Over the years I have read the bad reviews, heard the bad comments, etc. about this ablum. Ooops, still calling them albums. Anyway, I have know one or two people who did like the album, but basically, most don't. From what I've read, Mr. Fripp doesn' t care much for the album.
"Well, I feel like I still have a place in the world after reading the various comments and reviews in Elephant Talk Reviews (even the "it stinks" ones.} To me Lizard has been "THE ALBUM".
"The people commenting and reviewing before me have said it all in their praise. I simply want to add: CIRCUS!!! INDOOR GAMES!!! HAPPY FAMILY!!! LADY OF THE DANCING WATER!! LIZARD!!!!! (all of side two (thinking albums again) and all of the subtitles -included-). The guitar, the mellotron, the sax, the piano, the arrangment, the everything. One GREAT piece of music.
"P.S. Problems notwithstanding, wouldn't it have been great to have heard this band live, and with Tippett, Charig, etc. To the one person and his "dream Crimson lineup", I agree completely."
Date Submitted: 15-Oct-98
By: (vedalanz at ix dot netcom dot com)
"After reading all the reviews of lizard, what really strikes me hard is how passionate everyone is about this album. I truly love this lp with all my heart, never tire of hearing it, and have at least 3 or 4 vinyl copies. (different covers,textures etc.) When it came out I really wasn't prepared for it,I was about 15 yrs old, but I couldn't stop playing it. Now, all these years later it reveals itself over and over again as a GEM! Thats where all the passion comes from (I think). Who knows why Fripp ignores it? I'm sure he has a totally different perspective from creating it first hand. Who knows what went into it. All I know is I'm better for having it in my life all these years. Thank You!"
Date Submitted: 23-Nov-98
By: Nick Bradey (nick at bradey dot freeserve dot co dot uk)
"This has long been one of my favourite KC releases. "The Peacocks Tale" in particular is a superb peice, with excellent work from Keith Tippet, Mark Charig, Nick Evans and Robin Miller. This moved into free form jazz (almost), and it would be interesting to see Mr Fripp return to this idiom.
"Although this was a studio creation, I would like to hear any live versions of this material if availble to compare. I understand that Pete Sinfield had a heavy input on this, especially the amazing artwork. Gordon Haskell's vocals are interesting, although in my opinion he is not quite in the same league as Greg Lake, Boz or John Wetton."
Date Submitted: 29-Mar-99
By: Stephen De Prospero (StephenfromNY at webtv dot net)
"Some of King Crimson's finest moments are on this album. Just the first song alone sends shivers down my spine. Never before and possibly never again will such a unique quality grace an album. Symphonic rock at its fnest, yet I wouldnt go as far as saying Yes should have taken notes on this one. Yes is quite possibly one of the most sucessful progressive rock bands in the world. But all in all, KC's first four albums are my absolute favorite. No where in rock music will you find such a classical brilllance."
Date Submitted: 18-Apr-99
By: Kevin Patrick MacNutt (kevin.macnutt at england dot com)
"My emotions are mixed on this one and it really depends on what sort of mood I am in. "Cirkus" is definitely the strongest effort on this album with absolutely beautiful wind and brass parts. Things get a little confusing with "Indoor Games" and "Happy Family" which are both great tracks, although not up to the standard of many of their past releases. Haskell's vocals are a little too reminicent of The Nice's vocalist Lee Jackson (which if you are not familiar with the Nice, this is not a complement). For me the rest of the album is all over the place and lost without any real focus or point. "Bolero" is definitely much better outside of Lizard on the boxset. Unfortunately I sort of agree with Fripp on this one."
Date Submitted: 1-May-99
By: Arthur Flooney (ArtFlooney at aol dot com)
"Here's the lowdown: In the Court of the Crimson King is ok, In the Wake of Poseidon is a little better, and Lizard is light years ahead of both. This is the first great King Crimson album. Im not sure why Fripp dislikes this record and performed hardly any of it live. Maybe the band at the time couldnt really pull it off well live and by the time wetton, bruford and cross came along there was alot of new music to play.
"Regardless, this is Fripp's first masterpiece and the only song i ever fast-forward through is Lady of the Dancing Water, because its a little too pretty for this record. Fripp does the right thing on this record by a)featuring lots of badass horns and b)letting them do most of the soloing. As bad as this will be received i believe it to be true: Fripp was not much of a lead guitarist until the mid 70s. Brilliant guitar abounds on this record though, especially Cirkus and Indoor Games.
"None of the above negative statements concerning the second side are true. The whole thing is excellent and the transition from Prince Rupert Awakes to Bolero and Battle of Glass Tears is the most seamless one-song album side ive ever heard. Although the Lark's Tongues version of King Crimson is my overall favorite, I'll have to say this is the best studio effort from Fripp in the 70s."
Date Submitted: 12-May-99
By: (Angusma at aol dot com)
"i found this album amongst a pile of old records belonging to my aunt around the age of 12 years and it was an integral catalyst in my avoidance of a top forty existence.whether one loves it or hates it(and there is no in between)it will help a young mind open up to all sorts of wonderful sounds.if you hate it, hate it.but i will always be a steadfast advocate of "Lizard" and of course "in the COURT..."for mental and musical openness and well being.KC kills!"
Date Submitted: 5-Oct-99
By: John Spokus (whislingtk at hotmail dot com)
"I was inroduced to "Lizard" around 1981 by the keyboard player in my band. He was going through his older brother's records,who had left to join the air force. He said to me on the phone that he had found this awful album that had to have been one of the worst things he had ever heard. He brought the record over so that I could hear what he was talking about. I Iistened to it late that evening after he had left and despite the hideously scratchy LP copy I was instantly amazed by the brilliant compositions and arrangements. I had been a Crimson fan for a couple of years. I think I "In The Court", "Starless", and "Red",(all on 8 track tape) at the time, but "Lizard" instantly became my new favorite. I traded Doug a Kiss album for this scratchy copy,played it for years pops and all. When I got my first CD player in 1986 "Lizard" was one of the first discs I purchased. Doug heard my CD copy and finally agreed with me that it was one of the better Crimson albums. We then proceeded to smash the vinyl copy against the wall. I think I must have picked up pieces of it for the next year or so."
Date Submitted: 18-Oct-99
By: Gary Bearman (gary at msia dot org)
"Well, this is one of those situations where I can't fathom anyone saying anything bad about a particular album. Lizard is one of those rare albums - absolute brilliance from start to finish and light years ahead of its time. The lyrics are pure surrealistic beauty that in it's non-linear meandering forms more of a tone than a story - it creates a mood of witchcraft and beauty, of fantasy and light, of darkness and dreams. Lizard matches the best moments of early Genesis and Yes but is infinitely stranger. This is one bizarre album and I imagine one that would scare many an unhearty soul. And yet for those that would freak at the wierd mellotron sounds of Cirkus or strange cacophany of happy family, the same people would be swayed by the beauty of lady of the dancing water or some of the orchestral/mellotron/jazzy parts of the lizard suite on side two. Love it or hate it, one must admit, that NOTHING sounded like this album in 1970 and it's 100 times more complex than 99.99% of the crap that constitutes popular music. This is not to say that complex=brilliant, often complex=self-indulgent egotistical overblown crap. While some might say that about this album (and they're certainly entitled to their opinions), in my humble opinion it's an under-rated work of genius. Such a shame that it was followed up by Islands, which wasn't 1/20th the masterpiece that Lizard is. It's just a testament of how unique and unearthly beautiful this album is. *****"
Date Submitted: 22-Oct-99
By: Ezequiel de Melo Campos Filho (emcampos at homeshopping dot com dot br)
"Ok,now I ask somebody to PLEASE answer my questions about this album,because I normally understand all of Sinfield's lyrics-you'll find it a total waste of time,as well why í'm asking these things,but I even look out in dictionaries and assorted books-and,this time,except from side1's lyrics,which I actually don't understand why some people don't understand them at all,i.e Cirkus, Happy Family and Indoor Games,since the first is about a decadent circus,the second about the Beatles breakup,and the third is about a lazy bum who only digs having fun,but Lizard? I don't get it definitely,so,here goes some clues of what could it be and the opinions about the music in it,as well with the others:1st part: Anderson's voice is perfectly matching with the song moods,Tippet provides a nice piano in the slow parts and electric on the chorus-by the way again Anderson's voice is great,giving a more piercing tune on the chorus. Sad as it is,McCulloch plays that same drum pattern that you hear throughout the album,but then again,his jazzy breaks make it real cool.Fripp is very laid back,making it very nice to listen. The lyric,seems to show a fantasy kingdom on which things are not too good;the peasants seem to be repressed by some kind of religion that exists there,which I think that is simbolized by the Lizard,so then ,tostake a lizard by the throat seems to be an incitation to a rebellion against it;then,Prince Rupert's peacock brings somewhat of a tale of a distant kingdom,which to me it could be the one Rupert's army fights with ,but i'm left without a clue of what leads to the battle and/or the peacock's tale. Oh well,let's move on but now I can't go on,so would be too much to ask somebody to give a continuation of my thinking,or tell me what it is all about?"
Date Submitted: 23-Dec-99
By: Harry Funk (hfunk at observer-reporter dot com)
"After reading the mixed reactions this album received in ET reviews -- there didn't seem to be much middle ground between love and hate -- I pulled out old Maxell, which probably hadn't seen the inside of a tape deck for a few years, to have a listen.
"A little background: I've been a King Crimson devotee since '77, when I tried to turn disco-listeners throughout my high school on to "ITCOTKC." (I remember slapping Side 2 on at a party and hearing nothing but grief for days.) I then grabbed up all the KC albums I could, but neglected "Lizard," which I didn't hear until I was in college, about '80.
"My strongest initial reaction was to Gordon Haskell's vocals, which of course are much different than either Greg Lake's, John Wetton's or Buz Burrell's. But rather than being a severe detriment, as many previous reviewers have opined, I consider them as fitting for the album's overall theme of chaotic absurdity. For example, would the lyrics to "Happy Family" have the same impact with Lake's crystal-clear delivery? Or Jon Anderson's soprano? No, Haskell's voice is a good counterpoint to the oddly metereted snippets of mellotron, guitar, horns and other sounds floating all around the album.
"The music on "Lizard" certainly is atmospheric. From the first strains of the mellotron on "Cirkus" to the gradually-going-atonal "Big Top," this is the stuff of jarring, nightmarish surrealism, a Pandemonium See-Saw, if you will. ("Lady of the Dancing Water" is the exception; but I guess it had to fit into the "I Talk to the Wind"/"Cadence and Cascade" continuity. And by the way, Pete Sinfield's lyrics fit most of this album to a "T.")
"The whole "Lizard" suite fits very well into that motif; we start with the Sweetness (excuse the pun) of Anderson's voice, then move into a well-structured horn workout on "Bolero" that gradually degenerates into more chaos throughout "The Battle of Glass Tears," concluding with a truly eerie RF solo (finally!), reminiscent of the brief, foggy instant that separates sleep from the awareness you're awake.
"And to reintroduce you to the absurdity that is reality: "Big Top."
"I'll say it again: I enjoy everything RF & co. did in that first great period from 1969-74, even "Earthbound." With the exception of Zappa, there never has been rock-oriented music that DEEP. And "Lizard" is no exception."
Date Submitted: 31-Dec-99
By: (HHermansen at aol dot com)
"God bless these invisible individuals who trumpet the works of this great band. To know the devils triangle is to know the most sincere depths of hell; which all it submerged chaos, and Haskels strange, and demented base, making the journey ring with the sick idea of hell being but a circus'; a dark and sinister place where souls hang from racks, and all the while the clowns laugh with delight. This is the horror of it all'
"And to many who, like I find this strange period of King Crimson somewhat compelling, can here this evil cirquestral approach, in the finale of the Lizard album. Personally this is my favorite period; and if any one has any bass ideas from this period please make them known. Thank you."
Date Submitted: 6-Feb-00
By: Michael Destefano (kayfabe at peoplepc dot com)
"as a rule, most casual crimson listeners are marks for the style and /or the musical muscle the whole genre tends to embody. after reading all these reviews i'm happy to see that there are others that recognize the importance of lizard and islands (the two really do go hand in hand). fripps guiatr work is second to none! imagine other monster guitarists having the sense and confidence not to flex and show off everytime the tape is rolling.
"my biggest question to all is: is this really improvisation or carefully controlled chaos... how many improvised takes before there is a good deal of preditermined direction. think about that the next time some jazz snob gushes over miles davis, charlie parker et all, while not even taking prog rock genre seriously.
"lizard,islands,red and the night watch .... NEED I SAY ANYMORE!"
Date Submitted: 15-Apr-00
By: Alejandro González (agonza59 at encina dot pntic dot mec dot es)
"Un plato fuerte en la discografía de KC, la variedad y densidad de _Lizard_ va más allá de los dos primeros discos (de los cuales, por cierto, el segundo, con excepción de «Cat Food» y «Cadence and Cascade», me parece lo más flojo del primer KC) y explora caminos que después el grupo abandonó por otros más definidos y rotundos, pero no necesariamente mejores.
"Las tres primeras canciones de la 'cara A' del disco presentan una estética expresionista, de circo enloquecido y desorden mental, de la que la discutida voz de Haskell es parte imprescindible. No se ha destacado quizá que 'Cirkus', y la vuelta al tono circense de 'Big Top', recuerdan el ambiente de 'For the benefit of Mr. Kite' (no se me dan muy bien las cronologías, pero el 'Rock'n Roll Circus' de los Stones no debe estar tampoco muy lejano en el tiempo). En particular, 'Big Top' recuerda el vals de Henry the Horse, con su aire de tiovivo lisérgico.
"Si Sinfield es único en lo propiamente encantador ('Moonchild' por ejemplo), la mezcla de inocencia y perversión, el ambiente de cuento de hadas que deviene pesadilla y viceversa cual en vaivén psicotrópico, se le da de miedo. Las criticadas alternancias del «Bolero» van por el mismo camino, y son de una enorme efectividad: lejos de anularse, las armonías tipo 'Gymnopedies' de Satie y el desarrollo disonante jazzístico se potencian irresistiblemente, como armonía de contrarios.
"Al final de la 'cara A', «Lady of the Dancing Water» anuncia el cambio de tercio, de lo expresionista al reino de la princesita de Rubén Darío, vía la tradicional fontefrida cuyas aguas son puerta a otros mundos...
"En «Prince Rupert Awakes», el bronco Haskell ha bebido las aguas mágicas de «Lady of the...» y ha salido convertido en Jon Anderson. El contraste de los timbres de uno y otro es fantástico, y el piano de Tippet es una maravilla: el hábil contraste de la tonalidad, menor en las estrofas y mayor en los estribillos, debió de gustarle a Fripp, que lo reutiliza en «Formentera Lady» e «Islands».
"Del «Bolero» ya he hablado. «Dawn Song» es un gran acierto: la voz apenas acompañada será tomada más tarde en «The Letter». Como en «Lady...», Haskell prueba que puede ser también 'de cuento de hadas', aunque desde luego no en el estilo de Lake y Anderson (ni falta que hace: un saxo no es una flauta rara). Las aguas han perdido su efecto, y el tono nocturno está conseguido: el celebradísimo solo de Fripp en «Prince Rupert's Lament», que parece ser una de las pocas cosas que el propio Fripp y a la mayoría de sus fans salvan del disco, es una maravilla de sugerencia y electricidad, sobre una base grave mínima.
"En conjunto, este disco y el siguiente ofrecen un KC peculiar, más acústico que eléctrico, con una presencia insistuible de los instrumentos de viento y de los teclados (ese mellotron...). Sería una estupidez decir que otros discos de KC no están a la altura en cuanto a calidad musical, pero en su propio estilo estos dos son inimitables."
Date Submitted: 20-Apr-00
By: Darryl Weppler (zravkapt at yahoo dot ca)
"For me, this album is not as good or bad as most claim it to be. Definately a different approach than the first 2. Considering only Fripp & Sinfield wrote all the music, it's fairly impressive. "Cirkus" is classic Crimson, just as good as "21st...", or "Starless". "Indoor Games" is great, especially with the synthesizers added. "Happy Family" seems like a good idea that goes nowhere fast. "Lady Of The Dancing Water" is just lame, a grade-B "I Talk To The Wind" at best. The "Lizard" suite is the highlight of the l.p. It takes getting used to, but after a couple of listens it really grew on me. Overall, a good album. 3.5 out of 5"
Date Submitted: 30-Aug-00
By: Frank (ChalkPie88 at aol dot com)
"Lizard is simply stunning. It remains my favorite KC release (tied with LTIA), and takes me on an amazing sonic journey with every listen. People who don't like this album need to clean the frickin' wax out of their ears. Anti-proggers probably will not dig this album, but listeners who appreciate timbre, texture, very interesting harmonic language, incredible improvisation, and compositional genius will LOVE this album. The remastered HDCD-encoded re-release is incredible, one of the greatest recorded albums in my collection of over 750 CD's. Buy it yesterday. Fripp hit the bullseye with this one, folks."
Date Submitted: 21-Oct-00
By: Eric (ericodijk at wanadoo dot nl)
"This is imo that album you just have to buy to keep your collection complete. Then you listen to it for a few times and then you place it in the right context. At that time KC was no more than a Fripp-project. The first line-up was great, made a beautiful album and fell apart. Then KC made a second album with two leaving members, one new-comer, a session bass-player and a guest singer. That album was still good but it still was made by ruins of a band. As with all ruins, things get worser over time and Lizard was still recorded by a band in ruins. Okay, Fripp had a new band together, but it never got tight enough. After Lizard he formed a new band, not really better musicians but a tighter group. It is a shame that the Lizard line-up was not tested on the road prior to this album, then it would have been better. Now it is imo their weakest album. The next one was Islands, and you may think of it as you wish, but the line-up that recorded it had spent some time on the road before they went in the studio. It made the album better."
Date Submitted: 29-Jan-01
By: Bas Dassen (Bas.Dassen at Tritone-Tele dot com)
"My vision of this record is different than others I can tell. For me this was the first album I knew of this great band. It is very different from the first two albums, but a few things come back (the heavy part: Last Skirmish, sounds a bit like Shizoid Man and Pictures of a city). But all I can say is that the album is very unusual to listen to for most people, but I like it very much and Gordon Haskell had an amusing voice. I think it's a pity that he didn't song more than he did."
Date Submitted: 7-May-01
By: (HHermansen at aol dot com)
"Dear Robert Fripp it is sad that what you have now should be called King Crimson. To me it is a sad, and disappointing replica of what once was.
"To me the greatest record of all time, other than Pink Floyd's Saucerfull of Secrets, would be your 1970 release "Lizard. It has all the elements of structured psychosis, mixed with absolutely timeless playing. Oddly enough, despite what has been said about Gordon Haskell, I feel his voice, and his demented bass playing, made this album one of your best. I know it's not tappy-tap technical like Tony Levin, but to me the bass work on this album is enigmatic, strange and groundbreaking. To me technical music is a must; but it can be abused, especially when melody is put on the sacrificial slab; and this to me is modern prog in a microcosm. To be honest Robert, I dont listen to the new Crimson; as a matter of fact never have. I love everything throughout John Wetton; and to be honest, despite the brilliance of Tony Levin, he has nothing to do with what made King Crimson the greatest fusion band of all time. And to me it is albums like Lizard, with it's erie landscape, that makes it for one of the most enjoyable albums ever recorded.
"When, oddly by accident, I discovered the closing ten minutes of Prince Rupert, I listened to it for a month; just the ending was all I needed. It was, at once, Jazzy in a weird psychedelic grain but at the same time it was satanically heavy. God Bless King Crimson"
Date Submitted: 19-May-01
By: Darin Lemieux (darinlemieux at home dot com)
"Most people say Robert Fripp did one of two things on Lizard: He either hit the bullseye or was off the mark. I say the Fripp actually pulled off something very rare in modern music. He missed his mark completely, but still managed to make a solid record. Lizard is a good album to litsen to, but DEFINITELY takes getting used to. I had to listen to the whole thing about 4 or 5 times before being able to appreciate it. The thing is, Fripp tried an essentially daunting task: On one album, merge rock, classical and free-form jazz styles and make them mesh effectively. He failed on Lizard. Miserably. The album is great, and has its moments, but all in all, it falls far short of the sound Fripp was looking for (hence why he never returns to it - ever). This is his first ever personal musical failure. The first time he ever went into the studio, and left with an album that was nowhere near as good as he would have liked.
"It succeds to satisfy many listeners though, with tracks such as the haunting Cirkus, Indoor Games and the Lizard suite. Happy Family means well, but is poorly captured in studio. The effect on Haskell's voice ruins the entire track. He sounds better with his natural, awkward voice. Haskell's voice is definitely odd, but has a warm feel which suits this album. Although, I feel that John Wetton could have also recorded Lizard to a similar quality - but it wouldn't have been the same. And I still feel that Lizard has the best cover art of all King Crimson records. It has such an artist look to it - definitely suitable for the record. But all in all, Lizard is the ugly duckling of the KC catalogue. It's the one that makes the strongest attempt to put music - not only rock, but music in general - to new territory. And although it fails to accomplish it lofty goals, is still an interesting album. I wouldn't say it's any better or worse than an of the KC albums that came out between 1969 and 1972, but it's definitely different. So different, in fact, that it almost cannot be compared with the rest of the Crimson catalogue.
"But one must imagine... how mindblowing would this album have sounded if Fripp had enough studio time to assure that it was exactly what he wanted?"
Date Submitted: 12-Feb-02
By: Richard Vasiliy (tijemart at yahoo dot com)
"Record rating 9.
"Overall rating 14.
"Best song LIZARD.
"Worst song LADY OF THE DANCING WATER.
"...I was very surprised found that no-one else wrote here about this grand album! And I was even more surprised found that this album has so small ratings in other review-sites (Karn’s and Starostin’s ones for example). I’m gonna protect LIZARD!
"To my opinion it’s the 2nd or 3rd best album of KC and it contains very clever, musically-solid, emotional and nice material. Though, it’s maybe too complicated for many people... I know it by my own listening: I’ve dug it after 4th or 5th listening (honestly), and then I liked LIZARD more and more.
"1st song CIRCUS is magically wonderful; it consists of sharp contrasts of sounding: from quiet to powerful-aggressive and-again-and-again...and it has dark-mystic atmosphere of medieval late evening with its wizards, imaginations, mad beggars, angry clowns, bats, diamonds and burning crosses. Then two jazzy compositions follow. They are based on Tippet’s keyboards and swinging rhythms. They are very similar to each other (that’s why I haven’t given the highest rating to the album). It’s hard to be sure what are they about, but I think they both are about mad house and its psychically-damaged people with their unusual modes of life, strange illusions (remember the strange "fab four" of HAPPY FAMILY; those guys from Israel think that they are The Beatles) and even crazy intrigues. The music of these songs (INDOOR GAMES and HAPPY FAMILY) is rather crazy too. Then the gentle relaxation of the album follows; LADY OF THE DANCING WATER is the quiet ballad (styled of MOONCHILD) about the Sinfield’s dream lady. I like this nice and short piece.
"All the 2nd side of LP were given for 23-minute suite named LIZARD which is consisted of 4 parts:
"a) PRINCE RUPERT AWAKES
"b) BOLERO - THE PEAKOCKS TALE
"c) THE BATTLE OF GLASS TEARS
"d) BIG TOP
"I think that LIZARD is one of the greatest KC’s compositions ever. The 1st part of it includes a singing of the special guest - the greatest vocalist Jon Anderson from Yes. Though he sings rather unusual for himself here to compare with his singing in Yes. The 1st part is full of sorrow and tragic vocal and playing of "mellotronic guitar". Fripp and Tippett add some atmosphere of insanity. This song is maybe about madness again. And then the nice high-emotional instrumental 2nd part follows. It reminds me a wonderful autumn sunset in red and orange colours (with the darkness of back-sounding "military" drums). The nice sounding of the 2nd part is determined by parallel playing of trombone, saxophone and flugelhorn; it’s impossible to forget them. It’s my favorite moment on the album. But after such high feelings by magic sounds of winds we listen to dark and angry-sounding 3rd part. When I listen it I feel the same listening THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE from previous album. Gordon Haskell sings absolutely unlike Anderson (and does it well), and such singing is the most suitable for the moonfull batal atmosphere of this song with its aggressively sounding guitars and winds. And after this "thunderstorm of war" you listen the short 4th part soundind as speeding-up "dance of madness". Really mad and great album!
"If you like nice avantgarde with atonal sounds and polyrhythmical structures, so this album is just for you!"
Date Submitted: 4-Apr-02
By: (WeatheredWall at aol dot com)
"A triumphal masterpiece for the third (or is it really the second?) incarnation of King Crimson. After the groundbreaking Court and its tentative shadow (Wake), this recording manages to sound like nothing the first band might of conceived while still being undisputedly Crimson. From the ominously, chilling Cirkus to the maniacal whirring of Big Top, one is treated to a sonic feast of dark comic force. This album is nothing short of brilliant - with the Fripp and Sinfield duo at their finest."
Date Submitted: 17-Aug-02
By: Alan Nick (duhast222 at yahoo dot com)
"I like that synthesizer at the beginning of "Happy Family." That's pretty much the only thing I like on the album. That and the guitar solo on "Prince Rupert's Lament."
"I cringe whenever I hear Haskell's distorted singing in this song. Whenever I listen to that song, I picture Haskell skipping around the studio, singing in front of a fan. I don't know why I get that image, but it doesn't help the experience any.
"And is laughing at the end of "Indoor Games" is just as disturbing. It sounds like he's in pain."
Date Submitted: 25-Oct-03
By: David Adair (mouthface at hotmail dot com)
"I would have to say Lizard is good album, but mostly because of the first half. I kind of hate to say it, but the title track (the second half of the album, really) just doesn't engage me much. Having said this, I think it's important to say that Cirkus, Indoor Games, and Lady of the Dancing Water are three of my favorite songs. Prince Rupert Awakes isn't that bad, I suppose."
Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)
"This record’s flaw is the drummer’s playing – he flails about badly, like a parody of progressive rock playing. But the material and the recording of it are quite interesting and quite memorable. A newer Crimson fan might skip this one because of the ridicule heaped onto it in Smith’s book by Gordon Haskell. But this is a record full of interesting musical statements and on Side B some especially memorable melodies – quite nice, flawed only slightly."
Date Submitted: 18-May-04
By: Mick Newton (mickn at onetel dot com)
"The first REAL stereo headphone experience I had was "Crimson King" and as someone who was, as still is, a Beatles fan, pop/rock music really didn't need 'phones (early stereo was starting to take hold as headphones started to be the "in thing" ). "Crimson King" blew me away, both musically and also for the incredible (at that time!) stereo effects. Some three months later "Lizard" was released and I bought it on day one. On went the 'phones and a truly magical experience happened. Since then, like any others, the album has been played, replayed, replayed again and as far as vynil goes I am on my fifth copy! When I bought my first C.D. player in 1990 I bought three C.D.'s - "Sgt Pepper", "Rubber Soul" and "Lizard". Side 1 has some great tracks - "Happy families" and the contrasting "Lady of the Dancing Water" but it really is side 2 that really makes this album their very own "Sgt Pepper". Apart from playing it in the car the album is only played through 'phones as there are far too many subtle passages for speaker play with all the outside distractions. It is a beautiful piece of work and I feel quite sure that if Robert Fripp surveyed Crimso fans he would be mightily surprised at the response if it was performed live. Magnificent album, beautifully played, wonderfully illustrated on the cover which illustrate the songs. I still have some reviews from the time and they were VERY favourable. Robert - re-appraise please."
Date Submitted: 23-Mar-08
By: Grea (www.sangrea.net)
"I agree with Scott McFarland that Andy McCulloch's drumming makes this album less than it could have been. Quite simply, he overplays. It's a busy enough band sound without endless crush rolls on the snare and tip-tap-tapping all over the place. Without that space to breathe - the sort of space that Bill Bruford's crisp playing leaves - the music doesn't have the clarity and counterpoint that it would otherwise enjoy. Of course all Crimson drummers are talented musos and some craziness is compulsory, but without the counterpoint of restraint all that carry-on doesn't achieve much. To be fair, he does some fine work too, especially in The Battle of the Glass Tears, but Side One of the album would have worked so much better with a more musical drummer. It's a pity because the horns and Bob Fripp's playing are outstanding, and Keith Tippet manages to keep his 'Cat Food' under control most of the time. Some of the compositions and arrangements are excellent, especially Cirkus, Indoor Games and The Peacock's Tale. Lady of the Dancing Water, however, is so mawkish it's embarrassing. Some people knock Happy Family but I think Gordon Haskell's treated voice works well and the increasingly maniacal improv suggests to me that they are musically representing the way The Fab Four each went off to 'row their own canoes' - with chaotic results. I like it. As with most of Crimso's work, Lizard has it's superlative moments and other moments that suck wildly. I also agree with the reviewer who noted how much fun it was to hear Jon Anderson sing 'stake a lizard by the throat' :) Recommended to anyone who enjoys both prog and Miles Davis's Bitches Brew.
Date Submitted: 10-Aug-96
By: Robert Cervero (robertc at uclink4 dot berkeley dot edu)
"Most Crimson fans cite tunes like Epitaph, Devil's Triangle, Schizoid Man as among the band's most hallowing, spine-tingling offerings. For me, it's got to be Cirkus. Never have music and lyrics met to create such a cacophony of insanity, crescendo, and intrigue. Sinfield had to be wallowing in the drug-induced depths of paranoia when penning this tune. After listening to this addictively perplexing piece, the instrumental interlude of E-(C+) (and Fripp's A+/G(C/B) riff) remain melodically etched in my inner psyche for days on end. Haskell's timing and forceful vocals, complemented by Fripp's uncanny touches of guitar, are simply masterful throughout. My first airing of Lizard hit me like a ton of bricks, coming in the wake of the Wake of Poseidon, a pleasant enough disc, if not a bit (notwithstanding Devil's Triangle) toward prog-rock's mainstream. Lizard firmly planted Crimson as rock music's true iconoclasts. I ask: Has there ever been more poignant musical-lyrical imagery than Cirkus' poor elephants being forced fed on stale chalk, eating the floors of their cages, all while stallions stampede, lion's sharpen their teeth, and in the midst of pandemonium, the ring-master reminds us: "all the fun of the Cirkus"?"
Date Submitted: 5-Nov-96
By: Michael Zink (dpgumby at csd dot uwm dot edu)
"At the risk of sounding corny and sentimental(?!), "Cirkus" is one of very few Crimson pieces that takes me back to the first time I heard it -- winter 1994/5. I'd only gotten into Crimson that previous summer and I brought this CD home (this was the 1st Crimso CD I had, everything else was vinyl) and to this day I get goose-bumps in the same places -- whenever the mellotron kicks in and the "Entry Of The Chameleons" section. Of course "Cirkus" is obviously not the only one to have this effect on me ("Happy Family" comes close) but it's definitely a charished memory (awwww...)"
Date Submitted: 12-Aug-99
By: Phil McKenna (PMcKenna at starmarket dot com)
"A perfectly wonderful KC track, and actually one of my all-time faves! It's a shame that this (along with the other "Lizard" material) gets so overlooked.
"Although I'm not very enamored of Gordon Haskell's voice on the whole, on this one track, it actually works to unsettling effect, having that "carnival barker from the underworld" quality to it (clever use of bullhorn on the line "----megaphonium fanfare" by the way). What KC track would be complete without that ominous Mellotron (here, either with overdrive or reinforced by sax, I'm not certain), and manic picking by Fripp just add to the piece's unsettling mood. This cut (and "indoor Games") also featured the rare use of an organ on a KC recording (noticeable in the last verse). I got a real kick out of Mel Collin's "happy-slappy" alto solo in the middle, it actually is quite an unsettling contrast to the piece's overall mood (suggesting demented clowns I would think). I also like the fact that Fripp also used the choir sound on the old 'tron at the end as Mark Charig went to Miles Davis-land. It's a shame this lineup didn't get to tour, it would've been incredible just to see this track played live (although the Swedish band Anekdoten did a wonderful cover of it in their stage shows)!"
Date Submitted: 15-Sep-03
By: Berchmans Veillette (emailleurs at sympatico dot ca)
"I discovered the song "Cikrus", and the whole Lizard album, after I've heard all the other albums; so it gave me al lot of references. I could answer to the question "What is progressive rock?" with this song. You can find both Jazz and Classical influences in a rock background, sometimes blended together, sometimes dispatched. Also, like many other KC's songs, you can find a lot of indications of what the band will play many years after. For example, the 'heavy theme' that ponctuates the whole song is very similar to the "I'm a Dinosaur..."s riff on Thrak. But "Cirkus" can be appreciate only for its very complex but exact mood; you can listen to this song wihtout paying attention to all the technical virtuosity that it involves for example. Truly one of my favorite."
Date Submitted: 3-Mar-96
By: Barrie Sillars (100763.1142 at compuserve dot com)
"This is from the most ignored Crimson album, even by Fripp himself as he never includes anything from it in the various compilations released over the years. This is a shame as it contains some wonderful playing and arrangements by an expanded line-up which includes a host of top notch British jazz musicians. This may be the most non-Crimson sounding album with its heavy jazz sound and schizophrenic feel. Even Fripp sounds in sort of Derek Bailey mood. "Indoor Games" has some wonderful interplay between Fripps electric jazz guitar, synth bleeps and sax by Mel Collins. The lyrics by Sinfield are as usual fathomless, but a bit pervy I feel."
Date Submitted: 3-Mar-96
By: Barrie Sillars (100763.1142 at compuserve dot com)
"Another great arrangement from Side 1, Fripp letting Keith Tippet on electric piano, Mel Collins on flute and Nick Evans on trombone get on with it in a superb middle section. I like the distorted vocals throughout, on a song supposedly based on the break-up of The Beatles. They do appear on the cover painting, but as usual Sinfields lyrics are obtuse enough to read any meaning. So that one is as good as any."
Date Submitted: 9-Jun-97
By: MarcC18642 at aol dot com
"I just cannot get with "Happy Family." I'm quite fond of certain parts of Lizard ("Prince Rupert Awakes", "Indoor Games", "Lady of the Dancing Water") but Happy Family seems to me a glaring misstep--instead of concentrating on an actual melody, Fripp settled for a near-nursery rhyme chant that is as deplorable as it is maddening."
Date Submitted: 19-Jul-97
By: Jeff DeFabio defab4 at earthlink dot net
"This song is crazy. Like it or not, it's still crazy."
Date Submitted: 10-Feb-97
By: Stephane Dufort (9664474 at collegebdeb dot qc dot ca)
"The piece Lizard is the greatest masterpiece of King Crimson with Aspic part 1 and 3, Fracture, Schizoid Man, Starless and Thrak. The mix between musical beauty and technical virtuosity is only perfect and unequaled."
Date Submitted: 6-Oct-96
By: Fernando Perdomo (FPerdomo at IX dot Netcom dot com)
"The amazing thing about Crimso is the virtuosic talents that the musicians have. Fripp wears many hats, Noise Maestro, Acoustic master, Multi Linguistic tone shaper, and his less known hat: Classical Composer. Both on Peace(Which is in my Classical guitar repertoire) and the beautiful and magnificent Bolero. With the belts of Marc Charigs Cornet , Mel Collins' Flute, and the continuos snare drum rudiment is a piece I would love to see High School Marching Bands and Orchestras perform. If anyone finds a score chart for 'Bolero' Contact Me."
Prince Rupert's Lament
Date Submitted: 24-Sep-98
By: tedeschi (tedeschi at une dot edu dot ve)
"It`s a flight between time and space..... just a flight. If you can forget who you are and where you are, I think you`ll live and love this tune."