The Beat Club, Bremen, 1972 - Reviews
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Date Submitted: 15-Mar-99
By: Michael W. Flaherty (z946128 at rice dot farm dot niu dot edu)
"With this, the third DGM club release, Robert Fripp has found a tape that could very well stand to symbolize the club's significance. This fair quality tape of mostly instrumental music would not appeal to the average fan, but for the true believers, particularly those who are especially fond of the '72-'74 version of the band, it is fair to call this, their first public performance, essential.
"The disc begins, appropriately enough for the best Crimson in terms of improvization, with a 30 minute (or so) improv. The music is somewhat like later improvs, but what's amazing here is how far these players are able to sustain the quality of the improvization. Were audiences more generous, perhaps more work of this type would be available; as it is, we are fortunate that this rare tape has survived.
"The improv gives way to a beautiful version of "Exiles," and ends with a solid performance of "Larks Toungue Part I." If you play the Great Deceiver on a regular basis, this CD is worth your admission into the club."
Date Submitted: 15-Mar-99
By: Nick Bradey (nick at bradey dot freeserve dot co dot uk)
"This is a superb release , showing this manifestation of this version of the band at its best . The opening impro " The rich tapestry of life" is amazing , and worth the price of admission on its own . What is the dismbodied voice that keeps saying " You can start when you like ? " No information is given about this . Further , there is no audience sound - was this recorded without a live audience ? I would have welcomed some information about this date . However , these are minor criticisms . " Lark's tounges in Aspic part one " is a good contrast to the studio version , as is " Exiles ." David Cross in particular is in fine form , and I recommend his two most recent CDs , " Testing to destruction" and "Exiles" to the members of ET , as these releases have been unfairly neglected.
"I now await the re-release of " The Great Deceiver" even more impatiently , as this has whetted my appetite. My only comment further is that this appears to be the only live recording with Jamie Muir ; Bill Bruford managed on his own more than adequately however on subsequent sessions - ie compare with " The Night Watch .""
Date Submitted: 15-Mar-99
By: David Lee Ressel (DavidLee.Ressel at viacom dot com)
"Membership does indeed have its privileges. My edition of CC #3 has just arrived. I am so proud of my DGM CC membership, I may add it to my vitae. To think this is my first exclusive club! But, where are the secret handshakes and code words? Enough elitism, and on to the music.
"To wit, I enjoy these disks from the perspective of "field recordings" a la Alan Lomax . I am personally adverse to the purchase of bootlegs for many reasons (including personal: family are professional musicians--as I once was, and I am employed in the sale of entertainment). I say, onward w/ the future for KC, but for those of us unable to have experienced this music or the era first hand (I was less than a year old at the time of this recording), this examination of the past is quite exciting.
"This recording is an interesting contrast to DGM CC #2 recorded just 7 months earlier. Is that a snippet of "Red" I hear in the improv? I quite like the Larks Tongues. However, the highlight for me is the development of Mantra into Exiles. I am quite pleased w/ CC editions giving me the opportunity to see the development of a song from KC Mark I, grow into this exemplary performance. Maybe that is why I like the concept of the Projekts from an artistic perspective. I would relish further explorations of song growth from embryonic stage to the overblown wanker rock tunes they become.
"Aside from the mono (well, Brian Wilson's best recordings are mono), and brevity (could bonus tracks from other Muir appearances have been included?), no complaints.
"Also, is there a Cliff Notes' version of Mr. Fripp's essays....er liner notes.... available? I think I might fail the prelim! Wasn't it Theodor Adorno who said, "Let's just ROCK!" (i think he shouted this from the Bremen Beat club studios--but it might lose something from the German). JK, I love the essays, but who has time to read them all, much less WRITE them.... as long as the MUSIC keeps coming)"
Date Submitted: 16-Mar-99
By: Geoff Chaplin (geoff.chaplin at oberlin dot edu)
"This recording was, ultimately, the reason I joined the Club, and were it the only disc ever sent to collectors, I wouldn't feel short-changed at all! The only complaint one might muster is to the short length -- but this is, I suppose, a necessary evil given the lack of listenable Muir-band recordings.
"The improvisation which opens the set, taken from the quotation on the back of the infamous "postcard," is certainly well-named: a "rich tapestry" which embodies all that this incarnation of Crimson was about. Favorite moments include the second theme, which is quiet but intricate, and features snippets of what would become "Fracture" by Wetton. Also impressive is David Cross' flute solo (not a mellotron) later in the disc, over a powerful rhythm section. Finally, in the penultimate crescendo, Fripp plays a line which reminds one of "Elephant Talk," as Wetton's bass swells behind him. The track requires multiple listenings to even begin to unpack; for, while at many times the band seems to be "blowing" with someone "soloing" over a loud rhythm section, the improvisations are, in reality, complex and dense, with "telepathic" interaction among all band members. Expectedly, it is particularly Jamie Muir who dominates much of the playing, bombarding the listener with an insane assortment of "allsorts" at insane speeds and densities; this is another case of the need for multiple listenings: while Muir's playing might seem chaotic, there is, in fact, a "method to his madness."
""Exiles" begins with obvious reference to "Mantra," the composition out of which it seems to have grown. Bruford takes his percussion at a slower pace, less intricately than in later renditions. The break is fantastic; moreover, Cross' vocals during the first verse add a more somber tone to Wetton's delivery.
""Lark's One" is the unexpected highlight of the set. There are versions longer (especially as this only gets to the violin credenza), and later versions with a more interesting improvisation before Cross' signature; but I have yet to hear any one as intense as this. This is clearly Wetton's tune: he is all over the piece, especially in the heavy bass break, with which he takes great liberties.
"The performance ends in marked contrast to its chaotic beginning, as the music dies and the performers walk off of the stage. One wonders what viewers of German television might have thought of the set! Another fine Club release, Robert & Co.; if the quality remains like this and previous recordings (both in terms of performance, rarity, and sound quality), the Club will show itself to be a remarkable success."
Date Submitted: 19-Mar-99
By: Brian Nestor (nestor at twave dot net)
"Wow!!! Great stuff - but then again, I am really partial to the '73-'74 band. Somebody called this a field recording, and that's exactly what it is - from the moment the tape was rolling to when the stop button was pushed. There are strange quiet sounds (you might not want to turn the volumn up) for about two minutes, and then a God-Almighty crash that leads into the longest improv Crimson ever recorded, to my knowledge. This is a dense multipart improv, with each player (but particularly David Cross) shining.
"Then it slowly enters into the most beautiful version of Exiles ever - much gentler than the later live versions, and a perfect tonic to the mad improvisation that preceeded. The Lark's Tongue In Aspic is short and clinical after that. Truly amazing!"
Date Submitted: 22-Mar-99
By: Bill Nicholas (billnich at worldnet dot att dot net)
"I've got the long improv on this recording on a bootleg called "The Mince". It is from Oct. 17, 1972. Mine only runs 23:44, so I'm assuming something got chopped off my copy.
"I was curious upon getting this, because I read the origonal press on this band in the Frame By Frame book and HAD to get something with Jamie on it. Some of the things in this Jam are very interesting, but there are much better improvs on the great devceier and night watch. However, I would assume this gig would be of great historical value to any Crimhead (Me included) because it is great chance to hear this wonderful band in its infancy. It is amazing to here how much looser it is than the later improves. Jamie? Rehersal Time? Who Knows?
Date Submitted: 3-Sep-99
By: (Baybeehughie at aol dot com)
"I had been searching for a bootleg release of KC Beat Club 10/17/72 for over 15 years, ever since I got a video copy of the Larks' Tongues Part One in the mid-eighties, off a late-night music TV show that used to run on the USA Network called "Night Flight." Somewhere back in the past I remember being told by a super-freak hardcore Crim collector that the entire TV show did at one time exist on a Japanese laserdisc that was somewhat available back then. Anyway I had the one smokin' song and who couldn't have wanted more after hearing/seeing that?
"Now, I didn't join the Club... I've never had a credit card and wouldn't want one, and couldn't in my recent poverty muster up the 100 beans to go get a money order. So I was thrilled to run into a copy of the Japanese 3-CD box of the first 3 Club releases... finally after a decade and a half I would get to hear the whole WDR Bremen broadcast, with guaranteed "slaved-over-with-a-fine-Fripped-comb-and-seriously-spruced-up" sound to boot (no puns intended).
"So was I disappointed? Suffice to say that Jamie made this band something completely other, something way beyond the often pratty song-singing that unfortunately dominated much of Crim music in the late '60s & early '70s. For me it's not that the (nearly) 30-minute improvisation is an immaculately-sustained spontaneous work of quintet genius... there are certainly times when things meander around a bit as the players bring their next collective move(s) into focus. But what makes this what I always knew it could be-- now that I've heard and begun to absorb it, my all-time favorite Crim recording-- is what the gesture of free improvisation brings out in terms of how the 5 players act & react in the developing moment towards each other. This is a dimension that takes CC #3 from mere rock concert recording toward a more direct expression of how the players felt about each other, and how these complex feelings translated into a half-hour's worth of vulnerable & very real music. Maybe I'm stating the obvious... when these fine players decided to "take the leap" (in this case a gesture made all the more fascinating by the idea that they were being taped for television-- imagine you're vacuuming your German love-den in '72 and suddenly there's Jamie on the tube, honking a bicycle horn and tweeting a birdcall!), they opened up a more direct line of communication than if they had chosen to play "Schizoid Man" or another prearranged "song."
"Anyway the rest of the broadcast is a superb bonus... "Mantra" is one of my favorite Crim themes (play it on guitar often) and well, the "Larks' Tongues 1" is the 7 minutes of auditory barrage that got me so interested in the first place 15 years ago. Thanks, thanks and yet more thanks to Mr. F for releasing the one recording in perhaps the whole history of KC that I just had to have, and I'm wondering if I meditate hard enough will he give us loyal audients the Fripp & Eno radio broadcast from the Paris Olympia (5/28/75)? I have the complete concert off a boot 2-record set but would surely love to have the Fripp-approved version to replace it. Maybe a case for amnesty, huh? (hint, hint...)"
Date Submitted: 5-Jul-00
By: Tim Long (timrobinlong at peoplepc dot com)
"I love the Beat club release. The improv is so weird it is frightening. Larks tounges one is spectacular, yet it still lacks the studio version ( but what can you expect from a first time). Exiles is awesome! just the musicianship quality is amazing! I only wish there was more. but there is more to come."
Date Submitted: 26-Mar-02
By: (JFubi11 at cs dot com)
"I recently purchased a copy of the Beat Club, Bremen CD. I had high hopes for this CD, and after saving my money to purchase it from my local CD store (who just happened to have it), I drove all the way home, turned it on, and, after listening to the first ten seconds of the beginning, I knew that the album would be great. After listening to it all the way through, I must say my breath was taken away. The mass hysteria of the drummers, the guitar, the violin, the bass, and the mellotron colliding as one was an incredible way to start off the song and the album.
"Starting with the 30 minute Improv, it moves from mass hysteria to calm bass, mellotron, and violin. Fripp shreds and plays classic riffs, as well as Cross' violin solos, and its all held together by a classy rhythm section of two drummers and a bass player. Jaime adds alot to this song, with his thundering sheets of metal, cowbells, birdcallers, and such. And when the song finally ended, I felt sad, because although it is a full half hour, it still seemed too short.
"The improv moves into Mantra, a tune that most Crimsoners would know well. This song clashes into the most brilliant form of "Exiles" I have ever heard. Wetton's voice fits well with the violin and the mellotron. The song indeed brought a tear to my eye.
"When Exiles ended, from the silence comes Jaime hitting bells and a xylophone. I thought to myself, "This is going to be incredible" and as I thought that, the violin slowly moved in, and I was swept away into the best Lark's Tounges in Aspic Part 1 ever!! I enjoy this song to the fullest, including how it tricks you as it moves into what should be the violin solo, but continues to bass/guitar jam. The song ends with Jaime blowing on a birdcaller, and stops at the violin solo. Says Fripp "The concert ends with Jaime emptying a sack of leaves onto the studio floor" A classic Muir action.
"And there you have it! I thoroughly enjoyed this, and if the next release, CLUB 20, is what I think it is, then it will be the first apperaence by the Muir Band, at the Zoom Club! Thank goodness for the club releases!"
Date Submitted: 25-Mar-03
By: (slb23 at shaw dot ca)
"I REALLY like the '73-74 lineup of Crimson. ('81-84 lineup is a very close second). And I was quite excited when I found this at a local CD shop for $15 !! Plus this is one of the first times they performed together! It also includes Jamie Muir !! But I listened to it, and it was quite disappointing. :(
"The improv, "The Rich Tapestry of Life", is so loud and at times quite distorted. I like the lineup's improvs, but this seemed to go NOWHERE in almost half-an-hour.
"This version of "Exiles" is nothing special. It's slower, the mellotron is slightly out of tune, and there's no guitar solo at the end.
"The version of "Larks' . . . part One" is okay, but also nothing special.
"The only good things about this version are Muir's percussion, and Fripp's great guitar.
"So in conclusion, I was quite disappointed."