The Great Deceiver -- Live 1973-1974
Originally released: 1992
(Note: click on title for lyrics)
CD One: Things are not as they seem...
Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island: June 30th, 1974
- 0'52 Walk On ... No Pussyfooting (Fripp, Eno)
- 6'12 Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two (Fripp) => Reviews
- 4'04 Lament (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 7'00 Exiles (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 14'41 Improv - A Voyage To The Centre of the Cosmos (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford) => Reviews
- 7'14 Easy Money (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 9'47 Improv - Providence (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford) => Reviews
- 10'47 Fracture (Fripp)
- 11'56 Starless (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
CD Two: Sleight of hand (or now you don't see it again) and...
Providence... continued (encore)
- 7'32 21st. Century Schizoid Man (Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles, Sinfield) => Reviews
- 1'15 Walk off from Providence... No Pussyfooting (Fripp, Eno)
Walk on to Glasgow... Glasgow Apollo: October 23rd, 1973
- 2'38 Sharks' Lungs in Lemsip (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 7'25 Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part One (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)
- 2'49 Book of Saturday (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James) => Reviews
- 6'43 Easy Money (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 4'54 We'll Let You Know (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 4'54 The Night Watch (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 8'27 Improv - Tight Scrummy (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 1'01 Peace - a Theme (Fripp)
- 4'14 Cat Food (Fripp, Sinfield, McDonald)
Penn State University: 29 June 1974
- 2'19 Easy Money... (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 7'25 ...It Is For You, But Not For Us (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
CD Three: ...Acts of deception (the magic circus, or weasels stole our fruit)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Stanley Warner Theatre: April 29th, 1974
- 1'15 Walk On ... No Pussyfooting (Fripp, Eno)
- 3'32 The Great Deceiver (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 3'13 Improv - Bartley Butsford (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 6'23 Exiles (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 4'40 Improv - Daniel Dust (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 4'18 The Night Watch (Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 4'52 Doctor Diamond (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James) => Reviews
- 11'36 Starless (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Palmer-James)
- 5'52 Improv - Wilton Carpet (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 5'29 The Talking Drum (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)
- 2'22 Larks' Tongues In Aspic: Part Two (abbreviated) (Fripp)
Penn State University: June 29th,1974
- 2'19 Applause & Announcement
- 11'50 Improv - Is There Life Out There? (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford) => Reviews
CD Four: ...But neither are they otherwise
Toronto, Massey Hall: June 24th, 1974
- 11'14 Improv - The Golden Walnut (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 4'22 The Night Watch (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 10'48 Fracture (Fripp)
- 8'36 Improv - Clueless and Slightly Slack (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
Zurich Volkshaus: November 15th, 1973
- 1'00 Walk On ... No Pussyfooting (Fripp, Eno)
- 2'23 Improv - Some Pussyfooting (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 7'41 Larks' Tongues In Aspic: Part One (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)
- 6'31 Improv - The Law of Maximum Distress: Part One (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 2'17 Improv - The Law of Maximum Distress: Part Two (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 6'57 Easy Money (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
- 5'50 Improv - Some More Pussyfooting (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford)
- 6'05 The Talking Drum (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Muir)
Words by Richard W. Palmer-James.
I am the driver of an underground train Chaos in the streets above, to me it's all the same I shake your houses, then I'm gone keeping time down here below I could drive my train to hell, not a soul would know I am the driver of an underground train The lonely life can't bother me, far away from wind and pain I come upon the station lights with a mighty rushing sound Listen for the hiss of brakes in tunnels underneath your town I am the driver of an underground train Just imagine who I am and breathe the letters of my name Any time you say the word my wheels and humming on the line We'll be meeting face to face somewhere beyond the danger sign I am the driver of an underground train Climb aboard, just climb aboard, your loss is my eternal gain Squeeze your precious body in before I quickly close the doors Come riding in the smoky dark, where you are mine, and I am yours.
© 1974 EG Records Ltd.
All titles published by EG Music Inc. (BMI)
Reviews are listed in chronological order within each section. Please retain a chronological order when adding new reviews.
Date Submitted: 6-May-96
By: Bret Arenson (manorhouse at earthlink dot net)
"Those of you who are lucky enough to have a copy of "USA" and enjoy it are sure to love this boxed set. These live cuts, though all not that well recorded, show the intensity that this particular incarnation of Crimson had in performance. And outside of bootlegs and the aforementioned vinyl release (which are difficult to find) this is the only collection available. Don't let the repetition of songs fool you, all the cuts are charged and blistering. Besides quite a lot of the material is improvisational, which is where Crimson's heart is at. I have the studio albums of that same period but I listen to this collection quite a bit more and find it more satisfying. Go out and spend the money, you'll thank me."
Date Submitted: 6-May-96
By: Thomas Poisson (poisson at speedy dot grolier dot fr)
"The Great Deceiver is an excellent rendition of live Crimso in the 1973 - 1974. It will not appeal to everybody as it is dark and dangerous, closer in spirit to SABB than LTIA or Red. The sound quality is consistently excellent, very faithful to the original performances and shall discourage people from buying other bootlegs. The main feature however is the wild power, group intelligence and emotional tension that surfaces on all tracks. Live Crimso of this era is not as precise as on its records, and sometimes goes far beyond what we conventionally hear in modern music. Both aspects contribute to making TGD a definitive statement of live King Crimson philosophy in the '73 - '74 period: play one of the most adventurous, challenging and honest music you've ever heard. Consume without moderation."
Date Submitted: 24-Jun-96
By: Chris Mitchell (squonk at utkux dot utcc dot utk dot edu)
"One of the highlights of Starless-era Crimson was their improvisational nature. Fripp, Wetton, Cross, and Bruford always included a couple of free 'blows' in each set. Add to that the freewheeling approach to most of the set tunes, and it's clear that every night was different for these guys.
"The Great Deceiver box is a goldmine for anyone who wants a picture of what this Crimson was really like. Larks' Tongues and Red were fine albums but didn't quite capture the essence of the band live. The Great Deceiver offers just that, with sizable chunks of seven different shows crammed onto four CDs.
"The free improvs especially stand out, either as intros or outros to the set tunes or as entities unto themselves. Crimson was not afraid of harsh, uncharted sonic terrain. Bruford and Wetton often control the flow of the music with their telepathic interplay and fearless dynamics. Fripp, of course, delivers frequent bursts of inspired guitar along with contributing eerie mellotron soundscapes. David Cross comes to the fore occasionally with electric violin and helps create the mellotron mayhem.
"As for the written tunes, nothing is too predictable. For example, the four different versions of 'Easy Money': the band sticks to the song's framework but takes the music in different directions each time. Bruford fans take note: the man doesn't like to play the same thing twice, and that certainly is evident throughout this box.
"Overall, The Great Deceiver is a monumental document of this magical time in King Crimson history. It's visceral music: unforgiving, frequently dissonant, and probably not for everyone. But brave souls and open ears will be rewarded. This is the fearless foursome laid bare - order at the edge of chaos, or chaos at the edge of order."
Date Submitted: 23-Jul-96
By: (heat at magna dot com dot au)
"I have been exploring through the KC back catalogue as part of an "adventure" in "prog rock". Though infinitely superior to other competition such as Yes (1971-77) I have always found it hard to find a totally satisfying KC album. ( Red nearly gets there! ) Perhaps because of a genuine spirit of experimentation - for every great song there are a couple of stinkers (usually because of the lyrics). The Great Deceiver has changed all that for me. It is complete and absorbing, funny, heavy, stupid and smart. The tension between the knucklhead rhythm section and Fripp and Cross is wonderful."
Date Submitted: 8-Aug-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)
"Its great that Fripp is beginning to use the advantages of a CD format: you can simply pack a lot more information on them then you could on vinyl. This box takes great advantage of it, though I just got it three days ago so I'll withhold critical comment for now though I'm sure I'm in for a lot of fun. But why does he stop here. For example, Zappa has a SIX VOLUME set of live shows, and they are double CDs. Why doesn't Fripp put out Crimso, Live 69-84 (the '95 tour is too recent to really be assimilated yet.) in one massive swoop. Would it not be amazing to hear Exiles crash into Get Thy Bearings crash into Elephant talk. I'm sure there is plenty of stuff in Fripp's vaults that is quite usable if not absolutely bloody brilliant. Crimso fans are a rather fanatical bunch. Most of us are old enough to have credit cards. Issue it all. We'll buy it."
Date Submitted: 16-Aug-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)
"This is my second look at this set, and it is something wonderful. I love it all, but for me, the real action begins on disc four.
"If you play the four CDs in order, the songs get less and less structured as you go on. You get more improvs, and the album tracks that are played are the ones that the band can really jam out on. If I did not know better, I would swear that Larks Pt I was just part of a bigger, massive improvisation that covers the fourth disc of the set. This is brilliant adventure. KC sound like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, or a modern classical group. It all melds together so well.
"It is no wonder, also, that at the time, this KC was compared to that other magic band Mr. Beefheart ran. All the clanking symbols and police whistles and stop on a dime rhythms: this is very, very unique. If disc four is any indication, I would pay $100 just to see this band go on stage with no plans, and just start playing.
"My only regret is that the other three discs have as much structured playing as they do. They are great, but disc four is where Captain Fripp's magic band is."
Date Submitted: 30-Jun-97
By: Paul Clark (pangaea at webzone dot net)
"I think this is the best box set to have. lot's of reviews say it wasn't a great recording I thought differently. "IT KICKS ASS!!!"
By the way I was able to give John Wetton my review of this box set via-telephone.
I get a phone call one day & my dad says it's some guy with a british voice. So when I grab the phone it was him.
Paul: I have this box set.
John: what do you thank of it?
Paul: it's got some weird sounds in it & kinda funny in some places.
John: It has some damn good bass playing in it
Paul: it's better than the live USA abum.
John: USA was an edited version of one of the shows on the box set so now your finaly hearing the whole thing.
And then we started talking about Asia. I Told him I saw the Aqua Tour.
John: How was it?
Paul: It was O.K. ,but it didn't sound anything like the Asia I knew.
John: where there a lot of people?
Paul: yes & most of them were asking me who was in the band & why they were not.
I also said that Steve Howe was a Jerk to me.
John: I could've told you that.
John: I hear their album had a lot of returns.
Paul: It got about a months worth of airplay,& then fanished off.
Then I ask what he was doing & where?
John: I'm here in Los Angeles finishing up my new solo album.(Voice Mail/Battlelines)
Paul: Cool. When will it be out?
John: next year sometime.
Then he had to go because the other phone line was ringing.
John: well it's been nice talking to you.
Paul: same here
John: Cheers, Bye!!!
Paul: OK Bye!!!
That was the best day of that year for me."
Date Submitted: 22-Oct-96
By: Eric Kearns (KKearns938 at aol dot com)
"I began the reviews by reading, "These live cuts, though all not that well recorded..." Are you nuts? What are you? A recording specialist? These cd's offer some fine sonics. Great set of analog recording if I say so myself. As a matter of fact, I don't think you'll get a better bunch of recordings unless you track down Zappa himself, and we all know how hard that would be now!"
Date Submitted: 26-Jul-97
By: George Selinsky (selinsky at worldnet dot att dot net)
"The Great Deceiver is the ultimate "live" instruction manual, essential for any rock musician for an academic-level understanding of truly creative live performance (along with The Who's "Live at Leeds"). The box-set proves how this Crimson not only successfully translated challenging studio material to the stage, but how they were often able to transcend it, in addition to inventing entirely new pieces on the spot. Though the improvs sometimes get a bit too dissonant and arrhythmic (the tragic flaw of this KC), they are very brave. This is what always made King Crimson a very exciting and original group. I'd be very hard pressed to find a near-equal in this day and age. Most bands would fall into complete self-indulgence, stick with formula, or not bother altogether.
"Regrettably, this band was never 100% in tune with itself, which explains it's occasional sonic inconsistencies; Wetton's voice struggles, his bass wanders to catch a groove, Fripp can easily go off with his own unrelated riffs, Cross is a shy player, yet, like Fripp, likes to go completely off key, and Bruford will often come crashing in, uninvited. It may be said that this group lacked discipline. However, when Fripp tried to tighten the reigns on KC with his "discipline" concept, those golden moments of beauty, felt so strongly on this compilation, seemed absent from KC's music, even to this day. With all respect, Belew's guitar and Levin's mathematical stick interplay feels ice cold by comparison to a Cross/Fripp mellotron string duet (and boy, are there a few good ones here).
"All in all, The Great Deceiver is a very good package, even if a bit pricey at 65 bucks - save up your lunch money (I did). The material from LTiA shines strongest - Easy Money, Talking Drum, and Larks pt 1 are particularly more bold and less diluted (I believe Muir's absence from stage was more of a blessing than a curse), each performance being unique. Doctor Diamond is an example of a potentially amazing song that was never polished off. Ironically, the title track is not as strong as it's studio version. The taxing improvs often require several passes in order to appreciate their moments. Many begin disoriented, and then plunder in and out of a beautiful consonance (i.e. The Golden Walnut, Is There Life Out There?). Others are a pleasure from the outset (i.e. Daniel Dust), yet some don't quite work because they never go anywhere (i.e. Tight Scrummy). Regardless of the occasional overly nasty, dissonant, and arrhythmic "blow", this box set has very beautiful and strong moments on it that are second to none in any live rock repertoire. Go, fetch!"
Date Submitted: 27-Jan-98
By: Gus Sanchez (buckgs at aol dot com)
"God, I would have given anything to see this band in its full, glorious incarnation in the mid-70's. But this box is all I've got, since I was but a toddler when Fripp, Bruford, Wetton and Cross rampaged quietly around the world (and amongst themselves, as the booklet hysterically describes - by the way, Fripp a blowhard? No way...). So I close my eyes, throw on my headphones, grab my drumsticks and my air Gibson Les Paul Classic and pretend I'm onstage in Providence, or at that rowdy show in Pittsburgh.
"Amazingly enough, this was the second KC album I ever purchased (B'Boom was my first...). I recall reading about this box from a Rolling Stone interview with Robert Fripp a few years back. David Fricke, the journalist and KC fan called the box "lavish" and described KC as a band that willfully shifts gears from spooky, impressionist ballads to high-tension raveups, all the while improvising without a net for a third of the performance (in describing disc one - Providence). So I, being one who has desperately tried to balance between pure pop sentimentalities and respectable musicianship, went out and bought the box and...WOW!
"The entire CD box is spectacular, but the Providence show is worth the purchase price itself. It's KC at it's own terms, four distinct musicians waging a stunning dogfight amongst themselves, yet miraculously, uncannily reconsiling themselves, making the leap as RF would say. Fripp further solidifies his rep as the single greatest guitar player you've never heard of. With all props to Jimi, Fripp has never been privy to a legion of shameless impersonators. His simple yet magnificent guitar riffing on Larks II states to all guitar players that sometimes less is more. And to all those who swear that KC was a poofy, Mellotron-laden "art-rock" band, in the horrid tradition of ELP (who suck) and Yes (who really suck, thank God Bill B had the common sense to leave that silly outfit), let me say that this KC version, with reference to Fripp's guitar work, was better than any "heavy metal" band out there, despite not consciously working within the parameters of this genre, and would have given Black Sabbath a serious ass-kicking for breakfast. Okay, I'm rambling...Exiles is stunning, flat-out stunning. You can feel the soothing pain in John Wetton's slightly off-key voice, and the pathos in David Cross' succinct, serrated violin. The gong crash at the begining lays out the track's intention. Fripp's solo at the end both soars and glides, reflecting the peaks and valleys of the game of life. And Fracture, in my opinion, is Fripp's best guitar work of that lineup. How the hell does he go from soft fingerpicking to electrifying riffing without losing his concentration. The fuzzy fade out simply sends shivers down my back.
"The real star of this desk is the world's Greatest Drummer, Mr. William Bruford (my friends who still believe a certain drummer from a Canadian trio can kiss my ass!). The drunken fool who hollers at the begining of disc three "John Bonham eat your heart out" certainly knew something: Bill Bruford's home was with King Crimson. He became the dean of all drummers within this lineup, drumming with impressive precision and reckless abandon at the same time, and like Robert Fripp, carefully balancing that beam between discipline and anarchy. And his whoops and hollers, urging (or egging, depending on how you see it - Bill's a rather cynical guy, I know this as a fact...) lend certain humor and ecstasy in listening to this boxed set. Simply put, Bill Bruford wasn't screwing around when he sat behind the kit. Yeah, he may have pissed off RF here and there, but I KNOW RF wanted no other man propelling his band into the Great Unknown.
"I could go on for hours, but it's getting late. But let me say that this boxed set is a living testimony to arguable the best rock lineup ever to play live that did not play "rock" music. No sir, KC wasn't for the faint of heart, and my girlfriend probably wouldn't like it (I haven't and probably won't make her listen to this box, but I think the "Discipline" album might be a good start!), but if I close my eyes and wander, I can see Robert Fripp eying me coldly, telling me silent to calm the hell down. But I won't, and Bill wouldn't either."
Date Submitted: 15-Feb-98
By: Patrick Gaudin (mauipat at gte dot net)
"The first time I ever heard 'The Great Deceiver' was in a warehouse I worked at here in Dallas, Texas. It wasn't from the album though. It was accapellad to me by my good buddies Rick Koster and Ernie Myers. Rick provided his rendition of Wetton's offbeat bass line whilst Ernie proceeded to quack out his best vocal impersonation of Wetton. Funny thing is, I later heard the real version and Wetton sounded much better. And he did it all alone."
Date Submitted: 24-Apr-98
By: A. De Wailly (ad051 at students dot stir dot ac dot uk)
"Tracks that gain being played live:
"-Larks' Tongues In Aspic_ Part Two: oh yeah! The studio version cannot be compared to that.When the opening chord is played,you can feel the electricity going from the strings to the amp THROUGH you.It is sometimes described as being early industrial music,but I don't agree with this because it would mean that what came after is better,a further development,something closer to what it should be.But in fact,this chord is perfect in itself.It doesn't need to be more distorted or anything.What is true is that it was probably the first time a simple chord was at the center of a musical piece, not something added.
"-The Great Deceiver: the opening melody is less clearly heard,but it's no problem.Bruford sounds as if he were thrashing pans,and it's delicious.It could be 1994.
"-The Talking Drum: more energy.
"-Easy Money: better lyrics,better energetic guitar attacks.
"Tracks that are not as good as in studio:
"-Exiles: it's still good but it lacks the piano section in the middle,for example,and the song overall is less carefully worked out.The same for Book of Saturday.
"-Schizoid Man: not everybody would agree,but this material is not of the kind this line-up is made for (unlike Cat Food).
"-The Night Watch: lacks the subtlety of the original.
"Lastly,Starless is neither better nor worse than on Red.It is interesting to remark the differences (lyrics,instrumentation, drum parts).Yet the studio version remains for me the definitive one (saxophones,more meaningful lyrics...)."
Date Submitted: 11-Oct-98
By: Fabio Palmieri (nikilino at mclink dot it)
"This is the first DGM release in which RF (I suppose) starts to put those little...jokes into each disc. I mean: hidden tracks or (in this case) simply hidden snippets from the original tapes. The same thing happens in 'Intergalactic Boogie.." by RF & LGC and it's likely it is also elsewhere among DGM latest productions.
"One common feature in this "tracking-list-strangenesses" is Silence: Silence comes to visit the recording track ( most of the times after the last track or one track away from the end) but the display counter keeps going, for one, two, sometimes three minutes ...then ....it's up to the listener! If we are able:
"a.. to pay attention (i.e. noticing the CD is not ended despite its cover's tracklist...);
"b.. to bear the presence of Silence without fear or impatience;
"c.. to be open to the unexpected,
"we are rewarded with more Music.
"There are always more than one levels of interpretations, obviously. I like to think this is one of them or, to put it in a different way, the moment this came to my mind it IS one of them anyway."
Date Submitted: 5-Dec-98
By: James Crary (deafjim at webtv dot net)
"I was wierd, drugged and 13 years old when I witnessed the Pittsburgh performance featured on Great Deceiver. When Bob Fripp pontificates that recordings don't always convey the spirit of a performance, a lot of guys probably "ho-hum" (who cares if it's still great?) I just mention it because The Night Watch, as a recording, comes just a little closer to explaining the sail away moments I witnessed that night. Since I do not know how that could be, and thought the Great Deceiver recording was pretty boss, all in all, I guess I'll just say that it's quite a thing to hear reincarnated. Be sure to listen to Robin Trower live before The Night Watch, if you want the full impact. (Someone knocked his bassist into bluesy centrifids with a four foot blue helium balloon. "Close your eyes...it's about...to begin......")."
Date Submitted: 17-May-98
By: Daniel Caccavo (danielj at interport dot net)
"Was very disappointed by this release because of the mixing. It's a complete revisionist job. Fripp complains in his journal how loud Wetton's bass is, so in this mix he is low. And David Cross is pretty damn low as well. Don't really hear the "stage sound", as if everything were gated.
"I like the mixes I've head on bootleg much better."
Date Submitted: 10-Sep-99
By: Richard Romeo (rmr at apscompany dot com)
"This 4 CD-set is all a fan from the 72-74 KC period could want. I never get tired of the loopy, sinister melancholic mutterings and squonks that the band put forth to all those drug-addled youngsters in the audience. Having been too young for such aural pleasures, I now can re-live those halcyon days of improvisation and dark mastery. It is refreshing to be able to find new things to discover in music from a period that was argauble a low point in relevance. Strangely, I do not think the other variations of KC have been so unique, early KC reminding me of why I can't listen to progressive rock, the 80s version a distant cousin to Talking Heads new wave which never was my thing. However, I, unlike many here, found much to amaze in Thrakattack--not as tight as the 72-74 group, but call it the doddering old man that was the young schizoid in the mid-70s. Both however exhibit brains and heart--sad, dark, but humane ultimately.
"Of course, I look forward to the Asbury Park and Central Park releases, but as with Thrackattack, could we expect a CD of unreleased improvs only from the 72-74 period? That would sure make many here very happy indeed.
"I thank all involved for enhancing this listener's life."
Date Submitted: 13-Dec-99
By: Tom Bergeon (bergeon at shellus dot com)
"Much to my delight I finally found a used copy of the Great Deceiver box set at a local record store. I had great reservations on whether I would really enjoy 4 versions of Easy Money and and at least three of several other songs. However, since the shop has cd players where one can audition discs I quickly started running through disc 4, by the third improv I was already running to the cash register to get the box home for a real listen.
"For those of you hesitant to pick up this box set, and I certainly fit into this category, don't be! The improv's are incredible, and the variation in playing within structured songs is great as well. Hopefully this will be rereleased on DGM in early 2000. As for sonic quality, I have heard others rag these recordings. Granted there is some tape hiss in the very quiet passages and the walk on Pussyfooting excerpts are barely audible, but the music itself is so dynamic and very well recorded. In particular, as dynamic as the bass and drum interplay is, it is not at any point overloaded and distorted on these recordings. The engineer may have cut a few songs short, but he captured the KC glory without clipping and compressing it to death. The dynamics are very much there - enough to rattle the windows one moment and then to the quietest calm the next. And the telepathy and experimentation between the musicians is first rate.
"I guess in comparison the 80's and 90's Crimson has never had as much variability live due to the regimentation in the songs themselves. Songs with interlocking guitar arpeggios are just too tight to allow the more open variations more readily available in Fripp's soaring 73-74 guitar playing.
"From the boxset I've wondered how much improv progression would have evolved had P1 been able to tour for longer than 4 evenings. Bruford and Levin seem to have a similar tight telepathic improv to the BB/Wetton rythym section. How about P5, BB, Levin and Belew for interesting unchartered territory?
"Comments, cliques, commentary, controversy?"
Date Submitted: 21-Feb-01
By: Philip Birtwistle (philipbirtwistle at supanet dot com)
"This Box Set is almost too much of a good thing - over four hours of the finest playing I am likely to obtain outside of the Grateful Dead this year. There should be more and more sets like this, capturing a bands development over a tour, showing the progression from early attempts at tunes, up to the final crowning glories when they really get it right.
"For that crowning glory see my review of CENTRAL PARK, the day after the box, the day of the split, and the day it all came together gloriously well."
Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)
"I enjoy listening to this music (on occasion). It was presented somewhat haphazardly though in my opinion. Between the fact that there is so much song duplication and the fact that it veers so quickly from gig to gig – complete sometimes with walk-ons – I am and was surprised that RF decided to charge his fans top dollar to hear this. If you’re going to charge top dollar per disc, some pruning may have been in order here. Leaving aside the price tag, this is nice material to have and to able to pop into the stereo every once in a while, though I wouldn’t call any of it indispensable."
Date Submitted: 11-Jun-04
By: (swbo101 at optonline dot net)
"I had to find this on EBAY before it got re-leased and all my hard work (lost a few bids before I finally won) was worth it. The packaging, sound quality & performances are excellent. ANYONE who cares ANYTHING about this band MUST get this boxed set. One of the best live recordings & presentations of a band ever. I beleive KC even won an award for the packaging. I could write forever about this but I won't. I can listen to any of the four CDs ANYTIME and NEVER get tired of them & I can't say that about many, if any of my CDs (all bands included) and I own a couple of hundred at least (including bootlegs). Go to DGM and buy it now for the $63 they have it posted for. You'll be greatful you did. Even though I know some people may steer away since there are repeats of songs (i.e. Easy Money - 4X's!) but they do them differently each time. Remember KC was one of the best improv bands of all time, even up there with the Cream (another one for my favorite bands).
Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two
Date Submitted: 16-Jun-98
By: Sid Smith (ASidSmith at aol dot com)
"Always a bit of toe tapping Crimson Classic, LTIA PT 2 never fails to take any prisoners. I've often wondered what kind of physical and mental reserves one must need to have at one's disposal to be able to begin a set in this way and then sustain the expectations that have been set not only for the audience but for the performer as well.
"It's a kind of musical mission statement in which the band set out their aims and objectives for the next hour or so. In this six minutes or so there are all the major elements one could wish for in a crimson tune. Dynamics, complex rhythms and subtleties, tension, fury, calm and resolution - to name but a few. Bruford excels with his stop start punctuation's on the cymbals adding to the bristling drama as the piece spills forth.
"Of course the greatest problem with this rendition is the violin. Perhaps this track more than any from this era, personifies the difficulties facing David Cross as he is audibly squeezed in the bruising crush. On this reading he is more or less absent until his solo breaks out.
"Whilst I understand that this may be due to the vagaries of the mix on that occasion, hindsight allows one the luxury of hearing this as a metaphor for his growing sense of detachment and increasing isolation within the band.
"As in other instances, it is necessarily buoyed up with liberal amounts of echo in order to give the instrument some wings with which to escape from the mayhem and metal.
"Sadly, the lack of any tangible presence from the violin robs the piece of its essential tension between the hard and the soft, leaving Fripp to carry both the sheer pace and edge that one associates with this number as well as the bulk of the actual melody.
"Working at its most basic level, Lark's Tongues In Aspic Part 2 is a piece of music that energises, enervates and grabs the listener by the substantially wide crushed velvet lapels that were all the fashion in 1973. Anyone who was lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time will know what I mean. Anyone who wasn't so lucky has these discs to give them a hint and clue as to what was going on."
Improv - A Voyage To The Centre of the Cosmos
Date Submitted: 23-Mar-97
By: Collette Collins (ncollins at epix dot net)
"Yes, yes, YES, you can definitely tell they had been working on this one for quite some time. I guess that's what makes it the stellar improv that it is. What a beauty. It begins with what sounds like pent up frustration in the form of an overwhelming, halting bassline from Wetton. Sure to get into the schizophrenic headspace, Fripp comes in with a aggressive guitar bit. Cross and Bruford accompany, striking up tamed chaos before the band collectively spirals hard into an explorative realm of smack you up-side-of-the head style spontaneity. Be it only 23 or so years late, I heartily commend the King and his crew on this one."
Improv - Providence
Date Submitted: 16-Jun-98
By: Sid Smith (ASidSmith at aol dot com)
"Sometime in the 70's, Roy Harper and Trigger (featuring Bill Bruford) were playing at Newcastle's City Hall. The concert was promoted by the newly established commercial radio station Metro FM. After the gig, we talked our way backstage and somehow managed to be whisked away along with the band who were being interviewed by a new fresh faced DJ.
"After the interview was over the DJ, (who now has an OBE after his name) came and asked us if we had any requests for his Sunday night rock show. When it came to my turn I replied without a moments hesitation "Providence by King Crimson from their last album Red, bonny lad".
"The following Sunday I tuned in and blow me if the bugger didn't play the whole lot from start to finish. All self respecting Afghan and Duffle coat owners listened to this show and so I felt very proud and somewhat groovier than thou as Providence was sandwiched in between the likes Greenslade, Focus. Next to these fellows and other luminaries such as Floyd and Zep, Providence sounded extreme, dangerous and light years away from the increasingly staid and stodgy output of the then burgeoning rock aristocracy.
"Frenetic and fast are just two words which begin with F that describe the improvisation on this track - of course when it was playing on Metro radio, I probably didn't know it was improvised at the time.
"To my ears (then and now), it was always a carefully orchestrated journey into fear and funk.
"The taut , nervy violin which haunts the opening four minutes sets up a dark and unpredictable mood. I've always been struck at how long they let this edgy mood develop and build.
"The flute and violin exchange the fragments of a skittering theme several times throughout this piece and the sense of foreboding is enhance by the ominous growling undertow of Wetton's bass. As Bruford darts in and out, one gets a sense of how much listening is required to make these kinds of moments work.
"There's no attempt to cut and run to the groove. Instead, they really let space and pace guide them. After four and half minutes or so, the guitar unfurls for the first time in the piece and things seem to reach a critical mass.
"As Cross echoes the insane, disjointed theme which he and Fripp were passing between themselves just a few moments ago, Bruford begins one of those catchy rim shot bass drum countdowns which seem to defy gravity and accepted rhythmic logic.
"The countdown completed, at the five minute mark all hell breaks loses and Fripp lets out a caustic bellow of sustained notes which heralds one of his most awkward and angular solos to date.
"Of course it's fascinating to be able thing about this version as we get a chance to hear what David Cross was up to at that point as well. However, I'm bound to say that the way Fripp, Wetton and Bruford lock horns (around the 6.30 area) leaves Cross sounding exposed and sidelined.
"It's not that what he's playing is in anyway inappropriate but rather the instrument can't compete with the mutant brand of funk, metal, jazz and rock that's being whacked out.
"I suppose this is a long winded way of saying that the decision taken on Red to omit DC's part was probably the right one. For me, there are few improvisations in the Crimson canon finer than this. To hear it in all its gory glory was a one of the reasons that make TGD an essential purchase."
21st Century Schizoid Man
Date Submitted: 6-May-96
By: Thomas Poisson (poisson at speedy dot grolier dot fr)
"Schizoid Man played by KC in '74 is one of the most powerful version the song, and my favourite track on TGD. John Wetton's voice, dismissed by many, fits dangerously well in this number (very schizoid, and without treatments). Overall it is a screaming metal construction with a strange folk rather than jazz feel, the sax being replaced by David Cross's violin. This song is the archetype of Intelligent Heavy Metal, a concept known only to KC. It makes you want to jump on your bed miming guitar riffs, throw things in the air, kick asses and collapse from exhaustion. Superb."
Book of Saturday
Date Submitted: 16-Jun-98
By: Sid Smith (ASidSmith at aol dot com)
"As a mere spelk of a lad, when I first saw King Crimson in December 1972 at Newcastle's Odeon Cinema, I don't think I understood the lyric "We lay cards upon the table, the backs of our hands" but somewhere in my patchouli and brown ale drenched head, it made an ineffable sense to me.
"Perhaps this was why this track and that particular lyric stayed with me more clearly than any other. I shudder to recall the anticipation as I had to wait another four months and the release of Larks Tongue's In Aspic to see if this fragile beauty had been included on the album or not.
"Book Of Saturday in concert was for me always a moment of calm on that otherwise stormy ride of KC in full flight. In this somewhat restrained reading of the song, they opt to keep things very simple, wisely avoiding any temptation to add little in the way of ornamentation to what is without doubt King Crimson's best ballad to date.
"In lesser hands, the yearning melancholia of the piece might be reduced to cloying sentimentality. Simple and yet so evocative, the song effortlessly hangs in that bitter sweet space between love and regret.
"The beautiful moment of spiralling interplay as Fripp's guitar and Wetton's fluid bass meet between the first and second verse, provides a perfectly formed duet in miniature. The care and attention to detail to the song on this night at the Glasgow's Apollo makes for rewarding listening indeed.
"If I had any complaints about this version it would be the Bruford's overly enthusiastic musings on the cymbals which after the initial shimmering become a little intrusive for my ears.
"However, any such reservations are more than compensated by the beautiful embellishments by Cross and the extended ending which leaves the moment suspended in the air. "
Date Submitted: 2-Jun-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)
"'Doctor Diamond' is a great song! WHY WASN'T THIS ON RED?!? I always thought, 'Red' is a great album- but it's missing something- one more track in the style of '... Red Nightmare' or something. Dr. Diamond would have been great on Red! It's such a shame that to get this song you have to shell out $65. Sorry, Fripp, but I'm afraid that here I must betray you and tape it from my friend."
Date Submitted: 18-Sep-96
By: Will Henson (chrissy at compunet dot net)
"This is such a great song, it is lost on me why Fripp and company thought of this as 'weak'. Admittedly the starts and stops with the fast vocals are awkward, but the overall song is a hellacious rollercoaster ride up and down and side to side all the way to the end with Fripp's last guitar squeal. Why they never released this on 'Starless' is beyond me. They could've brushed up on the lyrics and asserted them better and made a good studio version. The vocal style wouldn't be all that different from 'What in the world' (is that the name of the song?) off of Vrooom. The grittiest part is Bruford and Wetton's bass pounding on 1 and 3 and Fripp and the hi-hat on the upbeats while Wetton wails "IM A DRIVER-FOR AN UNDERGROUND TRAIN--CLIMB ABOARD--JUST CLIMB ABOARD"! Great Stuff!"
Improv - Is There Life Out There?
Date Submitted: 15-May-97
By: vdgg2112 at aol dot com
"I personally think that the track "Is There Life Out There?" is the greatest improv I've ever heard King Crimson do. I mean, every time I hear Fripp come in with that solo, it sends shivers up my spine. I think every time, how in the hell can he do it? The opening solo is great, with that heavy bass line Wetton is playing, and David Cross going crazy on the keyboard. A great track. All 11+ minutes of it never get boring."