The Night Watch

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Originally released: 1997
Live recording from the November 23rd 1973 concert at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Personnel

  • David Cross (violin, viola, keyboards)
  • Robert Fripp (guitar, mellotron, devices)
  • John Wetton (bass, voice)
  • William Bruford (percussives)

Contents

Tracks

Disc One:

  • Easy Money (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
  • Lament (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
  • Book Of Saturday (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
  • Fracture (Fripp)
  • The Night Watch (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
  • Improv: Starless And Bible Black (Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Cross)

Disc Two:

  • Improv: Trio (Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Cross)
  • Exiles (Fripp, Wetton, Palmer-James)
  • Improv: The Fright Watch (Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Cross)
  • The Talking Drum (Fripp, Wetton, Bruford, Cross, Muir)
  • Larks' Tongues In Aspic (Part II) (Fripp)
  • 21st. Century Schizoid Man (Fripp, McDonald, Lake, Giles, Sinfield)

Reviews

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

Entire Release

Date Submitted: 13-Oct-97
By: James Beard (jwb2 at ukc dot ac dot uk)

"This is only my second King Crimson album from the 70s vintage, and an interesting one it is too! Particularly noticeable is the excellent sound quality - due to the remastering and technical re-doings that Robert Fripp and David Singleton carried out on the recording in July this year. After a brief listen, I would say that this live record captures four of the distinct recurring faces of the creature that is King Crimson.

"There is the 'scary' side - evident in tracks such as 'Starless and Bible Black'. Then there is the funky side in tracks such as 'Easy Money' or 'Fracture'. Also we see the gentle side (they do have one!) in tracks like 'The Nightwatch' or 'Book of Saturday'. Finally there is the improvisational side - 'Trio' (and others I already mentioned).

"As I don't have much knowledge of the original album releases of these songs (other than those on LTiA), I have nothing to compare them with, but there are a couple of tracks that I really liked - 'The Night Watch' and 'Fracture'. Admittedly, John Wetton's singing in places is a little off-key, but it doesn't really matter compared to the spirit of the songs.

"Definitely glad to have bought it, and the CD liner notes are a nice insight into the background of the '73 vintage live Crimson.

"A must for any Crimson fan, especially those with SaBB who want to hear the songs in a much improved recording."


Date Submitted: 13-Oct-97
By: Sid Smith (ASidSmith at aol dot com)

"Much has been written about this legendary concert at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on the 23rd November, 1973 and references about the magical qualities of this line up are also legion. If any proof of that special Crimson magic were required by any sceptical listener, one need look no further than this welcome release by DGM.

"Whilst none of the material on offer is particularly new, having been either officially issued or heavily bootlegged, it nevertheless offers a remarkable glimpse into the workings of a band who were never content to rest on their musical laurels and play it safe by promoting their greatest hits.

"It should be remembered that of 12 pieces that span these two discs, at least six of them would not have been known to the audience in the hall on that memorable evening.

"I count myself as being lucky to have seen this particular line up of King Crimson play live twice (in Newcastle and Birmingham, UK) and to have been part of an audience that willed them on into the unknown. Playing live for Crimson was never just an exercise in the treadmill of product promotion.

"The concert stage was a place of aspiration and experimentation, where familiar tunes were strategically placed to offer the listener of point of respite or reference, in between the often turbulent journeys of discovery.

"Perhaps the best example of this process can be heard on the stunning collective improvisations that are "Trio" and "Starless And Bible Black." For a long time, such is the cohesion and confidence of these four musicians, I had believed these two pieces to be actual compositions rather than having been crafted seemingly out of thin air.

"It was sometimes easy to overlook the fact that there were four musicians at work in this group, such was the storm and thunder whipped up by Fripp, Wetton and Bruford. Until relatively recent innovations in pick up technology, violinists have always struggled to compete with the leviathan dynamics that are created by rock bands. This is particularly the case if your name is David Cross and the name of the band you're in happens to be King Crimson.

"Yet Cross emerges here with contributions that are every bit as a thoughtful and vital to the success of the performance as that of his colleagues.

"And it's not just in the above mentioned improvs where this is the case. The fragile beauty of Book Of Saturday would be sadly diminished were it not for Cross' playing which moves gracefully around a yearning Wetton vocal and some beautifully understated picking by Fripp.

"Once again the stoic dignity of Exiles is greatly enhanced by his evocative, agile playing. If Cross has been overlooked in some quarters, then this release will hopefully rehabilitate his position.

"It is to Fripp's credit that he is willing to present the band "warts and all" and between them, they all deserve a medal for coping in the face of extreme adversity whilst performing the title track. It seems that anything that could go wrong does go wrong during this piece.

"Not only does the song seem played at a pace at which Wetton's phrasing sounds uncomfortable and strained (to my ears at least) but Cross' Mellotron dies spectacularly, leaving a vacant yawning gap where those poignant sampled strings should be.

"At this moment we hear Crimson on problem solving mode. Here the band forsake the quest for musical enlightenment and instead as seasoned pro's opt for musical survival as the song precariously totters, toward it's understandably rushed ending.

"Despite the years since The Night Watch's' recording and the inevitable familiarity of the music overall, King Crimson at this point in their life can still render one speechless with their poise, energy, skill and the almost psychic interplay that was a benchmark to other bands of the day and which was to become their overwhelming legacy."


Date Submitted: 1-Nov-97
By: Paul Walstra (drwalst at knoware dot nl)

"What a fabulous release! I particularly like having this recording as I attended the concert. I hadn't heard a lot of King Crimson music before going to this gig (only 2 tracks of In the wake of Poseidon) so I wasn't prepared at all for what was coming. The concert started at midnight which was very unusual. The Concert Gebouw was a beautiful setting for it. I remember a friend of mine and myself had seats on the side balcony looking down on David Cross. It is a pity that it's not the entire set as I remember that the concert started with 'pussy footing' being played very quietly so at first you didn't even notice it. You know, before the show everyone is still talking and then you think 'did I hear something? No don't thinks so' and you talk some more until you're aware that indeed you hear music being played very quietly. The highlight for me during the concert was the encore which really blew me away. At about 2 A.M. we were out on the streets of Amsterdam again with no public transport available to take us to Haarlem where we lived. We walked all the way from Amsterdam to Halfweg where we arrived at about 6 A.M. just in time to catch the first bus. This also helped to make it a night to remember."


Date Submitted: 13-Dec-97
By: John Huisman (John.Huisman at wanadoo dot fr)

"Great, to be remembered at this concert. I remeber going ther, with some friends; Harmen drove the car, which belonged to the father of Ge. Harmen had his drivers licence just for one week or so. It all went ok, but ..... .. So there was Harmen, Ge, Ernst (brother of Ge), Gerard, Onno. And of course, Rob

"The concert: I will never forget. At some moments I thought that the roof of the Concertgebouw would explode.

"I taped the concert. The tape doesn't exist anymore. The remeberence will exist forever."


Date Submitted: 17-Jan-98
By: Bill Nicholas (thekid at cybernex dot net)

"Well, here I am in the USA and IT'S ABOUT TIME. The Night Watch is not a new release--Hanson albums are new releases. The Night Watch, like the issue of any KC material, is an EVENT.

"And the thrill with this latest offering is that the Crimso canvas gets even larger than before. If the Great Deceiver gives us the Big Picture, The Night Watch is one hell of an intense, and yes, PERFECT snapshot. Listen to the wrath-of-god thump of Easy Money, the foucused dark shadows of the Fright Watch, the Beefheart-meets-James Browm slither of Lement. Each track brings Crismo's mamoth ambition off perfectly. We Crimheads have always known we were hearing the best band in the world. Now we get to hear them on a hot night.

"No, Fripp is not streaching the point, searching for new ways to get the converted to spend more money. Just like Epitaph lets listeners see the '69 monster in a whole new context, Night Watch also adds new shine to perfectly polished gems.

"Bring it on, Bobby, Bring it on!"


Date Submitted: 23-Jan-98
By: Dan Standley (standley at internetcds dot com)

"As soon as I saw this album, I had to buy it. And I am so glad that I did. The sound quality is exelent, the songs themselves are wonderfull and the musicanship is extrodinary. Next to "Epitaph" this is my favorite KC album."


Date Submitted: 31-Jan-98
By: Eric Kearns (ekearns at connect dot net)

"Probably the most interesting thing about this disc is hearing the songs Fracture and Starless and Bible Black before they had been tampered with... meaning they were changed sonicly or overdubbed for the original release of "Starless and Bible Black." Hearing the live versions warts and all with various noises from apms and so forth always gives me a rush of excitment, the very sound that was made at that exact moment, that exact breathe. What a bone crunching sound! I couldn't possibly imagine a show in front of me like that. Nothing I've heard in a concert today is even close to that monster. Well, maybe the sound of King Crimson back in '93, but that was it."


Date Submitted: 6-Feb-98
By: (bullet at acadiacom dot net)

""Starless and Bible Black" and "Red" were the first Crimson albums I ever bought back in 1976 at age 16. My only previous exposure was my cousin's 8-track tape of "In the Court..." which we played in the car. But SaBB and Red were a different animal. I was completely confused by the albums, to say the least, but there was something there that kept me from giving them away. I would pull them out and listen to them about every other week, still totally confused but intrigued. Then one day, I don't remember exactly when, I was listening to "Starless..." and in the middle of "Great Deceiver," it all fell into place, and the whole damn album made sense at last, and I sat there on the bed in front of my cheap stereo totally dazzled, feeling almost like I was hearing music for the first time. It changed me for good, because after that whenever I listened to music, I listened for that mysterious whatever-it-was that I had heard on "SaBB." If I didn't hear it, I wasn't satisfied, but if I did hear that mysterious something...well, it was worth the search.

"Hearing "The Night Watch" put me in that zone again. I found myself some 22 years later, totally dazzled, hearing that same mystery re-invoked through those four musicians. This is music of power, subtlety, terror, and grace, and it has lost nothing over the years. It has rather gained strength over time and transcended its context and surroundings, and become a thing unto itself.

"I appreciate the fact that the people involved with this were able to open themselves enough to let this music play through them, in spite of dying mellotrons, missing tom-tom mikes, and other random chaos. It's my opinion that anyone who wants to hear the mystery of music at work in the world should hear this CD. It's only an opinion, I could be full of it and probably am, but there you go."


Date Submitted: 27-Feb-98
By: Steve Voss (voss1 at fas dot harvard dot edu)

"Some feedback on "The Night Watch" for readers (like me) who are less informed about King Crimson but want some info before investing in the CD:

"Although the packaging gives no warning at all, anyone who owns the album "Starless and Bible Black" already possesses 26 minutes of these performances. The album versions of "Fracture", "Starless and Bible Black", and "Trio" are all overdubbed versions of *these exact performances.* So don't get your hopes up, as I did, when you see the word "IMPROV". The versions on this new CD are rougher, of course, but hardly offer the sort of variation in timing and emphasis one gets when even a tight band performs the same song twice (let alone when a band improvises on their previously released material)."


Date Submitted: 28-Feb-98
By: (thraked at aol dot com)

"I have tuned my mind to the artistry of Robert Fripp ever since I heard Indoor Games on a College frequency one great day. I`ve been searching for King Crimson ever since. When I found remastered cd`s available, oh my! listening to SaBB that bizarre song called Fracture, nothing else compares to pure emotion and energy when it asks for what is music? when I first heard about a new release in`98, where I live finding KC is hard enough, when I finally found The Night Watch, "A great song by the way". I was overwhelmed that all this time listening to Fracture on SaBB, I had no clue that this could be live from just a year previous and yet I can`t just listen to Fracture and think these guys went into studio and manufactured this song. I new there was something spectacular about this tune. I now only of one person that has seen the great KC live and the way he described the experience told me that Fracture and Improv:SaBB could only be some sort of bootleg or backdropped live recording. Low and behold! The Night Watch...To my beloved Crimsom fans, this is epic sound! many years ago I was told about King Crimson by an elder musician,"You either love it or you hate it". I don`t anything much better! From 1969 through today."Hell, todays KC isn`t like the 70`s but it sure blows away whatever`s out there in that hit parade. I think the release of The Night Watch is a great move for King Crimson and a smart move for Virgin and D.G.M. Incredible music, legendary band, keep it up Fripp and the boys."


Date Submitted: 22-Mar-98
By: Michael Bohn (michael at bohn dot dk)

"This wonderfull release made my famous, almost legendary, cult boootleg: "Une réve sans consequenses" completely redundant. :-) Good !

"I was a bit disappointed that theese recordings did not show up on "The Great Deceiver" albums, especially because this "Easy money" version is SO good and different from other versions! But the release of "The Nightwatch" is an even better solution.

"I am still hoping, that one sunny day, "Asbury park" and "Larks tongues part 1" from the USA-live LP-album, will turn up on CD, because my copy is getting rather worn out, and in my humble opinion this are far the best live versions of theese two tunes. Regretably better than The Great Deceiver versions....SO heavy, SO energetic, So well played ! (The Asbury Park tune, is a "jam-like" thing, appearing twice with different titles on "the great deceiver" albums). I am aware that R.F. has a (reasonable) spiritual allergy to the way the USA-live album was produced, but the music and the sound is so good....."


Date Submitted: 28-Mar-98
By: Bill Knispel (moonglum at eclipse dot net)

"One of the biggest arguements about Robert Fripp's handling of the KC catalogue of music has been his 'tampering' with the existing forms. Editing tracks for boxed sets, adding new instrumental and vocal parts, etc. have been the cause of more ire and consternation amongst the KC faithful as has been the lack of a new studio album singe 1995's THRAK.

"The issuing of KC official bootlegs helps to fill this void. They are boots, no editing or tampering can occur. They are true to the experience of being in the presence of the entity known as KC on a particular hot date.

"And no hotter date could be had than the infamous and legendary Amsterdam Concertgebouw show immortalized upon the double disc set The Night Watch. Here we hear the quartet version of KC on a very hot date in November of 1973, steaming away on music no one was familiar with (the material eventually released on SaBB). As I listen to these recordings for the thirtieth or fourtieth time, I am amazed by the breadth and scope of the material KC threatened to tackle...and often did.

"From the gentleness of 'Trio,' the stately elegance of 'Exiles' (one of the most underrated KC tracks ever), to the over the edge squalls of 'Starless And Bible Black,' this band had range, all right.

"As a younger listener, I hope Fripp releases still more archive material. They present further angles, further approaches and points of vision upon the entity known as King Crimson. As a latter-day Crim singer put it...

"'The more I look at it/The more I like it.'

"I like The Night Watch. I hope for more material. I await its release with anticipation."


Date Submitted: 17-Apr-98
By: Michael Irish (eirish at oeonline dot com)

"This release is an amazing journey back to music which had, and still has, a great affect in my hearing of music (I was in highschool when "Starless and Bible Black" was released). I saw this era Crimso at Ford Auditorium, Detroit, which at this time was used by the Detroit Symphony, Antal Dorati, Music Director.

"With John Wetton and Bill Bruford providing a continous, verstatile, and solid backbone for Robert to layer his guitar on, it remains one of the finest concerts I've attended. I remember during Larks Tongues, with these great Stravinsky rhythms (Le Sacre du Printemps), a great wave of feedback flowing from Robert's amp out to the audience (the guy next to me put his fingers in his ears); a tangible, physical musical presence.

"What a magnificent band this was! (though I feel the same about the McDonald, Giles, Lake and the Belew, Levin King Crimson). John Wetton's bass playing was as "heavy" as such great bassists as John Entwistle and Bill Wyman, upon which Robert played magnificent, involved guitar jams, as in Easy Money, both Larks Tounges, Great Deceiver, Fracture, Red, and One More Red Nightmare.

""Nightwatch" is yet another Crimson album to which I'll be listening and still listening in all the years to come. I'm happy that Robert released this recording."


Date Submitted: 6-May-98
By: Christophe Gauthier (chgauthier at yahoo dot com)

"I'm too young to have seen this concert, but I already knew part of it. Simply because I 've bought a bootleg called "Un reve sans consequence speciale" (en francais dans le texte), which compilated a part of the performances of that night at the Concertgebouw. Quite a good bootleg : TAKRL trademark, almost real stereo sound, probably recorded on a FM radio. Good price also : 100 french Francs, the equivalent of 10 english pounds or 15 US dollars. Funny detail : the record label was a photo of the head of a naked woman, with a little text : "Monique d'Ozo, je t'aime". God almighty, this is not a KC boot !, I was thinking the first time I saw the label. And then I put the vynil on my turntable. KC wuz here. Majestic. Amps in the red. Soaring bass, screaming mellotron and heavy guitar. Rough. Proeminent. Not kings, just... gods. About one year later "The nightwatch" is released. For the first weeks, in France, it was only available in a japanese edition, with a second booklet made of strange signs. But the music is here. The same. Some extra trax that complete my bootleg. Incredible sound quality... You just can't imagine the jumps I made the first time I listened to it. The moments that I loved were all there. Easy Money. Exiles. Talking Drum. Lark's part II. Schizoid Man. Plus a great part of the "Starless and Bible Black" LP. Just amazing. I don't know all KC works (I don't own Islands, Beat, 3 of a perfect pair and USA), but I think the '73-'74 rendition of Crimson is one of the 10 best groups that have existed on earth."


Date Submitted: 7-May-98
By: Gary Gomes (crystalx at ici dot net)

"On Thursday on a whim, I picked up "Nightwatch". This was my first new CD in YEARS (which is curious since I'm a music nut, but what can I tell you?) and I LOVE it!. I was a huge Crimson fan, (from their debut album onwards). But I have a soft spot for the 73 to 74 incarnation having seen them twice, and having debuted Starless and Bible Black on my college radio station. What a thrill to have this material again. especially "Fracture" (my favourite piece) in all its glory! Cheers to Mr. Fripp! I've always been interested in whatever he pursues but this has me hooked again after a long hiatus! Wonderful!"


Date Submitted: 11-Jun-98
By: Edward Batt (edbatt at 1stnetusa dot com)

"The Nightwatch is the long awaited companion double CD set to the excellent The Great Deceiver 1973-74 box set of live King Crimson. This particular concert has been available in an incomplete form on the bootleg circuit, and has been a prized possession among the Crimheads and progressive rock fans. Now comes the complete concert, and the superb sound quality alone of The Nightwatch, is "worth the price of the admission," as the saying goes. One of the reasons this particular concert has been so valued over the years, is that about 26 minutes of it, with minor studio overdubs, wound up as the core of King Crimson's brilliant Starless and Bible Black LP way back in 1974. But the main reason why this concert has been so precious as a bootleg is simply due to the explosive performance on that particular night of arguably the best ever line up of King Crimson, featuring Robert Fripp on guitar and mellotron, David Cross on violin, viola and mellotron, John Wetton on bass and vocals, and Bill Bruford on drums. The only track that has not been available in the previous bootleg versions is the title song, "The Nightwatch," about the famous Rembrandt painting. There is a good reason for this: In the second verse of the song, David Cross' mellotron breaks down, catching the lads off guard. Yet being supreme improvisers, the musicians deftly work around the problem, saving this superb song in the process. As expected, the booklet of this CD set contains more rare color and black and white photos of the live KC, along with disproportionate amount of the boring Fripp rambling about the frustrating business side of keeping the group alive. However, when Fripp does manage to focus on KC as a rock music ensemble, his insight is illuminating, as in this excerpt: "In concert, it stepped sideways and jumped. It went places where other musicians of that rock generation mainly avoided. The team looked into the darker spaces of the psyche and reported back on what it found. The 1969 Crimscapes were bleak and written; the 1973-74 Crimscapes were darker, and mainly improvised." That just about sums up the essence of The Nightwatch. Lucky were the people who experienced the awesome power of improvised numbers like "Fracture" and "The Fright Watch," or the sublime beauty of songs like "Book of Saturday" or "Exiles" that November night in 1973 at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Thanks to the miracle of modern digital technology, the rest of us can experience the next best thing to having been there."


Date Submitted: 17-Jan-99
By: (drob at oricom dot ca)

"No overdubs . No gimmicks . This is a LIVE album and the TRUTH about live concerts is revealed . "Oups! Wrong note..."."Oups!The keyboard just failed...". Nothing but the truth . Robert Fripp , wherever you are ,thank you for the truth."


Date Submitted: 1-Feb-99
By: Peter Mack (meadviewinc at earthlink dot net)

"I don't own any other KC albums than 'live at the amsterdam concertgebouw.' I am only slightly familiar with 'lark's tongue.' I think it is a spectacular double live cd and is well worth the price. 'Fracture,' is something else."


Date Submitted: 22-Mar-99
By: (BigSulX1 at aol dot com)

"This is the album that turned me onto Crimson. I remember driving around listening to "Exiles" and asking my friend if we had a flat tire. He assured me it was the music. About two years and a dozen albums later, I'm as captivated as the first time I heard it all."


Date Submitted: 10-Apr-00
By: Kari Elkela (Kari.Elkela at Posti dot fi)

"Tämä on yksinkertaisesti Crimson paras live-albumi bändin parhaalta kaudelta. Tällä saa itsensä aamulla vireeseen tai stressin pois raskaan työpäivän jälkeen. Tätä kelpaa kuunnella muidenkin kuin suomalaisten, jos ymmärrätte, mitä tarkoitan. Katso myös http://www.sci.fi/~karielk/crimso.htm"


Date Submitted: 30-Aug-00
By: Eric Odijk (eric.odijk at grontmij dot nl)

"Being dutch, I was especially curious of how this could sound. I was absolutely stunned, what a great quality. Both playing and recording were good, it sounds nothing like any other live album I have from the mid-seventies. I can see that there's been a lot of love and hard work in getting this album to sound like this. I read through the booklet and discovered how Fripp and Singleton managed to do this. I think, after everything they had to go through, a lot of other dedicated producers of live albums would have given up the idea of releasing the whole show, but they went on. It was pure luck that recordings were made for the Starless And Bible Black album. And if you read Singletons notes on the last page you listen to this album in quite a different way.

"First, the opening track is totally gone, but starting off with the sudden bang of Easy Money isn't that bad. Then a couple of tunes from Larks' Tongue that sound a lot better than their studio versions, just as the Lark tracks the play later on. Then the SaBB bunch. It says that those tracks were partly recovered from the overdubbed tracks they used for the making of SaBB, and I can hear why. Combine Singletons story with the text on the facing page about how live recordings can fail (mikes from the drumkit that record all sounds), and you'll want to find hidden treasures. And I believe I found something: in Fracture, about two third into the song, you can hear the original live bass guitar through the drum mikes, playing very aggressive, while the overdubbed bass line plays a lot more gentle, so there you have two bass players! There are a few other occasions where I get the feeling (only on my good headphones) that there are extra musicians playing. Like on the point in The Night Watch where Davids mellotron dies, but that just adds to the story that this cd is telling.

"Cross is telling us in his notes that the band really started playing after Trio, and he's right. Exiles and the show from that point on is just frightening. What a great dark and haunting feel they produce! Fright Watch/Talking Drum/Lark II is a true gem! This alone is enough to justify the purchase. This atmosphere was just right for the Starless song on Red. What a pity they did not have this song ready at this concert, because everything was there: atmosphere, sound, band quality.

"This cd made me realize that this Cross/Wetton/Bruford/Fripp is my favourite live KC!

"Now if only I could get my hands on The Great Deceiver, but that box costs a fortune. I'm thinking of buying it anyway. I need more of this."


Date Submitted: 25-Oct-03
By: David Adair (mouthface at hotmail dot com)

"This is right now the best live album I own, from any musical entity. The sound quality is outstanding, the musicianship is beautiful, the improvisations are good (Trio is wonderful), the vocals, I must say, are excellent. I really enjoy John Wetton's voice. His voice is more listenable than Boz's, and his bass much more impressive and grooving. The guitar is spectacular, much better than Crimson '69, (and probably a little better than '71-'72, although he did some awesome stuff then), and the mellotron-playing seems to fit in better with the overall sound than it ever did in the previous line-ups. Wonderful live document!"
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