Three of a Perfect Pair - Reviews

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Entire Release

Date Submitted: 27-Apr-96
By: Tim Foster (FosDesign at aol dot com)

"When Belew sings "one, one too many schizophrenic tendencies" in the title track, he describes this album perfectly. The two sides of King Crimson (the song-oriented side and the improvisational side) split this album right down the middle. The first four songs are the most commercial and fun songs the band has produced, while the rest of the album is dense, dark and wildly frantic. Track by track: "Three of a Perfect Pair" is a continuation of the Discipline style of writing the band has pursued on their first two records. "Model Man" is a curiously overlooked song that boasts a playful Fripp smashing away on rhythm guitar while Belew provides soaring fretless guitar phrases in the chorus. Levin and Bruford provide an angular cut to the song that drives it forward. My favorite song on the album. "Sleepless" is an obviously commercial track driven by Levin's pulsating slap-bass work. "Man With an Open Heart" is Belew at his best, a wonderful, twisting & bending guitar phrase underlies the verses while the chorus instantly reminds you of the Talking Heads. The rest of the album is made up of instrumentals, from the lightness of "Nuages" to the appropriately named "Industry", the instrumentals explore the improvisational side of the band to great effect. "Dig Me" probably exemplifies what this album should have been, chaos and order come together magnificently in Belew's ode to an abandoned car. The best surprise is at the end, though, as the band resurrects "Larks Tongues in Aspic" and gives it an 80's twist. The album overall is a slight disappointment, in that one can see the 80s incarnation of the band running its course. Fripp is strangely subdued, his one shining moment is at the beginning of "Larks Tongues", but otherwise he has reduced himself to occasional guitar-synth phrasing and rhythm work. Fripp's dissatisfaction with his role in the band was becoming clear (he said as much in interviews at the time) and the band dissolved shortly thereafter. (****)"

Date Submitted: 27-May-96
By: George Korein (Mopobeans at aol dot com)

"I have a problem with this album. 80's KC was great on Discipline, ok on Beat but here they lose it. I like the title track, and Model Man and Man with an Open Heart are ok, but Sleepless is techno-drenched, Nuages and No Warning are boring, and the rest are jerky, unfocused improvisations that I can't take."

Date Submitted: 8-Aug-96
By: Bill Nicholas (newguy at buttercup dot cybernex dot net)

"To accuse Crismo of some kind of commercial sellout here is absurd. Crimson have always had some relationship to pop forms--I talk to the wind, Fallen Angel, Book of Saturday, Frame by Frame. It is the context they put these forms in that make them so good. Three of A perfect Pair is no different. Here, they were simply expanding their range, with polished, spectacular results. One has to remember that 1984 was the year of garbage like the Thomson Twins and Culture Club. Viewed in the context of the sickly, limp mid-80s music scene, Three Of a Perfect Pair is no more a pop album then Book of Saturday was an AM ballad.

"Don't be fooled by the song-structures of side one: these are still full of knotty, hairpin rhythm shifts. As for side two, all it really does is take the work Fripp had done with the 73/74 band and with Eno, and put it into a more modern, more polished context. Listen to the sounds on "Industry." This is like modern classical music concrete. Not to fear: Perfect Pair is the same KC we all know: expansive, loopy, and miles, miles, miles away from being a pop group. How can any fan not like this? The only thing the group did wrong was to break up after they made it. *****"

Date Submitted: 31-Mar-98
By: A. De Wailly (ad051 at students dot stir dot ac dot uk)

"I think that this KC album, more than any other, is very much influenced by the musical trends of the time of release. It is less brilliant than 'Discipline' (of course) but slightly better than "Beat".

"Everyone knows about the Talking Heads influence, but to me "Sleepless" sounds a bit like Ultravox's 'We Stand Alone', which is good, and 'Industry' like 'Architecture and Morality' in the album of the same name by OMD, which is bad (this is the album on which OMD started becoming rubbish, even though half of the songs are still great).

"'Man with an Open Heart' is the perfect pop song and 'Nuages' prefigures some passages of 'THRaKaTTaK'. The end of 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic part III' features these typical Fripp chords which I hardly heard anywhere else as in Nirvana's uncredited songs at the end of their albums."

Date Submitted: 10-Nov-98
By: Jason Farrell (farreljs at northnet dot net)

"I originally picked up Three of a Perfect Pair in a grocery store, in a bargain bin that was selling it for $2.98 since the jewel box had been damaged. At that point, I'd heard of King Crimson but I hadn't heard them. So I gave it a chance.

"A year and a half later, I'd sold it to a used CD store. The album had been an albatross around my neck for the whole span of that time; it was frustrating, inaccessible, pointless...and yet I couldn't help feeling that I ought to love it. I'd be lying if I tried to suggest that I didn't like the album at all, but it was no easy task. And, when I dumped it in the lap of the pawn shop owner, I thought I'd be able to forget and move on. Easy enough, right?

"Well, not so easy, not so enough, and not so right. If someone had suggested that the songs from 3PP would linger with me for years afterward, I'd have chuckled mirthlessly and punched them in the face. But that's just what happened. I'd catch myself humming the title track or that part from "Man With an Open Heart" about how she "could be irregular, or singing in her underwear" on the bus, in the library... and in the grocery store, aptly enough. The album had resonated with me and germinated within me, and now I felt chained. And it would have been okay if it had just been the four vocal numbers at the very beginning of the album, but I was also recalling fondly the manic-depressive tranquility of "Nuages" and "Industry"--which proves that industrial music isn't as young as it thinks it is, and it owes more to these fusty, prog-rock forbears than it will ever admit. I thought of "Sleepless" and the "submarines lurking in my foggy ceiling" every time I had insomnia. "Dig Me" had always been sort of irritatingly cool, anyway.

"Alright, I broke down, okay? My new copy of 3PP arrived in the mail about two weeks or so ago, and I've played little else since. My wife hates it. My cats hate it. But, hell, I don't think it sounds very much like Talking Heads at all (Belew might phrase like David Byrne, but he's preferrable to DB in every other way, including lyrics and general songsmanship) and I can't understand why this thing got so far under my skin."

Date Submitted: 27-Nov-98
By: Roberto Manríquez (rmanriquez at ipade dot mx)

"Three of a perfect pair, like the other albums of King Crimson, is a masterpiece."

Date Submitted: 13-Mar-01
By: Warren Butson (Warren.Butson at getty-images dot com)

"The final part of the trilogy and as someone mentioned before a song side and an impro side, which was quite a good idea for those that prefer one or the other. For me above all else it's the songs that really get me. people spend many sentences explaining how great the musicianship is but miss the point that KC write great tunes. model man gives me shivers with the sad and powerful chorus combined with melancholic lyrics, sleepless is just a great pop song and T of a PP has great rhythm to the melody. side two leaves me cold although i love the dig me bit reminds me of early xtc. to my mind if you gather the songs from all three albums (am I the only one who loves "two hands"?) you have probably the greatest rock/pop album ever made. Can't wait for the remasters, will we get any bonus outtakes surely there must be some??!!!!"

Date Submitted: 24-Apr-01
By: (earthworksman at yahoo dot com)

"Still stuck in "Red mode" (and not having heard Discipline or Beat), a friend tells me he has KC's new tape, Three of a Perfect Pair, and wants to know if I want to listen to it. "Of course!" The first song was okay but less than two minutes into Sleepless I hit the stop button. After One More Red Nightmare, I thought I was listening to a drum machine; an abomination to my ears! Consequently, not only do I pass on buying Discipline and Beat, but pass on seeing KC in Seattle that year (very regrettable, I admit).

"Fast forward a few months, and I'm driving alone very late at night in the rain when I hear the most incredible song on the local college radio station in my hometown. The DJ announces that it's Industry from Three of a Perfect Pair. I purchase the tape the next day and listen to it with mind completely open.

"Seventeen years later, I still think this is an excellent album (though I still can't stand Sleepless). And while TOAPP (or Beat) is not the masterpiece Discipline is, it is still a great recording.

"I am convinced it was kismet that I heard Industry that rainy night."

Date Submitted: 7-Jan-03
By: (stgor at apricorn dot com)

"I just recently purchased this album. I have only listened through it twice. In my opinion, the improv side of this album is much better than the song side. Larks' Tongues Part III immediately struck me as the best track. I was very excited about it after hearing it after seeing the live in japan video. Though I believe the version on the video includes more fiery guitar, the album version is still very good.

"Overall this is a great album."

Date Submitted: 1-Jun-03
By: (slb23 at shaw dot ca)

"Just got it yesterday for $3.00 on vinyl. the first side was quite disappointing. "Three of a Perfect Pair", "Sleepless" and "Man with an Open Heart" were 10 times better on Absent Lovers: Live In Montreal. The studio version of the title track is just boring. the live version has a lot more energy to it. And "Sleepless" is overlong. "Nuages" was interesting but seemed to last about twice as long as it actually was. I actually like the studio version of "Industry" better than the live version. But i'm afraid the same can't be said for "Dig Me". The live version is soooo much better. "No Warning" is neat, and it segues into the third installment of "Larks' Tongues In Aspic". This is the highlight of the album. Although, yet again, it was better on Absent Lovers.

"Overall the album IMHO isn't that good at all, and is the last one to get from the 80's lineup of the Crimso."

Date Submitted: 14-Jan-04
By: Scott McFarland (mcfarland at ac-tech dot com)

"An ambitious attempt that doesn’t work throughout, but always deserves points for trying. Adrian’s songs on here are undervalued gems. “Industry” represents improvised music strongly. “Sleepless” doesn’t quite come together as a commercial property, in any of its mixes, but its level of ambition is notable and it remains somewhat beautiful."


Date Submitted: 30-Dec-97
By: Frank Palumbo (Frank_Palumbo at tvratings dot com)

"I had the pleasure of seeing Crimso' perform Industry LIVE in New York on the Perfect Pair Tour back in the Big '80's. Industry performed live was the highlight of the evening and displayed the true, deep talent of bassist Tony Levin. As Fripp performed, he seemed to be studying and evaluating Levin's performance (like a teacher to a student). Levin successfully played a bass, stick bass and bass pedals (3 instruments) at various times during this selection, nailing every lick with studio-type precision. Fripp was pleased and so was the crowd. Tony Levin may not be the most talented bass player on the planet, but that night on the Pier he was the hardest working performer."

Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III

Date Submitted: 9-Jul-96
By: Chris Mitchell (squonk at utkux dot utcc dot utk dot edu)

"This third installment of Larks' Tongues makes references to parts 1 and 2 in the guitar lines, and in its introduction features one of the most impressive Fripp moments ever. It's been noted, though, that the ending of Larks' Tongues 3 is not as earth-shattering as it could be, especially compared to parts 1 and 2 of ten years earlier. But a close listen to this version reveals its own strengths.

"After a dual-guitar break, the final section starts in on a four-count. The chord progression is very interesting. Starting on the tonic of A, things shift up to C for a few bars, then down to B for a few more, then back to A. The next change goes from A to C#, then down to C, back to A again. A pattern is established:

"That is, the changes keep ascending a half-step, always returning to the homebase of A. This makes for some dramatic changes in tone. For example, when the band reaches the D#-D-A section, there is a sense of release in the music. The next chord in the pattern is E, which furthers the familiar harmony: D to A to E. Then comes the half-step drop to E-flat, and the tone changes again. Listen and you can hear what I mean.

"Also of note in this section are the dynamic changes, i.e., Bruford going from a simple count on the kick drum to sudden cymbal punctuations to a joyous ride cymbal on that aforementioned chord change. No, he's not riffing at top speed, but he's in tune with the musical development of this section.

"All of the above might answer why this track fades out instead of coming to a definite close like Larks' Tongues pt.2. The chord progressions imply a continually changing state that could go on forever, a pattern that eventually folds back on itself and starts over. My own feeling on hearing this piece is that the final section just keeps playing after the CD stops spinning."

Date Submitted: 18-Sep-96
By: Will Henson (chrissy at compunet dot net)

"The best part of the album for me is the last 30 seconds of Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part III. That is when Bill Bruford finally is allowed (or was he?) to "lean" on the cymbals. Something that Robert Fripp never allowed him to do in previous recordings. How ironic that the moment that Bruford really cuts loose the music fades out like the band did for the next 10 years. I wish that there could be a new version of that recording that was extended at the end so we could hear the complete jam at the end of the song. That song sounded like it was really building up and it was just a shame to hear it fade out when it was really getting hot!"

Date Submitted: 25-May-99
By: Stephen De Prospero (StephenfromNY at webtv dot net)

"Lark's Tongues in Aspic 3 is much different in format than the first two versions. The style of Levin and Belew vs Wetton and Cross's influence is rather interesting and does stand up well given a few listenings. Not to mention truly exceptional guitar work."