USA

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Usa.gif

Originally released: 1975

Personnel

  • Robert Fripp (guitars, mellotron)
  • David Cross (violin, keyboards)
  • John Wetton (bass, vocals)
  • William Bruford (percussions)

with:

  • Eddie Jobson (violin on Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part II and 21st Century Schiziod Man, piano on Lament)

Contents

Tracks

All tracks were recorded live at Asbury Park, NJ, June 28th, 1974, except "21st Century Schizoid Man" which was recorded in Providence, RI, June 30th, 1974.

  • 6'45 Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part II
  • 4'05 Lament
  • 7'04 Exiles
  • 6'50 Asbury Park => Reviews
  • 6'32 Easy Money
  • 7'32 21st Century Schizoid Man

Additional tracks on 2002 remaster (Note: the remastered release consists of the original release plus the additional tracks below from the Asbury Park performance.):

  • Walk On - No Pussyfooting
  • Fracture
  • Starless

Reviews

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

Entire Release

Date Submitted: 28-Feb-96
By: Ferenc Riesz (riesz at falcon dot mufi dot hu)

"USA contains live material mainly from the Cross-Wetton-Bruford era. An excellent performance of "Larks Tongues in Aspic II" opens the album creating a powerful, exciting atmosphere right from the start. The songs from the studio album LTiA are performed much better here (see, e.g. "Exiles") ! Two pieces represent the climax of the album. "Asbury Park": an instrumental piece with lots of improvisation. Wetton's bass is extremely crazy, the whole piece is hot but fine. The final chords of the piece lead without break to "Easy Money": again, this version is much-much better than on LTiA. The opening guitar chords are powerful, with a weak melotron line in the background that somehow takes this part up. Wetton's voice is expressive. Then comes the middle instrumental part which is IMHO one of the most concentrated, most beautiful pieces of music that KC ever recorded...! The guitar, drums, bass and melotron are perfectly together yet free. Unfortunately, the music is faded away at the end and the closing return of the first vocal part is missing... Instead, "21st Century Schizoid Man" closes the album. Well...I prefer the Earthbound version. Wetton's voice does not fit this song, not mentioning the replacement of the sax by Eddie Jobson's violin."


Date Submitted: 24-Jun-96
By: Chris Mitchell (squonk at utkux dot utcc dot utk dot edu)

"A small sample of live tracks from 1974. All of this material has been reissued elsewhere, so the notion of U.S.A. being deleted is a fairly moot point.

"'Asbury Park' resurfaced on the live disc in the Frame By Frame box set. Compared to the USA version, the sound quality is much improved.

"The other tracks mostly hail from a show in Providence. This entire show is part of The Great Deceiver box set. Again, the sound quality of this reissued material is excellent."


Date Submitted: 18-Jul-96
By: Hasnain Chiba (hchiba at netvigator dot com)

"Very disappointed in Mr.Fripp for never releasing this album and it's about time. Even though we got "the great deceiver - 4cd box live",I find USA a better live album anyday, even if Mr. Fripp does not think so.

"Instead of coming up with the waste of time "thrakattack" it's about time to have USA released. He owes it to us fans."


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

"As great as most of the studio albums are, Crimso always had a jazz sensibility in that it made music best performed in live situations, where possibilities could be probed and the musicians could truly challenge themselves. USA is some of their best work, especially Absurd Park, when Crimso totally let their hair down and fucked around with absolutely brilliant results. This band had such telepathy by this point that they could start with almost nothing in terms of ideas, and come out with something that was brash and beautifully paced to a exhilarating climax (the lack of this element, by the way, is why THRACKATTACK doesn't work.) SHAME ON THIS BAND FOR BREAKING UP. As you can tell by USA, (and Asbury Park) they had so much more to do. ****"


Date Submitted: 19-Mar-97
By: Clive Appleby (clive at squamish dot com)

"The very first Crimson I heard back in 84 was a tape with USA on one side and Three of a Perfect Pair on the other. I was only 15 and was just learning how to play the drums, you can imagine my reaction to what I still refer to as the most incredible music ever created. EVER! Guitar work so intricately textured with intertwining Bass and Drums with the hint of an orchestra in the midst. They defy categorization and tease our sensibilities of quality even today. Just listen to the VROOOM released on VROOOM VROOOM the "calling card" at 1:00 o'clock on your volume dial NOW put on the headphones (POWER PLUS). Crimson is by far the most submersive music around yesterday today and tomorrow, just listen to nuages that which passes, passes like clouds track from the YELLOW album from 1984(as mentioned above) and the sweetest of all guitar work from the 20th century has to be heard, so check out the closing guitar solo from Exiles on The Great Deceiver Box Set album one the BLUE one, if you listen closely you'll hear an equally impressed crowd in the background. But then there is always Adrian's most delicious sounds from indiscipline or matte Kudasai on DISCIPLINE 1981. Which brings me to the point of this note. King Crimson will continue as they always have to deliver the most abrasive yet silky, expression of controlled chaos. (My VISION) This latest incarnation is obviously a training group for the two newest members who, when reach their respective peaks will certainly go for another all out round of mind numbing concerts followed by the final Album of this Century. Fripp will most likely disband as usual at the height of the Crimson experience thus allowing for the members to satisfy other interests as well as give them all a well deserved break, and thus leaving us with a new basket o goodies to cherish, creating the needed vacuum effect for the next version of Crimson, who will again by way of great influence move forward the very structure and form of music."


Date Submitted: 31-Mar-97
By: (mayne02 at ibm dot net)

"According to a comment made by Fripp and quoted in your Q&A section, ALL tracks from USA have been re-released on remastered original mixes either on disc 4 of the Frame By Frame set(Asbury Park) or on the Great Deceiver set, however, after about four years of careful listening of both USA and Deceiver, I'm yet to find the USA version of Easy Money anywhere in Deceiver. I'd wish Fripp were kind enough to include that live version on the forthcoming USA II. Incidentally, I'd also wish to point out that, if you listen carefully to the Lament version on USA(my Vinyl is an original year release) and compare it to the version on Deceiver(from Disc 1), you'll find the claim that Eddie Jobson plays on that track to be untrue. Both versions are exactly the same and there's no way the version on Deceiver is remixed. The Providence set is featured in its entirety, thus showing Fripp had to return to the original tapes for remastering. Besides, Jobson's style is too noticeable(his violin lines in Larks'... and Schizoid are evident from the point of view of playing AND sound) to pass unheard."


Date Submitted: 25-Mar-98
By: (JWeber3262 at aol dot com)

"Am I the only one who finds the USA version of Asbury Park superior to the remastered Frame By Frame version? Personally, I think R.F. got a little carried away during the remixing of FBF. First, he quite obviously ratchets up his guitar, and ratchets down Wetton's bass. I always thought one of the great things about the USA version of Asbury Park was that Wetton's bass almost took the lead, with Fripp's absolutely searing guitar work tearing up the background. Also (maybe out of of sense of fairness), Cross' rather pointless Mellotron unnecessarily rears its ugly head in FBF -- its completely out of place. It should have been left buried, as it effectively was on USA. "Asbury Park" is one cut where Cross should have settled for an "admirable restraint" credit a la Bruford on Trio. In any event, though I absolutely hated USA when I first heard it as a naive 14 year old, I now cherish it as one of my absolute favorite albums. A gut-wrenching masterwork."


Date Submitted: 27-Apr-99
By: Eric White (ejwst9+ at pitt dot edu)

"A great live album,however short. I especially like the crude comments from the audience like"they suck",and "who made yer violin?". This is a fine example of what fripp describes as beating the audience down for an hour until they were willing to listen. the cover always intrigued mr, especially the back cover with the kurlian photography. In a design sense, you can see how this fits with the simplicity of the previous albums from this incarnation. Even if it never gets released on cd, go out and buy the vinyl and crank it loud!"


Date Submitted: 21-Oct-00
By: Eric (ericodijk at wanadoo dot nl)

"I know that a future release will bring us something like USA, but still it is not available. When it comes it will surely not feature Jobson's overdubs, and I am curious how that sounded, just because I like the gimmick of it. Still, I think I know pretty well how this album will sound: combine stuff from the Night Watch with Starless on Cirkus and Providence on Red."


Date Submitted: 18-Dec-00
By: Eric (adtraffic at consultant dot com)

"USA is my favorite Crimson album, narrowly edging LTiA . I've never been able to understand why it was never released on CD in it's original form. Concentrated brilliance..the essence of what KC is all about. Ferocity defined, ripping the air molecules apart as the barely contained chaos in rhythm and timbre threaten to take you over the edge into sonic anarchy...but then a subdued order (and beauty) keeps everything in place...a masterwork....as fresh today, 20 years after I first stumbled upon it as it was when it first ripped into my nervous system...pure music, gimmick-free."


Date Submitted: 21-Mar-02
By: Kevin Rowley (RKevinrowley at cs dot com)

"I lent my copy to some so-called freind who never returned it in about 1979, Ba----d!!!!!

"From memory I have always considered this to be the cleanest recording, not to mention exciting live album of Fripp and the boys. "Dr Brufords" crisp accurate druming , John Wettons Bass and vocals have stuck with me all these years.( incidently Wetton appears on Steve Hacketts Live in Tokyo 1999 with Ian MacDonold,also great live album)

"Will this ever be re-released? I await etc. etc."


Date Submitted: 24-Aug-02
By: John Martin (spoxnadz at netscape dot net)

"Review of USA re-issue

"Yanks for the memory... USA is available for the first time ever on CD, and for the first time in a long time in any format. Coming as an out of sequence coda to the 30th anniversary remasters, this revamped re-issue seems more motivated by Robert Fripp's ongoing battle with the bootleggers than any affection on his part for the material showcased on it... he it was who lobbied to have this live set deleted for so many years. In it's absence, USA's reputation with admirers of the John Wetton era has been largely eclipsed by such subsequent retrospectives as THE NIGHT WATCH and THE GREAT DECEIVER boxed set, and even in its day USA garnered cool critical response (the negative notices faithfully reproduced here in the accompanying booklet).

"This is difficult to fathom: in 1975 these performances (mostly from June 28th, Asbury Park Casino, NJ) were chosen by Fripp and Wetton, from all the available shows, as the most fitting epitaph for the Red Ruler, circa 72-74. Indeed, I have vivid memories of my first aural encounter with USA as being particularly awe-inspiring. Admittedly I was on acid at the time, but even now, the best part of three (largely sober) decades later, this stuff still cuts the musical mustard for me. Check out the bristling, muscular LARKS II which opens the proceedings... an unexpectedly funked-up EXILES... an incendiary reading of LAMENT ... and the blistering improv ASBURY PARK, which remains the best recorded example of these guys making up magic on the fly. TCSM has been imported from the June 30th gig at Providence, to replace an Asbury Casino take that is revealed on the rare SCHIZOID MAN ep as containing too many fluffed cues. EASY MONEY still fades out in the middle of an atypical (for this number) reflective Fripp solo. I've always wanted to hear how it built back up again towards the piece's climax. In the absence of that, we are treated to a brace of new tracks (both allegedly from the Casino gig): FRACTURE (always intriguing to hear another take on this most demanding of compositions) and the obligatory, stately STARLESS.

"The long-awaited reissue of USA serves to further clarify the legacy of this most magickal of bands, though some old mysteries remain unresolved and new ones have been generated. Are all the tracks bar SCHIZOID MAN really from a gig at Asbury Park Casino (some of them are allegedly duplicated on THE GREAT DECEIVER, a collection culled from American gigs in Providence, Penn State and Pittsburgh)? Whatever happened to the USA II album, trailered on the SCHIZOID MAN ep? What is the true extent of over-dubbing by Eddie Jobson, and was this really motivated by sub-standard playing on the part of David Cross, or the political manoeuvring that ultimately saw him edged out of the band? Finally, why was it felt necessary to blatantly extend the closing bout of audience applause well beyond its actual duration by conspicuous looping?!?"


Date Submitted: 11-Sep-02
By: (indyrod at yahoo dot com)

"USA (remastered) is kind of a KC Rare, a delight of epic proportions that never disappoints, but new arrangements on almost everything included. Being the Starless fanatic I am, this performance is totally different and hard to judge along classic performances like Mainz, and the original "Red". It just doesn't have quite the frantic middle section as the other versions, and Fripp seems very toned down, volume wise, which is surprising. Fracture, on the other hard, seems very subdued to me, almost a Funky Fracture and just simply an outstanding performance, probably one of my favorites. A definite highlight for me is Asbury Park. I've never heard this piece before, and it just blows the roof off the sucker. An outstanding heavy metal improv that begs for repeated listenings. Is that Crimson doing that? Damn right, move over headbangers, this one will grab you by the balls (sorry ladies), and remind you a little of a Hendrix jam, at least it did me. LTIA-2 is very good, but again, a little different than usual but sounds incredibly smooth, even with the overdubs and such. Exiles is as beautiful as ever, and continues to be one of Crims most soothing compositions. Lament, well, is Lament, nothing special, just an excellent performance again, with Wetton in good voice as usual. And yes, Easy Money is a very very interesting track. One of Fripp's most unusual excursions from the norm, with a kick-ass solo out of the blue, that fades into the sunset for no particular reason. I understand all the fuss now about this, and it would be nice to hear the definitive answer from Fripp himself, why, oh why, he fades that solo out like he did. Schizoid Man is wild and wooly and stands up to any previous live version, except the one and only "Earthbound". Altogether USA is a phenom amongst many phenoms in the KC arsenal. The audio is just superb, in fact as close to studio quality as any live KC I have heard yet. My personal favorite tracks, are definitely Asbury Park and Fractured, no doubt about it. However long it has been, since Crims have been waiting for this CD, the wait is over, and the wait was worth it. It's just flat out one of the best Live KC releases ever, and will spend a long time in my players, intoxicating my brain with these incredible sounds."


Date Submitted: 11-Oct-02
By: Chris Jones (chris.jones.05 at bbc dot co dot uk)

"By the time USA was released, Fripp had eschewed the rock star lifestyle for spiritual retreat, leaving behind a two year legacy of a version of Crimson in many ways at their peak. This album documented their final stateside tour. Bill Bruford's masterful drums, John Wetton's skull-crushing bass and David Cross's conservatory violin (inexplicably replaced by Eddie Jobson on "Larks Tongues In Aspic Part II") could, on any given night if the stars were favourable, gel in fearsome displays of dexterity ("21st Century Schizoid Man"), or simply produce the most awe-inspiring noise based only on (seemingly) telepathic interplay ("Asbury Park"). This reissue comes with two extra tracks including a version of the worryingly complex fretwork of "Fracture" - a piece Fripp wrote to be so difficult that he had to keep practising it constantly while on tour! For many fans this remains their greatest incarnation."


Date Submitted: 6-Nov-02
By: Philip Birtwistle (philipbirtwistle at supanet dot com)

"Whilst a great sounding CD, there is a degree of disappoinment that the original edits from the LP have been left in place, and the fact that the bonus tracks weren't fitted into their rightul slots also tempers my enthusiasm for this disc.

"Having said that, what is there is predictably stunning, catching this line-up at its best, ploughing some fantastic material at full tilt, alternately leaving me breathless at their beauty, and simply terrified at their power. The STARLESS may be one of thebest I've heard."


Date Submitted: 17-Dec-02
By: Eric (ericodijk at zeelandnet dot nl)

"Oh, my God! They finally re-released it! And my all-time favourite Starless is on it, right at the very end! And what a brilliant version it is, now I finally have a live version that is more intense than the perfect studio version. Just one small comment: the violin jazz solo, later replaced by sax on Red, is mixed too low. But I loooooooooooove it........

"Thank you, mister Fripp."


Date Submitted: 17-Jan-03
By: Mike Ratsch (mike.ratsch at realtime-factory dot com)

"This music meant a special world of it its own to me. It is about its abstract beauty, an academic approach to popular music and the approach to live performance at that time what makes this live recording special. With a kind of organized chaos waiting behind every line of musical harmonies, it is the eye of the hurricane which attracts you as a listener."


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

"Just knowing that this is full of overdubs throws me off. Now that this band's live performances are better-documented elsewhere, there is no reason to seek or to want this."


Asbury Park

Date Submitted: 2-Sep-96
By: (Entropyfoe at aol dot com)

"The pinnacle of Crimson [the early years]. Fripp sears [Jedi sword guitar], Wetton jams ultra heavy, the interlock with Bruford is magical, as they each solo, in improvised intertwine. On the USA version, the ironic "play some Eno is heard", is heard before the song begins, to bad they cut it from the Vol 4 of the Box set. The intensity got close to the contemporary acid Jazz pinnacle of Miles Davis' Agharta from 1974"
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