KING CRIMSON
In The Court Of The Crimson King
(DGM / Inner Knot)

 

“King Crimson is proof of reincarnation” so says famed prog-rock mastermind Dr. Winston O’Boogie. Well, no matter what god you pray to, at least now you can shelve all your earlier CD reissues of In The Court Of The Crimson King - An Observation By King Crimson because this is the one to get. Sometime around 2004, the actual multitrack tapes of Court were found and now this 2009, 40th anniversary remix / upgrade of Court by Robert Fripp and Porcupine Tree founder Steven Wilson is really something! Rock history 101 will tell you, of course Fripp went on to lead numerous King Crimson franchises if you like (no pun intended) but let’s face it kids, the greatest thing old Bob did when he formed the original King Crimson was put together of band of musicians who, each great in their own right, went on to become pioneering prog-rock musicians after recording this album. I mean how serendipitous was it having Greg Lake as the group’s leading singer and mellotron / flute icon Ian McDonald writing and singing too? To say nothing of the brilliant drumming of Michael Giles. Yes, it’s just too historic and will no doubt be canonized, eulogized and glorified by generations of music students and fans in years to come as being one of the most important rock albums ever made. It certainly was in my top 10 of 1969! Funny how Chris Squire and Jon Anderson’s YES also made their debut album also in 1969 yet it was Fripp, Lake, McDonald & Giles who made the biggest waves with the first King Crimson album. Following the meteoric rise of King Crimson, Lake exited quickly, following McDonald’s departure and thus was born the short lived McDonald & Giles and of course rock legend ELP with Lake rocking on in style with Keith Emerson just after King Crimson I. We were somber reptiles at the time, though now with 2020 (or maybe...2010?) hindsight it’s a real hoot to review the 2009, 40th anniversary edition double CD/DVD set of Court featuring an amazing multitrack remix of the original album that clearly sounds head and shoulders above earlier CD reissues of The Court, of which there are many. Hogwash you say? Well, if my memory serves me well, the first CD reissue of In The Court Of The Crimson King, released on EG by good old Marty Scott of JEM Records (where are you now?) back around 1987, delineated the album as one of the most densely recorded and mixed prog-rock albums ever made. Yet with this 2009 remix, Fripp and Wilson kind of opens up the album mix and my God, it nearly breathes! Commenting in the illuminating and most excellent detailed booklet, with 2009 liner notes from Fripp and July 2009 liner notes by Sid Smith, Fripp’s remix cohort Steve Wilson adds, ‘We were able to go into the music in a way that no-one’s been into it before.’ Just amazing, that’s all I can say. I swear I hear the King himself stirring within his jewel box, which is lavishly done up here in a fine looking 40th pack—a CD and DVD situated facing each other in plastic jewel sides housed within an attractive slip-on case, three times displaying that great Barry Godber painting that will live forever. Not intended I’m sure, but that front cover painting is really what King Crimson is all about—the heightened suspense filled chords, shapes of things that took you to musical destinations that were only dreamed about when the Shadows hit number one with “Apache” in 1960! With the first half of the package featuring the complete album remixed from the original multitrack master tapes and bonus tracks consisting of full versions, instrumentals, alternate mixes and even a weird CD closing experimental track that borders on future Frippertronica called “Wind Sessions”, the DVD half of this package features a 5.1 mix and the two different (2004 and 2009) album mixes including the bonus cuts. There's also a brief B&W video clip of the first Crimson lineup performing at the Brian Jones memorial concert in Hyde Park in July 1969. With mellotrons ruling the day, I'm sure Brian, the Stones' ousted mellotron guru, was beaming down from heaven. King Crimson fans can also pick up on similar double CD/DVD remix / remaster reissue sets on DGM / Inner Knot of the trendsetting 1971 King Crimson album Lizard as well as the equally classic 1974 Crimson Red redux. It would be easy to go into depth and detail on the significance of both Lizard and Red, except long story short—both are essential classics and have long been considered definitive progressive rock classics in the spirit of the ‘69 debut. Long live King Crimson. www.King-Crimson.com / www.dgmlive.com


Epitaph: It’s a shame that our dear, first King Crimson died just after his first incredible birth on earth, just as the chilly autumn winds were beginning to usher out 1969. Our dear King Crimson’s legacy continues moving rapidly, deep into the 21st century as was intended with the lead off track’s homage to the 21st century, schizoid men and all, then bearing witness and calling out to music lovers, even while still 30 years away from 1999! Even though our first dear King Crimson died after the band’s genesis in ‘69—not really unlike how Buddy Holly returned as The Beatles?—King Crimson Mark 2 was actually reborn In The Wake Of Poseiden - in 1970 just slightly odder yet still in the same Hi-Q Crimso way. Thus began the beguine of a series of KC lineups that kept one thing as a constant: genius guitarist Bob Fripp. Regardless of whatever deterred him, and say what they may, old Bob has quite adroitly kept the King Crimson legacy alive for 40 years. If anything, it all proves reincarnation exists! All of the above bears witness to the 2009 remaster of 1969’s In The Court Of The Crimson King. Never equaled by anyone, musically or graphically, the first King Crimson album set in motion a second coming of the post-Beatles progressive rock era and before you knew it, Yes, Genesis, The Strawbs and more became household names and the whole thing will always be remembered as magically turning into the best musical experience a kid could have. And it was soon school’s out forever, or at least for a few years. Recalling the chilly, grey days of autumn '69, my mom, God bless her, used to take me to my seemingly endless orthodontist appointments in Great Neck and I remember driving north with her down Middle Neck Road simply glowing as famed WNEW D.J. Scott Muni turned NYC and Long Island on to King Crimson for the first time. Marveling at the incredible voice of Greg Lake, even at 15, in mom's car no less, I knew musical history was happening right before my eyes and ears. Mark my words Bob, we’ll be back, same time same place in ten years (perhaps for a new cranial implant edition?) when our King turns 50. Will they reform again? Stay tuned. See you then. {Attention: all young people under 40! Pick up this artifact of musical splendor and listen, look and learn from this 40th anniversary edition of the 1969 King Crimson album. In a hundred years, this will music will be filed under essential listening rock 101 - ed.}

 

 
   
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