Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

King Crimson - Red (1974)

At a modest forty minutes, the five songs that make up Red seem more or less like a pluterperfect distillation of what these fellows were probably feeling leading up to their break-up. Color psychology aside, you certainly don't need to see anything to hear the aggression. A touch of violin here, a bit of brass there, but otherwise this album is a proverbial "heavy" -- which is nice that they didn't end their 70s heyday with a whimper. This stuff is prime beef, for sure, and my second favorite King Crimson album.

Let's begin with the only problem: "Providence." Unfortunately, it's a mindless bit of noodling for my taste. Understandably, it's easy for an unaccomplished musician such as yours truly to be awash in the vile taint of abject criticism; but I plead ignorance on eight minutes of random violin streaks and what appears to be an afternoon jam session after a plate of crumpets. I'd tell Robert Fripp personally. "Red," is a visceral instrumental that evokes quite the opposite of tenderness and gives ample reason why; "Fallen Angel" alternates between acoustic and electric guitar and so switches from particularly heavy bombastic flourishes with accompanied brass to slow and melodic passages with vocals; "One More Red Nightmare" is absolutely brilliant stuff, man -- my favorite track, perhaps. I dig the sludgy arpeggiated funk, if that's an acceptable description. "Starless" is a great closer, not only to the album, but to an era -- an era wholly designed, constructed, inhabited and set unduly afire by King Crimson -- a song featuring all the elements of what made them so interesting: loose, explosive drumming, my favorite-instrument-which-is-not-the-guitar, the Mellotron, some sax, a touch of violin and vintage Frippian electric nastiness. A solid B+


Perplexio said...

Red is a great album. I really think King Crimson were at the best with their first 2 and 5th-7th albums. John Wetton and Greg Lake both did an exceptional job providing vocals for KC. Starless remains my favorite KC song to this day.

The Mad Hatter said...

I almost completely agree with you. In the Court of the Crimson King is top-notch in my book, but I thought In the Wake of Poseidon was somewhat weak (those peace themes!) I enjoy Lizard, but then Islands was a bit disappointing. Larks' Tongue wasn't as strong as I preferred, either. Red, obviously, is great, and I would like to add that, while sonically different, Discipline is an excellent album. After that and it gets fairly sketchy for me. Three of a Perfect Pair is one of the worst albums I've ever heard in my life!

Jeff said...

This album is phenomenal, this definitely ranks as one of my favorite KC albums. While "In the Court of the Crimson King" stands as my favorite album "Red" would fit somewhere between "Larks' Tongue in Aspic" and "In the Wake of Poseidon". From start to finish this album is incredible. I like "Providence" in the context of the album as a whole but it's not a song I would pick out to listen to randomly. "Fallen Angel" and "Starless" are probably my two favorite songs on the album