Thursday, October 1, 2009

Observations on a band that has undergone many permutations, including my disbelief at a statement by a former college roommate

I still remember when my college roommate Eric played me a song called "In the Court of the Crimson King," and I asked him who recorded that song.

"King Crimson," he replied.

I figured that Eric was pulling my leg, since I was sure that some guy named Robert Fripp had recorded the song.

Well, I subsequently learned that we both were right, and I spend part of my college days listening to that album (which I eventually purchased on cassette) and a much-different sounding later album by a band that was also called King Crimson. In fact, I guess I should check to see if Fripp has formed the 17th version of King Crimson yet. But according to Wikipedia, there have only been seven lineups of King Crimson to date. While I have a passing familiarity with lineup 4, the most popular lineup was lineup 1.

The Guardian looked at the band recently, 40 years after "In the Court of the Crimson King" was released:

In the Court of the Crimson King was the masterpiece that essentially launched progressive rock, which was the dominant genre in high-end British pop for the next seven years. Until The Dark Side of the Moon, it was the definitive prog-rock album. And yet, singled out as it was by punk rock as an emblem of all that was bloated and overblown with modern rock, it never quite received its due.

And if Robert Fripp et al are card-carrying members of the RIAA, they may want to reconsider their membership:

The revival of interest in an album that has been scarcely fashionable from the late 70s through to the 90s is partly due to online filesharing.

And, by the way, those are some very big files. Remember that the original album only had five songs; none of this 2 minute 30 second stuff. Even the titles of the songs ran on for miles; it wasn't until later that they'd learn to write short titles like "Elephant Talk."

I haven't heard any of the songs from the album in years, but my favorite part of the album was a small snippet in the title track, right after they changed key from D to E with a massive sonic blast...followed by some very quiet noodling...followed by - another sonic blast. Classic.

Also check out this live YouTube performance. (Unfortunately, this performance doesn't include the coda.) If YouTube hadn't presented me with an your account has been permanently disabled message, perhaps I might have favorited it.

(Picture source, license)
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