|1. Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part One|
|2. Book of Saturday|
|4. Easy Money|
|5. The Talking Drum|
|6. Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two|
After years of struggling with line-up changes, Robert Fripp in 1972 completely redefined King Crimson with new personnel and a new sound. In came the crunching bass and voice of John Wetton, David Cross on violin and mellotron and Bill Bruford on drums, having just given up the lucrative Yes drum seat to play in something relatively more challenging. But most inspired was the inclusion in the line-up of Jamie Muir who played percussion and allsorts. He was a maverick influence on the band, both musically and visually. On this album his ability to use found objects and sounds added another dimension to the sonic palette on offer.
The album sleeve gives nothing away. On the front there is no album or band title. Just a mysterious, exotic symbol. The music was also mysterious and exotic. The opening "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 1" quietly builds around Cross's eastern tinged violin until the band kicks in without notice, sending shockwaves to the listener. The music is complex, intricate and powerful. A band composition, built out of improvisation which this line-up would excel at live. The following "Book of Saturday" is a beautiful ballad, a needed breather after what had gone before. Words on this album are by Richard Palmer-James and are more worldly than the flights of fancy of yore as produced by Peter Sinfield. Another highlight is "Easy Money", again wonderfully embellished by Jamie Muir and with a classic solo by Fripp. This leads to "The Talking Drum", quietly built around Wetton's bass with Cross and Fripp soloing over the top. The whole thing moves slowly and inexorably towards a crashing crescendo of squeeling (Larks?) straight into "Lark's Tongues in Aspic Part 2". This is one of Fripp's greatest compositions, a brilliant tour de force in rock dynamics. With brilliant percussion from Bruford and Muir, this piece has been a live favourite for years and deservedly so. It is without doubt one the most distinctive rock instrumentals ever written.
Muir left soon after this album was completed, which is a shame as he really made this band such a special proposition, though they would continue without him and produce great work both in the studio and in a live setting. But this album for me is the epitome of what King Crimson are about, making powerful, complex and mysterious rock music. This album is a classic.
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