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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light in the Black - this review is for the cd only
This is an absolute gem of an album. The four members of Krim really shine throughout the album. The improvisation had taken on almost telepathic qualities, so much so that Bruford gets a song writing credit for knowing that his absence from the live improv Trio would make it a better piece of music.

If you are reading this you are probably not new to King...
Published on 8 Oct 2011 by Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen (...

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars freedom fighters
This album, along with Lark tongues in aspic, is the prologue to Red, which is the only truly great album of King Crimson before their masterpieces of the '80s. They have no desire to be aesthetically beautiful, but their research is, first of all sound and language in second place. With Bill Bruford added to the line-up as a drummer, Lark tongues in aspic sets the stage...
Published 11 months ago by Lino Terlati


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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New light in the Black - this review is for the cd only, 8 Oct 2011
By 
Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen (real name) (Thread rehab facility 37) - See all my reviews
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This is an absolute gem of an album. The four members of Krim really shine throughout the album. The improvisation had taken on almost telepathic qualities, so much so that Bruford gets a song writing credit for knowing that his absence from the live improv Trio would make it a better piece of music.

If you are reading this you are probably not new to King Crimson and are wondering if it is worth the punt to upgrade the last version of the cd. Well I had my doubts....until I heard it. This is a masterpiece of remixing and remastering. Going back to the multi track recordings and cleaning them up individually has allowed the album to be cleaned up without resorting to a quick dose of eq and compression. The details in the percussion are a relevation. Bill Bruford has never sounded so good. His contributions to Lament and We'll Let You Know are served well here. Everything sounds so fresh and uncluttered despite being frenetically busy.

Trio and The Mincer are the same as the 30th Anniv cd issue, so no change there. The bonus tracks are robust and inventive live tracks captured on different recording setups, three being audience recordings, used here as they are insights into the live beast that was Krim.

Overall a first class reissue. Kudos to Robert Fripp, Steven Wilson, the DGM Audio Team and, of course, the band for making the music in the first place.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This night wounds time, 12 April 2011
By 
Octafish (Flow Country of Sutherland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
I know every note of this record. I almost don't need to listen to it. Listening to the CD, memory still supplies some of the scratches. Nonetheless I'm baffled by much of what's in the other reviews so here's my take.

As an LP there was an obvious division between side 1 (songs and short improvisations) and side 2 (two, longer instrumental pieces). It wasn't a problem because turning the LP over served as an intermission between these two, distinct sides of King Crimson. You can't separate the recorded music experience from the physical nature of the medium so maybe it does become a little bit more disjointed as a CD, certainly compared to Red or Power to Believe.

I think I bought this LP because Alan Freeman used bits of The Great Deceiver as a sort of jingle on the radio. I always loved this opening track, with its jazzy riff, tricksy rhythmic changes, the mocking lead guitar behind the verses (what other rock guitarist can do 'mocking'?), the rather childishly nihilistic lyrics. I was a teenager. At its greatest, Crimson's music goes to places words can't follow.

Lament is a tiny little rock opera, the progression of the story and the changing mood echoed in the changes of tone, pace, rhythm. Great. Funky, tricksy playing.

A lot of people like the gentle, contemplative tone of Trio but I always preferred the energetic We'll Let You Know (disposable title, like you find in a lot of jazz). Together with The Mincer, this was one of the places where I listened to the lead lines, learning my own major and minor scales, and thought, "where the f*** do those notes come from?" Masterful playing, boisterous and with what I can only describe as a sort of sarcastic humour in We'll Let You Know; in a dark, edgy place in The Mincer. Listen to Bruford's forceful punctuation on The Mincer. This was one of the great rhythm sections, technical like jazz players, muscular like rock.

Lots has been written about the Night Watch. It's sort of beautiful, has one of the finest Fripp set piece solos. The lyrics are clunky. Lyrics have always been a Crimson weak point. Imagine "King Crimson with P J Harvey"?

Side 2 is in different territory, however, and it's for side 2 that I can't give this less than five stars. The title track I find completely remarkable. Three men thinking and acting as one (and let's face it, poor old David Cross, an excellent musician, reduced much of the time to adding colour and underlining mood). The music builds tension and mood gradually, ebbs and flows, gains dark, burning intensity in such a sustained, deliberate way you could think it was written. There are no false steps, nobody ever pulls in the wrong direction. It's like three people walking a tightrope together. There is not technically spectacular lead, just the right notes, often sustained while the rhythm section builds and pushes underneath, the chromatic intervals, the sevenths, the flattened fifths - the forked tongue of the Crimson King. This goes far beyond "jamming", it's really "improvised music". Jamie Muir had left by this time but this collective music making maybe owes something to his influence. The moment at the end, when they've been marking time, then suddenly explode together into a slowing, decaying release - how did they all know to act at once? Was there some nodding of heads, looking at each other around the stage? Or had they attained by this point a sort of telepathy? Anyway it's just remarkable.

Fracture is a totally different sort of masterpiece, tightly written (I believe), a set of variations on a simple, if rather chromatic theme, technically demanding, repeatedly dropping then building intensity, the endless variations in the rhythm section ratcheting up the tension to a pretty Wagnerian climax. Wetton and Bruford are particularly great here. It's spectacular, pretty overwhelming on the record; it must have been close to brain-melting to have been there.

I never read other peoples' long reviews on Amazon so I'll be surprised if you're still reading. I've listened so closely, so often to this record over the years that I may by now have poured all my own musical fantasies into it. Anyway what I've written is different from the other reviews so maybe somebody will find it interesting.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine album...., 25 Nov 2005
This review is from: Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
A fine album, one that falls between Larks Tongues in Aspic and Red in Crimsons history, and is perhaps a little over-shadowed by them both. It's the only studio album to feature the foursome of Fripp, David Cross (violin), Bill Bruford (drums) and John Wetton (bass, vocals); Jamie Muir had left, and Cross would depart before Red was recorded, although he did appear on one track.
My fellow reviewer (below) has given a fair summary of the music, which I won't repeat. For me, the album doesn't gel quite as well either "Larks Tongues" or "Red", and I think the reason for this is the use of live material plus overdubs. One tip - if you buy the double live CD "The Night Watch" you will discover much of the concert in Amsterdam from which several tracks on this album, including "Fracture" and the excellent improvisation "Trio" were performed. I think they work much better on the real "live" album , plus the Night Watch CD is a lot easier to track down - and cheaper! than The Great Deceiver...though if you are a Crimson fan you will want them all!!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of their best albums---Well worth buying!!!, 30 Dec 2001
By A Customer
No hesitation to give this five stars...this is a fine album. "S&BB" opens with "The Great Deciever", a no holds barred RAMPAGE that seems to be completely oblivious to its own power. When John Wetton shouts "Heath Food Faggot" at you, you know its the good old KC back to demolish your town. With its demented chorus ("cigarettes, ice cream!" etc.) frantic (yet immaculate) riffing and unsettling gentle bit, not to mention Bob Fripp's on-another-plane-of-thought solo, to say it demands your attention is the understatement of the century. The rest of the album is slightly calmer, but by no means disappointing in comparisaon. Jagged, yet beautiful improvisations are just as moving as anything they have ever done, and Cross's violins sound great. (I hate violins usually). "The Nightwatch" is one of KC's (comparitavly) conventional songs, but it is supurbly executed. What impresses most is the juxtaposition of incredible musicianship with compositional wizardry...the band is so tight at times. About a month after I first heard it, I found out it was a live album! The band is so good you would't know!
You really must buy this.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, 16 Oct 2011
This has never been my favourite King Crimson album, in fact prior to this release it was one of only a few that didn't appear on my Ipod. It is now. I have collected all of the 40th Anniversary releases so far and this one in particular has brought the original album to life for me. Highlights on the CD include the violin/bass interplay on Trio, a track that could bring a grown man to tears!, the thumping bass on Fracture, the amazing guitar on The Great Deceiver and the vocals of John Wetton on Lament. There are plenty of extras on the DVD as well including a great Video from June 1973. I still find the title track hard going but otherwise it's all good.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not their best, 5 Feb 2008
By 
This review is from: Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
In the 70's I loved this album. Super ballads, heavy & very complex elsewhere. ALWAYS played brilliantly. However I wont give it 5 stars because you should get the double CD The Nightwatch instead.

As other reviewers have said, most of Starless... was live & included within The Nightwatch & the latter has additional, exhilarating stuff. Cant recommend the Nightwatch highly enough, its the best Crim album of that era, unless you are a saddo like me & care to get The Great Deceiver 4 cd boxset of staggering live performances.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best King Crimson album - cleaned and more shiny, 3 Feb 2012
By 
P. A. Lambert - See all my reviews
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I purchased Starless and Bible Black on a whim in 1974/5. My friends, who largely shared the same Jimi Hendrix/Groundhogs/Animals obsession expressed sympathy for my having bought something so "duff". But there was something in it that hooked me - even though I owned the world's worst record player, and heard only a fraction of what was there...

Today, I have never tired of all three recordings from this King Crimson line up. Red is wonderful, Lark's Tongues in Aspic has the best song (Easy Money) but Starless and Bible Black is the best album because it combines harsh agression (The Great Deceiver) with beautiful images (The Night Watch) and hypnotic circular intensity (Fracture) that leaves me breathless. King Crimson isn't elevator music, nor schlock, and shouldn't be judged against the same. If you want 2 minutes of pop, no problem, but to appreciate Starless and Bible Black you must let it be heard, all the way through. Like all the best music, it requires an investment from the listener to reap its rewards.

This re-master is a wonder. I cannot describe how music "sounds", words are so inadequate; but this edition has had the limitations of the recording, mastering and release chain lifted - leaving a work of art that reveals the actual performances of the artists and is therefore more glorious than I ever knew from LP, or CD.

There are many 1960s and 70s bands that have been more successful than King Crimson frequently attempting the same sort of sound/concept/thing, but I have never connected with them with any of the intensity and beauty I hear here. Robert Fripp seems to bring out their best, but not supplied them with mega star status, so they have split up. Even he has had the occasion to hide behind a curtain on stage so as not to steal the limelight from another pop star, yet rolling their offering in his glitter.

I hope this review prompts you to buy, not steal, their time and talent.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Several Sources of Genius, 20 Nov 2011
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco, CA. (Hercules)) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Sandwiched in-between, "Lark's Tongue In Aspic" (LTIA) and "Red", "Starless and Bible Black" (SABB) is a composite of live, studio and concert performances; something I never knew in 1974. Following on the heels of the successful LTIA, King Crimson was in full drive concert mode all over the world. With little time to sit and write or record, the band took advantage of what they had and pieced together parts of concert performances, edited out the audience, added studio vocals and instrumental overdubs and created near perfect sounding songs.

All of the songs were recorded in multi-tracks, enabling the amazing Steven Wilson under the guidance of Robert Fripp to produce this edition. However, "Trio" and "The Mincer" were only available in stereo form, giving Wilson the opportunity to `Upmix' or sensibly create a surround effect with no gimmicks. The first few minutes of "The Night Watch" are from a live performance (Amsterdam) and the rest of the track was completed in the studio. Something you would never know. Even "Fracture" was taken from that show and Fripp double-tracked the lead line; something amazingly difficult to do.

Wilson's 5.1 surround mixing makes the album sound like brand new, eliminating any harshness and deepening and enriching every instrument and vocal. Much of this was necessary, given the inclusion of so much live material. The result is fantastic without being gimmicky (wait for LTIA to see what Wilson does with the sound effects). You get the full surround effect with minimal separation of instruments, but the clarity and immersion into the album is as good as anything King Crimson has released yet in this 40th anniversary collection.

Again the CD becomes the companion piece here, something for the stereo aficionado, but the DVD gives an enormous amount of music and extras. The main eight songs of the original album are worth the price of this set. But not all is perfect. The historic Zurich Volkshaus concert from 1973 (six songs) showcases the band's talent, but the sound is flat and sketchy. The 1973 Central Park video concert is included here with two offerings; "Easy Money" and "Fragged Dusty Wall Carpet". For the period, the sound is very good and the video is not high definition, but the editing is pleasing, showing each performer up close. Watching Fripp play guitar is magical and Bruford is like a wild man surrounded by his immense percussion collection. Watching the band in action is a real treat and it's a shame only two songs are included.

The extra tracks are hit and miss, but are worth the listen. "Easy Money" in its original format is exciting and raw, completely unlike the polished LTIA version. "We'll Let You Know","Dr. Diamond" and "Guts On My Side" are unedited live versions which in stereo, are valuable historically. "The Night Watch" 7" single edit is excellent in stereo and the US single edit mono version is taken directly from the vinyl, including tiny pops and clicks. The 30 second and 60 second radio adverts are fun to hear and provide more historical input. One advert is a straight forward DJ vocal and the second has an intellectually sounding woman promoting the album. Both include segment highlights of the better songs.

This is a unique album for King Crimson with the original mix already being taken from several sources. The eight songs are simply perfectly treated in this edition, but I was particularly amazed by the impact of "The Great Deceiver" in this format. "Starless and Bible Black" and "Fracture" are some of King Crimson's best instrumentals with a quickly progressive mix of styles, rhythm changes and surprising mood twists.

Sid Smith explains it all perfectly from his notes: "Utilising impressionistic moods, atonal elements, out-of-the-box rhythms, high-degree risk taking and a monstrous rock sound, there was always a magical mercurial dimension present in a King Crimson concert. One never quite knew what was going to happen next, and it's this aspect of the band which is brilliantly captured on Starless and Bible Black".
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TURN YOUR MUSICAL IDEAS UPSIDE DOWN, 11 Sep 2002
By 
J. C. Bailey (East Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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The astonishing thing about "Starless and Bible Black" (in common with much of Crimso's early output), is that it still sounds fresh and challenging over a quarter-century on. Most of all, however, "Starless" is impressive. The one constant factor in this band's long life (over 30 years and still counting) has been the obsessive perfectionism of virtuoso guitarist Robert Fripp. Other band members have come and gone, sometimes after a ludicrously brief tenure, but Fripp has rarely had any trouble surrounding himself with other musicians of appropriate calibre.
Crimso's early days were marked by a relentless urge to experiment: instrument textures, playing techniques, chord progressions, loud/soft contrasts, majestic tunes duelling with ragged dissonance... these were all subjected to rigorous interrogation and sometimes torture. Not all the experiments were a success, but that's the price of progress.
That's not to say that Fripp invented his music out of whole cloth - that would be an insult to his breadth of reference. It may seem that way, but that's only because his roots extend so far beyond rock, blues or even fusion that most listeners never recognise them. The usual avant/prog-rock influences are certainly in there, but Fripp reached higher and further back: Initially to the chamber-music of the likes of Telemann (listen to 'Cadence and Cascade' or 'Song of the Gulls' from earlier KC albums), but latterly to the angular diatonics of Stravinsky (the 'Rites of Spring' man), and above all the lush but disturbing neo-classicism of Bartok (listen to Bartok's late string quartets to get the clearest comparison).
Track-by-track descriptions are invariably subjective and boring, but listen to Fripp's fluid, serpentine guitar solo on "The Night Watch", an astonishingly beautiful ballad, inspired by an old Dutch painting. Listen with bated breath as Trio (one of the most Stravinsky-esque tracks ever attempted outside a full orchestra) builds to its shattering climax. Marvel at Fripp's restraint as he uses the guitar to provide a simple rhythmic accompaniment for Wetton's melodic but violent bass outbursts (incredibly, he used to break bass-strings on stage). Nod with appreciation at Bruford's subtle and sympathetic support as he investigates the barriers of popular percussion in his understated and uniquely British way. And gasp at their collective vision as they lay the sonic foundations of industrial rock right there before your eyes in 1974.
"Starless" is not even Crimso's greatest album, yet it convincingly blitzes everything else thrown up by the prog-rock wave of the early seventies and is still an invigorating listen today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost brilliant., 16 Nov 2007
By 
Gentlegiantprog "Kingcrimsonprog" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
King Crimson's Bruford/Wetton period was amazing, releasing weirder and more wonderful music than many people could understand and fewer could rival. The other two albums by this fantastic line up 'Red,' and 'larks Tongues in Aspic,' are five star efforts, some of the best prog ever written.
Logically, the album in between, 'Starless and Bible Black,' should be amazing... well, it almost is.
As you may know, some of the album is studio material, and some was recorded live in concert and just overdubbed. Some feel this leaves the album uneven, but others feel this was one of the bands best ever decisions.
The album contains two fantastic songs, in the form of 'Lament,' and 'The Night Watch,' which are as good as anything crimson have ever done, perhaps better! Also worth mentioning is the sprawling, loose but incredibly good 'Fracture,' which jams along powerfully and EXPLODES after about seven minutes 40 seconds, into RED style fury, with astounding bass, great violin and some very Bruford drumming. However some of the song feels like it could've been trimmed and refined to produce a more cohesive piece. Thats the problem with the album as a whole, its almost Perfect, and heads and shoulders above many of its peers, but at the same time, some of the mess and free form sections could've been improved and this would be one of the best albums ever made.
Overall, this is an amazing album, with great violin, Perfect singing, and great atmosphere, its just that the band could do slightly better.
However this album is still essential to any Crimson or prog fan, especially for 'Lament,' and even the popular Zeppelin in a blender style 'Great Deciever.'
Well Worth a try !
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Starless and Bible Black, 30th Anniversary Edition
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