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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine testament to this scorching version of King Crimson,
This review is from: USA (Audio CD)This was the first album I owned by King Crimson, way back in 1974. At long last it has a very welcome CD release. Fripp has held back from making this available for so long as other archive performances from this line-up of the band have been available for some time, namely the 4 CD box set “The Great Deceiver” and “The Nightwatch”. The latter is the concert performance from which substantial parts of the album “Starless and Bible Black” originate from.
USA was the final release before Fripp put to rest this incarnation of the band. For Crimson die-hards it includes some essential material. In particular, the improvisation based piece “Asbury Park” is outstanding. Though the basic ideas for this were investigated by the band on earlier improvisations, it all came together on “Asbury Park”. Bruford starts things off on his trademark tight snare, setting up the rhythm for Wetton to join in on crunching bass together with Fripp’s recognisable sustained guitar. But the whole piece is an ensemble marvel, with Fripp particularly searing throughout. This track has never lost it’s power and ability to make the hairs stand up on my neck. Also inspired is Fripp’s solo during “Easy Money”. This is one of his best, with Fripp at one point strangling the notes out of his guitar. Disappointingly, the track still fades out on this CD after the solo. The readings of “Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part 2”, “Lament” and “Exiles” are powerful, with “Lament” in particular bettering the studio version.
This remaster is as per the album, apart from the inclusion of the extra tracks “Fracture” and “Starless”. Eddie Jobson’s overdubs also remain intact. At one point, there were plans to release this as a double CD which would have included the extended, full version of “Asbury Park”. Sadly it is not to be. Nevertheless, this release is testament enough to Bruford, Cross, Fripp and Wetton, who as King Crimson then, were one of the most powerful, imaginative live bands around.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly The Best Live Crimson Ever?,
This review is from: USA (Audio CD)The original "USA" on Island records was never released on CD during the early 1980's and subsequently, as were all the other Crimson back catalogue albums, except "Earthbound" (thank God out now) & "A Young Persons Guide to King Crimson" (when, Robert, when???). This always seemed to me such a waste and a short-sighted approach, as the "USA" album displayed the definitive band (Cross, Fripp, Wetton, Bruford) at the height of their strength and depth. This album has moments of genius, raw power and exquisite, piercing beauty. The opening of "No Pussyfooting" into "Larks Tongues II" cannot fail to lift even the most lethargic listener into rocking along with the beat and tapping anything they can lay their hands on; Cross's violin and Wetton's voice on "Lament" have a haunting quality when offset by Fripps guitar in such a powerful way I wonder why electric and acoustic ever parted company; and, the inventive pulse of "Asbury Park" shows off Bruford's mastery perfectly. However, prepare to be humbled by Fripp's wonderful sustained riffs during the second, instrumental part of "Easy Money". It has to be the best track he ever recorded. It is beauty and pain beyond belief to listen to it. You have to hear it LOUD...and you have to be prepared to cry. Fripp's playing is exquisite. I can think of no better live Crimson album before or since...for my money the best live album ever made, even if the recording quality prevented the record company from putting it out sooner. This is the real, definitive band. Nothing else comes close!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now superceded by the 40th Anniversary Version,
This review is from: USA (30th Anniversary Edition) (Audio CD)The 1973/74 King Crimson with David Cross on violin were heavily influenced ( as were most serious rock musicians at the time) by the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, which also featured heavily amplified guitar & violin.
Wheres the MO incorporated high speed, dazzling jazz chops interplay, Crimson remained a rock riff orientated outfit with an added jazz style improvisational skill. And Crimson still retained a strong song orientated output alongside the instrumentals.
The USA live album was this line ups swansong and originally came out in 1975 on LP, the 28th June 1974 Asbury Park concert having been overdubbed and treated to studio trickery. The 30th anniversary CD issue added 2 further live tracks to this original album. The 30th issue was then superceded by the Collectable King Crimson Vol 1, which had the complete unedited Ashbury Park concert in remixed format.
Now the concert has been remixed again for the 40th Anniversary edition, plus you get all 3 earlier mixes for those who prefer the original edits & overdubs. This now becomes the definitive version of this legendary live album
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good then, even better now,
This review is from: USA (30th Anniversary Edition) (Audio CD)"USA" is my second-favourite King Crimson album, after the towering genius that is "Red", and ahead of "In the Court of the Crimson King".
One of the interesting features of this (excellently remastered, HDCD-encoded) CD is that two tracks have been added that were not included on the original album - and I can't begin to understand why they were both excluded in the first place.
"Fracture", though an excellent track, might have been omitted on grounds of its length (11.20), but it's quintessential Crimson of the Fripp-Wetton-Bruford-Cross era, and a very welcome inclusion here.
But not even length can explain the omission of "Starless" which, for my money, is simply the best thing the band ever did. One hears various takes on this - that it was written for, but left out of, the album "Starless and Bible Black"; that Robert Fripp wasn't that keen on it; and that the success of the song on the US tour resulted in its inclusion on "Red", the last album by this incarnation of KC.
Whatever, the version here is excellent, and significantly different from the studio version, not least because we have David Cross on violin, who contributes significantly to the track. It's a nice alternative to the studio version - in either form, "Starless" is pure genius, and on its own worth the price of this CD.
After a very brief (0.35) introductory track - "Walk on....no pussyfooting", an Eno-Fripp composition - the listener cannot help but be inspired by the opening crescendoes of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part II". This is heavy rock at its best, and showcases the tightness and cohesion of the band.
"Lament" is a lower-key track with some decent vocals by John Wetton. Vocals weren't Wetton's major role in Crimson - he was primarily a superb bass player - but, after he moved on to supergroup Asia and then a successful solo career, his voice seemed to get better and better. (To hear him at his best, try the solo album "Battle Lines", or the first Asia album).
"Exiles" is another track that exemplifies Crimson's ability to blend the powerful with the lyrical.
"Asbury Park", the only track that hadn't previously been released in studio form, is essentially a jam but, unlike many other bands, Crimson's jams always possessed direction and structure, so this is an enjoyable, atmosphere-filled listen.
"Easy Money" seems to have been a fixture in the band's playlist, and is a great, audience-energising track.
Last, on the original album, came "21st Century Schizoid Man". Well, it had to be on the play-list as a fan-pleaser, but it's the weakest track here, in my view. It hails from an earlier incarnation of Crimson, so was not ideally suited to the Fripp-Wetton-Bruford-Cross line-up. It's not a great performance, and Wetton's vocals seem heavily distorted. I'm not sure why this version was included, since Robert Fripp's archives included a far better version from the tour, and which can be found on disc 2 of "The Great Deceiver, vol 1".
And that's where the album ended - originally. Now, though, we have the excellent "Fracture" and the towering "Starless". That track fittingly ends the album - not even Crimson could improve on that.
If you like your music heavy but at the same time inspired and original, then you'll enjoy "USA" - and should also invest in "Red".
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely Brilliant.,
This review is from: USA (30th Anniversary Edition) (Audio CD)Most King Crimson fans prefer the John Wetton era; 'Larks Tounges in Aspic,' through to 'Red,' and this Live album comes right before 'Red.'
The tracklisting is therefor fantastic, containing primarily Wetton era material, with a preview of 'Starless,' from 'Red,' that pretty much steals the show.
The fantastic versions of 'Lament,' and 'Exiles,' are completely phenomenal, and the only early tune represented here, the fan favourite '21st Century Schizoid Man,' is expanded and arguably improoved.
The album also contains a jam/improv called 'Ashbury Park,' but rather than the spindly and sometimes throw away jams on other recordings, this is an astounding tune and well worth the money, rivaling even established songs.
Eveything about this CD is amazing, great tracklisting, atmosphere and general live 'feel,' all songs are more energetic and heavy, often expanded and improoved.
Seriuosly Fantastic and well worth the price. Buy Now, you won't regret it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars USA - 40th Anniversary (CD & DVD),
USA is a fantastic concert with all the band in fine form. The sound here is a bit more raw than the studio versions which I like a lot. Brufords drumming is more 'out there' as is Fripps guitar work, he seems to be on fire here with some exciting solos. John Wetton is in fine voice as well.
The sound of this concert is also extraordinary, considering its from the mid 1970s this sounds very fresh and vivid.
I am surprised this was not remixed into 5.1 as all the other re-issues were, however the 2.0 mix on the DVD is superb.
This is a great example of prog rock at its peak in the 1970s.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb band, superb sound,
The DVD is stereo high resolution, not surround like the other King Crimson 40th Anniversary Editions. The band is stunningly good and so is the remastering/mixing, done by Steven Wilson.
Also a great album cover from an idea by John Wetton (the statue of liberty and we come in peace).
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars End of this Crimson's incarnation,
This review is from: USA (30th Anniversary Edition) (Audio CD)This is the end of the road for the band that was KC mark two,starting with "Larks' Tongues" and finishing with "Red".The material on this CD was recorded on their last US tour,and it's great.Even though offstage the band were self-destructing,it dosen't seem to show.
The music is much darker and rockier than early Crimson(it even gives a brief view into Fripp's future with an excerpt from "No Pussyfooting"),and the versions of early Crimson songs,notably"21st Century Schizoid Man" are far more driving and bleaker than the originals.
My favourite is "Starless",from the then-unreleased "Red".Wonderful,especially the instrumental climax after the vocals.
Fripp and King Crimson have marched on into the 21st century,along with the schizoid man,but they've never been quite as good as this before or since.This and "Red" are well worth buying.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the 2013 40th Anniversary release of King Crimson's `USA',
A latter-day revival of interest in this mould-breaking music from a new generation of fans has led to other live-performance releases in recent years from the Fripp archives, including the mammoth 4-CD collection `The Great Deceiver' and the seminal `The Night Watch' recorded at Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
Now as part of Bob Fripp's rolling program of updated releases from the Crimson archives, we have this 2013 `40th Anniversary edition' of the original `USA'.
The CD/DVD package is in line with the other 40th anniversary series, ergo `Larks' Tongues', `Starless & Bible Black' and `Red' plus the first four albums, and the 1980s-Crim line-up's `Discipline'. You get a classy box-sleeve containing a quality gatefold disk-container, with the blue-labelled CD on one side and the red-labelled DVD on the other in robust plastic inserts. The usual finely-produced 16-page booklet details all the music and lyrics, and includes intelligent and thoughtful essays from Bob Fripp and Sid Smith on the band's development during the period. All are themed on the 1975 album artwork: front cover based the Statue of Liberty's torch-bearing right hand and rear cover showing a Kirlian photograph (very trendy in 1975) of the auric radiation from a human hand.
The music is classic Wetton-Cross era Crim. I won't repeat a complete track-by-track appraisal as this has been done by many other excellent reviewers on Amazon and elsewhere. Those who know only the original vinyl album however will discover astounding live-on-stage versions of `Fracture' and `Starless' added to the track listing, in each case far superior to the studio versions.
The new 2013 mix by Bob Fripp, Tony Arnold and David Singleton is exemplary and even sharper than previous mixes. The DVD is the star of the show with - in addition to the full 2013 mix in LPCM Stereo 2.0 (24/96) - the original vinyl transfer; and both the 2005 mix and 30th Anniversary re-mix in LPCM 2.0 (24/48).
If you don't have `USA' in your collection then it should be a no-brainer that this is the one to go for. Rivalled only by the seminal `The Night Watch' it's the best live-on-stage recording of one of the best live acts of the 1970s, whose musical innovation and mould-breaking work has to this day never been equalled.
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent remastering of an excellent album,
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