54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surrounded in the Crimson Court!
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of King Crimson, producers Robert Fripp and Steve Wilson have left no stone unturned in this exhaustive edition. From the stereo album to DTS 5.1 digital surround, clips and bonus tracks, this is what fans have been waiting all this time for. Robert Fripp has been the only constant over the years with the band members changing nearly every...
Published on 21 Nov 2009 by Martin A Hogan
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A classic album spoilt by poor pressing
The music here is not in question; a classic prog rock masterpiece. The vinyl itself is another matter. The cover is perfect and the vinyl itself looks very good on initial inspection. The album is flat and black which should sound obvious, but many newly released re-masters are grey and warped. Somehow the art of vinyl pressing is gradually being lost. This album sounds...
Published 20 months ago by Graham, IOW
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surrounded in the Crimson Court!,
This review is from: In The Court Of The Crimson King [Box Set] (Audio CD)
Celebrating the 40th anniversary of King Crimson, producers Robert Fripp and Steve Wilson have left no stone unturned in this exhaustive edition. From the stereo album to DTS 5.1 digital surround, clips and bonus tracks, this is what fans have been waiting all this time for. Robert Fripp has been the only constant over the years with the band members changing nearly every album. This initial offering is one of the most intriguing.
The CD contains the original album with five songs remastered in clear stereo arguably better than the 2004 release. Every instrument is clearly heard and separated. But the bonus tracks are the most compelling. The full version of "Moonchild" is here along with a `duo version' and an alternate mix' (different solos) of the romantic " I Talk To The Wind". The backing instrumental track of "Epitaph" is mystical and mesmerizing. Remember that short intro of `wind/organ-like' sounds before "21st Century Schizoid Man"? Extracts from that are also included giving the listener an idea of how special effects were produced forty years ago.
The DVD is really why I bought this edition. The entire album is presented here in DTS 5.1 digital surround sound, giving new life to every instrument and vocal. The harsh quick guitar riff that runs throughout "21st Century Schizoid Man" travels from speaker to speaker around the room, while Greg Lake's equally sharp vocals are blasted from the front center. And that is just one song. The percussion varies throughout each song, but is so exact and clean you get a true sense of the extent of Michael Giles talent. Ian McDonald's woodwind instruments vibrate as if they are in the room with reed-like clarity. Fripp's guitar work is as varied as the song he is playing on. Also, many thanks go to lyricist Peter Sinfield.
The original Master Edition of the entire album from 2004 is included here just for comparison. Again all the five previously mentioned bonus tracks are in 5.1 surround sound here as well. Not to exclude anything from this special edition, the complete alternate album is included here as well, although in stereo. Not to be outdone, there is a two-minute black and white video in mono of the band doing "21st Century Schizoid Man" on an outdoor stage. For mono, its not bad at all.
Future albums of King Crimson are in the works, Red being released already and Lizard coming out in December of 2009. Robert Fripp is arguably one of rock's best musical genius. His guitar work and creations are legendary; beyond progressive rock. Having been the only constant all these years, Robert Fripp is King Crimson. This album is a classic.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars vinyl edition,
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This review is from: In The Court Of The Crimson King [VINYL] (Vinyl)
An impeccable pressing. The price has dropped since I purchased it and is now more approachable than most 'so-called' audiophile pressings. One listen and it is immediately clear this newly remastered mix has factored in the sonic qualities of vinyl. Dynamic range - a crucial factor of this album - is open and expansive. Drums, vocal, flute, Mellotron - all properly balanced in the sound stage. And, what a true pleasure to receive a perfectly flat copy with no pops or clicks. 200gm, for those that like to know these things. Plus a 320kbs mp3 voucher.
Somebody got this very right. The 'major' record labels - what's left of them - would do well to pay close attention. Offering "remasters" from the CD mix, come on! Fools.
Kudos to Fripp
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Genuine Improvement on the Original,
So this is something different!
The idea is that they have found the original recorded tracks for this album and a big fan was able to put these tracks onto digital recording and then worked with Robert Fripp to do a proper digital re-master for the first time!
On the original album - there were so many instruments that they had to do "sub-mixes" to deal with the limitations of the technology at the time, so final mixing was compromised as these stereo sub mixes could not be separated.
Of course this is a classic album and those who like this genre will already have it at least once - but this has loads of bonus tracks - live versions and demos which add interest.
But this is nothing besides the real selling point - a new 2009 digital mix from Robert Fripp with no compromises due to the limitations of recording technology!!
It certainly sound much clearer - Schizoid man, which was basically live is not much different, but you notice how the instruments become clearer in the tracks with more going on - wider instrumentation - flute, woodwind,percussion, mellotron etc. - they all now are absolutely clear and not lost in reverb etc.
The grandiose, classical-style arrangments are now there for all to love or hate!
Not everybody's cup of tea - but the sound was unique at the time and it deserves this lavish attention to detail - maybe only the fans will notice, but Steve Wilson has done us all proud!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Crimson cuts the first great progressive rock album,
Time and time again we are confronted with artists who put out a great debut album and never climb that high ever again. When it comes to talking about the paradigmatic example of such a phenomenon my choice would be King Crimson and their debut album "In the Court of the Crimson King." Released in 1969 with its distinctive cover art, this was the album that set the standard for progressive/psychedelic rock for the next decade. Except for the title track the songs are ensemble efforts by guitarist Robert Fripp, drummer Michael Giles, bass player and lead vocalist Greg Lake, keyboard player Ian McDonald, and lyricist Peter Sinfield.
The best track on the album is the first, "21st Century Schizoid Man," with its big main riff and jazz-rock middle section ("Mirrors"). The music is somewhat distorted at times, but that does not stop the group's musical virtuosity from coming through. As you would expect from the title, the song paints a picture of dystopian future that embodies the worst tendencies of the late 1960s, and remains the standard by which other progressive rock epics are judged. In terms of political sensibilities nothing comes close. The song also stands out because the following track, "I Talk to the Wind," is more folk-rock and constitutes a sort of cleansing of the palate before proceeding to the rest of the album (it is actually a song members of the group had played on earlier efforts).
The title track is not the best King Crimson song, but it is probably their best known one (and the one song that was written just by McDonald and Sinfeld). The conceit is of a medieval court afflicted by a black queen, fire witch, and other equally dark images heading for total destruction. It is a daring finality, teetering on the brink of the sort of bombastic pomposity that often afflicted progressive rock (Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Tarkus Suite," with its synthesizer excess is the obviously example that comes to my mind). Musically on this album as a whole it is McDonald who makes the biggest mark on the album, playing mellotron and assorted other instruments like saxophones, although Fripp's guitar is also prominent. When I was growing up the singing voice I most wanted to have was Greg Lake's, and this is the album when he sounds the best. The result is that "In the Court of the Crimson King" is one of the albums that has to be considered when you are making a list of top albums from the Sixites or in the history of progressive rock music. It does not matter that King Crimson had a revolving door lineup and that it would take them years to come up with anything close to this classic album.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Start Of The Kings Court,
Released in 1969 with lyricist Peter Sinfield, Greg Lake (of the later ELP) and maniacal genius Robert Fripp (King Crimson himself), this album still catches the ear of any progressive musician or fan. This is the band that took a mellotron and pushed it over the top, producing some of the most endorphin inducing and hallucinatory musical experiences to date.
"21st Century Schizoid Man" is the most well known, with it's fatalistic lyrics, violent guitars and harsh, scratchy vocals. It achieves it purpose. Right on it's heels is the lovely, "I Talk To The Wind", a Greg Lake vocal that is fanciful, dreamy and beautiful. Sullen and heartbreaking is the best way I can describe "Epitaph", a mature contemplative look at one's own mortality and confusion. Backed with a gentle death march beat and a soaring mellotron that pulls at your emotions like no other song on this album. It's amazing.
"Moonchild" is a whimsical, unique endeavor that makes for a nice break before the grand finale of "The Court Of The Crimson King". Breaking straight into a strong drum arrangement and shatteringly intense mellotron, the last song bridges back and forth from the 12-string guitar with choice vocals to the literaly killer chorus. This is where the talents of King Crimson truly take off. With a driving drum and bass, a relentless keyboard and an unforgettable chorus, King Crimson jumps around with flute solos, ambitious guitar plucking and inventive soft percussion. It's the reprise that pulls it all together. The experience of this debut album is exhilirating, breathtaking and to this date - still hair-raisingly unique.
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Caught by the Crimson King,
This review is from: In the Court of the Crimson King, 40th Anniversary Series (Audio CD)
What have we got?
CD with the original album with a new stereo mix plus bonus tracks.
DVD with a multitude of extras:
1) 5.1 remix in MLP (DVDA) and DTS (for all DVD players including Blu Ray)
2) New Stereo version in MLP (DVDA) and PCM (for all DVD players)
3) Hi Rez. Stereo original mix of the album MLP (DVDA) and PCM (for all DVD players)
4) A Video Live King Crimson from Hyde Park with the proper live soundtrack
5) Bonus tracks in 5.1 and stereo.
6) A booklet with sleeve notes from the enigma that is Robert Fripp
The sound quality is excellent not suffering from the curse of modern production this is pretty dynamic. The music is both well played and is heavy-progressive-jazz (That is really not a bad thing), 20th century Schizoid man outstanding and benefit very much from the sourcing of the original premix tapes and a presentation with all instruments isolated in a way that was not available until the recent recovery of these tapes. Moonchild has been tightened up a little all with the approval of Robert Fripp. The surround mix discrete dynamic and opens up the sound field using the rears in a sympathetic way, this really is demonstration stuff.
Genesis fans maybe jealous that this has both the new and old stereo mixes for the fans to choose,
If only all reissues were competed with this much care and attention to detail. Music fans buy and you won't be disappointed, this really is good.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic first Crimson outing given new clothes,
This review is from: In the Court of Crimson King (Audio CD)
What else can I add to what's already been said about this album? Well, I've made some personal comments below, but what you really want to know is if it's worth getting the remastered edition, right? I'd say yes, not because I'm a hi-fi buff who appreciates all the little audio nuances, but because they've made a much better job of transferring the artwork to CD and have put together a fascinating little 'scrapbook' for the inlay card: all old band photos, reviews from the music press, etc.
And the music? It really captured the 'zeitgeist' of 1969 and the band got the thumbs up from Pete Townshend and the Rolling Stones, but has it really aged well? 21st Century Schizoid Man is an incendiary jazzy tour de force, while the rest of the album is more 'tasteful' melancholic 'hippy music': all flutes and mellotrons and mystical lyrics. All very well done if that's your thing. The band fell apart, of course, and by the time Fripp put together an entirely new band for 'Larks' Tongues...' Crimson had become a leaner, meaner sort of band whose music has at least aged better, but the first band is special for the 'what might have been' factor. I actually think their live recordings now released on the 'Epitaph' album give a much better idea of what made the first band so special and exciting than the studio album does.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the very first prog rock album,
This review is from: In the Court of the Crimson King (Audio CD)
Still quite a special album, featuring Greg Lake on vocals & bass, pre-ELP. The first track, 21st Century Schizoid Man, is rather wild with scorchingly synthesised vocals c/o Greg Lake and a frantically jazzy middle passage but with incredibly taut drum work (one wonders just how many takes were required to get things this tight), whereafter the album settles down into something of a rather different hue.
The opener to Side 2, Moonchild, is a most interestingly introspective, subtle and indeed decidedly avant-garde affair, whilst the title track, to close, retains its power all these years on. It's not really like any of their subsequent albums (I tried a few but liked none of them), not least because after appearing on just two tracks on In The Wake of Poseidon, Greg Lake left to join forces with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer.
Personnel include Robert Fripp (guitar), Ian McDonald (reeds, woodwinds, vibes, keyboards, mellotron and vocals), Greg Lake (bass & lead vocals), Michael Giles (drums, percussion & vocals) and Pete Sinfield (words & illumination). Recorded at Wessex Sound Studios in London by Robin Thompson, produced by the band and remastered (in 1989 according to my copy) by Robert Fripp and Tony Arnold. Like so many early ones, the regular CD reissue shows it age, though the DR edition does freshen things up a fair bit. But, for all that, 1969 was a long time ago and rather more beef to the sound, particularly in the bass wouldn't have gone amiss. Maybe the very latest remaster recovers every last ounce what went down onto the original master tape, but the sound of the 1989 edition isn't at all bad.
As for whether or not In The Court of the Crimson King qualifies as the very first prog rock album, that depends, I suppose, on your view of what the Moody Blues had already done by 1969 with albums such as In Search of The Lost Chord and To Our Childrens' Childrens' Children. They're nothing like this, of course, but then they're nothing like much else either and certainly unlike anything that had gone before. No matter, though ~ in its own way, In The Court of the Crimson King is certainly a milestone in British rock and worth getting to know for that reason alone.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Important Album,
This review is from: In The Court Of The Crimson King [Original Master Edition] (Audio CD)
When people talk about the roots of progressive rock, this album is usually one of the main contenders. Listening to this album now, I can honestly say I enjoy other King Crimson albums more, and other progressive rock albums for that matter. But the fact that this album was created in the late 60's, experimenting with the now classic styles of progressive rock, and while other giants in the genre were just getting started, makes this a monumental and definitive album.
The original line-up of Robert Fripp(guitar), Greg Lake (bass, vocals), Ian McDonald (keyboard, synths), Michael Giles (drums), and Peter Sinfield (lyrics) was a short-lived one, but one that created their best album until the legendary power trio (Fripp, Wetton and Brufford) stunned the progressive scene in 74 with "Red". Coincidentally this album starts in a similar vein to "Red", with the frenetic "21st Century Schizoid Man" setting the album off with a fast and powerful start. The song combines some harsh vocals and a timeless, classic Fripp riff to kick things off. This is ensued by a stunning and overtly technical jazz-fusion middle section, which leads back to the main motif and riff. It is an outstanding opener, and the most fluid, immediate song KC would make for years.
The rest of the album is significantly more relaxed, creating a heavy vibe of sadness and melancholy. This is probably best shown with the classic ballad "Epitaph", a superb and lush outing that is both texturally beautiful and thematically unsettling. This is due to the profound and touching lyrics dealing with the ease and excess of misguidance and ignorance, sung with great passion and a deal of desperation from Lake. Musically the song has a heavy dosage of strings and dramatic timpani rolls to build up a brooding piece.
"I Talk To The Wind", which comes in before "Epitaph", is a very calming piece, slowly washing over with some gentle flute playing, vocal harmonies and some splashy ride cymbals, it is a nice song, and acts as a good contrast to the album's opening flurry. "Moonchild" seems a little pointless to me, and the only weak song. It starts decent enough, and feels like it will continue in the same vein as the two pervious ballads. But then Fripp and the gang seem to want to push the idea of the music being experimental, of a higher `art', as they experiment with various instruments for a good twelve minutes. It is essentially `noodling', and makes for a rather dull and unmemorable song.
After the only weak song, the album closes in fine style with the dreamy, ethereal choruses of the title track. This song has always been one of my favourite KC tracks. It really is a masterpiece of a ballad, combining quiet and understated verses with big, lush choruses, packed with strings and eerie vocal harmonies that send shivers down my spine. A perfect ending to one of rocks most influential and important albums.
71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a true classic,
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This review is from: In The Court Of The Crimson King [Original Master Edition] (Audio CD)
I bought this album when it was first released simply because I thought the cover was so brilliant - 1969 was quite a simple time really!!!
However 36 years on I still listen to it on a regular basis and still remain surprised by how far ahead of its time it was. It is very easy to criticise the lyrics listening to the album in 2005 but in 1969 they were quite acceptable (if a little odd). Musically, however, it remains an album of the highest quality; although it has to be said that the self-indulgence of 'Moonchild' drags a little. The power of 21st CSM still shines through today and this is then followed by a total contrast in 'I Talk to the Wind' with some beautiful flute playing from Ian McDonald. 'Epitaph' has always been my personal favourite and rewards frequent listening. The title track is perhaps a touch over long but remains a joy to listen to. I am sure somebody listening to this album for the first time today would not find the whole album a treat but there is plenty there for everyone and as for me - it can take me back 35 years in an instant!!!
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In The Court Of The Crimson King [Original Master Edition] by King Crimson (Audio CD - 2009)
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