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.
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.
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.
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!!!
on 31 January 2003
The ultimate spawner of 70s prgressive rock (although released 1969), what can I say? If you're only vaguely interested in music from this era then you should start by buying this album. 21st Century Schizoid Man is simply incredible - so good on sax - while "I Talk To The Wind" is a beautiful contrast to the opener. You could argue that the Moonchild Medley is a little contrived, but if you just sit back and listen to it, it can be seen as something that is certainly worth listening to - it's almost like a theatre or film production, everything has its place to create an effect on the listener. The contrast from Moonchild to the dramatic Court of the Crimson King is the perfect way to end the album.
5 stars without a doubt.
"In the Court of the Crimson King" is the outstanding example of the late 60's, early 70's progressive rock, although it is not really quite like the other contenders such as Yes, ELP, Floyd etc. It stands out because of the orchestral feel to the music - with the serious use of the Mellotron, and flutes over the HUGE riffing noises from the rhythm section.
The only band to come close was Van Der Graaf Generator with "The least we can do is wave to each other".
As with all music of that era, you either love it (like me) or hate it (like everybody else!) - so, track by track...
1. "21st Century Schizoid Man" - WOW. The ultimate screaming polemic against all forms of pollution. Legend has it that KC were booked as a Soul band by mistake, and played this track to a startled audience of gentle groovers. Nasty!
2. "I Talk To The Wind" - gentle flutes and beautiful poetry, before the onslaught continues...
3. "Epitaph" - magnificent orchestral sounds, but with dynamic rock backing. Powerful and dramatic - play it LOUD!
4. "Moonchild" - one for the hippies... sort of free-jazz-ish.
5. "The Court Of The Crimson" - and what you've all been waiting for. The one and only. The ultimate. The awe-inspiring. The tear-jerking. The spine-tingling. The utterly utterly gloriously perfect "Court of the Crimson King".
And the cover (at least on the original LP) was quite amazing - a blood-red moon-faced planetary giant - some dark-side of Gaea perhaps.
on 11 November 2009
Firstly, this is one my all-time favorite albums, and its really worth buying. Simply put, this album is the king of all progressive albums, the atmosphere and the feeling in it is immense. All the members in the band have an amazing input in this masterwork, Ian Mcdonald: the talented multi-instrument player has credits in every song in the album. Greg Lake and his beautiful voice especially in ''I Talk to The Wind''. Robert Fripp the leading power of King Crimson with his amazing vibratos. Peter Sinfield, who wrote every word in this album. His lyrics are ones that i havent heard like before, very peotic and deep. And finally the master of drums, Michael Giles drumming is a million years ahead of its time, just listen to the title song and you'll know what i mean.
Now we come to the cd itself, cutting short, this is the way remastering an album should be. I have heard many classic albums get remastered, but nothing like this, this is the BEST. What a 40th anniversary for this timeless treasure.
In addition i recommend getting the CD/DVD edition. As someone previously said in a review''why DVD-A not Blu-ray''. THIS is not DVD-A. This is a regular DVD-Video with menus and everything. It has very interesting extras as mentioned by reviews before. and the most important one (for me at least) is the DTS 5.1, it surpasses the CD sound in every way. So if you have a home theater that plays DTS its better that you get that version, coz the difference is clear as crystal. And of course it has loseless sound. So if you have the gear to play loseless then naturally it will be even better that the DTS track.
A Must Buy!!!
If contemporary album reviews are to be believed, "In the Court of the Crimson King" burst like a thunderclap on to the music scene, helped, no doubt, both by the lurid album cover (and better inner sleeve artwork) created by Barry Godber, and by the explosive impact of the opening track, "21st Century Schizoid Man". Commercially, KC were unable to capitalise on this debut because the band effectively broke up, going through several changes of line-up before reaching the Fripp-Wetton-Bruford-Cross version that for many, myself included, represented the high-point of the band's evolution.
Forty years on, does "In the Court" stand the test of time? On the whole, the album - especially in HQCD format - stands up pretty well. The genius of the album was - and remains - the blend of heavy rock and the more ethereal style of the late sixties. Others - notably the Moody Blues - had tried this kind of fusion, but no one did it as boldly or as effectively as KC.
The nuances between rock and etherea determine how the album can be enjoyed today, with the former lasting, predictably, better than the latter.
"Schizoid Man" is a raucous, uncomplicated rock number, and remains vibrant and exciting. "I Talk to the Wind" is much more "sixties" in its style, but remains a good track. The high-point of the album is, undoubtedly, "Epitaph", a complex and superbly textured piece which benefits considerably from Peter Sinfield's lyrics.
In my opinion - and, indeed, those of many contemporary reviewers - "Moonchild" is the weakest track on the album. To some of those reviewers, it was simply too long; seen from the perspective of 2009, the title alone (and the lyrics) are sufficient to peg the track into the flower era of the sixties.
The tour de force here - in addition to "Epitaph" - is the title track, a beautifully complex, structured piece which again benefits from Sinfield's lyrics.
"In the Court" was a spectacularly original album back in 1969, and - with the exception of "Moonchild" - has worn well. KC were not going to be this good again until the magisterial "Red" album in 1974. In both cases, the albums benefit from the Japanese HQCD format. Because of its subtle texturing, "In the Court" benefits particularly from this process. It's still a classic, and better than ever in this format.
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!
on 31 December 2001
The opener, 21st Century Schizoid Man, is what Black Sabbath would sound like if they had jazz interludes. It's a truly amazing song - one they've never quite managed to out-do, and almost worth the price of the album itself. Then comes along the hugely underrated I Talk To The Wind - a peaceful change from the lively 21st Century Schizoid Man and it calms the whole album down all the way from Epitaph to In The Court Of The Crimson King. Some might say that an album with 5 songs that lasts 44 minutes would be the most intensly boring thing they could ever hear, which was what I thought before I played it (I didn't realise it had so few tracks when I was in the shop). But 3 quarters of an hour later I had just heard possibly the only perfect album in the world. There are no faults in this album. It's King Crimson's definitive LP and contains not only some of their greatest songs, but some of the best songs in prog-rock, or even, in my opinion, ever released (especially 21st Century Schizoid Man - if I ever spent hours making a one, it would rank highly in my list of favourite songs). I hope you buy the album and enjoy yourself when you listen to it!