40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Defining album in the Crimson canon,
This review is from: Larks Tongues in Aspic (Audio CD)
Although "In the Court of the Crimson King" is usually taken as King Crimson's defining contribution to modern rock music, "Larks' Tongues in Aspic" is in fact their most important musical achievement. Even to this day there are elements from this album that can be found in the sound of the most recent incarnation of the band.
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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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Mar 2010 21:11:59 BDT
Great, insightful review and couldn't agree more with your conclusions. I feel sorry for those people who write off music like this as pretentious and/or pompous. They are missing out on music that touches on the transcendant.
Posted on 22 Apr 2013 18:05:56 BDT
I was in two minds about buying this set - I have the original vinyl and tend to think Crimson are a band that belong on vinyl but thanks to your review I just purchased what looks to be an epic set!
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2013 23:15:43 BDT
Get the new Steven Wilson mix version. It is the best. If you can afford it the big box set is fantastically extravagant. A must!
Posted on 24 Jan 2014 12:42:20 GMT
Thanks for your interesting review. I have Great Deceiver I and II but Jamie Muir never toured with KC so I may invest in a copy. Nearly bought it back in the 70's.
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jan 2014 13:42:04 GMT
Actually, Jamie Muir did play live with crimson at the end of 1972, prior to the studio album being recorded. There are recordings from those concerts which were included in the Larks' box set of a couple of years back
Larks' Tongues In Aspic (40th Anniversary Limited Edition)
The quality of those live recordings may be sub par, but they do showcase what an influence Muir was to the sound of the band at that point.
Without question the studio album is a must have, from a KC viewpoint and as a prime exponent of 70's progressive rock.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2014 09:45:47 BDT
Actually, C. Chinka, Jamie Muir did do a tour with them - I saw him in Glasgow at the Greens Playhouse. I think that was however the only tour he did.
In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2014 10:15:47 BDT
Alisdair, you were very lucky indeed to witness such a lineup of KC. By all accounts Muir was a real showman and a bit wild! From a musical and visual aspect he really made that version of the band truly distinctive and original.
Posted on 30 Apr 2014 09:32:20 BDT
Just listened to LTIA and I totally agree. What an amazing recording; I should have bought it 40 years ago! They must have been amazing live with Jamie Muir going berserk etc. Tracks from this could have been on any KC album even in the 90's!
In reply to an earlier post on 11 Apr 2015 16:54:05 BDT
Sir, what a delight to read such articulate comments on a particularly favourite piece of music. Larks tongue & Discipline are among my desert island discs.
I wonder, did you happen upon Gentle Giant in your travels, I am sure you are aware of the bands work, & I would be interested in your opinion. Kind regards,