Top positive review
22 people found this helpful
on 7 November 2010
Islands was the last of the four magical King Crimson albums that preceded the arrival of Bill Bruford and John Wetton. The band then developed the more settled line-up that led to 1974's Red. But before that the Crimsos were evolving and changing continuously, with some very gifted jazz/fusion musicians also getting involved from the British jazz-rock scene that included Soft Machine: Mark Charig, Keith Tippett..). They feature wonderfully here on Islands, but the passage that makes the album unforgettable is the Sailor's Tale which includes a fantastic jangling guitar solo that Robert Fripp recorded late at night in one take (David Bowie later used the Fripp jangle on 'Fashion'), The effect as his guitar surfs a tidal wave of mellotrons is electrifying.
The music on Islands has on the whole the loosest, most relaxed, improvised feel of any early KC album, a kind of last nod to Hippy culture. The first track Formentera Lady lopes along with rippling flute solos from Mel Collins, who later plays gut-churning sax on Ladies of the Road. The title track Islands is a beautiful, gently lulling piece with Robin Miller's oboe and Mark Charig's trumpet drifting like seagulls over the oceanic mellotron sound. There's much improvising on Islands, as on the previous KC album 'Lizard'. Keith Tippett's dreamy piano is a million miles, though, from the jagged runs and spiky chords he provided for Catfood on the Poseidon album, and Boz Burrell sings like an enraptured poet beside a shining sea...'The Letters' is a short, melodramatic track that doesn't do it for me but otherwise this album is a gem, with wonderful playing from all, and particularly Fripp and Mel Collins. Highly recommended in either the 30th or 40th anniversary editions (I bought both). There's added definition on the 40th. On the other hand, the 30th has more punch. For instance the wonderful moment when the mellotrons hurtle in like a giant wave at the end of Fripp's Sailor's Tail solo is fantastic on the 30th but has been watered down to a kind of background bleat on the 40th...So maybe that can be fixed for the 50th.. ;)