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This 1984 album is the third from KC's Fripp-Belew-Levin-Bruford line-up of the 1980s. It's broadly similar in style to its immediate predecessors `Discipline' and `Beat', but due to its overambitious attempts to straddle different styles ends up as neither fish nor fowl, so to speak.

The original album was divided into two halves. `Left Side' has five songs, very much in the rhythmic dance style of `Beat', very Talking Heads, very 1980s. The title track, `Model Man' and `Sleepless' are all good songs with a strong groove; the slower, more melodic synth-dominated `Nuages' (Clouds) closes the set.

`Right Side' is more experimental. Here the band's attempts to resurrect the instrumental noodlings of the Wetton-Cross era succeed only in part. The atonal discordancy might be described as `challenging' to listen to (I invite any listener who genuinely enjoys `Dig Me' or `No Warning' to own up now. What, no takers?). With `Larks' Tongues in Aspic III' however, the band does almost connect with the spirit of their earlier 70s incarnation, but the result doesn't quite hit the mark like LTiA I&II. The command of complex time-signatures and key changes is there, but the fiery energy which characterizes the earlier works is somehow missing.

The 30th Anniversary remix also includes `The Other Side' as extra material. The best bit here is `The King Crimson Barber Shop' in which the band members sing unaccompanied in harmony and poke fun at themselves. The remainder consists of `Industrial Zone A' and `B' (more atonal instrumental noodling and definitely not easy listening) and three different mixes of `Sleepless', none of which better the original album track.

`3 of a Perfect Pair' rounds off KC's distinctive 1980s period, so completists will obviously want it in their collections. If asked to choose one of the three as a place to start, my recommendation would be the melodic and fresh-sounding `Discipline' which is a great landmark of an album - though some argue persuasively for the follow-up `Beat'. Despite some fine moments 3oaPP overall is far from perfect; lacking a cohesive theme it's just OK but no better.
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I actually wrote a very, very mean-spirited review of this album, and was very dismissive of the band itself. In order to prove myself right, I went through their back-catalogue... disappointingly, I fell hopelessly in love. Such is life.

I decided to revise ToaPP to see if my disdain for this particular album had been justified, and I would say: almost.

This album does have its moment, for sure. The first side is a nice blend of eighties pop with that Crimson sound we all know and love. It's good - and the lyrics have that typical slightly-mysterious, very-depressive edge that you would expect from a KC album. I particularly like "Man with an Open Heart" - in fact, the title track and "Model Man" are very listenable.

Then there's side two. Well, this is very much a love-it or hate-it side. Unfortunately, I hate it; the second half of this album is far too industrial for my tastes - this was the style that KC developed from the off, but it just doesn't sound as good - it sounds far too "metallic", maybe even grating.

This is not a bad album by any means, but as I said in the title, it is very difficult to recommend to someone. If you like this sort of thing, I am sure it is pretty good at what it does. I suspect most people will not. It would be a pretty disastrous introduction to King Crimson, which is a shame, because they have a huge amount to offer. I suspect that the fan-base for this album is significantly smaller than that for their earlier albums.

Maybe I just don't "get it", but I can't imagine I'm alone in that category. I can't recommend it. Perhaps "hate" is too strong. It doesn't offend me, but I certainly wouldn't keep the entire album in my music library. Wouldn't throw the CD away either.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2005
King Crimson were a '70s prog rock band with everything that implies: pretensiousness, self-indulgent noodlings, atonal "experimental" sound collages... occasionally inspired but often tedious. Robert Fripp reformed Crimso in the '80s and confounded fans and critics because the new look Crimso turned out to be sleek, contemporary and really bloody good, replete with unique interlocking guitar effects (mesmeric) and Adrian Belew's "Talking Heads"-style vocals. The excellent debut Discipline was followed by the rather formulaic Beat and then "Three of a Perfect Pair" completed the triptych, whereupon Crimso once again imploded.

"Three of a Perfect Pair" nods to Fripp's earlier '70s preoccupations, being something of a 'concept album'. The first 5 tracks (the original side one) being rather poppy confections, the more 'serious' instrumental soundscapes spreading out over side two, the last 4 tracks. If instrumental soundscapes are your bag, then these are up there with anything else in that line Fripp has put out, but personally I'd head for the second side of David Bowie's Low if I was in the mood for that sort of thing. The reference to Crimso's earlier prog incarnation is completed by the last track, "Larks' Tongues In Aspic Part III", a sequel to the sort of jazz-rock malarkey the '70s Crimso got up to.

The first five tracks, though, are unalloyed joy, both honouring and subverting the '80s dancefloor fillers of the period. One track, the hypnotic "Sleepless", was actually a dancefloor hit, very briefly. These are all highly original, strangely timeless compositions. If you hit the stop button after track 5, this CD will still have earned the purchase price.

This remastered edition contains a set of 'bonus' tracks. Most of these are rather redundant remixes of "Sleepless" but one, "The King Crimson Barber Shop", is a charmingly jokey exercise that goes to show there's more to Fripp than serious beard-stroking and self-important 'guitarcraft'.

Overall, a must-have complete-the-set purchase for Crimso fans; the first half being a very rewarding slice of '80s obscuriana for the more casual listener.
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on 12 January 2008
The 80's King Crimson is defiantly my least favourite, with the Wetton era 1st and the modern era second, followed by the first four albums, and finally the 80's material.
However, this is not really because their 80's output was bad, but more to do with the astounding quality of their other eras. I'll admit when I first heard this style of Crimson it was a shock and an unpleasant one at that. However, you get used to it and with repeat listens I came to regard 'Discipline,' as a great record, bettered by the hideously under-rated 'Beat,' however, when it came to 'Three of a Perfect Pair,' even as an 80's crimson album, its a shock, and even after repeat listens fails to impress the same way other Crimson do.
The whole of side 2 (with the exception of Larks Tounges part 3) is of poor quality and on first listen is irritating and on repeat listens ranges from disappointing, to boring, to just plain irritating again. Songs like 'Industry,' which intend to be a return to the spirit of the 70's Crimson, fails and end up being a 'skip button,' magnet.
The best song on here is the excellent title track which saves the album from a one star rating and is still classic today.
Other highlights include single 'Sleepless,' which has a fantastic building verse but its disappointing chorus prevents it from being an utter classic.
Many people would rate 'Three of A Perfect Pair,' as better than 'Beat,' or sometimes even 'Discipline,' but if I'm honest I simply can't agree, while containing a few good songs its really not a wonderful album. The bonus tracks while providing value for money on any release, are of no great quality here, and are perfect 'skip button,' material too.
As much as I hate to nay say anything that the wonderful King Crimson have done, this album really contains only a few gems in a sea of mediocrity.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 February 2018
This review is for the original vinyl release of this album in 1984.
This LP was the third of Crimson's 1980's trilogy and follows pretty much the same pattern as 'Discipline' and 'Beat'. The most distinctive tracks are 'Sleepless', 'Man With An Open Heart' and the rhythmic title track. Chances are that if you enjoyed the 'Talking Heads' style of the previous 2 albums then you should find this very much to your satisfaction and, providing you can obtain this LP at a reasonably low price, it is well worth investing in.
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on 22 May 2008
Half pop (however alternative and "weird") and half instrumental-proggy (still "weird") album; side one is fairly straightforward and dare I say it; catchy - almost like a 'different' Talking Heads (Belew sounds a lot like David Byrne on this one) whilst side two is like a mad science experiment - really enjoyable for a Crimso album, I wasn't one for their earlier stuff (things only perked up for me after (and including)) RED, this is probably one for those who preferred DISCIPLINE and BEAT to their other albums.
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on 17 April 2016
Mmm...love drip & Crimson but this didn't quite live up to it.probably why I put off buying it for years.now I'm not sure I should have
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on 11 March 2017
good cd, good seller...
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on 11 November 2016
Great stuff, and new unheard improvs
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on 3 January 2017
i love it
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