Top positive review
on 4 October 2013
It's very odd hearing a 43 year old King Crimson album for the first time. I never did know of Lizard at the time (this was when if it wasn't in a shop you didn't know it existed) and so it remained to be discovered.
Lizard continues from 'Poseidon' with a less formulaic structure, though still song based, and a jazz star augmented line-up, including Keith Tippett, but (inevitably for Crimson) with other changes. And the music is jazz-rock twisted as only Crimson could do it. Jazz-rock, as established by Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears in the late 60s had migrated to post Miles 'fusion' in the early 70s. I'd left Crimson with 'Poseidon' (with Keith Tippett) and found them again floating with Islands and then the definitive magic of Lark's Tongues in Aspic. Lizard became 'lost' as I went on to Mahavishnu etc.
The music on Lizard is great, complex and beautifully played. The best bits here are instrumental; Haskell's vocals are not a strong point (though the distortions are interesting) - even the guest vocals of Jon Anderson are better suited, and I'm no Yes fan. But why the need for vocals at all I wonder? (Zappa famously said you had to stick words on music to sell it.) This could have been made as a great instrumental album; perhaps Sinfield should have been put back in his box...
The DTS 5.1 surround sound helps to clarify a musically dense album - maybe it is a little more 'front and back' than Wilson's other Crimson mixes - and this was my reason to get this package, given the splendour of other 40th anniversary releases.
On both CD and DVD it's a pity the Lizard track isn't indexed to allow selection of it's individual parts - especially as one (Bolero) is included as an extra featuring Tony Levin on bass; no timings are given for any tracks.
Another review here (Why am I humming Dinosaur?... P. D. Allen) bemoans the CD-DVD format which seems default setting for surround sound now - probably since most people have a DVD player. Yes SACD would be far better - for example, like the Depeche Mode SACD-DVD surround packages - and why not? But DTS is the next best option. Aside from classical very little is released on SACD these days (and then often only stereo for reissues and at silly prices); this is a pity as it's a superb CD+surround format - and, yes, I have an SACD player not a DVD-A player. Also, as with Lizard, few of the KC reissues have video to justify the DVD format. Ho hum, Mammon rules again.