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on 23 February 2009
The two Great Deceiver packages add up to arguably the definitive portrait of the great 1973-4 Crimson line-up (many fans' favorite). Though several songs appear three or even four times across the four CDs, the performances mostly differ significantly due to the group's heavy investment in improvisation. More importantly, the group's onstage speciality - free, open-ended improvisation (not only unrelated to any particular song but frequently arhythmic and atonal) - is heavily documented, and better represented here than anywhere else in the official catalogue.
Although volumes 1 and 2 (which, in the old format, would have been volumes 1+2 and volumes 3+4) are both outstanding - this one has the edge. In fact, out of all the KC live albums, this is the one to get first, or first-and-last if one must choose between them. ("USA" for all its fame, is nowhere near as good).
The material here is drawn from four shows across an eight-month timespan - Pittsburgh, Penn State (briefly), Toronto and Zurich. Almost all of the core repertoire is heard - "Exiles", "The Night Watch", "The Talking Drum" [now very much David Cross's tour de force], "Fracture", "Starless" [where Cross plays the fast solo, on violin instead of keyboards], and "Larks Tongues In Aspic" [the complete Part One and a strangely abbreviated Part Two]. There is also a seldom-heard classic ("The Great Deceiver" itself) and, more importantly, the long-neglected "Doctor Diamond", performed in various forms throughout 1973-74 but not recorded in the studio (the compilers have chosen the final arrangement, with a slow-paced, thoroughly-composed instrumental middle).
But this is just the garni du jour - the meat of the matter is the improvisation.
True, some of the tracks tagged Improvisation are just preambles to existing songs - but even they are capable of varying wildly ("Some Pussyfooting" and "Bartley Butsford" are nothing like the original prefaces to "Larks...1" and "Exiles", as well as being substantially different from the performances on albums like "Collectable King Crimson Vol. 1").
The more substantial Improvisations include delicate folk-jazz hybrids ("Daniel Dust") and straightforward hard-rocking ("The Golden Walnut", whose first half includes a germ of an idea that lovers of the "Red" album will recognise). But then there's the stuff in between - brace yourself! "The Law of Maximum Distress", "Clueless And Slightly Slack", "Wilton Carpet", "Is There Life Out There", "Some More Pussyfooting"...whether you describe this as avant-garde rock, electric free-jazz or something else, there's no mistaking some of the most hair-raising, edge-of-your-seat, far-out collective improvisation it is possible to listen to.
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This 2-CD release is the second half of the original 4-disk boxed set from 1992 featuring performances from 1973-4 King Crimson tour. The 1970s band was for most fans the seminal KC; the summit of this endlessly rejuvenating musical project.

The Fripp-Bruford-Wetton-Cross quartet delivers some stunning performances from concerts in Pittsburgh, Penn State, Toronto and Zurich recorded variously between November 1973 and June 1974. The titles of these two disks are `Acts of Deception (The Magic Circus, or Weasels Stole our Fruit)' and `But Neither are they Otherwise'. Highlights include 2 different takes of `The Talking Drum' (each a David Cross tour-de-force), a live version of LTiA1 from the Zurich gig, and `Doctor Diamond' never released on a studio recording.

This line-up of KC was best heard live on stage, where the virtuosity of these great musicians playing off each other in extended improvisations has to be witnessed to be believed. Normally only great jazz musicians can throw away the rule book and go off script in this way, and if you are familiar with the band's studio output (like `Larks' Tongues in Aspic') from this period, the onstage performance is going to be a revelation.

Still for my money the best available `official' release of the 1970s KC onstage is `The Night Watch', a single complete live concert at Amsterdam Concertgebouw on 23rd November 1973. TGD nevertheless runs it close, and is indispensable for genuine fans of this extraordinary music.
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on 22 January 2008
This is all that a live album should be(as per volume 1)-top material,top sound,informative sleeve notes,diary entries from band members,and all presented with excellent artwork again by PJ Crook.

Major record labels should consider the fact that fans of bands desire releases such as this and perhaps in the future it may benefit them to be more imaginative when taking ownership of artists work-belatedly happening in some instances already.
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on 6 July 2009
King Crimson were always way beyond Progressive Rock, a genre that they have recently been bundled into Avant Garde might be more appropriate but still it does not really tell you much either as it means so many things when it is applied to music that breaks away from Rock, Jazz, Western Classical etc. King Crimson have always been a different sort of rock band, who improvise like a jazz band. There is an almost mystical oneness about their music that transcends the decades of their existence and the various stages and line up changes in their history.

Jazz has musicians who have released many albums which reinterpret a limited range of compositions but still make each recording worth listening to beside the others. Thelonious Monk for instance recorded all his best known compositions early in his recording career for Blue Note now available on Genius of Modern Music Vol.1: and [[ASIN:B00005MIZ5 Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2Remastered]]but drew on this repertoire over and over again for the rest of his life. All his albums are different and worthy in their own right because of the individual approach he always took to performance. King Crimson, as has been stated in other reviews here, place an emphasis on improvisation in their live performance and this era of the band was supremely well equipped for the task. It is always a joy to hear these songs having new life breathed into them and the improvised passages in these live shows are rather wonderful. It is unsurprising that Robert Fripp has been able to capitalise so effectively on his archive of past KC recordings. This and its partner album another gem in the crown of the Crimson King
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on 25 September 2010
Just received this and played disc one all through. I love loud group improv like Crimson, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Santana, Man and the 70s Grateful Dead. I was amazed to find out how much improv KC did and it shows their trademarks - heavier by far than the Dead, more angular, very English in its way and consistently avant garde. The discipline and talent of all players is outstanding. Nothing here is wasted, great selections. The earlier reviewers are correct so I won't repeat them. I suspect that, like Yes and Genesis, Crimson will always appeal mainly to blokes but I don't feel the need to apologise for that. Some possible "finest hours" on here.
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on 23 May 2016
no-one in music is doing this quality , in 2016 .
I went to see them live in Edinburgh last year ( and have seen many other bands since 1974 )
This band ( minus Belew ) is the epitome
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on 4 June 2014
By parts one an two and hear the live best ever line up of the best bunch of talented musicians that have ever lived. Don't just read, BUY, BUY, BUY.
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on 23 July 2013
Excellent live album. A lot of King Crimson's improvisations of their known songs.
Technically very good recording, sounds very good.
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on 2 February 2016
great
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