Review Summary: In the Court/Wake of The Crimson King/Poseidon?8 of 8 thought this review was well written
Most prog listeners will immediately agree with me when I say that In the Court of the Crimson King
was a truly amazing, compelling, creative, daring and overall astounding album. King Crimson, in their first manner of existence, was a unique ensemble. King Fripp himself had a jazz-influenced manner of playing that could be both menacing and calm; it was so unique and inventive that the term ‘Frippian’ was devised by us proggies especially to describe his style. The rest of Crimson, however, was just as talented. Who could forget Lake’s amazing, dreamy voice and equally strong bass performance, McDonald’s multi-instrumental abilities, or Giles’ perfectly-p(l)aced drumming? King Crimson’s first incarnation, as they have often been referred to, was any prog band’s dream line-up.
Then WHY did they have to break up?
Less than a year in the game, the original King Crimson had already disbanded partially, McDonald and Giles not being satisfied with the direction Fripp was steering towards. Truth be told, in the end, Crimson’s ever-revolving formation only makes the group more interesting to listen to and observe as a changing identity. Their second album, In the Wake of Poseidon
, however seems basically a repetition of their debut. A lot of similarities can be found between the two, starting with Pictures of a City
. The actual opener, which follows after the less-than-a-minute intro Peace: A Beginning
, one of the album's three themes, is too obviously a distilled version of the menacing 21st Century Schizoid Man
. The riffs and saxophone lead is extremely similar, but less aggressive, it contains an interlude called 42nd at Treadmill
that is a same soft copy of Mirrors
, and it concludes with the same manner of noise. Even the vocals are again (partially) distorted.
Cadence and Cascade
does little to question the conclusion drawn by the album’s first 9 minutes. The only thing that really sets it apart from I Talk to the Wind
is the fact that it is led primarily by acoustic guitar instead of flute (though it does have a flute performance later on), and the change of vocalists. Lake had already wanted to leave Crimson prior to the release of Poseidon
, forming prog giants Emerson, Lake & Palmer
, but negotiated to receive the band’s PA equipment in exchange for singing on the album’s recordings (he doesn’t play bass on this release either, which is a shame, considering his skills). Gordon Haskell, an old friend of Fripp, is the exception on the third track, and would continue with the band in the future.
Let’s get one thing straight though: Pictures of a City
and Cadence and Cascade are great songs, inferior copies as they may be. The real problems start to arise with the title track. Guess what? It’s a watered-down Epitaph
. An Epitaph
without the bone-chilling intro and mellotron arrangement (which Fripp took over from McDonald at this point), perfect vocal delivery and haunting lyrics. Sinfield’s lyricism is still very much fitting with the band’s music, but you can’t help comparing. Those found on In the Court of the Crimson King
were amazing weaved together with the enduring tunes. Those found on In the Wake of Poseidon
are still trademark Sinfield, but are less effective: the combination of words and musical images made the experience so very powerful. Here, especially the musical factor in the equation was severely lacking.
The last two songs are the most original ones. Cat Food
carries, apart from the distorted vocals, no similarity to the group’s debut for the first time (not counting the Peace
themes, of course), and is an eclectic piece that provides a much-needed break (the addition of piano really helps here). The Devil’s Triangle
is an epic, 10-minute soundscape that encompasses just a few moments of The Court of the Crimson King
in it, but thankfully mostly stands on itself instead of becoming a fourth copy. Though an interesting piece, it doesn’t manage to keep up its momentum for the entire running length, similar to what Moonchild
So yes, it is only two track and three themes that set In the Wake of Poseidon
apart from In the Court of the Crimson King
. Obviously, that isn’t enough. But looking at the good points, the likes of Pictures of a City
and Cadence and Cascade
aren’t half bad, the only actual disappointment being the title track. Perhaps it is no real surprise the Crimson tried to copy the success of the first work. That tradition of a changing sound was only to commence with later releases, as becomes clear when listening to the group’s second album. In the Wake of a Poseidon
is certainly a major disappointment next to what came before it. It is however by no means a bad album.
In the Wake of Poseidon’s King Crimson was:
- Robert Fripp ~ Guitars, Mellotron, Devices
- Gregory Ron Lake ~ Lead Vocals
- Michael Rex Giles ~ Drums
- Peter John Sinfield ~ Words and Illumination
- Mel Collins ~ Flute, Saxophones
- Peter Giles ~ Bass Guitar
- Keith Tippet ~ Piano
- Gordon Haskell ~ Lead Vocals on 'Cadence and Cascade'