King Crimson
Red


4.5
superb

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
May 17th, 2010 | 62 replies | 6,330 views


Release Date: 1974 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A superb, dark effort that combines almost all of the strengths from King Crimson's first decade of work, and a worthy end to an era.

6 of 6 thought this review was well written

Red is a special record: it’s the last 70’s, all-Brits King Crimson album, released after Robert Fripp had already disbanded the group, and more importantly: it combines almost all of the strengths of the group so far, recalling back even to their early masterpiece In The Court in the Crimson King. What made this possible is the reappearance of early members of the group, notably Ian McDonald and Mel Collins. This combined earlier-used instruments such as saxophones and woodwinds with the dark, even nightmarish atmosphere of more recent times, making Red an album that stands firm as a final opus until Fripp would unexpectedly resurface with a once again refurnished company in the dawning 80’s.

After Larks’ Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black, King Crimson was reduced to a quartet and trio, respectively. Aside from Fripp, only Wetton and Bruford remain of the original Larks’ line-up, although Cross still aided the recording of this final album as a guest musician, his performance being logically much less notable than on the group’s two previous records. The three remaining produced at thick, dense sound that kept the dark atmosphere of this formation perfectly intact. The opening title track takes the manner in hand immediately, and opens up with a lot of drive and aggression. Although the instrumental (yes, this Crimson just loves those) keeps the same tone throughout, the multiple time changes keep it continually interesting. Also notice the strong cello section.

The shortest of the Palmer-James-penned trilogy, Red counts only 5 tracks, although 12-minute closer Starless is one of the longest ever by the group. The only other instrumental and also weakest track by far is the improvisational jam Providence, which has been taken from a live recording and therefore wouldn’t have misfit next to the other, similar material on Starless and Bible Black. It most prominently features Cross on this album, but is boring, doesn’t go anywhere, and Red would have been much better off without it.

That said, the other four tracks here are quite brilliant. Following the opening title track is Fallen Angel, one of the best ballads King Crimson have ever done. As soon as Wetton comes in with vocals for the first time on the album, you’ll be astounded how much better he sounds compared to his two previous performances. The track soon moves into the trademark strength of this formation with a disturbing rhythm section and a slow but alarming Fripp, but is made unique by the notable reappearance of the saxophone. Not soon after it has faded out comes in the underrated One Red Nightmare. Bruford does some of his most remarkable percussion here, Fripp grinds away with his guitar, Wetton keeps up his dark bass sound, but the most appealing feature about the song might be his vocals, which are highly enjoyable because of the strong accent they’re performed in.

What really does tilt Red to perhaps the best King Crimson album next to their masterpiece debut is its last swansong Starless, which blows anything that is not on In the Court of the Crimson King completely out of the water. The beauty of the track is that it recalls several earlier moments in Crimson’s career. It opens up a what seems to be another Epitaph-esque song, in which must be mentioned that John Wetton performs vocals so well he almost makes up for his poor performance on Larks’ Exiles. The mellotron arrangement can’t be missed, of course, and also the soft saxophone is great and Fripp’s guitar is very captivating. About 5 minutes in, however, the song cleverly shifts to the territory of dark instrumentals from this era, building up tension, getting louder and louder, and then explodes into a sudden fantastic saxophone solo, returns to the tension, and closes off amazingly with the same melody it starts with. Describing it does it no true right, as its pure brilliance cannot be put in words. Its last fading notes close off Red in the best manner possible; a fantastic opus by an intricate group.

Red’s King Crimson was:

- Robert Fripp ~ Guitar, Mellotron
- John Kenneth Wetton ~ Bass Guitar, Vocals
- William Scott Bruford ~ Drums, Percussion

Guests:

- David Cross ~ Violin, Keyboards
- Mel Collins ~ Soprano Saxophone
- Ian McDonald ~ Alto Saxophone, Keyboards
- Robin Miller ~ Oboe, various wind instruments
- Marc Charig ~ Cornet

Lyrics by Richard Palmer-James


TO BE CONTINUED...



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user ratings (1313)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
May 17th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The more I've been working on this discography, the more I've come to appreciate Crimson's work. Expect Discipline and follow-ups at another time.

BigHans
May 17th 2010



26455 Comments


Nice work here Nag, I still have yet to hear this despite several recs. Oh, and RIP Dio.

Nagrarok
May 17th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

RIP Dio indeed, although he doesn't even have anything to do with this record. Starless will blow your freaking mind Hans.

BigHans
May 17th 2010



26455 Comments


I'll download it tomorrow, Im on a Dio tribute today.

Nagrarok
May 17th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I will honour the good man at another time, since sadly I am away from my music at the time. This week, I will blast all classic tracks he sung on from my stereo. I've got all the essential Dio records: Rising, Long Live Rock N Roll, Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules, Holy Diver. Might buy Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow to complete it and pay my tribute.

Urinetrouble
May 17th 2010



5754 Comments


i love king crimson and my fav album is actually lizard mostly for the jazz stuff

Ponton
Emeritus
May 17th 2010



5784 Comments


Great job, I'll try out in the court of the crimson king today, and maybe this if I enjoy it

Nagrarok
May 17th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool. Be sure to let me know what you think of it.

Roach
May 17th 2010



2149 Comments


nagrarok you wanna tinkle in ma butt?




this record is plenty awesome

Jethro42
May 17th 2010



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Starless annnd...BIBLE BLAAACK
Excellent review for a classic KC album.
Sadly, 'Providence' seems to be on the list to prove they were short of creativity. I love
its insane 2nd half though. Sad to realize how wide the gap had been before the advent of
their 'modern-avant-garde new-wave-prog' era, still alive today.
Seven long years separates 'Red' from 'Discipline'!!!..
They left at their peak to come back in style with the same splendor, and enthousiasm renewed,
to create the masterpiece 'Discipline' in 1981 (Whoa I was 18 years old). Waves and goodbye to
Wetton, and welcome to Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, maestro Bruford and of course mastermind Fripp.
*bowing*



Ponton
Emeritus
May 17th 2010



5784 Comments


I really like it nag (their debut), and I didn't think it would be my thing. It will take a while for me to rate though

BigHans
May 17th 2010



26455 Comments


I like In the Court of the Crimson king, especially the title track, which is Godly. However, there are moments where I feel its a tad overrated, I don't like the opener and the mid section of Moonchild absolutely bores me to tears.

LepreCon
May 17th 2010



3591 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review Nag
So close to being a 5 for me but it just doesn't thrill me like the debut does

Nagrarok
May 17th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks everyone.

I really like it nag (their debut), and I didn't think it would be my thing. It will take a while for me to rate though


Awesome. What's your favourite track so far?

I like In the Court of the Crimson king, especially the title track, which is Godly. However, there are moments where I feel its a tad overrated, I don't like the opener and the mid section of Moonchild absolutely bores me to tears.


21st Century Schizoid Man WILL grow on you, it did with me. Moonchild is truly boring.

So close to being a 5 for me but it just doesn't thrill me like the debut does


Pretty much. It's also a shame they both have that one very boring track.

eggsvonsatan
May 17th 2010



1087 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Probably my favorite crimson album. I want to give it a 5, but i almost always skip providence, so its kind of difficult.

FadeToBlack
May 17th 2010



10913 Comments


well if you don't like 1/5 of the album, that's not even a 4.5 in my book. jus sayin

EVedder27
May 17th 2010



6088 Comments


Excellent work again Nag, just one thing:

"Following the opening title track is Fallen Angel, one of the best ballads King Crimson ever did."

Shouldn't it be had ever done? Read a bit choppy for me.

On the subject of the album, Starless is absolutely amazing.


Greggers
May 17th 2010



2375 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It should probably be "have ever done" if that's the case, Mike.

Anyway, great review Nag, I actually haven't listened to King Crimson that much, though In the Court... is a fantastic album.

Jethro42
May 17th 2010



12377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Need a top KC song list? You're welcome.
http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=280733

EVedder27
May 17th 2010



6088 Comments


It should probably be "have ever done" if that's the case, Mike.

yeah, I guess it depends on how the sentence is worded.



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