King Crimson
Lizard


4.0
excellent

Review

by Thomas Bambaataa Ghidrah Towers USER (67 Reviews)
October 7th, 2005 | 479 replies | 23,830 views


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist


9 of 9 thought this review was well written

If you were to ask someone which pet they like the most: cat, dog or lizard, most wouldn't choose the last one. I don't know why, a lizard doesn't hump legs or shed hair, but that's the crazy world we live in today. And so, King Crimson's Lizard is one of their more unpopular releases. That being said, mostly anybody who's heard of King Crimson hasn't heard anything beyond In the Court of the Crimson King, their groundbreaking, prog-defining 1969 debut. It's really a surprise the Kings made it up to this third album, their band line-up was constantly changing and falling apart. But King Crimson mustered out Lizard in the same year as their sophomore In the Wake of Poseidon, a poor imitation of their first, and made a radical change in sound.

Lizard is King Crimson's jazziest album. They had played with it before, but here the jazz/jazz fusion takes over pretty much completely. But that isn't revealed just yet; with the opening track Cirkus (they used a "k", how edgy!) A typical opener for Crimson, with the same menacing feel as other openers like One More Red Nightmare (Red, 1974) and 21st Century Schizoid Man (1969, In the Court of the Crimson King), but starts out nicely enough to dismiss that thought. With a jingling piano it starts out but suddenly bursts into a Mellotron lead evil-sounding theme, the orchestral sounds sound very artificial so it sounds like a loop or sample heard in electronic music. Guitarist Robert Fripp evocates incredible classical style guitar playing in Cirkus; he spreads his nylon stringed noise throughout the song.

Indoor Games and Happy Family both flow together nicely, both with honky-tonk piano, funny sounding horns, and a jazz vibe mixed with strange themes. Both get lost at some point in the song, in a mess of free style jazz lead by the piano and horns, Fripp's guitar, surprisingly enough, is left out. But undoubtedly the thing that gives Lizard that really strange edge, are Gordon Haskell's vocals. He replaced Greg Lake (future Emerson, Lake & Palmer front man, another big name in 70s prog) during the recording of In the Wake of Poseidon, which was unfortunate since Lake's raw voice was probably the best King Crimson ever had in their long history of swapping singers. Haskell's voice sounds like an old hippy running around singing about LSD-induced fairy tales. It's shaky, deep and even goofy. The short acoustic, transition track The Lady of Dancing Water is really the only time he sings somewhat 'properly'.

Lizard, the album's closer, is really the whole point of this album. It's unlike any other epic King Crimson had done before, virtually guitar-free and is horn/Mellotron/piano lead. The first movement a) Prince Rupert Awakes is sung by none other than Yes front man Jon Anderson, which helps makes it have the most catchiness and melody on the entire album. It's the most linear movement of the album as a song, because by the second movement the horn guided jamming returns, but much more elegant and organized than previous jams, and not as jazzy. The first movement is the last place you'll clearly hear guitar for quite a while in this 23 minute semi-suite, quietly accompanying Anderson's vocals throughout the verses and some cool guitars parts played backwards. The third section/movement c) The Battle of the Glass Tears is the biggest one, divided into three sub-sections, the first a quiet song featuring some Jethro Tullesque flute that reintroduces Haskell's voice, the second a grand revisiting of symphonic noise reminiscent of Cirkus. The third is the bass and drums providing a solemn rhythm while guitarist Robert Fripp finally comes back into the spotlight and plays a slow electric guitar solo. The drumming has gotten less interesting since Michael Giles left after Crimson's second album, replaced by Andy McCulloch, who fills aren't as captivating. The bass is also a bit of a snooze, an instrument that plays big roles in Crimson's other albums. Lizard ends with the Big Top, a small reprise of the piano heard in Cirkus, along with the horn section noodling around.

Lizard is a hard album to get into, especially if you've only heard their more hard rock stuff. The title track is specifically more difficult, not being a conventional progressive rock epic. But that's what I love about this album, that iy's very different and fascinating in way. Once you do learn to appreciate it, it's very easy to listen to it again and again. While Lizard is a departure from King Crimson's previous album, that previous album wasn't very interesting anyway, being a copy of their debut.

Lizard-----------> 4 stars



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Shattered_Future
October 7th 2005



1540 Comments


Good, informative review.

My Spanish teacher keeps talking about how I should listen to King Crimson...I had one of their albums for a while, but could never really get into it.

Maybe I should start listening to them again.

Zebra
Moderator
October 7th 2005



2647 Comments


Very nice, detailed review. The first track is my favorite and once I get into this album I can't get out.

NEDM
October 7th 2005



1113 Comments


Entwistle is gonna be pissed... he was gonna review all the KCs.

Great review though.

/jumps up in joy for commenting Galapogos' review.

DesolationRow
October 10th 2005



833 Comments


[quote= beyondtheblueprint] Entwistle is gonna be pissed... he was gonna review all the KCs. [/quote]

Umm, no. Just no. Stop posting, now.

Anyways, great review. Indoor Games is great. But Greg Lake's voice did it for me. I'd just like to say, your intro sentences are very creative.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 14th 2006



16086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album really gets overlooked in my opinion. Other than their debut, this is probably their best work. Indoor Games and Lizard are just brilliant songs.

Kage
June 17th 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album, and your review is what convinced me to get it. Fripp is amazing.

Rocksta71
July 20th 2006



1023 Comments


Im considering getting this one soon.

kaztor
August 31st 2006



7 Comments


Brilliant album!

One More Red Nightmare isn't the opening track of Red, though.
That's umm... Red!

Rocksta71
December 1st 2006



1023 Comments


After listening to this one again its not that bad at all.
*changes rating from 3 to 3.5*

any14doomsday
December 28th 2006



679 Comments


I like every other crimson album i have ever heard, but I cant even listen to this one, I think the vocals are awful.

AnyColour74
December 28th 2006



1054 Comments


I think the vocals are awful.

No.



Kage
December 28th 2006



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wish there were more recordings of this material live.

For anyone who doesn't like Cirkus, just listen to the live version on Ladies of the Road and prepare to have your opinion transformed.

Intransit
March 17th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good album, but doesn't hold a candle to Red and In the Court. Indoor Games, Cirkus, and Lizard are all pretty much ballin' though.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
April 18th 2007



16086 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A bloody underrated album. This is KC's best behind Red.

pulseczar
April 18th 2007



2385 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ah, 2005, back when I was a young, sexy, virile reviewer. /cue Neil Young's Old Man
While they have two or three albums better than this, when you're in the right mood Lizard can bitch-slap the rest of their discography.

Kage
April 29th 2007



1173 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[QUOTE=pulseczar]While they have two or three albums better than this, when you're in the right mood Lizard can bitch-slap the rest of their discography. [/QUOTE]
This is so unutterably god damn correct that I want to have sex with you.This Message Edited On 04.29.07

Pig on the wing
June 2nd 2007



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

At times there is nothing better than listening to Happy Family incredibly loud, and getting lost in all the chaos. Marvelous stuff.

lauriej
May 9th 2009



1711 Comments


from the songs ive heard, this is really underrated.

Digging: Robin Trower - Bridge of Sighs

Mendigo
May 9th 2009



2299 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yes. the title track is genius. as is Cirkus. and the rest is great too actually.

lauriej
May 9th 2009



1711 Comments


those are the 2 i checked out actually. really impressive stuff, love the flirtations with jazz.



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