King Crimson
Earthbound


2.0
poor

Review

by jaffa calling USER (50 Reviews)
August 31st, 2013 | 24 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ersatz shite? Absolutely in every sense of the word...

In all the time spent listening to music, and albums of the progressive rock sub-genre, there’s been an infinite amount of recordings to go through. Many of them are pretty damn good, and are lasting proof of how innovative these groups could be. There have also been albums that show a far more pretentious side to the artists themselves. In order to get to the good stuff, you must stumble upon a dud. Every prog-head has had a dud, whether it is Love Beach or Tormato, there’s always going to be an album that you’ll try to like, but it never clicks.

One of these albums is Earthbound, which until the late 1990’s, was the only live (official) document of the short-lived “Islands”-era line-up, featuring the late Boz Burrell and Ian Wallace, along with saxist Mel Collins. The album is infamous for its extremely-poor audio quality, a result of the album being hastily picked by Robert Fripp from the collection of tapes gathered over the group’s final U.S. tour that winter. On Earthbound, there are few things to be familiar with, as the only recognizable recordings include: 21st Schizoid Man, The Sailor’s Tale, and Groon. Everything else, however, are what Fripp calls “jams”, and not actual “improvs”, for this particular incarnation of King Crimson were more accustomed to blues-based jams and not the meticulous improvisations that was somewhat present in the previous live incarnation and would be a big part of future incarnations of Crimson.

Kicking off the album, Schizoid Man, even in its poor quality, is able to sound pretty stellar. The group, grinding along intensely, with Burrell's growling vocals, gives an edge to the apocalyptic lyric; although it doesn’t really show Burrell’s vocal prowess as it did with other performances. The improv drives the song along even further, building up to an explosive finale, before being abruptly cut off. One of the two new songs on Earthbound, Peoria is much more relaxed than the previous track, giving Mel Collins a chance to show his chops as a saxist. Burrell also uses this time to mumble around, weakening the track itself. Earthbound although, is about as good as indulging in cat food, with Burrell adding even more unnecessary scat vocals to the track, although it is pretty rousing and cheerful. Behind these two jams showed the internal issues of the band. Fripp losing control of his own band, was the victim of a mutiny of some sort. The other tracks, The Sailor’s Tale and Groon, feature impressive playing by the band, the latter being one of the best renditions of the track, despite being cut off earlier than usual. Groon features the band working as a unit, before Wallace takes the helm for his VCS3-infused drum solo, channeling Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Only after the solo is finally over, does the band come back in before fading out, ending the album.

Earthbound, throughout the long forty-one years it has been out, has always been known for how jarring it was to the ear and how it went against everything Fripp had done quality-wise in the previous and coming years. It was and is notoriously weak, to the point where Fripp attempted to “delete” the album, rendering it hard to find, before customer demand forced him to release it several years later. It was bad to the point where Atlantic Records, the band’s North American label, absolutely refused to release it, and was released on E.G.’s budget label due to its quality alone. Thinking about, this album could’ve been much better, and definitely much worse. From what was released twenty years later on the “King Crimson Collector’s Club”, Fripp had far much more shows to choose from, but for one reason or another, chose the worst possible recordings, surprising for someone who is known for high quality recordings. In general, there was so much wasted potential, both on this album, and for this particular incarnation of King Crimson.

I really wanted to like it and all, but with the exception of Schizoid Man and Peoria, there’s simply nothing here to enjoy in this mess of bogged-down sound that is called a “live album”. To put this review in four words: “It’s not worth it.” Nothing here is worth your time, and while there are some enjoyable aspects to Earthbound, the effort put forth here is just downright shameful.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
2.1
poor

Comments:Add a Comment 
MrSirLordGentleman
August 30th 2013


4881 Comments


If fripper gives a 2 for a Crimson album, then it REALLY sucks haha

Mister Twister
August 30th 2013


1815 Comments


you cannot grasp the true form of king crimsons shitty album

Digging: Rorschach - Protestant

MrSirLordGentleman
August 30th 2013


4881 Comments


I think I've heard the version of 21st Century Schizoid Man of this album it was... "average" yet decent

Hey fripper, I want to dig a KC album, which one do you recommend me? (if it has songs from Red way better, haha)

MrSirLordGentleman
August 30th 2013


4881 Comments


hahaa thanks, yeah I have Larks' Tongues and Discipline but I don't think I have heard them enough to rate them (they're not as good as Red or ItCotCk of course) and yeah been wanting to check Starless and Bible Black too

MrSirLordGentleman
August 30th 2013


4881 Comments


Good musicians always hate their works hahaha, yeah, actually they might be the most consistent of the four, could've been PF but after The Final Cut and More....? nope

Cygnatti
August 30th 2013


22338 Comments


earthbound is like the best game ever.

Digging: Jerry Lee Lewis - Live at the Star Club, Hamburg

Gwyn.
August 30th 2013


15324 Comments


"there’s always going to be an album that you’ll try to like and/or dislike"

This sentences seems kinda bizarre to me, do you mean just "or dislike" without the "and/"?

Even then though I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean, who tries to dislike an album?

Other than that, I'm kinda too tired to read a review right now but after skimming it, it seems pretty
good so good job for what it's worth. Will probably read sometime tomorrow

Digging: Grief - Come to Grief

Cygnatti
August 30th 2013


22338 Comments


Ofc mother 3 is better!! Ugh when you find out that the masked man is Klaus, omg!!

Cygnatti
August 30th 2013


22338 Comments


I would totes dig into the earthbound soundtrack except that trees like 150 songs on it.damn

Gwyn.
August 30th 2013


15324 Comments


"Yeah, kind of got mixed up there. Oh well, I guess you can't get them perfect every time, right?"

I guess so lol

That's better. I rarely listen to live albums but I guess I now know to stay from this

Mister Twister
August 30th 2013


1815 Comments


Nice spoiler there bro.

Might wanna fix that for those who don't know, but intend on playing it. It's a huge revelation.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 31st 2013


20158 Comments


guess i won't be listening to this. pretty good write-up man.

Here's some feedback...

"The group, grinding along intensely, with Burrell growling vocals, giving an edge to the apocalyptic lyric, although it doesn’t really show Burrell’s vocal prowess as it did with other performances."

I just feel this sentence reads kind of awkwardly. I see what you're going for, but maybe just word it differently? Just doesn't flow as well as the rest of the review. Still nice job though, pos.

Digging: Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D major, BWV 1050

NightmareCinema16
August 31st 2013


2016 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I tried. The overall quality of the audio is a massive letdown, tbh.

manosg
August 31st 2013


6712 Comments


Damn, a 2? I guess I won't even try to listen to this one.

Well written man, pos.

Digging: Whitesnake - Slide It In

Hoppoman
August 31st 2013


656 Comments


Gunna have to check this out, despite the fact that it may be utter pants.

Donchivo
August 31st 2013


468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

best version of schizoid man i came across so far, its so in your face and massive... only for that it deserves a higher rating, thou apart from that song thi is nothing too special...

ah and the sound: yeah it's bad, but this after all is rock n roll (especially schizoid!) so i don't mind too much

Donchivo
September 1st 2013


468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well, only bad thing about being unforgiving is to miss out on this mindblowing version of schizoid man!

Donchivo
September 1st 2013


468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

no, i haven't. are these recordings with the same lineup? on what releases can they be found? I dont like burrell too much, but his disability to sing gives schizoid man this nice raw edge.

Donchivo
September 1st 2013


468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thats lots of Crimso for a rainy sunday evening, thanks mate!
Gonna check out some of that tonite. And yeah still need to delve deeper into crimso live... but there is so much music and so few time....

SeedsofNone
July 16th 2014


336 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

you cannot grasp the true form of king crimsons shitty album



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