King Crimsons In the Court of the Crimson King
is a monumental piece of work. Now I'm no big progressive rock fan but I do realize that this record was the first prog rock album ever released, or at least one of the first. Believe it or not In the Court of the Crimson King
is still a success as of today. Some of the biggest progressive rock fans claim that it is their favorite album of all time and that's kind of mindblowing considering that the album was released in 1969. After hearing so much about it I rushed out to the store and bought myself a copy of In the Court of the Crimson King
without much knowledge of the band or the genre.
So why the three star rating? If this music is supposed to be so awe-inspiring then how come it just salvages a "good" instead of a "classic?" No need to panic, I will defend my lackluster rating throughout the course of my review rather then dismiss this as a putrid pile of dog poop.
I really like what King Crimson was getting at with this album, but I just think that they could have done a few things a little bit better. Contrary to what I just said the album opens up with a magnificent tune in 21st Century Schizoid Man
. A gruesome, distorted vocal line kicks things off over a loud, scratchy guitar noise. After this a sleazy brigade of brass instruments play an eerie, sort of slimy line creating a menacing and almost haunting type of atmosphere. Throughout the song snappy saxophone parts are presented as well as quick paced drumming and some jazzy bass work. It's a very jazzy and exhilarating song, my only problem is that the band felt it was appropriate to end the song with thirty seconds of noise, but that aside 21st Century Schizoid Man
is a fascinating piece of music.
The second track I Talk to the Wind
is a step down from the opener and it doesn't really do to much. Some breezy flute work is showcased along with Greg Lakes soothing vocals creating a very casual feel. The music is just so calm and relaxed, it almost sounds like a song that would belong on an Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. Unfortunately the song doesn't really go anywhere. It's nice to listen to the mellow flute instrument and all yet I can't say that the music fails to "progress."
Since there are only five tracks on this album the mid-section of In the Court of the Crimson King
consists of one song, and it's called Epitaph
. It starts out with a bubbly bassline, a chiming acoustic, mellotron, some cool orchestra-esque instruments and more of Lakes soothing vocals. The music slowly builds up as the rich texture of instruments create a very majestic feel. Towards the middle of the song some gloomy sounding woodwind instrument takes over along with various thumping sounds. Once this comes to a halt the bubbly bassline returns along with the gentle acoustic guitar and various dynamics. As the song fades out you can hear some frantic drum rolls, and it's pretty neat. There is a mildly melancholy tone in Greg Lakes voice and at points the track can get both depressing and intense. To be honest I really enjoy the magical atmosphere of Epitaph
yet I fail to see what's so amazing about it. Don't get me wrong, it’s an enjoyable listen but once again the song doesn't seem to "progress" as it just relies on a smooth brigade of instruments. Not to mention the fact that it is slightly repetitive.
While the first three songs are all well written the fourth tune Moonchild
is almost a complete waste. A gloomy echoing sound kicks the song off as Lake quickly makes his way into the song by whispering out the lyrics. The gloomy sound continues as subtle background noises such as a silver triangle and a simple drum beat make their way into the music. The song possesses a calm and relaxed feel, it contains a fairy tale-esque sort of vibe. Moonchild
starts off fairly well but the last nine minutes of the song is a bunch of nonsense. Random clanking noises, strange drumbeats, and odd electronic sounds are played for nine minutes with absolutely no direction. Once the music starts to calm down some random percussion comes in and plays for a few seconds, then the music gets quiet and we do it all over again. It really feels like King Crimson were just messing around in the studio without any intent. While Moonchild
does have a "psychedelic" feel it's ambience is extremely boring, dull, and pointless.
The Court of the Crimson King
brings the album to a dramatic end and is fairly similar to Epitaph
, a slow, melancholy finger-picked acoustic plays over Lakes soothing voice. The music slowly builds up as flutes and violins play softly in the background. Eventually the music explodes into a boisterous, mesmerizing chorus. The chorus almost sounds like it could be coming from a large choir of angels as they sing "In the court of the Crimson King." That’s the boisterous part, the mesmerizing part consists of mellow "ahhhhhhhing." Throughout the rest of the tune flutes, organs, electronics, mellotron, and guitars are featured creating a whimsical and lush piece of music. I suppose King Crimson could have cut the song down to about seven minutes or so because the song comes to a halt for about thirty seconds then starts up again. The albums closer is obviously the highlight as it showcases one of the catchiest choruses that I have ever listened to as well as a wide variety of instruments.
In the Court of the Crimson King
shows off some great instrumentation, songwriting, and musicianship. Out of the five songs that made the cut I think that two of them are excellent, they are 21st Century Schizoid Man
and The Court of the Crimson King
and I Talk to the Wind
are both decent songs, while they both possess a soothing and sublime atmosphere they can also get quite boring and are almost two relaxed for their own good. What obviously kills the album is Moonchild
, it doesn't really do anything or go anywhere. The band tried an experiment and it went bad as the song shows nothing interesting, unique, or new.
Sure. King Crimsons In the Court of the Crimson King
is considered a classic album by many diehard progressive rock nuts. While I agree that this is a classic I cannot recommend it myself. There are many highlights featured on this record yet there are also some boring and dull moments showcased mainly in the mid-section of the album. In 1969 I can see how In the Court of the Crimson King
would be such groundbreaking piece of work but thirty-seven years later it just sounds a bit to archaic and dated.