Sometimes a band just can’t follow up a brilliant debut. To put it simply, In the Wake of Poseidon
is to In the Court of the Crimson King
what “Cannonball Run 2” is to “Cannonball Run”; a fun and slightly interesting ride through the same old, same old.
Obviously, King Crimson’s first release was hailed upon its release as something groundbreaking, something special. Thus, when heading into the studio (relatively soon after their first release, even for the time period), King Crimson was under pressure to create something as poignant and awe-inspiring as In the Court…
. The first real track (after a calm little intro entitled Peace/A Beginning
) is an indication of the approach they seemingly took in the studio; replicate the energy and vastness of their first album.
Sure, Pictures of a City
doesn’t initially sound like the barnburner 21st Century Schizoid Man
. However, when you really listen to the song, you cant help but notice the similarities: the way the song crashes and ascends, the sudden violent explosions of sounds to accompany verses, the fast paced and jittery instrumental bridge. It’s just wrapped in a pretty, slightly more jazz-based package that makes it seem more fresh than it really is. However, it is important to note that Fripp has vastly improved here, as his guitar solo, unlike before, easily matches that of Peter Giles (replacement bassist for Greg Lake, who merely did vocal work here) and Michael Giles’s drumming.
In fact, the slight shift in the lineup was the first King Crimson would have in their largley chaotic history, and it was perhaps the one that had the least effect on the music. While the excellent Greg Lake had stepped down from bass duties, Peter does a suitable job for most of the album, although he never really shows off like Lake used to do. The other changes are mostly actual solidified additions, such as flutist and sax player Mel Collins, who adds both the most serene and frenzied moments on the album with his instruments, respectively. Future singer Gordon Haskell also makes a brief appearance on the dreadfully dreary song Cadence and Cascade
Previously, King Crimson had done I Talk to the Wind
, a slow and moody flute driven track that was emotionally touching and moving. Much in the same manner they recreated 21st Century Schizoid Man
for this album, so they do with that track on Cascade and Cadence
. Except, unlike last time, this version is just plodding and a complete waste of time. However, the preceding track finally shows promise for the record, as In the Wake of Poseidon
finally gives this album a sense of self. It’s a sweeping mellotron song in the fashion of Epitaph
before it, but the similarities generally stop there, as the song actually has a strange irony about it, something rather inexpressible in words. It’s not the strongest track on the album and drags on far too long for its 8 minute length, but at least it’s a start.
When you finally reach Cat Food
, the album finally hits its peak. It’s the most unique song from the earliest parts of King Crimson’s career,. No other song sounds quite like it, and the funk bassline and the crazy vocals (it’s very straight-to-the-point delivery, something King Crimson had never really done). The piano in the song is eclectic and gives the song another layer that nothing else on here possesses, and the general inanity of the song (the chorus is “No use to complain, if your caught out in the rain-Your mother’s quite insane- Cat food, Cat food, Cat food!”) is quite a treat, and the lightheartedness is a welcome respite from the dark atmosphere of the rest of the album.
In fitting fashion, the centerpiece song of the album also encompasses it the most clearly. The Devil’s Triangle
, an instrumental take on a much older orchestral composition, is long, slow, and epic; with the first few minutes slowly fading into all of its glory. It certainly doesn’t sound like anything on their debut, that’s for sure. Except, the song never really impresses
you. Sure, it’s a very good piece of work, and you could call it brilliant, even. But for all its wonder and pizzazz, the song never really gets to that point. That point that really tells you why you’ve been listening to the song, and gives you the big payoff for all your listening endeavors.
That’s In the Wake of Poseidon
for ya. A very slow romp through jazz-based and hard rock-based progressive, with nearly all of its ideas taken from previous works, specifically by themselves. It’s sort of a stopgap between the brilliance of In the Court of the Crimson King
, as it contains some of the flashes the latter would soon contain, but is trapped in the confines and sounds of their former work. It isn’t a bad record, but by no means is it something a non-King Crimson fan should bother to check out.
In the Wake of Poseidon