King Crimson
Sailors’ Tales (1970 – 1972)


4.5
superb

Review

by praise jimmy STAFF
November 27th, 2017 | 86 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And reels of dreams unrolled...

Often regarded as the weakest era in King Crimson lore, the three year period following the band’s 1969 triumph In The Court of the Crimson King was, for the longest time, a highly misunderstood and unfairly dismissed time in the band’s history. The span from 1970 to 1972 produced three albums all incredibly different from another, not only in its greatly restricted lineups, but down to its very core with an extreme contrast in style from album to album. 1970’s In The Wake of Poseidon featured four of the five original members, but already pictured a band fractured and more than ready to head their own separate ways – Greg Lake had been recruited to join Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in a new band, while Ian MacDonald and Michael Giles were recording their own album featuring material that had been rejected for inclusion on Poseidon, including the very underrated “Birdman” suite. On top of this, the album, while considered an improved version of Court, would later be deemed as nothing more than a mere copy of its predecessor despite it containing several classic Crimson cuts such as “Pictures of a City”, “In The Wake of Poseidon”, and “Cadence and Cascade”. It would be followed by the avant-jazz masterwork Lizard, which welcomed Gordon Haskell, Andy McCulloch and Mel Collins into the band; Haskell and Collins both guested on Poseidon, although in Haskell’s case, his decision to officially join the band as the successor to Lake would be a regret as he would recall the recording of Lizard as a rather bad experience.

Lizard bucked the trend of following the symphonic blueprint of the first two records, instead delving into manic free jazz vocabulary, thanks to the heavy participation of the best jazz musicians in Britain, such as returning Poseidon pianist Keith Tippett (who was offered a spot in Crimson around this time), and brass/woodwind players Robin Miller, Mark Charig, and Nick Evans; Yes vocalist Jon Anderson would guest on the first section of the titular epic, entitled “Prince Rupert Awakes”. Increasing usage in new technology such as the VCS3 modulators added a new layer of depth to Crimson’s new sound, which associated with lyricist Peter Sinfield’s fantasy-based writing, created a highly surreal work of art. Following an internal dispute concerning Haskell’s vocal abilities and an increasingly strained working relationship between the Motown devotee and Robert Fripp’s domineering personality, Haskell left the band; McCulloch followed soon after. Now over a year without a proper touring band, Crimson recruited bassist Rick Kemp to join, who after two weeks would depart, leaving Fripp with no other choice but to teach new singer Boz Burrell to play the bass adequately enough for live performance. This new lineup would last for over a year into Spring 1972, and would record the pastoral Islands and the lo-fi jazz jam freak out that is Earthbound. This band would shatter not once, but twice. Creative differences would lead to Sinfield’s exit from Crimson on New Year’s Day 1972, and the band all but broke up following the tour for Islands. Cajoled into fulfilling contractual obligations, the band took to the road once more and conquered America, and renewed the band’s enthusiasm in the process – except for Fripp, that is. In keeping with his highly dictatorial role in Crimson, he would reject most of the other member’s contributions to the band, and insisted they continue practicing a piece known as “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”, which did not exactly go over well with the band. And so another King Crimson formation was broken up. For years, Fripp all but disowned this three year stretch of uncertainty, bitterness permeating the recording sessions of jazzier exploits of Lizard and the duress undertaken with the Islands band.

That’s where Sailors’ Tales comes into the picture. A massive 21 CD, 4 Blu-Ray, and 2 DVD box set and rife with never before seen memorabilia from the forgotten period in Crimson history, Sailors’ Tales packs almost everything from the recording sessions of the three aforementioned albums; also included are soundboard quality recordings of the Islands band, many of which have never been available on a physical format, and some of which, have never seen a release of any kind, including the rambunctious “Unidentified 1972 Shows No. 1 and 2”, which captures the band at their grooviest and wealthy with over-the-top jazz excess, which now defines the American 1972 touring unit of this iteration; also present is an extended version of the divisive Earthbound for those who may or may not be masochistic, and enjoy a more dangerous side to King Crimson and their highly improvisational tendencies. New to the set as well is new takes of popular Crimson cuts like “Islands” (with a new vocal by current vocalist Jakko Jaksyzk), “Prince Rupert’s Lament” and “Happy Family”. Insight into the compositional side of Crimson is present here as well, with new guitar takes of the fiery “Sailor’s Tale”, Keith Tippett’s piano on “Prince Rupert Awakes”, and an alternate version of “In The Wake of Poseidon” giving listeners an instruction on how these dense and complicated songs were pieced together in the studio. Hours upon hours of material is present for listeners, the hardcore and the uninitiated alike, to indulge in; the five-pound box provides listeners with a potentially new outlook on this underappreciated era of King Crimson, and is guaranteed to be worth the price of entry just for the fleeting mellotron strains of “Lizard” alone.



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user ratings (5)
4.4
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My favorite era in Crimso history, and worth every dollar spent.



In The Wake of Poseidon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1JjOpXsJ7A

The Battle of Glass Tears (Lizard): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us4BlXcPIig

Lady of the Dancing Water (Alternate Take): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT7Yqqr27PY

Groon, live at Summit Studios, 3/11/1972; this is not the version on the box, but from the original broadcast: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5l04M35J5m0

A look into the box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ni4AbYZnRY

Digging: Low - Hey What

butcherboy
November 27th 2017


9464 Comments


fine, will check this stuff and red.. lovely write-up, Frippy old boy..

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

the Wilson remaster is highly suggested, so if you can't find those, do message me

theBoneyKing
November 27th 2017


20844 Comments


Don't make me say it again

Digging: James McMurtry - The Horses And The Hounds

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Say it...

Astral Abortis
November 27th 2017


6740 Comments


This looks cool, those four albums have always been my favourites.

butcherboy
November 27th 2017


9464 Comments


i'll take a poke around some sites, and if i can't nab the remasters, i'll hit you up..

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ AA I've seriously come to a realization that even though Red will always be my favorite, there's a lot more to appreciate from this era, moreso because of the potential that was wasted near the end. I appreciate they started what the Wetton/Cross band would do, if you listen to "A Peacemaking Stint Unrolls" (which contained the inklings of "Larks' I" and "Lament"), that Islands band had the potential to do something great - plus, they could really haul ass live. Insane live band.



@ butch alright!

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Currently going through the three albums at the moment, and the alternate versions of the Lizard songs (exc. Cirkus) are mind-bending. New VCS3 effects on "Happy Family" and mellotron/piano pair on "Lady of the Dancing Water" instead of a cornet...wonderful stuff.

SandwichBubble
November 27th 2017


13109 Comments


"21 CD, 4 Blu-Ray, and 2 DVD box set"
Just give me your money if you plan on throwing it away on something like this

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'd rather burn it than give it to the likes of you.

Friday13th
November 27th 2017


7488 Comments


"also present is an extended version of the divisive Earthbound for those who may or may not be masochistic"

haha I'm certainly not compelled to give it a listen

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've grown to love that little barnstormer of an album



an early lo-fi classic

SandwichBubble
November 27th 2017


13109 Comments


I see yer 21 CDs, 4 Blu-Rays, and 2 DVDs and raise you 19 CDs, 3 Blu-Rays, 3 DVDs, 5 posters, and 6 shotglasses

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Did I forget to mention it comes with more?



If not, check the video detailing the innards of the loveliest box this year...

SandwichBubble
November 27th 2017


13109 Comments


It pains me to see people drop 200 bucks on something like this. Maybe I'm just jealous, don't mind me.

At least the music's good. (:

JJKeys
November 27th 2017


1167 Comments


>Fripp gets 2 of the 4 features
HE CAN'T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH THIS

butcherboy
November 27th 2017


9464 Comments


Sandwich, you can get in on the ground floor of my brand new business venture.. Queen Krimson Tampons.. trademark pending..

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
November 27th 2017


19441 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@ JJ I have transcended beyond you mere mortals...

Gyromania
November 27th 2017


32958 Comments


Only ever checked out Red and Court. Loved the former but didn't care much for the latter



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