King Crimson
The Great Deceiver


4.5
superb

Review

by Zig'haloperidol USER (62 Reviews)
February 4th, 2019 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The 'European improvisers' archive

While King Crimson were real monsters on stage, holding more of the hungry and furious raptor than the slow and predictable diplodocus, only two live albums were then released. Worse, of the two, Earthbound is more like a record to test the masochism of some. Until 1992, the fans of Crimson were sort of abandoned children. But for those who know how to be patient, its wait has been rewarded, the archives of the Crimson King were finally reopened. Just on paper, The Great Deceiver is remarkable. These are recordings from concerts given by the King in 1973-74, with drummer Bill Bruford, violinist David Cross and bassist/vocalist John Wetton to accompany master Robert Fripp on stage. Only with this information, the attention is immediately captured. This quartet released three gems of the finest prog rock, accompanied by the most intense concerts ever given. Despite its remarkable cumulative length (we're talking about almost 5 hours of live music), The Great Deceiver, a 4CD's box set, is more like the tip of the iceberg.

As for the music itself, the quartet's talent explodes in all directions here. Basically, most of the material is from Larks' Tongues in Aspic and Starless and Bible Black, with infinite variations of their songs, and a slight peck in other sections of their early discography, including some tracks from Red. It doesn't hurt because Crimson never played the songs in the same way, but every presentation had something new to hear. Even the weakest songs, but without being insignificant, are not enough to lower the qualitative average of the whole in a serious way. Regarding the already known pieces of the repertoire, it's clear that they are sublimated, and are gaining strength through the magic of live. Just "Easy Money", not the strongest song in Larks' Tongues in Aspic, is able to become an essential piece, thanks in particular to a more abrasive guitar. Then, some surprises punctuate here and there.

Beside the already known songs, and already well played, there are the improvisations. The synergy between the members of King Crimson transpires totally. Some of them are so well worked, so well coordinated that one can legitimately wonder how they were able to play them. Each of them has somehow its own personality, and in any case its own strengths. Thus, "A Journey to the Center of the Cosmos" is built as a rise before going into dark corners thanks to the mellotron, while "Tight Scrummy" inserts anxiety reinforced by metronomic percussions. True moments of anthology even appear, with "Some More Pussyfooting", endowed with a vicious musicality, or "... It Is For You, But Not For Us", built from "Easy Money". The maturity of the Crimson King in 1973-74 was full; the band knew how to reorganize constantly to pose a new challenge with each album, without ever falling into the conformism or the vacuous pretentiousness of some of their generational prog colleagues.

Overall, The Great Deceiver is a fantastic collection of stellar moments of the best crimsonian line-up, full of improvisations with noise and static electricity in the environment. Powerful music elaborated by exceptional musicians. With this record, King Crimson does more than catch up with fans when it comes to live albums. The quartet offers here progressive rock which could be akin to the ultimate live genre. In any case, the essential thing is to make clear that we are not talking about a work only enjoyable by the completors and staunch fans of the group, but something as essential as their studio albums.



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user ratings (74)
Chart.
4.5
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
February 4th 2019


1645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The Wetton era is by far my favorite.

Digging: Dir En Grey - Uroboros

e210013
February 4th 2019


2210 Comments


Nice to see you reviewing a King Crimson's album, one of my favourite prog bands and one of best, really. Especially in this case, since we are talking about a live album, which have, usually and unfortunately, a lesser attention than many of them certaily deserve. Especially in this case since we are talking about a band where one of their huge advantages always were the infinite variations and the jam of their studio tracks when played live. And that is even much better, since we are talking of one of the best line ups of King Crimson. Pos.

Parabéns e continua o teu bom e diversificado trabalho, amigo.

Divaman
February 4th 2019


3375 Comments


I've never listened to this one, but you've definitely whet my appetite.

Digging: Seahawks - Eyes of the Moon

Jethro42
February 4th 2019


15639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes you're right, Zig, this is an essential KC album. It's cool that you talk a lot about the improvisations. They are an obligatory passage and a part of King Crimson music; They've always flirted with it for mixed results. Here for The Great Deceiver, I find they deliver too many improvisation tracks. I used to skip them, quality-made or not, and instead kept on focusing on the known songs. This live album is nearly perfect though, even if I tend to enjoy the original versions the most (maybe because I'm used to them), although the improvisations are generally way more impressive on here than the ones found in their LPs.

Nice review, Zig.

Edit;

Listening to ''Fracture'' atm, and it's still more felt and abrasive than the original, so now I wonder if The Great Deceiver has many songs as deep as for the originals. (I don't have the whole album, but I've listened to it all at least twice, and now I have about 20 downloaded songs left), but i'm soon gonna re-listen to these.







Divaman
February 4th 2019


3375 Comments


I watched a YouTube video earlier today where Anthony Fantano spoke about "In the Court of the Crimson King". He was discussing its importance to prog rock history and rock history in general, and stated, "There's not another album like it." And I wanted to scream at him, "Yes, there is! 'At the Wake of Poseidon'," which is why the latter album is too often overlooked.

e210013
February 4th 2019


2210 Comments


I absolutely agree with you Diva, despite I prefer the first one, especially in terms of its importance to the prog history. But you're pretty right. The second one was always an overlooked album and always was undeservedly considered a clone of the first one, which is perfectly unfair. For instance, its title track is simply one of most brilliant pieces ever written by the band.

Divaman
February 4th 2019


3375 Comments


Yeah, I love that title track.

BigPleb
February 5th 2019


57501 Comments


Nothing from Discipline? That sucks.

Digging: Faith No More - King for a Day... Fool for a Lifetime

Veldin
February 5th 2019


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Favorite live album

Veldin
February 5th 2019


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

BigPleb, this is Red tour. Check Absent Lovers live LP for Discipline material



BigPleb
February 5th 2019


57501 Comments


The '92 release had me confused.

Setlist is still killer.

Absent Lovers rules.

Veldin
February 5th 2019


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Gotcha, yeah '73 recording. Have you heard their newer live LP Radical Action? It's incredible! Also they've been releasing rarities on Spotify for their 50th anniversary.

BigPleb
February 5th 2019


57501 Comments


It'd be great if Fripp released all the studio albums too...

Zig
February 5th 2019


1645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@e210013: Fripp has always been re-inventing his music (from prog to ambient), and with this line-up, his improvs and live experimentations were beyond imaginable. This's why I love this 1973-74 era.



Obrigado, amigo.

Zig
February 5th 2019


1645 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Jethro42: Tbh, when I first tried to face this beast, the improvs didn't appeal to me. On a second attempt, I did enjoyed them and realized that those improvs are, in fact, magical moments.

Thanks.

wham49
February 5th 2019


4532 Comments


"I find they deliver too many improvisation tracks. I used to skip them, quality-made or not, and instead kept on focusing on the known songs."
Jethro, that is the fun of a great "real" band that know their craft and express it fluidly, by going where it takes them, and back again. But I do get that not every one is a winner, the fun is in the attempt, the exploring in musician and observer

all that said, I would love to dive into some good live KC
any thoughts, I like a wide variety of "periods" i guess

Digging: Grateful Dead - Cornell 5/8/77

Jethro42
February 5th 2019


15639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Improvs are fine with me if they are - as much as possible - played for a reason, I mean if they complete the end of a song or if they strengthen the next song, without any abuse though, otherwise they would steal room of some precious, neglected KC songs.

For the best live releases, take a look at Progarchives. It gives a good idea.

http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=191

wham49
February 5th 2019


4532 Comments


totally get that, as you stated the improv should enhance the song, or my favorite, be a transition from one song to the next

way to put yourself out there with the live recs. lol
like to get some 72 or earlier, 74 is probably a good year, which is the vintage of this release I believe

wham49
February 6th 2019


4532 Comments


I am getting part 1 of this friday, should be good. I have noticed looking through the track lists that many releases have the same or a number of the same songs on them, is there a need to hear all the different versions or are they for the most part the same

TheIntruder
February 6th 2019


405 Comments


How I love KC. I need to check this one. Have a pos.



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