What makes King Crimson so special

50 years of King Crimson

A tribute from Frank Rüb

My favorite group caused me two disappointments.

The first happened shortly after I bought my debut album, when I thought I saw a thick tome with the letters KiNG CRImSoN on the cover in the window of an antiquarian bookshop. When the joyful approach came, disillusionment set in: there was the work of Hans KüNG ChRIst SeiN.

Leaving the church and three records later, a long face again: In contravention of the chronology that has been observed so far, I unsuspectingly acquired “Three of a perfect pair”. Sullen, but unwaveringly returning to the sequence of publications, a short shock when I held "Larks`tongues in aspic" in my hands in anticipation: For the first time no texts were printed and, even worse, they were not by Pete Sinfield.

Plate put on - shock transformed into incredulous astonishment.

I never really succeeded in gaining access to everything from the eighties onwards, after all, at the anniversary concert, “The sheltering sky” offered the rare spectacle of seeing Robert Fripp move his arms on stage.

The western heroes of the film had to do that more often, from which the title of the following tribute is borrowed - The Magnificent Seven.

1. In the court of the crimson King

Homer's epic Iliad gave the West the insight that the invention of an art genre can mean its unsurpassed climax.

It would take a while for something similar to happen in Europe.

Not the drama, the pastoral poem, the confessional, neither letter nor educational or family novel, nor opera, symphony or rock'n roll started on the summit.

Then came October 10th, 1969. And right after the fall of Troy, the news spread like wildfire - Progressive Rock was born.

The complexity of the creation makes the comment of a journalist plausible that it was actually a record from the brand “Critic's Favorite, Sold 846 Units”, but the harbingers pointed to the road to success.

In the scene clubs, where Bill Bruford heard his future band for the first time and was already playing in his mind, "the people stood there with their mouths open (the cover!), Forgot to applaud and the waitresses stopped serving," as the drummer said Interview said.

In Hyde Park there was a standing ovation from 250,000 visitors at the Brian Jones memorial concert.

An adventurous audience, a variety of songs from political drama, pastoral poems, confessional writings, utopia and court epic, as well as an unrivaled accumulation of the highest compositional art serve as an explanation: every note and every verse, every melody and every rhythm, every solo and every combination, whether guitar or Bass fireworks or guitar mellotron caresses, improvisation and construction, melodious sound and cacophony - everything is a monument for eternity, a smooth effort of “this way and no other”. Could that be repeated?


2. In the wake of Poseidon

The question left open must be answered in the affirmative and it was not right for everyone.

But one should consider the initial situation: The main composer and multi-instrumentalist quit at the beginning of the recording, wrote a song and part of it, but did not play at all; Singer and bassist Greg Lake was in transition mode, bass was taken over by the drummer's brother, who was shot before the first album was produced, and one song was already taken over by Gordon Haskell, the singer of the next record.

It probably remains Lake's secret how he was able to put his brilliant voice at the service of the music, while he effortlessly played the parallel recorded "Take a pebble" and "Lucky man" the typical ELP attitude of hear-you-too-everyone- how-well-we-are awarded.

The clear copy of the predecessor becomes a beneficial continuum when building page one. If you take the later statement of the now unrestricted band leader “We don't make the music, the music makes us” seriously, well, the music wasn't finished yet. The direct comparison of the three similar pieces also reveals anything but an uninspired imitation, more of a close tie.

And is there a listener who turned the record over after the title track with the annoyed exclamation “Shit, epitaph again!”?

It is more honest to note a decrease in quality on the B-side, but nevertheless a touching, framing peace piece, a showpiece for ear doctor's practices and probably the earliest outcry against fast food and supermarket culture, is a delight.

The organic food industry was still asleep, the opposing position represented in “Mother's little helper” was understood as more emancipatory, so no hit could emerge.

Sinfield friend Tammo de Jongh, who followed in the footsteps of the tragically deceased Barry Godber, provided it - the cover!

3. Lizard

Did Robert Fripp see the World Cup quarter-finals between Germany and Uruguay in 1966?

His challenge to frugal-indulgent fans and self-plagiarism critics alike seems to have the South Americans' first expulsion from the model: First a punch in the pit of the stomach, then a resounding slap in the face. The reaction of the wiped-out Uwe Seeler and his involvement in the next quarter-finals in the year of the Lizard's release, on the other hand, offer the perfect instructions for the recipient of this thorny LP: don't allow yourself to be provoked and, at the right moment, use the back of your head.

And see, almost half of the work is definitely melodic. In the opening piece, a virtuoso acoustic guitar congenially translates Willy Brandt's government style “Leading by hinting” into rock music, a beautiful, tender love song closes the first page, the first, yet unconsequential rendezvous of a Yes member refines the only full-length epic in the band's history at the beginning, then practices Mel Collins with various brass assistants, who were previously brushed on riot, already the merging of player and instrument and causing the melting of listener and instrument.

In the third part of "Prince Rupert`s lament" in slow motion, Fripp positions himself for the "mother of all electric guitar solos" on the follow-up album and try to describe the gruff instrumental part before that as the older dark brother of the second half of the " Firth of fifth “-Parts to imagine. Not many had a shrill and weird Beatles obituary in their program in the year of separation (Jonah, Judas, Silas and Rufus in "Happy Family" correspond to John, Paul, George and Ringo).

One thing that the third Crimson album has in common with the third Roxy Music album is completely convincing: Buying incentive enough (and with a 95 percent male concert audience you will probably still be able to say that) is already - the cover!

Farewell, my stranded lady of the dancing water.

4. Islands

The nice thing about dealing with art in general and music in particular is that personal preferences still benefit from dealing with marginalized things without devaluing them. In other words: Broadening the horizon makes the top of the pyramid appear even more radiant. So the other day, while listening to the softest and hardest of my rock repertoire, one after the other, I thought that both individually, especially the contrast program, could bring fulfilling joy for a musical life (and the vision arose, as in a global surround broadcast Annie Haslam brought about world peace with the last eight lines of "Ashes are burning", while Gauland, Trump, Salvini and the like get played the "Immigrant Song" in an endless loop).

But honestly: For the “Formentera Lady” intro alone, I would give the complete works of both groups (narrowing the horizon makes the entire field of vision shine). Incidentally, Homer's yardstick was not exaggerated; Odysseus appears in person in the third stanza. Filigree art of instrumentation pervades the entire album, sometimes theatrical, often introverted. The new singer Boz Burrell has mastered both registers, especially the silent parts seem tailor-made for him.

During the hard, theatrical climax he has a break from broadcasting - Sailor`s tale: Mellotron, saxophone, percussion, and the aforementioned Fripp solo - to drift away. Speaking of drifting away: The gentle climax, the grand finale (what a text, what a finale - a minute longer and Mel Collins himself would have melted) will be heard at my funeral, anyone who gets a taste for this description is cordially invited, The date will be announced.

My last wish in words: Sinfields Abschiedsverse- Beneath the wind-turned wave- infinite peace- Islands join hands `neath heavens sea. My last wish in the picture: That at the moment of gliding over my disappearing consciousness has a cosmic horizon broadening in front of the inner eye - the cover!

5. Larks' tongues in aspic

So there we are again, this time with a completely replaced team except for the central star. With the keyword central star, the leitmotif can be right at the beginning:

The cover!

But how do you design the musical beginning in order to adequately introduce the new lyricist and the excellent new singer? Ideally with an instrumental piece that lasts almost 15 minutes. And the end? With two instrumental pieces that together last fifteen minutes. Pete Sinfield will have seen it as a quirky way of appreciation.

His successor Robert Palmer-James takes on the theme of “Ladies of the Road” in “Easy Money”, followed by anticipation of later years and finally the ultimate boom. The cult status of the disc is explained by the first page, perhaps the best in rock history. In the first part of the title track, not only is John Wetton silent, but also, out of awe, the author of this article. Wagner's Tannhauser takes over the word: "Pay worship to such miracles because you are not supposed to understand them". The almost even greater miracle then, how the level is maintained with other means: A three-minute gem with a highly complicated rhythm and grandiose violin accompaniment and a longer fragile-majestic masterpiece that every punk band would think: You can spit it off in ninety seconds .

Those who already have the majesty in their name do not necessarily have the punks in Shakespeare's land, but they certainly have the court jesters on their side: Monty Python received financial support from Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin, ran an episode on television, interrupted

Pink Floyd the recording sessions for "Dark Side of the Moon", but in Brian's life, King Crimson were immortalized with the seller of lark tongues.

And now to something partly similar ...

6. Starless and bible black

Just one exit, but consistently straight to the monastery, no new face.

Instead the record number of six pieces on the first page and the complete absence of vocals on the second page. Innovative strength, the art of improvisation and stylistic bandwidth speak for themselves, hence the focus on the difficult to understand, i.e. through-hearable, Starless instrumental. According to Hegel, knowledge is organized non-knowledge, so we set order here as structured chaos. There are amazing parallels in the structure with the prelude to Alban Berg's Drei Orchesterstücke opus 6- Please look now at the number in the header! And as in the atonal works of modern classical music, pay attention to recurring intervals, frequently appearing scraps of motifs and their variations and combinations. Regardless of the composer's intention, it is also fruitful to be creative yourself and to independently combine sequences of notes into melodies or simply to make pillars in the flow to mark.

That is not easy, first-time listeners can give the particularly interesting estimate here, which of the two sides seems longer to them. On the first, the repeated invention of Progmetal occurs to prevent copyright disputes by the same inventor and a song sequence that probably represents the most beautiful ten minutes of the bandeuvre.

But the greatest art is always close to the abyss, shortly before the end of “The night watch” eight notes are fatally reminiscent of Andrea Jürgens' “Oh my Japanese Boy”. Even more dramatic, the earth is shaking, doesn't the name King Crimson already suggest a gruesome connection with Roy Black?

If it weren't for the inscription of the band name and record title, what was glowing all in white? - The cover!

7. Red

At the beginning of the seventies, annoyed guitar salesmen put up signs in the projection room saying “No stairway to heaven please”. How many hi-fi retailers have considered doing the same since Brothers in Arms came out? If you want to provide variety, try "Fallen Angel", the guitar accompaniment as a whole and especially the flageolet attacks are the best decision-making aids.

The core of the grand finale now includes only three group members, for the first time on the cover ..., now I've lost the thread - for the first time shown on the cover, but everything starts at full throttle, as the ad on the back suggests. And the accelerator pedal remains on the stop, also qualitatively. The arrangement of the tracks, including their playing time in places, is not entirely dissimilar to that of the debut album, the musical characteristics mentioned above are transferrable, only for "Starless" please look up the detailed analysis of "Larks`tongues in aspic part one" and enjoy that John Wetton is not silent at the beginning.

This was the seventh and last stroke of genius in five years, one cannot imagine what else could have come. Ian Mc Donald had returned, Greg Lake would have been free for three years and - why not three singers, you are currently touring with three drummers - Jon Anderson too. Fripp put an end to it first.

Epic and progressive rock are happily married, so the father of occidental culture can be used again. May all those involved who had to suffer from the egomaniac Fripp, that is, may all those involved utter the same words when looking back at what had been created as the Trojan old men mourning their fallen sons at the sight of Helena walking past, who was still bitterly accused: It was worth it !

And until King Crimson's centenary, we shall consider together whether Robert Fripp stands for Helena, her kidnapper Paris, or Homer himself in this parable.