This article was in print just around a week before the release of their second album. To date the album “In The Wake of Poseidon” is their highest-charting in the UK, reaching number 4. This album review is how we like it with comments from both a member of the band and the journalist for each melody.
King Crimson`s basic still there
King Crimson: In The Wake Of Poseidon (Island stereo ILPS 9127; 37s 5d).
This isn`t a farewell album from King Crimson, although you will be forgiven for wondering how a band that`s been left with apparently only one original playing member can continue to function and proclaim that it is far from dead.
As this is primarily a review I’ll save the details for another time but briefly what’s happened to Crimso is that it’s alive and can, at will, stretch from two people — guitarist Bob Fripp and lyricist Pete Sinfield — to a dozen or more (writes NICK LOGAN).
All those credited with having a hand in Poseidon — Greg Lake and Mike Giles, the two ex-Crimsos; bassist Pete Giles, jazz pianist Keith Tippett, vocalist Gordon Haskell, flautist and saxist Mel Collins, plus Fripp , and Sinfield — form a pool from which Crimso can draw as it requires. There are others, too, like Keith Emerson and Jon Hiseman, who’ve shown interest and may be featured on future releases.
Anyway, with that aside, this is an album review and this is a superb album… polished like cut glass, beautifully produced, full of signposts to pop’s future and confirmation if any were needed of a considerable musical brain.
I listened to it in the company of Pete Sinfield and Bob Fripp, who together hold the leash of the new multi-headed Crimso, and their commentary follows my descriptions track-by-track.
PEACE — A BEGINNING is the short opener; Greg Lake’s distant voice virtually unaccompanied.
Bob: The voice is coming in from somewhere far away, leading into a place like New York, and that’s where the action begins.
The action indeed does begin with PICTURES OF A CITY, a brash musical commentary on New York which is not quite as brutal as Schizoid Man from the first album but has similar construction and irisidiousness. Mike Giles` drumming, rhythmic patterns breaking like stormy bursts of rain, are the first signs of his immaculate and inventive drumwork throughout the set.
Pete: This was influenced by when we first arrived in New York… you know, the drive from Kennedy Airport. We were horrified. The song is about the nastiness and paranoia of New York… a place with cold hands and a warm heart where it’s difficult to reach the heart.
Bob: 42nd and Treadmill, the middle fast part, was originally conceived as a song called Trees. The first part of it belonged to Ian McDonald (ex-Crimso) who’s using it on his album; I had the second bit which I rewrote slightly to fit.
CADENCE AND CASCADE is a tale of two groupies; a delicate, wispy song with a pretty melody that features Gordon Haskell’s vocal and the restrained and tasteful piano and flute work of Keith Tippett and Mel Collins.
Bob: Gordon Haskell has been a friend of mine since the age of 11 — we were in our first group together at school. We thought he had the right kind of phrasing for this song. I play celeste on this.
IN THE WAKE OF POSEIDON, the album’s In The Court Of The Crimson King, is an expansive, typically-Crimso piece with Greg Lake’s crystal-clear vocal riding evocatively over Fripp’s melotron and guitar and Mike Giles’ superb drumming
Pete: I re-wrote the words to this 25 times. The faces on the cover are mentioned in the song, a character every two lines. The idea, according to the artist who did the cover, is that out of the combinations of the four elements — Earth, Air, Fire, Water – come 12 archtypal characters… the faces on the cover. Bob also played piano here and the choir at the end is Greg five times.
PEACE — A THEME, which due to error isn’t listed on the cover, opens side two and is a short acoustic workout of the Peace theme.
Pete: Bob originally wrote this for a string quartet but I liked it so much I wrote words to it before he could orchestrate it.
CATFOOD is the song that would have lightened up the singles chart had the British public done its duty. The LP version is only slightly different, apart from the extra 2 1/2 minutes added to the end.
A hard-edged Crimso rocker with a Lennon-like feel and tight production, it’s a brilliant track full of little goodies not least of which is Tippett’s amazing piano. It always sounds to me like somebody throwing piano keys in the air and recording them as they tinkle to earth at random.
Mars would have been the next track if the publishers hadn’t put a block on long-haired rock and rollers tampering with the maestro’s music. So Crimso rewrote their stage favourite, which was far removed from Holst’s anyway, and THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE is the result.
A three-piece work, it was written for the forthcoming film of the same name, which in turn is named after a part of the ocean near Florida, famous for the strange disasters that occur there. They were asked to score the film after director Richard Werner saw the band playing with the Stones at Miami last year.
Using what sounds like an army of melotrons and much, much more beside, it has an errie quality of approaching menace and could well be a snip from the 2001 soundtrack.
The last of the three parts, GARDEN OF WORM, is a frantic whirlpool of fragmented sounds and rhythms that chase each other across a war-like landscape.
Bob: This one took a long, long time to record. You have three things going on. The basic rhythms of guitar and drums. On top of that piano and drums are fighting and above that there are various pieces making a commentary on what’s going on underneath. Keith is playing bits of nursery rhymes on harpsichord and there are snatches of reggae and Court Of Crimson King in there as well.
It just literally falls apart at the end and modulates through the flutes into PEACE — AN END with Greg disappearing up his own echo, just as he came in.