Reconvening after 10 years off, King Crimson added two members and got to work. First was recording an EP, then going on tour to test out the new material and reacquaint themselves with the older stuff. A couple of those shows, both from Argentina, are captured on this double-disc official bootleg.
B'Boom skews heavy toward material from the 80s trio of albums, especially Discipline, and offers a smattering of new material, most of which would appear on Thrak the following year. A scant few songs come from the pre-Belew art rock period of the 60s and 70s, but don't be fooled -- this is still the same band, with the same impressive musical chops, the same odd time signatures, the same nonsense or missing lyrics, the same ability to hold your interest even when things stray from normal.
Adrian Belew added a new wave/pop element missing from the band, which tempered Robert Fripp's excesses toward jazzy, pointless noodling, and the double trio format now adds muscle to the music. Witness the clarion call of "Frame by Frame," the looser and funkier "Indiscipline" and the amped-up slap bassline to "Sleepless." Songs like "The Talking Drum" and "Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 2" are leaner and more powerful live, "Red" remains a rock highlight and "Elephant Talk" sounds great, although the lyrics are sped up and nearly inaudible. Even "Heartbeat" is given a new piano introduction and beefed up; only "Matte Kudasai" loses something in this setting.
The show was recorded from the soundboard, so the instruments are front and center but the lyrics are pushed to the background, not that this matters. The band plays tight, stretches out and has fun all at once; there is a palpable sense that they are glad to be back and itching to record something new.
As for those new songs, they are works in progress, some good, some dull. "One Time" is a moving, beautiful piece about yearning, "People" is a funky look at society (the lyrics would be refined on the studio version), and the title track features some excellent drum work. "Thrak" and "VROOOM" feature stupid titles and attempt to update the sound of "Red" and "Larks' Tongues," to diminishing returns; the coda to "VROOOM," however, is worth checking out.
You probably need to be a fan to want this, but it's definitely worth hearing. Welcome back, boys.
|This along with "Absent Lovers" are my favorite live King Crimson albums!|