King Crimson

EG, 1982

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


What a completely different band than the one that recorded In The Court Of The Crimson King!

Just like their counterparts Yes and Genesis, King Crimson altered their sound in the 80s to a more pop-friendly format. Unlike those other two, Crimson never altered their approach to music or radically dumbed down their sound for mass acceptance. This, however, is the closest they got to doing just that, although it's still avant-garde and rich enough to warrant the Crimson name. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Neal and Jack and Me" kicks off the album with a new wave urgency, with Belew's paranoid vocals singing about cars and absent lovers, the words doing little more than filling space over top of the music. The staccato rhythms of the song hurtle it toward a quick finish. "Heartbeat" is a flat-out pop single that, with better lyrics, may have actually scraped the Top 100.

"Sartori in Tangier" is the first instrumental and one of the highlights here, featuring a galloping bass line and a stop-start drum line that increases the tension throughout, albeit a treble-heavy new wave tension that pales in comparison to the musical challenges of, say, Larks' Tongues in Aspic. This is followed by the mellower "Waiting Man," which throws in African drum sounds and Middle Eastern voice work and comes off fairly well.

From there, the album goes downhill. "Neurotica" tries to be a paranoid sci-fi track but it comes across as annoying instead of fascinating -- only the middle parts with no words are any good. "Two Hands" and "The Howler" are fairly interesting but not really worth more than a couple of listens, while the closer "Requiem" feels more like a random jam than a cohesive song. But every Crimson album needs one of these meandering songs that goes nowhere, so best to stick it at the end.

Beat is horribly dated in its sound and does not yield the expected results of a Crimson album, too flaccid for fans and too weird for outsiders. The first four songs elevate this from a total failure, but it's hardly the level of quality expected at this point.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B-



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