In The Wake Of Poseidon

King Crimson

Editions EG Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I recently was in touch via e-mail with one of our readers, whose last name I've misplaced. (That's what happens when I receive e-mails on three different computers.) Dawn mentioned to me that it's been some time since we reviewed anything from King Crimson, and suggested albums like Three Of A Perfect Pair and Discipline for the next review.

Trouble is, King Crimson is a band that I must admit some ignorance about. I have most of their albums (and have been searching for about two years now for the UK-only Earthbound), and am trying to learn about the band by listening to their releases in chronological order. So, no offense to Dawn, but my education continues by looking at Crimson's second release, 1970's In The Wake Of Poseidon.

In one sense, this album almost never happened. As King Crimson prepared to tour the U.S. in support of In The Court Of The Crimson King, two key members of the band left; shortly afterwards, Greg Lake left to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Band founder/guitarist Robert Fripp was left with two choices: join forces with two bands who were courting him (one of which was Yes), or forge ahead with King Crimson.

Fripp was able to get bassist Pete Giles to play bass, Michael Giles on drums, Keith Tippett on eyboards and the vocal talents of Gordon Haskell, and - voila! - possibly King Crimson's most underrated album was born. Part the guitar wizardry of Fripp (whose work is actually quite subdued on this album), part bow to the melody of The Moody Blues, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 In The Wake Of Poseidon is an infectiously pretty album that demonstrated that King Crimson wasn't all about avant-garde progressive rock.

Oh, sure, the progressive roots are not forgotten in any sense. Songs like "Pictures Of A City" demonstrate that -- but someone who picks this album up and expects to hear Fripp putting his guitar through a wringer will be disappointed. If anything, Fripp plays more of a sideman role on this album than any other in the band's career -- and for the style of music that In The Wake Of Poseidon features, this turned out to be the wisest move.

The title track is what says it all for me - a mixture of melody and musicianship that is rarely achieved. The whole second side of the tape (hey, it was all I could find at the time, gimme a break) builds on the momentum while carving out its own sound. Let's face it, only King Crimson could take a tune like "Cat Food" and make it sound so serious -- and it's another of my favorite tracks.

The four-song suite that makes up most of the second half of In The Wake Of Poseidon demonstrates that King Crimson hadn't abandoned the world of progressive music - but it was incredibly tuneful, and everything, for the most part, seemed to fall into the melodic scheme. The three vocal pieces on the theme of "Peace" tie the album together quite well, though "Peace - An End" leaves me waiting for that big chord to finish things off.

The only "complaint" I have about In The Wake Of Poseidon is that it's often hard to keep track of which song you're listening to at the moment -- Fripp and company seem to jump tracks without the average person being able to notice. Maybe part of the problem was that I was re-listening to this tape in my car - guess that In The Wake Of Poseidon is one of those albums that requires headphones.

Always kind of a cult band, In The Wake Of Poseidon might not be a familiar album to many people, even those who own a few King Crimson titles. But this album is definitely one that's worth searching out, listening to several times, and just basking in. I've had the tape kicking around now for about four years, and honestly never really got into it until just these last few days. (It also definitely rekindles my interest in King Crimson - so much so, I dug out a bootleg from their 1984 Japan tour someone gave me about 10 years ago that I had never fully listened to.)

You want to talk about albums that have criminally been ignored? In The Wake Of Poseidon is exhibit "A."

Rating: A-

User Rating: C+


© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Editions EG Records, and is used for informational purposes only.