King Crimson

EG, 1974

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Many bands with large catalogs often have that one release overlooked by the general public but beloved by fans. Red is King Crimson's entry in that milieu.

Red was the final album of the mid-70s trio started with Larks' Tongues in Aspicmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , and it is unlike much of the band's work up to this point. With violinist David Cross gone, the band is a power trio, but this only enhances the power of the songs. Dense, jazzy hard rock carries the first half and pretentious instrumentals the second half...basically, everything a progressive rock fan could want.

The instrumental title track packs a wallop, a loud rocker that bookends an ominous middle section. "Fallen Angel" uses electric guitars and sax to tell its story; off-kilter and hardly normal, of course, this one still has some punch. The strident verses of "One More Red Nightmare" give way to a rather straightforward instrumental section (at least, for these guys); it's a solid piece, slightly marred by John Wetton's vocals.

"Providence" is a pretentious instrumental that goes nowhere and is a waste of time, but every Crimson album needs to have one of those, so just let Fripp get it out of his system and hit the skip button to "Starless," the 13-minute closer. The song begins with a very sad keyboard riff and some moody guitar soloing; some Crimson hits collections (such as they are) will have just this opening four minutes as a separate song, which is understandable. The full piece features a long instrumental section begins that is much like the opening title tune, but just before it gets too much it turns into a straight-up jazz piece with the oddest time signature I have ever heard. This in turn recalls the opening sad keyboard/guitar riff, which is now louder and augmented with dual instruments to close the song.

Like all Crimson records, Red takes time to grow and is definitely not the place for beginners, but it ranks among their best, hardest and most challenging, an equal to Larks' Tongues in Aspic and the final chapter for the second incarnation of King Crimson.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A-



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