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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King
Label: Caroline Records
Release: 1969

Tracklisting:
21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors)
I Talk To The Wind
Epitaph (Including March for No Reason/Tomorrow and Tommorrow)
Moonchild (Including The Dream/The Illusion)
The Court of the Crimson King (Including The Return of the Firewitch/The Dance of the Puppets)
In the Court of the Crimson King - King Crimson
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King Crimson zoomed out of the blocks in 1969, and with this album, they created prog-rock's blueprint - everything's here, from the extended, multi-part sections, to the otherworldly mellotron, along with the almighty technical ability. Although other bands had these qualities, KC were arguably the first to have everything. So what did they do with these abilities?

Well, they went ahead and created one of the best debut albums of all time, of course. Instantly, the album goes off with some tape noise, and just when you think you're about to hear the latest Faust record, the cacophony of "21st Century Schizoid Man" lurches in, with a memorable riff, and some fucking crazed sections...this is a brilliant cut. After the verses, we go to some incredible rapid-fire guitar and sax in the instrumental break, before going back again. All the
time, the band rocks like a bastard - the guitar crunches, while Ian McDonald's sax wails in the background, and Lake and Giles add an air-tight rhythm section. Excellent song.

Next up, we have the airy "I Talk To The Wind", a lovely folk ballad, with some memorable flute lines. Great...and then we get to "Epitaph", the best song on the album. Starting with a roll on the timpanis, and following up with the acoustics, and of course, the mellotron. Peter Sinfield also manages to produce some great lyrics here, for once - and the lyrics are delivered in majestic fashion by Greg Lake, arguably one of prog's greatest singers, and a brilliant bassist to boot. The song wraps itself up with a majestic ending - the mellotron builds to a crescendo, while Michael Giles delivers fluid, flawless drum lines. An epic masterpiece, and a great way to close out the first side.

The second side is where people level the most criticism towards the album - mainly thanks to the thirteen-minute "Moonchild". The song itself is very sparse - it's a very simple folk song, although Fripp's sustained guitar lines are majestic. However, the song lasts all of two minutes - the rest of the song is filled up with minimalistic improvisation. It would certainly make good background music, I think, but it's not something you'd want to listen to full-on. Although I
do really like "The Illusion" - a little Fripp mess-around that closes the piece. As it is, though, I would have preferred something different. Like say, '69 live favourite "Drop In" - might not have fitted in that well, but it would have certainly been a hell of a lot better here than it is on the god-awful "The Letters" on Islands.

Finally, we get to the classic title track. Mellotron hits you from the start, along with the guitar, and some brilliant drums. The lyrics are as stupid as hell (A gardener plants an evergreen/whilst trampling on a flower) but Sinfield was a hippy, so you can't expect that much. And it doesn't matter a jot when you've got the band playing music as good as this -
again, the song runs on it's outstanding riff, and also includes an excellent Ian McDonald flute solo. Finally, we end on a classic outro - again, the song builds up to a crescendo, thanks to the drumming of Giles, before crashing out on a wall of noise. Another classic.

The only thing that stops me from giving this an instant 10 is "Moonchild", but bar that, this is an absolute masterpiece. The band was young, hungry, and in top-form. Of course, like most young, hungry bands, they then preceded to fall apart on the following US tour, as McDonald and Giles left to well...create a duet record and then not do much else, and Lake left to
make millions after taking on an exciting proposition made to him by the keyboardist of another band who just happened to be falling to pieces at the time. That band was the Nice, and the keyboardist turned out to be Keith Emerson.

And as for Robert...well, he still had his pet hippy in ol' Pete, and he did get Gregory and Michael to record on the next album. Afterwards, he went on a great big musical journey which he still hasn't reached the end of yet, with countless other guys (The in/out list for King Crimson puts that of Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow to shame) and countless other types of music and approaches. He's an asshole, but he's a very talented one.

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