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King Crimson - Red
Label: E.G. Records
Release: 1974

Fallen Angel
One More Red Nightmare
Red - King Crimson
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King Crimson lose yet another member, as David Cross decides to go away, leaving us with a trio. However, this time, there's no uneven songs to be found - Wetton, Fripp and Bruford go ahead and create a full-blown classic. It looked like King Crimson were well and truly kicking - heck, even original member Ian McDonald came back to do some recordings on this one. It looked like King Crimson were going to become one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. But it wasn't to be -
before the release of Red, Robert Fripp announced that King Crimson had "ceased to exist" and had split up, never to return. "Red" would be their final swansong.

Perhaps Fripp was able to look into the future - this was 1974, and time was running out on prog. Yes had released their gigantic, much-maligned "Tales From Topographic Oceans" and prog was starting to look pretty silly. Time was short - 3 years later, punk killed prog, and prog bands, bar a couple of exceptions, either split or went to utter shit. So Fripp decided it best to quit while he was ahead of the pack. He achieved this, big-time.

We open up with the gigantic riffing of the title track, an instant classic with it's guitar and bass interplay, and huge drumming. It's a classic instrumental, basically. We do more smashing with the excellent "Fallen Angel" - some great mellotron here, regardless of Palmer-James' poor lyrics. A really great chorus section, too, with some more hammerhead Frippage. Closing out the first side, we have "One More Red Nightmare", a song that's pretty funky in a Crimson-style way. The song also features a big extended section, and the sound of broken cymbals from Bruford.

One touch of the minimalistic SABB-improvs remains here, though - the live "Providence", a song that's often brutally, brutally slammed by fans and critics alike. Much like the '72-'74 band's version of "Moonchild" in a way, only without lyrics...also, like "Moonchild" it's unfairly criticised - the song is actually pretty interesting, with Fripp's big guitar riffs, and the violin of David Cross. Also, it's not slow and lurching. However, I want to talk about the album
closer now.

Starless is a 13-minute masterpiece, and probably the best song KC ever recorded. Beginning with the slow, moody verses and a beautiful mellotron. The vocal part of this song is only a couple of minutes long...and then we get to the classic instrumental - Wetton pins down the excellent bass line, and Fripp starts playing his droning guitar line, slowly building up over the course of about six minutes, before the song explodes in gigantic fashion - a horn rips through the fast paced drumming, bass and guitar, and everybody rocks out like a bastard. The song closes with a reprisal of the early theme - with a phenomenal mellotron backing, before the song ends, just like that. If you want a song to break up your band on, make it like this one - it's a phenomenal classic.

As a result, the album gets a 10. It's a classic record, and a fantastic note for the band to go out on. Of course, they would return, but they would be completely different. If the true prog aspects of King Crimson didn't die with the release of "Larks'", they certainly died after the release of 1981's "Discipline". But that band's a story for another day.

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