King Crimson - Red

Year of Release: 1989
Label: E'G/Caroline
Catalog Number: EGCD 15
Format: CD
Total Time: 39:05:00

There's probably not very much I can add to a discussion of King Crimson's music in general. And given the time that has passed since Red was released in 1974, I'm certainly not going to say anything new about it. A recent thread on the newsgroup concerned Crimson, mainly as regards to their recent The ConstruKCtion Of Light. This album came up in the discussion, among others, and urged me to reexamine my Crimson collection (sounds like a fashion line, doesn't it?).

Anyway, if you are like me and Crimson isn't the band you listen to often or even more than passingly, I hope that my sharing my opinion and thoughts will help you explore Crimson should you decide to. Often those that are too close to the music don't look at the whole forest, just the trees. I won't put this in the context of past Crimson releases except to note that the trio of Robert Fripp, John Wetton, and Bill Bruford is but one of several Crimson incarnations and is their eighth studio album.

I first became acquainted with the music of Crimson through their first album In The Court of The Crimson King about ten years ago or so - aside from having heard the title track on radio. In liking what I heard, I began to explore the rest. Some grabbed me immediately, some didn't. Red was one of those that didn't, though listening to it now I'm not sure why.

I find the first track, "Red" to be quite intriguing stuff. I hear echoes of later work - if such a thing were possible. I thought of Thrak (and "Dinosaur" specifically) the moment the first heavy chords tore lose from Wetton's bass. I have become enamoured of this particular track - angular and harsh though it is. Bruford's drumming drives the whole piece forward. And I love Fripp's guitar work here.

"Fallen Angel" is both what I think of when I think of Crimson and not. The first part of the song is very balladic - I thought of Camel, actually, or mellow Emerson Lake and Palmer - not how I think of Crimson. But as the song progresses, it gets less and less so. Warm brass tones run counter point to the music in a juxtaposition I associate with Crimson, based on my memories of Lizard. Whether this is Ian McDonald's tenor sax or Marc Charig's cornet, I'm not sure - a poor admission on my part, but the tones aren't what I tend to think of as saxophonic. "One More Red Nightmare" seems even more ELPish to me, and there is some odd, wet percussive sounds here ? overall I'm least impressed with this track. Though there are some nice trilling sax notes here during the instrumental break, both McDonald's alto and Mel Collins' soprano. And, aside from those sloshy sound effects, do make the track somewhat interesting.

"Providence" is avant-ambient. David Cross' violin draws quite angular notes, complimented by Fripp's guitar. I detect mellotron in there, too. Slowly each instrument makes an appearance, seeming unrelated, when suddenly the gel into a tight, jazz workout. Harsh jazz, but jazz nonetheless. Fripp and Wetton assault their respective instruments, not in a prog-metal style but with the same intensity. Add in some harsh sax by McDonald (this is how I think of the alto - dark bleets and honks). Interesting track.

"Starless" is the classic cut from the album. Smooth, gentle mellotron provides a bed over which melancholy guitar notes are laid. Wetton's sonorous voice comes in, accompanied by soprano sax. This is a languid track, and given the refrain "starless and bible black" you can't help but picture a nighttime scene. Not happy song, despite Wetton's almost romantic delivery - the melancholy is quite thick. Of all the tracks, I like this one best, though "Red" comes very, very close. There's an instrumental break where Fripp's guitar takes lead repeating the same refrain over and over again, while Wetton's bass darkly hums in the background, and Bruford's chimes in first with shimmering cymbals and then, as the intensity picks up, real chimes. You are being wound tighter and tighter and the scale is being slowly climbed, higher and higher you go ? and then off into another direction, though tighter still till we explode into a flurry of saxophone notes. We are now scattershot, pieces of the self here, there and everywhere - chaos ensues. Oh, this goes through so many different tempos and moods, I'm not really going to try visualize them all. But, my god, this is some damn terrific stuff. What was I thinking in not playing this often? Even if this isn't the best Crimson album ever, it sure moves me.

Red (6:16) / Fallen Angel (5:58) / One More Red Nightmare (7:07) / Providence (8:06) / Starless (12:18)

Robert Fripp - guitar and mellotron
John Wetton - bass and vocals
Bill Bruford - percussives
David Cross - violin
Mel Collins - soprano saxophone
Ian McDonald - alto saxophone
Robin Miller - oboe
Marc Charig - cornet

In The Court Of The Crimson King (1969)
In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970)
Lizard (1970)
Islands (1971)
Earthbound (1972)
Larks' Tongues In Aspic (1973)
Starless & Bible Black (1974)
Red (1974)
USA (1975)
Young Person's Guide To King Crimson (1976)
Discipline (1981)
Beat (1982)
3 Of A Perfect Pair (1984)
The Compact King Crimson (1987)
Frame By Frame, Vol 1: 1969-1974 (JP) (1991)
Frame By Frame: The Essential King Crimson (1991)
The Great Deceiver, Vol. 1 (Live 1973-1974) (1992)
The Great Deceiver, Vol. 2 (Live 1973-1974) (1992)
The Concise King Crimson (1993)
Vroom (1995)
Thrak (1995/2002)
B'Boom: Official Bootleg - Live In Argentina (1995)
Thrakattak (1996)
Epitaph, Vols. 1-2 (1997)
Epitaph, Vols. 3-4 (1997) Night Watch (1998)
Space Groove (1998)
Absent Lovers: Live In Montreal 1984 ()
Live At The Marquee, 1969 (1998)
Live At Jacksonville, 1972 (1998)
Live At The Jazz Cafe (1998)
Live Groove (JP) (1999)
Live At Cap D'Agde, 1982 (1999)
On Broadway: Live In NYC 1995 (1999)
West Coast Live (JP) (1999)
Masque (JP) (1999)
Live In San Francisco: The Roar Of P4 (1999)
The VROOOM Sessions, 1994 (1999)
21st Century Schizoid Man (JP) (1999)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol. 1 (JP) (1999)
Essential King Crimson (1999)
The Deception Of The Thrush (UK) (1999)
The Projekcts (UK) (1999)
Live At Summit Studios: Denver, 03/12/1972 (JP) (2000)
Live In Central Park, NYC '74 (2000)
The Construkction Of Light (2000)
Discipline: Live At Moles Club, Bath 1981 (2000)
Heavy Construkction [Live] (2000)
Live At Plymouth, 1971 (2000)
Nashville Rehearsals, 1997 (2000)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 2 (JP) (2000)
A Beginner's Guide To Projekcts (JP) (2000)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 3 (2000)
A Beginners' Guide To King Crimson Collectors' Club (2000)
Live In Mainz 1974 (2001)
Live In Berkeley, CA 1982 (2001)
Projekct Two: Live In Northampton, MA July 1, 1998 (2001)
Live In Detroit, MI 1971 (2001)
Vrooom Vrooom (2001)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 4 (JP) (2001)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 6 (2001)
Shoganai (2002)
Live In Nashville, TN 2001 (2002)
Live At The Zoom Club, 1972 (2002)
Earthbound [Live] (2002)
Live In Hyde Park: July 5, 1969 (2002)
Happy With What You Have To Be Happy With (ep) (2002)
Ladies Of The Road [Live] (2002)
Champaign-Urbana Sessions January 17-30, 1983 (2003)
The Power To Believe (2003)
Projekct One: Jazz Cafe Suite (2003)
Live In Orlando, FL 1972 (2003)
Official Bootleg Volume One (2003)
Live In Guildford, 1972 (2003)
Elektrik (2003)
The Power To Believe Tour Box (2003)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 7 (2003)
Live At Fillmore East, 1969 (2004)
Live In Philadelphia, PA 1982 (2004)
Projekct Three: Live In Austin, TX March 25, 1999 (2004)
The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson, Vol 1: 1969-1974 (2004)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 8 (2004)
Live In Heidelberg, 1974 (2005)
Live In Warsaw, 2000 (2005)
The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson, Vol 2: 1981-2003 (2005)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 9 (2006) Live In Mexico City 1996 (JP) (2006)
The Collectable King Crimson, Vol. 1 (2006)
Live In Munich, 1982 (2006)
Live At The Wiltern, 1995 (2006)
Cirkus (2006)
Cirkus: The Young Person's Guide To King Crimson (2006)
Collectors' King Crimson, Vol 10 (2006)
The Condensed 21st Century Guide To King Crimson: 1969-2003 (2006)
Live In Alexandria, VA 2003 (2007)
Live In Denver, CO 1972 (2007)
Live In Kassel, 1974 (2007) The Collectable King Crimson, Vol2 - Live In Bath 1981 (2007)
Collectors' Box, Vol 1: 1969 (2007)
Collectors' Box, Vol 2: 1971-1972 (2007)
Collectors' Box, Vol 3: 1972-1974 (2007)
Collectors' Box, Vol 4: 1981-1982 (2007)
Collectors' Box, Vol 5: 1995 & After (2007)
Live In New York, NY 1982 (2008)
The Collectable King Crimson, Vol 3: Live In London, Pts. 1-2 1996 (2008)
40th Anniversary Tour Box (2009)
Collectable King Crimson, Vol 4 (2009)

The Noise: Live At Frejus '82 (DVD) (1985)
Live In Japan 1995 (DVD) (1996)
Deja Vroom (DVD) (1999)
Eyes Wide Open (DVD) (2003)
Neal And Jack And Me: Live 1982-1984 (DVD) (2004)
Inside: 1972-1975 (DVD) (2005)
In Concert, Tokyo 1995 (DVD) (2009)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 2788
Language: english


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