Well, It’s Robert Fripp of the unmatchable (hopefully I’m wrong about that) King Crimson and Brian Eno of… Brian Eno. (I guess some might say formerly of Roxy Music… he also had a role as Talking Heads producer for a while, which resulted in the magnificent “Remain in Light”)

Regardless, when I first heard about this album I was reading the various lists of “best ambient” etc. (The 2001 Survey is very good, though) I was very excited. Then I heard it. And I was disappointed. It didn’t seem ambient at all! There was a guitar loop (the first instance of “Frippertronics” [It should be noted that the Korg Wavestation has a preset called “Frippatronix”)] of overdriven guitar that really left me wanting more of the “Discreet Music” of Eno.  I thought “Well, it’s Fripp AND Eno, so it has to be good, but right now I’m not ready for this.”

Several months, maybe even a few years passed by.

One day I decide to play it again. It’s like a new drug! I get over the timbre and realize that it isn’t trying to be heavily reverbed ambient (after all it was 1974, Prog was King [Crimson]), it’s an experience to be taken on its own terms! For 19 or 20 minutes your ears are invited to work for “The Heavenly Music Corporation.” And it’s a job only a fool would turn down…

Fripp has this one solo around the 6 minute mark that isn’t to be missed.

Flip the record over, or skip several tracks on the CD (It’s been indexed so you can access your favorite moments) to Side 2: Swastika Girls. There’s a story behind the title which I won’t go into here, but regardless, it’s not like “The Heavenly Music Corporation” but more like “Evening Star” (Their next and last collaboration as “Fripp and Eno” of the ’70s”) I don’t find it as trance inducing as “The Heavenly Music Corporation”, but it’s still better than anything on the radio these days.

Well, almost anything.

After a brief overture that has a really cool narration, we’re treated to “Can’t Get it Out of My Head”. Whether this is simply referring to the concept of Eldorado (1974) or is one of those drug references that you find on any rock and roll album from the ’70s I’ll let you, the Reader, decide. Either way, this song is really good.

What is the concept of Eldorado (1974)? I think it is the story of a dreamer who dreams of a fantastic place called Eldorado. The dreamer wakes up at the end of the album, and wishes that he could go back because reality isn’t as nice as Eldorado. Sounds like a play on “The Wizard of Oz”, no? A quick look at the cover shows the wicked witch of the west zapping Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers, a friend of mine told me that Sharon Osbourne did the cover. Which leaves me dreaming that somewhere out there, there’s a Black Sabbath version of Eldorado (1974). One can only dream.

“Boy Blue” follows next, with a long instrumental introduction and a some spoken word at 0:49. Well, maybe slurred is more accurate. But what is the word? Regardless, what follows is the rest of a terribly catchy song. (That’s supposed to mean ‘really catchy’. If it doesn’t, please let me know.) Next up is “Laredo Tornado”. I love the funky melody played on a keyboard. The timbre reminds me of that keyboard part on Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”. Jeff Lynne’s liner notes describe “Laredo Tornado” as “A protest song about the proliferation of concrete.” The song has a sad mood to it, and the lyrics go along with the sound, asking in the chorus “What can you do, when your dream world is gone. And your friends and lovers too.”

King Crimson – Red (1974)

February 2, 2011

Red

King Crimson’s Red (1974) is one of at least three masterpiece’s led by various ensembles unified by the guitar work of Robert Fripp. The back of the CD case bears a tachometer clearly in the red. The first song, “Red” is a ferocious monster, heavy, fast, and awesome. Every time the music indicates it might let up, it “revs” back up. The eponymous instrumental sets the mood but not the tone of the rest of the album, as “Fallen Angel” is considerably more sonically varied.

The highlight of Red (1974), however, is the album’s closer “Starless”, a 12 minute masterpiece. Starless is possibly the best King Crimson song of any configuration of the group.