All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Serving jazz worldwide since 1995
All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Reassessing

King Crimson: The Great Deceiver (Live 1973-1974)

By Published: October 12, 2006
The improvs that regularly found their way into 1973-1974 Crimson sets sometimes emerged from songs, sometimes evolved into them, or sometimes stood alone. And while many began abstractly but ultimately found their way to powerfully funky grooves courtesy of Bruford and Wetton, there were exceptions. "Improv-Daniel Dust" begins as a delicate guitar/violin duet that ebbs and flows, only to find its way into "The Night Watch." "Improv-Wilton Carpet" proves this Crimson could be be adept at more abstract free play, patterns emerging only to disappear again as Wetton develops a repeated riff over Bruford's military-style drumming. That seamlessly segues into "The Talking Drum," a pattern-based vehicle for soloing that almost inevitably led to the metal-edged "Lark's Tongues In Aspic, Part Two," albeit in this instance an abbreviated version.

L:R David Cross, John Wetton, Bill Bruford, Robert Fripp

Improvs aside, there's only one song in the box that doesn't appear on a studio Crimson release, and for good reason. "Dr. Diamond," despite its episodic nature, never quite fits into the overall vibe of 1973-1974 Crimson. A bit too direct a rocker at first, it transforms into an irregular-metered blues at its core that features Fripp's singing tone in tandem with Cross. The way it finds its way back to a repeated figure from the intro feels clumsy, more an afterthought than a move that makes any real musical sense.

In many ways The Great Deceiver is this quartet's finest work, saying everything it had to say. Red (DGM, 1974), would find Crimson pared down to a trio, with the fired Cross appearing on only a couple of tracks, and the return of other guests including original Crimson co-founder Ian McDonald on saxophone. As a studio release it's a high point of Crimson's 37-year on-again/off-again career and signals, with the title track, "Fallen Angel" and "One More Red Nightmare," a shift that might have been worth exploring further had Fripp not become so disillusioned with touring and the harsh economic realities of the music industry in general.

Subsequent Crimsons would include some improvisation in performance, but never again to the same degree as the 1973-1974 line-up. And while future members Tony Levin, Adrian Belew, Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto would be on more equal technical footings with Fripp and Bruford (who would return to Crimson for the early-1980s version and the mid-1990s double trio), none of the later incarnations could match this Crimson for its energy, unfettered sense of exploration and ability to just let things happen in a completely unconsidered way. Characteristics that made 1973-1974 Crimson the band that, if only remembered for a handful of enduring compositions, is fondly looked at as, perhaps, the most viscerally exciting version of this longstanding and continually reinvented group.

Personnel: Robert Fripp: guitar, mellotron, electric piano; David Cross: violin, mellotron, electric piano; John Wetton: bass guitar, vocals; Bill Bruford: drums, percussion.

Disc One

Tracks: Palace Theatre, Providence, Rhode Island, USA, June 30, 1974: Walk On...No Pussyfooting; Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part Two; Lament; Exiles; Improv-A Voyage To The Centre Of The Cosmos; Easy Money; Improv-Providence; Fracture; Starless.

Disc Two

Tracks: Providence (con't): 21st Century Schizoid Man; Walk off from Providence...No Pussyfooting. Glasgow Apollom Glasgow, Scotland October 23, 1973: Sharks' Lungs In Lemsip; Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part One; Book Of Saturday; Easy Money; We'll Let You Know; The Night Watch; Improv-Tight Scrummy; Peace-A Theme; Catfood. Penn State University, Pennsylvania, USA, June 29, 1974: Easy Money; ...It Is For You, But Not For Us.

Disc Three

Tracks: Stanley Warner Theatre, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA April 29th, 1974: Walk On...No Pussyfooting; The Great Deceiver; Improv-Bartley Butsford; Exiles; Improv-Daniel Dust; The Night Watch; Doctor Diamond; Starless; Improv-Wilton Carpet; The Talking Drum; Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part Two (Abbreviated). Penn State University, Pennsylvania, USA, June 29, 1974: Applause & Announcements; Improv-Is There Life Out There?

Disc Four

Tracks: Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada June 24, 1974: Improv-The Golden Walnut; The Night Watch; Fracture; Improv-Clueless And Slightly Slack. Zurich Volkhaus, Zurich, Switzerland, November 15th, 1973: Walk On...No Pussyfooting; Improv-Some Pussyfooting; Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part One; Improv-The Law Of Maximum Distress: Part One; Improv-The Law Of Maximum Distress: Part Two; Easy Money; Improv-Some More Pussyfooting; The Talking Drum.

Photo Credits

Courtesy of Discipline Global Mobile



comments powered by Disqus