King Crimson: In the Court Of the Crimson King (2LP/200g/50th anniversary edition) LP

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Recorded over a period of ten days in August 1969 and released in October of the same year, In The Court Of The Crimson King stands as one of the defining albums of British rock music and one of the finest debuts of all time. Described at the time as "an uncanny masterpiece" by Pete Townshend, it introduced to the world a group that threw various '60s genres into a blender and set the results afire with a blowtorch. One of the pioneers of the progressive rock movement that began in the late '60s and flourished in the early '70s, King Crimson were arguably the most consistently creative bands in the genre.

On In The Court Of The Crimson King they blend wispy, Donovan-ish folk-rock with Wagnerian grandeur, mind-bending psychedelia and even a free jazz sensibility. Greg Lake's vocals are effectively theatrical but more restrained than in his later ELP work. Robert Fripp was just learning how to make mincemeat of a chord progression, but he's alternately lyrical and frenetic as the moment requires. The extended jams on cuts like "Moonchild" are light-footed and inventive, never ponderous, thanks largely to the crisp, jazzy drumming of Michael Giles. "20th Century Schizoid Man's" bone-crushing ensemble riffs and crazed solos were of a heft unprecedented in rock and roll. Most importantly, the trademark Crimson would stick to throughout their career is shown here; dynamic variations between soft/lyrical and raucous/experimental. This was seen not just between songs but in the drastic dynamic shifts between sections in a single composition.

Cut by Jason Mitchell at Loud Mastering from original 24/96 high-resolution source files, the 50th anniversary 200g vinyl 2LP reissue features completely new 2019 mixes of the album in stereo by Steven Wilson (approved by Robert Fripp) and 2019 alternate takes and recordings with five pieces mixed by Wilson and two pieces mixed by David Singleton. The original studio instrumental take of "21st Century Schizoid Man" has been completely re-imagined and mixed by Singleton, with the addition of Lake vocals from the later studio sessions at Wessex and contemporary sax and guitar overdubs by Mel Collins and Jakko Jakszyk – providing a link between the original band, the early '70s line-up and the current band. Singleton also contributes a mix of "Epitaph" which highlights and isolates Greg's vocals from the original studio sessions, showing just how spine chilling and powerful that vocal delivery was – an incredibly mature sound for a young man to achieve in his first major studio recording. These and many other tracks give a comprehensive overview of an all-time classic album.

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