Tuesday 6th November 2018


King Crimson 2018 (a boys night out).

Near 2000 men of a certain age
Crawled from darkened bedrooms
They left their urban sanctuaries
Full of dust and clutter of fifty years
Under unmade beds and in creaking cupboards
They left their dirty socks and crusted underwear
They dragged themselves by wizened fingers
They put on their spectacles
Adjusted their hearing aids
Putting on hats to cover their balding heads
They left the present with families asking why?
These men now time travellers
Were fixed firmly by something they could not explain
Forty nine years it took me to get here with them
And although it was painful
It was worth the leaving of home

John Bish 6/ 11/ 2018


49 years after I bought In the King Crimson album, In The Court of the Crimson King from Hawtins Music shop in Alum Rock Birmingham I finally got to see them play some of the album live at The Symphony Hall. It was quite an experience. I have only the one album by King Crimson so a lot of the nights works went right over my head. Really it was too much for me.


The music was totally astonishing on many levels and I really think I could not cope with its complexity. Three drummers and five other band members giving it the full Prog Rock treatment. I wanted to like it. I wanted to love it but really I could not understand most of it. Even though In the Court of the Crimson King is my all time favourite album.

I nearly walked out and if I was on my own I may well have done so at half time. I got to bed around midnight and to sleep around 2 am. Thinking hard and long about what I had just witnessed. In reflection the gig was a hard listen but the tracks they performed from my favourite album were really worth seeing and hearing. A special moment I am happy to have experienced.

Set One

1 Drum trio: The Hell Hounds Of Krim

2 Neurotica

3 Indiscipline

4 Epitaph

5 Discipline

6 Suitable Grounds For The Blues

7 Radical Action 1

8 Meltdown

9 Radical Action 2

10 Level Five

11 Islands

Set Two

1 Drum trio: Devil Dogs Of Tessellation Row

2 One More Red Nightmare

3 Red

4 Moonchild

5 The Court Of The Crimson King

6 Cirkus

7 Bolero: The Peacock’s Tale

8 Dawn Song

9 Last Skirmish

10 Prince Rupert’s Lament

11 Easy Money

12 Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part Two

13 Starless


14 21st Century Schizoid Man


In the Court of the Crimson King, an Observation by King Crimson. Released in the winter of 1969 the album is filled with echoes of the darkest parts of the decade. Interestingly, although the album had existed since that year, it was not until 34 years later, in 2003, that the true album would be heard. The original recordings of the album had been lost during production, resulting in the release of a musically imperfect composition. This version of the album was the only one available until the master tapes were rediscovered.


This is the only album released by the band’s original line up. Almost immediately after In the Court of the Crimson King was released founding members Ian McDonald and Michael Giles left the band. Greg Lake followed them out of the band a few months later leaving only Peter Sinfield and Robert Fripp in the band. Sinfield would only last until the first day of January 1972. All of the members of the band would go on to achieve success outside of King Crimson, with the exception of Fripp who remains the keystone of the band to this day.


McDonald went on to found Foreigner, Giles became a session drummer, Sinfield wrote songs for other artists and Greg Lake went onto fame with Emerson, Lake and Palmer. He also had a successful solo career, producing Big Blue Bullfrog‘s 3rd best Christmas Rock Song of all time, “I Believe in Father Christmas”. So it can be argued that In the Court of the Crimson King is the only actual album by King Crimson as the band lost so many members afterwards that it is hard to call it the same band, although Fripp obviously does.
In the Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson

Released: October 10, 1969 (Island)
Produced by: King Crimson
Recorded: Wessex Sound Studios, London, July-August 1969
Side One Side Two
21st Century Schizoid Man
I Talk to the Wind
Epitaph Moonchild
The Court of the Crimson King
Group Musicians
Greg Lake – Lead Vocals, Bass
Robert Fripp – Guitars
Peter Sinfield – Lyricist
Ian McDonald – Keyboards, Woodwind, Vocals
Michael Giles – Drums, Percussion


The album opens with what could arguably be its best song, “21st Century Schizoid Man”. An image of the song’s namesake appears on the albums cover. The song opens with a burst of horns and drums before Greg Lake’s distorted voice kicks in with eerie vocals. Fripp’s guitar solo in the middle of the song might be it’s highlight but there are many to choose from. The innovative use of woodwinds is certainly another huge one. The lyrics read a bit like nonsense except for the line, “Innocents raped with napalm fire,” which is a clear nod toward the Vietnam War. It finishes in what can only be described as a mad crescendo of wicked and wild sounds. As expected, it is fantastic.

From here the album goes in a completely different direction. “I Talk to the Wind” is a slow mellow tune one would expect to hear while relaxing in a meadow. Greg Lake’s voice has a majestic feeling here and Giles drums are subdued into a jazzy rhythm. The flute is given center stage throughout the song by Ian McDonald who provides an enchanting melody. The listener almost feels transported into the magic forest of Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night’s Dream. Lyrically it sort of seems like a different take on Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”. In that song Dylan uses the line ‘the answer is blowing in the wind’ as a metaphor for the ignorance of society. Sinfield uses ‘wind’ itself as a metaphor for essentially the same thing.


Sinfield’s lyrics continue the anti-war themes with “Epitaph”. It is here the album really takes on a dystopian feeling. Lake’s voice is melancholy while Fripp’s guitar returns to add acoustic picking in certain sections. The line, “I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying,” really illustrates the bleak nature of the Cold War. Overall, the song is an extremely pessimistic take on the era but it is wonderful in its darkness.

“Moonchild” is probably the least interesting song on the album. The song essentially describes a perfect and peaceful woman. In many ways this song should have just been called flower child as it is essentially describing that. It is very similar to “I Talk to the Wind” and “Epitaph” in musical composition but adds a symphonic section that simply goes on too long. It takes up most of the song and just doesn’t do enough to entertain the ear.

The album ends with its namesake, “In the Court of the Crimson King”. Musically, the Mellotron is used to its full potential here. The entire song is essentially a fantasy tale involving the Crimson King. The name of the character was chosen because it was given to any monarch who reigned when there was a great deal of bloodshed and civil unrest. This links the song to the albums antiwar concept and the lyrics of it seem to be a metaphor for the band member’s perceptions of the Western World in the late sixties. Near the ending, when the song gets quiet and has only one instrument take center stage, it is really haunting.


“At that time, nearly all the British bands were using the blues or soul music – American music – as their influence,” Lake once told Gibson. “Since that well had been visited so many times, we decided we would try to use European music as our base influence, in order to be different. Robert and I – and multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, for that matter – had all been schooled in European music. We understood it. We played Django Reinhardt, and we did Paganini violin exercises and so forth. Even though I loved American music, and had played it throughout my youth, it was very easy for me to adapt to using European music as the basis for new creations.”
Underneath, as on songs like “I Talk to the Wind,” there remained a steady foundation of folk or rock. But King Crimson had added a conceptual expansiveness more associated with classical. “To me, progressive music, the reason that came about was introducing different influences into basic rock music – the rock format of guitar-bass-drums, bringing in different influences, which is what King Crimson was, really,” McDonald later told Big Bang. “That’s what’s underneath, incorporated into what’s basically a rock ‘n’ roll band.”
Robert Fripp says this unique mixture came to him in pieces – he’d worked at a hotel, for instance, where the sounds of a dance orchestra echoed through the halls – and then, almost all at once, when, by chance, he heard the colossal ending the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” on Radio Luxembourg. “It was terrifying; I had no idea what it was,” Fripp told Perfect Sound Forever. “Then it kept going. Then, there was this enormous whine note of strings. Then there was this a colossal piano chord. I discovered later that I’d come in half-way through Sgt. Pepper … My life was never the same again.” Fripp started making connections between things like Jimi Hendrix and Bartok string quartets. “My experience was of the same musicians speaking to me in different dialects – one musician speaking in different voices,” he added.
And with drummer Michael Giles, McDonald, lyricist Peter Sinfield and – in particular, it seemed – Greg Lake, Fripp had found a group of collaborators who were hearing it, too. The result, Fripp said, was simply magical. “As I heard it expressed later and even now, it was as if the music took over and took the musicians into its confidence,” Robert Fripp told Perfect Sound Forever. “That is by no means the last time I felt in that position somewhere between heaven and earth – but that was the first time.”

Greg Lake and Robert Fripp had grown up together, and had even gone to the same guitar teacher. They spoke a common musical language, even if they were speaking in a way that the wider world hadn’t yet come to understand. “By the time King Crimson was formed, we were like two peas in a pod – like mirrors,” Lake told Gibson. “He knew exactly what I knew, and I knew exactly what he knew. That was one very strange component of King Crimson. The other was that Ian McDonald had never been in a rock band before. He came from the military, from a military brass band. That was a bit peculiar. King Crimson was not an everyday sort of band.”

Some of what they created, like the crunchy, futuristic “21st Century Schizoid Man,” sounds eerily prescient – as relevant today as it was strange and wondrous back then. That song, in fact, has been one of the few constants for an ever-changing group. “‘Schizoid Man,’ for me, was intelligent heavy metal,” Fripp once told Reflex Magazine. “It was very very hard to play – in its time. Technical standards have come forward now, of course. It was so hard to play, and it was so terrifying.”

The subsequent “Epitaph,” meanwhile, has a similarly dystopian theme, but with its sweeping use of Ian McDonald’s Mellotron, a completely different feel. That was, in fact, the hallmark of an album that worked with a endlessly fascinating musical palette – personified both in the otherworldly guitar of Robert Fripp (sometimes delicate, other times eruptive) and in McDonald’s dizzying arsenal of sounds. “I’m always biased towards the first album, I unashamedly have to say,” McDonald told the Artist Shop, “and I think the best song on that album is ‘Epitaph.’ It’s my favorite track and, to me, it’s Greg Lake’s best vocal anywhere.”
“Moonchild” shifted seamlessly from a bucolic tableau toward a striking moment of free-form improvisation – so free, in fact, that you can hear a reference to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Surrey With the Fringe on Top” within Fripp’s guitar excursion. Perhaps best known of all was the title track, one of just two U.S. charting singles for King Crimson – and a triumph of episodic conception.

Taken of a piece, In the Court of the Crimson King couldn’t have been much different from the preceding Giles, Giles and Fripp, this quaint, often unfocused group that featured Fripp and Michael Giles, with McDonald as an occasional collaborator. Their lone release, 1968’s The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp, finds three of King Crimson’s future players unable to find a similar balance a heady blend of folk, classical, pop, psych-rock and comedy. “I think we were just coming out and being ourselves, instead of operating within boundaries that other people had created,” Giles told Aymeric Leroy. “We decided to do away with those boundaries.”

King Crimson stood just as separately from the surrounding scene, too. “We weren’t involved in the hippie movement, or the flower power, or drugs, or ‘Swinging London,’ Giles added. “We were somehow outside that, just concentrating on the music. Of course, we played, and we had access to all sorts of situations that ‘Swinging London’ was doing – but we didn’t come from this environment.”

In time, King Crimson’s outsider brand of rock, as thoughtful as it was unlike anything else at the time, began to grow in popularity. In the Court of the Crimson King remains the group’s best-selling U.S. album and second-highest charting U.K. release. “There was a sort of underground cult following, which came from nowhere and grew and grew,” Giles told Aymeric Leroy. “It was quite surprising to us all, because all of us had spent probably the previous five to 10 years without it. So, it was quite overwhelming – overwhelming and humbling.”
Both Giles and McDonald left soon after, later releasing a co-led self-titled 1971 recording. Giles also appeared as a guest performer on King Crimson’s 1970 follow-up album In the Wake of Poseidon, but by then Lake’s membership was ending, too.
Listen to “In the Court of the Crimson King”
“We were only together, the original King Crimson, for one album and one tour,” Lake told Rolling Stone. “The tour went around England and it also went to the United States. When we reached the end of the tour in the U.S.A., Mike Giles and Ian McDonald, they decided they didn’t much enjoy life on the road. I think they particularly didn’t like flying, and they just didn’t like travel and the whole hectic life on the road.”
Fame, it seemed, had come too fast – or, for Ian McDonald at least, too soon. “Crimson went from total obscurity, living off seed money from a relative to worldwide fame in six months time,” he told Perfect Sound Forever. “I was young then, and it was too much for me. If I took some time to think about it and gather my thoughts, I would have done things differently.”

The first of what would become a series of cataclysmic shifts for King Crimson was underway. McDonald would stop in to lend a hand on 1974’s Red, even as a subsequent lineup dissolved. His initial departure, however, had hit Greg Lake hard.
“I just didn’t feel good about it because Ian, particularly, wrote a lot of the material,” Lake told Rolling Stone. “Also, Mike was a great drummer. They were so fundamental in the makeup and the chemistry of the band. I just didn’t feel it was honest to get two new people in and pretend that nothing had happened. I said to Robert, ‘If you want to form a new band, I’m happy to do that. But I just don’t feel comfortable carrying on with the name King Crimson.’ He said, ‘Well, do you mind if I do that?’ I said, ‘No, not at all. If you want to do it, that’s fine.’ So, that’s what Robert did.”

Spurs 2 PSV 1

A late, late winner from Harry Kane helped keep our Champions League campaign alive as we came from behind to beat PSV Eindhoven at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday evening. The Dutch league leaders scored in the second minute of the game through Luuk de Jong and defended admirably for the majority of the match, but we turned the game on its head with two goals in the final 12 minutes.


Kane levelled in the 78th minute and then secured three vital points with a header in the final 60 seconds of normal time – although his effort took a telling touch off PSV’s Trent Sainsbury on its way in.

The victory means qualification remains in our hands, with a home game against Inter to come followed by a trip to Barcelona on Matchday Six.


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