KING CRIMSON-LARK’S TONGUES IN ASPIC.

KING CRIMSON-LARK’S TONGUES IN ASPIC.

It was in October 1969, that King Crimson burst onto the scene with their debut album In The Court Of The Crimson King. A true prog rock classic, In The Court Of The Crimson King was was released to critical acclaim and commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. In The Court Of Crimson King reached number five in the UK, and was certified gold in America, when it reached number twenty-eight. Following the success of In The Court Of The Crimson King in America, King Crimson headed on their first American tour. 

On their return home from their American tour, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles left King Crimson. This was the first of numerous lineup changes in the history of King Crimson.

The next member of the band to exit stage left was Greg Lake. He was approached by Keith Emerson to join what became Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Having lost three members of the band, Robert Fripp was left as the only member of King Crimson. This presented a problem, King Crimson had an album to record. 

So former members, Peter and Michael Giles returned to play bass and drums, while Keith Tippett played piano. Robert played keyboards and guitars, while session musicians augmented the band’s lineup. Without a lead singer, an unknown singer Elton John was in the running to become King Crimson’s lead singer. However, instead, Robert Fripp sang the lead vocals. This proved a winning formula. 

On its release in May 1970, In The Wake Of Poseidon reached number four in the UK and number thirty-one in America. In The Wake Of Poseidon would prove to be King Crimson’s most successful album, during a five year period where King Crimson were one of the most successful prog rock bands. 

From In The Court Of Crimson right through to Panegyric, King Crimson were one of the most successful prog-rock bands. Quite simply, King Crimson were prog-rock royalty. For five years, King Crimson could do no wrong. This five year period was a golden period in King Crimson’s long and illustrious career. During this period, King Crimson were a prolific band.

Following the success of In The Wake Of Poseidon, King Crimson released their third album seven months later on 3rd December 1971. Again, King Crimson’s lineup seemed to be constantly evolving. 

Jazz pianist Keith Trippett and flautist and saxophonist Mel Collins returned. They were joined by drummer Andy McCulloch and Yes’ frontman Jon Anderson. Lizard, which was produced by Robert Fripp and Peter Sinfield at Command Studios, London.

Lizard was a much more jazz oriented album. Despite its undoubtable quality, Lizard stalled at a disappointing number twenty-six in the UK and number 113 in the US Billboard 200. Equally disappointing was that this lineup of King Crimson never got the opportunity to tour. Having released two albums in seven months, it was another year before King Crimson released their fourth album, Islands.

Islands marked the end of era for several reason. The first was that Islands was the last album to feature Peter Sinfield’s lyrics. This was the last album to feature what was King Crimson’s trademark fusion of progressive, symphonic sound. Again there were changes in lineup. Boz Burrell played bass and sang lead vocals, while Ian Wallace played drums and percussion. On the release of Islands, the album divided opinion.

Some critics felt that Islands didn’t match the quality of King Crimson’s three previous albums. Despite this, Islands, which was released in December 1971, reached number thirty in the UK and number seventy-six in the US Billboard 200. Then there was the controversy surrounding Ladies Of The Road. King Crimson found themselves in the midst of a controversy where they were accused of misogyny. For King Crimson this wasn’t the best way to end an era.

For their fifth album, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, the album marked the debut of the third lineup of King Crimson. Joining Robert Fripp were bassist John Wetton, ex-Yes drummer Bill Bruford, percussionist Jamie Muir and David Cross, who played violin, viola, Mellotron, electric piano and flute. This new lineup saw the band head in a new direction. 

King Crimson incorporated different instruments, including percussion and African mbira. They moved away from their jazz sound, to a fusion of prog rock and experimental music on what became Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. 

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic featured just six tracks. Robert Fripp, King Crimson’s founder member, wrote Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part Two and cowrote the other five tracks. David Cross, Robert Fripp, Bill Bruford and Jamie Muir cowrote Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part One and The Talking Drum. Robert Fripp, John Wetton and Richard Palmer James wrote Book Of Saturday and Easy Money. The trio of Robert, John and Richard collaborated with David Cross on  Exiles. These six tracks became Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, which was recorded at Command Studio, London.

At  Command Studio, the five members of King Crimson began recording and producing Larks’ Tongues In Aspic in January 1973. King Crimson spent January and February 1973 recording the six tracks that became Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. One Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was completed, it was released on 23rd March 1973.

On the release of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, on 23rd March 1973, it received the same critical acclaim as previous albums. Critics called Larks’ Tongues In Aspic innovative and inventive. The music was experimental and jazz tinged. Comparisons were made to Yes’ Close To The Edge. However, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic stole the show. Some critics referred to Larks’ Tongues In Aspic as the most important prog-rock album of 1973. Given the opposition, this was quite an accolade. 

Despite the critical acclaim and accolades that surrounded the release of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, it only reached number twenty in Britain. While this was an improvement on 1970s Lizards and 1971s Island, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic failed to scale the heights of 1969s In the Court of the Crimson King or 1970s In the Wake of Poseidon. This was also the case in America. In America, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic reached just number sixty-one in the US Billboard 200. However, since its release in 1973, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic has been regarded as a prog-rock classic. 

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic opens with the centre-piece of the album, Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One. It’s a fourteen minute instrumental epic. Jamie Muir contributes a lengthy, understated percussive introduction. Everything from chimes, bells, a thumb piano, mbiras, a musical saw, shakers and rattles feature. Gradually, though, the arrangement changes. Soon, urgent, sweeping, strings take centre-stage. Then the percussion is soon joined by a taste of a blistering, guitar driven driven section. It then exposed into life. Robert Fripp’s searing, scorching guitar is at the heart of everything that’s good about the arrangement. Not to be outdone, Bill Bruford powers around his drum kit and John Wetton unleashes a funky bass. By then, King Crimson are in full flight. It’s a joy to behold. Later, the arrangement does a volte face, becoming wistful and minimalist. Just a lone violin plays, its melancholy sound taking centre-stage, until later, it’s joined by a distant, cinematic backdrop. That’s the signal for King Crimson to unite, as this epic track reaches a captivating crescendo.

Book of Saturday is very different from the previous track. The arrangement is much more understated and spacious. Just a crystalline guitar and probing bass joins John’s pensive vocal, as memories come flooding back. Soon, wistful strings sweep in, adding to the sense of melancholy as John scats. Later, heartfelt harmonies add to the ethereal beauty of Book of Saturday. 

Disturbing, droning, eerie, futuristic, sci-fi sounds assail you as Exiles unfolds. Soon, the arrangement bubbles and drama builds. it’s not unlike a journey to a lost planet. Just like Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One, there’s a nod to Pink Floyd. That becomes more apparent as the arrangement becomes melodic, and the myriad of disparate sounds dissipate. A wistful violin and a probing bass joining John’s pensive vocal. Before long, melodic becomes dramatic. From there, they two unite. Melancholy strings, chiming guitars and the rhythm section join with John’s  heartfelt, pensive vocal. He delivers the lyrics with emotion, bringing meaning to the lyrics, on what would become a a staple of many a King Crimson concert. 

Slow, dramatic and moody, describes the arrangement to Easy Money as it marches along to the beat of Bill’s drums. It’s augmented by soaring harmonies, gongs and then, when the arrangement is stripped bare, a chiming guitar. However, it’s John’s vocal that sits amidst the dramatic, broody arrangement. It pulsates and creeps along. Stabs of keyboards, cinematic strings, sound effects unite with Robert’s  scorching, rocky guitar masterclass. It’s one of Robert’s finest solos. Add to that, John’s vocal and cerebral lyrics, and it’s one of Larks’ Tongues in Aspic’s highlights.

The Talking Drum is another instrumental. Understated, atmospheric and somewhat eerie describes the arrangement. Its minimalist sound toys with you. Then slowly, it builds. Drums play in the distance, then a bass is plucked, adding to the atmospheric backdrop. Soon, a fuzzy guitar and violins join. Still, the arrangement is understated. Gradually, it grows in power. Eventually, King Crimson kick loose. By then, elements of jazz, rock and world music are uniting. Combining disparate instruments and influences, they create an innovative, genre-straddling track.

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part Two closes Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. Straight away, the track has a heavier sound. It’s as if King Crimson’s driving rhythm section and searing guitars are heading in the direction of heavy metal. That’s until the track takes on a classical sound. Later, the two combine. Whistles sound, drums pound and Robert’s scorching, riffing guitar plays a leading role. King Crimson it seems, are determined to close Larks’ Tongues In Aspic on a high, and succeed in doing so, with another instrumental epic.

When King Crimson released Larks’ Tongues In Aspic in 1973, they were in the midst of a five year period where King Crimson could do no wrong. Between In The Court Of Crimson right through to Panegyric, King Crimson were one of the most successful prog-rock bands. They released seven albums. During that period, commercial success and critical acclaim were constant companions of King Crimson. As a result, King Crimson became part of prog-rock royalty. 

For five years, King Crimson could do no wrong. Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was the fifth album King Crimson had released since 1969. That’s quite an achievement, considering King Crimson’s ever changing lineup.  This, however, didn’t affect the quality of music. 

There’s a reason for this. Robert Fripp had the uncanny knack of bringing in the right musicians. They always seemed to compliment the other members of King Crimson. This was the case on Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, King Crimson’s fifth album.

Larks’ Tongues In Aspic marked the debut of the third lineup of King Crimson. Joining Robert Fripp were bassist John Wetton, ex-Yes drummer Bill Bruford, percussionist Jamie Muir and David Cross, who played violin, viola, Mellotron, electric piano and flute. This new lineup took King Crimson in a new direction. 

On Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, King Crimson incorporated different instruments, including percussion and African mbira. They moved away from their jazz sound, to a fusion of prog rock and experimental music. There was even a nod to heavy metal on a couple of tracks. This made Larks’ Tongues In Aspic another captivating and critically acclaimed album, from one of prog-rock’s leading lights. 

Indeed, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic is a genre classic. It’s one of the finest prog-rock albums released during the seventies. Seamlessly, the new lineup of picked up where the previous lineup of King Crimson left off on Islands. In doing so, the new lineup of King Crimson were responsible for one of the group’s finest hours.

Of the seven albums King Crimson release during their golden period, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was a stonewall classic. Starting with the fourteen minute, instrumental epic Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part One and continuing through favourites like Book of Saturday, Exiles and Easy Money, King Crimson bring their A-Game to Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. Not once do they disappoint. The two other instrumentals, The Talking Drum and Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, Part Two allow King Crimson to showcase their considerable talents. It’s a joy to behold as what’s akin to a supergroup stretch their legs, taking the listener in unexpected directions. However, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic is a compelling and breathtaking journey, with King Crimson at the top of their game during their golden period.

Following Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, King Crimson released just two more albums during this golden period. They were 1973s Starless and Bible Black and 1974s Red. Neither of these albums replicated the critical acclaim and commercial success of Larks’ Tongues In Aspic. No.  Larks’ Tongues In Aspic was a landmark album, and is one of the finest albums King Crimson released during their five year golden period. During that period, musical pioneers King Crimson, could do no wrong. Proof if any was needed, is King Crimson’s fifth album  Larks’ Tongues In Aspic.

KING CRIMSON-LARK’S TONGUES IN ASPIC.

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