Monday, October 26, 2015

King Crimson: Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, September 10, 1971

This seems to be one of those shows that fell in between the cracks, not appearing in the band's list of gigs that they did from 1969 to 1974, yet a recording of it exists...and a very good one at that. Of course, it sounds as if it were recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in someone's lap, but I've heard worse than that. And, of course, this lineup of the band is still divided down the middle by most fans. You either like this lineup, or you don't. It took me a while to warm up to them (especially since the 1973-74 lineup--which I heard first for many years--sets the bar pretty high), and hearing more live stuff from them apart from the Earthbound album, I noticed how really good they were, and now look on them as very underrated and undervalued.

The show consists of the usual songs that this lineup did live throughout its existence, but this one has a couple of unique differences to it. This version of "Sailor's Tale" features Mel Collins playing flute and Robert Fripp playing the electric piano during the part where Fripp's guitar solo would be on the eventually-recorded studio version; when it picks up into the ostinato section, Fripp plows away on the Mellotron, making it sound more like something from Lizard than Islands.

The version of "Groon" during this show is over 18 minutes long, featuring Ian Wallace's VCS3-treated drum solo, but also a guitar solo at the end by Fripp that is reminiscent of the one he did at the end of the Earthbound album, but less menacing, and it ends with a final flourish of the song's opening riff, something they rarely did.

This show is on YouTube in separate parts; I downloaded them all and cut them onto CD to listen to (save for "The Devil's Triangle", which wouldn't fit). If you're a fan of this lineup, you'll like it. If you've never heard this lineup live before, you won't be disappointed. It's just a darn shame that there seems to be no film or video of them in existence...that would be great to see!

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