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King Crimson

USA

Review by Steve Alspach

Robert Fripp's decision to knock King Crimson on the head may have been a shock to some, but it seemed like the right thing to do at that time. As a final document, "Red" notwithstanding, USA was a final farewell to the band that, at that time, morphed from a mellotron-heavy outfit to a mean, sinewy outfit that could pack an enormous punch.

This release of USA adds a few songs from the original vinyl release, and comes with a nice little booklet that contains album reviews, photos, and other little snippets.

The band at the time was: Robert Fripp, guitar and mellotron; David Cross, violin and mellotron; John Wetton, bass and vocals; and Bill Bruford, drums. With Eddie Jobson, violin and piano.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk On...No Pussyfooting
This is simply the start of the concert with the Fripp/Eno collaboration playing over the PA.
Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part II
A solid version of the instrumental from the 1973 album, the violin comes across quite well here, played by Jobson on an overdub.
Lament
This was about as close as KC would come to a "single" in those days. Wetton's vocals seem a little strained towards the end, but his play with Bruford is quite good.
Exiles
One might think that this might be hard to pull off live, especially with the ethereal intro, but the band does quite well.
Asbury Park
This is a funk-laden instrumental improv. Bruford lays down a solid 4/4, and the rest of the band falls in. The result is something more listenable, or at least more danceable, than some of the bands other improv pieces such as Providence or Starless and Bible Black.
Easy Money
I can't explain why the song fades out at the end - and this is a live album, remember. I don't know if the band was all that thrilled with this or what - why fade the song in the middle of a typically excellent Fripp solo?
21st Century Schizoid Man
Perhaps paying homage to the bands Sinfield days, this is a good chance to hear how Bruford handles the tricky middle instrumental section. Two of the reviews included in the CD booklet pan this version of the song, making an interesting decision as to why KC decided to include them in the booklet. Fairness, perhaps? Regardless, the version is not that bad.
Fracture
A not-far-from-the-original version of the lengthy instrumental that closed out 1974's Starless and Bible Black. The band really kicks out at the end with Wetton and Bruford up to the challenge.
Starless
This is an excellent addition to the CD. The closer to the as-yet-unreleased Red album, the band do an excellent job of covering this lengthy number live. One might have liked to have heard Bruford experiment a bit over the 13/8 section at the end, but a minor quibble. As a show closer, this is a top-notch selection.
 
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