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King Crimson

Earthbound

Review by Gary Hill

This is a good, but not great, live album from King Crimson. The first thing holding it from the “great” title is the sound quality. Recorded in 1972 the recording technology of the time wasn’t great. However, you would think with modern sound engineering they could have cleaned it up. The other element that gives pause to me is the blues and jazz music on this. A couple of the tracks really sound nothing like the King Crimson we expect. While that’s kind of cool, it’s also like buying a burger because you want one and getting a chicken sandwich instead. It’s good, but not what you ordered. Still, there are some awesome Crimson jams here. I’d recommend this to hardcore KC fans. Less severe cases will probably want to stay away, but for a cool live recording of this lineup (Robert Fripp, Ian Wallace, Boz Burrell and Mel Collins) it’s a nice acquisition.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
21st Century Schizoid Man

They lead things off with the stomper. This is noisy and a metallic with hints of Hawkwind on the processed vocal line that also reminds me of Daleks from Doctor Who. The wailing saxophone is a nice touch, but the overdriven vocals take a bit away from it for me. Of course, the smoking instrumental jam just screams. Early parts of this extremely extended journey stay close to the studio take, but as they continue on they move into some powerhouse territory and then take it decidedly jazzy. Around the nine minute mark they bring it back out into the main song structure for the careening instrumental segment. The Daleks return for the final chorus. And they bring us out into the metallic closing jam from there.


 

Peoria
Here we get something quite unusual for King Crimson. It’s basically a full jazz treatment blues jam. The vocals on this alternate between blues singing and scat. From another band this might be cool, but from Crimson it just seems very atypical and odd.
The Sailors Tale
This is far more along the lines of what we expect from King Crimson. It’s a great prog instrumental jam. It’s just too bad it’s less than five minutes in length. This is actually one of the highlights of the disc for me.
Earthbound
The first portion of this is quite similar to “Peoria,” but with a more funky feeling to it. They pull it out into a more typical King Crimson jam that’s quite potent. 
Groon
This jam is the longest track on show here, weighing in at over fifteen and a half minutes. It starts with a free form sort of piece of weirdness but then moves out to more jazzy textures for a time. It gets a bit cacophonous from there. They resolve out into a fast paced journey that’s again quite jazz oriented. After working through for a time they drop it back around the six and a half minute mark for a drum solo. There are some noisy sounds that enter around eleven minutes in – like electronic tuned percussion in someone’s psychedelic nightmare. The rest of the group join late and bring this instrumental out with a noisy extended outro jam. Fripp’s guitar serves as the actual conclusion in a solo segment. This is really quite a cool one and more typical of King Crimson than a lot of the disc.
 
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