King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King
Virgin
Progressive Rock
5 songs (43:54)
Release year: 1969
King Crimson, Virgin
Reviewed by Goat

The debut full-length from King Crimson is, without a doubt, one of the greatest and most influential Prog Rock albums ever. It’s generally recognised as the first Prog Rock album, but was certainly one of the first to combine Rock, Jazz and Classical elements into one; shaking up the music world and bringing in the 70s, that decade where mainstream musical expression really took off into the stratosphere. Certainly, it’s an album that has influenced countless Rock and Metal bands over the years and sounds timeless even today, forty years after it was first released, the members’ skill apparent even in a world where technical skill is the norm. Saying that King Crimson are just ‘skilled’, however, is almost an insult to them. Putting the album on for my traditional pre-classic listen, a reminder of what makes it so good before I even begin to write a word, I found myself dumbstruck half the time at just how good Fripp and co. were at the beginning of their career. The Jazzy instrumental section of 21st Century Schizoid Man alone – the first Metal song ever, anyone? – is mindboggling, easily putting to shame modern bands who claim to be progressive or technical, and the other tracks aren’t far behind.

There’s a definite order to this album, the longer, more melodic songs in the middle, bookended by the classic duo of 21st Century Schizoid Man and The Court Of The Crimson King. Some complain about these centre songs, the psychedelic melancholia of Epitaph and (usually the cause for whining) the instrumental jam that takes up much of Moonchild, but really it’s excellent, beautifully minimalist and a perfect opportunity to space out before the grand finale, my favourite song from this album. Really, describing The Court Of The Crimson King to those who haven’t heard it is impossible; the epic majesty of this song, the emotional impact of bassist Greg Lake’s wonderful vocals, the flawless work from Ian MacDonald on woodwind, reeds, and keyboards, not to mention his and drummer Michael Giles’ perfect backing vocals... it's fantastic stuff, and always breathtakingly beautiful.

Although they would go on to create many an interesting album, as far as I’m concerned In The Court Of The Crimson King is King Crimson’s ultimate classic, their best album without a doubt and a real candidate for the title of best Prog Rock album ever. You simply cannot call yourself a fan of experimental music without owning this, whether you’re looking at it from a Metal perspective or not. 21st Century Schizoid Man was undoubtedly one of the heaviest things around in 1969, and must have been a serious shock to people, considering that at this stage in musical history The Beatles were yet to break up. 1969 was an important year for Rock; not only did it see this, but also The BeatlesAbbey Road, The Stooges’ self-titled debut, the first two Led Zeppelin albums, The Who’s Tommy, Crosby, Stills & Nash’s debut... it was the year that you can pinpoint as the moment that music became really, seriously excellent, and whilst against those names King Crimson’s debut may be one amongst its peers, when looked at in the course of history it’s near the top of the list for being so ahead of its time. If you’re only ever going to listen to one King Crimson album, this should certainly be it.

Killing Songs :
Every second is classic, yes, even Moonchild
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by King Crimson that we have reviewed:
King Crimson - Red reviewed by Bar and quoted CLASSIC
King Crimson - Islands reviewed by Goat and quoted 65 / 100
King Crimson - Discipline reviewed by Crash and quoted 95 / 100
King Crimson - Lizard reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
To see all 7 reviews click here
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