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Thursday, June 14, 2007

In 1969 There were a lot of incredible album debuts, like Chicago, Led Zeppelin and Santana. We can consider them as influential and shapemakers of what the seventies rock was, of course. These vinyls were good, conceptual, tight and lovable. But 1969 kept a big surprise under its sleeve. That surprise was In The Court Of The Crimson King, an Observation by King Crimson. From the beginning, the critics loved this album, which can be described in one sentence as an apocaliptic and negative vision of what the Flower Power and the drug culture was turning into.

Robert Fripp, the mastermind and virtuoso guitar leader of KC, hired Peter Senfield, a strange poet, to write the lyrics of his great debut -although he already released an album called The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp with Peter Giles on Bass and Mike Giles on drums. He kept Mike and hired bassist and vocalist Greg Lake -later to be 1/3 of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Ian McDonald was there for playing woodwinds, reeds, keyboards and mellotron. King Crimson was a quartet with a songwriter-for-hire without any involve in the production.

As I said, the band went beyond any expectation. The debut album opens with "21st Century Schizoid Man (Including Mirrors)"; but, what part is "Mirrors"? The outstanding and squealing guitar solo in the middle? The horn section line that tries to break the F key with a little help from Lake´s Bass? Of course, "Mirrors" is not the the killing and distorted verse line: "Cat's foot iron claw/ Neuro-surgeons scream for more/ At paranoia's poison door/ Twenty first century schizoid man". Man, this is too much for the moment.

"I Talk to the Wind" Is not a complicated song. It is almost a folk song sung with delicateness by Greg Lake. Ian McDonald does the bucolic flute and helps with the mellotron for "Epitaph", another slow song full of minor chords and depression. Very realistic in a wicked way: "Between the iron gates of fate/ The seeds of time were sown/ And watered by the deeds of those Who know and who are known/ Knowledge is a deadly friend When no one sets the rules/ The fate of all mankind I see/ Is in the hands of fools". Pete Senfield wrote powerful lyrics, and Lake, once again, proved his vocal strings were strong enough to sing them.

"Moonchild" is complex and strange. The first two minutes is a cosmic song about a flower power girl and her spiritual voyage into the garden of free love. It's one of the hippiest songs ever, weed-talking. The rest 9 minutes are a sequence of mellotron, guitars and other noises played "randomly" by the band. It's very important to follow the patterns described here, because they'll lead to the last song: "The Court of The Crimson King", another slow and sad song about mythical figures of medieval England: Clowns, Kings, Wizards...

It's not an album for liking it from the beginning, probably, because it's too brainy. Complicated sound effects, syncopated rhythms and, I must say, a daring attitude against the music of the time: 1969. This album is timeless, and will always sound like just released. Released by a madman, but released, as well.

More info regarding this spectacular album on the Elephant Talk website.