Retro Review: King Crimson ‘In the Court Of The Crimson King’

Join me Bloody-Disgusting reader as we travel back to the year 1969. I am willing to guarantee that this was before the majority of you were born (it was WELL before I was even a thought), so let’s take a look at some of the major events of that year: Ohio State won the Rose Bowl. Nixon succeeded as President of the United States of America. The Beatles performed their last public concert. The Boeing 747 makes its first flight. Monty Python’s Flying Circus airs its first episode on BBC. And King Crimson releases their first album, ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’, beginning a musical career that is still going on today.

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The album opens up with what might very well be King Crimson’s most famous track, ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’. Mixing rock, jazz, fusion, folk and insanity, this track got a solid boost in popularity when it was featured on Guitar Hero 5 (where the drums kick my ass, even on medium). It’s a track that has both driving and catchy riffs, incredibly proficient drum work and powerful vocals.
The rest of the album features gorgeous instrumentation with astounding production. It’s an album that oozes that warm analog sound we audiophiles love while still sounding great compared to today’s music. The one thing that this album demands is patience, as King Crimson love to stray into long, noodling jams that have sporadic, almost Tourette’s like phrasing. The beginning of ‘Moonchild’ has some of the most beautiful music on the album: Haunting synth guitars hover in the background, sounding as though they are yearning, begging for something that cannot be delivered. 
Something that should be paid close attention to when listening to this album is how brilliantly each member plays off of each other. Their mastery of the call-and-response technique makes it as if you’re listening to a conversation between instruments.
The Final Word: The impact of this album, and of King Crimson’s work, can probably never be fully appreciated. Maynard James Keenan says that Tool probably wouldn’t be around if it weren’t for King Crimson. Kanye West sampled ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ in his song ‘Power’. Stephen King referenced the album in his Dark Tower series. There are countless more examples of the impact of this album, but to fully understand and appreciate it, you have to hear it. ‘In The Court Of The Crimson King’ is the definition of a perfect album, one that has withstood the test of time and will continue to inspire musicians for generations to come.
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