The influence of Red
has been primarily in the US. Until then, Crimson influence reached Europe, including the Eastern bloc, South America and Japan, as well as North America. But something about Red
resonated in the United States in a way and to an extent that wasn't matched elsewhere.
Much as I have often wished, this time has not left me. It remains the time it was, continuing as it was, resonating still; waiting for the experience/s to be digested & the moment redeemed.
These were young Englishmen doing the best they could.
Now, I watch a grandson bearing my name and his co-working players writing the rulebook as they lived it. No one gave it to them. They were too young to know what to do; but old enough to be held accountable as adults. They were old enough to know how to behave, and too young to do so. Their band models came more from the jazz world than entertainment and popular music; their primary passion in Crimson, the music; and for me, where Music came from.
Rock Star was a job title for some, and we were some of those. If we had put Rock Star in our passports, few would have questioned the job title.
Q. What do you do?
A. I'm a rock star.
A contemporary form of the Noble Savage? A romantic notion for some, particularly writers, to live their lives vicariously as dangerous characters, bohos, in an illicit world of promising alternative lifeways of exotic and erotic encounters?
And yes, the juice was attached to rock music and rock musicians. Life was on the road, travel hard, hotels cheap, companionship readily available. The drugs were getting harder, for those who went that way. Consequences came later.
So, this was in some ways a magical life, a sought-after alternative to the mundane backgrounds of many rock players; while itself crushingly mundane & cruelly hard. Many never came back quite the same as they set out; and for a few, this was sometimes for the better. The Life was a liberal education, with something extraordinary and utterly Other available in the heat of that particular moment.
And yes, latitude was allowed those young men. But, inevitably, remorselessly, consequences follow actions; actions follow choices; a choice is a decision; a decision changes the world.
The life of the touring player, in the guise of rock star, was not yet quite a professional undertaking. It was not yet routine, not quite a job, not quite what you did for a living; certainly, not a career. Maybe, this was partly a function of the players' age; more likely, because the music industry had not yet solidified. The industry was run mostly by music people: the older generation of music people as at Atlantic and Warners; the younger generation of business people, as at Island, often touched by the music and the Zeitgeist.
This changed in the early 1980s with MTV in the ascendant and bean-counters acquiring power. After 1983-84, the industry was a world away to that of 1969-70.
This is not my time to write a history of the period, or of King Crimson in that period; but it would have to describe late nights driving the NJ Turnpike, the chain of lesser Holiday Inns built 20 years before we got to them; electricity & people coming together in a charged atmosphere to celebrate; nothing paid for live work between 1969 & 1974 (although EG Management took their 25% of the gross). Musical performance was not quite entertainment, not quite ritual, not quite social interaction, not quite a party and all of these. The record industry grew unstoppably between 1969-78 although, strangely, music was not yet quite a commercial event, while mediated by commerce.
Music is primarily a social activity, and therefore takes place in live performance. Live performance, in its nature, is ephemeral. Playing music at the intensity of these young men, on a night when the Muse descended, has a relatively short duration in the stream of consecutive moments (even more so with the King Crimson of 1969). This Crimson began in mid-1972 with five players, fell to four by the Spring of 1973, and to three in July 1974. But the effects continue to resonate.
The music period 1969/70 - 1975/76 remains something of a Golden Age, The life was not yet undermined by the calculated dishonesty & increasing control that characterised the industry during the period 1983/84 - 1990/91; and during 1990/91 -1997-98 the music industry, as I had known it, disappeared. The people in charge were, increasingly, not music business-people; they were business business-people. Eventually, to run a record company, a sufficient qualification was to have familiarity with the production of biscuits. Does any reader find this absurd? Let's hear it, please, for fruit and flowers.
But, that is part of another history, a history of the fall of one world that another might replace it.
Magic remains available. But today it doesn't walk up and bite you on the ear. That moment passed. It did not return. Another moment became available, to be embraced, or not.
Q. Where does music come from?
A. Where was the world before it was made?
Find that place and you will find Music.
Thursday, 23rd. April 2009;
Bredonborough, Worcestershire, England.
Perhaps more than any other King Crimson album, Red
captures the sense of change and expectation that permeated the air as Bill Bruford, Robert Fripp and John Wetton entered Olympic Studios on 8th July 1974.
The tangible sense of momentum within both band and management had been reinforced in part by the triumphant culmination to months of touring at New York's Central Park just seven days earlier. Fripp noted that this was "the first gig since the 1969 Crimson where the bottom of my spine registered 'out of this world' to the same degree".
Most in the Crimson camp sensed they were on the edge of breaking into the big league of commercial popularity. With the exit of violinist David Cross following their return to the UK, the band, now in essence a guitar/bass/drums power trio, appeared perfectly positioned to deliver a studio recording that properly reflected its awesome live reputation.
Yet alongside such optimism, doubt and uncertainty were present especially on Fripp's part, then actively considering taking a sabbatical from the band in order to follow up the spiritual awakening experienced after reading the work of J.G. Bennett.
Unaware of his inner turmoil, Bruford and Wetton had to deal head on with its fall-out as Fripp informed them he would be withholding his opinion during the recording sessions.
Much like the portraits used on the cover (immediately christened by the band themselves, "the good, the bad and the ugly"), it was against this backdrop of shadow and light that the recording of the seventh King Crimson studio album took place.
'Red' was the first piece the trio tackled. Although elements of it had surfaced in rehearsals in May, as well as sound checks and during live improvisations, this was the first time the bulldozing piece had been formally laid out.
Although long-acknowledged as a crucial part of the Crimson canon, 'Red's appearance on the album was by no means certain with Bruford initially unconvinced about its see-saw melody. "I said fine, we don't have to use it" recalls Fripp. "John urged for its inclusion. Bill said something along the lines of 'I don't get it, but if you both say it's good I believe you'".
The brooding cello section on 'Red' marked the first appearance since 1971 of guest players on a Crimson album. Others included oboist Robin Miller and cornet player, Mark Charig (who'd last appeared on Islands
) providing distinctive contributions to 'Fallen Angel', a track built in part from an unused Wetton ballad called 'Woman' and a Fripp riff first used by the LTIA quintet in October 1972.
Perhaps the most significant guest however was KC founding member, Ian McDonald. Wetton in particular was keen to see him join the line-up on a permanent basis: "My thinking was that Ian in the band would have possibly pushed us into Pink Floyd territory, out of the cult status that we were just beginning to move out of."
McDonald's first of two appearances is on 'One More Red Nightmare' whose strident theme had been developed from live improvisations. The track is of course notable for its exhilarating cymbal breaks. "They've become a bit legendary in part because of the fabulous trashy 20-inch Zilko cymbal I found in the rehearsal room rubbish bin" recalls Bruford. "Much of my contribution was inspired by Billy Cobham, who was hugely influential at the time."
The inclusion of the live improvisation, 'Providence', continued a practice begun on the previous album, Starless and Bible Black
, and one born from necessity. "We were always short of material. We resorted to live improvisations which were more or less effectively disguised as such by avoiding or removing any applause." explains Bruford.
The epic track 'Starless' had been part of the live set since mid-March. Now honed and refined, it receives its definitive recording here, touching upon all aspects of Crimson's history along the way. Hair-raising contributions from guests Mel Collins, Robin Miller and Ian McDonald, as well as uncredited cello and double bass players whose dramatic appearance at the climax of the track, all adds to its undeniable magisterial power.
"We always knew that 'Red' should start the album and 'Starless' should finish it. It makes the album sequence like a live show." observes Wetton. If 'Starless' was partly an elegy to Crimson's past, saluting the grandeur that had made such an impression in 1969, then 'Red' was definitely a prediction of things to come.
The album's legacy continues to be felt long after Fripp's announcement in September 1974 that the band had "ceased to exist". A proto-heavy metal sound, it is also frequently cited as an influence on musicians as diverse as Henry Rollins, Curt Cobain and Tool. Writing in The Mojo Collection
in 2000, John Bungey assessed Red
as "that rarest of records, the sound of a line-up quitting while ahead" seems especially apt.
For Steven Wilson remixing the album into 5.1 was instructive. "What I hear on Red is the best representation of the 72-74 era line-up in the studio. They seem to have finally realised how to get most of that live energy onto tape. In effect this is a power trio record whose sound is just huge. Often it's just a single guitar but the thing is, the bass almost has the role of second guitar because it's got so much fuzz on it and it plays in a high register a lot of the time."
Wilson's approach was to provide a three-dimensional representation of what he heard as a cooking live band. "I moved the drums and the bass a little more out into the room tending to put Robert more at the back so you get this idea of standing in the middle of these three musicians.
The quality of the sounds going down onto tape are terrific. Unlike earlier albums, where they probably had to do an unbelievable amount of EQ to try and make up for the deficiencies of the studio sound in the mix, with Red
you just push the faders up and it simply takes your head off."
Переварить альбом с дополнениями надо. Именно с бонусными материалами с концертного The Great Deceiver. Музыкально они более джазовые, это буквальное развитие Providence. Уилсон тяжелый звук представляет как написано в буклете – треугольником. А вот звуковая легкость отмикширован по-активнее, легко двигается по пространству. Альбом воспринимается лучше на малой базе с четкой акустикой, звучание как бы воздушнее стало, в большом же объеме, в гараже, рыхло было. Еще звуком давить не стоит, не для сноса крыши альбом, а скорее для тонкого восприятия. А для оценки еще не созрел.