It Was A Time And A Place And Something Else As Well ...
The single most important notion to convey is the sense and presence of otherness that visited King Crimson during the first half of 1969: completely outside the operations of the musicians, the business, the record, the performances, and everything that gave rise to the tangible entity King Crimson. There was something completely other surrounding this group. I don't believe we went from failure to international success in nine months without help from somewhere.
King Crimson and this album came from nowhere.
After the event, we can find causes and effects. King Crimson was part of the remarkable creative explosion that emerged through popular culture, and especially rock music. Where did that come from?
Like it or not, the group was special. King Crimson in 1969 had the right music, musicians, music industrials and audience in attendance at the right time and place, to make it work. Factors that contributed to King Crimson's rapid success include conceptual and executant musical skill, commitment, desperation, surprise, Barry Godber's album cover, the time of the world, technology, the Ford transit van, a patron in Angus Hunking. management and record company, the unstoppable growth of the record industry between 1968 and 1978, the widespread social acceptance of drug use. But above all, it was the presence of the Good Fairy.
The empowering impulse of Underground Rock, which became Progressive Rock, was the belief that we can change the world; even the act of listening had power. The connection between the peace movement and the Counter Culture, rock music as the voice of a generation, an instrument of political and personal expression, was clear. Rock musicians enjoyed a privileged role: they were taken seriously as mouthpieces for the culture. A benevolent presence was at work through rock music and the large outdoor music festivals, a significant feature of the period. King Crimson broke to large publics at two of them: Hyde Park and West Palm Beach.
King Crimson was conceived in the kitchen of 93a, Brondesbury Road, during the second half of November 1968; and born on January 13th. 1969 in the Fulham Palace Cafe. On December 7th. 1969, while driving to Big Sur, Ian McDonald told me of the decision taken by Michael Giles and himself to leave the band, made during the preceding three days in Los Angeles. The last performance by the first incarnation of King Crimson was at the Fillmore West, San Francisco, on December 14th. 1969.
The shock of the group's performances, from its debut on April 9th. 1969 at London's Speakeasy, is difficult to convey 40 years afterwards. In The Court Of The Crimson King, the only studio record from this incarnation, fails to convey the power of the band in live performance. Both were a considerable influence on the musicians and groups of its generation.
My own perspective on Crimson is obviously rather different from the other founder members, although we would probably agree that this Crimson was charmed. There was something completely other which touched this group and which we called our Good Fairy. Reflecting on this for several years, I eventually concluded that sometimes music leans over and takes us into its confidence. This was one of those times, these were some of those people.
Crimson in 1969 was a painful experience for me. I remember little joy in the experience other than the music; and the music was remarkable. The rest of the life provided a broad liberal education, an opportunity and privilege that few young people get to embrace.
What have I have learnt in the subsequent forty years?
1. The inexpressible benevolence of the Creative Impulse.
2. The inexhaustible human capacity for lying, theft, corruption, cruelty, irresponsibility, exploitation, evasion, self-deception and hypocrisy; and that's only the music industry.
3. The impossibility that what is lesser in us may support what is Higher without a personal discipline.The 2009 Remix.
This, the Wilson-Fripp 2009 Definitive Edition Remix, was an unexpected yet inevitable outcome of Steven's interest and initiative in moving the Crimson catalogue into 5.1.
The original Wessex recording was on 8-track. This necessitated several sub-mixes; such as drums, bass guitar, piano and acoustic guitar on one stereo pair and all the mellotrons on another. These stereo sub-mixes were then mixed down to the original stereo master; the final master took another generation, to allow for cross-fades; and production masters went another generation. The original stereo master was lost for decades, found by Alex Mundy in a pile of KC tapes from the Virgin tape store, and until recently was the best master available.
On this release, Steven was able to transfer all the original analogue multi-tracks to digital, enabling us to work from the first generation tracks prior to sub-mixing.
We have taken the original mix as our template. The only significant change to the original release is our edit of the improv following 'Moonchild'. This was discussed at the time, has been discussed since, and is now done.
June 27th. 2009;
Whichever way you look at it this was a band in a hurry.
Officially starting on January 13th 1969, ten days later after pondering on a variety of names the bulk of the band settled on King Crimson. In February Island label A&R boss, Muff Winwood visited the Fulham Palace Road rehearsal rooms. Initially unimpressed the industry bigwig told Crimson manager, David Enthoven the band reminded him of The Tremeloes.
Despite such comparisons the band carried on their daily rehearsal regime for three months (including a week-long run in a Newcastle nightclub where they'd been booked as Giles, Giles & Fripp), eventually making their formal live debut at The Speakeasy on April 9th 1969.
In a matter of weeks, the buzz created by those early shows carried them into the BBC's Maida Vale studios to record a session for John Peel's radio show. A few days later, Jimi Hendrix saw the group's set at the Revolution club and declared "This is the best band in the world!"
Just over a month after that Crimson were in Morgan Studios starting to record their debut album.
From April to June they'd gone from the obscurity of a basement in the Fulham Palace Road to working on an album with renowned Moody Blues producer, Tony Clarke.
In between recording dates the band continued to work live. The galloping pace of their development hadn't let up for an instant when they set off on the morning of July 5th to meet up at Hyde Park to play on the bill supporting the Rolling Stones.
If anyone thought things were moving fast before this concert, after it everything suddenly went into hyper-speed. Immediately after Hyde Park, Crimson and Clarke relocated to Wessex Studios to have another attempt at recording the album. However, things didn't work out. In the middle of July these five young men with only a few gigs and a single BBC radio session under their belt, told one of the most successful record producers of the day that they'd rather go it alone.
On Monday 21st July King Crimson walked into Wessex Studios and took control of their own fate and began work on their elusive debut album for the third time.
Three consecutive days were spent on the title track. 'I Talk To The Wind', a song which Giles, Fripp and McDonald have been playing since 1968, was tried and tested in all kinds of moods and voicings. The chilling prophecy and promise of 'Epitaph' was only finally nailed after an epic ten hours recording session. Tired from the rigours of the schedule, the very next day they embarked upon the bittersweet beauty of 'Moonchild'.
Deciding that neither 'Drop In' or their cover of Donovan's 'Get Thy Bearings' (both part of their live set at the time) fitted the mood they'd created so far, not for the last time in Crimson's career, they improvised their way out of a corner.
With Greg Lake looking on in the control booth, Giles, Fripp and McDonald (the latter trying out a set of vibes found in a corner of the studio) sat down and in one take literally pulled the music out of thin air.
The day after the gentle chimes of 'Moonchild's' dreamy suite, the backing track for '21st Century Schizoid Man' was laid down in one devastating live take.
With the bones of the album complete the band took to the road once again, returning when contractual obligations allowed to bounce tapes down in order to apply overdubs and for Greg Lake to begin laying down some of the most distinctive vocals of his career.
In mid-August they returned to the BBC's Maida Vale Studios for another John Peel session and on August 20th, began final work on 'Schizoid Man'. Working through the night it wasn't until around 8.30 the following morning on the 21st August after Fripp delivered a live solo in one take, that work on their first album was completed.
Pete Sinfield's connection to the wider arts scene yielded one of the most impressive album covers in rock music history. Painted by his friend Barry Godber, the art student was a fan of the band since the beginning, attending rehearsals, designing a poster for the group as well as the "flaming eyes" attachments to Michael Giles' double bass drum shells.
Rarely had an album sleeve so accurately echoed the shock-and-awe reaction which this extraordinary music produced in its listeners. Even the advent of the CD and the jewel-case has done little to dilute its iconic power.
At Fripp's suggestion the album was subtitled "An Observation by King Crimson" and in early September the record was mastered at CBS's facilities before being released in October. Pete Townshend waxed lyrical in a half page advert, the key message leaping out that the album is "An uncanny masterpiece." From nowhere it went straight into the Top 5 of the UK album charts.
When the record was released they'd been together less than nine months.In The Court of the Crimson King
was a decisive break with the blues-rock motifs that still dominated the underground scene's output. There were no lengthy solos anywhere on the album. Instead, Crimson's collective attention was directed at beautifully crafted and detailed arrangements, symphonic allusions and a daring ambition in a group so young.
There was interest in signing the band from several major American labels but none were as keen as Atlantic. David Enthoven & John Gaydon went over to the States and played the album to Atlantic boss Ahmet Ertegun who listened to the record from start to finish without interruption, and then promptly signed the group to his label.
In late October the band flew to America, where Ian McDonald spent his first day mastering the LP at Atlantic Records' facilities in New York, and from there on to a series of concerts that propelled their debut record into the Top Thirty album charts.
In the midst of a kaleidoscopic American travelogue that saw the group cross the vast coast to coast distance, Michael Giles and Ian McDonald, homesick and beginning to find the hurly-burly pace more than they could handle, decided to quit at the end of the tour.
When they left the stage of San Francisco's Fillmore West on Sunday 14th December it was over. The whirlwind adventure that was King Crimson in 1969, with one LP and over 70 gigs under their belt had lasted a mere 335 days from start to finish.
A meteoric career in every sense of the word.
40 years later and Steven Wilson found himself working on new stereo and 5.1 mixes of an album he revered as a teenager.
"The whole remixing process has been a window into something slightly surreal for me that's for sure. One of the funniest things was when I got the master tapes for Court and listening through to 'Schizoid Man'... And you realise that this was basically cut live, this historic burning piece is basically the birth of progressive rock right there in front of you and you get to the end of the take and you hear Michael Giles say "how did you feel about that?"
The irony of hearing that at the end of what you know to be a piece of history just made me laugh! Of course at the time they were just guys in the studio cutting a take but now it's part of history and the idea that it could've possibly been bettered seems ridiculous in a way."
As with other albums in the Crimson catalogue, Wilson worked closely with Robert Fripp.
"We spent about three days just doing a new stereo mix and were able to go back in some cases, two generations of tape because of course what they were doing in those days was always doing sub-mixes and bouncing down.
By going back to the slave reels and synching them with the original tracking reels so we were going back to the very first generation.
So number one: that gave Robert more flexibility with what he wanted to hear in the final mix, and number two: we actually got better quality because we weren't using any second or third generation bounce downs.
That makes it closer than even the original band were at the time of the recording. When they were mixing it they weren't able to go into the mix in that kind of detail; they weren't able to say "I'd like to pull out that one guitar phrase" and pull it out of the mix. They were very much committed to that what they'd already bounced down. We were able to go into the music in a way that no-one's been into it before."
Sid Smith July 2009
Начинается альбом с Шизика (современного), который вроде как будущий металл (ржавый). Отличающаяся от лиричности остальной части альбома, композиция и пространственно изображается иначе, с напоминанием о времени квадро: немного впереди (вокал), ударные сверху, остальное, почти всё, сзади, по углам. А следующее достаточно однообразно по схеме, но не по претворению этой схемы и тем более не по содержанию. Фактически два слоя: более наполненный (инструментами) над головой, и солирующий с вокалом впереди. Иногда отдельные инструменты как бы особняком проявляются (или вокал, в Эпитафии посредине между фронтами и слушателем). Лирики такое пространственное решения явно прибавляет, не случайно так попсу обычно представляют, ну еще с блям-блямчиками сзади, и народу нравится. Изначальная частотка сильно заужена сверху и снизу. Искорки перкуссии, а они где угодно появляются и к слоям не привязаны (не попса, там бы их сзади-сбоку пристроили) , явно новоделы, хотя в том же Лунном дитя хорошо оживляют запись. Ну еще техническая мелочь с навигацией: 2009 стерео микс с оригинальным изданием 2004 и по LPCM и MLP переставлены, следите за 4-м треком, 2004 - 9мин, 2009 - 12 (это замечание не для любителей МК, а для букво, простите, трекоедов). Итак много баладности, весьма приятной, иногда помпезной, но слезу не вышибающей.
PS А еще эта музыка любит большое пространство широкой базы. Там хорошая локализация и четко слышно, что слой, который над головой, скобой упирается в тыловые колонки. Но и срезанность родных высоких к сожелению более заметна.