also by King Crimson:
While the first two of their classic three albums from 1974-5 pushed the boundaries of prog in prog rock, "Red" puts the rock back into it, and with style. Fripp comes up with some almost Zeppelin-like grinding riffs, while reining in their tendencies to random improvisation. Starting with the four-square but energetic instrumental title track, and keeping up the pace with the colourful ballad "Fallen Angel". This style suits John Wetton's voice perfectly, and has some nice wailing trumpet licks. (I always think this song could be merged seamlessly into the chorus from Dream Theater's "Another Day".) "One More Red Nightmare" is quite underrated, with an instrumental section that builds up an impressive tension. Layers of repeatedly chiming guitar phrases merge with a sax solo in perfect symphonic rock style. "Providence" is the only improvisation here, starting out jerky and atonal with blips and twiddles from Fripp and violinist David Cross, but it gets more rocky as it continues.
This was their last before splitting up, eventually to reform in the 1980s. It was appropriate, if slightly melodramatic, that King Crimson should bow out with such an apocalyptic piece as "Starless". One of the most infectious and haunting tunes of all time underlies the main song, but their most startlingly original idea is saved for the middle section. An amazing crescendo is created just by repeating a single note on the guitar, rising by a semitone every 20 seconds or so. It reaches its climax in a burst of sax that's a cousin of Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond". The one-note theme eventually merges with the return of the main theme, for an apocalyptic finale. Timeless stuff.
March 9, 2004