"In The Court Of The Crimson King" is the quintessential Prog Rock album.
King Crimson are one of those bands that could be loved by anybody: their extremely proud of their eclecticism, as every album they've ever released is different in a way from the rest. In the case of their debut "In The Court Of The Crimson King", well, nothing sounded quite like that before, and much of progressive music sounded like it after. Indeed, it is absolutely the best, most important and influential Progressive Rock album of all time.
This mighty creature is the result of legendary guitarist Robert Fripp's genius, sided by a band that is to die for: Greg Lake on bass guitar and vocals, Ian McDonald on all wind instruments plus mellotron, Micheal Giles on drums, and last, but not least, Pete Sinfield, the lyricist. Together, they were King Crimson, however the lineup after this release will change on almost every album released. Before 1969, only a few Progressive Rock traces were around, and this album gave a huge push to the genre, bringing up all the elements of Prog, Art Rock, Jazz Fusion, carefully mixing them all together, all in a little more than forty minutes. ITCOTKC has, like I said, all the elements of progressive rock, before the genre was developed: it has the aggressive, virtuous, multi time changing song ("21st Century Schizoid Man"), the soft, flute based ballad ("I Talk To The Wind"), the melancholic, yet extremely apocalyptic and mellotron based song ("Epitah"), the minimalistic, the quirky tones mixed with free improvisation ("Moonchild"), the epic sounding soundscapes ("The Court Of The Crimson King"). This album has it all, even though, for the most skeptical ones, this album might seem inconsistent, like I use to feel, because it had one strong, in your face song and the rest were mellow. But it actually is, for the already explained reasons, one of the most complete albums in terms of sound.
Lyrically, the album is extremely enigmatic, fascinating, evoking fantastic situations, people and creatures: dancing puppets, witches, and what more, are present, especially in the last track; however, there are many other themes echoing all over the album, such as grief, confusion, worrying, frustration, but also cheerfulness and sweetness, but they are written with such a mysterious touch that they are not at all thorny and complex.
The opener "21st Century Schizoid Man" is one of the fundamental pieces of Progressive Rock, adding in strong elements of Jazz Fusion, thanks to the massive presence of the sax. The main riff has become pretty much a trademark for the genre. "I Talk To The Wind" easily is one of the best ballads of all time, the soft tones are just of an incredible power, that haven't aged a bit, thanks to the magical wind instruments that create them. "Epitah" a solemn, beautiful, mysterious song, with enigmatic lyrics, a great flow, and great instrumentation overall, especially concerning the mellotron. Most of "Moonchild" consists of a minimalistic instrumental improvisation, but the actual, only riff here is the softest you'll get from this album. A memorable and wonderful track, even counting the frequent odd moments. "The Court Of The Crimson King" is the perfect ending for an album, with an epic, once again solemn tone, with a gigantic riff and beautiful, soothing vocals; even in the quieter moments, the emotion is always there, just like in all the forty three minutes of music in the entire LP.
Even after more than forty years, "In The Court Of The Crimson King" is and remains a masterpiece of modern music, a landmark achievement that will always be remembered. An essential listen not only for who loves Progressive Rock, but for everybody who listens to any kind of music.