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KING CRIMSON - Red cover
4.38 | 102 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1974

Filed under Proto-Metal


1. Red (6:16)
2. Fallen Angel (6:04)
3. One More Red Nightmare (7:07)
4. Providence (8:11)
5. Starless (12:18)

Total Time 39:59


- Bill Bruford / drums
- Robert Fripp / guitars
- John Wetton / bass, vocals

- Mark Charig / cornet
- Mel Collins / soprano saxophone
- David Cross / violin
- Ian McDonald / alto saxophone
- Robin Miller / oboe

About this release

October 5, 1974
Island, Atlantic

Reissued as 40th Anniversary Edition with the following tracklist:

Disc 1: Cd

1. Red (6:16)
2. Fallen Angel (6:04)
3. One More Red Nightmare (7:07)
4. Providence (8:11)
5. Starless (12:18)
6. Red (Trio Version) (6:27)
7. Fallen Angel (Trio Version Instrumental) (6:26)
8. Providence (Full Version) (10:09)

Disc 2: Dvd-Audio

Original Album MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)

1. Red
2. Fallen Angel
3. One More Red Nightmare
4. Providence
5. Starless

Bonus Tracks MLP Lossless Stereo (24/96) / PCM Stereo 2.0 (24/48)

6. Red (Trio Version)
7. Fallen Angel (Trio Version Instrumental)
8. Providence (Full Version)
9. A Voyage To The Centre Of The Cosmos

Original Album MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround

10. Red
11. Fallen Angel
12. One More Red Nightmare
13. Providence
14. Starless

Bonus Tracks [MLP Lossless 5.1 Surround / DTS 5.1 Digital Surround]

15. Red (Trio Version)
16. Fallen Angel (Trio Version Instrumental)
17. Providence (Full Version)
18. A Voyage To The Centre Of The Cosmos

Video Content (Audio: Mono)

19. Lark's Tongues In Aspic: Part II
20. The Night Watch
21. Lament
22. Starless

Thanks to andyman1125, Pekka, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

I'll admit right up front that King Crimson has yet to really sink in for me. I have four albums now, and none of them move me to the point that I feel that I love them and that I can listen to them any time from front to back. Strangely enough though, each year that I have bought a King Crimson album there has been one song that has made it into my top ten most listened to songs purchased in that year. Since 2012, I have been making a playlist for all my purchases of each year and at the end of the year I can check to see which songs got the most play. In 2012 one song was "One More Red Nightmare" from this album here. In 2013 it was "Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part One" and in 2014 it was "Thela Hun Ginjeet" from "Discipline". So even though I still don't get King Crimson like some people do, I can find something to love from each album I've bought so far.

"Red" was my second acquisition after the classic debut. "In the Court of the Crimson King" still leaves me wondering. I like "21st Century Schizoid Man" and the title track, but the rest of the album hasn't yet sunk in. So, what was it that prompted me to get "Red"? One was the reviews that I read that said "Red" had lots of good proto-metal on it. I'm a big fan of late sixties and early seventies heavy metal, or what they call these days "proto-metal", so that was a strong selling point for me. But more than that is the appearance of Bill Bruford on this album. I had recently been listening carefully to his drumming with Yes, especially on the first album and "The Yes Album" and I wanted more.

Now I said that I haven't really been able to get into King Crimson and until the other night, "Red" was no exception. I loved "One More Red Nightmare" for almost everything about it. I don't like that sound that resembles an electronic handclap but the heavy guitar rocks and Bill Bruford gives such a fantastic performance here. Even John Wetton's vocal performance is actually quite suitable. I say this because one thing I do not like about "Red" and "Larks' Tongues" is Wetton's singing. He doesn't strike me as having mastered control of his voice with King Crimson. And that might be the main reason why the two KC albums of the seventies that I own have not left me in spasms of joy.

But wait! I did say until the other night I could not get into King Crimson albums. The other night I gave this album my full attention and working around the vocal performances that sometimes made me wince ("Fallen Angel" and "Starless and Bible Black") I found that there was some excellent music and very cool sounds to enjoy. Of course the title track, an instrumental, is easy for me to like because of the heavy guitar and Bruford's drumming. A great start! "Fallen Angel" might not be so bad except for the vocals. A weak track for me though I'll admit the music is pretty good.

I've already sung praises for "One More Red Nightmare" but I'll say again, Bruford's drumming is his best post Yes performance that I have heard. "Providence" actually was a third choice for me because of where the music gets to after 4:50. Up to then there is a slow building of scritchy scratchy violin, random percussion bits, some bass rumbles and hiccoughs, and a general feeling that the musicians are all playing extremely remotely from each other and just sending out signals to locate each other in deep space, working slowly towards getting together to finally actually make music. When this happens after 4:50, the effect is a great highlight of the album. John Wetton's bass and Bill Bruford's drumming really make this track. Robert Fripp adds some feedback and distortion and there's more violin and a bit of flute in parts, but I love the music mostly for Wetton and Bruford.

"Starless and Bible Black" I had written off as another semi-ballad with Wetton's unimpressive vocals; however, I found that as the song gets moving along the music becomes really captivating. There's some great stuff happening there. As a result of my discoveries, I have come to think of this album not only as a remarkable piece of work for its reputation as one, but I have come to actually feel it's a remarkable piece of work, though more so as a prog album than a proto-metal album.

Why not a full four stars? Well, there's Wetton's vocals which for me at least have not come into full bloom yet. And in "Providence" the 4:50 of waiting for the musicians to coalesce their individual squawks, peeps, patters and rumbles is actually a bit long unless one is in the mood to have the patience to let it develop. I understand what they were doing. But it can sometimes seem like what I call "being weird for the sake of weirdness". But that's King Crimson, isn't it?
Robert Fripp's decision to bring King Crimson to a close following this album (at least until it regenerated Doctor Who style into the avant-New Wave beast of the 1980s) was baffling at the time to those around him - not least remaining band members John Wetton and Bill Bruford. But I think with the more time passes, the more the decision looks like a stroke of genius. Fripp's predictions about the "dinosaurs" of rock music coming to a bad end turned out to be all too true when the punk revolution happened.

Sure, we might bemoan the lack of respect given to musicianship and technical accomplishment during the white heat of punk, but both of those important things crept back into rock afterwards, and the DIY ethos of the punks - which held that anyone could and should be able to put together a band - recalls Fripp's own belief that it would be "small, mobile, intelligent units" that survived after the fall of the dinosaurs. And it has to be said that Fripp chose precisely the moment to cash his chips, selling up just as the peak of prog's mainstream success was passing by. This decision saved King Crimson from the humiliating fate of many of their contemporaries in the late 1970s or early 1980s - not for them the commercial pandering of 90125-era Yes, or Invisible Touch-era Genesis, or Gentle Giant's last three albums. Fripp's decision saved the band from a situation in which they would have to choose between their musical integrity and commercial success; his subsequent revivals of King Crimson have come about because he had a sound that needed to come out under the KC name, not in response to crass commercial considerations.

Robert's predictions about the music industry as a whole took longer to come true, but the dawning of the Internet age and their shambolic response to it also appears to have proved Fripp right. The fact is that if you want to make experimental, cutting-edge, avant-garde progressive music, you're much better off following the mobile unit approach, and whilst Fripp might have arrived at these realisations through a somewhat cranky route, it's hard to deny that his predictions were right - and came years before anyone else saw it, with the possible exception of Peter Hammill (as seen on Nadir's Big Chance).

It was against this background that Red was produced - with Fripp undergoing this enormous personal change, having the unintended and beneficial side effect of Fripp exerting less control over the recording process which he had previously been inclined to. Not that he needed to; it's clear on here that his collaborators are as much in tune with what needs to be accomplished on the record as he is. A classic from beginning to end, from the furious instrumental Red to the hauntingly beautiful Starless (which others have pointed out is rather like a potted history of the band from 1969 to 1974 in its musical structure), Red more than any other album from the 1973-1974 lineup of King Crimson showcases a powerful vision of the future of music, one which in some respects we still haven't caught up to. In the Court of the Crimson King set the blueprint for most of the progressive rock scene, particularly the more symphonic end of it. Red, quite simply, is the peak of the form. There have been new albums since then that have added their own spin to the genre, but I can think of precious few that reach this level of accomplishment.

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