It's hard to believe today that Earthbound was the first King Crimson live album to see an official release. Today, of course, we have available to us a whole wealth of archival live material from more or less every lineup of King Crimson that ever undertook a tour - indeed, 2002's Ladies of the Road comes from the same tour as this one, and has a vastly superior sound quality. Thus, if Earthbound was a baffling, inessential, and controversial release when it first came out in 1972, here in 2011 it's just a complete embarrassment.
The major problem with Earthbound is, of course, the recording quality. Why the band's label thought this botched recording to cassette (1972-quality cassette, at that) would ever be acceptable for mass release is beyond me, but there you go. On top of that, I *think* that the performances captured on this muzzy, horribly mixed recording are quite sub-par: there's a version of 20th Century Schizoid Man in which the instrumental soloing sections make it quite clear that only two of the band members (Mel Collins and, of course, the honourable Robert Fripp) even remotely possess the chops of the 1969 lineup, a similarly uninteresting performance of Groon, a passable (though still ruined by the recording quality) stab at The Sailor's Tale, and two new jams (Peoria and Earthbound) which consist of Boz boringly scatting into the microphone whilst the band make a fumbling and altogether half- hearted attempt at something resembling funk, both of which are unbearable.
I say I "think" the performances are sub-par - I can't say for sure because the recording quality is so bad I could easily imagine that any good there may have been in these renditions has been washed out by the tape recording. Trust me, the sound quality is terrible, to the point where it sounds like half the album was recorded in the next room away from where the band were playing. And in this day and age, there is no earthly reason why anyone who wasn't a completely uncritical King Crimson fan should feel obliged to track Earthbound down. When one considers all the many, many alternative live Crimson releases - every single one of which is superior to this one - the fact that the thing actually got reissued from time to time is completely baffling. It's a horribly recorded record of below average performances from a comparatively unimportant lineup of King Crimson.
Get USA, get Absent Friends, get the Great Deceiver box, get the Projekts material, get Epitaph, get Ladies of the Road, and get all the other King Crimson live material you could ever want in the world before you even consider wasting a scrap of your money on this one. As far as King Crimson's discography goes, this is as close as it gets to the bottom of the barrel unless you're willing to dabble in bootlegs - and most bootlegs will sound better than this turkey.