KING CRIMSON — Live At The Zoom Club, 1972 (review)

KING CRIMSON — Live At The Zoom Club, 1972 album cover Promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs) · 2002 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
When the Larks' Tongues In Aspic lineup of King Crimson was brought together, Robert Fripp decided to begin their live career the same way the Islands lineup started out: with a multi-date residency at the Zoom Club in Germany. Luckily, an audience member happened to record one of these sets, and the cassette recording has been tidied up and issued by Discipline Global Mobile in various formats; the most tidied-up version is available on the Larks' Tongues In Aspic Complete Recordings boxed set, or for download from the DGM website.

The sound quality is clearly below that of a decent reel-to-reel soundboard tape, but is actually pretty good for an audience bootleg - heck, there's reasonable separation between the instruments, you can understand what's being sung, you can tell the difference between Bill Bruford's conventional drum kit and Jamie Muir's bizarre array of kitchen implements, by these standards it's better than Earthbound. Don't get me wrong, this a rough, lo-fi recording - but the dark, chaotic music evoked by this lineup adapts better to a slightly muzzy recording than, say, the more delicate symphonic work of earlier lineups did.

In addition, this is an absolutely dynamite set. Perhaps one of the most astonishing things about it is that the entirety of the Larks' Tongues In Aspic album is here - sure, it's not quite all in the form it'd eventually be set down on in the studio, but each song and instrumental from the album is recognisably present in at least an early form. In addition, there's absolute tons of improvisation here, with a 44 minute improvised piece - dubbed in retrospect Zoom Zoom - which really takes the band through its paces.

The improvisational abilities of the mid-1970s King Crimson are rightly celebrated, and it's truly astonishing how quickly they were able to get this good - a surefire sign that the band chemistry was something special. If you are a fan of mid-1970s Crimson, you're likely to find this release a treat; I'd only recommend skipping it over if you already have the Larks' Tongues boxed set which includes it, or if subpar recording standards are an absolute dealbreaker for you.
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