KING CRIMSON — Lizard (review)

KING CRIMSON — Lizard album cover Album · 1970 · Proto-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
Warthur
Sporting a medievally-flavoured cover that might fool the unwary listener into thinking this is King Crimson's answer to Genesis's Trespass, Lizard is instead a jazzy development of the sound that coalesced on In the Wake of Poseidon. The contributions of Graham Haskell are much-lauded, though I think Boz Boorer did a better job of singing in a broadly comparable style on Islands. Indeed, the friction between Haskell, Fripp, and the other musicians involved in the album are the stuff of legend, and this was yet one more Crimson album born out of confusion and conflict within the lineup.

The album's crown jewel is the sidelong epic Lizard, which features a wide range of instrumental flavours, superior musicianship and compositional chops when compared with the side one material, and a marvellous guest appearance from Jon Anderson, capturing Anderson's vocal talents just as he hit on his classic style (this album being recorded between Yes recording Time and a Word and The Yes Album). The material on the first side of the album, meanwhile, is somewhat less interesting; Lady of the Dancing Waters is yet another quiet tune in a similar vein to Cadence and Cascade or I Talk to the Wind, and the diminishing returns are really beginning to show at this point, whilst the other three don't quite succeed in integrating the jazzy playing into the Crimson sound. (It doesn't help that Happy Family is a whimsical novelty song about the breakup of the Beatles, and if there's one area Fripp and Sinfield aren't so strong in it's whimsical novelty.) Two stars for the first side, four for the second.
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