CD In the Court of the Crimson King [2-CD] (CD 6240396),
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In the Court of the Crimson King [2-CD]

  • 0. DISC 1: 2009 STEREO MIX:
    1. 21st Century Schizoid Man
    2. I Talk To The Wind
    3. Epitaph
    4. Moonchild
    5. Court Of The Crimson King, The
    6. Moonchild [Full Version] - (remix)
    7. I Talk To The Wind [Duo Version] - (alternate take)
    8. I Talk To The Wind [Alternate Mix] - (Alternate Mix, remix, alternate take)
    9. Epitaph [Backing Track]
    10. Wind Session
    1. 21st Century Schizoid Man
    2. I Talk To The Wind
    3. Epitaph
    4. Moonchild
    5. Court Of The Crimson King, The
    6. 21st Century Schizoid Man
    7. I Talk to The Wind [BBC Session] - (live)
    8. 21st Century Schizoid Man [BBC Session] - (live)
    9. Court Of The Crimson King, The (Part 1) [Mono Single Version]
    10. Court Of The Crimson King, The (Part 2) [Mono Single Version]
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): DGM5009

  • Credits
    ProducerKing Crimson
    EngineerRobin Thompson

    Initial pressings featured a limited edition, cardboard-stock gatefold sleeve and unpublished archive photos.
    King Crimson: Greg Lake (vocals, bass); Robert Fripp (guitar); Ian McDonald (flute, clarinet, saxophones, keyboards, background vocals); Michael Giles (drums); Peter Sinfield.
    Lyricist: Peter Sinfield.
    Personnel: Ian McDonald (vocals, reeds, woodwinds, Mellotron, keyboards, vibraphone); Greg Lake (vocals, bass guitar); Michael Giles (vocals, drums, percussion); Robert Fripp (guitar).
    Liner Note Authors: Sid Smith; Robert Fripp.
    Recording information: Wessex Sound Studios, London.
    In the Court of the Crimson King has had a frustrating history on CD. The original JEM/E.G. compact disc from the late '80s pleased nobody, mastered as it was from a production tape and laden with lots of noise, among other problems. The Caroline Records reissue was a partial improvement, but a long way from where it should have been. And the 1999 30th anniversary version, done under Robert Fripp's personal supervision, was another improvement, but it still lacked the impact of early LP pressings of the album. A 2004 remix took this another step, but continued to disappoint. And now along comes this two-CD edition on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the group's debut -- and it does, indeed, live up to the promise of its special packaging, as well as the original virtues of the CD format, but with a couple of caveats that should be noted. The first CD beats all prior digital editions for clarity and sharpness and, as a remix of the album from the multi-tracks, stands leaps and bounds beyond any version of this album that most listeners have heard. From the opening of "21st Century Schizoid Man," which comes off like a live performance -- which it essentially was, in the studio, just ripped through in one take -- in clarity and texture, there's a bracing impact to this package that will likely startle even those listeners who know every nuance of this album by heart. The soft, lyrical "I Talk to the Wind" even has greater sonic impact than expected, though the real transformation comes on "Epitaph" in the opening second, as Michael Giles' percussion and Robert Fripp's acoustic guitar leap out of the speakers with a quiet, subtle ferocity, with Greg Lake's bass not far behind and Ian McDonald's Mellotron oozing its huge masses of faux-string sounds in vivid detail.
    And then "Moonchild" arrives, and the first of the red flags -- for purists, this track may prove the most controversial here, as it has been extended in the course of the remix of the album; some may find the extended version to be an improvement, but stickler fans of the original album may not like the change. And then comes the title track finale, which roars out in sharp relief. The timbres are crystallized here in so crisp a manner that one can finally hear the range of keyboard overdubs by McDonald, although it is also easy enough to pull back one's ears and take in the mass of sound in its composite glory. This is also the clearest and most discreet stereo presentation that the album has ever enjoyed, which makes it an improvement over the original and any earlier CDs. The original album's contents are augmented by the uncut version of "Moonchild," two alternate takes of "I Talk to the Wind" (either of which could have been used on the finished LP), and the unmixed backing track to "Epitaph" -- the latter is especially fascinating as an extended showcase for the Mellotron. The second CD offers the 2004 remastered edition of the album, augmented with the Morgan Studios rendition of "21st Century Schizoid Man" and a never previously reissued version of "I Talk to the Wind" from John Peel's radio show (which, alas, had to be retrieved from a bootleg source), but the single edit of "In the Court of the Crimson King, Pts. 1-2." These bonus tracks extend the legacy of the group, though they only tell part of the story -- completists with the budget to do so may want to opt for the five-CD/one-DVD mega-set that assembles all of the bonus materials and every surviving note of the original band in one place.

  • Critic Reviews
    Q (12/99, p.162) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...this 1969 album's manic energy and compressed imagery captures the violent downside of the hippy years...better than almost any other recording from the time..."
    Q (Magazine) (p.121) - "From baroque ballads to avant-garde heavy metal, Crimson's debut sounded unlike anything else before or since."
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